Identifying NFL Underdogs in Pursuit of Profit
The 'Dogs keep barking and we continue our winning run on these pages with four straight winning weeks. That includes a 2-1 result in Week 4 and now 8-2 ATS with six outright winners after the NY Giants (+7 or 7.5) rallied to shock the Saints last week in New Orleans. The Patriots (+7) nearly did the same to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in an easy wire-to-wire cover as a long last second field goal hit the crossbar and the Bucs escaped Foxboro 19-17.
Be sure to check the NFL injury reports and monitor the betting lines as a number of teams report injuries each week and early in the season.
An AFC Championship rematch between the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs headlines the Week 5 card, and we're including the Bills on our NFL Week 5 underdog picks this week. Compare lines and odds at the leading online sportsbooks, as there has been more late week adjustments including on the Bills.
The 4+ year record on these pages picking only underdogs is now 110-81 (57.6%) with 54 outright underdog winners.
NFL Week 5 Underdog Picks
Washington (+2.5) vs New Orleans - WFT Moneyline +125 at BetOnline
Buffalo (+3) at Kansas City - Bills Moneyline +125 at Bovada
Buffalo at Kansas City
Another shootout is expected on this week's Sunday Night Football special with the highest total of the week and season up to 57 at some leading online sportsbooks. Kansas City won last year's AFC Championship game over Buffalo, 38-24. It appears the Bills can get their share of points in this match-up, as the Chiefs defense is last in the league on defense heading into this week allowing 437 yards per game and 6.9 yards per play. The Bills defense is No. 1 in the league allowing 216 YPG and 4.0 YPPL. That also includes just 68 rushing yards per game at 3.2 yards per rush. The Bills rushing attack, which includes the mobility and running of QB Josh Allen, is averaging 145 YPG to rank top 5 in the league. I'll note that the Chiefs (2-2) have played by far the tougher schedule through four games which includes three winning teams. The Bills (3-1) have played the easiest schedule of opponents this season with none showing a winning record. Three of those opponents rank poorly in offensive line play with bottom 5 rankings in pass block win rate. Buffalo is also +7 in turnover margin. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has tossed four INTs including a pair against a Chargers defense at home, and the Bills defense is even stronger, at least statistically thus far. Still, the Chiefs offense is the most efficient in the league under Mahomes, who is No. 1 in the league in QBR, EPA per drop back and points per possession.
But putting the percentages in our favor, the Bills average of 32 rushing attempts per game, and the Chiefs AFC-worst run defense allows 145 rushing YPG and 5.4 yards per rush. So we have the stronger running game and defense as underdog, and that's something we'll always bet on. Positive ATS situations supporting Bills coach and defensive guru Sean McDermott. Add this from Playbook: Buffalo QB Josh Allen is 12-1 SU and 10-2-1 ATS in his NFL career against opponents coming off a SUATS win, including 7-0 SUATS when the Bills own a greater than .666 win percentage. 29-16-2 ATS in regular season games, and 14-6-2 ATS as an underdog. Mahomes is 8-1-1 ATS in his career when not favored by more than 3 points.
From my proprietary data base that I log and update each week, I'll note that NFL teams that run the ball at least 30 times in a game (when their opponent does not) are 35-8 SU / 33-10 ATS (76.7%) this season. Teams that outrush their opponent by at least 30 yards in a game are 35-17 SU / 37-15 ATS (71.2%) this season, and historically (20 years documenting) are nearly a 74% ATS situation.
Lots of moving parts and lines, injuries of note, match-ups and rookie QB's (SF, NYJ) that are keeping me off underdogs like the Bengals, 49ers, Jets (in London) or even the Eagles. So we'll chip-in two picks and the analysis on the biggest game of the week, and shoot for more birdies to improve our record to 10-2 ATS this season on our NFL underdog picks.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay