Week 5 Picks

Posted: 10/11/2015 by levcohen in Football

Week five features another slate of games that is nearly bereft of “good games.” With the exception of one early game (Cincinnati-Seattle) and a later game between St. Louis and Green Bay that could be great if the Rams play out of their minds, the majority of games don’t look that great on paper. That’s not to say that there won’t be entertaining, exciting games, because there always are; it’s just hard to pinpoint those games beforehand. With four teams on BYE, we’re also getting to the lighter part of the schedule, which certainly contributes to the lack of great-on-paper games. Besides the Bengals-Seahawks game, I think a key thing to look for this week is whether any of the five playing undefeated teams (the Bengals along with New England, Denver, Atlanta, and Green Bay) is dealt its first loss this week. All five are favored, and if they all win this week, there will be very good (relatively) chances that a team goes 16-0. I can’t remember the last time six teams have been undefeated this late in the season.
BYE teams: Miami, New York Jets, Carolina, Minnesota
*= upset pick

Chicago Bears (1-3, 1-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-3, 1-3):
Spread: Chiefs favored by 10
Over/under: 44
My prediction: Even after their win over the Raiders last week, I still think the Bears are perhaps the worst team in the NFL. They also have to play this game without Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal, their two top receivers. Jay Cutler is going to be under pressure a lot, and the Chiefs are going to be all over Matt Forte. On the other side of the ball, I expect the Chiefs offense to move the ball consistently in what should be an easy win. The Chiefs take out all of their frustration (which comes with playing a top five schedule so far) in a 31-17 win.
Chiefs cover

Seattle Seahawks (2-2, 1-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-0, 4-0):
Spread: Bengals favored by 3
Over/under: 44
My prediction: This spread indicates that the Bengals and Seahawks are about as good as each other. While that might be true in a month, the Seahawks are really struggling offensively, with a poor offensive line and a running game without Marshawn Lynch for the second consecutive week. Meanwhile, the Bengals are hitting on all cylinders both offensively and defensively, as evidenced by their #2 and #10 DVOA ranks respectively. I’m still scared of picking against the Seahawks, but I’ll take the Bengals here. Bengals win 24-17.
Bengals cover

Washington Redskins (2-2, 2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (4-0, 4-0):
Spread: Falcons favored by 7
Over/under: 48.5
My prediction: I actually think the Redskins are a decent team both offensively and defensively. And I went into this week expecting to pick Washington. But that was when I thought the spread would be in double digits. It’s not, and I think Vegas is still underrating the Falcons, even after four consecutive wins and covers. Atlanta’s great offensively, they are much improved defensively, and they’ve dominated the Eagles and Texans at home already (the Eagles game ended as a two point win but felt like much more). I think they win by two scores again here. Falcons win 28-17.
Falcons cover

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3, 2-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3, 1-3):*
Spread: Buccaneers favored by 1.5
Over/under: 41.5
My prediction: I just have more confidence in the Jaguars than I do in the Buccaneers at this point, especially since Tampa’s homefield advantage feels negligible. In a game nobody should ever want to watch, the Jaguars will win 23-20.
Jaguars cover

New Orleans Saints (1-3, 2-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-3, 1-3):*
Spread: Eagles favored by 6.5
Over/under: 49.5
My prediction: Why in the world are the Eagles giving 6.5 points against anyone at this point? This isn’t a good football team, and I have much more confidence in the Drew Brees-led Saints, especially since the Eagles’ offensive line and defense are both banged up. In a bigger upset than I thought it would be, the Saints will take this one 30-27 in Philadelphia, effectively ending Philadelphia’s season midway through October.
Saints cover

Cleveland Browns (1-3, 2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (1-3, 0-3-1):
Spread: Ravens favored by 6
Over/under: 43
My prediction: The Ravens have won 13 of their last 14 matchups with the Browns, including eight by double digits. 12 of those 14 have seen under 42.5 points. I like both the Ravens (especially at home giving less than a touchdown) and the under here. Ravens win 23-13.
Ravens cover

St. Louis Rams (2-2, 2-2) at Green Bay Packers (4-0, 4-0):
Spread: Packers favored by 8.5
Over/under: 45
My prediction: I love the Rams, but they aren’t going to win this game, because nobody beats the Packers at Lambeau. I do think they keep it fairly close, though, with running back Todd Gurley breaking a couple of big plays and the defense standing strong early. In the end, though, Aaron Rodgers will be too much. Packers win 28-21.
Rams cover

Buffalo Bills (2-2, 2-2) at Tennessee Titans (1-2, 2-1):*
Spread: Bills favored by 1
Over/under: 43
My prediction: Total toss-up here, with a Tennessee team coming off of a BYE against a Bills team that just got beaten up at home against the Giants. The big question here is whether Marcus Mariota can stay calm against a ferocious Bills’ pass rush. I think he can, and I also think the Titans defense will stand strong against Tyrod Taylor and the Bills. Titans win 24-21.
Titans cover

Arizona Cardinals (3-1, 3-1) at Detroit Lions (0-4, 1-3):*
Spread: Cardinals favored by 4
Over/under: 46
My prediction: The Lions can’t go 0-5, can they? I think this is a good opportunity for them to get a win, at home against a Cardinals win that might have lost a little of its swagger in a loss to the Rams. The Lions are still a decent all-around team, and I believe that this is the week their passing game starts succeeding. Lions win 27-23.
Lions cover

New England Patriots (3-0, 2-1) at Dallas Cowboys (2-2, 1-3):- Lock of the Week
Spread: Patriots favored by 8
Over/under: 50.5
My prediction: Bill Belichick coming off a BYE against Brandon Weeden? You give me 15 points and I’m still taking the Patriots. Patriots win 34-13.
Patriots cover

Denver Broncos (4-0, 3-1) at Oakland Raiders (2-2, 2-2):
Spread: Broncos favored by 4
Over/under: 44
My prediction: I believe in the Raiders. I really do. But I believe in them in the 7-9 or 8-8 sense, not the “can beat the Broncos” sense. The Broncos might be the safest week-to-week team to bet on, simply because they have the best defense in the NFL. It wasn’t long ago that the defense was holding this team back; now, this team is unstoppable whenever it gets vintage Peyton Manning. That might not happen in this game, but the elite defense is enough for me to pick Denver over Oakland. Broncos win 24-20.
Broncos cover

San Francisco 49ers (1-3, 1-3) at New York Giants (2-2, 1-3):
Spread: Giants favored by 7.5
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: The Giants are good! The 49ers aren’t! This is another game I thought would have a double-digit spread. The Giants are still being underrated, but I think that will end after a 35-14 throttling of the Niners on Sunday Night Football. Expect a huge game from both Eli Manning and Odell Beckham in a blowout win, while Colin Kaepernick will continue to unravel in what has become a nightmare season for the Niners.
Giants cover

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2, 3-0-1) at San Diego Chargers (2-2, 3-1):*
Spread: Chargers favored by 3.5
Over/under: 46
My prediction: I know Michael Vick played poorly against the Ravens last Thursday, but the Steelers are still a solid offense with two superstars. Their defense is another story, but I’m not picking the Steelers to win because of their defense; I’m picking them to win because I’ve lost a lot of confidence in the Chargers, who needed a last second field goal to beat the Browns at home. I expect a much better game from Vick and a huge game from Le’Veon Bell in a 27-23 Steelers win.
Steelers cover

Upset picks:
Steelers over Chargers
Saints over Eagles
Jaguars over Buccaneers
Titans over Bills
Lions over Cardinals

Lock of the week:
Patriots over Cowboys


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