Week 5 was nondescript to slightly down from a value bet perspective. The top five against-the-spread plays went 2-2-1 (-$20), while the top five moneyline plays (all underdogs) went 1-4 (-$185), with losses somewhat muted by another Buffalo Bills win, this time +215 versus the theretofore 3-1 Tennessee Titans.
Week 6 features the 2018 season's most competitive matchups from an oddsmaking perspective, with an average line of 4.2 points, the lowest of the year. Eleven of 15 games feature a line of 3.5 points or less.
In any case, I think this week's real intrigue rests with the futures grid below, which has grown extremely dire as the season has progressed. Scroll down and look at all that red. Good luck finding value there.
Probabilities to cover and win are sourced from the 50+ models on The Prediction Tracker. Against-the-spread expected values assume bets to win $100. Moneyline expected values assume bets that risk $100.
I. Against the Spread — Top 5 Value in Week 6
1. BUF +10.0 at HOU, -110, 60.2% chance to cover, $16.4 expected return on $100 wager
2. SFO +9.5 at GBP, -110, 57.5%, $10.7
3. SEA -2.5 at OAK, EV, 55.3%, $10.6 (London)
4. NYJ -2.0 vs. IND, -110, 56.6%, $8.9
5. LAR -6.5 at DEN, -110, 55.2%, $6.0
TOP 5 VALUE
Last Week: 2-2-1 (-20), Season: 12-11-2 (-10)
Last Week: 0-0, Season: 3-0 (+300)
Last Week: 0-2-1 (-220), Season: 5-8-2 (-390)
II. Money Line — Top 5 Value in Week 6
1. BUF +375 at HOU, 21% prob to win (odds), 37% prob to win (models), $75 expected return
2. SFO +350 at GBP, 22%, 34%, $54
3. ARZ +375 at MIN, 21%, 27%, $26
4. KC +150 at NEP, 40%, 49%, $23
5. MIA +170 vs CHI, 37%, 43%, $16
TOP 5 VALUE
Last Week: 1-4 (-185), Season: 10-15 (+1655)
All selections have been underdogs
III. Searching for Value in NFL Futures Bets
As noted above, the futures board is now almost entirely red. Two weeks ago, you could still sniff out some value in Baltimore and Cincinnati, or perhaps Washington and Dallas. But even those have faded.
Cincinnati's 23-to-1 to win the AFC has become 11-to-1, and their 50-to-1 to win it all is now 25-to-1. Dallas was 5-to-1 to win the NFC East ahead of Week 4, but they're now just 3-to-1. Baltimore and Washington's odds have compressed. Of the four, only the Ravens are still mildly interesting as Super Bowl long shots anymore; the models give them a 4.6% chance, which is better than the 3.8% implied by their 25-to-1 odds.
Remember that these expected values are only as reliable as your faith in the models that produce them. If you think the Bears have a 54% chance to win the NFC Central, and 11% chance to win the conference, or a 5% chance to win the Super Bowl, then you might find value at +160 (division), +1200 (conference), or +2500 (Super Bowl). In all cases, the models like the Bears a little bit better than the oddsmakers do.
Westgate odds as of Oct 11. Probabilities reflect the average across ESPN FPI, Football Outsiders, and Massey-Peabody. ESPN FPI does not publish probabilities to win the conference, so they are excluded for that category.