Week 6 Football Pick’em Contest Strategy & Advice (2022)

Week 5 of the 2022 NFL season is here, and we have several value favorites showing up in your pick'em pools.

Carson Wentz captures our reaction when seeing Washington is a big value pick again (Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Week 6 in NFL pick’em contests has arrived. The Houston Texans are no longer winless after their 13-6 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, while the Philadelphia Eagles remain the NFL’s lone remaining unbeaten team. The 4-1 Dallas Cowboys will put that record to the test on Sunday Night Football this week, though.

In these columns, we explore strategies to maximize your edge in NFL and college football pick’em contests. We also provide some of the rationale behind picks potentially recommended by our premium product.

We plan to periodically update to this post through Sunday of Week 6, so check back for updates. Here’s what’s available now:

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Tuesday 10/11

NFL Week 6 Early Value Picks

Below are some picks initially setting off the value radar for Week 6 in game-winner-based NFL pick’em contests. Things are bound to change as kickoffs near, but it’s worth keeping an eye on them.

Washington Commanders (at Chicago Bears)

Spread: +1.0
Win Odds: 50%
Pick Popularity: 25%

The public—and apparently Ron Rivera—are really down on QB Carson Wentz in Washington. That puts us in a position of backing the Commanders again.

The value picks have been mostly hot this year, but Washington has been an exception in recent weeks. Last week, the Commanders came up just short on the goal line with a chance to beat Tennessee as a really unpopular toss-up pick.

The Commanders are again a toss-up this week, but only 25% of the public is picking them. That means Washington should be part of your weekly prize leverage plays, because its chances of winning against the unimpressive Bears is better than the public thinks.

Arizona Cardinals (at Seattle Seahawks)

Spread: -2.5
Win Odds: 59%
Pick Popularity: 55%

Arizona is coming in as a value favorite on the road at Seattle this week.

The Cardinals came within a missed field goal by replacement kicker Matt Ammendola of going to overtime with the Eagles last week, but they still lost. The public is reacting to that 2-3 record.

Seattle again had a high-scoring game at New Orleans, but it came up on the wrong end. Seattle’s offense has been a pleasant surprise, but its defense has been the worst in the league, so Arizona should be able to move the ball.

Take Arizona as the betting favorite since the public is more evenly split on the outcome.

New Orleans Saints (vs. Cincinnati Bengals)

Spread: +1.5
Win Odds: 50%
Pick Popularity: 32%

This is shaping up to be the Andy Dalton revenge game if Jameis Winston is still out for New Orleans.

The Saints exploded for 39 points last week thanks to three Taysom Hill touchdown runs. Cincinnati, meanwhile, has been a bit off on offense, playing every game close to the vest.

The Bengals have now lost three games on a last-second field goal, but the offense also hasn’t been clicking. They are struggling to run the ball, and they haven’t been explosive on offense (they have not had 400 total yards in a regulation game yet).

Add it all up, and the Saints are a decent option to win in what is a toss-up game, but the public is picking them less than a third of the time right now.

Denver Broncos (at LA Chargers)

Spread: +5.0
Win Odds: 38%
Pick Popularity: 7%

When we last saw Denver, they were embarrassing themselves on Thursday Night Football. QB Russell Wilson really struggled in the game, throwing a pair of key interceptions and then missing the final pass in overtime on the goal line.

But this is the NFL, where you have to go against the popular narratives. And right now, the public seems to believe Denver is really bad and the Chargers are good.

This pick rate for the Chargers is extreme for a team not favored by more than a touchdown. That creates a high-leverage opportunity in weekly pools for taking the very unpopular Broncos in an AFC West showdown.

Cleveland Browns (vs. New England Patriots)

Spread: -3.0
Win Odds: 61%
Pick Popularity: 64%

This one doesn’t quite count as a value favorite pick, but it’s close. It should still be part of your game-winner pick strategy.

The Browns are coming off a close loss to the Chargers in their roller-coaster season. They are now 2-3, but four of the games have come down to the end.

The Patriots, meanwhile, bounced back in a big way, shutting out the Detroit Lions to win QB Bailey Zappe’s first start. But they still only scored one offensive touchdown in that win, and staying with the favored Browns at home is a better value proposition right now.

