NFL Week 6 Line Movement: Massive Shifts From QB Injuries

Written By Mo Nuwwarah on October 17, 2021 - Last Updated on October 13, 2021

Each week during the 2021 NFL seasonTheLines will examine how the coming week’s NFL lines have changed relative to preseason or prior expectations. Often, early lines can give an objective look at teams’ relative talent levels, absent week-to-week recency bias when the weekend results take hold. Let’s take a look at NFL Week 6 spreads and see which numbers have changed and, potentially, why.

Tracked lines below come from FanDuel Sportsbook, which provide the basis for our Week 6 look-ahead lines. Prices are -110, unless otherwise noted.

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Two Biggest NFL Week 6 Spread Moves: The QB Changes

We can trace two massive moves in NFL Week 6 spreads to two quarterback injuries. Let’s see what the market thinks of their backups.

GameLook-Ahead LineOct. 12, 6 p.m. ET
Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh SteelersSeahawks -3Steelers -4.5
LA Rams at NY GiantsRams -7Rams -10.5

Seahawks At Steelers

Russell Wilson has been not only a solid performer at QB for the Seahawks, but he’s been one of the more durable starters out there, with a penchant for avoiding hits on his many scrambling adventures. However, he finally got dinged up and hit IR with a hand injury.

Geno Smith came in and actually played pretty well in relief against the Rams. Can he do the same on the road against a tough Steelers defense that will be prepared specifically for him?

Smith has 37 picks and 30 TDs in his career. He’s never been known for his pocket presence, more importantly, as he has a sky-high 8.1% sack rate. That bodes pretty poorly here against a Steelers pass rush that has gotten the job done consistently well this year, especially with TJ Watt back in the fold.

But is Wilson really worth more than a touchdown to the line? That seems like a mighty aggressive move here. Then again, Smith hasn’t drawn a start since 2017. That’s probably for good reason.

On the other side of the ball, it’s anyone’s guess how the Steelers offense will perform. The Seahawks have been pretty beatable, particularly though the air. Jamal Adams had a glaringly poor day in coverage against LA. The Steelers showed more willingness to take deep shots in recent weeks after living short early on. They have to keep that up to exploit the Seahawks’ weak point.

Rams At Giants

This one’s a little more speculative, and there are also other injuries to factor in. But, Daniel Jones sustained an apparent concussion on a hard hit trying to run it in near the goal line against the Cowboys. It’s possible he could come back still this week, like Teddy Bridgewater did last week.

If he doesn’t, Mike Glennon grabs the reins for the Giants. Glennon actually started five games last year for Jacksonville. The results: 0-5 with 5.42 net yards per attempt. At least he tossed more TDs (7) than INTs (5), but his 36.7 QBR says most of that production probably wasn’t meaningful.

It would be one thing if Glennon at least had a full complement of weapons or a healthy line in front of him. But, that looks very far from the case. Not only were three rotation linemen already out last week along with two starting receivers, but WRs Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney went down along with RB Saquon Barkley. It’s too early to say who will be available this week but seems very likely at least Barkley sits.

The Rams have a fearsome reputation on defense. Interestingly, both EPA and DVOA remain a bit unimpressed in 2021, ranking them as a middling group.

In any case, the market seems certain enough this will prove too tough a hill to climb for the hobbled Giants. You won’t see any home teams in NFL Week 6 spreads at other than the G-Men.

Cowboys Impress, Patriots Decline

GameLook-Ahead LineOct. 12, 6 p.m. ET
Dallas Cowboys at New England PatriotsCowboys -1Cowboys -4

Cowboys At Patriots

The only NFL team perfect against market expectations thus far: the Dallas Cowboys.

This offense has operated at an extremely efficient level thus far. Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore has probably been the best play caller in the business this year. The offensive line has regained elite status, leading the league by far in adjusted line yards.

However, it’s the other offensive line that bears watching here. The Patriots missed four starting linemen against the Texans due to a combination of COVID and injuries. The result: a much closer than expected game as they needed a late TD just to pull out the win.

The market has become duly impressed with the Cowboys, it appears, as this line adjusted toward them by a field goal after Sunday’s action. No doubt, it’s tough to find fault with what they have done. The defense has been far better than last year’s bunch, ranking sixth in DVOA. Continued investment via the draft plus hiring Dan Quinn to coordinate has paid dividends.

Still, this is Bill Belichick at home. He should have something cooked up, as he did when the high-powered Bucs came to town and found themselves in a dogfight.

AFC West Teams And Others Nudge Off Key Numbers

Several other games moved off of or onto key numbers. We’ll hit a few in quick fashion.

GameLook-Ahead LineOct. 12, 6 p.m. ET
Las Vegas Raiders at Denver BroncosBroncos -2.5Broncos -3.5 (106)
Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Football TeamChiefs -6.5Chiefs -7 (-114)
LA Chargers at Baltimore RavensRavens -3.5Ravens -3 (-104)
Miami Dolphins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (London)Dolphins -3Dolphins -3.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia EaglesBucs -6.5Bucs -7 (-106)

Chiefs At Football Team

The Chiefs need to pick it up in a hurry. With other teams in the division playing above expectations, they find themselves needing to make up several games just to get in the playoff picture at this point.

