Week 5 NFL Picks & Betting Predictions: 4 Spread & Total Edges For Sunday
Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Carson Wentz, Ben Roethlisberger.
One way I find betting edges is by comparing the odds to my NFL Power Ratings — if there’s a notable difference between my projections and the market, I’ll make a bet. (You can read more about my methodology here.)
Each week of the season I’ll highlight the biggest of those edges. We’ve got four for Week 5, so let’s jump right in!
Week 5 NFL Picks
Click on a pick to skip ahead to that analysis.
Panthers at Falcons Over 53.5
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET | TV: FOX
The Falcons defense has coughed up 30 or more points in every game this season.
A lot of the damage has come against the passing game, where they rank 31st in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. Things should only worsen for their secondary, as Damontae Kazee and Darqueze Dennard have landed on IR while Grady Jarrett, Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal, A.J. Terrell and Foye Oluokun are all questionable.
I expect Teddy Bridgewater and the Panthers to move the ball with ease against this banged-up defense.
Julio Jones is unlikely to suit up as his hamstring injury has slowed him down the past couple of weeks. The Falcons would be smart to let him get closer to 100% before playing him again to avoid any more setbacks, although it will put some pressure on Calvin Ridley to play through his numerous injuries (thigh/knee/calf/ankle) and rebound from his zero-catch performance on Monday night. My money is on Ridley to bounce back against a Panthers defense that will be without Eli Apple for at least one more game.
The Falcons have enough weapons on offense to attack a rebuilding Panthers defense that ranks near the bottom against the pass (26th) and run (25th) in DVOA. Both teams should be willing to play towards a high-scoring contest here, making the over the play.
I’m projecting a 55.5 total for this matchup and would bet it up to 54.5.
Chiefs -11 vs. Raiders
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET | TV: CBS
I typically do not bet on double-digit favorites in the NFL, but this is a rare matchup in which it’s warranted.
The Raiders are the type of team the Chiefs are specifically designed to blow out. Patrick Mahomes should carve up a Raiders defense that ranks 30th against the pass and 30th against the run. And trying to keep pace with a Mahomes-led offense isn’t a game plan that suits the Raiders offense.
Las Vegas will want to establish the run against a Kansas City defense that struggles against the run (27th in DVOA) and attempt to keep Mahomes off the field. Unfortunately, this is a trap the Chiefs set for most teams, and their pass defense (first in DVOA) makes it hard for teams to come back once they fall behind by one or two scores.
Mahomes had a poor game last week — his second-lowest Pro Football Focus grade of his career (44.9) — and the Chiefs still won 26-10 against a Patriots team that had a game plan similar to the one I expect from the Raiders.
Imagine getting to “buy low” on Mahomes — that’s how I view the spread here.
All that said, I’m waiting to bet on this game because Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore — who tested positive for COVID-19 — was seen shaking hands and hugging Mahomes postgame last week. Stay tuned for any news on that, but hopefully no one else from the Patriots-Chiefs game tests positive before Sunday.
Steelers -7 vs. Eagles
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET | TV: FOX
The Steelers are coming off a forced bye week due to the Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak, and get to face an Eagles team that lucked out with a 25-20 win over the 49ers last week.
Carson Wentz is playing behind a decimated offensive line that has now lost three starters, and will be facing a Steelers defensive line that leads the league with a pressure rate of 66%(!), and out of 36 qualified QBs, Wentz’s 17.0 QB rating when pressured ranks 35th. It’s not like the Eagles can lean on the run game in this spot, either, since the Steelers currently rank first in DVOA against the run.
Ben Roethlisberger should improve as he gains more confidence in his surgically repaired elbow. He’s surrounded by talented weapons that can attack all areas of the field. Second-round rookie Chase Claypool should be ready to break out over the next few games, and he has the potential to elevate this offense to one of the best in the league.
I have the Steelers as 8.5-point favorites, but only want to take them at -7 since it’s such a critical number.
Giants +8.5 at Cowboys
Kickoff: 4:25 p.m. ET | TV: CBS
I’ll be backing the Giants for the fourth straight game. It pains me to say that, but it does seem like the market overlooks their backdoor potential every week.
The Cowboys have the second-lowest average game time with a lead (4:22), which illustrates just how detrimental their defense has been through their 1-3 start. It’s a unit that’s struggled against both the pass (25th) and the run (23rd) in DVOA. Even if the Cowboys get off to an early lead — which they should — their defense will allow the pass-heavy Giants to stay in the game.
The Giants have a pass-funnel defense, as seen by their DVOA rank against the pass (24th) vs. the run (11th). When teams get a lead on the Giants and become more run-heavy, it plays into the strength of their stout run defense, which was bolstered by the addition of Blake Martinez. That, combined with Daniel Jones being a volatile quarterback, makes the Giants a live underdog nearly every week.
I would bet this down to Giants +7.5.