The surprising results in the first quarter of the NFL season continued in Week 4, with the Patriots, Jaguars and Falcons losing in upsets. The Patriots get a chance to bounce back from their loss on Thursday night when they visit the Buccaneers. Other notable games in Week 5 include two of the NFC’s most popular teams meeting when the Cowboys host the Packers and the Texans, coming off a 57-point game against the Titans, look to knock off the Chiefs, the last remaining undefeated team in the league, on Sunday night. This is the first week of (scheduled) byes, with four teams idle. I went 10-6 last week, giving me an overall record of 37-26 for the season. I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick (straight up, not ATS) is in red
Byes: Falcons, Broncos, Saints, Redskins
Thursday Night Football
Patriots at Buccaneers (+5.5) – The offense hasn’t been the problem for the 2-2 Patriots as QB Tom Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski and performing like they usually do, and WR Chris Hogan has stepped up his game in the absence of WR Julian Edelman, but the defense has been among the worst in the league. That means Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston and WR Mike Evans should be able to score points. The Bucs also get back starting RB Doug Martin for the first time this season as he has served his three-game suspension to begin the season. While I think the Patriots probably win the game, I think the Bucs will cover the spread.
Sunday 1PM games
Bills at Bengals (-2.5) – This is a surprising line as the 3-1 Bills are coming off an upset of the defending NFC champion Falcons and are getting points against a Bengals team whose line win came against the winless Browns on Sunday. QB Andy Dalton looked better for the Bengals last week, but you can’t judge him fairly based on an outing against the Browns defense. I think Bills QB Tyrod Taylor will outplay him and expect the visitors to win outright. So if the Bills are getting points, I’m taking them.
Jets at Browns (-1.5) – Another game in which a bad Ohio team is surprisingly favored. Despite their 2-2 record, I’m still not convinced the Jets are a good team but they’re better than the Browns. I think the Jets have a good chance to win the points so I’ll take the points on the road again.
Panthers at Lions (-2.5) – Panthers QB Cam Newton finally looked like his old self last week in the team’s victory against the Patriots. They’ll look to carry that momentum into Detroit against the Lions. Both teams are 3-1 entering the game and I think the Lions will be the team that improves upon that record. I think Matthew Stafford has more weapons on the offense than Newton does, which I think will be enough for the home team to win and cover.
Titans at Dolphins (+2.5) – The Titans got blown out by the Texans last week, 57-14, but they shouldn’t worry about giving up that many points this week because the Dolphins have scored a total of six points in their last two games. The Titans are the better team, but the concern is the health of QB Marcus Mariota, who is day-to-day and could miss the game. If he does, QB Matt Cassel will get the start, which doesn’t instill much confidence in me that the Titans will win the game. But the Dolphins offense has looked so bad in the last couple weeks that I’ll go with the Titans even if Cassel plays.
49ers at Colts (-1.5) – The 49ers are still looking for their first win of the season behind QB Brian Hoyer while the Colts offense has been respectable in the last couple of weeks with QB Jacoby Brissett filling in for injured QB Andrew Luck. With the 49ers having to travel east to play an early game, I give the advantage to the Colts. I’ll go with the home team and give the 1.5.
Chargers at Giants (-3.5) – Both teams are 0-4 and hoping to get their first win of the season this week. The Giants have lost their last two games on last-second field goals and I think they have a better offense than the Chargers, who are taking a cross-country flight for the game. I’ll pick the Giants to get their first win and barely cover the 3.5 points.
Cardinals at Eagles (-6.5) – The Cardinals offense hasn’t looked great since losing RB David Johnson to injury in the season opener. QB Carson Palmer isn’t having a great season with WR Larry Fitzgerald his only reliable receiver. The Eagles are the better team and I expect them to win the game, but I think it’ll be closer than a touchdown difference so I’ll take the points.
Jaguars at Steelers (-8.5) – After losing big to the Jets last week, the Jaguars now have to deal with QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Antonio Brown and the rest of the Steelers. They’re 3-1 but Pittsburgh’s offense hasn’t been as potent this season as we’ve come to expect from the team in recent years so I think 8.5 points is too big of a spread. Steelers win the game but don’t cover. I’ll take the points with the Jags, who have rookie RB Leonard Fournette leading their offense.
Sunday 4PM games
Ravens at Raiders (-3.5) – This would have been an easy pick to make if QB Derek Carr was starting for the injuries, but with him out with an injury and QB EJ Manuel set to make his first start since Week 17 of last season, it’s a tougher call. The Ravens offense hasn’t been good this season but I have a hard time taking trusting Manuel to cover. I’ll say Raiders win the game but I’ll take the Ravens and the points.
Seahawks at Rams (-2.5) – The Rams have had one of the league’s best offenses through Week 4 but they now face a tough task in going against a good Seahawks defense. This could be the week that Rams QB Jared Goff comes back down to Earth a bit so I think the team will have to rely on RB Todd Gurley to score enough points for the win. I think the Seahawks could win outright so I’ll take he points.
Packers at Cowboys (-1.5) – This is a rematch from one of last year’s divisional round games in the NFC playoffs. The Packers won that game by a field goal. This time, though, there is some uncertainty about who may be able to play. Specifically, RB Ty Montgomery and WR Davante Adams are questionable to take the field on Sunday. On the other sideline, the Cowboys offense isn’t as potent as it was last season. With an unexpected shootout in this game, QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott have to step up their game to keep up with the combination of QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Jordy Nelson on the Packers. Even with the potential injuries, I think the Packers are the better points so I’ll take the points again.
Sunday Night Football
Chiefs at Texans (+1.5) – The Chiefs are the lone undefeated team remaining in the league, but this week they’re facing a Texans team that just scored a franchise-record 57 points in Week 4. Texans QB Deshaun Watson looks like he could be legit with the way he’s been playing in the 3.5 games that he’s been under center this season. The Texans will be riding high coming off of that blowout against the Jets and they have a good defense with DE J.J. Watt and LB Jadeveon Clowney. I think the Texans can pull off the upset in front of their home fans. I’ll take the points.
Monday Night Football
Vikings at Bears (+3.5) – The quarterbacks are question marks in the final game of Week 5. The Vikings are still calling QB Sam Bradford day-to-day so we don’t know if it’ll be him or QB Case Keenum getting the start for the visitors. The Bears do know who will be starting for them, but it’ll be QB Mitch Trubisky getting the first game action of his professional career as the Bears have decided to bench QB Mike Glennon after their 1-3 start. Making his first start in primetime against a good Vikings defense probably isn’t a formula for success for the rookie, but the Vikings will be without a rookie of their own, RB Dalvin Cook, who suffered a season-ending injury in last week’s game. I still think the Vikings win the game. I’ll give the points.