Week 5 Picks

Posted: 10/05/2014 by levcohen in Football

Week 5 in the NFL looks set up to be a pretty entertaining one. The six teams who had a week off all return to action, and this week only the teams that played in London last week, Miami and Oakland, are on BYE. Among the most intriguing of the games includes the Ravens-Colts game which feels like it could be a playoff matchup, the battle between Texas 3-1s (Dallas and Houston), and the final undefeated teams traveling to Denver (Arizona) and New England (Cincinnati), the latter of which is the Sunday Night Football game. All the games are supposed to be pretty close, too, as there is only one spread higher than 7.5 points. So it looks like we’re set up for a pretty good week.
BYE teams: Oakland (0-4), Miami (2-2)

Houston Texans (3-1, 3-1 ATS) at Dallas Cowboys (3-1, 3-1):
Spread: Cowboys favored by 6.5
Over/under: 47
My prediction: The Texans, as I’ve mentioned before, are a really weak 3-1 team seemingly on its schedule-aided way to a weak 9-7 or 10-6 and maybe even the right to get blown out in the playoffs. But although the Cowboys looked really good against the Saints last week, I wouldn’t overreact to that, both because they were home and because the Saints are really not that great on the road. Before last week, the Cowboys were coming off a 34-31 win over the Rams, which isn’t all that impressive. So I’m forced to pick between a team that’s below-average and a team that seems overrated right now. I’ll take Dallas to win and Houston to cover. 24-20 Cowboys.
Texans cover
Under

Buffalo Bills (2-2, 2-2) at Detroit Lions (3-1, 3-1):*
Spread: Lions favored by 6.5
Over/under: 43
My prediction: This is actually very similar to the last game, with an average road team traveling to face a good-but-not-great home team with some good recent results. I actually have more confidence in the Lions because of their defense, but it’s important to know that they aren’t at full strength. Running back Joique Bell is out, and Calvin Johnson will be limited if he plays at all. The Johnson news in particular is concerning, because when he’s been out or limited in the past, the Lions’ offense has really struggled. And the Bills could get a boost from Kyle Orton, a journeyman quarterback who is surely better than E.J. Manuel. I think the loss of Bell and will hurt and a hobbled Megatron will be the death knell for this offense this week. Bills win 21-20
Bills cover
Under

Baltimore Ravens (3-1, 2-1-1) at Indianapolis Colts (2-2, 3-1):
Spread: Colts favored by 3
Over/under: 49
My prediction: The Colts’ offense has looked really, really good this year. They lead football with 136 points, and have scored 68 in two home games. Meanwhile, the Ravens have also been surprisingly good offensively this season, even without Ray Rice. Steve Smith has been perhaps the best receiver in football over the first four weeks of the season, while Joe Flacco has been much better than he was last season. As a result, I see this game turning into a high-scoring one, with the Colts ultimately pulling it out. Colts win 31-24.
Colts cover
Over

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2, 1-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4, 0-4):
Spread: Steelers favored by 6
Over/under: 47.5
My prediction: Even against a Pittsburgh team that normally plays down to its opponent’s level, and even at home, I’m not picking the Jaguars. They’ve burned me fourth times, and they aren’t fooling me a fifth time. Unless, of course, they cover this one, which would make me pretty mad. Steelers win 30-20.
Steelers cover
Over

Chicago Bears (2-2, 2-2) at Carolina Panthers (2-2, 2-2):*
Spread: Panthers favored by 2.5
Over/under: 45
My prediction: I think the Bears bounce back in a big way here against a Carolina team that has looked really bad the last two weeks in 18 and 28 point losses. I still believe the Bears have a shot at a wild card spot, while the Panthers have a chance to win a really disappointing AFC South, so this game actually means a lot. I think the Bears take it 23-17.
Bears cover
Under

Cleveland Browns (1-2, 2-0-1) at Tennessee Titans (1-3, 1-3):*
Spread: Titans favored by 1
Over/under: 44
My prediction: The Browns have played better this season and are coming off a week four BYE. Meanwhile, Jake Locker is back for Tennessee, but the Titans only scored 17 points combined in the last two games Locker started. In fact, among teams that have played four games, only Oakland and Jacksonville have scored fewer points than the Titans. And each of the Browns’ first three games have been decided by three points or fewer, so they’ve been competitive all season. I like the Browns in this one 23-20.
Browns cover
Under

St. Louis Rams (1-2, 1-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-1, 2-2):
Spread: Eagles favored by 6.5
Over/under: 47.5
My prediction: This has the makings of a shootout between two young and somewhat unheralded quarterbacks. LeSean McCoy could be in for a breakout game against St. Louis’s porous run defense, while Austin Davis and the Rams should have success against Philly’s defense. It feels to me like it’ll be a pretty good game, one that the Eagles will win 30-27 in the end.
Rams cover
Over

Atlanta Falcons (2-2, 2-2) at New York Giants (2-2, 2-2):
Spread: Giants favored by 3.5
Over/under: 50.5
My prediction: It’s surprised me, but the Giants have been very impressive this season, especially after their blowout week one loss at the hands of the Lions. And while the Falcons are tied with the Panthers for the AFC South lead and have scored 84 points in the last two games, they also have among the worst defenses in the NFL. Atlanta also recently placed two offensive linemen on injured reserve, so the offensive line is again becoming a problem. I like the Giants in this one 33-26.
Giants cover
Over

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3, 1-3) at New Orleans Saints (1-3, 1-3):- LOTW
Spread: Saints favored by 10
Over/under: 48
My prediction: As weird as it is that the 1-3 Saints are favored by 10 points, it makes sense. The Buccaneers, win over Pittsburgh aside, have been really bad this year, while the Saints have a win in their only home game of the season. I’m going to place my trust in Drew Brees and the Saints offense for at least another week and especially against Mike Glennon. 31-14 is the final score here.
Saints cover
Under

Arizona Cardinals (3-0, 2-1) at Denver Broncos (2-1, 0-3):
Spread: Broncos favored by 7.5
Over/under: 47.5
My prediction: This game has all the makings of a Denver blowout, from the fact that Drew Stanton is starting for the Cardinals to the fact that Denver is home. And while I think the Broncos will end up winning and covering this game, I don’t think it will be a blowout throughout because the Cardinals’ defense is pretty good and their offense has been fine this year. It ends 31-17 Broncos, but the Cardinals are in the game throughout.
Broncos cover
Over

Kansas City Chiefs (2-2, 3-1) at San Francisco 49ers (2-2, 2-2):*
Spread: 49ers favored by 4.5
Over/under: 44
My prediction: The Chiefs have without question played better than the 49ers have this season. Given that they blew out the Patriots on Monday Night Football, I’m surprised San Francisco is getting as much credit as they are. I think they’re in trouble, while the Chiefs look ready to challenge for a playoff spot again. I like the Chiefs in an upset 23-20.
Chiefs cover
Under

New York Jets (1-3, 0-3-1) at San Diego Chargers (3-1, 4-0):
Spread: Chargers favored by 6.5
Over/under: 44
My prediction: Whereas in some of the other games with spreads around seven I’m picking the underdog to cover, I’m not going to do that here. The Chargers have proven over the first four weeks of the season that, while they aren’t necessarily in the top echelon of teams, they are certainly a force to be reckoned with and among the seven or eight best teams in football. Meanwhile, the Jets seem likely to make a quarterback change sooner rather than later. The Chargers win this one 28-17.
Chargers cover
Over

Cincinnati Bengals (3-0, 3-0) at New England Patriots (2-2, 1-3):*
Spread: Bengals favored by 2
Over/under: 46
My prediction: The rational pick would be the undefeated Bengals, who are coming off a BYE and along with Denver and Seattle are one of the best teams in football. But I’m making the irrational pick. Although I’d like it to believe that this is the end of the Patriots’ run, I don’t really believe that to be the case. This is perhaps the last time I’ll put blind faith in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady combination, but I’m willing to do it again this time. Patriots win 23-20.
Patriots cover
Under

Seattle Seahawks (2-1, 2-1) at Washington Redskins (1-3, 2-2):
Spread: Seahawks favored by 7.5
Over/under: 45
My prediction: Seattle’s getting almost all of the public betting here, and I don’t blame the public. It’s hard to pick against the Super Bowl champions, even on the road and even favored by more than a touchdown. I’ll pick them to win this game 27-17.
Seahawks cover
Under

Upset picks:
Bills over Lions
Bears over Panthers
Browns over Titans
Patriots over Bengals

Lock of the week:
Saints over Buccaneers

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