Week 6 Football Pick’em Contest Strategy & Advice (2023)

Week 6 of the 2023 NFL season has three big favorites, the rolling 49ers at a tough defense, and the Belichick-McDaniels Bowl.

C.J. Stroud and the Houston Texans are one of the surprises of 2023 (Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire)

We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly (motions at the Patriots and Giants on offense) recently. The teams are starting to separate. But where might you want to avoid going with the prevailing public winds in Week 6?

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:


Tuesday 10/10

NFL Week 6 Early Value Picks

Here are some early Week 6 value picks in game-winner-based NFL pick’em contests we are seeing as of Tuesday.

Things are bound to change as kickoffs near, but it’s worth keeping an eye on them.

Houston Texans (vs. New Orleans Saints)

Spread: +1.0
Win Odds: 50%
Pick Popularity: 35%

The Saints are coming off a 34-0 drubbing of New England while the Houston Texans slowed their roll just a bit with a last-second loss to Atlanta, after two straight big wins.

So you can get a little value on Houston here in what is essentially a toss-up game, as about two-thirds of the public is taking the Saints in early action.

New England Patriots (at Las Vegas Raiders)

Spread: +3.0
Win Odds: 44%
Pick Popularity: 15%

Speaking of that 34-0 result, the Patriots will travel to Las Vegas fresh off two of the worst losses of Bill Belichick’s coaching career. Now, they face his former pupil Josh McDaniels and the Raiders. The public, understandably, is all over the Raiders, who just won in primetime. Those are two elements that make for a big public perception swing, with the Patriots’ poor form and the Raiders’ Monday win.

Getting shut out, though, can be a great motivator for a team, and create public value. Teams that were shut out are 21-12-3 ATS in their next game since the start of the 2017 season.

This Patriots team has had an avalanche of errors to start the year, ranking dead last in our adjusted turnover margin (-13) through five games. They’ve committed 10 turnovers, while ranking last in turnovers forced (2). They have recovered only one of the nine fumbles by themselves or the opponent over the last four games. New England is only two of 10 on fourth down attempts. And the kicker has missed four of his eight attempts.

Basically, not only have things been bad for New England, but they’ve also been extremely unlucky. There’s some value here with the public so heavily anti-Patriots this week.

Baltimore Ravens (vs. Tennessee Titans)

Spread: -4.0
Win Odds: 66%
Pick Popularity: 76%

Baltimore isn’t technically a value favorite, but they are the relative value play this week among the moderate favorites, based on the high popularity of the other similar options. Detroit (-3), Las Vegas (-3) and Jacksonville (-4.5) are the three closest favorites in win odds, and all have substantially higher popularity, so sticking with the Ravens coming off that error-filled loss to the Steelers is the value play.

Washington Commanders (at Atlanta Falcons)

Spread: +2.5
Win Odds: 46%
Pick Popularity: 30%

Washington’s defense looked awful in primetime on Thursday, as they lost by 20 points. Now, they travel to the 3-2 Atlanta, where the Falcons are not significantly better than the Commanders despite the records, other than getting a slight bump at home. So you can get a short underdog here at lower popularity, with 70% of the public taking Atlanta.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Detroit Lions)

Spread: +3.0
Win Odds: 41%
Pick Popularity: 19%

Finally, we’ll close with the Bucs, who are a home underdog against Detroit. Tampa Bay is coming off a bye week, Mike Evans did tweak a hamstring in the win over New Orleans in Week 4, so we do need to see his status, but if he is active, the Bucs are a live underdog drawing less than 20% popularity in game winner pools right now.

 


Tuesday 10/10

Week 5 Results Summary

It was a solid, if not completely spectacular week for the season-long picks, as some undervalued favorites prevailed. Weekly picks, meanwhile, missed out on some unpopular upsets that prevented a bigger week.

Game-Winner Pools

In game-winner pools, the public averaged 7.8 wins in Week 5. This was the first week with byes so that was out of 14 games. The two biggest favorites rolled (Miami and Detroit) and then the rest of the favorites went 6-6 for the week.

Our game winner picks in season-long were near, and just above the public with 8.0 wins on average from the “Max Profit” selections.

The weekly picks top options also finished with 8.0 wins, with plenty of results going both ways, including a higher leverage upset for many entries with the Jaguars, but some other favorites losing like New England and Tennessee. There were five small favorites that were being picked at or below 50% this week by the public, and they went 2-3.

