The Ultimate NFL Week 5 Betting Preview: Tips, Strategies for Every Game
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jalen Ramsey, Patrick Mahomes, Todd Gurley and Russell Wilson
- If you're looking for comprehensive betting and fantasy football previews for every Week 5 game, you've come to the right place.
- Our experts cover trends, sharp action, fantasy football sleepers and make the case for a few bets.
All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets.
Betting odds: Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals
- Spread: Bengals -6
- Over/Under: 48.5
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: CBS
Betting market: This game is seeing lopsided action, with 70% of bettors on the surprisingly hot Bengals at home at the time of writing (see live betting data here).
The line has been doing a bit of a limbo around -6, moving to -5.5 and -6.5, but yet to touch the key number of -7.
Though the over in Cincinnati’s games have been pretty popular as of late, getting 84% and 73% of tickets in their past two games, the market doesn’t feel the same way this weekend.
This under is one of just three this weekend getting the majority of bets, and it has also received enough money to fall from 50 to 49.5. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: Andy Dalton is 34-21-6 against the spread (+11.8 units) in his career when the public is backing him (51% or more of the betting tickets). Only Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith have made the public more money than Dalton since he entered the league.
After a straight-up win, Dalton is 22-13-2 ATS (+8 units) when the public is backing him, making him the second-most profitable QB in that spot behind just Smith. — Evan Abrams
Buy low, sell high. Sometimes it is that easy in sports betting. Miami lost by 31 points to the Patriots in Week 4. Teams after blowout losses have historically been undervalued.
Biggest mismatch: Bengals front seven vs. the Dolphins offensive line
This game could perhaps include sloppier football than most anticipate. The matchup joins Broncos-Jets as the week’s only games with a combined matchup-specific turnover rate above 10%, meaning both turnover-prone offenses will have to deal with takeaway-minded defenses the entire afternoon.
The Bengals have the edge at home, especially with the return of linebacker Vontaze Burfict from a four-game suspension. — Ian Hartitz
Which team is healthier? Bengals
The Bengals are hoping to welcome back running back Joe Mixon (knee) Sunday, which would render the potential absence of Gio Bernard (knee) irrelevant.
The offense and defense are otherwise set up well, as center Billy Price is the only starter on either side of the ball not expected to suit up.
The Dolphins aren’t exactly a graveyard either, but receiver DeVante Parker (quad), linebacker Chase Allen (foot), tight end A.J. Derby (foot), cornerback Bobby McCain (knee) and defensive end Andre Branch (knee) are far from guaranteed to play in Week 5.
DFS edge: A.J. Green has five touchdowns in four games this season and has at least eight targets in 10 of 11 games dating back to last season.
Life will continue to be good for Dalton’s receivers as long as the Red Rifle continues to average a career-high 299.3 yards per game and 7.0 TD rate.
Still, Green could see shadow coverage from ace cover man Xavien Howard, who joins Darius Slay as the league’s only cornerbacks with at least seven interceptions since 2017.
Four games isn’t a large enough sample size to anoint Howard as the next great shadow corner, but the 6-foot, 201-pound athlete offers a rare combination of size and ball skills.
Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd, who has a team-high 36 targets, is once again positioned for success against a defense’s below-average complementary corners. — Ian Hartitz
Bet to watch: Under 48.5
The biggest question mark I had coming into the season about the Bengals was their offensive line play.
While it has been better than last season, the underlying metrics suggest the unit still has major issues — especially on the right side of the line with Alex Redmond (has allowed the third-most pressures of any guard) and Bobby Hart.
The Bengals also lost rookie center Price, who looked solid in the middle of that O-line, to injury. Per PFF, the only starting Cincy offensive lineman that will have a grade of more than 55 is left guard Clint Boling.
Although its depth has taken a hit with a few injuries, Miami’s defensive line can exploit this deficiency. Expect huge days from defensive ends Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn.
Dalton should be under fire all game, and he won’t have tight end Tyler Eifert to rely on as a safety blanket — which you saw take a toll on the offense in the second half against Atlanta.
The Bengals should get out of here with a home win, but this game is setting up as a defensive grind that both defensive fronts can control. — Stuckey
Betting odds: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
- Spread: Ravens -3
- Over/Under: 45.5
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: CBS
Betting market: The Browns are receiving only 25% of bets!? What a shocking development.
In all seriousness, most folks are on the Ravens (see live data here), but the Browns have been getting enough support of the sharp variety to hold onto +3.
They might need another push of support, though, as the juice on the Ravens has gradually moved from -105 to -116 since opening. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: This will be the 16th consecutive game that the Browns have been underdogs against a division opponent. In the previous 15, Cleveland went 0-14-1 straight up and 4-11 against the spread. — John Ewing
Joe Flacco is 17-2 SU and 12-6-1 ATS against the Browns — his most profitable opponent (+6.2 units). But buyer beware if you plan on backing Flacco and the Ravens in the first half: Flacco is 9-9-1 against the first-half spread when facing the Browns, with a negative ATS differential. — Evan Abrams
Did you know? December 13, 2015 was the last time the Browns were favored to win a game on a Sunday (-2.5). That was also Cleveland’s last SU win on a Sunday (24-10).
That was 1,030 days ago.
The Browns started Johnny Manziel that day against San Francisco and Blaine Gabbert. — Abrams
Metrics that matter: These two teams rank Nos. 1 and 2 in pace (plays per second), which might ultimately keep me off the under. — Stuckey
Matchup to watch: Ravens running game
The Ravens have gotten off to a fantastic start in 2018 … no thanks to their running game.
The Ravens are tied with the Bucs in the NFL basement with a minuscule 3.1 yards per rush attempt. Don’t expect that to change against a Cleveland defense that finished second in yards allowed per rush (3.4) last season. If the Ravens can’t establish a running game, that means the passing game will have to carry them on the road in potential bad weather against a defensive front that can get after the immobile Flacco.
Don’t expect many points from the Ravens against an underrated Browns defense. Do expect to see a lot of Justin Tucker made field goals. — Stuckey
Biggest mismatch: Ravens vs. Browns special teams
This special teams matchup might be the biggest mismatch on the board in Week 5. When all is said and done, the Ravens could very well end up with the league’s top special teams unit. They have potentially the best kicker in NFL history in Tucker and a superb punter in Sam Koch.
The unit does everything generally well under the tutelage of head coach and former special teams assistant John Harbaugh.
On the other end of the spectrum you will find the Browns, who have done nothing right on special teams in 2018. From already cutting their kicker to abysmal returns and coverage units, Cleveland has looked lost under new special teams coordinator Amos Jones. But that shouldn’t be surprising: Jones led some of the worst special teams units in the league in Arizona over the past five years.
