It’s Week 5, which means Patriots QB Tom Brady has finished serving his four-game Deflategate suspension and he’ll be under center on Sunday when the Patriots head to Cleveland to take on the 0-4 Browns. Other games of note this week include the Texans traveling to Minnesota to try to hand the Vikings their first loss, the Redskins visiting the Ravens in the Battle of the Beltway, and the Packers hosting the Giants in the Sunday night game. I went 8-7 last week to improve my record to 32-31. I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick is in red
Byes: Jaguars, Chiefs, Saints, Seahawks
Thursday Night Football
Cardinals at 49ers (+2.5) – Before the season began, I would have thought the Cardinals could easily cover a field goal spread against the 49ers, but the Cardinals have greatly underperformed thus far this season, going 1-3 through their first four games. Add to that the fact that QB Carson Palmer is currently in the concussion protocol and will not play, leaving QB Drew Stanton to get the start. Give me the 49ers and the points.
Sunday 1PM games
Bears at Colts (-4.5) – The Colts are coming off a loss to the Jaguars in London last week, now they have to play another game without the benefit of the usual bye week following a London game. At 1-3, both teams need to win this game to stay keep their hopes alive in their respective playoff races. Bears QB Brian Hoyer has played well so far filling in for Jay Cutler and the Colts have a poor defense so I think the Bears will be able to put up points. I don’t think Colts QB Andrew Luck is fully healthy, coming off a long trip back from Europe I think the Bears could win the game outright so I’m taking Chicago and the points.
Patriots at Browns (+10.5) – Brady is back. Since he hasn’t played in a meaningful game since January, he could be a little rusty. TE Rob Gronkowski hasn’t been a big part of the offense so far and he may not be entirely healthy. I think the Patriots win the game, but that’s a big spread given the circumstances so I’ll take the Browns with the 10.5 points.
Eagles at Lions (+2.5) – Coming off their bye, the Eagles look to remain undefeated under rookie QB Carson Wentz. TE Zach Ertz is expected to play for the first time since Week 1, when he suffered a rib injury, which should help an already-impressive Eagles offense. The Eagles defense is also pretty good so I’ll take them to win the game and cover.
Titans at Dolphins (-3.5) – Neither of these teams is good. I think the Dolphins may be slightly better, but I’m not convinced they can cover the 3.5-point spread so I’ll take the Titans.
Texans at Vikings (-6.5) – Both teams have a good defense, although the Texans’ isn’t as good without DE J.J. Watt, but I think the Texans have a slight edge offensively, with standouts WRs DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. I’m not convinced the Texans can win the game, but I think they’ll at least stay within a touchdown so I’ll take them and the points.
Jets at Steelers (-7.5) – The Steelers dominated the Chiefs on Sunday night and the Jets aren’t as good as Kansas City, so I think the Steelers will have a relatively easy time of things in this game as well. With RB Le’Veon Bell returning from his suspension last week, their offense is getting better and the Jets’ defense didn’t look good against the Seahawks with a hobbled Russell Wilson last week.
Redskins at Ravens (-3.5) – These two teams are fairly evenly matched on offense, I think. The Ravens may finally have a running game after RB Terrance West put up good numbers last week, and rookie RB Kenneth Dixon is expected to make his debut this week, which could give the team a boost. I think the Ravens have a better defense than the Redskins so I’ll take them to cover at home.
Sunday 4PM games
Falcons at Broncos (-6.5) – This is a battle of a tough Broncos defense against a Falcons offense that has been flying high this season, having scored 93 points in the last two games. The Falcons probably won’t get out of the 20s on the scoreboard this week. It’s unknown if QB Trevor Siemian will be able to start for the Broncos; it’s looking like he’ll be able to play, but if he can’t QB Paxton Lynch will get his first career start. With that uncertainty, I’ll take the Falcons to stay within a touchdown of the Broncos.
Bills at Rams (-2.5) – The Rams may be 3-1 but I don’t think they’re that good — remember, they got shut out by the 1-3 49ers in Week 1. Defense is the best aspect of both teams’ games so I’m not expecting a high-scoring game. I think the Bills are the better team so I’ll pick them to win outright.
Bengals at Cowboys (+0.5) – The Cowboys have a better offense and the Bengals have a bette defense, in my opinion. The teams are fairly evenly matched, but I think the Bengals’ defense can win out and keep the Cowboys from scoring too many points, so I’ll go with the Bengals in this toss-up.
Chargers at Raiders (-4.5) – The Chargers aren’t very good. Between injuries on offense and a defense that can’t hold a lead late in the game, they’re not having a good season. I’m still not sold on the Raiders being as good as they’ve looked to this point, but I think they’re better than the Chargers so I’ll go with the home team here.
Sunday Night Football
Giants at Packers (-7.5) – The Packers are coming off of their bye and, before that, their best offensive performance of their first three games. They have a better team than the Giants, but 7.5 is a big spread. The Packers win the game but I think the Giants will keep it close so I’ll take them with the points.
Monday Night Football
Buccaneers at Panthers (-3.5) – Playing the Buccaneers and their bad defense could be what the Panthers need to get their offense going in the right direction. The big concern for the defending NFC champions is the possible absence of QB Cam Newton, who is in the concussion protocol. If he can’t play, veteran QB Derek Anderson will get the start. He can be a decent fill-in so even if Anderson starts, I think he can lead the Panthers to a win of at least four points so I’ll take them to cover.