Time for the NFL Week 5 picks. We looked back at Week 4's excellent Sunday (and finally a good MNF game), and previewed the best matchups this week on the podcast. Sam and KAM typically give their picks away on the podcast so if you want them in advance (and who doesn’t?), then check it out! On to this week's games:
***These are Wednesday lines for Week Four. If you pick later in the week and need help with adjusted lines just find me on twitter, @samuelpearce, and I'll help you out. That's what friends are for!***
New England (-5.5) @ Tampa Bay:
Going into this Thursday night matchup at Tampa, New England is giving up 32 points per game (PPG) and over 450 yards per game (YPG). Those numbers sound like what I'm used to writing when I do our college picks column every week. From a Big 12 game. Not exactly what you'd expect from the defending world champs. We also don't expect New England to lose consecutive games since it's become extremely rare. New England has the coach/quarterback advantages that I typically love on a short week. And yes, Tampa won last week, but it was the New York Giants, who everyone beats these days. Still, it's going to be difficult for New England to fix all of their defensive woes in three days. Patriots to bounce back and get a win, but Bucs to cover at home:
Buffalo (+2.5) @ Cincinnati:
Last week I made the mistake of picking against the Bills. On the podcast this week I apologized and explained why the Bills have the best defense in the league. In case you missed it, Buffalo has only given up 54 points all year, less than two touchdowns every Sunday. They're playing a bend-but-don't-break defense that refuses to give up big plays. Opposing offenses just can't maintain lengthy drives and score on this defense. They also get frustrated and turn it over on downs, as we saw two weeks ago against Denver. Or they get frustrated and turn the ball over, as we saw Atlanta do last week. The Buffalo offense, on the other hand, does not. The Bill have only turned it over once all year. Buffalo's plus-6 turnover ratio is second best in the NFL. Cincinnati hasn't been so good in this area. The Bengals have a minus-5 ratio. That's second worst in the league, only better than the lowly Chicago Bears. Buffalo will stick to what's been working for them, play good defense, not turn the ball over, and win a close one. Bills to cover and win outright:
New York @ Cleveland (pickem):
***Editor's note: Greg Armstrong is still flying high after his back-to-back predictions for Jets wins in Weeks Three and Four. Greg also picked the Jets to cover back in Week One, then picked against them in Week Two. He's an astounding 4-0 ATS on the Jets this year! Now the contributor from TurnOnTheJets.com is back to tell us why New York is another solid play this week.***
This line has dropped from as high as Cleveland (-2.5) to pickem, and I love it! There was no reason this Cleveland team should have been giving New York points. After rattling off two straight wins, and for the most part, controlling both of those games, how can the Jets be underdogs (or near underdogs) here? I would have taken New York getting any points in this game, and a pickem is still a deal. Todd Bowles has coaches his ass off this season - a complete turnaround from last year. Meanwhile, Hue Jackson has won all of one game as the Cleveland Browns head coach. A SINGLE GAME. He's not about to get his second win this week.
The New York defense will shut down the Cleveland's rushing attack, and then have a breakout game against rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer. The defense will really get after him and the secondary will force some turnovers, three to be exact. On the other side of the ball, Bilal Powell will have another great game, and the Jets will get up by a couple possessions early. That will force Kizer to throw into a blitzing Bowles defense, which will be problematic for the Browns all day. The Jets defense has been flying around the field these last couple weeks and causing pressure. Expect a lot more of that this Sunday against Kizer.
