As we enter Week 6 of the 2011 NFL season, each team's strengths and weaknesses are becoming more defined, and it's a perfect time to start placing bets if you haven't already. This week we have some tasty odds that seem nearly irresistible.
Dallas (+7.5) at New England (-7.5)
I was really surprised to see Dallas such a big underdog in this matchup. Even with Tony Romo's well-documented struggles, Dallas is averaging 331 passing yards per game, which is third in the league. New England's secondary has really struggled at stopping opponents from throwing all over them. They are statistically at the very bottom of the league and don't seem to be improving at all.
The Cowboys are fresh off of their bye week and should be rejuvenated on offense. Miles Austin is reentering the lineup, joining a now-healthy Dez Bryant and newfound threat Laurent Robinson. Romo will be continuing to recover from his rib injury, and projects to have plenty of time in the pocket as the Patriots only have eight sacks on the season.
In Week 5, the Patriots had their way with the New York Jets and look to have gotten their running game on track. This week they will have the tough task of running against the Cowboys' No. 1-ranked rush defense (61 yards per game). Look for them to abandon the run quickly and put the ball in Brady's hands often. With Brady hanging in the pocket, you can expect DeMarcus Ware to have a good game. Ware has five sacks in four games.
You can expect an offensive shootout here, but betting on Dallas to lose by a touchdown or less (if not flat-out win) is, in my opinion, this week's best bet to take. The line ranges from 7 to 8, and I would take them all.
New Orleans (-4) at Tampa Bay (+4)
If you weren't aware, division games can be very unpredictable and are normally not something I would jump to bet on, but this matchup between the Saints and Bucs is very tempting.
Tampa Bay comes into this game reeling after a 48-3 blowout at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers. I definitely expect the Bucs to play much better than they did in that game, but they will have to do it without stars LeGarrette Blount and Gerald McCoy.
Without Blount, Josh Freeman will have to win this game on his own, which is something I don't find him capable of doing . Freeman already has six interceptions on the year and his former go-to target, sophomore receiver Mike Williams, has underperformed in every game.
We all know what the Saints are capable of on offense, and I expect it to be just another day at the office for Drew Brees and company.
The more I look at this, the more I honestly don't see how the Bucs can keep this one within a touchdown.
Other games I would keep an eye on:
San Francisco (+5) at Detroit (-5)
Detroit is a good team, but 6-0 good? I'm not totally sold on that. Expect them to lose to a team they should beat on paper like the 49ers, who are fully capable of pulling an upset here.
Philly is hungry for a win, and Rex Grossman is cooling down after a hot start. We all know the problems the "Dream Team" have had this year, but don't be surprised if they get things moving in the right direction this week.