NFL Week 5 Recap: 5 Betting Takeaways for the Rams, 49ers, Jaguars, More
Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images. Pictured: Emmanuel Moseley.
We've passed the tipping point now. It's important to not overreact after two or three games. Anyone can have a hot start or catch a few bad bounces. But every team has played five games now, preseason is long ago and the long list of potential excuses are quickly dwindling.
It's tough to keep track of everything happening around the league with 14 games on a Sunday.
Here are five important takeaways you need to know from Week 5.
1. The Rams Are in Big Trouble
The Rams won The Battle of the Coopers with Kupp outgaining Rush 125 to 102 yards, but they also lost the war.
Matthew Stafford was stripped for a fumble-six on the third play, and a blocked punt on the next possession gifted the Cowboys a 9-0 lead out of the gates that, it turns out, was practically enough to win the game.
The Rams just can't score.
It's telling that L.A. faced a backup QB and held him to barely 100 yards but the game still never felt competitive. The offensive line continues to be a mess — Stafford was sacked five times and hit 11 times, and Cam Akers ran 13 times for 33 yards. Sean McVay's usually lethal attack has devolved into gimmick plays and force-feeding Kupp.
The Rams rank 26th in Offensive DVOA through five games, which is certainly quite offensive. Even the rare good plays feel like McVay is pulling a rabbit out of his hat — and some of those will get schemed away as defenses scout and catch on. They held Dallas to just 239 yards and still were never in the game thanks to three turnovers, a blocked punt and the tepid offense.
It's getting late early for the champs. They get a brief respite with the Panthers this week, but that's the last easy one.
Los Angeles is 2-3 and in serious danger of missing the playoffs. Football Outsiders gives them just a 33.9% chance at the postseason, effectively one in three.
2. The 49ers Are Flying High … For Now
If you didn't watch the 49ers-Panthers game, you probably saw the final score (37-15) along with the subsequent news that Matt Rhule was fired and figured you had everything you need to know.
There really aren't many more takeaways about the actual game. The Panthers stink, and the 49ers defense continues to ball out — still the No. 1 DVOA defense in the league.
What you might have missed, though, is the increasingly troublesome 49ers injury report.
Stud pass rusher Nick Bosa left the game with a groin injury and could miss a few weeks. He's the most important player on this defense and second in Defensive Player of the Year odds right now.
Corner Emmanuel Moseley tore his left ACL and is out for the season, and safety Jimmie Ward hurt his hand. The 49ers are also missing starting DTs Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw plus LB Azeez Al-Shaair. That's six starters — over half the defense.
But hey, maybe the offense can pick up the slack!
Oh wait, San Francisco is also missing QB Trey Lance, RB Elijah Mitchell, and its most important player, LT Trent Williams. Star TE George Kittle is still playing through a groin injury and WR/RB Deebo Samuel was wincing through some pain on Sunday, too.
Right now, the 49ers are 3-2 and a clear division favorite, flying high after two dominant wins in six days. They shouldn't get overconfident.
A trip to Atlanta (5-0 ATS) is no longer a gimme, and then it's the Chiefs and Rams before a badly needed bye week.
Individual injuries can be overstated, but cluster injuries can spiral and derail a season. That's especially true on the offensive and defensive line and in the secondary, which is exactly where injuries are piling up.
Against the Falcons, the 49ers will be missing three of their four best offensive players, three of their four best front seven defenders, and potentially two of their four best players in the secondary.
The 49ers re-opened Sunday night as 6.5-point favorites over the Falcons, but the number is dropping. Look for value on the Falcons, and beware of investing too much in S.F. futures.
3. Don't Leave the Seahawks For Dead Just Yet
The Seahawks and Saints, two teams you're probably not giving much attention to, played a fun back-and-forth game. Seattle should've taken the lead with a late third quarter bomb (called back on a penalty), and it did take a brief 32-31 fourth quarter lead before coming up short.
But man, this offense looks like the real deal.
The Seahawks — Geno Smith's Seahawks!! — lead the NFL in Offensive DVOA through five games. Eat your heart out, Russell Wilson.
The Saints were widely expected to be a top-five defense entering the season and still rank top 10 in Defensive DVOA, but Seattle absolutely shredded them.
