The Professor’s NFL Week 6 Best Games to Bet column profiles three games that the Professor is betting on this weekend. All spreads and totals are provided by DraftKings.
Buffalo at Tennessee (BUF -5.5, Total 54)
Model Projection: Buffalo 31.29 – Tennessee 21.62 (BUF -9.67, Total 52.91)
BET: BUF -5.5, 3 units
The final score made it look like a blowout, but despite a fumble recovery touchdown by Tennessee’s Kevin Byard on the first drive of last week’s game, the Jacksonville Jaguars had the ball on Tennessee’s one-yard line with a chance to make it a one-score game in the fourth quarter. The 37-19 final tells you that this game wasn’t close, but it didn’t tell the full story.
Why does it matter? It’s an indication that Tennessee still has significant improvements to make, which is an issue entering a matchup with the Buffalo Bills, who made their case to be considered the NFL’s best team when they blew the doors off the Chiefs in Kansas City on the NFL’s Sunday Night Football matchup last week. The Professor’s model had the Bills as a road favorite in that matchup, and as the Titans are worse than the Chiefs on offense and similar on defense, the model projects a comfortable win for Buffalo this week.
Buffalo’s defensive line is arguably the most improved unit in the NFL; between the return of defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, the improvement of defensive end A.J. Epenesa, and the emergence of rookie end Gregory Rousseau, this rotation is as deep as any in the league. Linebacker Matt Milano also returned to practice Thursday; he’s an elite player who would give an extra boost to a defense that has been one of the best in the NFL so far this season.
The Professor’s model doesn’t put these two teams in the same stratosphere; Buffalo has an elite offense and one of the better defenses in the league, while the Titans have one of the worst defenses in the league and an offense with a variety of issues that running back Derrick Henry may not be able to continue covering up. The model has Buffalo as a 9.67 point favorite on the road in Tennessee. I’ll put three units on the Bills at -5.5.
Cincinnati at Detroit (CIN -3.5, Total 48)
Model Projection: Cincinnati 28.73 – Detroit 21.44 (CIN -7.29, Total 50.17)
BET: CIN -3.5, 3 units
The prevailing narrative seems to be that the Detroit Lions played the Minnesota Vikings hard last week rather than that they took advantage of a bizarre series of Minnesota mistakes in the final three minutes that turned a 16-6 game that should have ended 19-6 into a game that Minnesota barely won 19-17.
That sequence of events aside, Lions quarterback Jared Goff continues to produce several turnover-worthy plays each game, the offensive line has regressed with star center Frank Ragnow out for the season, and an already limited group of pass-catchers lost receiver Quintez Cephus for the season last week. The defense put up respectable scoring numbers against Minnesota, but as is often the case in the NFL these days, that had a lot to do with the Vikings failing to execute, as well as the continued incompetence of Vikings left tackle Rashod Hill, who was finally benched during last week’s game.
Cincinnati’s offensive line is far from elite, but the Bengals do not have issues as severe as those that the Vikings face at left tackle, left guard, and right guard. Cincinnati is adequate across the board up front, and given the way Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson shredded the Detroit defense in the first half last week, rookie wideout Ja’Marr Chase is set up for another productive outing.
Quarterback Joe Burrow and the Bengals have a legitimate shot to make the playoffs in a stacked AFC. The Lions are on track to draft in the top five. The model has Cincinnati favored by 7.29 in another large discrepancy from the DraftKings number; I’ll take the Bengals at -3.5 for 3 units.
Miami Dolphins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, London (MIA -3, Total 47)
Model Projection: Jacksonville 23.02 – Miami 21.25 (JAX -1.77, Total 44.27)
BET: JAX ML (+135), 2 units, JAX +3, 1 unit, and Under 47, 1 unit
It’s a lot of units to put on a game as lackluster as this NFL matchup in London, but there is a clear disparity between the quarterbacks on these teams, whether it’s Tua Tagovailoa or Jacoby Brissett starting for Miami, and not a lot to distinguish the surrounding teams from one another.
Miami has a freakishly talented rookie edge rusher in Jalen Phillips and an elite cornerback in Xavien Howard, but the stars on this defense have not prevented them from allowing surrendering over 30 points per game, which puts them 30th in the NFL. The defense isn’t helped out by the offense, where the line is derailing whatever the skill group might be capable of doing. The Dolphins have drafted offensive linemen Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt, and Liam Eichenberg in the first two rounds of the past two drafts and appear to have missed on all three players. Jacksonville is not loaded on defense, but former first-rounder K’Lavon Chaisson had a productive day on the edge last week and Josh Allen has continued to show flashes of talent across from him; the Jaguars should be able to win on the edges this week.
Jacksonville’s coaching situation is a disaster, but whether it’s with the Jaguars or somewhere else, quarterback Trevor Lawrence is going to make it in the NFL. His physical talent is obvious, but what’s most impressive about Lawrence relative to the other quarterbacks in this class is that he’s shown the ability to make significant improvements from game to game over the opening month of the NFL season. If we throw out the dud Justin Fields had in his opener with Matt Nagy calling the plays in Chicago and the subsequent improvement when Bill Lazor took over, Lawrence is the only rookie quarterback who is playing notably better football than he did in his first start. It’s something that stood out about fellow Clemson alum Deshaun Watson in his early games with the Texans; mistakes were made, but mental adjustments were made in real-time and the development was rapid.
Given their general ineptitude as an organization, it strikes me as doubtful that Jacksonville has gained any competitive advantage from their many trips to London, but this is a neutral site game between two bad teams and Jacksonville’s quarterback is flat out better. I’ll take the Jags at a +135 money line for 2 units, at +3.5 for 1 unit, and the under 47 at 1 unit.
This article previewed three NFL matchups for the coming week and talked about how to bet them. For more content from The Professor, including the rest of his game previews and his fantasy content, check out The Professor on BeerLife Sports!