How bad has the Browns special teams been? They not only rank 32nd in Football Outsiders’ special teams DVOA, they currently have the worst rating of any team since 2000. And guess who is back on the depth chart for return duty this week? Jabrill Peppers, who has looked absolutely lost as a return man. — Stuckey
Which team is healthier? Browns
The Ravens will welcome back stud cornerback Jimmy Smith from suspension, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll be joined by fellow starting corner Brandon Carr (knee).
Baltimore’s offense is tentatively expected to have both tight end Hayden Hurst (foot) and running back Alex Collins (knee), but the defense might have to make do without defensive tackle Willie Henry (hernia) and pass rusher Tim Williams (hamstring).
The Browns lost cornerback Terrance Mitchell (arm) for the season, but are otherwise healthy — aside from linebacker James Burgess (knee). Receivers Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway have knee injuries, but neither is reported to be serious.
DFS edge: The Ravens are only $2,800 on DraftKings and lead the way in FantasyLabs’ Ceiling Projections to go with their slate-best 3.4 projected sack total. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield took on a Raiders defense that lacks a pass rush in Week 4, but now he’ll draw a Ravens defense that grades as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 pass-rushing unit.
The Ravens are one of the best values on DraftKings with a +1.24 Projected Plus/Minus. — Justin Bailey
Bet to watch: Browns +3
Yes, I’m a die-hard Ravens fan. Yes, I had season tickets for years. Yes, I go to their road game in Cleveland every season — and will be there again this Sunday. And, yes, I am betting the Browns +3.
That doesn’t mean I won’t be rooting for the Ravens (preferably by one or two points), but you have to separate your betting decisions from your fandom. Easier said than done, but doable.
The Ravens have looked great, especially on defense, but they beat up on the Bills in their home opener, had a war against a bad Broncos team and got revenge over their division rival and a severely overrated Steelers club. The three opponents the Ravens have defeated this year have one win each. (And don’t forget about the waxing they suffered in Cincinnati.)
While I don’t think the Browns will deliver a similar type of beating that the Bengals did, I think they can actually beat this Ravens team — something they have rarely done at home. (Trust me, I see it live every year.)
Baltimore’s rushing attack looks off and has no explosiveness this season, which means the onus will be on Flacco and the passing game. And I think the Browns corners match up well with the Ravens receivers. (Denzel Ward is the real deal, people.)
On the other side of the ball, the Ravens secondary is legit and I don’t see Mayfield making too many plays in the passing game. However, the Ravens can be run on up the gut, and the Browns have a stable of backs who can exploit this potential primary weakness of the Baltimore defense.
In a game in which two teams should struggle to move the ball consistently, I trust the Browns running game more, plus the legs of Mayfield are much more equipped to deal with the inevitable pressure the Ravens will bring, while Flacco will be a sitting duck for Myles Garrett & Co.
The Ravens will have a significant coaching edge and an enormous special teams edge, which would have kept me off +1. But with the move to +3, I have to grab the points here and fade my Ravens in a bad spot in their second straight road game after an emotional win over the Steelers. Classic sell high spot, as the Ravens aren’t as good as they’ve looked.
Go Ravens … by 1 or 2! — Stuckey
Betting odds: Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs
- Spread: Chiefs -3
- Over/Under: 49
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV channel: CBS
Betting market: At the time of writing, spread bets are split almost exactly down the middle, which is a bit surprising given the Chiefs’ success so far.
In fact, it’s Jacksonville that is getting the slight majority of bets, not Kansas City. Nevertheless, the line is having a hard time moving off of the key number of three.
At BookMaker, it moved up to 3.5 for a grand total of one minute all week before heading back.
Trends to know: Leonard Fournette will miss Sunday’s game. Since drafting the former LSU running back, the Jaguars have played five games without him. And outside of a dud vs. Tennessee earlier this season, their offense hasn’t been that bad:
- 2018 vs. Titans: Lost, 9-6 (4.6 yds/rush)
- 2018 vs. Patriots: Won, 31-20 (4.3 yds/rush)
- 2017 vs. Texans: Won, 45-7 (3.6 yds/rush)
- 2017 vs. Bengals: Won, 23-7 (3.7 yds/rush)
- 2017 at Colts: Won, 27-0 (5.1 yds/rush) — Evan Abrams
Meteorology matters: Wind looks like it could be a factor at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. (Forecasts tend to fluctuate so be sure to check the weather as the game gets closer.)
Jags quarterback Blake Bortles hasn’t fared well in windy conditions (10 mph or more). The UCF product is 1-3 against the spread and his stats are very underwhelming (82-for-162, 5 TDs, 9 INTs). — Evan Abrams
When the forecast calls for winds of 10 mph or greater and a game has a high total (44 or more points), it has been profitable to bet the under since 2003. — John Ewing
Matchup to watch: Jaguars pass defense vs. QB Patrick Mahomes
The Jaguars pass defense ranks first in the NFL with 164.2 passing yards per game. This will be a big step up in competition for Mahomes, who has faced four defenses with the following ranks in that same category this season:
- Chargers: 275.8 (21st)
- Steelers: 304.8 (29th)
- 49ers: 276.2 (22nd)
- Broncos: 273 (20th)
Yes, the Chiefs contributed some to those depressed rankings, but going from four bottom-10 pass defenses to the best (on a short week) is not ideal. — Stuckey
Biggest mismatch: Jaguars offensive line vs. Chiefs’ defensive line
The Jaguars have already benefited from their offseason reinforcements to their offensive line. Jacksonville has the single biggest O-line advantage on the Week 5 slate according to adjusted line yards per rush.
The Jags’ offensive line ranks 11th and is facing the Chiefs’ league-worst front seven. This is all great news for T.J. Yeldon. — Ian Hartitz
Which team is healthier? Chiefs
The Chiefs aren’t expected to have the services of all-world safety Eric Berry (heel) for another week, while wide receiver Sammy Watkins (hamstring) is shaping up as a game-time decision.
But they’re otherwise healthy, which is more than the Jaguars are able to say. Fournette (hamstring) and slot corner D.J. Hayden (toe) have each already been ruled out, while center Brandon Linder (knee/back) and left guard Andrew Norwell (foot) aren’t guaranteed to suit up, either.
DFS edge: Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are plenty deserving of their statuses as elite cornerbacks, but they’ve typically not shadowed against well-rounded offenses.
Tyreek Hill should avoid each for plenty of plays considering he has lined up in the backfield or slot on 41% of his offensive snaps this season.
Reduced DFS ownership seems certain for the Chiefs in a (difficult) home matchup vs. a defense that’s allowed 40-plus points twice since last December. — Ian Hartitz
Bet to watch: Not only is this a tough situational spot for the undefeated Chiefs (short week after playing in Denver’s altitude), but I think this team in general is being significantly overvalued by the market.
