The sixth week of the NFL season is all about separation, as the league’s contenders continue to put distance between themselves and the also-rans.
And in addition to compiling gaudy totals in the win column, the best teams also seem to perform well against the point spread (ATS). This week’s Sunday games feature several matchups involving teams that know how to cover the big spreads they tend to generate.
The Dallas Cowboys (4-1) haven’t had many big spreads to cover, what with star quarterback Tony Romo down after a preseason injury, but “America’s Team” hasn’t really needed the points they get either.
The Cowboys are one of two teams in the league without a loss ATS – at 4-0-1 – and in this week’s NFC clash with the Green Bay Packers (3-1), they’ll be gifted free points once again. The game takes place at Lambeau Field, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers has returned to form with six passing touchdowns in his last two outings, so online sportsbook Bovada rates Dallas as 4-point road underdogs.
The Packers may be putting up wins in a weak NFC North, but they’ve posted a paltry 1-2-1 record ATS, so sharp bettors may be lining up to back the ‘Boys this week.
The New England Patriots (4-1) were pumped up by the return of quarterback Tom Brady last Sunday, who didn’t let a four-week suspension for Deflategate diminish his skills in the slightest. Brady paced the Pats’ offense with a 400-yard, 3 TD, 0 INT line in a road win over the Cleveland Browns (1-4).
New England covered a 10.5-point spread in that game, moving their ATS record to 4-1, but they’ll need to work the same magic in this Sunday’s home game against the Cincinnati Bengals (2-3). The Bovada bookmakers have Brady’s bunch as 9.5-point favorites this time around, and the Bengals’ 1-3-1 record ATS, including 0-2-1 on the road, doesn’t bode well for a close contest.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) have excelled on offense in all but one game this year, to the tune of a 27.8 points per game average. Throw in a typically frisky Steelers defense allowing only 18.6 points per game, and head coach Mike Tomlin has the perfect recipe for covering wide spreads.
Pittsburgh boasts a 4-1 record ATS, but that strong mark will be tested this Sunday when the Steelers travel to take on the Miami Dolphins (1-4). Bovada has Pittsburgh as 8-point road favorites, making Miami one of the biggest home underdogs of the young season.
The Dolphins can’t score, they can’t win, and they can’t cover either – dropping to 1-4 ATS on the year last week in a dispiriting loss to the Tennessee Titans (2-3) as home favorites.
Another home underdog this Sunday will be the Washington Redskins (3-2), who will be getting a 3-point cushion against their NFC East rivals the Philadelphia Eagles (3-1).
Both of these surprising teams are trending in opposite directions, with Washington running off three straight wins following an 0-2 start, and Philadelphia dropping their first game of the year last week in the wake of a 3-0 streak.
The Eagles are 3-1 ATS this season, and the Redskins have gone 3-2 ATS, with both teams showing a knack for outperforming public expectation.