Offensively, the Jets really aren't as bad as everyone tries to tell you. Their stats may not jump off the page, but the Jets are moving the ball down the field. Quarterback Josh McCown has built a nice rapport with Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson. [Expect a big performance from another Jets receiver in my bold daily fantasy prediction below.] McCown, Powell, and the rest of the offense will play well enough to compliment the great defensive effort, and the Jets should easily win this game:
***Greg Armstrong's daily fantasy play for the Jets-Browns game: Todd Bowles will finally put ArDarius Stewart on the field for significant snaps and he'll produce for the first time all year. Stewart to get 7 catches for 90 yards, and a touchdown. Go get him off the waiver wire in your legacy leagues or start him in DFS for cheap this weekend!***
Carolina (+1.0) @ Detroit:
We had an interesting Detroit Lions discussion on the podcast this week. Detroit lost Calvin Johnson, they still can't run the ball very well, and they field an above average, but far from great, defense. Yet they were playing Green Bay for the Central Division title in Week 17 last year, they made the Playoffs, and here they are hosting Carolina in a big NFC game between 3-1 teams this weekend. How did they get here? First, let's just say the Matt Stafford contract situation seems like a long time ago. Stafford's been very good this year. Over the 3-1 start, Stafford has thrown for just under 900 yards, with 7 touchdowns and only 1 interception. He has a career passer rating of 87 and he's at 96 this year, despite not having the best set of weapons around him. He was worth the money and he's showing us that.
Another polarizing quarterback, Cam Newton, was at his best last week when Carolina upset New England on the road. Like Stafford, Newton will have to play well to win. Neither team runs the ball that well, but both are good against the run. So one of these quarterbacks will have to make a play, or more likely an entire drive, late in this game to get the win. I'll go with the home team, and Stafford to continue playing well. Lions to cover in what's basically a pickem game:
Los Angeles (+3) @ New York:
Remember all of those Manning-Rivers debates that the followed the 2004 trade these teams made? Well, which side do you take now as both of these quarterbacks lead their respectively winless teams into this meaningless game? And how bad is it for both sides to be playing a meaningless game the first weekend of October? Also, for how supposedly tough the "New York media" is, they sure have given Jerry Reese a free pass on his generally awful GM'ing over the past five years. As for this game, New York has actually covered the last couple weeks. They just find excruciating ways to lose. I'm going to take the Giants to cover again, which (gasp) means they'll finally win a game. Now that it doesn't really matter. Giants to cover. Or better yet take them to push at (-3) if you can get it:
Jacksonville (+10) @ Pittsburgh:
For those that remember, it's the renewal of an old AFC Central rivalry from the pre-realignment days. "Central" will always be a better NFL division name than "North" but I digress... Interesting stat: This is the 24th times these teams have met and Jacksonville actually leads the series 12-11. It'll be tough for Jacksonville to extend that lead on Sunday since Pittsburgh is giving up a mere 14.8 PPG, the second best scoring defense in the NFL. Pittsburgh needs to do two traditional things well in this game: First, stop the run. Contain Leonard Fournette and force Jacksonville into 3rd-and-long situations. If they can do this, they'll get off the field and give their offense good field position all day. Second, they need to build on LeVeon Bell's excellent outing in the win over Baltimore last week. Bell ran for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns. Antonio Brown may not love the game plan, but the rest of the team will. Pittsburgh is 3-1 and it feels like they can still get a lot better. Getting the Jaguars at home is a good place to start. Steelers to cover despite the big number:
Seattle @ Los Angeles (pickem):
Prior to the 46 points they put up in a win over subpar Indianapolis last Sunday night, Seattle has been generally underwhelming this year. LA is off to a much better start, scoring over 35 PPG, best in the NFL. LA is also racking up over 380 YPG, good for fifth best in the league so far. As a result, much has been made about whether or not the Rams should now be considered the favorite in the NFC West. We're about to find out. For all of the improvement that we've seen from Jared Goff this year, is he ready to throw against the Seattle secondary? And avoid their rush? He may not have to if the Rams can get Todd Gurley going, and continue to work him into the short passing game. LA will look to do that, but if they get behind, that will play into Seattle's defensive strengths. Seattle has won 18 of the last 24 in this rivalry, and straight-up wins are what really matter here since this is a pickem game. Seahawks to do the same on Sunday, and still sit atop the division. For now:
Green Bay (+1) @ Dallas:
***Editor's note: Earlier this week on the podcast we discussed what a great rivalry this is. From the Ice Bowl, to the Dallas dominance over Green Bay in the 1990's, to the Dez Bryant catch/no-catch game at Lambeau, and on to the Aaron Rodgers/Jared Cook/Mason Crosby thriller in last year's Divisional Round. Those are Playoff memories that either made your year or ruined your season if you're a fan of either team. If you're just an NFL fan, you've been able to sit back and enjoy these epic showdowns over several decades. The Ice Bowl predates me by many years, but I appreciate the history, nonetheless. Was that Brett Favre's first game?