You have to remember this is a Chiefs defense that might just be the worst in the league. Take a look at the big stats on defense for Kansas City:
- 31st in pass D (328.5 pass yards per game)
- 25th in scoring D (more than 28 ppg)
- An NFL-worst 5.7 yards per rush
When Kansas City has the ball it’ll be strength vs. strength. This game features the league’s highest-scoring offense (36.2 ppg) vs. the best scoring defense (14.0 ppg).
Even when the Chiefs get into the red zone, where they rank second with an 82.35% touchdown percentage, they will face a defense that also ranks second in red-zone touchdown percentage at 25%.
Essentially, the Jags’ offense is closer in level to the Chiefs’ offense than KC’s defense is to Jacksonville’s defense.
One of the most important stats to look at when handicapping football is yards per play (specifically net yards per play which takes into account both sides of the ball).
Well, the Chiefs have a negative net yards per play (-0.1), while the Jaguars are at +1.3 (second-best in the NFL only behind the Rams).
It’s not the greatest sample size, but that discrepancy would imply the Jaguars should be around a touchdown favorite on a neutral field. I don’t think that’s the case, but I do think the Jaguars should be around a field-goal favorite on a neutral field, which would translate to about a pick ’em in Arrowhead.
Less prep time for Andy Reid + a pass-rush/secondary that can contain Mahomes = an easy decision to take the points. — Stuckey
Betting odds: Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers
- Spread: Steelers -3
- Over/Under: 58
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV channel: FOX
Betting market: During the early stages of the week, this game resembled a juicy juice factory. Oddsmakers were scared to allow bettors to take the Falcons plus the hook, as the Steelers line was (and still is at some books) up to -3 (-130), which is higher than we generally see juice reach (you can find updated odds here).
Alas, the Steelers were finally pushed up to -3.5 at BookMaker, Heritage and other shops. They’ve gotten 56% of bets and 70% of spread dollars thus far, but if a wave of sharp action comes in on the Falcons at this new number, we could definitely see a move back into juice-land. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: At 58, many bettors may be wary of taking the over in the Falcons-Steelers game.
In Ben Roethlisberger’s career, the over has been a very profitable trend when he plays at home, but the better angle may be the first-half over.
In Roethlisberger’s career, the over is 61-47-3 (56.5%), making him the third-most profitable quarterback to the over in that span behind Drew Brees and Tom Brady, according to our Bet Labs data.
In the first half, the over is 54-40-7 (57.4%) when Big Ben starts at home, the second-most profitable home quarterback behind Brett Favre over that span.
On top of that, when the full-game total is 50 or more, the first half over is 6-1-1 at home for Roethlisberger, too. — Evan Abrams
Did you know? How bad has the Falcons defense been? Since 1940, teams scoring 36 or more points at home with no turnovers have gone 402-4 — with the Falcons responsible for two of those four losses over the past two weeks. — Stuckey
The ever-important red zone: The Steelers defense has been just as bad as the Falcons, allowing a slightly worse 6.0 yards per play, 25th in NFL.
With two teams ranking in the bottom seven in scoring defense, neither offense should have trouble moving the ball up and down the field, which means this game might come down to red-zone execution.
The Falcons have looked sharp in the red zone over their past three contests (11 touchdowns in last 13 trips inside the 20).
Unsurprisingly, the Steelers’ high-powered offense has had a lot of success inside the red zone — even without Le’Veon Bell.
In fact, these two teams rank in the top seven in red-zone touchdown percentage and are Nos. 1 and 2 over the past three games.
However, it’s been the Steelers defense that has played significantly better than the Falcons when opponents get inside the red zone.
Pittsburgh has given up touchdowns on only 52.94% (14th in NFL) of opponent drives inside the red zone compared to Atlanta’s astronomical 81.25% (28th in NFL).
If the Steelers can continue to bend and not break at a similar clip on Sunday, they should walk away with a home victory. — Stuckey
Biggest mismatch: Steelers running backs/tight ends vs. Falcons pass defense
While the Steelers have the league’s best wide receiver duo with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, they will need to get contributions from their other pass catchers if they want to keep up with the Falcons.
Enter running back James Conner and tight ends Vance McDonald and Jesse James. The Falcons run a cover-3 defense that intentionally funnels targets to the middle of the field. As long as the Falcons are able to limit the yardage earned on these plays, their defense can bend without breaking.
The problem, though, is that the Falcons are without key coverage defenders Deion Jones (foot, injured reserve), Keanu Neal (knee, IR) and Ricardo Allen (Achilles, IR).
They have collectively been replaced by Duke Riley, a second-year player with a 57.8 PFF coverage grade; Damontae Kazee, a second-year fifth-rounder with just 226 coverage snaps; and Brian Poole, an undrafted third-year cornerback playing out of position as a box safety.
If Conner, McDonald and James can exploit the middle of the Falcons pass defense, the Steelers could have a big day. — Matthew Freedman
Which team is healthier? Steelers
Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman (knee) is expected to return on Sunday, and he’ll almost certainly be accompanied by Tevin Coleman (shin), Julio Jones (hand/ankle) and Mohamed Sanu (hip).
There’s less good news on the defensive side of the ball, as Vic Beasley (ankle) and defensive end Derrick Shelby (groin) should be considered questionable, while stud defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (ankle) has already been ruled out.
The only Steelers starters at risk of missing Sunday’s game are linebacker Vince Williams (hamstring) and safety Morgan Burnett (groin).
DFS edge: Only the Vikings and Colts are throwing on a higher percentage of their offensive plays than the Steelers (70.7%), and they have a much easier matchup this week.
Roethlisberger looks underpriced ($6,900 DraftKings) against a Falcons defense that currently ranks 28th in pass DVOA. Atlanta has allowed quarterbacks to score the league’s fourth-most DraftKings points per game (28.5) and is dealing with a ton of injuries to open the season. — Joe Holka
Bet to watch: Steelers -3
The Falcons defense has given up 80 combined points to the Saints and Bengals over the past two weeks with all those injuries.
So in a game that will likely come down to which defense can get a few stops, I’ll side with the Steelers.
And just for good measure, Pittsburgh has gone 15-9-3 against the spread (good for an 18.8% ROI) when it isn’t favored by more than three points at home over the past 10 years. — Ian Hartitz
Betting odds: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
- Spread: PK
- Over/Under: 51
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV channel: FOX
Betting market: With bettors having to lay nothing to back Aaron Rodgers vs. Matthew Stafford, you better believe they’ve done so.
Nearly 70% of bets are on the Packers as of writing (see live data here), but the line is frozen at PK, where it opened, indicating that bookmakers think sharp money might be waiting if it moves to Lions +1. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: Matthew Stafford is 2-9 against the spread in his career against Aaron Rodgers — his least-profitable opposing QB by far (-7.2 units). But when you look at the cover differential, the numbers are a bit deceiving.
