NFL Week 5 Picks
After a season where I won the Gridiron Experts Staff Pick ‘Em contest, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. Last year, I went 64.5% straight up, and 55.4% against the spread… so I’m hoping to replicate that success this year. Each week, I’ll give you my picks for the game, and a short write-up centered around the key reason why I’m making the pick that I am.
In Week 4, we didn’t have the best week. My picks were 8-7 straight up and 6-9 against the spread. My lock of the did come through though (4-0 for the season). We’ll look to rebound this week.
You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with the staff.
LA Rams @ Seattle (-1.5)
Russell Wilson and Chris Carson have been carrying Seattle on their backs, but haven’t beaten anyone of significance to this point. Los Angeles has a win over New Orleans to their credit but got embarrassed this past week when they fell to Tampa Bay. Frankly, this seems like a pivotal game for both teams. On a short week, they’ll have to figure things out quickly for Thursday Night. I like McVay & Co. to right the ship this week and for Aaron Donald to cause some havoc on the Seattle interior line. Surely, Carson & Penny’s performances will suffer if that happens. If LA can limit Tyler Lockett, I don’t fear any other Seahawks pass-catching option. With Todd Gurley looking more like himself, and the trio of Rams receivers clicking, I tend to side with the Rams to score more points here. I also have concerns with the Seattle receiving corps. I’ll take the underdog on Thursday Night Football. Rams 24-23.
Buffalo @ Tennessee (-2.5)
The Titans shut down the Falcons this past week and played some opportune defense when Atlanta crossed the 50-yard line. Buffalo played respectably but fell to the Patriots in Western New York. A huge factor in this one will be if Bills QB Josh Allen can play after sustaining a concussion on Sunday. If not, Matt Barkley will take the reins, and the offense will suffer accordingly. The Titans’ defense is no joke, and the secondary has played well. If they can rush the passer as they did on Sunday in Atlanta, it could be a long day for the Bills offense. Marcus Mariota will have to replicate his strong performance from last week to bring the Titans over the hump. Mariota will be keying in on WRs AJ Brown and Corey Davis after they both turned in strong performances vs. the Falcons. Buffalo’s defense is also formidable, so Mariota will have to play mistake-free football. Thus far this season, the Titans QB has yet to turn the ball over. That trend will have to continue on Sunday. Tennessee is one of the league’s best home teams over the past few years and if Allen isn’t cleared, I think cover at home in this one. Titans 24-20.
Arizona @ Cincinnati (-3.5)
The Bengals played a terrible game on Monday Night Football in Pittsburgh. They’re missing their best player in AJ Green, and are trying to lean on the talents of Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon to get the job done. Unfortunately, these two talented players aren’t enough to put Cincinnati over the hump. Andy Dalton has continued with his mediocre career and won’t elevate this team to the next level. Mason Rudolph & Co. made this defense look silly on Monday Night, and it might be recency bias setting in, but I’m not sold they can compete with many teams in the NFL right now. The loss of John Ross for a few weeks further adds to the Cincinnati woes. Kyler Murray and the Cardinals were outclassed by the Seahawks as well. After allowing 104 yards to Chris Carson last week, they’ll need to keep Joe Mixon in check. If they do that and contain Tyler Boyd, the Bengals will have trouble finding big plays in this one. At this point, I give the edge to the Cardinals ever so slightly on the offensive side, and that’s why I’ll take them on the road here. Cardinals 21-18.
Chicago (-4.5) @ Oakland
Mitchell Trubisky will be out for a few weeks, it seems. That leaves QB Chase Daniel to drive the bus for Chicago. Daniel led the Bears to a 16-6 victory over Minnesota on Sunday and wasn’t that bad, going 22/30 for 195 yards and a TD in relief. Derek Carr has been just fine this year, but he needs his skill position players to step up around him. Darren Waller is one of the league’s best stories through 4 weeks, as he’s been catching passes at an insane rate. Tyrell Williams has been up-and-down, and rookie Josh Jacobs has been solid. However, Jacobs will need more touches to make a true impact. He only saw the ball 19 times in Week 4. The difference in this game is the defenses. Chicago’s defense is arguably the best in the NFL over the past two years, while Oakland’s defense leaves a ton to be desired. If Daniel can avoid turnovers, and they can lean on their running backs a little bit, I think Chicago will be just fine. Not to mention, Khalil Mack might have a little extra motivation in this contest against his former squad. I expect the all-world Mack to be shot out of a cannon and make Carr’s life miserable from start to finish. Bears 18-13.
Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (-3.5)
The Buccaneers were the talk of the NFL last week, as they went into Los Angeles and trounced the Rams in a game that totaled 95 points. Jameis Winston had his best game of the season, throwing for 385 yards and 4 TDs. Winston has two of the game’s best receivers to target in Mike Evans and the rising star Chris Godwin. In Week 4, Godwin took 12 catches for 172 yards and 2 TDs. Clearly, the young stud has a rapport with Winston. That’ll need to continue this week as they travel to New Orleans. The Saints impressively knocked off the Cowboys last Sunday night by a score of 12-10. Teddy Bridgewater has managed the offense effectively, often leaning on his stars– Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. Kamara took 20 touches for 89 yards last week, while Thomas reeled in all 9 of his targets for 95 yards. The Saints won’t ask Bridgewater to win them the game, but rather to manage it effectively and get the ball in the hands of their studs. I think this will be a shootout and will pick the team that I think has a better defense. Bruce Arians may make me look stupid, but I’ll take the Saints at home in this one. Saints 38-34.
Minnesota (-5.5) @ NY Giants
The Giants have won their last two games, and you can bet Metlife Stadium will be rocking on Sunday with the legend of Danny Dimes growing by the day. Jones was pedestrian on Sunday against a very bad Washington team. Wayne Gallman provided a spark, leading the team in rushing and receiving and scoring in both ways. I don’t think this will be typical of Gallman, and I think that the Redskins are actually THAT bad. The Giants do get Golden Tate back on Sunday, which will provide Jones another target besides Evan Engram. The Vikings are coming off a tough loss against the Bears who were quarterbacked by Chase Daniel. While that result might seem wildly unimpressive, let’s not forget the quality of the Bears defense. All things considered, I think the deciding factor here will be the Vikings passing attack against the Giants’ secondary. The New York pass defense has been awful this year… but so has Kirk Cousins. Something’s got to give. Stefon Diggs had a mini-breakout game last week, and I like the chances of him continuing his success against the G-Men. Adam Thielen is also lurking and Dalvin Cook is one of the league’s best RBs. Containing all of those weapons seems like a tall task for New York, so I’ll take Minnesota to rebound and take this one on the road. Vikings 30-24.
NY Jets @ Philadelphia (-13.5)
The Jets are coming off of their bye week and have to travel to Philadelphia. The Eagles are also on extended rest, as they last played on Thursday night in Week 4. Luke Falk will lead the Jets offense, which will need to revolve around Le’Veon Bell to have any chance of competing. Bell is a game-changer and would need to touch the ball exhaustively to make this offense competent. While Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson are quality players, neither particularly scare me as a game-breaker. The Eagles knocked off the Packers last week and looked great in the process. They have a multitude of quality options, including TE Zach Ertz and WRs Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor (when he catches the ball). RB Jordan Howard scored thrice last week, and Miles Sanders (when he doesn’t fumble) has played quality football as well. When it comes down to it, I just can’t pick the Jets with Luke Falk running the show. I think the Eagles are a safe bet to win in this one, and I’d rather pick them to cover and be wrong than buy into the illusion that the Jets will be anything more than… well… the Jets. Eagles 30-14.
Baltimore (-3.5) @ Pittsburgh
The Ravens disappointed last week with a home loss to the Browns. Maybe Cleveland is better than many thought, and the Ravens are closer to “good” than “great.” Time will tell. On the other hand, the Steelers looked the best they have all season with Mason Rudolph at the helm in Week 4, as they knocked off the (albeit awful) Bengals on Monday Night. Jaylen Samuels played a ton in that contest, working out of the wildcat offense and giving the Steelers some quality looks throughout the evening. It’ll be interesting to see if that was more of a Cincy-specific gameplan, or if Samuels will be deployed in the wildcat with more regularity. James Conner had a strong game, even though he banged up his ankle towards the end. Let’s not forget that Pittsburgh also has one of the game’s best receivers in Juju Smith-Schuster. Rudolph was commended for his deep ball coming out of Oklahoma State, so he can chuck the ball downfield. His 24/28 performance this week came with a low 8.2 yards per attempt. It’ll be interesting to see if they give him the shot to throw more deep balls Week 5. For Baltimore, Lamar Jackson had an up-and-down game, throwing for 3 TD and 2 INT in the loss to Cleveland. He also fumbled on one of his 9 carries, which he took for 66 yards. Aside from RB Mark Ingram (who inexplicably touched the ball only 13 times against the Browns), this team has a limited amount of playmakers. Hollywood Brown’s production has slowed down, as has TE Mark Andrews’. These skill studs will have to rebound, and I think they will. Jackson provides a fantastic dual-threat and I think that Baltimore will be at their best at Heinz Field on Sunday. The Ravens defense isn’t what it used to be, so look for the Steelers to keep it close, but I like the Ravens on the road. Ravens 23-20.
