NFL Expert Picks: 18 Favorite Bets for Week 5

NFL Expert Picks: 18 Favorite Bets for Week 5 article feature image

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Detroit Lions receiver Golden Tate

  • The Action Network's NFL experts give their favorite bets for Week 5 of the 2018 season, including picks for both Sunday and Monday night.
  • Find out if we think Patrick Mahomes can keep it rolling in Kansas City and if the Seahawks have any shot against the undefeated Rams.

I think a Colts receiver just dropped another pass.

With another ugly Thursday night game and rather predictable result (although Josh Gordon!) in the rear view, we can now focus on some more intriguing storylines on the Week 5 slate, including:

  • Can Patrick Mahomes continue his laser show in Kansas City against the elite Jacksonville secondary, or will the Jaguars finally hand the Chiefs their first loss — and non-cover — of the season?
  • In the NFC, the question is can anybody stop the high-flying Rams? Seattle will have a tough time doing so with secondary that has no resemblance to the “Legion of Boom” — but a few of our staffers think this game might just be closer than many think.
  • Will the Vikings get their NFC Championship revenge and avoid an ugly 1-3-1 start, while also sending the defending Super Bowl champions to 2-3 on the season?

You will see those first two questions touched on in-depth as you read through our staff’s favorite Week 5 NFL bets, which include picks for both Sunday and Monday Night Football. And make sure to check out our betting guides for every single game this upcoming weekend.

Let’s jump right in with three picks for the highly anticipated AFC showdown in Arrowhead — and hopefully we can come close to duplicating last week’s 12-1-3 collective effort. — Stuckey

All odds pulled overnight on Oct. 5, so slight line variations are possible. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets.


John Ewing: Jaguars +3 (at Chiefs)

1 p.m. ET on CBS

There are two reasons why I’m betting on Blake Bortles against Patrick Mahomes — and neither has anything to do with my confidence in Bortles outgunning the current MVP favorite.

  1. The Denver defense was the best unit Kansas City had faced this season, and the Broncos only rank 17th in Football Outsiders DVOA. The Chiefs offense, which averaged 39.3 points per game before Monday’s night game, was held to a reasonable 27 points.

  2. The Chiefs are the only team to go 4-0 against the spread through four weeks, covering by an average margin of 7.1 points. I believe this has led to an inflated line and history backs up my theory.

Since 2003, betting against teams with an average season ATS margin of five or more points after the first month of the season has been very profitable: 354-287-18 (55%) ATS per Bet Labs.

I think K.C.’s offense will struggle (relatively) against Jacksonville’s defense, which ranks first in the NFL in yards/game allowed (259.2) and points per game (14.0). Also, Mahomes has yet to throw an interception this season — but that streak could come to end against a Jags secondary that finished second in interceptions a season ago.

A great defense and an inflated line? Give me the Jags.

Stuckey:  Jaguars +3 (at Chiefs)

1 p.m. ET on CBS

I concur. Not only is this not an ideal situational spot for the Chiefs, who come off a short week after a Monday night game in the Denver altitude, but I also think the Jags match up very well. They can generate pressure on Mahomes and possess the talent in the secondary to stick with Kansas City’s pass catchers. This will be a major step up in competition compared to the pass defenses the Chiefs offense saw in the first quarter of the 2018 season.

From a net yards per play perspective, the Jaguars actually rank second (+1.3) in the NFL — trailing only the Rams. Meanwhile, the Chiefs actually have a negative net yard-per-play differential on the season.

On the other side of the ball, the Jags shouldn’t have issues moving the ball against one of the three worst defenses in the NFL in my book. Keep an eye on the red zone, which is where I think the Jaguars will win this game on both sides of the ball. (In 2017, the Jaguars finished second in the NFL in red-zone touchdown scoring percentage — both for and against.)

Evan Abrams: Chiefs 1H -2.5 (vs. Jaguars)

1 p.m. ET on CBS

I’m going against Stuck and Ewing because a few factors have forced me to lay some points in the first half with the Chiefs here.

For starters, Kansas City actually heads into this game healthier despite being on short rest. Jacksonville will be without running back Leonard Fournette, although the Jags have averaged 26.4 PPG in five games without him. However, backup T.J. Yeldon is also banged up this week.

In addition to the running backs, almost the entire Jags offensive line has been listed on the injury report all week and the ability to block and protect for Bortles has been crucial this year. Keep an eye on Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford, who practiced early this week. Ford leads the Chiefs in literally every defensive pressure category and could cause some havoc Sunday.

Here are few other notes to consider:

  • With Bortles, Jacksonville has only faced two teams on the road that average at least 28 PPG, the 2015 Patriots and ’14 Colts. Jacksonville lost the first half in both games.
  • Under Andy Reid, Kansas City is an absurd 29-9-2 straight up at home in the first half, including 23-6-2 SU when the Chiefs are over .500.
  • If you are scared off by the short week, K.C. has averaged 15 points per first half in three home games on short rest under Reid.

