Week 5 NFL Picks
This season, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. I’ve been Gridiron Expers’ Pick ‘Em columnist for the past few seasons, and I’m glad to be back at it again! We’re hoping to have even more 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. You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with more than a dozen Gridiron Experts picking each game.
Welcome back… it’s time for Football!
Tennessee (-4.5) @ Jacksonville
Both teams are coming off of losses, and the AFC South remains wide open. Tennessee looks to be the better team on paper, but we saw how that played out against the Jets last week. The Titans are a different team without AJ Brown and Julio Jones. When your team’s top receiving option is RB Jeremy McNichols, and there aren’t many other threats to contend with, it makes for an easy game plan. In any event, with the loss of DJ Chark, Jacksonville is also reeling, as 1st overall pick QB Trevor Lawrence is still trying to find his stride. This will be a showdown of running backs with Derrick Henry being his usual self, and James Robinson flashing as of late. At the end of the day, Jacksonville hasn’t won for over a year, and Urban Meyer has been a huge distraction off the field. Until I see the Jaguars win a football game with my own eyes, I won’t be picking them. Not to mention, Derrick Henry’s finest highlights seem to always happen at Jacksonville’s expense. Titans 27-18.
New York Jets @ Atlanta (-3.5)
Zach Wilson and HC Robert Saleh got their first win last week, and head over the pond to London to face off with Atlanta and try to and make it a winning streak. On the other hand, the Falcons struggled to close out the Washington Football Team before losing dramatically. Atlanta played better last week, posting 30 points and hanging tough with WFT. However, most of their offensive production came from multi-tool player Cordarrelle Patterson. The veteran took 11 touches and produced 116 yards and 3 TDs. Now, I don’t expect this touchdown trend to continue, as the Falcons have other mouths to feed (Ridley, Pitts, M. Davis) as well. In any event, they were able to find their scoring groove. The Jets rushed the passer fantastically against Tennessee and I expect them to prove quite bothersome to Matt Ryan as well on Sunday. Now that Wilson has built some confidence and a rapport with Corey Davis, I like New York to continue their winning ways. Jets 21-20.
Green Bay (-3.5) @ Cincinnati
Both the Packers and the Bengals enter this contest at 3-1. For Green Bay, many expected this start, while those in Cincinnati are pleasantly surprised with the beginning of their season. Joe Burrow’s connection with college teammate Ja’Marr Chase is blossoming, and despite the absence of Tee Higgins, the passing attack is still quite potent. With that said, Joe Mixon is dealing with a low ankle sprain and might miss some time. With Mixon up in the air and Higgins’ outlook remaining murky, there’s a lot of concern for this Cincinnati offense. Certainly, if the defense’s sole focus is shutting down Burrow & the passing attack, it’s easier to game plan than if Mixon was in the fold as well. If Mixon misses time, the burden will fall on Samaje Perine’s shoulders– not quite as intimidating. Green Bay’s attack remains balanced as always with Rodgers peppering Davante Adams with targets, Aaron Jones performing as his usual, efficient self, and the likes of Randall Cobb proving to be a reliable option. However, to make this offense even more impressive, AJ Dillon has impressed as a spell back when Jones takes to the sideline. At this point, while Cincinnati has impressed many, I don’t think they’re quite up to the task of knocking off Rodgers & Co. Maybe if they were more healthy, I could see the upset brewing… but not this week. Packers 28-21.