Overall 2023 averages: Season-long Max Profit 49.5 wins, Weekly top option 44.7 wins, Public 46.7 wins

Spread Pools

The public finished just over .500, averaging 7.3 wins in 14 games. Yet again, we are seeing publicly popular picks with line movement going against them still perform well, as several teams covered who saw the line move against them. Kansas City and Philadelphia were notable favorites that covered against worst closing lines than typical contest lines, though Buffalo did lose, and lines moved in Jacksonville’s favor.

Our season-long picks came in below the public, with several model picks (and picks taking line movement) lost, with 6.1 wins on average. The weekly picks, meanwhile, were a little below that because the popular sides also covered at a higher rate, with 5.7 wins.

Overall 2023 averages: Season-long Max Profit 39.1 wins, Weekly top option 37.3 wins, Public 40.3 wins


Tuesday 10/10

Week 5 News and Stats Rundown

We are adding this section to our weekly articles, where we put some random observations, news, and notes from the week that was, that may be important going forward. At the bottom this week, we also have a summary of adjusted turnovers (not only turnovers, but safeties, missed kicks, and turnovers on downs). These things can often be more random but high leverage in a given week, so seeing which teams have benefited or struggled the most in these categories can be informative.

Key Injuries in Week 5

Colts QB Anthony Richardson suffered a shoulder injury and is out for several games, and Gardner Minshew will start while he is out.

Justin Jefferson was put on IR following a hamstring injury Sunday, and will miss at least the next four games for a Minnesota team that fell to 1-4.

De’Von Achane has been one of the revelations for the Dolphins, but the running back will miss multiple games after a knee injury.

Buffalo had a couple of more key defensive injuries this week, as LB Matt Milano suffered a broken leg, and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones a pec injury.

Giants QB Daniel Jones has a neck injury and his status for next week is uncertain.

Going Inside the Stats

The public tends to overreact to wins, losses, and scores. But football is a game where a couple of bounces and key plays can swing scoring quite a bit in the moment, but may not be as predictive.

Here are some notes from Week 5:

  • The Baltimore Ravens should not have lost to Pittsburgh, and it took a lot of things going wrong to end up at that result. Baltimore had three turnovers, a safety (on a blocked punt), two turnovers on downs, and a league-high seven dropped passes, while the Steelers had no turnovers or turnovers on downs.
  • As a result, Pittsburgh is now 3-2 despite being 30th in yards gained on offense and 30th in yards allowed on defense.
  • Dallas, Play a Close Game Challenge: The Cowboys are 3-2, and the average margin in those five games is 27.8 points, with the 12-point loss to the Cardinals being the only game decided by fewer than 20 points.
  • The San Francisco 49ers rank 1st in scoring on 53.7% of their drives. That understates it, though, as they have had seven different possessions in five weeks where they knelt or ran out the end of the half. In possessions they were trying to score, the 49ers have scored on 29 of 47 (61.7%).
  • The Giants failed to cover the large 13-point spread against Miami despite being +3 turnovers and scoring on a 102-yard interception return TD. After another day of allowing a ton of sacks (7), the Giants are now dead last in yards and net yards per pass attempt in the NFL.
  • The Patriots have managed only 18 first downs in the last two weeks, while losing by a combined 72-3 margin, and now have scored on a league-worst 16.1% of their offensive possessions.

Adjusted Turnover Standings, Week 5

Here are the adjusted turnover ranks. Teams at the top have benefited the most, on net, from opponent miscues and fails compared to their own. Teams at the bottom have had a lot of missed opportunities or a lack of mistakes by the opponent. (Safeties are included in turnovers.)

TeamTeam TOTeam TODTeam MFGOpp TOOpp TODOpp MFGNET
SF21095011
PIT530125110
DAL54011439
BUF72013408
NO5019418
TB41010207
SEA1246537
HOU2417224
PHI5318403
LAC2317203
IND5617443
KC9106613
NYJ81110022
GB5405231
DEN8114420
ARI5416400
JAC76211400
CIN4528210
DET6506230
TEN520320-2
ATL731440-3
LAR524323-3
BAL932640-4
MIA852541-5
CHI850431-5
MIN1130322-7
CAR841420-7
CLE1011311-7
LV1112421-7
WAS1023520-8
NYG853332-8
NE1074332-13

 


FYI

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’ 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, a 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.


FYI

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 73% 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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