My Week 5 NFL Picks

Once again, we are back at it. Attempting to correctly pick each game of the NFL week. It seems like every week there is some viral occurrence of a bettor with a massive parlay that is one leg away from hitting and the entirety of football Twitter is hinging on their decision to cash out or let it ride. I would never be that person. So far, I have had weeks with six, seven, eight, and nine correct picks. Not in that order of course because that would be much too predictable for this uncertain topic. Naturally, that means I will either get five or 10 games right this week in order to continue the pattern. Let’s hope it’s the latter because getting just five games right would be a bit demoralizing.

Denver Broncos (-3.5) over Indianapolis Colts

There are some sickos out there that like to watch bad football, particularly bad quarterbacking, so they must be salivating over this matchup. Both Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan were supposed to be jetting off to better situations when they left their previous teams after long tenures. Well, both have now realized that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side (although to be fair it isn’t very green where they came from at the moment). I trust Wilson much more in this matchup because his line isn’t playing completely awful and, even if they do, he still has the ability to move and can work around some pressure. Ryan is essentially just a tackling dummy with a live arm at this point, he’s that easy to bring down in the pocket. If you were hoping to at least see some good play out of the running backs you won’t get that either. Javonte Williams and Jonathan Taylor will both miss this game, leading to an even uglier contest. But it seems like ugly games are about the only games Denver can win so pencil them in for the win and the cover.

New York Giants (+8.5) over Green Bay Packers

I have one reason and one reason only for why I am making this bold prediction. Weird stuff happens when the NFL plays games overseas and what would be weirder than the Giants actually winning this game? To be fair to them, they do have Saquon Barkley who will probably be the best player on the field on Sunday so that is an actual football reason that they could win. But also, the Packers just seem vulnerable. Although I do still like them as a team and actually believe they could win the conference, it wouldn’t surprise me if they drop this game. There is already a built-in excuse for them with the fact that it is played in another country. And who knows, maybe Aaron Rodgers has some weird conspiracy theory about Brexit or something that will be occupying his mind during the game. We nearly witnessed the Packers lose last week to a Patriots team led by Bailey Zappe and the Giants are better than them. Maybe Daniel Jones is the new Blake Bortles (aka the bad quarterback that plays good in England for some reason). Sometimes these games feel like I am hallucinating them because it’s happening at like seven in the morning for me, but if this result actually comes true then it really will feel like it isn’t real.

Seattle Seahawks (+5.5) over New Orleans

Alright, let me give you some actual statistical analysis for this pick. The Saints are the only team that has failed to cover in each of its first four games (at least based on the records against the spread that I am keeping). So, whether the Seahawks actually win or not, they seem like a safe bet to keep it within five points. Outscoring Seattle normally wouldn’t be a problem for New Orleans but with questions about Jameis Winston’s back, we can’t be sure what the offense is going to look like. Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are also dealing with injuries that kept them out of the game last week. Chris Olave is a fantastic rookie but even he isn’t good enough to produce enough offense with Andy Dalton and Mark Ingram surrounding him. Add in the fact that this team had to travel from London this week and it could be a sluggish offensive performance. The Seahawks’ offense is on a roll and looked really good last week so they are coming into this game with momentum. The Saints always have a solid defense and with guys like Cameron Jordan, Marshon Lattimore, and DeMario Davis, that is certainly the case again. But even if they slow down Seattle’s offense, it might not be enough to make up for the potentially lackluster offense.

Buffalo Bills (-14) over Pittsburgh Steelers

When bringing along a rookie quarterback, most teams are very strategic and deliberate with the process, picking the exact right moment to finally hand him the reins. The Steelers said screw that process and are throwing rookie Kenny Pickett to the wolves this week. And by wolves, I mean the Bills’ defense. Honestly, wolves might be a better option. I like Pickett and his potential but he really stands no chance in this matchup. The Bills’ defense is about as scary as it gets, even though they are missing some crucial pieces. But that front seven is nasty and the depth on the defensive line should ensure that someone is blowing through Pittsburgh’s bad offensive line and getting in Pickett’s face just about every play. Even if Pickett does manage to play alright in this game, there is no chance he is outscoring Josh Allen. Allen is on a warpath this year and will not be stopped, certainly not by the Steelers’ defense. Maybe at the end of the season the Steelers would stand a chance in a rematch but at this point in the season, the Bills are too much for them. They are so much for them that I feel comfortable taking them to win by 14 points, which is easily the biggest spread of the season.

