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Against the Spread: 2010 NFL Picks: Week 6

Updated from Thursday with new line on New Orleans/Tampa Bay game.

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- It's déjà vu all over again! Against the spread, underdogs in the NFL are 46-26 with four pushes heading into Week 6.

Typically, your average bettor -- one who doesn't make sharp wagers looking for value -- will put their money on the favorite and will lay the points. That approach has only lost money so far this year, as evidenced by the underdogs' record against the spread.

Nearly every week, I've highlighted the underdogs' ability to cover. Unfortunately, I haven't been as lucky when it comes to sniffing out that value. My record in picking games in this column is back above .500 at 13-12, and I'm hoping to build on that total this week by searching out value picks in underdogs.

Brett Favre
Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings

Week 5 was particularly interesting in that a handful of underdogs not only beat the spread but won outright. In Sunday's late-afternoon slate of games, all three underdogs (the Arizona Cardinals, Oakland Raiders, and Tennessee Titans) were getting six or more points and still managed to win straight up.

In all, nine underdogs managed to win outright last week, and that number would have been one higher if Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, who has been the subject of scrutiny for allegedly sending inappropriate cell phone pictures to sideline reporter Jenn Sterger in 2008, hadn't thrown a late-game interception that the New York Jets returned for a touchdown to cover the spread.

Thankfully, I picked the Jets to cover the 4-point spread, and as a result I ended with a winning record last week. Phew!

>>2010 College Football Picks: Week 7

Even the sharp bettors, though, have taken a beating. After Minnesota failed to cover Monday night, the top 10 picks in the Supercontest at the Las Vegas Hilton sports book had a 1-9 record in Week 5. Professional NFL bettors pony up $1,500 to enter into the Hilton's Supercontest, which has more than $200,000 on the line. The fact that a majority of the participants were so high on losers against the spread speaks volumes about how tough last week was for bettors.

That includes me, as I loved the San Diego Chargers in their game on the road against the Raiders. Emailer "Stan daMann" pointed out that "one trend that remains the same, that you (and the bookies) miss every year, is that the Chargers start slow. And if you haven't figured it out yet, Oakland is a team that is much better than last year." I'm considering myself warned, Stan.

Despite the outperformance of underdogs over the last several weeks, the favorites are still seeing a lot of public interest in Week 6. Like any stock picker, the goal is to find the best possible value in NFL picks and, once again, it looks like it will be with underdogs this week. That's why I've devoted my picks column this week to only games where underdogs look very appealing.

Once again, I've enlisted the help of Paul Bessire, the general manager and creator of the Web site PredictionMachine.com. The Prediction Machine is a quantitative way to break down matchups as it simulates each game 50,000 times to come up with a pick against the spread.

Read on for the first game preview, the New Orleans Saints at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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