Detroit @ Minnesota (-7.5)
Detroit fell flat last week against the Bears in a game that many thought they’d have a chance to win. The Chicago backfield (Montgomery & D. Williams) embarrassed the Lions’ front, taking 31 rushes for 161 yards and 3 TDs. Now, they’ll have to contend with one of the league’s best in Dalvin Cook as they travel to Minnesota. The Vikings have had a tough start to their season, with all 3 losses coming by a score or less. Not to mention, the quality of opponents was quite high, as their losses were to Arizona, Cincinnati, and Cleveland… all contenders within their respective divisions. Kirk Cousins is playing at a high level and WRs Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen have both flashed at different times. Look for the receiving duo to catch their stride at the same time, as it will make this offense especially potent. This week could be the breakout we’ve been waiting for, as the defense will surely be fixated on limiting Cook’s effectiveness. If the Lions try to creep up or load the box, Jefferson and Thielen might just have a field day and convert multiple deep, chunk yardage plays. Detroit has D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams as a dynamic backfield duo, but Jared Goff is strapped for receiving options outside of TE TJ Hockenson. At this point, I think the Vikings have too many weapons for Detroit’s defense to contend with. I’ll take Minnesota to cover at home. Vikings 30-20.
Denver @ Pittsburgh (-1.5)
The Broncos suffered their first loss of the season last weekend, as the Ravens embarrassed them in Denver. To make matters worse, QB Teddy Bridgewater sustained a concussion and is at risk of missing Week 5. Even if Bridgewater can clear the protocol by Friday, his week of preparation will surely be disrupted. That preparation is so vital, especially when you’re contending with a strong defensive unit like Pittsburgh, that touts an elite pass rusher in TJ Watt. If Bridgewater can’t go, the offense would take a major hit with Drew Lock taking the reins of the offense. Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick will likely have to make some phenomenal plays after the catch, as Lock’s downfield passing isn’t quite his strong suit. On the other hand, Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams will have to contend with a strong Pittsburgh front. Pittsburgh has fallen flat with 3 straight losses after knocking off Buffalo to start the season. Ben Roethlisberger is banged up (as usual) for the Steelers and is also missing one of his top WRs in Chase Claypool. While Claypool was inactive last week, the Steelers hope he’ll be able to practice and ultimately return for this game against Denver. If he’s unable to, the offense will run through RB Najee Harris who has improved each week and remains a focal point of the Pittsburgh passing attack. Aside from the dual-threat Harris, Big Ben has veteran JuJu Smith-Schuster and target hog Diontae Johnson to target. At this point, I can’t count on Bridgewater returning to run the Denver offense on Sunday. Even if he does, his preparation will have been less than usual, which doesn’t bode well for Denver’s chances. If Drew Lock plays instead, I think it’s a big boost for the Steelers. Despite being at less than 100%, I think Pittsburgh will be able to pull this one out at home. Steelers 23-20.
Miami @ Tampa Bay (-10.5)
The Dolphins fell to Indianapolis last week, in a game where they trailed for the duration of the contest. Tampa Bay went to New England and took care of business, holding off a late Patriot rally. Tom Brady was less than stellar on Sunday night but still made enough plays to put his team in a position to score. instead, Ronald Jones II scored the team’s only touchdown on one of his 6 carries. It’s not often that Brady gets shut out on the scoreboard, but you can bet he’s going to want to fill the stat sheet to make up for it this week. With WR Antonio Brown back from the COVID list, he’ll have his full complement of elite receivers (along with Evans/Godwin), despite the absence of TE Rob Gronkowski (ribs.) Miami remains without starting QB Tua Tagovailoa and will rely on veteran Jacoby Brissett to run the show. The game script kept the Dolphins’ offense passing the ball last week, as Brissett barely handed the ball off (13 RB carries total). Instead, he threw for 2 TDs, albeit only producing 199 passing yards in the process. All things considered, Miami will need to produce more than the 203 total yards they did last weekend to be a contender. Until they figure that out, I don’t think they will contend often. It’ll be especially difficult to turn it on against the defending champs on the road. I see Tampa Bay taking care of business here without much of a sweat. Buccaneers 35-21.