Minnesota Vikings (-7) over Chicago Bears

This league isn’t all about quarterbacks but they are a very important part of it. One of the teams in this game has a quarterback with 1,031 yards and six touchdowns and the other has a quarterback with 471 yards and two touchdowns. And yes, they have played the same number of games. If you don’t know which team is which then you need to do a lot more reading than just this piece, let me tell you. I’m obviously going to go with the Vikings and Kirk Cousins in this matchup because they are the far superior offense and team. They have plenty of weapons on offense with Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen. The Bears just do not. On either side of the ball, they are kind of depleted right now. Sure, Kahlil Herbert has been great recently but that isn’t going to be enough to beat Minnesota. Maybe if somebody alerts the Bears about this new rule in the NFL that allows them to pass the ball forwards then they might stand a chance. But this seems like a pretty clear win for the Vikings.

Jacksonville Jaguars (-7) over Houston Texans

I don’t feel great about this one. I really like the Jaguars, as you may have realized if you have been keeping up with my predictions, and I do think they will win this game. But the spread scares me. The Texans are fully capable of keeping things close and ending up within seven points of the Jags even in a loss. I’m a big fan of Dameon Pierce (and not just because he’s on my fantasy team) and like what he can do but he may struggle more against a pretty good Jacksonville defense. I’m not going to take last week’s bad game from Trevor Lawrence too seriously, he’s not going to fumble four times in a game ever again, so I think he can shred the Texans’ defense this week. I still believe in the Jaguars and because of that, I’m going to put my (hypothetical) money where my mouth is and pick them to cover the seven points.

Miami Dolphins (-3) over New York Jets

This line is Teddy Bridgewater slander. I get that he may not be the most impressive quarterback in the league but to make him only a three-point favorite over the Jets is just disrespectful. Have the people making this line forgotten that he gets to throw to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle? There are a lot of much worse quarterbacks that could do pretty good throwing to those guys. The Dolphins’ defense is also good and should be able to hold Zach Wilson and the Jets off the board. Even if Bridgewater does struggle, the defense alone may be enough to win the game. Miami’s secondary is loaded with playmakers such as Xavien Howard and Jevon Holland and those guys should be able to take advantage of Wilson and his penchant to take some risks. I am excited to see what rookie Sauce Gardner can do in coverage against the elite Dolphins’ wide receivers but I don’t expect the rest of the Jets’ defense to be able to slow them down at all, leading to a win that is much larger than three points.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Atlanta Falcons (+9)

You probably would not be able to guess the only team that has covered in every game. Maybe I have already given it away by asking that question for this particular question because the answer is the Falcons. There was no way you were going to guess them. Atlanta is in every game they play but don’t necessarily win them, although they are 2-2. I’m going to give the Bucs the benefit of the doubt here and still pick them to win but I think the Falcons will cover. Tampa Bay’s offense looked abysmal through the first couple of weeks but looks like it is starting to come around. Some of that certainly has to do with Tom Brady having a wide receiver group that actually resembles an NFL receiver group. The offense had its best showing last week against the Chiefs. And by offense I mean Brady throwing the ball to Mike Evans nearly every chance he got. But hey, when you have a dup as good as those two it might actually work. Atlanta is going to try its best to prevent that exact connection. A.J. Terrell certainly has the talent to do it but he can’t stop the whole offense by himself. The Bucs should be able to move the ball through other means, like Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin, so they should be alright. I’m also going to predict a backdoor cover here because the Falcons’ offense is so weird. It shouldn’t work with Marcus Mariota playing the way he is (and completely ignoring Kyle Pitts) but something about it is effective so I think they can end the game within nine points of the Bucs.

