I should have made money last week. And not just money, I should have made good money! My picks went 9-4 last week! Where did I screw up, though? I didn’t diversify my parlays and got absolutely suuuuunk. It’s kind of a soul crushing to have an article go up on a Thursday afternoon with gambling advice, and then have both parlays dead 9 hours later because the Packers couldn’t sustain their offense on Thursday Night Football.
In fact, my parlays were muerte last week because they also included the Ravens and Cowboys who both not only lost straight up, but couldn’t cover the spread. I said all that to remind people of this: parlays are where you can make the largest profit, but they also have the highest variance and most risk. Sometimes it’s better to keep your feet on the ground and take singles and doubles where you can find them. You don’t need to hit a home run every week.
Let’s get into the week 5 picks!
Los Angeles Rams (+1.5) at Seattle Seahawks
This feels like an overreaction to a bad game that the Rams defense had on Sunday. It can be a little bit hard to parse what was real and what wasn’t in the game, and that is exaggerated by the fact that this game is being played on Thursday night, where common sense can often be thrown straight out the window.
The Rams have some things leaning in their favor, though. They are operating at near full speed on offense. Todd Gurley seems like he is being held back so he is ready come playoff time, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be unleashed when needed. Cooper Kupp has been the rock in the passing game, consistently being Jared Goff’s go-to receiver, and Robert Woods is consistently one of the most underrated receivers in the game.
The Rams have more playmakers right now than the Seahawks do, and in a game as tight as this, I’m going to take the lazy way out and lean to the points. I’ll take the Rams at (+1.5) or straight up, depending on what is providing a better payout as we get close to game time. (UPDATE: The Rams lost by one)
Arizona Cardinals (+3) at Cincinnati Bengals
I’m desperately, desperately hoping this game ends in a tie. I really, genuinely, truly don’t want either of these teams to get a win. Neither one deserves a win. Both have varied from barely watchable to downright putrid, depending on the week.
The Cardinals at least seem to have a plan in place with Kliff Kingsbury brought in to coach number one pick Kyler Murray. They are pretty much bereft of talent, but they are going out trying to make a new thing work, so they almost get a free pass. The Bengals, on the other hand, are just a leaking septic tank among football’s bottom feeders. If they lose this week, their sole existence will be to get teams their first win.
How do you even bet on something so unwatchable? Part of me really believes this will be Kyler Murray’s first NFL win, but another part of me thinks that the Bengals will ugly this game up, cheap shot someone, and probably get out with their first win. Vegas doesn’t even know what to do with this game, as the road team being +3 is essentially saying both teams are even and take your pick.
It’s truly a shame that either of these teams have to win. It would also be funny to see the Cardinals tie, again. That’s what I’m rooting for, and the Cardinals with the points will get me there, so I’ll take the Cardinals and the points.
Atlanta Falcons (+5) at Houston Texans
I have a certain level of trouble being convinced that either of these teams even remotely resembles a playoff contender in the NFL this year. Both teams have all the talent in the world, but have gaping bullet wounds for holes in certain parts, and neither seems overly interested in fixing it. The talent level/coaching ability ratio of this game is mind boggling. This game will feature: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, JJ Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Deandre Hopkins, and DsShaun Watson. Meanwhile, those guys are being coached by people I wouldn’t trust to run the cash register at a Dollar General.
Falcons coach Mike Smith should be fired twice over, at this point. Last year, he brought Steve Sarkisian in to fail as offensive coordinator. Before last year, I wrote on this site that the biggest thing that would ruin the Falcons would be their offensive coordinator, who would be fired after his first season. What happened? The offense sucked and Sarkisian was fired. And who did they bring in to replace him? Dirk. F’in. Koetter. Unreal. That’s like replacing herpes with the Clap.
Over in Houston, Bill O’Brien is trying to go down as the best coach in the history of the Bill Belichick coaching tree, which has produced such luminaries as Eric Mangini, along with current Texans defensive coordinator and small planet, Romeo Crennel. On talent alone, both of these teams should have high powered offenses capable of keeping up with any time in the league. In practice, both teams just desperately try to get to 21 points and hope their defenses can bail them out. It’s insanely frustrating.
After last week, I promised myself I wasn’t going to bet on the Falcons, again. Watching that offense not work makes me far too furious for a team I don’t actively root for. But then, neither of these teams score enough that taking the Texans -5 feels like a smart move.
I’m staying away from this game, but if you have to bet, just take the Texans to win straight up.
Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
Before the season started, every football talking head bloviated on how great the AFC North would be. Best division in all of football, they would scream. Then the actual football happened, and a month into the season, not only is the AFC North NOT one of the best divisions in football, a very easy to see chain of events could happen on Sunday which will lead to three teams being tied for the division lead at 2-3.
The first of those things to happen is this game. A win by the Steelers would put both teams at 2-3, but still very much in first place in the division.
The Steelers aren’t a very good football team, and I find it odd that people are overreacting so heavily to the fact that they beat a Bengals team that is already ready to go home for the season. But it speaks volumes about the Ravens defense that this line is as close as it is. The Ravens had no answer for Nick Chubb and Jarvis Landry last week. My guess is that this line settles at Ravens -4.5 before game time.
I do not trust the Steelers at all, and even though I’m apprehensive about the Ravens, I think Lamar Jackson has a big game and they cruise to a ten point victory. I’ll take the Ravens and the spread.
Buffalo Bills (+3) at Tennessee Titans
It’s becoming fairly obvious that there are a few teams in the NFL that can get out to a lead, and all of a sudden, they look like a great team. The moment they fall behind, though, the team falls apart and they have no way to dig out of the hole. The Titans are one of these teams. Luckily for them, this Bills offense isn’t particularly good at scoring a ton of points, and are more or less willing to get into defensive fist fights.
The total points scored under/over line on this game is 38.5. That’s basically saying that one of these would have to win at least 21-18. Having watched these teams for a month, I can’t say with even a shred of confidence that either team is going to get past 15 points. I’m sitting here on a Wednesday afternoon trying to predict whether Josh Allen is going to play or not. If he does play, then I like the idea of the Bills -3 and love the idea of parlaying it with the under. If Allen doesn’t play, I’d avoid the line altogether and hard bet the under.
Chicago Bears (-5) at Oakland Raiders in London
It says quite a bit about what Vegas thinks of Mitch Trubisky that this line is currently sitting like this. With Mitch starting, I’d be hard pressed to feel awesome about the Bears at -5, but with noodly-armed veteran Chase Daniel helming the team, I’m even more shocked. That’s even before you take into account that guard Kyle Long is injured and so is his backup Ted Larsen. AAAAND THEN you have to look at the Bears defense, which currently counts Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols among its injured. AAAAANNNDDD THEEEEN, you have to look at the bizarre situation of star linebacker Roquan Smith, whose mysterious absence from the team, and the demurring of answers by coach Matt Nagy has left more questions than answers.
The Raiders, meanwhile, come in after a big win on the road in Indianapolis. The offense is starting to find a good rhythm. Derrick Carr is holding the ball in his hand for less time than any other quarterback in the NFL right now. They are neutralizing defenses by not giving them time to get to the quarterback.
The X-Factor though, is the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year and former Raider Khalil Mack, who was sent out of town the moment he asked for a pay raise. He has said he’s going to be extra motivated for this game. Without extra motivation, he is one of the five best football players in the league. He might try to break the record for most sacks in a game on Sunday, and I have a weird feeling he is going to get some offensive plays at the goal line written in for him.
The points scare me because of the Bears’ quarterbacking situation, but I’ll take the Bears straight up this week.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5) at Carolina Panthers
There is going to come a point where Cam Newton is going to come back and I’ll be able to gleefully bet against the Panthers every week again. There was a certain low-key joy knowing that at least half a dozen times per game, Newton was going to throw the ball into a wide open receiver’s feet to end a drive. Kyle Allen just casually manages a game, hands the ball off to Christian McCaffrey, and doesn’t make the big mistake that will cost his team the game.
On the other side: GARDNER. F’IN. MINSHEW. The man. The myth. The mustache. Never bet against a guy who looks like he is getting amped to go to a Billy Squire concert. The Jalen Ramsey thing is geared up to consume this team and eat it whole, but in the meantime, I’m predicting a high scoring game between these two as the former expansion franchises duke it out. The under/over is 41. I’m taking the Jaguars with the points, and the over.
Minnesota Vikings (-6) at New York Giants
Oh, so we are just gonna pretend that the Vikings aren’t a complete fraud of a team? What happens if the Giants get the opening kickoff and march down field and Danny Dimes throws a touchdown pass? The Vikings will crack and never recover. The Vikings are just like the Titans in that they can’t come back when they are losing, and they both have quarterbacks that nobody can trust when the game is on the line. Kirk Cousins and Marcus Mariota are like croutons. Just empty calories there to fill a spot in a salad.