Stafford is covering 48.2% of his starts against everyone but Rodgers, failing to cover the spread by 0.4 points per game. Against Rodgers, he is covering 18.2% of games, but is failing to cover the spread by only 0.7 points per game. — Evan Abrams
No quarterback has been more profitable against his division rivals than Rodgers since he entered the league in 2008. He’s 36-19 (66%) ATS when playing the NFC North. — John Ewing
Metrics that matter: This game might come down to red-zone production. I don’t think either team will have trouble moving the ball, but the Lions have been atrocious once they get inside the 20-yard line with a league-low 33.3% touchdown percentage. — Stuckey
Which team is healthier? Draw
The Lions secondary is in shambles. Cornerbacks Tracy Walker (back) and Quandre Diggs (hand) joined safety Tavon Wilson (back) in failing to get in a full practice to start the week. Detroit also has concerns at the line of scrimmage, with defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) questionable.
Packers left tackle Bryan Bulaga (back) and right guard Justin McCray (shoulder) failed to get in a full practice to open the week. The biggest concern for Green Bay is the status of starting cornerback Kevin King (groin) and its starting receivers; Davante Adams (calf), Geronimo Allison (concussion) and Randall Cobb (hamstring) all missed practice on Thursday.
Matchup to watch: Packers running backs vs. Lions defense
The Lions’ run defense has been absolutely horrific to start the season. Detroit has given up an average of 157.8 yards per game on the ground (worst in the league) and 5.3 yards per carry (30th in NFL).
To further illustrate this point, the Lions’ previous four opponents have averaged 157.8 yards per game on the ground against them. Those same four teams have only averaged 108.6 yards per game on the ground in their 12 other games combined — a 31.2% production decrease. — Stuckey
Biggest mismatch: Lions wide receivers vs. Packers secondary
The Lions have one of the best receiving trios in the league, and they match up well with a Packers secondary that could be without No. 2 cornerback Kevin King.
Golden Tate has run 73.0% of his routes out of the slot this season. A shifty technician and after-the-catch master, he’s facing a talented-but-raw rookie in slot corner Jaire Alexander.
Marvin Jones is a speedy big-play specialist, and he’ll run many of his routes at right cornerback Tramon Williams, who is 35 years old and lacks the speed (4.59-second 40-yard dash) to keep up with Jones (4.46-second 40).
Meanwhile, Kenny Golladay is likely to face rookie second-rounder Josh Jackson, who will find himself at a size disadvantage (6-foot vs. 6-foot-4).
With advantages at each receiver spot, the Lions could have a big passing day. — Matthew Freedman
DFS edge: Stafford is one of 12 quarterbacks who is averaging at least 300 passing yards per game this season (minimum two starts).
The Lions have heavily involved each of their top three receivers. Tate (26%) leads Golladay (20%) and Jones (17%) in overall target share, but the reverse order holds true in air-yard market share, as Jones (33%) and Golladay (32%) have been featured downfield more than Tate (24%).
History is also on the Lions’ side, as Stafford has thrown multiple touchdowns in six consecutive starts against the Packers, who have also allowed an additional 7.6 points per game on the road since 2015. — Hartitz
Bet to watch: Lions PK
There is plenty in the trenches that I love about the Lions over the Packers.
Detroit’s offensive line ranks second in adjusted sack rate, which should limit Green Bay’s defense from getting to Stafford. Conversely, the Packers’ offensive line is 25th in adjusted sack rate while the Lions defensive line is second.
In other words: A gimpy Rodgers will be under pressure for the entire game.
Football Outsiders also has a metric called “power success,” which measures runs on third or fourth down with a couple of yards to go. Detroit has heavy advantages on both sides of the ball in that metric.
Finally, there’s adjusted net yards per play, which takes a look at the differential of your offensive and defensive net yards per play without the garbage yards from sacks.
Detroit ranks in the top 10 at +0.4, while Green Bay is in the middle of the league at +0.1. — Collin Wilson
Betting odds: New York Giants at Carolina Panthers
- Spread: Panthers -6.5
- Over/Under: 43.5
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV channel: FOX
Betting market: Not every sportsbook is in agreement on this one, as the line sits at 6.5 or 7, depending on where you bet. At BookMaker, the line opened at 6.5, went down to 6, then up to 7 for two days, then back down to 6.5 on Wednesday night.
The Giants are getting approximately 30% of the bets and 50% of the dollars as of writing (see live data here). The line move from +7 to +6.5 clearly shows that some larger bets have come in on them. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: Teams coming off a bye have been historically profitable. Since 2003, NFL teams with 14 or more days between games have gone 231-198-12 (54%) against the spread, according to our Bet Labs data. (The Panthers were on a bye in Week 4.)
Surprisingly, Cam Newton is only 2-4 ATS following a bye in his career. — John Ewing
Newton has been money — on the moneyline — in this spot throughout his career.
When favored by more than a field goal with Newton under center, the Panthers are 28-6 straight up but only 17-16-1 ATS, including 18-3 SU when facing an opponent under .500.
On the moneyline, Newton is the fourth-most profitable quarterback since his debut in 2011. Against the spread, he’s right in the middle of the pack, profiting bettors a little more than a full unit. — Evan Abrams
If you are looking for a small edge with Newton at home, he’s a career 60% winner ATS at home, but that increases to 63.6% in the first half.
He’s the most-profitable QB against the first-half spread at home in his career. — Abrams
Matchup to watch: Giants vs. Panthers in the trenches
As always with the Giants, it comes down to the offensive line play — which directly impacts a fading Eli Manning more than ever. While some thought the G Men addressed some of their issues with the offseason addition of Nate Solder, the right side of the line has been a disaster.
Not only is Manning on pace to be sacked 60 times in 2018, but the offensive line ranks 31st in run blocking according to Football Outsiders. The Panthers rank first.
On the other side of the ball, the Giants defense is tied for the fewest sacks in the league with five. Getting Olivier Vernon back will help some, but the rest of the unit needs to step up; it doesn’t matter what kind of talent you have in the secondary if you can’t get pressure on the quarterback. — Stuckey
Metrics that matter: Punters are people, too! And Michael Palardy, who just signed a three-year extension, has been flipping field position beautifully with his boot this season. The Panthers punter has only allowed 25 total punt return yards so far.
His leg could be huge against a Giants offense struggling to move the ball. — Stuckey
Biggest mismatch: Giants linebackers vs. Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey
Alec Ogletree, Ray-Ray Armstrong and B.J. Goodson all have below-average pass-coverage grades from Pro Football Focus, which could be detrimental against an elite pass-catching running back like McCaffrey, who leads the Panthers with 27.5% of their target share.