The Seahawks averaged over eight yards per play and broke big plays all game. Rookie Kenneth Walker had a long TD, and WRs Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf combined for 10 catches, three scores and nearly 200 yards.
At the center of it all was Smith, who continues to put up star numbers. He had three TDs, 268 yards and averaged 10.7 yards per attempt. He's hitting those same deep balls Russ was and spraying the ball all over the field. He's probably not going to win MVP, but he's an intriguing Comeback Player of the Year look at +2000.
Of course, the Seahawks did lose, because their defense is almost as bad as the offense is good. Their D ranks 31st in DVOA, and the offense failed on key downs, going 1-for-9 on third downs.
Offense is much more predictive and sticky than defense historically. That means it's far more likely that Seattle's offense stays really good than the defense stays awful.
It also means the division is still very much in play since San Francisco's injured defense probably won't stay at No. 1 all year, while the 49ers, Rams, and Cardinals all rank in the bottom half of the league in Offensive DVOA.
I'm not going away from the Seahawks yet. They've absolutely been better than the Cardinals and look like an intriguing home underdog this week. And with a weakened division and the seventh-easiest remaining schedule, I'm still buying stock on long shot division and playoff futures, too.
4. The Browns Might Have Cost Themselves a Playoff Spot
Chargers-Browns was a fun back-and-forth affair with six lead changes, nine trips to the red zone and 440-plus yards of offense from each side. But in the end, the Browns just Brownsed harder than the Chargers could Charger, with a killer Jacoby Brissett red-zone interception and a missed field goal costing the team dearly in the final period.
The Browns lost 30-28, and this could be fatal for their playoff hopes.
Cleveland profiles similarly to Seattle, with the No. 4 Offensive DVOA and No. 30 Defensive DVOA. The difference is that the Browns have played the third-easiest schedule and only went 2-3, and they have the fourth-toughest schedule remaining.
The defense just hasn't been good enough, and this was a key loss and a potential tiebreaker against a team fighting for the same playoff spot. Cleveland couldn't even stop the Chargers on early downs, where they're usually terrible, letting L.A. run all over them.
The Browns should remain competitive and will get Deshaun Watson back eventually, but this may be a loss they look back on as the one that got away.
The awful run defense and daunting schedule make it hard to invest in Browns futures, though it could be a nice spot to back a desperate team trying to save its season Sunday against the Patriots.
5. These Aren't the Same Old Jaguars
If you're not watching Jaguars games, it'd be easy to see a 13-6 loss to the winless Texans and write them off as the same team they've always been.
Don't go out on Jacksonville so quickly.
This was a bad loss for the Jags. A serious playoff contender shouldn't lose at home to Houston, the easiest game on the schedule. But remember how the Colts always lose to the Jaguars? Jacksonville has lost nine straight to Houston. The NFL is weird sometimes.
If you watched this game without checking the scoreboard, you'd have figured the Jaguars were totally dominating … because they were! Houston had a measly 174 yards before a late touchdown drive, and the Texans got away with a goal-line fumble the play before the winning TD.
The Jaguars forced eight turnovers and had only one during their 2-1 start. They've forced just one in the last two weeks and turned it over seven times, losing twice by one score. Jacksonville also went 0-for-3 on fourth down and 0-for-3 in the red zone on Sunday, including a costly end zone interception.
Turnovers can be fickle, but Trevor Lawrence will get out of this funk, and the defense continues to play excellent and should force more turnovers soon. Jacksonville ranks both seventh in Defensive DVOA and overall DVOA.
The Jaguars are good! Don't give up on this team. This loss hurts, but it buys us value on Jacksonville's division odds.
The Titans have won three in a row but continue to be thoroughly underwhelming. The Colts rank last in DVOA and looked awful in that Thursday night win.
Jacksonville is third in the division at the moment, but Football Outsiders still has them as the division favorite at 38.4%. That gives us value at +250 to win the division at DraftKings, an implied 28.6%, especially since the Titans have the fifth-toughest remaining schedule while the Jags have the ninth easiest.
Jacksonville hits the road this week to face Indianapolis, a team it shut out 24-0 a month ago. A three-game home stand is on tap after.
Don't let the loss to the Texans convince you the Jaguars are bad. Think of it as growing pains and another opportunity to buy low on a great defense and a young offense that will figure things out.