Early Birds: NFL Week 6 opening lines and early bets to target

It was another volatile weekend of football and the market has reacted accordingly. Lines are out for both college football and for NFL Week 6, and it can often be wise to pick off numbers early in the week before oddsmakers have the chance to adjust them. We can find spots that are mis-priced, and get in before the lines shift. With that in mind, here are some of the early bets I am targeting in both college and the NFL.

Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers

Panthers +1

*Bet Sunday night at MGM

This line denotes that the Vikings would be favored by almost a field goal on a neutral field, and that just doesn’t make any sense to me. Despite their collapse against the Eagles, Carolina still has one of the best defenses in the NFL according to DVOA and is positive in Net Yards Per Play. Meanwhile the Vikings were very fortunate to escape with a win over the Lions on Sunday and they continue to come up small in big moments. The Panthers might also be getting some good news this week on the injury front with Christian McCaffrey, who was close to playing this week. I’m confident Carolina will close as the favorite here.

Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns

Browns -2.5

*Bet Sunday night at DraftKings

This line is curious considering the Cardinals are toast of the town at 5-0 and the Browns are licking their wounds after getting gashed for 47 points by the Chargers. But injuries are the great equalizer in the NFL and I’m worried about Arizona losing some pieces on Sunday including TE Maxx Williams (knee) and C Rodney Hudson (ribs). Keep an eye on the injury report for updates on both this week. Hudson will be key as he is an anchor in the middle of the Cardinals offensive line. I would expect a feisty Browns defense to bounce back and if there’s anyone who can keep Kyler Murray in check it’s Myles Garrett. I’m already seeing some early market movement here towards Cleveland and I expect this line to close at a field goal.

Oklahoma State at Texas

Oklahoma State +5.5

*Bet Sunday night at MGM

This is a classic letdown spot after Texas suffered a grueling loss in the Red River Shootout last week, blowing a 28-7 lead. Don’t sleep on the Cowboys either, who are one of just 8 Power 5 teams with an unblemished 5-0 record. The matchup to watch in this game will be the Texas rushing attack led by Heisman hopeful Bijan Robinson against the Oklahoma State rushing defense, ranked 8th in the nation in yards per carry (2.8). The early market movement has favored the Cowboys and I expect this one to close +4.5 or shorter.

Western Kentucky at Old Dominion

Over 67.5

*Bet Sunday night at FanDuel

This one should be another shootout, which is all WKU plays in. The over is 5-0 for the Hilltoppers this season, one of just two teams in the FBS that has seen every one of their games exceed the total (Pittsburgh). Both teams run a fast tempo, WKU is 15th in plays per game and Old Dominion is 21st. I would not be surprised if this total closed closer to 70.

Air Force at Boise State

Air Force +6.5

*Bet Sunday night at Unibet

This is a very good sell-high opportunity with Boise State coming off a top-10 road win at BYU. The Net Yards Per Play numbers favor Air Force, who are 4-2 ATS this season and have been stingy on defense, allowing just 16.2 points per game. The Broncos are 88th in rushing defense this season, which could be an issue defending the triple-option. I’m expecting this line to close +5.5 or shorter.

UTEP vs La Tech

UTEP +7.5

*Bet Sunday night at SuperBook

The Miners are off to a 5-1 start and are severely undervalued in a home underdog spot against Louisiana Tech, who have lost their last 5 road games. UTEP is +1.7 in Net Yards Per Play while Louisiana Tech is -0.1. The Miners defense is what stood out to me when handicapping this matchup. UTEP is 11th in opponent yards per play (4.3) and 7th in opponent yards per rush (2.6). I would expect the hook to evaporate very quickly and for this line to close at +7 or shorter.

NFL Week 6 opening lines

Let’s look at the early lines for this week’s NFL Week 6 slate, courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook:

Thursday Night Football
Tampa Bay Bucs (-6.5) at Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday morning (London)
Miami Dolphins (-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Sunday afternoon
Houston Texas (+10) at Indianapolis Colts
Green Bay Packers (-4.5) at Chicago Bears
Minnesota Vikings (+1.5) at Carolina Panthers
Los Angeles Chargers (+3.5) at Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Detroit Lions
Los Angeles Rams (-10.5) at New York Giants
Arizona Cardinals (+3) at Cleveland Browns
Las Vegas Raiders (+3) at Denver Broncos
Dallas Cowboys (+3.5) at New England Patriots

Sunday Night Football
Seattle Seahawks (+3.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers

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