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Can bettors trust in Tennessee, and Wednesday’s NFL bets you need to make in Week 6

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Can you believe it’s Week 6 of the NFL already? And we are down to just two undefeated teams. The 49ers and the Patriots who open this week by hosting the Giants Thursday. We get you ready for the week ahead in NFL betting, with our best picks and predictions. And we’re not stopping at pointspreads and totals – no, no. We’re digging into team totals, player props, derivative odds and more.

TATE OF EMERGENCY

The New York Giants’ No. 1 receiver Sterling Shepard will reportedly be out for a while as he is in the league’s concussion protocol. This will mean Golden Tate will play exclusively out of the slot, one week after returning from suspension and catching three balls for 13 yards.

The perceived increase in the passing game works in our advantage as we may get a higher receiving total for Tate ahead of his extremely difficult matchup versus the New England Patriots’ slot corner Jonathan Jones.

Jones has the best matchup advantage of the game per Pro Football Focus and owns an impressive defensive grade of 90 with a 23 percent catch rate and a minuscule 0.32 yards per route covered.

It’s going to be a tough go for rookie quarterback Daniel Jones as Bill Belichick is 17-5 in games against rookie quarterbacks, including 11-0 at home. Take the Under on Tate’s 54.5 receiving yard total.

TEAM TOTAL TREASURE

Last week we went 5-1 on full-time team totals and it has quickly become one of our favorite early-week prop markets. Here are a couple of our favorites.

San Francisco 49ers (22.5) @ L.A. Rams: We hate putting our money on a recent performance, but with the 49ers averaging the second-most points per game at 31.8 and the Rams having allowed 85 points in their last two, we don’t mind. We know that San Fran will be on a short week and be without the services of Kyle Juszczyk, but the travel is short, and they only had to compete for 35 minutes on Monday night to get the win.

This is a perfect spot for Kyle Shanahan to beat the Rams using play-action off his amazing run scheme which is averaging 200 yards per game. L.A. owns the 24th-ranked DVOA pass defense and allowed Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston to combine for 752 passing yards over Weeks 4 and 5. Jump on the San Fran wagon and grab the Over.

Houston Texans (24.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs: We have backed the Chiefs for three-straight weeks and have come up empty. Andy Reid’s team is just finding ways to beat themselves as they have turned the ball over too much and were very close to having two-straight losses heading into their Week 6 matchup.

Houston and Deshaun Watson are coming off an offensively historic win in Atlanta last week and will take their top-10-yards-per-rush attack to KC versus the Chiefs’ 30th ranked DVOA run defense. KC has already allowed Detroit, Baltimore, and Jacksonville to eclipse 24.5 points this year. Hit the Over 24.5 especially with the Texans scoring a TD in 100 percent of their red-zone trips while on the road this year.

AGREE TO TENNESSEE

We may have a good read on the Tennessee Titans for the first time ever. We hit them as 3.5-point favs in Week 4 for a winner and faded them versus the Bills’ defense last week for another one. That means that it is time for the kings of inconsistency to continue this week in Denver versus the Broncos. If you didn’t know, the Titans tend to hurt bettors who bet solely on their previous week’s performance.

Mariota is 0-2 at home this year for just 332 yards and one touchdown but 2-1 for 779 yards and eight TDs with a 110.1 QB rating on the road. The Titans are also 2-0 ATS as road underdogs this year as it seems every week the road pups are hitting.

The Broncos are coming off their first win of the year last week and are 2.5-point favorites after facing spreads of +4.5, -2.5, +6, +3, and -3 — covering twice and zero times as the favorite. The Denver rush defense is also allowing 6.3 yards per carry at home which is only worse than…no, not the Dolphins but the Bengals.

We are getting on Tennessee at +2.5 now as it sits at +2 on a few other books.

RAVENS & DEMONS

The biggest story on Tuesday was the turd that Freddie Kitchens, Baker Mayfield, and the Browns dropped in San Fran on Monday night. We do like the value in a bounce back game for the Browns as the public will have the memory of Monday’s embarrassment fresh in their minds. Instead, we are going to look at a team that allowed that same Browns team to total 530 yards of offense for 40 points, just two weeks ago.

The Baltimore Ravens are giving up 32 points to opponents over their last three with injuries to the secondary having a lot to do with that. In that same three-game stretch, the blackbirds are giving up nearly 300 yards of passing and doing even worse at home, surrendering 333 yards through the air a game.

We know that Lamar Jackson and the offense can put up points, so we will avoid the 12-point spread, but there is no reason that the this week’s opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals, can’t clear their team totals of 17.5 points and first-half team total of 7.5.

Longshots to consider when betting the Shoemaker Mile

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Monday’s Shoemaker Miles Stakes at Santa Anita Park is a great race for a number of reasons. For starters, the Shoemaker Mile is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race that offers the winner a guaranteed spot in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland.