Tuesday 10/11

Week 5 Results Summary

Week 5 was a dominant one for our spread picks. The game-winner picks were solid, but a couple of key late results prevented them from being even better.

Game-Winner Pools

In game-winner pools, the public averaged 9.8 wins in Week 5. There were more big favorites this week, which meant fewer opportunities to differentiate without taking on far more risk. With that said, we saw bigger favorites Green Bay, Jacksonville, and the Rams all lose.

Overall, the season-long “Max Profit” picks finished ahead of the public at 10.4 wins. Results like New Orleans and New England winning were the difference there.

Weekly picks finished even with the public at 9.8 wins. Those results could have been much better. Two of the biggest leverage plays, Washington and Cleveland, both went against us with late plays that decided the outcomes in close games.

Spread Pools

After a winning week in Week 4, the public crashed down to earth in Week 5, finishing with only 7.1 wins on average. Larger favorites were popular but often failed to cover, even if they held on or came back to win the game. Teams favored by five or more points went 3-7 ATS in Week 5.

Our pick recommendations had a fantastic week, averaging 11.1 wins in season-long max-profit picks, four games better than the public. Meanwhile, weekly picks, which tend to also account for public pick popularity more to differentiate, averaged 12.0 wins, nearly five wins better than the public. Based on that, we expect to see high reported weekly win rates this week in spread pools.

In pick-five-type pools, our top five model picks went a perfect 5-0 against closing lines. That included three outright underdog wins (Giants, Texans, Cowboys).


Important Notes About Picks We Highlight

Keep in mind three things about picks we highlight in this article:

  1. Optimal pick’em contest strategy balances risk and potential reward.
    Maximizing your odds to win a pick’em pool generally requires exploiting the best opportunities to differentiate your picks from your opponents’s picks. Ideally, you want to fade the public while taking on minimal additional pick risk to do so. For example, taking a betting market favorite being picked by less than 50% of your opponents is usually a great opportunity.
  2. Not all of the picks we highlight are suitable for all pools.
    Don’t be surprised if our Football Pick’em Picks product doesn’t recommend several of the picks we mention in this post for your pool specifically—especially the upset picks. The best pick strategy for you depends on a number of factors such as your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure (a concept that’s covered in part by our article on season vs. weekly prize strategy).
  3. Picks we highlight may no longer look compelling by game day.
    We analyze and write about picks using data (e.g. win odds and pick popularity) current at the time we publish this article, but that data can change before kickoff. For example, key player being ruled out or a shift in public sentiment about a team can erase the differentiation value that a pick initially offered.

We’ll provide periodic updates in this post if major data changes occur for picks we’ve mentioned, so make sure to check back. However, there’s a much better way to stay on top of changing data trends throughout a week, which all sharp players need to do.

Our Football Pick’em Picks product automatically imports the latest win odds and pick popularity data multiple times per day. You can see the latest information in the Data Grid.

After you generate customized picks for your pool, you can also update those pick recommendations whenever you want via the My Pool Picks screen. The updated picks will incorporate the most recent data we have.


About Our Pick’em Pool Advice

What makes pick recommendations from our Football Pick’em Picks product different from other sites is that it isn’t generic.

In any given week, the best picks for your football pool depend on a number of variables. Your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure all influence strategy, as do factors like your current place in the standings and how many weeks are left.

So many different scenarios exist that it’s impossible to give pick advice that makes sense for every one. An underrated 6-point underdog could be a great pick in a big weekly prize pool and a terrible pick for a small season-long pool where you’re currently in the money.

Technology to the rescue

As far as we know, we’re the only site that has built algorithms to evaluate all these strategy factors and provide you with customized pick recommendations every week.

The result? Every year, an average of 71% of our subscribers win a prize (season-long or weekly) in a football pick’em contest.

If you want to see all the Week 1 picks we recommend for your football pick’em contest, use our Football Pick’em Picks product.

Why we write this column

At the same time, we know our subscribers like to understand the rationale behind picks our product may recommend, especially when those picks go against the grain. So over the years, we’ve started to write more about the “whys” behind our approach.

This column can also help educate our readers with pick’em pool strategy. We highlight tactics proven to result in more pick’em pool wins over the long term and point out common pitfalls to avoid.

We hope you enjoy reading, and we encourage you to check out more of our football pick’em strategy articles.

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