NFL Week 5 Picks

I don’t have a lot to say this week that won’t be said in the comments about the games below. So, we’ll get straight into the picks. As always, ATS picks in bold. Thanks for reading!

 

New England Patriots (2-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)

Line: TB +5.5

 

New England coming off of a loss is never a welcome sight for opponents. Tampa could have enough offense to challenge the Pats, but, much like their Week 2 contest with New Orleans, I see New England blowing the doors off of this one. Tampa’s offense gets first string running back Doug Martin this week, and will add him to its already stout offensive weaponry. 5.5 is a lot of points to be getting at home, even against an angry Pats team. If the Bucs D steps up, they may cover, but I see a shootout. Patriots 37 – Bucs 28

 

Buffalo Bills (3-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-3)

Line: CIN -2.5

 

Who’d’ve thought that the Bills would be in sole possession of the AFC East after the first quarter of the season? Not many, as a ton of people said the Patriots would go undefeated this year. The Bills are using solid all-around play, good coaching, and a strong pass rush to create havoc on the division standings. Are they for real? Time will tell. The Bengals blew out their in-state rival Browns last week, with Andy Dalton looking like a good veteran quarterback. I have my doubts on the sustainability of that outcome. Bills 24 – Bengals 21

 

New York Jets (2-2) at Cleveland Browns (0-4)

Line: CLE -1.5

 

The preseason consensus bottom two have gone in different directions since the start of the season. The Browns looked promising at first, but have fallen off a cliff in the past two games. Still waiting on the debut of number one overall pick Myles Garrett, the defense has been unable to generate any pass rush. The offense has looked okay at times, with Deshone Kizer making some good plays. The problem with the offense has been that their relying too much on the unproven rookie. The ground game has done next to nothing, and Kizer has been forcing throws and plays because of it. Even though he has the most interceptions in the NFL through four weeks, he hasn’t played terribly. He’s been asked to do much more than he’s ready to do. The Jets, on the other hand, have been playing better every week. Their running outburst last week was shocking and destructive for their opponents. The defense has been good, and they aren’t making mistakes. Against the Browns, that’s more than enough. Jets 27 – Browns 23

 

Carolina Panthers (3-1) at Detroit Lions (3-1)

Line: DET -2.5

 

Detroit has been one of the most well-rounded teams so far this season on a week to week basis. Usually, it’s the exact opposite for the Motor City team. While there is little run game to speak of, Ameer Abdullah has been trying to insert himself into the every down conversation, and has been doing pretty well at it so far. The Panthers, fresh off of a big win over the Patriots, still haven’t really looked like a complete football team for an entire game. The defense plays incredible football the first two weeks, and then allows 64 points in the next two games (albeit against strong offenses). The offense plays alright in Week 1, is a garbage fire for two weeks, and then Cam Newton miraculously looks like his 2015 NFL MVP self in New England. If the Panthers play a complete game, they can beat anyone. It’s hard to trust fluctuation against consistency, but the Panthers are more talented, and consistency has never been the Lions model before this season. Panthers 27 – Lions 17

 

Tennessee Titans (2-2) at Miami Dolphins (1-2)

Line: MIA +2.5

 

Will the real Jay Cutler please stand up? And then not move even an inch on a wildcat play? Cutler has always had talent, but the meme-ified version of him is really too accurate to be funny to fans of whatever team he’s quarterbacking. He really does seem apathetic most of the time. A reunion with Adam Gase, the offensive coordinator with whom he had the most success and now Dolphins head coach, seemed like it would light some fire under him. So far, the Dolphins haven’t seen a bit of it. Jay Ajayi has been a disappointment for the teams fans and his legion of fantasy owners who picked him way too high. For the Titans, last week should be a wakeup call. The Texans roasted them on a spit, including knocking out Marcus Mariota. The Titans QB is still questionable for this week’s contest, and a lot of the scenarios for picking this game involve whether or not he’s going to play. Assuming he does, Titans 34 – Dolphins 21

 

San Francisco 49ers (0-4) at Indianapolis Colts (1-3)

Line: IND -1.5

 

San Francisco may be winless, but they have played good games against good teams. The Colts have benefitted so far from playing the hapless Browns, but they have improved each week, at least until the second half last Sunday night in Seattle. I’ve been riding the Niners for the past few weeks, but with Indy at home, it’s hard to pick against them when their opponents are west coasters flying east for an early game. The stats are not in their favor. As bad as my luck has been picking these two teams this year, the smart bet is the opposite of my prediction. Colts 24 – 49ers 20

 

Los Angeles Chargers (0-4) at New York Giants (0-4)

Line: NYG -3.5

 