New England (-15.5) @ Washington
Will it be Colt McCoy? Dwayne Haskins? Case Keenum? Does it matter? Combine Tom Brady with the league’s best defense, and I’m hard-pressed to pick anything besides a Patriots cover, even on the road. Patriots 34-17.
Jacksonville @ Carolina (-3.5)
The Panthers were impressive on Sunday, knocking off the Texans in Houston. QB Kyle Allen managed the game well and didn’t throw any interceptions. The Panthers leaned on RB Christian McCaffrey, who ran the ball 27 times for 93 yards and a score, and added 86 yards on 10 catches. Obviously, this touch volume is unsustainable for McCaffrey, so they’ll need to rely on WRs DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel more in the future. The good news is that with these young, dynamic players on his side, Allen doesn’t have to make many high risk throws to be effective. The Jaguars are 2-2 after their last-second win over the Broncos late Sunday. Gardner Minshew is becoming a household name, as he threw for two more touchdowns in Denver. The true star was RB Leonard Fournette, who ran for 225 yards and paced the offense in this low scoring affair. If Fournette continues to produce and the defense does as well, Jacksonville might find success. However, for this week, I think Christian McCaffrey is the best player on the field. With two formidable defenses in this contest, I like the Panthers’ play-makers more than I like the Jags’ and think that I trust them to make a big play with the game on the line. I’ll take the Panthers to cover at home in this one. Panthers 28-23.
Atlanta @ Houston (-4.5)
Atlanta dropped to 1-3 after losing to the Titans on Sunday. Matt Ryan threw the ball 53 times as the running game could never get going. RB Devonta Freeman only had 28 yards on 12 carries, and the Falcons did little else. Austin Hooper and Mohamed Sanu combined for 221 yards receiving on 18 catches, but the Titans were able to keep them out of the End Zone. Ryan certainly has options galore when you add in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. However, ball control has been a major issue for the Falcons. They’ll need to limit turnovers to improve as the season goes on. The Texans also looked lackluster on Sunday, as they only logged 264 total yards. Deshaun Watson went scoreless and only totaled 160 yards passing. With weapons like DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, such a result is certainly surprising. However, Houston was right on the cusp of pulling it off on Sunday. Watson just missed Fuller on a long pass that ultimately could have been the difference in the game. After the Titans exploited the Atlanta secondary in Week 4, I think that Watson can do the same. Look for Fuller to make a couple of big splash plays and for Hopkins to get back on track as the Texans take this one at home. Texans 30-24.
Denver @ LA Chargers (-6.5)
The Broncos were not impressive on Sunday, as they fell to the Jaguars in Denver. Now 0-4 on the season, the Broncos will have to turn things around quickly or they could be looking at a Top 5 draft pick. On the other hand, the Chargers are finding their stride. They beat the lowly Dolphins this week, but have another quality win over the Colts, and were competitive in both of their losses. RB Melvin Gordon returns from his holdout and should provide a spark for the Chargers. It’ll be interesting to see the role RB Austin Ekeler plays with Gordon back in the fold. Ekeler has been one of the league’s best players through 1/4 of the season, so I doubt he will fall off the map entirely. Philip Rivers has one of the league’s best WRs in Keenan Allen to throw to, and I expect him to do that a lot on Sunday. The Broncos have been uninspiring on offense this year, as Joe Flacco has been painfully mediocre and Denver has limited explosive skill players. The platoon of Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay is quality, but not fear-inducing by any means. In the WR corps, Courtland Sutton still hasn’t made his big splash and Emmanuel Sanders is a quality option– but again, nothing too scary here. Another major factor is that the Broncos lost LB Bradley Chubb for the season with a torn ACL last weekend. There are too many headwinds for the Broncos to survive this one. Give me Los Angeles to win and cover comfortably. Chargers 30-18.
