Week 6 of the NFL season kicks off with an NFC East battle as the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles visit the Giants. As per tradition, we've dug up a juicy prop for this matchup, plus more must-read betting news and notes to help you crack the NFL odds for this week's games.
ENGRAM OUT AGAIN
Week 6 is upon us and, as per tradition, we kick off today’s article with a Thursday Night Football prop bet. Evan Engram has been ruled out for the third week in a row and, in his absence, Giants receiver Sterling Shepard has become an offensive focus for the Giants. Over the last three weeks, the third-year man out of Oklahoma has received seven, 10, and seven targets and 22.4 percent of the team’s total targets. He has turned that into stat lines of 6-80-1, 10-77-1, and 4-75-0.
It’s also worth noting that Shepard has been an Eagles killer so far in his career, posting lines of 7-133-1 and 11-139-1 against Philly last year and catching touchdowns in both 2016 matchups. Without Engram in the lineup, Shepard is in a great spot to continue torching the Eagles and we’re backing him to go Over his receiving yards total of 57.5 and we’re going to back him to score a touchdown at any time with odds of +187.
FREEMAN’S STATUS IN DOUBT
Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman surprisingly popped up on the injury report on Wednesday with a bone contusion in his foot and is considered doubtful for Week 6. If Freeman can’t go, Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith will once again take the backfield snaps, much as they did when Freeman was out from Weeks 2-4.
Looking back at stats from Weeks 2-4, it’s clear that Coleman got the majority of snaps, but we find an interesting data point from red-zone usage where it appears that Smith was the favored player. Between Weeks 2-4, Smith received nine red-zone carries and two red-zone targets, compared with Coleman’s five carries and two targets. Another interesting note is that last week Smith received the Falcons’ only red-zone carry — and that was with Freeman and Coleman in the lineup. It’ll be important to monitor Freeman’s status as the weekend approaches and if he’s out, Smith could be worth a bet to score at any time in what promises to be a very high-scoring game against Tampa Bay.
RIVERS IN A TOUGH SPOT
Bettors love to look at “spots” and Sunday is shaping up to be a bad spot for Philip Rivers. First, the Chargers, a West Coast team, head East for a 1 p.m. ET start — a classic spot to fade the road team. Second, he’s facing the Browns, which, in 2018, has become a bad spot for quarterbacks as Cleveland ranks second in pass defense DVOA. Just ask Joe Flacco, who was held to a season-low 5.3 yards per attempt in Cleveland last week. Or Sam Darnold, who threw for just 169 yards and two interceptions in Cleveland in Week 3.
There’s also the fact that Rivers hasn’t been the same QB on the road as he has been at home, averaging just 241 passing yards away from StubHub Center, compared with 337.6 in L.A. Fortunately for bettors, Rivers is priced more like he’s playing at home in Week 6 with a passing yards total of 316.5. We’re going to put trust in the spot (and in the Browns’ defense) and take the Under with confidence.
NOT BUYING INTO ANDERSON
Heading into Week 5, Jets receiver Robby Anderson had just 108 receiving yards on eight catches. Then last week, he finally popped by catching three balls for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Jets fans are hoping that the Anderson of last year is finally back but we’re going to pump the breaks on that one. For one, those 123 yards came on just three receptions, resulting in a completely unsustainable 41 yards per catch. That’s not going to happen again.
Then there’s his quarterback, Sam Darnold, who has only surpassed the 200-yard passing mark on one occasion this season — and it wasn’t even last week when he connected with Anderson for 123 yards. After a decent start to the season, Darnold might be hitting an early rookie wall as he has passed for 169, 167, and 198 yards in his last three games while not breaking the 50 percent completion rate. The Jets are also trying to lean heavily on the run, with 35 attempts last week and 30 attempts in Week 3 — they only rushed 12 times in Week 4 as they got behind early to Jacksonville. As a slight home favorite against the Colts, we expect a tight game against Indianapolis where the Jets will try to control the pace with the run, which will lead to very few passing attempts for Darnold and little production from Anderson. We’re taking the Under 60.5 on his passing yards total.
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is expected to return this week after missing the past four weeks (three games) with a foot injury and this is bad news for Devin Funchess’ production. Over the past two seasons, Funchess is only averaging six targets per game when Olsen is in the lineup. Generally, Funchess is quite productive with Olsen on the sideline, as he was in Week 2 with a line of 7-77-0 on nine targets. In Weeks 3 and 5, however, Funchess’ targets dropped to seven and he caught just four passes in each contest. Funchess just doesn’t seem to be a huge part of Carolina’s offense this season and history shows his production is going to drop now that Olsen is back. We’re going to take the Under 4.5 on his receptions total at Washington on Sunday.