Regardless of who wins this war of attrition, it feels like a 3 point game, so, take the Chargers against the spread. As far as the money line is concerned, there’s a very interesting nugget about these two teams, and, specifically, their quarterbacks. Of course, in the 2004 NFL Draft, Eli Manning was selected first overall by the Chargers, but said from the beginning that he would refuse to play for them. This led to the Giants drafting Chargers QB Philip Rivers with the fourth pick. Subsequently, the players were traded for one another the same night, and both have gone on to have long, successful careers. The interesting fact here is that Eli Manning has never beaten the team he refused to play for. The Chargers are 3-0 against Eli Manning, and, as much as I can’t stand Rivers, I have to give him props for pumping up his team specifically for this game every four years. Can Eli break the curse he inflicted on himself? Giants 26 – Chargers 24

 

Arizona Cardinals (2-2) at Philadephia Eagles (3-1)

Line: PHI -6.5

 

A young team on the rise, and a veteran team on the decline. The Eagles finally have an offense to go along with their D. The Cards are playing what looks like exactly .500 football. I will be surprised if they move more than two games off that mark this entire season. They have been uninspiring, apart from Larry Fitzgerald, who might as well have Inspiration as a middle name. In his 14th season, he continues to have one of the best sets of hands in the game, runs precise routes, coaches his teammates on the sideline, and does phenomenal work off the field for a number of charities. Already a Hall of Fame lock, Fitzgerald could challenge Jerry Rice for the all-time mark for receptions if he plays another couple of years. At his current quality, that shouldn’t be any problem. Eagles 31 – Cardinals 27

 

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1)

Line: PIT -8.5

 

Pittsburgh still hasn’t played a great game. Like the Panthers, they can beat any team in the league when they do. Will they against the Jags young, stout defense? Remains to be seen. Jacksonville has already exceeded expectations with their level of competitiveness. While talent is one thing, and a thing the Jags haven’t lacked in two years, putting it all together is entirely different. They’re getting closer, but they aren’t there yet. Steelers 33 – Jaguars 28

 

Baltimore Ravens (2-2) at Oakland Raiders (2-2)

Line : OAK -3.5

 

The Raiders are likely without quarterback Derek Carr for this one. Considering how the Ravens have played the past two weeks, it might not matter. I think that Baltimore is due to have a decent game, so everything seems to be lining up for them. And yet, the Raiders are a more talented team. It all rests, as most Ravens games do, on the play of Joe Flacco. If he can shake off his self-professed claim of “I suck right now,” they can win. Raiders 19 – Ravens 17

 

Seattle Seahawks (2-2) at Rams (3-1)

Line: Rams -2.5

 

Seattle has had trouble with the Rams the past five years even when the Seahawks are great and the Rams are bad. Right now, the Rams are good, the Seahawks haven’t shown anything much more than average, save for a quarter and a half against a bad Colts team. Will the script be flipped this week? Seahawks 31 – Rams 28

 

Green Bay Packers (3-1) at Dallas Cowboys (2-2)

Line: DAL -2.5

 

The game of the week on paper, the Cowboys and Packers have both given us no reason to think that they won’t both make the playoffs again this year. The Cowboys, however, don’t have enough in the secondary to stop Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay passing offense. Their only hope is to keep up on offense, which is by no means impossible Dallas. I still think the Pack will be a little too much. Packers 38 – Cowboys 31

 

Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) at Houston Texans (2-2)

Line: HOU +1.5

 

The legend of Deshaun Watson grows with each passing week. It’s funny to think that so many teams overlooked him as a potential NFL starter. Bill Parcells once said that what he looked for most in a college QB prospect was wins, and that has been my philosophy when evaluating quarterbacks, even before I knew that Parcells quote. Obviously, I’m not evaluating on the same level as the Big Tuna, but regardless, every time that the winningest (major program) quarterback in a draft class isn’t the consensus number one QB, I’m baffled. Winners win. It’s that easy. If you recall my thread about A.J. McCarron from a few weeks ago, it’s the same idea. Winners win. Speaking of winners, on the other side of the field on Sunday night will be Alex Smith. I’ve always felt that Smith was undervalued as a QB in the league for the same reason. He has proven that when he is given a chance, he wins football games. He’s never had the most arm talent, but he very rarely makes mental errors and he wins football games. That’s what i look for in a quarterback. Chiefs 28 – Texans 24

 

Minnesota Vikings (2-2) at Chicago Bears (1-3)

Line: CHI +3.5

 

It’s hard to figure out the Vikings. They’re down their top two quarterbacks, but Case Keenum has filled in pretty well. But now they have also lost their top running back, rookie Dalvin Cook. Latavius Murray is capable, and the receiving corps has been great so far. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have picked up right where they left off last year, and I don’t think it’s a fluke. The Bears running game has been very good, but their passing has left much to be desired. We’ll see if rookie Mitchell Trubisky out of North Carolina can turn that around in his first start. His preseason made it look distinctly possible. Vikings 23 – Bears 20

 

Last Week ML: 7-9

Season: 38-25

Last Week ATS:9-7

Season: 32-31

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