The tide turned back in favor of the underdogs last weekend, as Week 5 action in the NFL produced an 8-7 record against the spread (ATS) for teams getting points.
That performance – highlighted by outright wins by the Bills, Cardinals, Vikings, Browns, and Jets – pushed the ATS record for dogs to 41-33-2 on the season, good enough for a 55.4 percent cover rate.
Looking ahead to Week 6 action, the latest odds posted by online sportsbook Bovada offer a slew of attractive dogs to choose from.
The Cleveland Browns (2-2-1) made history last year by becoming just the second team to ever compile an 0-16 record – but what a difference a year makes.
Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield has lived up to the hype since taking over for Tyrod Taylor. He sparked a comeback win over the Jets to end a 635-day winless jag, then lost a tough 45-42 shootout to the Raiders on the road, before beating the Ravens 12-9 last Sunday. All told, the Browns are 4-1 ATS on the year, as bookmakers and bettors alike continue to undervalue a rebuilt roster.
With shifty slot receiver Jarvis Landry pacing the offense, and a new look defense led by Myles Garrett making life difficult for opposing QBs, the Browns are a surprise home dog at (+1.5) against the Los Angeles Chargers (3-2).
The other Ohio team is also 4-1 ATS, but the Cincinnati Bengals (4-1) have matched that performance in the real standings too. Things looked bleak for the Bengals last Sunday, but after falling behind 17-0 at home to the Dolphins, a ferocious defensive front led by Vontaze Burfict forced two pick-sixes to key a 27-17 comeback win – and a cover as (-6.5) favorites.
Cincinnati faces a stiffer test this week with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2-1) coming to town, but the perennial AFC North powerhouses haven’t quite looked like themselves in 2018. The absence of Le’Veon Bell due to a contract holdout certainly hasn’t helped, but the offense did get right in last week’s 41-17 rout of the Falcons.
Pittsburgh doesn’t get the dog tag against Cincinnati all that often, but they’ll be (+2.5) in what should be a must-win game for their divisional hopes.
Generally speaking, Week 6 matchups between two teams that can’t crack the .500 mark – even old school division rivals – aren’t all that interesting.
But when the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles (2-3) visit fellow NFC East “contenders” in the New York Giants (1-4), the entire season may well be at stake.
For the Eagles, a loss to the lowly Giants would sink their record to 2-4, which would put Philadelphia on track for the worst title defense of the 21st century. Since the 2000 season, only one team defending a Super Bowl title finished under .500 the following season – the 2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 7-9.
A win, on the other hand, would push Philly to 3-3 and the lead in a weak NFC East pending Sunday results.
As for Big Blue, the Giants went for broke hitching their wagon to Eli Manning for one last run. Despite adding rookie running back sensation Saquon Barkley, and reintegrating wideout Odell Beckham Jr. into the fold, New York’s moribund offense looks no better than it did in last year’s disastrous 3-13 campaign.
Even so, beating the Eagles as (+3) home dogs would pull the Giants level with all other teams in the East in terms of wins.