NFL Pick’Em Picks For Week 5: Saints, Vikings, 49ers, More Favorites & Underdogs
Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images. Pictured: Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers.
I’ll be picking five NFL sides each week of the season for DraftKings‘ Pro Football Millionaire Pick’Em contest. Note that the spreads for this contest lock on Wednesdays, so some will be stale by the time you read this and thus not readily available outside of the contest. You can check real-time NFL odds here.
Here were the five sides for this week’s entry:
- New Orleans Saints -2.5: 1 p.m. ET
- Cleveland Browns +1.5: 1 p.m. ET
- Minnesota Vikings -7.5: 4 p.m. ET
- San Francisco 49ers +5.5: 4 p.m. ET
- Kansas City Chiefs -2.5: 8 p.m. ET
Week 5 NFL Pick’Em Picks
1. New Orleans Saints -2.5
The New Orleans Saints are in a prime position to go into their bye week with a victory against the Washington Football Team who’s defense might be the most overrated unit in the league.
While many expected this defense to exert its dominance with Chase Young and Montez Sweat, the unit is 29th in points allowed, giving up 30.5 points per game while ranking 29th in EPA/play, 20th in Success Rate, 30th in Dropback EPA/play and 23rd in Dropback Success Rate.
Washington also ranks last in third-down conversion percentage (59.68%) and can’t get off the field. Add in a struggling secondary and I expect Jameis Winston and the Saints to put up a solid performance on offense this week.
Washington was hit with the injury bug this week and will be dealing with the absence of tight end Logan Thomas who suffered a hamstring injury Sunday. Pro-Bowl guard Brandon Scherff suffered a sprained MCL on Sunday.
Scherff is a big loss on the offensive line and with wide receivers Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown and Cam Sims all missing practice, it’s tough to expect Taylor Heinicke and this offense to repeat last week’s performance against the Falcons against a better defense in the Saints that ranks fourth in EPA/play and fifth in Success Rate.
2. Cleveland Browns +1.5
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.
Take a look at where Chargers’ previous opponents rank in Defensive DVOA: Washington Football Team (28th), Dallas Cowboys (10th), Kansas City Chiefs (32nd) and Las Vegas Raiders (15th).
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.
3. Minnesota Vikings -7.5
With this line moving to 9.5, we’re actually getting a stale number in the contest and this feels like the ideal spot to pick against a Lions team that is one of the worst in the league. Mike Zimmer has historically done well off a loss with a 32-15 (68%) record against the spread, per Bet Labs. Trends aside, there’s plenty of reasons to back this Vikings team to win by more than a touchdown here.
This Lions defense is giving up a whopping 29.8 points per game ranking 31st in EPA/play, dead last in drop back EPA and ESPN’s pass rush win rate. While the Browns were able to sack Cousins three times in Week 4, Cousins should have a clean pocket in this matchup, particularly in the absence of Romeo Okwara who led the Lions in pressures with 16.
Detroit’s defensive unit made a struggling Bears offense look competent, so I’m expecting Kirk Cousins to return to form against the Lions who don’t have capable corners to defend Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen since losing Jeff Okudah with a ruptured Achilles in Week 1.
On the other side of the ball, the Vikings should be more than capable of slowing down the Lions on offense, a unit that ranks 24th in EPA/play and 22nd in efficiency. The Lions are also dealing with notable injuries on the offensive line as they have placed center Frank Ragnow on injured reserve with a turf toe injury.
With the Lions already missing left tackle Taylor Decker and Rookie Penei Sewell dealing with an ankle injury, this unit, which was thought to be a strength, is now a liability. I’ll lay the 7.5 points with the Vikings at home.
4. San Francisco 49ers +5.5
This is the biggest overreaction of the week. The Arizona Cardinals are coming off their biggest win of the season, a dominant 37-20 win over the L.A. Rams on the road. The lookahead line on this game last week was Cardinals -2.5.
In the preseason, this line was Cardinals -1.5. Now they host the 49ers as 5.5-point favorites. Is it warranted?
From my view this is a clear over adjustment for a Cardinals team that trailed down 19-10 in the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars and was a missed field goal away from losing against the Minnesota Vikings.
The 49ers have been unfortunate, dropping back-to-back games against the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks by a combined nine points.
An Aaron Rodgers game-winning drive and an injury to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in a game in which they out-gained the Seahawks in yards per play 6.3 to 4.3 is all it took to drastically alter the perception of a Niners team that many believed was among the best in the NFC.
Trey Lance will start at quarterback for the 49ers and his dual threat ability should add an element of playmaking that Garoppolo couldn’t provide.
With Arizona struggling to stop the run — they rank 29th in rushing success rate — we could see Kyle Shanahan implement an offense to take advantage of the speed of Lance and wide receiver Deebo Samuel.
While Shanahan has struggled as a favorite, he’s been impressive as a dog with a 23-16 (59%) record ATS:
Overall, I’m expecting the 49ers to find some success offensively with a week to game plan for the strengths of Lance and they should keep this within the number.
5. Kansas City Chiefs -2.5
The chatter about the Chiefs’ struggling defense has been loud, but in the grand scheme of things, opposing teams need to score 30-plus points to beat K.C. on any given Sunday.
Their two losses came against the Ravens and Chargers where they lost the turnover margin 6-2, including a Clyde Edwards-Helaire fumble at the end of the fourth quarter in their game against the Ravens before they could kick the potential game winning field goal. Had the Chiefs won at least on of those games, the perception around them would be completely different.
Patrick Mahomes is still leading a Chiefs offense thank ranks first in Football Outsiders DVOA, first in EPA/play and second in Offensive Success Rate (55.8%).
The Bills rank first in Defensive DVOA, but they’ve played the 32nd-ranked schedule of opposing offenses, facing quarterbacks like Davis Mills, Jacoby Brissett, Taylor Heinicke and the current washed up #LarryHolmesFlabbyAndSick version of Ben Roethlisberger.
Mahomes is a different animal however and the Bills will have no answer for Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce particularly in the absence of linebacker Matt Milano. Keep in mind, these two teams played last season with the Chiefs laying -5.5 in Buffalo, so from my view this number is cheap.
I’ll take the Chiefs at a bargain at under a field goal.
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