NFL Week 5 Picks: Our Late Slate Best Bets for 49ers vs Panthers, Cowboys vs Rams, Eagles vs Cardinals
Cooper Neill/Getty Images. Pictured: Ezekiel Elliott.
NFL Week 5 Picks
John LanFranca: I am once again asking you to fade Baker Mayfield.
Only two QBs have a difference of 10% or more when contrasting their expected completion percentage with their actual completion percentage: Mayfield and Justin Fields. Fields is at least aggressive enough to keep his average intended air yards at a healthy 9.3 per attempt, while Mayfield is fifth-worst in the league at 6.7 per attempt.
Make no mistake, the Panthers will have to throw the football successfully to stay competitive in this game. The 49ers have the best run defense in the NFL according to both DVOA and yards per carry allowed (2.86). Every other top-six DVOA rush defense ranks outside the top 20 in pass defense DVOA, but the Niners rank fourth. San Francisco’s defense is on a completely different level right now.
The Panthers have scored 16 or more points twice in four weeks. In Week 1, they scored 24 points against the 30th-ranked Browns defense, and in Week 3, a defensive TD against the Saints helped them get over this threshold.
I am happy to play under 16.5, where it is currently listed at some sportsbooks, or under 14.5 at plus money.
First off, is anybody even that surprised that Kyle Shanahan continued his domination of Sean McVay? That’s like being surprised McVay dominated Kingbsury (again) a few weeks ago. That’s just the circle of betting life in the NFC West.
Additionally, it’s time to sell the Cowboys, which sets up a beautiful buy-low, sell-high spot. The love for Cooper Rush has gone too far. I’m hearing delusional folks suggest he’s better than Dak Prescott — that’s laughable.
The Cowboys offense ranks 31st in EPA per play if you remove the impact of turnovers across the league. Why do I bring that up if Rush has zero interceptions in three games? Well, the Bengals dropped multiple easy picks and the Commanders had two overturned due to illegal contact penalties.
The turnovers are coming soon and could flow against a Rams defense that ranks first overall in EPA per rush, which means Rush will have to make plays.
Rush has excelled in the scripted portion of games, but teams have an abundance of film now on what offensive coordinator Kellen Moore wants to do early. Also, let’s not act like Rush has faced the most elite competition.
My potential parallel to Rush is Kyle Allen back in 2019. After Cam Newton suffered a season-ending injury, Allen took over as the starter in Week 3. He won and covered his first four games with a 7-0 TD-INT ratio.
Everyone suddenly hopped on the bandwagon, but in reality, he was benefiting greatly from luck and lack of opponent familiarity. He finished 1-8 SU with a 10 TD-16 INT ratio and failed to cover by an average of just under 11 points per game.
The Rams have issues, specifically on offense due to an underwhelming and beat up line. However, most of their struggles came against arguably the league’s two best defenses in San Francisco and Buffalo.
It won’t get much easier against Dallas, but I believe Matthew Stafford (and mainly Cooper Kupp) can score enough in a prime bounce-back spot against a backup quarterback. You could also see L.A.’s rushing attack get going against a semi-vulnerable Dallas rush defense.
John LanFranca: This is based on the fact that Ezekiel Elliott has only had a 13-yard rushing play in three of his last 16 games.
The Cowboys’ offensive line is not nearly as dominant as the recent iterations of this unit. Elliott is only averaging 3.8 yards per carry and does not provide many explosive runs at this point in his career.
The Rams will make this threshold even more difficult for Zeke to reach. The Los Angeles rushing defense is the third best in the NFL according to DVOA and ranks in the top 10 in both yards per carry against (3.9) and rushing first downs surrendered (23).
Elliott will likely get a solid workload — propped for approximately 14 rushing attempts — but I do not see him breaking off many big gains against a front seven quite adept at stuffing the run.
I’ll gladly be on the right side of mathematics and play the outcome that has occurred at an 81.25% rate in the last 16 Cowboys games.
Simon Hunter: It’s rare I’m on such a big chalk public play, but sometimes the books have no choice but to hang bad lines. This is one of them, one I would bet to -6.5. That’s the kind of mismatch this is.
The Eagles are averaging 22 points in the first half through four games, while the Cardinals have scored 16 points in the first half on the season, which is the second fewest in the NFL. Philadelphia has scored the most.
I have the Cardinals graded out as a bottom-five team, while Philadelphia is undefeated and first in the NFC. These teams are going in opposite directions. Arizona is 0-7 straight-up and against the spread in its last seven home games.
A team that starts slow and plays worse at home. Please bet this.
If you make one bet today, this should be it.
Derek Farnsworth: At this point, I’ll take my chances with the Eagles against just about any team.
Philadelphia has one of the best offensive lines in football, one of the best defensive lines and an elite secondary. The Eagles offense is absolutely humming with Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Miles Sanders.
Then we talk about the Cardinals, who have yet to score a single point in the first quarter all season. Their scripted plays clearly aren’t working and if they fall behind again, I’m not sure their comeback mode is going to work against a high-caliber Eagles defense.
I generally shy away from big favorites on the road, but I will continue to side with Philadelphia.
Sam Farley: The Eagles have been the best team in the NFC this season, but they face a tough road game against the Cardinals. While we’re certain to see plenty of Jalen Hurts rushing, we are also likely to see him target Dallas Goedert often.
Through four games, there is only one team who has allowed more yardage to tight ends than the Cardinals, who have given up 341 yards on 28 receptions. The Eagles’ TE has 240 receiving yards this season and has had fewer than 60 once in four games.
Goedert is averaging five targets per game and has had at least four every week. He has also been a reliable target for Hurts, hauling in 80% of his 20 targets this season.
The Eagles need to win this game to keep their momentum going and prove themselves as top dogs in the NFC. Getting Goedert going will be crucial to that happening.