Everything changes in the NFL. The year of the underdog lasted only a few weeks as October appears to be a month for favorites. The first three weeks of the season favored teams were only 19-29 ATS and once you started fading the favorites — BOOM! They start covering with ease. Favorites went 8-6 ATS in Week 6 and are now 25-21 since Week 4.
Even our short dogs (+3.5 or less) haven't seen the same level of success as the season has progressed. After starting the season on fire at 19-7 ATS, they have only profited at a 40% rate since. They still carry their best trait, which is the rate that they hit on the moneyline. Short dogs are 15-14 ATS since Week 3 but all 15 that covered won outright, providing the opportunity to cash in on some plus money odds. There is little reason to grab the points with these bets since the spread has only been in play in two of the 28 times short dogs have covered this season. Week 7 gives us three short dogs where I see moneyline value, starting on Thursday night.
Denver Broncos (+110) at Cleveland Browns
Cleveland can compete with any team in the league when healthy but the Browns are banged up with a short week to prepare. Case Keenum will start at QB behind an offensive line that will likely be missing both tackles and allowed five sacks last week. Without Nick Chubb or Kareem Hunt to threaten the defense with the running game, Fangio's defensive front should be able to tee off. The Broncos rank in the top 10 in adjusted sack rate and Von Miller has been vocal all week about taking advantage of the opportunity and having a huge game Thursday night.
Denver is back to the drawing board after losing three straight and failing to cover in each game. Cleveland's 28th-ranked defense on third downs should give life to a Broncos offense that relies on moving the ball methodically down the field. Denver has averaged only 16 points per game over its losing streak but has an opportunity to win this game 10 yards at a time. Teddy Bridgewater is an outstanding 19-2 ATS as a road underdog. This is the perfect spot to bet on the Broncos.
Carolina Panthers at New York Giants (+130)
I never said betting moneyline dogs was going to be easy but somebody has to do it. The Giants might be 1-5 but they hit the moneyline as an underdog in their only win this season. Can they do it against Carolina?
The Panthers have lost three straight games where their defense has allowed an average of 30+ points, but it's their inept offense that makes them vulnerable against almost anybody in the league. Over the last three weeks, the Giants have outgained Carolina by over 50 yards per game while the Panthers rank 31st in offensive success rate. Sam Darnold's start to the season appears to have been a mirage as each week he validates the Jets' decision to move on.
Carolina's defense has allowed the fourth-highest rate of explosive run plays and a heavy dose of hand-offs will be prudent to limit Jones' exposure to the pass rush. I expect a low-scoring game where a fourth-quarter big play makes the difference. I will take a shot on Big Blue as a home dog.
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins (+115)
Here is another home dog where the price and situation are too good to pass up. This line has moved six points in the Falcons' favor since the season started. I touched on why it's not warranted in my overreactions article, and I believe Miami can win this game outright.
Assuming Xavien Howard and Byron Jones return as expected, the Dolphins have the talent to match up against Atlanta's receivers and limit their offensive output. As much as Miami's defense has struggled this season, they are tied with the Giants for the lowest passing success rate allowed among all of Atlanta's previous opponents. The Giants held the Falcons to 17 points back in Week 3. This will be Matt Ryan's toughest test.
The Dolphins offense should get their top receiver, DeVante Parker, back in time to feast against Atlanta's 30th-ranked defense. Football Outsiders ranks Atlanta as the worst team in the NFL according to their team DVOA metric. Anytime I can get points against Atlanta, I am interested. I will take that Miami moneyline right to the bank.