NFL Week 5 Betting Picks: Back These 3 Underdogs to Cover, Plus 1 Total Bet for Sunday Evening NFL Slate
Jason Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Myles Garrett
You heard it here first folks: We’ve got three road underdogs we like for Sunday’s evening slate!
That’s right, two of our analysts are backing the Browns as they travel to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers, while two others like the Giants over the Cowboys and 49ers over the undefeated Cardinals on Sunday. Not to mention an under bet that you won’t want to miss.
NFL Odds & Picks
Browns vs. Chargers
Raheem Palmer: This is the perfect spot to sell high on the Los Angeles Chargers who have won back-to-back division games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders. They host the Cleveland Browns before flying out East to take on the Baltimore Ravens. The Chargers are likely to be one of the biggest public plays of the week, but I’m not buying it.
While Justin Herbert has shown that he’s a star in the making, the Browns will certainly be the best defense the Chargers have faced this season, ranking third in Football Outsiders Defensive DVOA, second in Success Rate and second in Dropback Success Rate.
The Browns should present a challenge for Herbert and the Chargers offense, which ranks 11th in Success Rate but has made its living on third down, converting almost 50% of its attempts, 10.1% above expectation.
On the other side of the ball, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt should find some success against this Chargers defense, which ranks 30th in Rushing Success Rate.
While the Raiders couldn’t get the ground game going on Monday night, I expect this Browns offense to keep Herbert and this Chargers offense off the field. If Baker Mayfield can make a few plays, the Browns should win this game outright.
Browns vs. Chargers
Brandon Anderson: I have been pro-Browns and pro-Chargers all season and I cannot wait for this game … but I fear it might be the exact wrong matchup for LA.
The Chargers look amazing. They went to Kansas City and took down the mighty Chiefs, then rolled up a 21-0 lead on the undefeated Raiders on Monday night before a national crowd. Justin Herbert has quickly risen in the MVP contender ranks, and everyone loves Brandon Staley’s Bolts.
Be careful, though. We loved the Chargers in those last two matchups because of how Staley’s defense matches up. L.A.’s pass defense has been great at taking away the deep ball and forcing the opponent to check down and run the ball. The Chargers run defense is not good, but the Chiefs and Raiders can’t run the ball so that game plan has gone just the way Staley wanted it.
Hey, do you know who can run the ball? The Cleveland Browns.
Los Angeles ranks second to last in rush defense DVOA and Cleveland is top five running the ball. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt remain the best running back duo in the NFL, and Cleveland’s offensive line has struggled in the passing game but mauls opponents in the run. The Browns have not been passing it well but might not need to in this game.
It’ll be hard for Herbert to play like an MVP if he’s standing on the sidelines for 40 minutes while the opponent chews up the clock on long, grinding, run-down-your-throat drives.
I don’t love the Browns’ game plan overall this season. They’re running far too often and not putting Baker Mayfield into a great position. But against the Chargers, that exact game plan could work to perfection. And while LA has been very aggressive attacking via pass, the Chargers aren’t always successful and rely on outlier third-down conversion to keep drives alive.
Cleveland’s defense is playing really well. If the Browns go on a long drive and then the Chargers go three-and-out and give it right back to Chubb and Hunt, it could be a long day.
Giants vs. Cowboys
Chris Raybon: Fresh off coming back to upset the Saints in the Superdome last week, the Giants are in another spot where they tend to make things interesting. Daniel Jones, who threw for 402 yards last week against a Saints defense that is ranked second in pass DVOA, is 11-4 (73%) ATS in his career on the road, including 10-2 (83%) ATS as road underdog.
The Giants offensive line is surprisingly 13th in pass blocking efficiency thanks to improved play form second-year left tackle Andrew Thomas, who has allowed six pressures and no sacks this year after allowing 57 pressures and 10 sacks as a rookie. Dan Quinn’s defense is an improved unit from last year thanks to the absurdly brilliant play of Trevon Diggs, the insertion of rookie Micah Parsons, and more scheme multiplicity, but the Cowboys still struggle to generate pressure, ranking 24th in pressure rate (22.2%).
Jones is averaging 9.1 yards per attempt from a clean pocket this season compared to 5.7 when pressured. Perhaps because the absences of Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton led to a speed infusion with rookie Kadarius Toney and veteran John Ross entering the lineup, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s route concepts improved, with fewer routes that break back to the line of scrimmage and more than allow Jones to hit receivers in stride and allow them to pick up yards after the catch.
I’m betting the Giants make like tough on the home team for the second straight week. I’d bet this to +6.
Giants vs. Cowboys
Billy Ward: This game opened at 49, before climbing all the way up to 52.5 on some books. I understand the sentiment — the Cowboys have an explosive offense, and the Giants look much improved with Daniel Jones running all over the place. However, this climb is a bit too steep. The Cowboys are seven-point favorites here, and have shown a willingness to lean on the run when playing with a lead. Dak Prescott hasn’t topped 30 passing attempts since Week 1 (their only loss). This will slow the game down considerably in the secdond half (or potentially sooner) unless the Giants can keep pace early. The Cowboys defense is also underrated, ranking top 10 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. With Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton both already ruled out, it will be tough sledding offensively for the G men. This total is 52.5 on a few sites, but on DraftKings the under is -105. I’d bet this at 52.5 down to -110, but lay off if everyone moves it down to 52.
49ers vs. Cardinals
Joe Klein: This is a major market overcorrection on both of these teams.
The lookahead on this number was Arizona -2.5, which has since been adjusted all the way out to 5.5. San Francisco will have a more dynamic offense with Trey Lance against a soft Arizona rush defense. The 49ers defensive line is simply more equipped to stop Kyler Murray than the Rams were in Week 4.
I would play this down to +3.5.