Now for our previews. Ladies first, so Kimberly Ann Maley will tell us what to expect from the Green Bay perspective:
As for this regular season renewal of the rivalry, the Packers head into this game 3-1; the Cowboys, 2-2. It's only a game difference but feels like more since Green Bay has won two straight and Dallas lost last week as a heavy home favorite. But it's only the fifth game of the season so none of that should matter too much. This is a rivalry game and it's going to be close. Plus this is the Cowboys we're talking about, so expect their typical cockiness pregame. But can they back it up like they did last year on their way to a 13-3 season? They found a way to lose to the Rams last week after taking a double digit lead into the second half, so this is an important "bounce-back game" for them. But Dallas is ranked in the bottom half of the league when it comes to points allowed and passing yards allowed. That's not good news when Aaron Rodgers is coming to town.
The Packers do have challenges of their own. They are hoping to get offensive tackles, Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari, both back in the lineup and ready to protect Aaron. If they're healthy enough to play and be effective then that makes this an easier game to predict. If not, it gives the Cowboys defense a much better chance. Keeping in mind that it's an early season game, Packers fans should want to see our tackles rest up and get healthy if they're not ready to play. Ty Montgomery and Davante Adams will hopefully be back, but if not, Aaron still has plenty of weapons, including rookie running back Aaron Jones who will probably take on a bigger role throughout the season.
The Green Bay defense is still a work in progress. I expect Dallas to try and do what they do best: Run the ball with Ezekiel Elliott and try to keep Aaron off the field. If they can be successful running the ball then that will open it up for Dak Prescott to throw the ball downfield more too. Prescott and Dez Bryant haven't been able to get on the same page this year, so they'll try to fix it this Sunday. Dallas will have some success on offense and the pressure will be on the Green Bay defense to come up with enough stops to get Aaron back on the field. Just like the Divisional Playoff game last January, neither team will win on the strength of its defense. But the defenses need to be just good enough to help their offenses. The Green Bay defense can do that on Sunday and give Aaron a chance to win this game. Sorry Rick, but it looks like another close win for the Packers.
PS Watch the last video we linked to above and check out the way that Aaron scrambled, effortlessly delivered the pass to Cook, and notice how the camera reveals Aaron in the background, watching the ball perfectly arrive on target! He's the only person on the planet that can do that, but tell me again why he wasn't League MVP last year...?
Not to be outdone, here are Rick's thoughts on this week's huge NFC showdown:
After a crushing loss to LA last Sunday, Dallas hosts Green Bay at home in Week 5. Hate to say it, but this isn't going to be fun for Dallas fans. We needed the win last week to bring a 3-1 record into this game, and more importantly, confidence. Green Bay can be beat, but the Dallas defense will have to show us something special, and they just haven't done that yet this season. Aaron Rodgers will put up points in a hurry, as he did in the Playoffs last year. Playing catch up won't bode well for Dallas, even though their offense has looked good recently. But against against Rodgers on Sunday, the offense will have to be even better to give Dallas a chance. Green Bay's defense is mediocre at best, and they've not done a good job stopping the run this year. Ezekiel Elliott could have another big game here. Dak Prescott has to play well and he must be mistake-free. That includes finding Dez Bryant deep when he gets open. Bryant has struggled to do that this year, but against a suspect Green Bay secondary, he should have a few chances. When that happens, Prescott has to hit him in stride and take advantage of big plays. Green Bay will get theirs; Dallas must return the favor to keep pace and stand any chance.