Overall, the three linebackers have been targeted 41 times and have given up 32 receptions for 367 yards and two touchdowns while making just one interception. — Justin Bailey
Speaking of linebackers, the Giants’ run defense has struggled all season, allowing the seventh-most yards per rush (4.8) in the NFL.
That spells doom against an elite Panthers rushing offense that leads the league with 166 yards per game and ranks third with a stellar 5.5 yards per rush. — Stuckey
Which team is healthier? Panthers
The Panthers won’t have tight end Greg Olsen (foot) for another week, but right guard Trai Turner and wide receiver Curtis Samuel are tentatively expected to return.
The Giants are also without their starting tight end, as Evan Engram (knee) isn’t expected to play until Week 6 at the earliest. It remains to be seen whether cornerback Eli Apple (groin) and Vernon (ankle) will return, but wide receiver Sterling Shepard’s back injury at least appears to be minor.
DFS edge: McCaffrey owns one of the highest floors among all positions. His 22.7 touches per game rank third among running backs this season. On top of his significant cut of the Panthers’ target share, he also has 32% of their red-zone opportunities.
CMC should thrive against the Giants’ porous run defense. He boasts the fourth-highest median projections in FantasyLabs’ Player Models, and his +3.45 Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings is the second-best mark. — Bailey
Bet to watch: Panthers -6.5
The Panthers have the best rushing attack in the NFL, including what Newton can do with this legs.
On quarterback-designed runs and on plays he keeps the ball on a read, he’s averaging 5.76 yards per attempt. The Giants defense is awful against the run, and even worse against what Cam does best, allowing 14 (!!!) yards per attempt on these types of runs. Yikes. The Panthers will run all over the Giants.
Add in the Giants offense — which is blah and can’t manage any explosive plays in the passing game — and I love the Panthers in this spot. — Geoff Schwartz
Betting odds: Denver Broncos at New York Jets
- Spread: PK
- Over/Under: 42.5
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV channel: CBS
Betting market: After the Jets opened as 2-point favorites, the line quickly moved to 2.5. Since then, though, it’s been all Denver action, as the game is down to a PK at the time of writing (see the updated lines here).
The Broncos are getting more than 70% of bets and dollars and could close as the favorite unless the Jets start getting some sharp backing. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: The over/under is 42.5, one of the lowest in Week 5. In low-total (44 or fewer points) non-division games, where wind less than 10 mph, the over has gone 624-508-21 (55%) since 2003 per Bet Labs data. — John Ewing
Under coach Vance Joseph, the Broncos have been the worst road teams in football, and it really hasn’t been close.
Denver is 1-8 straight up and against the spread on the road under Joseph, the least profitable road team against the spread (-7 units).
Denver is 0-9 against the first-half spread on the road, failing to cover by 9.1 PPG. — Evan Abrams
Denver is 2-13-1 ATS in its past 16 games and now must travel to New York on a short week after a heartbreaking loss to its division rival. Horrible situational spot. — Stuckey
Which team is healthier? Jets
The Broncos were without starting right tackle Jared Veldheer (knee), linebacker Todd Davis (shoulder), defensive end Adam Gotsis (knee) and punter Marquette King (thigh) to start the week.
The only Jets who failed to practice Wednesday were tight end Neal Sterling and backup receiver Charone Peake.
The key injury to monitor is Von Miller (thigh), who was limited in practice Wednesday.
Biggest mismatch: Broncos defensive line vs. Jets offensive line
Jets QB Sam Darnold has been pressured 53 times this season, the seventh-highest mark in the league, and he’s set to take on a Broncos defense that ranks top 10 in hurries (46), hits (38) and pressures (52).
Moreover, Darnold has taken 10 sacks and has thrown two interceptions when under pressure this season. The Broncos defense possesses the fourth-best floor projection in the FantasyLabs Player Models. — Justin Bailey
Bet to watch: Broncos PK
Sure, the letdown spot is a concern, but the Broncos showed us what they are capable of last week by slowing down Patrick Mahomes and the high powered Chiefs offense for most of their Monday Night showdown.
They were also able to run the ball incredibly well with Patrick Lindsay and Royce Freeman.
If this team is at even 60% of that effort, it should have no trouble beating the Jets. Darnold has looked a little lost of late, and this Broncos defense will do him no favors.
I’m banking on the Broncos to rebound off two losses and get their season back on track. — BlackJack Fletcher
Betting odds: Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills
- Spread: Titans -5
- Over/Under: 39.5
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: CBS
Betting market: When the Bills were only getting 3.5 points, every bettor was naturally fading them. Well, not every bettor, but 70% of them.
I guess this is a “what have you done for me lately” type of deal, as memories of Buffalo’s annihilation of Minnesota have quickly been replaced by their shutout at the hands of the Packers. The line has since moved to Bills +5 (see live betting data here). —Mark Gallant
Trends to know: The Titans have now won three consecutive games all as underdogs, including their last win with Marcus Mariota back under center.
Mariota is 9-11 straight up and 5-14-1 against the spread the week after an outright win, failing to cover the spread by more than a TD per game.
Since Mariota was drafted by the Titans in 2015, no QB has been worse ATS off a SU win. — Evan Abrams
Not only can you sell the Titans high after three straight wins as underdogs, you can also buy the Bills low after getting shutout on the road in Green Bay.
Per BetLabs, since 2003, home dogs coming off a game when they scored three points or fewer have gone 44-26-2 (62.9%) ATS for an impressive 21.5% ROI.
This is just a flat out awful situational spot for the Titans. They must find a way to get up for the Bills in Orchard Park after upset wins over Jacksonville and Philly before a date with the Ravens in Week 6. — Stuckey
Nobody believes in the Bills, who followed their shocking upset of the Vikings with a 22-0 loss against the Packers. At the time of writing, more than 70% of spread tickets are backing the Titans as road favorites.
However, since 2003, teams getting little public support (less than 30% of bets) after a bad offensive game (less than 10 points scored) have gone 146-91-4 ATS.
Don’t discount Buffalo as a home underdog. — John Ewing
Biggest mismatch: Bills’ offensive line vs. Titans’ pass-rush
Josh Allen could be in for a long day as the Bills offensive line ranks 32nd in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate faces a Titans defensive line that ranks 10th in the same metric.
The Titans have done a tremendous job of getting to the quarterback, generating 36 quarterback hits (per Sports Info Solutions) through four games, which is the sixth-highest mark in the league.
When faced with pressure this season, Allen has a laughable 17.2% completion rate, 3.5 yards per attempt and a QB rating of 13.0. — Justin Bailey
Which team is healthier? Bills
The Bills are relatively healthy on both sides of the ball, as only safety Micah Hyde (groin), slot corner Rafael Bush (shoulder) and tight end Charles Clay (ankle) appear to be at risk of missing the game.
