Week 6 NFL Picks: Sides & Totals

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals prepares for a game against the Los Angeles Rams at State Farm Stadium on December 13, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona.
Image Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images

Each week, BetPrep NFL Sharp “Tommy The Hitman” discusses every game through the eyes of a professional sports bettor with host and 30-year sports talk radio vet Jody McDonald of CBS Sports Radio.

Here are some recent highlights from the latest episode of Hot Read Hits, the official NFL podcast of BetPrep:

Let’s review the best bets for Week 6.

Chargers at Ravens (Over 51.5), Sunday, 1 p.m. 

The Ravens should be able to run against the Chargers, as 42.4% of the yardage gained against the Chargers has come via rushing, the highest rate in the league. This year, just 33.8% of the Baltimore yardage has come via rushing (eighth) compared to 52.8% in 2020 and 49.4% in 2019, with both of those rates leading the league.

This is a different Ravens offense that is more reliant on the pass given the state of their offensive line and backfield injuries to this point of the season. Jackson is averaging 33.4 pass attempts per game, which would be a career-high.  Their situation-neutral pass rate (51.2%) isn’t eye-popping, but it’s light-years higher than last season (43.2%).

Jackson leads the NFL in depth of target (11.0) while the Chargers are the league’s best defense against downfield passes, allowing just an 18.2% completion rate (4-of-22) on throws over 15 yards downfield this season to go along with zero touchdowns and four interceptions on those throws. Will Los Angeles be able to stop Jackson and his favorite long-distance weapon Marquise Brown, who has become one of the NFL’s most dangerous wide receivers?

The Chargers play fast, eighth in situation-neutral pace. And they aggressively go for it on fourth down, even deep in their own territory when time is not a factor in the game and the game is tight.

Teams have not blitzed Herbert much at all to open the year (26.8% of his dropbacks, 30th in the league), but he is completing 52.2% of his passes for 5.4 Y/A against extra rushers compared to a 71.4% completion rate and 8.2 Y/A when not blitzed. The Ravens are blitzing 26.9% of the time (eighth) overall.  That said, this is not the Ravens defense we’re accustomed to, given all of their injuries. They are 18th in passing points allowed per attempt (0.47) while 27th in yards per pass attempt (8.3 Y/A) and 27th in yards allowed per completion (12.7 yards).

Baltimore is also on short rest after a grueling, overtime comeback. Both coaching staffs are aggressive in applying analytics to increase the probability of scoring points. Expect both teams to turn field goals and punts into touchdowns. Baltimore is throwing more and the Chargers offense is on fire.

Cardinals at Browns (minus-3 and Under 49.5), Sunday, 4:05 p.m.

My power ranking is the Browns minus-3. In non blitz situations, Browns are generating pressure at a 46% rate when Clowney is on the field and an 18% rate when he is off the field. He’s expected to play in Week 6 after missing the game against the Chargers.

The Browns lead the NFL in expected points added via their rushing offense (32.2). Cleveland is averaging 2.0 more yards per rushing play than their opponent, the biggest differential in the league. Arizona is averaging 1.3 fewer yards per rushing play than their opponent, 30th in the league. Cleveland leads the NFL in rushing yards on gains of 10 or more yards (472). Arizona is 31st in yardage allowed on carries of 10 or more yards (350) and are allowing a league-high 4.8 carries per game to gain 10 or more yards. Cleveland is allowing just 3.2 yards per carry to backs.

With Baker Mayfield, it comes down to pressure. He has only been under pressure for 27.5% of his dropbacks. But when Mayfield has faced pressure, he has completed 9-of-27 passes (33.3%) for just 5.1 yards per attempt (0 TDs). The weather could be bad, with early forecasts calling for sustained winds at 20+ mph with stronger gusts.

Kyler Murray has a shoulder injury similar to the one last year that severely hampered his performance overall and his ability to run. It’s to his throwing shoulder. The Cardinals are also likely to be without C Rodney Hudson and DE Chandler Jones. The Browns are also battling some injuries, especially to left tackle Jedrick Wills, who did not practice on Thursday.

If the windy forecast holds, it greatly helps out the far superior rushing offense and team that is used to playing in this bad weather. Additionally, Murray was unable to play effectively through a shoulder injury in 2020. Points should be scarce in this game.

Bengals (minus-3/minus-125) at Lions, Sunday, 1 p.m.

My power rank has the Bengals 4.5 points better, a big swing past the three we’re able to lay.

The Benagls are passing more, perhaps because Joe Burrow’s knee is gaining strength as he increases the time from his ACL surgery last winter. Cincy in weeks 4 and 5 had the third-highest situation-neutral pass rate. They were 24th from weeks 1-through-3.

Burrow will be playing indoors against a Detroit defense that is 31st in passing points allowed per attempt (0.59), 32nd in yards allowed per pass attempt (9.9 yards), and 32nd in yards allowed per completion (14.6 yards). Lions rank 30th in EPA per dropback in pass defense and their coverage grade is significantly worse than the second-worst defense (Colts). Detroit is last in the NFL in allowing 3.02 more net yards per pass play (counting sacks) than they gain. The Bengals are sixth-best at plus-1.37.

After the Bears game, Burrow spoke about making more splash plays down the field. He’s delivered. Ja’Marr Chase has four TDs already of 30-plus yards, the most through five games since Marvin Harrison in 2003. The Lions allow a 53.3% completion rate (27th) and 550 receiving yards (30th) on those downfield targets.

Here are Lions starters put on IR so far this season: CB Jeff Okudah, WR Tyrell Williams, Kevin Strong, CB Ifeatu Melifonwu, C Frank Ragnow, LB Romeo Okwara and WR Quintez Cephus. This was a bad team talent-wise when fully healthy. Cincinnati is the clear better team and Detroit is decimated with injuries. Back the Bengals.