The story of the NFL season through five weeks has been the success of road teams against the number. It is hard to believe visiting squads enter Week 6 with a 48-27-2 ATS record. It is doubtful away teams will continue to have success at this rate, but maybe home-field advantage is not quite what it used to be.
A look back at research from wizardofodds.com—over a 3,220-game sample (from the start of 2006 season through Week 1 of the 2018 campaign)—further illustrates the point. Home underdogs connected at just a 48.62% clip ATS and home favorites won at a 46.25% rate ATS during that span. Time will tell if this continues, but it is absolutely worth noting as we head into the sixth week of the 2019 campaign.
Here is my Week 6 Six Pack.
These NFC South rivals will meet for the second time in 2019, after the Buccaneers sprung an upset on Thursday Night Football in Week 2, 20-14. In that game the Panthers had a plethora of chances to win the low-scoring affair, but a hobbled Cam Newton missed a ton of easy throws and failed to use his legs, even in short-yardage situations.
Things have changed for Carolina since that loss. Christian McCaffrey has been the most dynamic running back in the NFL over the last three games, including a 176-yard effort on the ground in the Panthers’ Week 5 victory over Jacksonville, and Newton’s replacement, Kyle Allen, has infused new life into the passing game. This has led to three straight victories for Ron Rivera’s club.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 7, 2019
Carolina heads to London a confident team, with a couple of advantages. Its playmakers on the outside, Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore, should have a field day against a porous Tampa Bay defense that was picked apart last week by Teddy Bridgewater. The Buccaneers offensive line also is a mess, with both members of its right side likely to miss this game with injuries. Expect the Panthers front to make life miserable for a mistake-prone Jameis Winston.
The Bucs run defense is elite and will likely contain McCaffrey again, and the Tampa passing game should have some success, but Carolina will even the season series in a revenge spot across the pond.
Pick: Carolina -2.5
The Niners travel south to the City of Angels after one of their biggest wins in recent memory on Monday night against the Browns. There is no doubt Kyle Shanahan’s team is much improved and a serious threat in the NFC, but the 49ers head into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on short rest to take on a Rams team that has had plenty of time to recover from a tough 30-29 defeat to Seattle in Week 5’s Thursday-night matchup.
This is a huge game for the Rams, because they are already two games behind in the loss column. While they have not duplicated the early season success of 2018, they should be ready for this one, given the extra time to prepare.
It will be difficult for the Niners to play as well as they did in Week 5, and Jimmy Garoppolo is still missing a lot of throws. I expect the Rams to play with a serious sense of urgency. They’ll find a way to hand San Francisco its first loss of 2019.
Pick: Los Angeles -3
The Broncos head home after their first win of the season against the Chargers in Week 5. Denver jumped on the Chargers early and finally created some turnovers after failing to do so in its first four games. Without the takeaways the Broncos might still be winless. The bad news is they cannot count on turnovers this week against Marcus Mariota and the Titans.
Mariota has been a disappointment since he was selected as the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but one thing he excels at his protecting the football. Through five games he has yet to throw an interception, and Tennessee has turned the ball over just once.
Titans QB Marcus Mariota sets franchise record for most passes without an interception https://t.co/Bw2IvYow1F
— The Titans Wire (@TheTitansWire) October 3, 2019
The Titans have been a hard team to figure out this season, but they have a strong defense and play well on the road. They only scored seven points at home Sunday, but that was against one of the league’s best defenses (Buffalo), and it didn’t help that placekicker Cairo Santos missed three field goals and had another blocked.
I do not expect the Titans to score a ton of points, but they should have success giving the ball to running back Derrick Henry early and often.
The Titans have been at their best as a road dog in 2019, with wins at Cleveland and Atlanta. They’ll find a way to pull another one out away from home.
Pick: Tennessee +2.5
The Packers proved me wrong last Sunday, with an impressive victory against the Cowboys. Credit where credit is due, but I am still surprised how poorly Dallas played as a home favorite against a Green Bay team without star wide receiver Davante Adams.
The Lions are off to a 2-1-1 start and should be ready for prime time off their bye in Week 5. It is unlikely Detroit will miss tackles and take awful angles like the Cowboys defense did, and its offense has more playmakers than many realize.
This one will come down to the wire. I’ll take the points.
Pick: Detroit +4
It is difficult to be overly excited about a team as bad as the Bengals, but it is impossible for me to lay double-digit points with the Ravens. Lamar Jackson is dynamic and the Baltimore running game is certain to have success in this matchup, but the Ravens defense has been poor over the last three games.
Cincinnati has yet to win in 2019 and is unlikely to do so in Week 6, but even if Baltimore comes out hot and takes a big lead, Andy Dalton and the Bengals passing attack is not hopeless, especially when trailing by multiple scores. The Bengals battled back in Buffalo in Week 3, after trailing 14-0 at the half, and nearly pulled off a come-from-behind victory last week against the Cardinals.
Take the points and hold your nose.
Pick: Cincinnati +11
The Eagles secondary is a major concern, but both teams like to lean on the running game. Minnesota will make some big plays in the passing game, but the clock is not going to stop often with the Eagles leaning on drive sustainer Jordan Howard on the road and the Vikings, as always, running their offense through Dalvin Cook.