Green Bay @ Dallas (-3.5)
Both of these teams lost to quality opponents in Week 4. Dallas fell in a close game to New Orleans on Sunday Night Football, while Green Bay comes off extended rest after losing to the Eagles on Thursday Night. The Packers’ biggest change this year is their defense, which has been one of the league’s best. It came back to earth on Thursday night’s loss to Philly but has been effectively rushing the passer and creating turnover opportunities. Aaron Rodgers has turned the corner, passing for over 1,050 yards and 6 TDs in this young season. Davante Adams’ health is a concern, as he injured his toe on Thursday night. If he plays, it’ll be a huge boost for the Packers… but if its turf toe, Green Bay might be without their stud WR. If Adams can’t go, they’ll lean on Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison to shoulder the load. RB Aaron Jones will be the lead back on Sunday, especially with the injury to Jamaal Williams. Jones has been effective when Matt LaFleur has given him the opportunity. However, LaFleur’s playcalling has been erratic and questionable so far this year. Frankly, I think its been detrimental to the Packers offensively. On the other sideline, Kellen Moore has provided a boost to the Dallas offense. He’s been getting the most out of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott’s talents. Prescott will certainly want to feed Zeke, both in the backfield and in the passing game. Elliott is one of the league’s best players and should fare well in this contest. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup (if he suits up) provide Prescott with quality options. There are lots for Green Bay to defend and I think they have their work cut out. This should be a battle of strong defensive teams with strong offenses to boot. However, I think Dallas’ offense is more balanced, better coached, and is a more reliable pick to score late. Give me Dallas to win and cover at Jerry World. Cowboys 28-23.
Indianapolis @ Kansas City (-10.5)
The Colts lost to the Raiders last week. That never looks good. The Chiefs, on the other hand, won a close game in Detroit. The Lions are surprisingly formidable this year, as they were undefeated until the Chiefs knocked them off. Patrick Mahomes was held without a touchdown on Sunday in a shocking turn of events. However, he made some clutch late passes to propel his team to a comeback win. Mahomes did throw for 315 yards, bringing his season total to an unbelievable 1,510 yards in the league’s top-scoring offense. They’ve relied on the likes of Darrel Williams and LeSean McCoy the last 2 weeks with Damien Williams being held out with an injury. Speaking of injuries, the Chiefs remain without WR Tyreek Hill– a huge loss. TE Travis Kelce has been his usual, unstoppable self, pacing the offense in the process. In the receiving corps, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, and Demarcus Robinson have shouldered the load in Hills absence and will need to exploit the Colts’ secondary in this one. For the Colts, Jacoby Brissett has impressed with 911 yards so far this season. He’s thrown the ball efficiently, logging 10 TD to only 2 INTs. TY Hilton has been his top target, but he’s been hampered by an injury as of late. With Hilton less than 100%, the Colts’ offense simply isn’t as dynamic as usual. Aside from RB Marlon Mack, Indianapolis lacks other elite playmakers. That doesn’t bode well for keeping up with the league’s top-scoring offense. I think Mahomes makes up for Sunday’s zero TD performance with at least 3 TD passes this week and that the Chiefs win this game by 2 scores plus. Chiefs 38-22. (LOCK OF THE WEEK)
Cleveland @ San Francisco (-3.5)
San Francisco comes off their bye to host Monday Night Football. San Fran is 3-0 on the year, but some question the quality of their opponents thus far. While the win over Tampa Bay looks stronger and stronger every week, wins over the Steelers and Bengals are less impressive. With all that said, the 49ers are undefeated no matter how you spin the story. Jimmy Garoppolo has been painfully average this year and will need to limit turnovers against a quality Cleveland defense. In the backfield, its a full-fledged committee with Matt Brieda, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson Jr. have all split carries thus far. Tevin Coleman is also nearing his return. In the receiving corps, TE George Kittle is one of the game’s best, and rookie Deebo Samuel has flashed major potential. Overall, if they can protect the ball, the 49ers can score some points in this one. The Browns got back on track in Week 4, knocking off the Ravens in convincing fashion. While Baker Mayfield wasn’t at his best, RB Nick Chubb certainly was, rushing for 165 yards and 3 TD, including a massive 88-yard score. WR Odell Beckham was quiet on Sunday, adding only 2 catches for 20 yards. In his years, OBJ has shown us that he doesn’t stay quiet for long… so look for him to have a huge game on Monday Night. We’ll need to keep an eye on the health of WR Jarvis Landry who left Sunday’s contest with a head injury. Landry plays a huge role in this offense as a secondary option to Beckham. If he misses Monday night, look for the 49ers to devote much more attention to OBJ… because frankly, the Browns’ weapons are limited once you look past the two LSU products and Chubb. All in all, I think Myles Garrett will get to Jimmy G in this one, and that the Browns can create some turnovers. Look for Nick Chubb to control the clock, Odell Beckham to get back on track, and for Cleveland to pull out the road upset. Browns 27-26.
Enjoy the games! Until next week…