NFL betting: Kyler Murray, Justin Herbert should pay off as short underdogs

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·Betting analyst
·4-min read
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The favorites had bragging rights in Week 5 by edging out underdogs 9-7. It's been relatively even since underdogs took home the money in 68% of the games opening week. Since Week 2, underdogs are 33-31 ATS, painting a much clearer picture of the NFL parity that keeps us banking on thrilling upsets every Sunday. Through five weeks, there have been more game-winning scores in the final minute or OT than any other season in history. It's the perfect environment to cash in on some moneyline underdogs.

Every week this season, the majority of underdogs that covered the spread were also moneyline winners. It was by the slimmest margin this week (4-3), but it's still occurring at a very high rate on the season (31-13). I have found even better success betting short underdogs (+3.5 or less) with the same angle. All three that covered last week (BUF, PHI and PIT) were moneyline winners, with short underdogs winning 24 of 26 on the season. Let's ride this trend to the end and target some short dogs to play at advantageous prices.

L.A. Chargers (+125) at Baltimore

Lamar Jackson's historic comeback allowed everyone to forget how Baltimore was in a 25-9 hole early in the fourth quarter. The Ravens' defense allowed 513 yards to a Colts' offense that scored 17 or fewer points in all but one of its previous four games. If Carson Wentz can throw for 402 yards, what is Justin Herbert going to do?

Herbert shredded a Browns defense for 47 points and he is more than capable of doing the same to the Ravens. LA's offense now ranks in the top three in success rate and top six in scoring. Herbert and coach Brandon Staley's aggression in high leverage situations have put NFL defenses on notice. I'm not sold on Baltimore being the better team, and it's going to be tough to repeat that type of offensive performance on short rest. Coming off an emotional win, I will fade the Ravens and bet on the Bolts to bring us that plus money.

Detroit (+150) over Cincinnati

Both the Lions and the Bengals suffered heartbreaking losses last week. The agony of defeat brought Detroit's head coach to tears. His team isn't going to be the most talented, but I'm betting it will bring effort until the very end. The Lions have come within two points of victory twice in the last three weeks against the Vikings and Ravens. Will coach Dan Campbell finally get his first victory? I think the Bengals can give him some help.

Only two quarterbacks have thrown more interceptions this season than Joe Burrow. Before you discredit Detroit's defense, it's important to note that they do get pressure on the quarterback. The Lions rank in the top five in sack rate and should get home against Cincy's porous pass protection. Sacks and turnovers are two surefire ways to give a desperate team enough momentum to steal a game.

Expect another low-scoring Lions game that will come down to the wire. With the better kicking game and overall special teams edge, I think the price is right to back Detroit in an upset.

Arizona (+125) at Cleveland

The league's last unbeaten team is an underdog in Week 6? Only in the NFL. This line screams Cleveland, but I'm going to take a shot with the Cardinals at a great price. The odds are implying there is a 44% chance that the Cardinals win the game, and I think it's closer to 50. These two teams are ranked second and fifth, respectively, in net yards per play and third and sixth in Football Outsiders' DVOA team efficiency metric.

The Cardinals are 2-0 as dogs this season and have been dominant in both matchups. They outscored the Rams and Titans by a combined score of 48-19 in the first half of those two games. If they jump out to a big lead, I have doubts after last week that Baker Mayfield can bring the Browns back.

If the Cardinals' defense can disrupt Cleveland's run game — Arizona ranks sixth in stuff rate — the pressure will build on Cleveland's quarterback. In a close game down to the final possession, I am comfortable with my money on Kyler Murray over Mayfield. The dogs will be barking in the Dawg Pound.

Stats provided by teamrankings.com, football outsiders, and rbsdm.com.

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