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

The race also features last year’s Preakness Stakes winner, War of Will, making his season debut. Despite his triumphs on the dirt in 2019, War of Will started his career on the turf and his pedigree suggests that he’s very likely to be just as successful on the grass. That said, the Shoemaker Mile will be his first start off of a six-month break, and I’m going to try to take a swing or two with some horses who could upset the apple cart at longer odds.

Let’s start out with the horse on the rail, Without Parole. He won the Group 1 St. James’s Palace Stakes going a mile at Ascot back in 2018. His three other career wins have all came at this mile distance as well. Granted, he hasn’t won in six races since the St. James’s Palace but he did finish a fast-closing third two starts ago in a much tougher U.S. debut in the TVG Breeders’ Cup MileIrad Ortiz Jr. rode Without Parole in that race and he will reclaim the mount on him again on Monday.

Without Parole has only had one race this year and it was in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in which he finished second to last. However, he had several excuses right from the start of that race when he got squeezed coming out of the gate. He also raced in traffic throughout and got cut off several times in the stretch before Frankie Dettori — who had come from Europe to ride him at Gulfstream — finally just wrapped up on him. The Pegasus World Cup Turf also was a race that didn’t allow him to run on Lasix (furosemide) after he’d shown significant improvement racing on Lasix for the first time at the Breeders’ Cup.

Stream the 2020 Shoemaker Mile live here

How much of a factor might Lasix be for some horses? Well, let’s next look at the horse who finished last in the Pegasus World Cup Turf: Next Shares. In his following start (back on Lasix) in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes, Next Shares finished third (beaten just a neck) to River Boyne. Both Next Shares and River Boyne return in the Shoemaker Mile and I prefer the former as a pace play who has plenty of back-class. If you rewatch the Kilroe Mile, Next Shares covered a lot more ground than River Boyne. With a similar effort, Next Shares could certainly turn the tables.

The other thing to like about Next Shares is that his trainer, Richard Baltas, has entered speedster Neptune’s Storm in the Shoemaker Mile. That horse, along with Voodoo Song, should ensure a very brisk pace up front — they’ll also be kept honest by Blitzkrieg and War of Will, both of whom usually race on or near the lead. All of that speed adds up to good news for Next Shares. He’s a Grade 1 winner who has always done his best running when he’s had some pace to run into. The other two keys for him (like all stalking or closing-type runners) is clear running room late, and hopefully he’ll get that with Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez taking the mount.

Lastly, we should take a look at True Valour. It’s hard to make much of an excuse for his flat finish in the Kilroe last out, but he’s truly performed better than what his results on paper might indicate. In the Thunder Road Stakes in February, he looked pretty keen early and it took him a few strides to settle down without throwing his head around and fighting his rider. Turning for home, it was clear that jockey Andrea Atzeni had plenty of horse under him but was just waiting for some running room. It ended up coming too late because River Boyne was in a better spot and had already taken command. True Valour did split horses nicely in the closing stages and was half a jump away from finishing second.

If you go back to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, True Valour had excuses there, too. He was up on heels early and he again took a little bit of time to settle down into a comfortable stride. Then, turning for him, he was just waiting for running room but instead got stuck behind a wall of horses. True Valour ended up steadying pretty badly and lost all chance at that point. I’m a little worried about how headstrong he tends to be early in races, but there’s a scenario here that could have at least two horses battling for the lead early and opening up some daylight on the rest of the field. That means he’ll be less likely to be running up on anyone’s heels and it also ensures that he’ll have a nice setup. Whether he can navigate clear passage late in the race is a separate matter.

Longshot Selections

#1 Without Parole

#3 Next Shares

#2 True Valour

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

How to bet an exacta on a horse race

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Betting an exacta can present a challenge on several levels.

There is, of course, the primary need to analyze past performances and decide which horses are going to finish first and second.

Yet because of the inherently lower payoffs as opposed to what you’ll find in a Pick 3 or Pick 4, you’ll need to structure your wagers effectively in order to turn your selections into a profitable wager.

For starters, an exacta can be a simple wager. If you like two horses equally, you can just box them in the exacta and collect so long as they finish 1-2 in any order. If you like one of them a little more, you can then bet more on the one you prefer, say $10 on a 1-2 exacta and $5 on 2-1.

If you’re a little more uncertain, make sure you structure your bet around the size of the field and the probable payoffs.

If you like a longshot, the higher probable payoffs give you the cushion you need to wager on more combinations and still turn a nice profit.

But if you’re dealing with favorites or horses at relatively low odds, you have to wager more efficiently to preserve your profit.

In a field of six or less, you’re best to either focus on one horse or box two of them instead of boxing three or more horses because of the small payouts the bet will most likely generate.

In a field of seven, a wise strategy would be to box your top two choices and then, if you are worried about other horses, play them top and/or bottom other the other horses. For example, box 1-2, then bet 1-2 over 3-4 and 3-4 over 1-2. This way you are getting coverage on four horses without having to box them.

Once you get an eight-horse field, as long as there is not an overwhelming favorite, you can expand the number of horses you box since the payoffs will typically be higher, giving you a better opportunity to offset the inevitable array of losing tickets in a boxed wager.