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Against the Spread: 2011 NFL Picks: Week 6

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- I'm not going to lie: Week 6 looks like the toughest week for picking NFL games against the spread. Those hunting for value have a tough slate of games in which to find it this week.

Through five weeks, my record against the spread is 10-14 with one tie. After a woeful start with 1-4 records in my first two weeks, I'm happy that the ship is turning around. After all, this NFL regular season is a 17-week marathon, not a sprint. I won last week by picking the undefeated Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings. I lost on my pick of the Tennessee Titans, and my pick of New York Jets +9 tied, although some lucky bettors would have won with Jets +9.5.

Aaron Rodgers, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers

Week 6 provides some challenges for those bettors looking for value against the spread. For one, nearly every home team in the 13 games this week is favored, with the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints the only teams laying points on the road this week. We also have six teams returning after taking Week 5 off; They include the Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams, all four of which are underdogs on the road this week despite the extra time to prepare.

The biggest issue for sports bettors, though, is the fact that Vegas linesmakers now have a better handle on teams. As such, they are setting the spreads in such a way that makes it tough for bettors to pounce on the obvious value. Without a big trend in place heading into Week 6, those making bets need to make sure their analysis has no holes, unlike the Patriots defense.

"We're pretty well split between home teams and away teams, favorites and underdogs, big lines and small lines," says Paul Bessire, the general manager and creator of the Web site His Prediction Machine is a quantitative way to break down NFL games as it simulates each contest 50,000 times to come up with a pick against the spread.

"There isn't much of a trend," Bessire adds. "All of the lines are pretty scattered. Even with the top picks by our model, this has been as tight a week as possible. Our projections are closer to the Vegas lines as they've been all year."

Bryan Leonard, a professional sports handicapper with who is also part of the Tuesday Group of professional bettors in Las Vegas, says that big-name, marquee teams like the Steelers, Packers and Patriots may have been overpriced this week because of how much the Vegas books have lost on these teams in recent weeks.

"They are anticipating a lot of money coming in on the best teams," Leonard says. "They have to continually jack up the lines on these popular teams every week so they don't get burned. They've been losing because of the Steelers, Packers and Patriots winning. They have to keep paying out to the public, so now they're all overpriced this week."

With that, let's get on to the picks for Week 5 of the NFL season. As I'll remind you through the entire season, these are for entertainment purposes only. Once again, I have enlisted the help of's Paul Bessire, who offers analysis of the data his model provides for the games I've picked this week.

I have also collected commentary from's Leonard. His analysis focuses on the spread movement by Vegas oddsmakers to determine where the public and professional money is moving on each game. These trends prove to be critical for bettors who are on the hunt for inefficiencies and value.

Read on for the first game pick, where the Minnesota Vikings travel to play the Chicago Bears. And as always, I encourage you to leave comments below with your favorite picks against the spread this week. We've had some good discussions in the comments section, and I'll be checking all weekend to hear your thoughts.
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