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Red Zone Returns – Week 6

The Game Saver token saved us from a down Week 5 as the Packers blew a late lead, but we’re back with five more bets for Week 6 of the NFL season.

San Franciso 49ers @ Cleveland Browns

The San Francisco 49ers are 5-0 and Super Bowl LVIII favourites, but we need to be careful of possible let-down spots following their hot start to the season. Flying high after thumping the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5, the 49ers could come in a little bit underdone. The Cleveland Browns match up fairly well with them, too.

Cleveland’s biggest strength is its defensive line. As good as San Francisco is playing, their offensive line is regarded as their biggest weakness. There is every chance this contest is closer than recent form and numbers suggest.

The 49ers are just the fifth team in NFL history to score 30 points in their first five games. If we go back to the last regular season, they’ve done it eight times on the bounce and come into this one on a 14-game winning streak as a result.

Brock Purdy has been fantastic. He has been dominating with his passing game to lead the NFL in completion percentage on passes of 10+ air yards. Three of them ended with touchdowns last week. While the 49ers will have to travel in Week 6, it didn’t seem to phase them while thrashing the Steelers 30-7 in Week 1.

The Browns are a strong defensive team and have allowed the fewest passing yards in the league through five weeks. They will make things difficult for Purdy who still hasn’t really been tested this season. However, the 49ers also have the best running back in the NFL in the backfield. Deebo Samuel can be used in a variety of ways, too. They’re not limited to the passing game and will be able to throw different looks at the Browns and ask them to defend what should be a good running game.

Coming off a bye and playing at home will help lift the Browns. In addition, they allow the fewest rushing first downs and fourth-fewest rushing yards per game. The 49ers should still leave Cleveland with a relatively comfortable win, but perhaps not as comfortable as many expect.

Best Bet San Francisco 49ers by 1-13 points @ $2.18*

New England Patriots @ Las Vegas Raiders

We’ve never been able to buy the New England Patriots this low before…

They backed up their worst loss of Bill Belichick’s NFL coaching career in Week 4 with a 34-0 defeat in Week 5 to trigger suggestions that this may be the last season the supercoach is at the helm. It’s never been this bad for Bill in New England.

So, it makes sense to back them this week…

It’s difficult to see given how badly the Patriots have been beaten, but a lot of smart people still believe in the defence. Add some semi-competent quarterback play to all of this, and Belichick (strange on and off-field signs included) should be able to make this team somewhat competitive. New England is sticking with Mac Jones and have circled turnovers, overall, as the main cause for concern. An improvement there would at least put them close to a Las Vegas Raiders team that hasn’t impressed all that much to start the NFL season.

Neither team inspires a lot of confidence. Jones is 0-12 against the spread in his last 12 as an underdog which can be viewed as a horror show or that a regression to the mean is imminent. If nothing else, it’s buying low on a coach who has proven himself as one of the best ever time and time again. He’s got his work cut out for him with this group, but the Patriots can keep it to within a touchdown.

Best Bet Either Team 7 or Less @ $1.88*

Carolina Panthers @ Miami Dolphins

The Carolina Panthers are what they are. There is no ‘small sample size’ or ‘bad luck’ to sift through when digging into their performances and results. This is a really bad football team. Owner David Tepper is said to have heavily influenced their drafting of Bryce Young who has struggled to start his NFL career, to say the very least. He has completed only 63.9% of his throws for 750 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions.

Meanwhile, Tua Tagovailoa didn’t even play that well in Week 5. He threw a pick-six. Still, the Miami Dolphins covered a big line and, as chalky as it is to follow big favourites after a big win, we’re going back to the well.

The Dolphins, at the very least, are one of the best offensive teams in the NFL. How do the Panthers stop them? They couldn’t stop an injury-depleted Lions from scoring 42 points in Week 5.

Miami can do it in the air where they average an NFL-high 327 passing yards per game. On the ground, thanks to the impressive play of Devon Achane who is on the sixth line of betting to win Offensive Rookie of the Year at $23, the Dolphins again top the list with 185 rushing yards per game. As you’d expect, their 36.2 points per game is the best mark in the league.

The -13.5 line is a big one. Bigger than is typically comfortable. However, we will back the Dolphins offence to do what they do, and for the Panthers to struggle their way to 16 points at best.

Best Bet Miami Dolpins -13.5 @ $1.90*

Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears

Well, the Minnesota Vikings are in trouble.

They’re 1-4 to start the NFL season and have just placed Justin Jefferson on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.

Things are falling the way many expected following their against-the-odds record of last season, but there is an opportunity to bounce back here.

Prime-time games illicit a certain response in punters and everybody saw the Chicago Bears play relatively well in their win over the Commanders in Week 5. Plenty will be excited about their recent performance while being put off by Jefferson’s injury.

The Bears defence is still bad, though. Sure, they picked up a win last week and kept the Commanders to only three points in the first half, but they couldn’t keep up the pressure for a full game and still allowed 359 passing yards. They’ve allowed the second-most passing yards per game in the NFL.

Meanwhile, the Vikings offensive line did well enough to provide Kirk Cousins with enough time to keep close with the Kansas City Chiefs. Jordan Addison took another step forward in his young NFL career, too.

Cousins will be without Jefferson for this one. He’s a massive loss. Nonetheless, he will get enough good looks to put up points and should lead the Vikings to victory in Chicago.

Best Bet Minesotta Vikings -2.5 @ $1.89*

Detroit Lions @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Flexed into the later TV slot, this game has the potential to be a ripper.

The Detroit Lions still managed to score 42 points without Gibbs and St Brown last week which is an encouraging sign as they prepare to play a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team allowing only 17 points per game (8th-fewest in the NFL).

Jared Goff is playing at a different level right now. When we look at close games the deciding factor is often the ability and trustworthiness of the quarterback. When we’re looking at Goff v Baker Mayfield, there’s no question.

Tampa Bay are coming off a bye and have played well to start the NFL season. Even Mayfield has impressed relative to his previous performances. However, the Lions are entering the frame as legitimate Super Bowl LVIII contenders at $18. They’re doing it on both sides of the ball. In a prime slot against an opposition that might be slightly overhyped right now, this is the chance for Goff and the Lions to prove their credentials.

Best Bet Detroit Lions -3.5 @ $1.95*

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