New Orleans (-2.5) @ Washington
The Saints lost a heartbreaker to the Giants at home, and will now head to Washington, a team that pulled off a miraculous victory in Atlanta last weekend. QB Taylor Heinicke got the passing attack going, throwing for 290 yards and 3 TD in the Football Team victory. Most important, we saw the resurgence of WR Terry McLaurin, who commanded 13 targets. McLaurin caught 6 of those balls and turned it into 123 yards and 2 scores. With McLaurin and RB Antonio Gibson at full force, this offense is much more dynamic. Receiving RB JD McKissic also played a role, scoring an amazing last-second touchdown to will Washington to victory. New Orleans fell in overtime to the Giants, in a game where Jameis Winston didn’t make too many mistakes but also didn’t make any game-changing plays to help the team’s cause. Instead, they fed Alvin Kamara, who carried the ball a whopping 26 times. Taysom Hill added 2 rushing touchdowns, but New Orleans simply wasn’t effective passing the ball, which makes it hard to contend in today’s NFL. Kamara also inexplicably didn’t catch a pass. For whatever reason, Winston hasn’t been feeding Kamara with targets this year, which makes the New Orleans passing attack far less dynamic. At this point, I think the Washington defense still can force turnovers, and the notoriously erratic Winston is coming to town. I think that this will be a close game, but I believe a few well-timed turnovers will lead the home dogs to pull the upset. Football Team 26-24.
Philadelphia @ Carolina (-3.5)
Despite the Eagles’ 1-3 start, Jalen Hurts has been playing quite well. Hurts is averaging just under 300 yards per game while adding 7 passing TDs compared to only 2 INTs He’s also the team’s leading rusher and has built a solid connection with young WRs DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins. The issue here is that the Eagles’ running backs haven’t made a huge impact just yet. Miles Sanders has only totaled 169 scoreless yards through 4 games, while rookie Kenneth Gainwell is only chipping in about 20 ypg on the ground. While both backs are involved in the passing game, it makes Philadelphia much easier to prepare for if you’re not worried about Sanders & Gainwell running the ball. Carolina has also had fantastic QB play from Sam Darnold, who surprisingly leads the whole NFL in rushing TDs (5.) Darnold has also received fantastic production from WR DJ Moore who ranks 4th in the NFL in receiving yardage currently. Although RB Christian McCaffrey is slated to miss some time with a hamstring injury, Carolina’s offense has found ways to produce. I think that trend will continue against this below-average Philly defense, and that Carolina will win by a field goal. Based on Hurts’ production, I like the Eagles to keep it close and will take Philly with the +3.5 point line. Panthers 24-21.
New England (-9.5) @ Houston
The Patriots impressed many by hanging in there with the defending champion Buccaneers. Rookie QB Mac Jones also had his best game as a pro, completing 31 of 40 passes for 275 yards and 2 scores. Jones showed great poise, and at one point completed 19 consecutive passes in a driving rainstorm. Jones & New England will head to Houston to take on the Texans who were shut out by the Bills last weekend. They’ve scored only 9 points since Week 2 and it’s hard to get excited about this offense, aside from the veteran presence of WR Brandin Cooks. The New England defense is also quite formidable and should force multiple turnovers against this offense quarterbacked by Davis Mills. I expect Jones to take another step forward this weekend and for New England to win this game handily. Patriots 30-13.
Chicago @ Las Vegas (-5.5)
The Bears knocked off the Lions last weekend, while Las Vegas fell to the Chargers on Monday night for their first loss of the season. Unfortunately, the Bears lost RB David Montgomery to a knee injury that’ll likely sideline him for 4-5 weeks. Instead, RB Damien Williams will carry the load for Chicago in an offense that currently doesn’t have a passing threat to complement the rushing attack. Rookie QB Justin Fields has been filling in for Andy Dalton and has underwhelmed, only throwing for 277 scoreless yards in 2 starts. With Fields proving to be ineffective, the Bears’ best weapon, WR Allen Robinson II has been nonexistent (13/149/1 through 4 games.) Should Dalton return, it’d likely be a boost for Robinson and WR Darnell Mooney, given Fields’ struggles. On the other hand, Derek Carr has been throwing the ball non-stop this year. He’s sitting at 1,399 passing yards and 8 TDs through 4 games, and the Raiders offense is currently top-5 in overall yardage. With RB Josh Jacobs healthy and returning to the offense last weekend, it bodes well for Las Vegas’ offensive diversity. While I think that the Chicago defense should keep this game close, I ultimately think the Raiders should prevail and that they’ll take this one by a score at home. Raiders 27-20.
Cleveland @ Los Angeles Chargers (-0.5)
In one of the best games of the week, these two balanced 3-1 teams will clash. The Chargers have impressed in recent weeks, first knocking off the Chiefs in Kansas City, and then beating the previously undefeated Raiders by 2 scores on Monday Night. Cleveland has won 3 in a row after falling to KC in Week 1 but hasn’t quite played elite competition as Los Angeles has. The Browns’ defense has led the way through 4 weeks, as they’re 2nd in the league in Sacks and 4th in points against. The offense has been solid, despite the shaky performance of QB Baker Mayfield. The Browns have instead focused on the rushing attack, where Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have combined to lead the league in rushing yards per game (177 ypg.) Los Angeles has its stud rushing option with the versatile Austin Ekeler. Through 4 weeks, Ekeler has scored 3 times and compiled 283 yards rushing and 141 yards receiving. With that said, I believe this game will come down to the 4th quarter, where it’ll be Mayfield vs. Justin Herbert. Given what we’ve seen out of Herbert and his connections with WRs Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, I like the Chargers to win this game with a late touchdown drive. Chargers 24-20.
New York Giants @ Dallas (-6.5)
The Giants logged their first win of the season last week, knocking off the Saints in overtime. Dallas continued their winning ways, knocking off Carolina at home. QB Dak Prescott has returned with a bang, tossing 10 TDs through 4 weeks, and leading Dallas to a 4th ranked scoring offense. The Cowboys have also been quite effective on the ground, with RBs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard combining for 165 yards per game (2nd in the NFL.) With multiple elite receiving options in Cooper, Lamb, and breakout TE Dalton Schultz, the Cowboys can hurt you in so many ways. Adding to their potency is the play of their defense. While they’re still giving up some points, they’re forcing turnovers (8 INT; 1st in NFL) and logging sacks (9 through 4 games.) New York will need to protect QB Daniel Jones to avoid turning the ball over, especially with breakout DB Trevon Diggs (5 INT) patrolling the passing lanes. Jones has played pretty well and is growing a rapport with WR Kenny Golladay, despite the injury to Sterling Shepard. New York does have RB Saquon Barkley back to seemingly normal health, as he was quite productive against the Saints. With the small breakouts by WRs John Ross III and Kadarius Toney last week, the Giants are giving Jones more options in the passing game. With all of that said, I believe Dallas has the upper hand at home here, and that the difference in this game will be turnovers. Look for New York to hang tough early, but for Dallas to pull away late. Cowboys 31-21.
San Francisco @ Arizona (-5.5)
There is some uncertainty as to who will quarterback San Francisco this weekend in Arizona. Jimmy Garoppolo injured his calf last weekend, and originally feared he’d miss multiple weeks. Now, they’re not sure the injury is so severe, and that Jimmy G might have a chance to suit up. Rookie QB Trey Lance was electric relief of Garoppolo last weekend, throwing for 2 TDs, and rushing for 41 yards. Lance would bring a different dynamic to the 49ers’ offense, as he’s very mobile and can hurt the defense in multiple ways. Whoever starts at QB will have the league leader in receiving yards on their side, as Deebo Samuel (28/490/3) is playing fantastic football. With All-Pro TE George Kittle also commanding attention, San Francisco can puzzle defensive coordinators. RB Trey Sermon will likely keep the lead back duties this week with Eli Mitchell still recovering from injury. Arizona has been flying high with QB Kyler Murray at the helm. Murray has been the league’s best offensive player through 4 weeks and has led Arizona to an undefeated record. Kyler has logged 12 total TDs combined and has so many weapons at his disposal. It’s anyone’s guess weekly as to who will lead the receiving corps, as they have 6 players (Hopkins, Kirk, Green, Moore, Williams, Edmonds) with between 15 and 20 receptions. Chase Edmonds and James Conner form a solid 1-2 punch on the ground, and with Kyler as a threat as well, the Cardinals are a nightmare to scheme against. While this game should be exciting, I’m concerned about the 49ers’ health overall, and the lack of certainty behind who will be under center. With no doubt as to who the top dog is in Arizona, I believe Kyler Murray will lead his team to a 4th quarter victory at home. Cardinals 33-26.
Buffalo @ Kansas City (-2.5)
This will most certainly be the game of the week. After an opening week loss, Buffalo has found its groove and won 3 in a row. Kansas City, on the other hand, has had an up-and-down first 4 games, sitting at 2-2. Both teams have lit up the scoreboard, as they’re tied for 2nd in scoring offense (33.5 ppg.) The biggest difference between the two teams, though, is their defensive units. Buffalo has only yielded 44 points this year through 4 games (11 ppg, #1 in NFL, 2nd in INT) On the other hand, Kansas City ranks 31st, having given up over 31 points per contest. Josh Allen will look to exploit this porous Chiefs’ defense, as been fantastic all year. WR Stefon Diggs is one of the league’s best receivers but hasn’t quite had a breakout game just yet. Look for him to be a key focus for the Buffalo attack on Sunday. Kansas City will be led by QB Patrick Mahomes, as always, and will look to their elite pass catchers, Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce, to do most of the damage. However, it’s also important to note that RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been effective recently, eclipsing 100 yards in each of his last 2 games. I do see KC finding their usual form and keeping this game close with Buffalo. Look for Hill to build on his amazing performance last weekend, and for Kelce to return to his productive self after a bad performance in Week 4. But, when the chips are on the table I’ll side with the Buffalo defense to make a big stop late and pull out a close win for the Bills. Bills 32-30.
Indianapolis @ Baltimore (-7.5)
The 1-3 Colts will travel to Baltimore to face off with QB Lamar Jackson, but they’ll do so without one of the league’s best linemen as Quenton Nelson was placed on IR. Indianapolis had its best game of the year last week, as RB Jonathan Taylor rushed for 103 yards and a score against the Dolphins in Miami. With Carson Wentz at the helm and a widely average receiving corps, Indy needs Taylor to be effective to give this team a chance to win. Wentz has proven serviceable thus far but doesn’t have the big-play threats to make this offense one to be feared. However, that all changes if Taylor is performing well, and the Colts can control the clock. Then, Wentz can use play-action passing to his advantage and unlock a more dynamic Indianapolis attack. Baltimore will also focus on the rushing attack, leaning on their QB Lamar Jackson to carry most of the rushing load. Jackson has rushed 42 times this year for 279 yards ad 2 scores, while RB Latavius Murray has emerged as the team’s starting RB with injuries galore so far this year in the Ravens backfield. Jackson has also thrown the ball a bit but sports a 4:3 TD:INT Ratio through 4 games. Furthermore, 3 of his 4 Touchdowns have gone to WR Marquise Brown, who has provided a reliable deep threat for Jackson. Both defenses have been “middle-of-the-road” thus far, so turnovers could be a major factor in determining the victor. At this point, I believe the Colts will struggle to score enough points to keep up with Jackson and the Ravens. Baltimore is not an easy place to play, especially at night. With Wentz’s ankles still not 100% and Quenton Nelson missing the game, I think the Ravens’ pass rush will disrupt Wentz early and often. Look for Lamar to lead the Ravens to a comfortable two-score victory on Monday Night. Ravens 29-18.
Enjoy the games! Until next week…
A former D1 College Wrestler at Boston University, Brad hails from New Jersey. By day, Brad works in the corporate automotive world, but by night, he is an avid sports, football, and fantasy sports enthusiast with a passion for winning. Fun Fact: Brad ran and finished the 2019 Boston Marathon!
Over the past decade, Brad has won dozens of fantasy league championships and has been writing for Gridiron Experts for the past 4 seasons. While he’s surrounded by Giants and Jets supporters, Brad is a diehard Tennessee Titans fan, and, accordingly has dumped a ton of money into NFL Sunday Ticket in his years!