Underdogs continued to exceed expectations in Week 6 of the NFL season, going 11-3 against the spread in a Sunday highlighted by two double-digit dogs winning outright.
After opening as 11.5-point road underdogs at online sportsbook Bovada, the Miami Dolphins (3-2) found themselves in a 17-0 halftime hole against the Atlanta Falcons – but their defense pitched a shutout in the second half to secure a 20-17 win.
On Monday Night Football, another 11.5-point road favorite shocked the football world, when the injury-ravaged New York Giants (1-5) dominated the Denver Broncos (3-2) in a 23-10 slugfest.
Week 7 won’t offer a single upset of similar scope.
Of the 15 games on the docket this week, oddsmakers have capped all of them with a spread between 1.5 and 6 points – so bettors have their hands full deciding between all those close contests.
The showcase game for Week 7 is surely the Sunday Night Football showdown between the Atlanta Falcons (3-2) and the New England Patriots (4-2). This long-awaited rematch from last February’s epic Super Bowl 51 is eight months in the making.
For the Falcons, the game represents a golden chance to redeem themselves. But in the wake of their historic Super Bowl collapse – which saw Atlanta surrender a 28-3 third-quarter lead to lose the Lombardi Trophy – the ghosts may still be lingering.
Atlanta stormed out of the gates last week against Miami, at home no less, only to sputter in the second half en route to a second straight loss when holding a late lead.
As for the defending champions, New England struggled against the surprisingly competent New York Jets (3-3), falling behind 14-0 before narrowly escaping with a 24-17 victory. The game continued a startling pattern of substandard play from the Pats, who have surrendered 26.5 points per game (30th in NFL).
This one’s as close as it gets on paper, and given the grudge match implications, Bovada set a standard 3-point advantage for the Patriots owing to home-field advantage.
What may have been a contender for “Game of the Week” status has been relegated to the undercard, thanks in large part to Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone.
Playing on the road against the Minnesota Vikings (4-2), the catastrophic injury to their star quarterback doomed the Green Bay Packers (4-2) to a dismal loss.
The Pack hosts the New Orleans Saints (3-2) this week, and after last week’s 52-point explosion by Drew Brees (with a little help from the Saints defense), a meeting with Rodgers may have threatened the 90-point plateau.
Instead, backup QB Brett Hundley takes the reins from Rodgers, which is why Green Bay is a 6-point home underdog for the first time in memory.
Most teams use their bye week for rest and recuperation, looking to keep the drama to a minimum – but the Dallas Cowboys (2-3) aren’t most teams. While the rest of the roster enjoyed their R&R, standout running back Ezekiel Elliott made headlines once again, when a federal court allowed his six-game suspension to proceed.
Dallas visits the San Francisco 49ers (0-6), however, a team well removed from its glory days in the 1990s – or even the recent renaissance of Jim Harbaugh’s tenure. Even without Elliott toting the rock, quarterback Dak Prescott, wideout Dez Bryant, and sack-master Demarcus Lawrence should be enough to fend off an inferior 49ers roster.
The line on this one opened with Dallas as 4-point road favorites, but that was quickly bet up to the current 6-point edge.
While the Cowboys look to reach the .500 mark, the NFC East race intensifies on Monday Night Football.
The division-leading Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) host the second-place Washington Redskins (3-2), and an Eagles win would put them a full two games up in the East standings.
Excelling in his second year, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is generating MVP buzz, but he’ll be tested against a stingy Redskins defense that gives up just 228.0 passing yards per game.
With home field on their side, the Eagles are listed as 4.5-point favorites to take a firm grip on their divisional destiny.