Detroit Lions (+3.5) over New England Patriots

Home field is usually worth about three points when factored into spreads. So, by taking that into account, the oddsmakers are still saying the Patriots are a half-point better than the Lions. What have they been watching the past four weeks? The Lions are one of the most entertaining teams in the entire league and have an offense that can legitimately put up points on anybody. I mean, they lost to the Eagles by three points in week one, which is the closest game Philly has played all year. But you’re telling me that the Patriots are expected to beat Detroit by more than that? This seems like classic overreacting to last week’s results. The Patriots lost by three in overtime to Green Bay but that game was much more about the Packers struggling than the Patriots playing well. Let’s not forget that New England is either going to have Brian Hoyer, Bailey Zappe, or Mac Jones with a high ankle sprain at quarterback on Sunday. Maybe I’m going to be totally wrong on this one and look like an idiot after the game but this is an easy pick for me. I would take the Lions even if they were favored by six-and-a-half points.

Tennessee Titans (-2.5) over Washington Commanders

See, this is a line where they got it right and actually made the better team the favorite despite them being on the road. The Titans have not been a picture of excellency this year but they are still doing much better than their opponent this week. Derrick Henry looks to be at least partially back to the Derrick Henry of old that dominated the league. Robert Woods is getting involved in the offense and developing chemistry with Ryan Tannehill. And the defense still has plenty of talent with players such as Kevin Byard and Jeffery Simmons. The Commanders, on the other hand, have only sometimes managed to look like a competent football team. I know more about their offensive struggles than I care to admit because somehow I ended up with both Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel on my dynasty football team. I would recommend avoiding having two players on the same crappy offense, it just isn’t fun. But the offense has shown flashes of being productive with Carson Wentz under center, it’s just those flashes are more like a sputtering lightbulb that is seconds away from dying. The one positive thing for this team is that Brian Robinson is nearing a comeback. He may not play this week but it seems like he will soon. The fact that we have already gotten to the point where the most notable thing about this team is the feel-good story, and it is only week five, says all you need to know. Yeah, I will gladly take the Titans by two-and-a-half.

Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) over Cleveland Browns

The Chargers’ redemption tour following their embarrassing loss to the Jaguars takes another stop in Cleveland this weekend. They are gradually working their way back up to facing good NFL Teams. They started with the Texans last week and now face the Browns. This should be another win for Los Angeles and give it some more momentum. There is no reason that Jacoby Brissett should beat Justin Herbert but crazier things have happened. The Chargers are clearly the more talented team but haven’t necessarily played like it at times. A fully healthy skill position group of Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Gerald Everett should be able to get the job done against Cleveland. The Browns do have a talented defense, though, even with Myles Garrett still recovering from the car accident. The secondary should be able to give Herbert some issues, but I would bet on the young quarterback and his talent winning out in that matchup. On offense, the Browns really are the Nick Chubb show as their success pretty much depends on him. He could very well have another great game on Sunday but you don’t beat good teams like the Chargers relying on one running back to be your offense.

San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) over Carolina Panthers

I really want to use this space to rag on the Panthers, who I think is not a good football team, but instead, I will focus more on the Niners. This seems like an easy win for them to me. It is clear that the offense is functioning much better now than it was when Jimmy Garoppolo first stepped in. After playing very well against the Rams, the 49ers are rolling on that side of the ball and there is no reason to expect that to stop against the Panthers. Carolina’s defense has some playmakers like Brian Burns and Jeremy Chinn, but neither of those guys are going to be able to contribute much to stopping Deebo Samuel, who looks to be regaining last year’s form with Garoppolo as his quarterback. And on defense, San Francisco is going to have even more success. Carolina just looks bad this year. Baker Mayfield is not running an efficient offense. And whether it is his fault or Matt Rhule’s fault or someone’s fault, somebody is dropping the ball (other than D.J. Moore. Boom, roasted). The Niners have the best scoring defense in the league and considering the Panthers scored just one offensive touchdown against the Cardinals, it doesn’t seem like they will have much success. This is the type of game that will give San Francisco some good momentum following a win that probably won’t be very close.

Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5) over Arizona Cardinals

At some point the Eagles will lose, that is a fact. But it won’t be this week, that is also a fact. There possibly could not be a bigger difference between these two teams in terms of competency. Philadelphia is functioning like a well-oiled machine and is kicking butt because of it. Meanwhile, Arizona has been experiencing turbulence dating back to the offseason and it is showing on the field. This is a terrible matchup for the Cardinals, mainly because they are going up against a team that is actually good. The Eagles’ defense will be able to stifle the Cardinals’ offense, which is mainly just Kliff Kingsbury telling Kyler Murray to make a play. And on defense, Arizona has no chance of slowing down Jalen Hurts and company. Hurts is playing at the top of his game and is a legitimate MVP candidate because of it. The Eagles are getting the most out of all their weapons, with A.J. Brown, Devonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and even Miles Sanders thriving right now. The Cardinals have a weak secondary so that will certainly be exploited by the Eagles. They also have a poor rush and since Philly has arguably the best offensive line in the league, Hurts may not even be touched in the pocket. If the Cardinals are able to keep this game within five points I will be genuinely surprised. The Eagles are a much better team and that will certainly show on the field on Sunday.

Dallas Cowboys (+5.5) over Los Angeles Rams

Picking Cooper Rush to beat the defending Super Bowl champs may seem like something only an insane person may do, but if that is true then call me crazy. I like the way the Cowboys are playing right now much more than the way the Rams have looked. Other than Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles hasn’t been getting much production from its offense, which is unusual for a Sean McVay-led group. The offensive line has been a real letdown for them so far. That unit has been unable to establish a solid run game and has also proved incapable of adequately protecting Matthew Stafford. They will certainly be put to the test this week against Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence, who are two very disruptive pass-rushers. I think those two guys alone may prove enough to wreck the Rams’ offense, not to mention Trevon Diggs and his elite ball skills playing against a turnover-prone Stafford. This will come down to whether Rush put enough points on the board to capitalize on the defense’s good play. Weirdly, I believe in him. He has gone undefeated in his time as Dallas’s starter, and although none of those wins have been against teams as formidable as Los Angeles, I think he can get it done in this matchup.

Baltimore Ravens (-3) over Cincinnati Bengals

It is time to finally see if the Bengals have truly figured it out this year or if they are still struggling. They won last week against the Dolphins but it was in a game where Miami lost its starting quarterback, so it is hard to accurately judge that win. But if Cincinnati can hang with Baltimore, and even beat them, then it will officially announce itself as a contender again. Unfortunately for the Bengals, I don’t see that happening. For as much as the Ravens have struggled this year, especially on defense, there is one thing that is hard to overlook. His name is Lamar Jackson and he might be playing better than anyone else in the league right now. Jackson has the ability to completely dominate this game and single-handedly earn his team the win, and I would not be surprised if he did. Both of these teams are highly dependent on their quarterback and his ability to make up for the weaknesses of the team, and I trust Jackson much more than Joe Burrow to do that. This should be a very fun and entertaining game, one definitely worthy of being on Sunday Night Football, but the most likely outcome is that Jackson has another incredible performance and leads his team to victory so that is what I’m going with.

Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5) over Las Vegas Raiders

Poor Raiders. After finally earning their first win of the season last week, they now have to go up against a Chiefs team that has had their number recently. And the game is on primetime television no less. Las Vegas is much better than its 1-3 record, but it is still not good enough to hang with Kansas City. The Chiefs like the same-old Chiefs despite all the personnel changes and that is a scary sight for the rest of the league. Patrick Mahomes is verifiably unstoppable, as not even the vaunted Buccaneers’ defense could stop him last week. And if they couldn’t slow him and the Chiefs down, then the Raiders stand no chance. The best way for Las Vegas to stay in this game is for Derek Carr and Davante Adams to just go nuclear and put up about 40 points because that is probably what it is going to take to keep this game close. If Josh Jacobs can build on his impressive performance from last week then that would also help Las Vegas out, but even that won’t be enough to keep this game within a score. There is no shame in losing to a good team like the Chiefs. Eventually, you’ll get one on them, Las Vegas, but Monday will not be the day.