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Opening Line Report - Week 6
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A marquee NFC matchup gets the NFL’s Week 6 card off to a fine start, as a pair of 4-1 teams – the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers – meet Thursday night in Charlotte. Based on the early numbers, the betting market rates these teams evenly, as most Las Vegas sports books opened the home side a field-goal favorite.

There’s been an early move on the Panthers, who have been moved to -3 (-120) at the Westgate SuperBook, William Hill and the Wynn, and are even being asked to lay -3.5 at a few shops around town.

Playing on the road off short rest is never an easy task in the NFL, and making it even more difficult for the Eagles this week is that the Panthers appear to have hit their stride.

“I don’t know if they’re going to be as good as they were two years ago when they went to the Super Bowl (after a 15-1 regular season), but they’re really starting to jell, they’re starting to put those pieces together,” Chris Andrews, sports book director at the South Point, said of the Panthers. “This is going to be a very formidable team down the stretch.”

The Eagles, meanwhile, are playing pretty well themselves, Sunday’s 34-7 win over Arizona their third straight. Their only loss, in fact, came at still-undefeated Kansas City (more on the Chiefs later in this piece). Folks around Vegas, though, are wondering when the Eagles’ run will end.

“Philly’s probably due for a let-down game,” Andrews said. “A lot of guys were on the Cardinals (+6.5 at Philly on Sunday), and I don’ t know if it was a bet on the Cardinals as much as a bet against Philly, just (bettors) thinking you can only go to the well so many times. But it was a big win, very impressive. I’ve been nothing but impressed with Philly all year, but this is a spot where I lean toward Carolina.”

Here’s a look at the rest of the Week 6 slate.

Sunday, September 15

Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans (-10, 44.5)

Houston -10.5, at the Westgate on Sunday night, was the first line posted on this game, but it re-opened -10 Monday morning, after the Texans’ comeback attempt against the Chiefs fell short. In fact, there are -9.5s available as of this Monday afternoon writing for gamblers looking to lay the wood.

New England Patriots (-9.5, 47.5) at New York Jets

The Jets +10s that flashed on betting boards seemed to have been snapped up, as 9.5 prevails as the number throughout Las Vegas. While the Jets’ three-game winning streak hasn’t come against what we’d call a murderers’ row, they’re clearly better than most people thought they’d be ahead of the season – they’re a win away from going ‘over’ their season win total!

QB Josh McCown has played well enough to keep the Jets afloat, but that’ll be a tougher task against a New England team on a week-and-half rest.

“The guy’s had a pretty long career in the NFL. Everybody’s trying to get rid of him, but he’s not bad,” Andrews said of McCown. “They might be able to hang in there (vs. the Pats). I wouldn’t lay that number on the road, but I’m not chompin’ at the bit to bet the Jets, either.”

Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons (-11, 47)

Atlanta’s been bet up from its opening price of -9.5, and one can understand why. The Falcons are coming off a home loss to the Bills and a bye week, and it’s difficult to envision the Dolphins keeping up offensively.

Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (-4, 51)

New Orleans was adjusted from -3.5 to -4 at the Westgate, and is priced as high as -4.5 at CG Technology. While some handicappers may still be under the impression that the Saints are a good bet at home, they’re a bankroll-busting 4-12-1 ATS as a favorite in the Superdome over their last 17 opportunities in the role. Two of those losses have been against the Lions, who have beaten the Saints in four straight seasons, including the last two in New Orleans.

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

Injury concerns on both sides of this NFC North matchup have oddsmakers hesitant to hang a number.

Chicago Bears at Baltimore Ravens (-7, 41.5)

Baltimore by a touchdown was the number posted on this game before the betting market got its first glimpse of Bears rookie QB Mitch Trubisky.

San Francisco at Washington Redskins (-10, 46.5)

The Westgate moved Washington from -9 to -10, while William Hill and the Wynn went from -9.5 to -10, as gamblers may have noticed this gross scheduling inequity: San Fran is playing its third-straight road game, in a 1:00 pm ET content no less, against the Redskins, who had last week off.

Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville Jaguars (-2.5, 43.5)

It feels weird to write this, but Rams-Jags is one of the more interesting games on the Week 6 schedule.

Jacksonville priced at less than a field goal at home indicates the market rates the Rams a notch higher, a sentiment Andrews agrees with.

“Gun to my head, I’m probably buying both (teams) right now,” Andrews said. “The Rams have showed real improvement, particularly offensively. (Jared) Goff is a pretty legit quarterback. He looks like one of those guys who needed the right kind of coaching and he’s getting it this year.

“I’m not quite so enthused about Jacksonville,” Andrews added. “They’ve had horrible run defense, although they did play every well (at Pittsburgh on Sunday), but I’m not sure that was them playing well or the Steelers playing poorly. They have a very good pass defense. They still have Blake Bortles at quarterback, which is a huge question mark, but Leonard Fournette looks like he’s a pretty good runner.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5, 44.5) at Arizona Cardinals

This game opened pick ‘em at the Westgate, but by Monday afternoon, Tampa was laying -2.5 for next week’s road contest. Some shops are dealing -2 as of this writing.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs (-4, 46)

The first Vegas line on this game had the Chiefs laying -2 (-120), but that inexpensive offer on Kansas City was pushed to -3 within minutes. On Monday, even -3.5's didn’t last long, with Chiefs -4 becoming the number being dealt all over town.

The Chiefs are a head-turning 27-4 SU in their last 31 regular-season games, and they’ve been cashing lots of ticket to boot.

“I’ve been on Kansas City since last year and certainly nothing this year would deter me from that opinion,” Andrews said. “Besides winning every game, they’ve covered every game (this season), too. It’s only October, but I think right now, they’re the best team in the NFL.”

All that said, Pittsburgh figures to be dangerous getting 4 points in this spot.

“Pittsburgh for years, especially under (Mike) Tomlin, has been known to play down to their competition,” Andrews said the day after the Steelers’ 30-9 home loss to the Jaguars. “Not that Jacksonville’s all that down this year, but I can see where the Steelers wouldn’t be tremendously motivated against them, thinking they probably had this win. I’m not as concerned about the Steelers as I am about some other teams that threw in some real clunkers.”

Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders (no line)

Bookmakers await word on Derek Carr’s status.

New York Giants at Denver Broncos (-12, 41)

The opening line of Denver -9 skyrocketed to -12 by Monday afternoon, and the reason for the move against the winless Giants is obvious.

“They haven’t had much of a running game all year, now they lose four receivers (including All-Pro Odell Beckham Jr.),” Andrews said. “Obviously, they’re really hurting. It’s not just a bad game here or there – they have some real issues.”

Monday, September 16

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (no line)

There are questions about the status of both starting quarterbacks here, as Andrew Luck looks to get on the field for the first time this season, and Marcus Mariota tries to recover from a hamstring injury suffered two weeks ago. Luck will likely sit again for the sixth straight week.

Marcus DiNitto is a writer in Charlotte, N.C., who covers sports betting and all kinds of other stuff. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusDiNitto.

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