Despite my record against the spread (one game under .500) this season, our group has had plenty of success picking games versus the spread this season (30-24-1, 55.6 percent) going into this week.
That record is slightly better heading into Sunday's games as John picked the Saints to cover on Thursday Night Football.
With that said, here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 6 of the 2015 NFL season:
Miami Dolphins +2 over Tennessee Titans (3 units)
Compared to expectations heading into the season, perhaps no team has disappointed more than the Dolphins, who fired their head coach before the bye. Without question, the team is much more talented than their record and stats suggest. What is a question is how much will an interim staff be able to turn this team around?
Despite having one of the league's most talented defensive lines lead by high-priced free agent Ndamukong Suh, the Dolphins rank last in the NFL in rush defense and last in sacks. In addition, the Dolphins rank second-to-last in scoring offense (16.3/G) and only 28th in total offense (314.8 yards per game). (At least they're balanced ...)
I'm not sure we see a sustained improvement from the Dolphins, but I do think their effort and intensity should be at its peak this season and that the team finds a way to get a win.
Denver Broncos -4.5 over Cleveland Browns (3 units)
The Broncos are a perfect 5-0 in spite of Peyton Manning's poor quarterback play. It feels weird writing that sentence, but it's true. Denver ranks 30th in the NFL in yards per game (302.6); only Minnesota and St. Louis rank lower. While one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, Manning ranks 28th among qualified passers in Y/A (6.53) and has thrown more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (six) this season.
As bad as their passing offense has been, their rushing offense has been equally as bad. Only the Lions have averaged fewer yards per rush attempt this season. Prior to the season, C.J. Anderson was thought to be a player that could challenge for the rushing title, but he has averaged less than 2.5 YPC in four of five games. His best game was 11 carries for 43 yards (3.91 YPC).
So, why am I picking the Broncos here? For one, Cleveland's defense has been bad; they are one of only three teams to have allowed 400-plus yards of offense this season. Their rush defense has been especially bad as they allow 5.0 YPC and 149.4 YPG, both of which are second-worst in the NFL. Perhaps we see more from the Broncos offense this week than they've seen previously.
The other reason is Denver's defense. No team has created more takeaways than Denver (14), who also ranks first in total defense (278.0 YPG). No disrespect meant to Gary Barnidge, who has finished as a top-three fantasy TE for three consecutive weeks, but the Browns lack the playmakers on offense to challenge this defense.
I see this game turning out to be somewhere around 21-10, 23-13, etc. with the Broncos putting forth a slightly better offensive showing and continued stingy defensive play.
Arizona Cardinals -4.5 over Pittsburgh Steelers (3 units)
The Cardinals are one of the best teams in the NFL and Carson Palmer has won 17 of his past 20 starts with the team. Of course, those 20 games haven't been consecutive due to injuries. But when healthy, the team (and offense) have looked great.
Playing extremely well this season, Palmer has 13 touchdowns to only three interceptions and Larry Fitzgerald is playing like it's 2011. Fitzgerald entered the week as the top-scoring fantasy wide receiver with 35 catches for 490 yards and six touchdowns through five games.
A blessing in disguise (given two NFL Coach of the Year awards), the firing of Bruce Arians by the Steelers in 2011 has been a positive for him. During Arians' tenure with Arizona, the Cardinals are 13-5-1 as favorites and 5-1-1 as road favorites over the past three seasons. I think Arians gets some revenge against his former team this weekend.
Baltimore Ravens -2 over San Francisco 49ers (3 units)
It's been a disappointing season for the Ravens, who are lucky to have their one win through five weeks. Even with their 1-4 start this year, the Ravens have been particulary good following losses in recent years. In their past 35 games following a loss, they are 27-8 straight up.
Justin Forsett has back-to-back 100-yard games and assuming he's able to play, he should have success on the ground against the 49ers. The Ravens secondary has played poorly allowing Josh McCown to throw for a career-high 457 yards last week, but Colin Kaepernick has struggled with four touchdowns and five interceptions this season.
Given their poor start, it may turn out to be a lost season for the Ravens, but I do expect them to leave the Bay area with their second win of the season.
New England Patriots -10 over Indianapolis Colts (1 unit)
The 10-point spread on the road to AFC runner-ups seems a bit excessive, but no team is more willing to run up the score (in general circumstances) than the Patriots. Against the Colts, there is no chance that the Pats take their foot off the gas should they take a commanding lead.
Of course, Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman should all have productive games, but this could be the game that we see a lot more LeGarrette Blount. In his past two games, both playoff blowouts, Blount has 54 carries for 314 yards and seven touchdowns. SEVEN TDS!
This has the potential to turn into a lopsided affair early, which could lead to more Andrew Luck turnovers. Missing the past two games due to his shoulder injury, Luck was a full participant on Friday, but he has multiple interceptions in five consecutive games going back to last year's postseason.
- Note: We will track all of our 2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread here.
Also, check out more of our content:
Keep track of our site's updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle
Continue reading "2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 6 (Hanson)" »