The Dallas defense gets a little help due to Green Bay's injury situation. They just can't seem to stay healthy. As KAM has pointed out, they've shuffled players along the offensive line all year. Dallas must take advantage of this and try to get after Rodgers. They should also be solid against the run. In addition to the offensive line injuries, Ty Montgomery could be on the bench for Green Bay. Receiver Davante Adams is listed as probable so Rodgers could be down a couple of his key targets. Dallas fans are crossing their fingers that this isn't the week Green Bay suddenly gets healthy. Still, I'm not sold on the Dallas defense stopping any kind of Rodgers-led offense. I'm picking against the Boys. I think it may end up being a close game, but after last year, I'm too smart to bet against Rodgers. Packers to cover the point in Big D:
Kansas City @ Houston (pickem):
***Editor's note: Jeremy DeBottis has joined us this season to help preview the Chiefs each and every week. Jeremy will be picking the NFL games with us every week and dropping some occasional Chiefs knowledge on the website. We'll be sure to get him on the podcast too. Enjoy his take on the Chiefs balanced attack Monday night against Washington, that included big plays on offense, defense, and special teams. And check back for his Chiefs/Texans pick this week.***
In a pickem game, this just seems too easy. As I've been writing all year, the Chiefs have been stepping up in big moments, getting big plays from their best players. Alex Smith is leading the way and playing the best football of his life. What DeShaun Watson is doing in Houston is impressive. But the Texans are still inconsistent. Let's see if they can put together back-to-back wins before jumping on-board. Chiefs to do all the little things right and win a close game in Houston:
Minnesota (-3) @ Chicago:
This is a tough Monday night game to pick, and probably boring to watch. Minnesota is as inconsistent as ever. Chicago has benched the expensive free agent quarterback that it signed, which no one really understood if they were just going to draft a first round quarterback anyway. The Vikings have quarterback problems of their own since (shockingly) Sam Bradford is never healthy. The Vikings uncertainty at quarterback makes this a tough pick. Based on Bradford's history, we'll assume he's not playing. And that's bad news for Minnesota. The Vikings lost an ugly game at Soldier last year on Monday Night Football, and they're only 3-11 ATS in their last 14 visits to Chicago. The Minnesota defense should be good enough to bottle up the Chicago ground game and force Mitch Trubisky into throwing. But the Bears don't exactly have weapons at the receiver position, so this could get ugly. Vikes to cover, but if you want to stay away from this game, that's probably a great decision:
***Correct picks are highlighted in bold. Pushed picks are noted in italics.***
Did you like our NFL picks this week? Hate the picks? Want to play along and teach us how to pick? Let our experts know what you think:
|Sam finally had a decent season in 2016 and hit a 55% success rate on his NFL picks. So your best bet is to fade his picks this year. It won't hurt his feelings.|
|The voice of thefootballpod.com, KAM's so good that she's been known to pick both NFL and college games. She'll share her picks as long as you don't trash talk her Packers.|
|Need power picks and the power sweep, both? Then look no further than Kevin's picks. This Western Pennsylvania football product knows the game as well as anyone.|
|She's not only the best bartender in town, but #PaytonsPicks set the pace in 2016, to the tune of a 56% success rate! Catch her if you can. Or just wisely follow her picks.|
|He's our resident Cowboys expert, so you'll hear from Rick a lot this year. As for his picks, #RicksLocks are as money as Dallas playing as the one seed in the NFC Playoffs.|
|Founder of theredbeat.com, and a contributor at turnonthejets.com, Greg is the newest member of the team. He's the biggest Jets fan we know (and willing to admit it...)|
|After making the rounds on the podcast circuit for years, we finally have our Kansas City Chiefs expert weighing in, writing columns, and picking games. So pay attention!|
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