The Titans are a tad more banged up, with Corey Davis (illness) practicing in a limited fashion Wednesday, while linebacker Wesley Woodyard (shoulder) and safety Kenny Vaccaro (elbow) opened the week with a DNP.
DFS edge: Davis doesn’t have an ideal matchup on Sunday, in a potential shadow spot against Bills CB Tre’Davious White. However, Davis could be worth a look in tournaments as a contrarian option considering he is projected for just 5-8% ownership and he owns an absurd 32% of the Titans’ target share.
The volume is encouraging, but the matchup is not. Davis presently sports an 88% Leverage Rating on DraftKings, a percentile based score that weighs projected ownership and projected ceiling. — Justin Bailey
Bet to watch: Titans -5
I didn’t understand this opening line at all and I agree with the line movement here. I bet it at -3 and then bet it again at -3.5.
I normally hate siding with the public and a majority of the bets are on the road favorite, but I think the Titans should be a touchdown favorite so I’ll begrudgingly swallow the points. — Travis Reed
Betting odds: Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers
- Spread: Chargers -5.5
- Over/Under: 52.5
- Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
- TV channel: CBS
Betting market: Though there haven’t been any true sharp indicators on this game, the line movement tells the whole story. After opening between 7 and 7.5, the line hasn’t stopped moving toward the Raiders.
Oakland is getting a bit less than half the bets and a bit more than half the money, but went down to +4.5 at some books at the time of writing.
Trends to know: More than 60% of bettors laid the points with the Raiders last week and were rewarded as Oakland rallied to win and cover against the Browns in overtime.
A majority of bets are on Jon Gruden’s team once again this Sunday, but considering Gruden is 44-53-3 (45%) against the spread in the regular season including 17-27 (39%) ATS following a win since 2003, gamblers might be placing their faith in the wrong coach/team. — John Ewing
Matchup to watch: Derwin James vs. Jared Cook
Ten years into his NFL career, Jared Cook is finally living up to his potential as a 2009 third-round draft pick. Even though he’s a tight end, Cook is entrenched as the top pass-catcher for the Raiders.
A mismatch nightmare as a move tight end with wide receiver speed, Cook is first on the team with 35 targets, 26 receptions, 370 yards receiving, 189 yards after the catch, and two touchdowns receiving.
This week, though, he’ll be tested against ace first-round strong safety Derwin James, who already has a top-10 PFF coverage grade (80.2) at the position and is the highest-rated cover man in the Chargers secondary.
On 130 coverage snaps, James has been targeted 13 times, allowing just six receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown and picking off a pass in the end zone.
If the Raiders are going to upset the Chargers, they will need to figure out a way to get their most dynamic playmaker involved. — Matthew Freedman
Which team is healthier? Raiders
Both offenses could be without their starting left tackle and right tackle Sunday. The Chargers will also be without starting linebacker Kyzir White (knee) and stud defensive end Joey Bosa (foot).
The Raiders aren’t exactly the league’s healthiest team, but wide receiver Amari Cooper (foot), center Rodney Hudson (ankle), defensive tackle Maurice Hurst and running back Marshawn Lynch aren’t thought to be dealing with serious injuries.
DFS edge: Melvin Gordon is in a potential smash spot against a Raiders defense that ranks 28th in rush DVOA.
Austin Ekeler is seeing around 30% of the Chargers’ carries, but Gordon still owns 57% of the overall carries and he’s dominating usage in the red zone, with 38% of their red-zone market share of opportunities.
Gordon has the highest ceiling projection among running backs on both DraftKings and FanDuel. — Justin Bailey
Bet to watch: Over 52.5
The Chargers have seen all of their games this year hit the over, and that’s not a fluke.
Without Bosa, the Chargers defense has been a shell of its 2017 self, failing to pressure quarterbacks and allowing opponents to average 30.0 points per game.
The Chargers are the only team in the league to allow all their opponents to hit their implied totals, which they’ve surpassed by a league-high mark of 8.56 points.
And on the other side of the ball, the Chargers offense has been strong. The emergence of second-year first-round wide receiver Mike Williams has given the team a strong complementary option to Keenan Allen, and the development of Austin Ekeler as an explosive change-of-pace player to Melvin Gordon has bestowed the Chargers with one of the league’s best backfield tandems.
Scoring a robust 27.8 points per game, the Chargers have exceeded their implied Vegas total in each game by an average of 2.8 points.
With a challenged defense and top-tier offense, the Chargers seem likely to hit a lot of overs this year. — Matthew Freedman
Betting odds: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
- Spread: Rams -7.5
- Over/Under: 50.5
- Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
- TV channel: FOX
Betting market: With 77% of bets, the Rams are the most popular bet on the board at the time of writing (you can find live numbers here).
Despite the impressive support, books had been reluctant to move LA to -7.5 for much of the week, but late Thursday/early Friday, BookMaker and others did just that.
Expect some sharps to pounce on the +7.5; that a pretty darn big home dog for a team that isn’t totally incompetent. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: Home underdogs of seven or more points have gone 137-111-5 (55%) against the spread since 2003, according to Bet Labs. However, there are strong splits in this trend.
From 2003 to 2011, these large home underdogs were 94-68-4 (58%) ATS, but from 2012 to 2018 wagering on such teams has been a 50/50 proposition: 43-43-1 ATS. — John Ewing
This marks the first time in Russell Wilson’s career that he opened as larger than a 4.5-point home underdog, which he did against the Patriots in 2012.
Wilson has never closed above a 3.5-point home dog and only four times in his career has he closed as a 3-point home dog.
Wilson is 4-0 straight up and ATS is those games, covering by 12.5 PPG. — Evan Abrams
The Rams have scored 30+ points in four consecutive games to start the season. In Russell Wilson’s career, Seattle has faced an offense on such a streak twice before:
- Week 13, 2017 vs. Eagles (won, 24-10)
- Week 8, 2017 vs. Texans (won, 41-38) — Evan Abrams
Biggest mismatch: Rams’ offensive line vs Seahawks’ defensive line
I have the Rams rated as the best team in the NFL by a pretty wide margin — four points over the next tier on a neutral field.
The most impressive part of their team this year has been their offensive line, which has potentially been the best in the league to date.
I just don’t know how you stop Sean McVay and Jared Goff if you can’t generate pressure — and I didn’t even mention that they have the best running back in the game right now. Just a scary, scary offense at the moment.
Because of their excellent offensive line play, Goff has had time to throw the ball down the field — which he has done with extreme efficiency.
This is one of the reasons why the Rams lead the NFL in yards per attempt (10.2), while still ranking third overall in completion percentage at 71.9%.