If the journey back to respectability doesn’t start here, it’s going to get really dire. The Washington defense, expected to be one of the league’s best, ranks a shocking 30th in EPA/play and 28th in DVOA.

Worse still, they’ve been among the most blitz-happy teams, and it hasn’t translated into great pressure numbers.

That’s a scary proposition against the Chiefs. For all their struggles, the offense remains elite. Even in the ugly showing versus Buffalo, self-inflicted errors like drops and fumbles derailed them. And Patrick Mahomes is at his best when blitzed.

The market seems on board with this matchup, pushing the Chiefs to -7 with extra juice at some operators that makes it look like it might hit -7.5.

Raiders At Broncos

The Raiders have come down hard since their fast start to the season.

The last two games have produced nothing but ugliness on offense as QB Derek Carr has not pushed the ball downfield at all. WR Henry Ruggs III and TE Darren Waller do their best work in the intermediate to deep areas, and they must revive this part of the offense.

Unfortunately, the Broncos do not represent a very likely spot to get things rolling again. They’ve been fifth-strongest against the pass in terms of EPA. Their combo of elite safeties and solid corners makes getting anything done deep pretty difficult.

An ugly loss to the Bears at home appears to have convinced the market to shift this one through 3 despite the Broncos not looking their best in Pittsburgh.

Chargers At Ravens

Has the market finally taken notice of how good the Chargers look? Only a narrow loss to the Cowboys in which they committed a pile of penalties has them missing perfection.

Then again, they could have very easily lost against the Browns in the season’s wildest game yet. Only incredible high leverage play kept them in that as they went 6-for-13 on third down and 3-for-3 on fourth.

Still, that doesn’t compare to the escape act the Ravens pulled against the Colts. They needed a comeback for the ages — making up 16 points on the final two possessions — just to force overtime, where they won the coin flip and made good with another TD. The Colts dominated them up front for much of the game on both sides of the ball.

That’s a troubling sign for this matchup. The Chargers have been putrid against the run — better than only the Chiefs in EPA/play — so the Ravens need to return to their mauling style to best exploit this opponent.

Dolphins At Jaguars

The second London game of the season will see two teams with one combined win duke it out. You’re welcome, London.

The Dolphins got boatraced in Week 5 by the Bucs, as a team that prides itself on its defense allowed 9.5 yards per pass. Luckily, the Jaguars offer a much easier target for stops as Trevor Lawrence has had a tough time taking care of the ball this year.

The big question here, and one that may have influenced the market: will Tua Tagovailoa return from injury? The early Week 6 reports sounded promising as the team does expect him to practice. Keep an eye out as the offense has ground to a complete halt under Jacoby Brissett’s leadership.

Buccaneers At Eagles

Thursday Night Football will pit the Bucs against the Eagles in Philly. A small move here among NFL Week 6 spreads, but a notable one to a full touchdown.

When the Eagles previously faced high-powered offenses in the Chiefs and Cowboys, they couldn’t muster much resistant as those teams marched up and down the field with ease. Can Tom Brady and Co. do the same here?

One area in which the Eagles have been very strong is getting after the opposing QB. They rank fifth in adjusted sack rate even though only the Raiders have blitzed less frequently. That unit will need to continue its outstanding play as Brady has zero mobility but has been protected by his outstanding line.

Watch the matchup up front there for an early sign on where the game is going.

NFL Week 6 Spreads, Movement Tracker

GameLook-Ahead LineOct. 12, 6 p.m. ETOct. 16, 3 p.m. ET
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia EaglesBucs -6.5Bucs -7 (-106)
Miami Dolphins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (London)Dolphins -3Dolphins -3.5Dolphins -3 (-105)
Houston Texans at Indianapolis ColtsOTBColts -9.5Colts -10
Green Bay Packers at Chicago BearsPackers -4.5Packers -4.5 (-115)Packers -6
Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Football TeamChiefs -6.5Chiefs -7 (-114)Chiefs -7 (-106)
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina PanthersPanthers -1Vikings -1 (-114)Vikings -2.5 (-115)
LA Chargers at Baltimore RavensRavens -3.5Ravens -3 (-104)Ravens -3 (-102)
Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit LionsBengals -3.5Bengals -3.5Bengals -3.5
LA Rams at NY GiantsRams -7Rams -10.5Rams -8
Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland BrownsBrowns -3Browns -3 (-104)Browns -3.5 (-106)
Las Vegas Raiders at Denver BroncosBroncos -2.5Broncos -3.5 (106)Broncos -4.5 (-106)
Dallas Cowboys at New England PatriotsCowboys -1Cowboys -4Cowboys -3.5 (-105)
Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh SteelersSeahawks -3Steelers -4.5Steelers -4.5
Buffalo Bills at Tennessee TitansBills -3.5Bills -5.5Bills -5.5
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