NFL Week 5 Picks
Picks by Chris
Buffalo Bills (3-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals (1-3); Line: Cincy by 3
Heading into Week 5, I believe the Bills v. Bengals matchup to be one of the more important games this weekend. An underachieving Bengals squad is facing an overachieving Bills team and the outcome of this contest might set the tone for both these franchises moving forward. The Bengals need a win. A loss here could have serious implications for Marvin Lewis (read: Jeff Fisher), and a win could postpone a serious shakeup at the top. For the Bills, they’ve exceeded expectations with their 3 and 1 start, but many are still not convinced this is real. Their defense has performed admirably in the last four weeks, but Tyrod Taylor still has to demonstrate some consistency on the offensive side of the ball. He’s talented, but a lackluster performance against the Panthers and prior experience leaves some lingering doubts.
As long as AJ Green remains healthy, Bengals win 24-21 over the Bills.
Minnesota Vikings (2-2) @ Chicago Bears (1-3); Line: Minny by 3
Quarterback trouble and defensive play are the name of the game with this matchup. Sam Bradford is still likely to be out come game time, and Mitch Trubisky is set to make his first start in this NFC North brawl. I’m actually liking the Bears in this matchup as they’re bringing an impressive ground game to bear on a good, but not great, Vikings defense. The Vikings shouldn’t be able to replicate the Packers success stopping the run simply based on Trubisky being under the helm. He can throw, unlike Mike Glennon. Minnesota might try and force the rookie to win this matchup by playing heavy with the run defense, but I have a sneaking suspicion Trubisky might be able to rise to the occasion. He handles pressure well with a quick release, and while slow reads have been a criticism, a lack of tape for the opposing defense to study and good play calling can help make the young quarterback successful by playing the short yardage game.
The icing on the cake, no Dalvin Cook. I like the Bears and John Fox’s track record with midseason QB changes, Bears win 21-14 over the Vikings.
Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) @ Houston Texans (2-2); Line: Even
My favorite matchup of the weekend, the Houston Texans will lose a close one to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. I like Deshaun Watson. A lot. He’s talented, tough, and a winner. His college career exemplifies success in the face of adversity, but I’m not sure the Texans defense will be able to disrupt this Kansas City squad enough. Kareem Hunt has been more than effective through four, and Alex Smith, while not flashy, has been ridiculously efficient thus far with a completion percentage of 76%. The key to this game is the Kansas City defense and their ability to take away the big plays. Watson has been able to make big plays to keep his team in the close games, and he blew up the Titans with several big plays to break that game open. Lamar Miller won’t be as successful this Sunday, so it’s all going to be squarely on Watson’s shoulders.
Sticking with my first line prediction, the Chiefs win 24-21 over the Texans.
Picks by Danny
Baltimore Ravens (2-2) @ Oakland Raiders (2-2); Line: Oakland by 2.5
In possibly one of the least entertaining games of the week, Baltimore travels to Oakland to take on the struggling Raiders. If Derek Carr were healthy this would be an obvious pick. For some reason I still see the Raiders pulling this one out on the backs Marshawn Lynch and a strong offensive line. Joe Flacco and the Ravens look inept and I expect that to continue as they travel across the country for a Sunday afternoon start. Raiders 20, Baltimore 16
Carolina Panthers (3-1) @ Detroit Lions (3-1); Line: Detroit by 1
After a huge win in Foxboro, the Panthers seem to be proving that last year was an aberration. Cam Newton, whether you love or hate him, is one of the most athletic QBs in the league and is benefiting from a healthy Kelvin Benjamin and the addition of Christian McCaffrey as a dynamic third-down back. I am still bullish on Matthew Stafford and the Lions. The Lion’s currently have both a top-ten defense and offense. That combined with home field advantage is too much for the Panthers to overcome. Lions 23, Panthers 20
Green Bay Packers (3-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-2); Line: Dallas by 1
A rematch of last year’s divisional round match-up that came right down to the wire. The Packers have looked solid through four games but have been losing players left and right. Dallas however has not looked so great. They were unable to run the ball at Denver and their defense hasn’t been able to stop anyone. At 2-2, I think the Cowboys needs this game more than Green Bay if they are going to keep pace with a much improved Eagles team in the east. Green Bay’s injuries are just enough to lead me to pick Jerry’s boys in this one. It pains me to pick the Cowboys in this one, but that’s what I’m doing. Cowboys 24, Packers 23
Picks by Brad
As a man without a team and someone very interested in the handicapping angle on these games, I try to pick the closest point spread contests each week.
New York Jets (2-2) @ Cleveland Browns (0-4); Line: EVEN
Coach Bill Parcells famously said, “you are what your record says you are.” If that’s true, I probably shouldn’t tell you that the Browns aren’t as bad as their record indicates and the Jets aren’t as good as theirs, but I think it’s true! Watch the video of the Bilal Powell 75 yard run that Chris mentioned and tell me that wasn’t a fluke. At any rate, the Jets are doing a bad job of tanking (this organization can’t do anything right). Anyway, the bookmakers have this line listed as even which essentially means the road team is a little better than the home team. Roll with the home team here in a Bill Parcells Record Correction Game. Browns 21, Jets 20
San Francisco 49ers (0-4) @ Indianapolis Colts (1-3); Line: EVEN
The last three weeks the 49ers have played division opponents and came up short by 8 combined points in those three outings. That’s two road losses by a field goal each and a home loss by two points. Indy has played some tight games too, but last week in Seattle was anything but. Andrew Luck has reportedly started practicing, but no one knows when he will play. Interestingly, each team has an OT loss to the Cardinals already this young season by nearly identical scores. Despite the difficulty west coast teams have playing in the eastern time zone, this week Brian Hoyer is gonna get the 9ers off the schneid. 49ers 19, Colts 17
Seattle Seahawks (2-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (3-1); Line: EVEN
The Seahawks finally got it all together last week finishing out the game 35-6. Eight players had a reception and five players rushed for more than 20 yards as they spread the ball around and overwhelmed Indy. The Rams are also coming off an impressive performance as they defeated the Cowboys on the road. LA collapsed after starting 3-1 last season, but don’t expect that to happen again even though they’re going to lose this rough and tumble division matchup. Seahawks 33, Rams 30
BONUS! New England Patriots (2-2) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1); Line: NE by 4.5
All the SportsIntel editors hate the Patriots so none of us ever want to pick their game, but I have a gut feeling about this one (which will probably turn out to be me mistaking what I want to happen for what I think will happen). I have Famous Jameis and the Pewter Pirates winning tonight. Why the Bucs pull the upset: 1-Home teams have an outsize advantage in these short week primetime games. 2- Did I mention that Gerald McCoy is a really great guy? Because he is. 3- The Pats defense is an absolute mess so far this season and there is no reason to think they have been able to fix it in the four days that have passed since they lost at home to Carolina. Buccaneers 27, Patriots 24