In fact, Goff is 8-of-13 for 322 yards and five touchdowns on passes of more than 20 yards, per PFF. And guess who won’t be roaming on the backend of the Seattle secondary this week? All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, who has as many interceptions as catches allowed this season.
Expect the Rams to continue to hit some explosive plays through the air against what now looks like the Legion of Doomed — and it all starts up front.
And I won’t even get into the Rams defensive line vs. an awful Seattle offensive line. Aaron Donald should eat. The Rams have oodles of skill position talent, but this team dominates in the trenches, which is where football games are won. — Stuckey
Which team is healthier? Rams
The Rams could be without starting tight end Tyler Higbee (knee) and left guard Rodger Saffold (knee), but they’re otherwise set up well on offense and defense entering Sunday. Kicker Greg Zuerlein will miss another week.
The Seahawks are expected to utilize a committee backfield once Chris Carson (hip) returns, but whoever ends up rushing the ball could be without left guard Ethan Pocic (ankle) and right guard D.J. Fluker (knee).
The Seahawks will have to make do without tight end Will Dissly (knee) and Earl Thomas (leg) for the rest of the season.
DFS edge: The Seahawks didn’t waste any time easing Doug Baldwin (knee) back into the lineup in Week 4. He played 76% of the snaps, led the team with seven targets and ran a pass route on 27 of Russell Wilson’s 30 dropbacks.
His $5,000 price tag on DraftKings is $1,200 cheaper than it was at the beginning of the season. Baldwin’s +3.44 Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings is the fourth-highest mark among receivers. — Justin Bailey
Bet to watch: Seahawks +7.5
This was the first bet I made when lines opened on Sunday night. The three steps I take before deciding to place a wager:
1. I look at the spread and determine if I think there is any edge one way or the other. Often times that comes with public teams being over-inflated on the road (this game gets a check mark for that).
2. I will look at how the market is reacting to these teams. If the favorite is getting a majority of the action, I will tend to fade that side. I rarely trust the public. And, as Evan Abrams pointed out in this piece a couple of weeks ago, this has been a rough year for the public.
3. I will take what I see in the line and the market and do research on the two teams to see if the numbers back up my positions.
In this case, as much as the Seahawks have struggled, their defense still ranks in the top 10 in yards per play allowed and third down conversions (obviously that is something to watch with Earl Thomas and Mychal Kendricks out).
I don’t think it will be as easy for the Rams to build up a huge lead. And even if they do, I like my chances with Russell Wilson to throw open the backdoor. — Chad Millman
Betting odds: Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles
- Spread: Eagles -3
- Over/Under: 46.5
- Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
- TV channel: FOX
Betting market: This game is split in terms of bets and dollars — the line movement, or lack thereof, reflects that.
The Eagles have remained a three-point favorite at BookMaker since opening (you can find updated lines here), and although the juice was up in the -125 territory for some time, it has since moved back down to -120.
The over has received a crazy 90% of bets so far and has moved from 44.5 to 46.5 since opening. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: Entering Week 5, the Vikings and Cardinals both have a negative against the spread differential of a touchdown or more. According to our Bet Labs data, teams matching that criteria since 2005 cover at a rate of 55.3% against the first half spread when listed as an underdog, profiting bettors 31 total units. — Evan Abrams
Seven NFL teams are currently scoring fewer than 21 points per game entering Week 5, but only three of those seven teams are also allowing fewer than 21 PPG: Titans, Cowboys and Eagles (Tennessee and Dallas are on the road in Week 5).
Consider these nuggets …
- When a team scoring and allowing fewer than 21 PPG plays at home in October or later, the over is 260-221-5 (54.1%).
- When that home team is .500 or better, the over is 153-123-5 (55.4%, 7.8% ROI)
- When the game is between non-divisional opponents, the over is 172-128-4 (57.3%, 11.5% ROI)
- When that home team made the playoffs the season prior, the over is 62-38 (62%, 20.9% ROI). — Evan Abrams
Did you know? In the NFC Championship game last postseason, the Vikings were a three-point road favorite in Philadelphia.
A majority of bettors were on the Vikings and were surely disappointed as the Eagles won 38-7. In Sunday’s rematch, the Eagles are field goal favorites, but a majority of spread tickets are still on the Vikings. — John Ewing
Biggest mismatch: Eagles front four vs. Vikings’ run game
It’s a good thing that Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are facing struggling corners Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills because it would be a surprise if the Vikings get anything going on the ground.
Right guard Mike Remmers and right tackle Rashod Hill have been major liabilities this season, both ranking outside the top 50 at their respective positions. They’re going to get eaten alive by Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham (both rank in the top five at their positions).
On 60 carries by opposing running backs, the Eagles have given up an NFL-low 160 yards. Forget 4.0 yards per carry, the Eagles aren’t even giving up 3.0.
Meanwhile, Minnesota backs have gained a league-low 182 yards on 59 carries (3.1 yards per carry), and the team has a 37% Success Rate on run plays, also worst in the league.
To make matters worse, Dalvin Cook (hamstring) admits he still isn’t near 100%. — Chris Raybon
Which team is healthier? Eagles
The Vikings could be without starting cornerback Trae Waynes (concussion) and defensive end Everson Griffen (knee), while Cook (hamstring) isn’t back to full strength.
The interior of the Vikings’ defensive line could also be in trouble if defensive tackles Linval Joseph (shoulder) and Tom Johnson (ankle) are ultimately unable to suit up.
The Eagles probably won’t have backup running backs Corey Clement (quad) or Darren Sproles (hamstring) for another week, but Alshon Jeffery (chest), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (ankle), and all-world tackle Jason Peters (quad) aren’t thought to be dealing with serious injuries.
DFS edge: It’s unlikely the Vikings will be able to run against this Eagles defense, which should solidify Thielen’s already absurd floor.
Kirk Cousins leads the league in pass attempts, so it isn’t surprising that Thielen leads the league in targets (56) and targets per game (14).
Even though the Vikings’ offensive line will be outmatched against the Eagles’ front seven, Cousins’ 63.9% completion rate ranks second among quarterbacks when faced with pressure.
Bet to watch: Vikings +3
I love this situational spot for the Vikings, who will be out for revenge from last year’s NFC Championship game.
Not only do they have extra prep time after a Thursday night loss in Los Angeles, they are catching an Eagles team that had to play an extra quarter on the road in a Week 4 overtime loss.
The Eagles’ offense will be fine, but it’s still rusty after dealing with injuries. On paper, the Eagles’ defensive line should dominate the Vikings’ offensive line, but that was also the case in the Rams game.
I think the Vikings can employ a similar quick-passing gameplan and roll out Cousins, who can effectively throw on the move, to counter their disadvantage up front.