With both teams coming off wins and covers in Week 4, take K.C. first half.

Geoff Schwartz: Panthers -6.5 (vs. Giants)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

The Panthers have the best rushing attack in the NFL, including what Cam Newton can do with this legs. On quarterback designed runs and on the plays where he’s kept the ball on a read, he’s averaging 5.76 per attempt.

Carolina should keep it rolling on the ground against a Giants team that is awful against the run — and even worse against what Cam does best. The Giants defense is allowing 14 yards per attempt on those types of quarterback runs I previously mentioned. Fourteen! Yikes.

The Panthers will run all over the Giants, who simply don’t have the offensive explosiveness to keep up. I love the Panthers here.

Matt LaMarca: Panthers -6.5 (vs. Giants)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

Geoff makes a lot of good points on why the Panthers should move the ball with ease against the Giants.

On the other side, the Giants offense has looked pretty anemic through the first four weeks of the season. New York ranks just 22nd in offensive DVOA and Eli Manning has already been sacked 15 times.

The Panthers should also be well rested and prepared after their bye week. Good football teams historically perform well in this situation, with favorites owning a 138-91-7 ATS record with at least 14 days of rest.

Peter Jennings: Panthers -6.5 (vs. Cowboys)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

Not much more to add that hasn’t been said. Just too much value to pass up on under a touchdown.

Collin Wilson: Lions +1 (vs. Packers)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

There is plenty in the trenches that I love about Detroit this week against Green Bay.

Believe it or not, Detroit’s offensive line ranks second in adjusted sack rate, which should give Matt Stafford plenty of time to pick apart a vulnerable (and banged up) Green Bay secondary.

Conversely, the Packers offensive line ranks 25th in adjusted sack rate, which could be problematic against a Lions defense that surprisingly also ranks second in that same category. Expect Aaron Rodgers to be under pressure this entire game.

There is also a metric on Football Outsiders called “Power Success,” which measures runs on third or fourth down in short-yardage situations. On both sides of the ball, Detroit has heavy advantages in this power success metric.

Finally, if I look at adjusted net yards per play, which takes a look at the difference between offensive and defensive yards per play without the garbage yards from sacks. Detroit ranks in the top 10 at +0.4 while Green Bay has a very pedestrian +0.1.

The Lions will win this game in the trenches.

Ian Hartitz: Steelers -3 (vs. Falcons)

1 p.m. ET on FOX

The Falcons defense has allowed 80 combined points to the Saints and Bengals over the past two weeks after losing starting safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen, along with stud middle linebacker Deion Jones (Neal and Allen for the season). The Steelers have gone 15-9-3 ATS (good for an 18.8% return on investment) when they are favored by three points or fewer over the past 10 years.

Travis Reed: Titans -5 (at Bills)

1 p.m. ET on CBS

I don’t understand this line at all and fortunately I bet it at -3 and then again at -3.5. I know the Titans haven’t been blowing anyone out, but I was shocked when I saw this line open up.

Normally, I hate siding with the public (currently 72% of the bets are on the road favorite). But I think the Titans should be a touchdown favorite so I’ll begrudgingly swallow the points.


Sean Koerner: Seahawks +7 (vs. Rams)

4:25 p.m. ET on FOX

The Rams are no doubt the best team in the NFL right now and sit atop my current Power Ratings. However, I had this line opening in the -6 range. CenturyLink Field always gives the Seahawks a strong home-field advantage, which I feel will play a role here.

Also, receiver Doug Baldwin seems to be trending to 100% health. That gives Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense a significant boost — necessary for them to try to hang with the Rams offense.

Danny Donahue: Seahawks +7 (vs. Rams)

4:25 p.m. ET on FOX

I’m simply fading the public and following the sharps on this one. The Rams are getting the highest percentage of bets in what could be the most heavily bet game Sunday afternoon. However, every single time books increase this line to -7.5, it gets slammed right back to -7.

It has also paid to fade teams that have been comfortably covering on a weekly basis. Starting in Week 5, teams still holding an average cover margin of five or more points have gone 221-288-14 ATS against teams with win percentages under .600. Betting against those teams would give you a total of 47.9 units won since 2005 — a 9.1% ROI.

Chad Millman: Seahawks +7 (vs. Rams)

4:25 p.m. ET on FOX

This was the first bet I made when lines opened on Sunday night, at Seahawks +7.5. I still like it at +7, for a lot of the reasons that Danny mentions above.

I take three steps when I make a bet:

  1. First, I look at the spread and determine if I think there is any edge one way or the other. Often times that comes with public teams being over-inflated on the road (this game gets a check mark for that).
  2. I will look at how the market is reacting to these teams. If the favorite is getting a majority of the action, I will tend to fade that side. I rarely trust the public. And, as Evan Abrams pointed out in this piece a couple of weeks ago, this has been a rough year for the public.
  3. I will take what I see in the line and the market and do research on the two teams to see if the numbers back up my positions. In this case, as much as the Seahawks have struggled, their defense still ranks in the top 10 in ypp allowed and third-down conversions (obviously that is something to watch with Earl Thomas and Mychal Kendricks out).

