BEST GAME – Buffalo at Kansas City (-2.5)
Who knows what these two teams will look like three months from now, but at the moment this one has the feel of a second straight AFC Championship match. The Bills have shaken off whatever problems they had in the opening game against the Steelers, and have taken to ripping the hearts out of their opponents. Their D now has two shutouts in the last three games (Miami, Houston), and is peaking at exactly the right time. Kansas City, meanwhile, has its offense in gear, scoring 30 minimum in every game and erasing concerns about its shaky defense that has made the Chiefs a weak (1-3 ATS) cover team. Bookmakers like this as essentially a field goal game, and early bettors have taken one look at the Bills through four games and many have decided to grab the points even after the number dropped from 3 to 2.5.
WORST GAME – New England Houston (+9)
The Patriots descend from best game (Week 4 vs. Bucs) to worst (Week 5) as two 1-3 teams go at it. The only interesting subplot to this is Mac Jones’s rapid development as a legit NFL quarterback and so far the best of the five rookie first-rounders. A slip here and Bill Belichick would walking a steep incline trying to make the playoffs, even with an 17th game on the schedule and an expanded playoff field. The line opened at 7 or less but jumped to 9.5 before falling a half-point. Patriots backers could pump it back up when bettors consider Houston’s 40-point shutout loss to the Bills and New England’s near-victory against Brady and Tampa Bay.
BIGGEST SPREAD – Miami at Tampa Bay (-10.5)
After taking a beating at the hands of the Rams on the West Coast and barely surviving against the Patriots in the Northeast, the Bucs will be glad to get home. And it will be a soft landing against a Dolphins team that is sucking serious wind after three straight losses in what is shaping up as a season to forget. It looks like Jacoby Brissett will be at QB again before Tua Tagovailoa returns the following week in London. Among Miami’s many problems is an offensive line that refuses to get better. Should be a long day for the Fins and some big numbers on the board for Brady and the Bucs. Expect heavy money on TB in this one.
SMALLEST SPREAD – Cleveland at Los Angeles Chargers (PK)
Several tight lines this week, including Rams/Seahawks and Broncos/Steelers, but the early books have the Browns and Chargers as a PK though some now list it as LA -1. The Chargers are off to a curious start – 3-1 SU and also 3-1 ATS, but with just a so-so offense that has driven Over bettors crazy. None of their four games have beaten the number. Cleveland fans will be keeping a close eye on QB Baker Mayfield, who was awful in the Browns’ skim-of-their-teeth victory over the Vikings.
BIGGEST TOTAL – San Francisco at Arizona (53.5)
Cheating a tad here as Buffalo/Kansas City (56.5) is mentioned above. Raise your hand if you figured Jimmy Garoppolo would be injured and out before Halloween. The inevitable happened early on Sunday, and now the Niners get to play with their new toy – Trey Lance. And Lance gets to do it on the road against the only undefeated team in the NFC. Welcome aboard, kid, and you had better be able to move the chains because the Cardinals are the highest-scoring team in the NFL through the first month of the season. Kyler Murray is making life miserable for defenses – and did we mention that SF’s D has given up the most points in the NFC West this season?
SMALLEST TOTAL – Denver at Pittsburgh (40.5)
Soul-searching time in western Pennsylvania, where the Steelers are 1-3 in a division where everyone else is 3-1. Ben Roethlisberger has dropped to 28th in the league QB rankings in what is almost guaranteed to be his final season. And now Ben gets to go up against what many believe is the league’s best defense. So far the offensively-challenged Broncs are hanging in in an AFC West where nobody is under .500. Interesting note: Every game both teams have played this year have gone Under.