Also, you can never go wrong trusting Mike Zimmer on the road as a dog. His ATS record speaks for itself. — Stuckey
Betting odds: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
- Spread: 49ers -4
- Over/Under: 40
- Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
- TV channel: FOX
Betting market: What do the numbers 32%, 37%, 35% have in common? Those are the Cardinals’ spread bet percentages in each of their past three games. This week? Sixty-five bleeping percent of bets (see live betting data here).
Why the change of heart? Well, I don’t think bettors feel much differently about the Cardinals to be honest with you. I just think that there was no chance people wanted to take C.J. Beathard as a favorite.
The Cardinals have gone from +5.5 to +4 since opening, and I don’t think the majority of bettors would change their minds until the Niners approached -3 (which I don’t expect will happen). — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: The 49ers are 0-9 ATS in their past nine games as a home favorite. — Stuckey
The Cardinals enter this game with an average point differential of -14.25 this season.
Since 2004, backing teams with that bad of a point differential has profited bettors an ROI of 14%, according to our Bet Labs data.
And when you look closer, Arizona as a road underdog is in a great spot Sunday…
Teams with an average point differential of worse than -14 PPG:
- As an underdog: 126-78-2 ATS (61.8%, +39.7 units, 19.3% ROI)
- On the road: 72-39-1 ATS (64.9%, +28.3 units, 25.2% ROI)
- As a road dog: 71-37-1 ATS (65.7%, +29.2 units, 26.8% ROI) — Evan Abrams
Which team is healthier? Cardinals
The Cardinals have regularly rested starters during the early parts of the week, so they’re tentatively expected to feature the majority of their starters Sunday against the 49ers.
Things aren’t nearly as smooth in San Francisco, where left tackle Joe Staley (knee) and right tackle Mike McGlinchey (knee) should both be considered questionable, and the defense will likely be without Richard Sherman (calf) for another week.
The potential absences of Matt Breida (shoulder) and Marquise Goodwin (leg), in addition to Dante Pettis (knee), would leave the 49ers offense brutally short on playmakers.
Biggest mismatch: Cardinals’ pass-rush vs. 49ers’ offensive line
The 49ers are graded as PFF’s worst pass-blocking unit, creating a mismatch in the trenches against a Cardinals defense that has generated 51 quarterback hurries (seventh-most in the NFL) while ranking sixth in adjusted sack rate.
DFS edge: Tight end Rickey Seals-Jones is an intriguing punt option against a decimated 49ers defense that’s allowing 6.3 targets and 54 receiving yards per game to opposing tight ends this season.
RJS has a scary floor, but he has exceeded salary-based expectations in three of his four games on DraftKings. Overall, RSJ’s +2.25 Projected Plus/Minus is the fourth-highest mark among tight ends on DK. —Justin Bailey
Bet to watch: Cardinals +4
If you go back and watch Josh Rosen’s first start of his career, he was actually very impressive. His receivers dropped several open passes, but he showed nice poise and accuracy.
With David Johnson rounding into shape and the 49ers offense lacking many different-makers, I like the Cardinals to cover on the road. — BlackJack Fletcher
Betting odds: Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans
- Spread: Texans -3
- Over/Under: 45.5
- Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
- TV channel: NBC
Betting market: Spread bets are split, and sportsbooks are also split, as the line is 3 at about half the books and 3.5 at the other half at the time of writing.
BookMaker has been at both, as they moved the line from 3 to 3.5 for about 24 hours before moving it back (check out the updated lines here).
Keep in mind, these numbers are heavily juiced pretty much anywhere you look. If you want Dallas +3.5, you’re going to have to pay -120 or so, whereas the Houston -3 bettors will have to do the same. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: While they have certainly had their struggles covering at home, the Cowboys have been the second-most profitable road team against the spread in the NFL since 2014 (19-11-1), according to Bet Labs data. They trail only the Bengals in that area. — Stuckey
The Texans have struggled mightily playing in primetime, going 10-23 straight up and 7-24-2 ATS. Since 2002, the Texans’ expansion season, 26 franchises have played at least 30 games in primetime, the Texans’ win percentage of 30.3% is second-worst, ahead of just the Bengals (10-25 SU in primetime).
When the Texans face a .500 or better team in primetime, they are 3-19 SU and 3-18-1 ATS in franchise history, beating just the Jets, Bears and Bengals.
Houston faced the Cowboys once before in primetime, its first-ever game as a franchise at home in 2002, and won as an eight-point home underdog. — Evan Abrams
The Dallas Cowboys are averaging 16.8 points per game through four weeks, the third-lowest mark in the NFL (Bills and Cardinals).
Since 2003, teams that average less than 17 PPG are 58-107 SU (35.2%) in primetime, but 80-84-3 ATS (48.8%). When those teams are listed as an underdog, they are 30-89 SU (25.2%) and 58-62-1 ATS (48.3%). — Evan Abrams
Biggest mismatch: Cowboys’ defensive line vs Texans’ offensive line
The Cowboys’ defensive front has tortured opposing quarterbacks through the first quarter of the season, accumulating 14 total sacks, third-most in the NFL. And now it adds David Irving to the rotation, as the Dallas lineman returns from suspension.
I’m not sure how Watson will have any time to throw behind a horror show of an offensive line that has allowed the second-most sacks in the league (17).
Watson has been pressured at the highest rate in the league, and I doubt that percentage drops on Sunday. — Stuckey
Which team is healthier? Cowboys
The Texans regularly list half their roster as limited practice participants, so it’s hard to get a read on exactly who is in jeopardy of not playing. The biggest potential absence would be Will Fuller (hamstring), as Fuller’s field-stretching ability has regularly elevated the performance of his teammates.
The Cowboys will once again be without center Travis Frederick (illness) and linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring), but the rest of the starters are tentatively expected to play Sunday night.
DFS edge: Deshaun Watson is fifth in yards per attempt (8.4) and third in rushing yards per game (40.3) through four games this season.
Bet to watch: Texans -3
Passing is the predominant factor in giving one team an advantage over another, and Watson is averaging 8.4 yards per attempt this season after averaging 8.3 last season.
He’ll get to face off against a Cowboys team that will be without Sean Lee (hamstring), which is never for good news: Dallas is 1-5 ATS without Lee since the start of last season.
If rookie Keke Coutee’s 11-catch, 109-yard NFL debut is any indication, Watson may have yet another weapon alongside DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller.
Meanwhile, Dak Prescott is averaging just 6.5 yards per attempt. He relies on his running game to stay ahead of the chains, but that’s Houston’s strength — its defense ranks cool second in rushing DVOA.
I’ll lay three for a team at home with the edge in passing offense that can also match up well against the opponent’s bread and butter. — Chris Raybon
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.