Still, given all these factors, I don’t think it will be as easy for the Rams to build up a huge lead. And if they did, I like my chances with Wilson to throw open the backdoor.

Scott Miller: Rams-Seahawks Over 50

4:25 p.m. ET on FOX

In general, I think you can find NFL betting value when key defenders are out. We did it in Weeks 1 and 2 with the Chiefs missing Eric Berry and in Weeks 3 and 4 with the Falcons defense missing multiple starters.

So the season-ending injury to Seattle’s all-world safety Earl Thomas is certainly part of this handicap. Seattle has really struggled without him in the past — and that was when the rest of the Legion of Boom still played for the Seahawks.

It’s frightening to think what Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks can do through the air without Thomas roaming center field, especially with such a big advantage along the O-line.

Seattle’s listless offense is the only thing keeping this total from being in the mid-50s, but I don’t mind buying low on a run game that showed some life against a tough Arizona defense last week (171 yards).

You can run on the Rams (23rd in DVOA rush D), and I expect the Seahawks offense to show a little more juice at home against the league’s best team.

Ken Barkley: Cardinals-49ers Over 40

4:25 p.m. ET on FOX

I have no idea on earth why this number is so low. Well, I sort-of do. If I say to you, “Josh Rosen vs C.J. Beathard,” sure you’d shudder a little. But what about the defenses? The Niners have played high-scoring games against basically everyone, allowing points in bunches to the Lions, Chiefs, and Chargers the past three weeks.

This total isn’t in the stratosphere of their average defensive performance. Rosen is the supreme variable, but by all accounts he looked quite competent last week — and isn’t facing a big-time defense in his second career start.

The Cardinals have played lower-scoring games, but that had a lot to do with their ineptitude on offense, which essentially led to running clocks in the second half with the game out of hand. With Rosen now under center, I’d expect more scoring and less of that moving forward. This total is at least 2-3 points too low.

Blackjack Fletcher: Cardinals +4 (at 49ers)

4:25 p.m. ET on FOX

If you go back and watch Rosen’s first career start, he was actually very impressive. Despite his receivers dropping several open passes, he remained poised and accurate. With running back David Johnson rounding into shape, I like the Cardinals as a dog against Beathard and the Niners.

Jason Sobel: Chargers-Raiders Over 52.5

4:05 p.m. ET on CBS

Both of these offenses can put some points on the board, while neither defense can do much about it. I expect one of those old-fashioned Fouts-vs.-Plunkett type of shootouts in the 34-31 range, which, if my math is correct, should cash the over without any unnecessary sweat.


Chris Raybon: Texans -3 (vs. Cowboys)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC

Passing is the predominant factor in giving one team an advantage over another, and Deshaun Watson is averaging 8.4 yards per attempt this season after averaging 8.4 last season. He’ll get to face off against a Cowboys team that will be without linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring), which is never for good news: Dallas is 1-5 ATS without Lee since the start of last season. And if rookie Keke Coutee’s 11-catch, 109-yard NFL debut is any indication, Watson may have yet another weapon alongside DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller.

Meanwhile, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is down at 6.5 yards per attempt and relies on his running game to stay ahead of the chains. But that’s Houston’s strength — its defense ranks a cool second in rushing DVOA.

I’ll lay 3 for a team at home with the edge in passing offense that can also match up well against the opponent’s bread and butter.


Matthew Freedman: Redskins +6.5 (at Saints)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN

I’m going to ask the worst question ever: Are we sure the Redskins shouldn’t be favored in this game? I know that from a bookmaking perspective, the Saints should be favored at home. But the sharp bettors seem to be on the Redskins (46% of tickets, 57% of money).

The Saints have given up the fourth-most points per game to opposing teams (30.25), and the Redskins have been defensively stout, holding opponents to the second-fewest points per game (14.67). On top of that, the Redskins should have the edge in preparation after their bye week.

In a game that will feature two funnel defenses, I’m backing the team with the less-damaging funnel. The Saints are first against the run yet dead last against the pass in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, and in football as it’s played in 2018, the running game doesn’t matter.

Even if the Saints bottle up Redskins running back Adrian Peterson in a #RevengeGame, pass-catching savant Chris Thompson could flow like ketchup against a New Orleans unit that ranks 31st in pass defense against running backs. And this is to say nothing about how tight end Jordan Reed and wide receivers Paul Richardson and Jamison Crowder could do.

The Redskins, meanwhile, have a run-flowing funnel defense: They rank third against the pass yet 31st against the run in DVOA. The Saints have two strong running backs in Alvin Kamara and the returning Mark Ingram (suspension) — but if the Saints run, they will be opting for an inherently inefficient type of play; if they throw, they will be attacking the Redskins’ strength.

Given their defensive edge, I’m fine with taking the Redskins and the points. I might even throw the Redskins moneyline into a couple of parlays.

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