The Giants seem to have some momentum on their side right now and six points feels like an incredibly silly number for the Vikings to be giving on the road considering how easily they collapse at the first sign of adversity. I like the Giants with the points this week.
New England Patriots (-16) at Washington
The Patriots are going to win, and win huge. Take them giving the points. Washington honestly isn’t worth talking about so I’m not wasting an ounce of energy doing it.
New York Jets (+13.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
I just stared at this line for what felt like an hour. The Jets are a non-functional offense, even with Le’Veon Bell. Sam “kissing disease” Darnold is still out this week, meaning that some sort of flotsam is going to be quarterbacking this team, again. The Jets are currently operating with a sense of hopelessness that can only exist when you realize as quickly as you did that you made the wrong choice at head coach. I wouldn’t trust Adam Gase to put his pants on every morning without accidentally setting himself on fire, let alone run a functional offense in 2019. The hope and joy that Jets fans had going into the season has been replaced by doom and dread, as it should.
The Eagles are coming off a big win last Thursday against the previously unbeaten Packers. They had a few extra days to prepare for this game, and should be ready to come out firing. If Carson Wentz is able to make more than 4 pass completions to his wide receivers this week, he will be in line for a big day.
The Jets have literally done nothing to earn enough respect to bet on them, but they have earned plenty of goodwill from those that bet against them. I’m taking the Eagles at home giving the points, and not really giving it a second thought.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) at New Orleans Saints
We got ourselves a game here, folks! Quite possibly the most interesting of the noon start time games, the Bucs are coming in with a feeling of invincibility after dropping a 55-hammer on the previously undefeated LA Rams. The offense was unstoppable, and Ronald Jones finally looks like the running back the Bucs used a second round pick on last year. On defense, not enough is being made of the season Shaq Barrett is having so far. In four games, he has nine sacks, three forced fumbles, and interception. If he could (he won’t) keep up this production over a full year, he’d end up with 36 sacks, breaking the current record by over 13!
Meanwhile, the Saints are coming off one of the most surprising wins of the year, as they drug the Cowboys down into the mud and emerged with a 12-10 win on national television. The Saints have done an impressive job to change their team dynamic with the absence of Drew Brees. They have turned into a grinding football team that will wear you down throughout a game. The problem with that is the Bucs are just kind of playing a freewheeling offense right now that could actually come out on top in a game like this.
I’m genuinely thinking I’m just going to avoid the game completely when it comes to betting. I think the Saints defense MIGHT be able to slow down the Bucs, but I don’t have a ton of faith in Teddy Bridgewater scoring enough points to win a game that isn’t a slog.
Denver Broncos (+6.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
The Vic Fangio era isn’t going great in Denver. That line should really be amended to say “the John Elway era isn’t going great in Denver” but since I’m pretty that horse-toothed monster will never get fired, regardless of competence, this falls on Vic, a fanny pack-wearing defensive guru who would much rather be spending his time scheming a defense than big picture stuff a coach needs to do.
It’s going badly enough that Chris Harris, a cornerback who came back on a one-year deal to prove to the Broncos he deserved a long term deal from them and before the season, stated that he wanted to be in Denver, stated after the game last week that he had “13 more weeks then I’m out.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement for how things are going in the Mile-High.
The Chargers did what they were supposed to do last week, which is to cover a massive spread against the complete and abject embarrassment better known as the Dolphins. I have serious questions about the Chargers, but they should have Melvin Gordon back in some role this week. The Chargers defense is a M.A.S.H. unit at this point, but the Broncos aren’t really equipped to do anything about that. I’m going to go back to a betting concept I brought up before the season started: just bet against bad teams until they prove you wrong.
So, on that note, I’ll take the Chargers giving the points.
Green Bay Packers (+3.5) at Dallas Cowboys
Dang right. No more filler. We got ourselves a game, right here! The national late afternoon broadcast pits two teams whose undefeated seasons went in the toilet last week. The Packers looked on track to cruise to victory against the Eagles until Davante Adams went down with an injury on Thursday. The Cowboys just couldn’t get anything going on offense against a Saints team that seemed more up for the occasion than Dallas.
Both teams need to win to keep pace in their respective divisions, with the Bears and Lions holding pace with the Packers, and the Eagles and suddenly competent Giants right behind the Cowboys. This has every chance to turn into a barn burner if both teams can hit on all cylinders. Aaron Rodgers looked the best he has all season early on Thursday night, but settled into similar struggles of this season as the game went on. The Cowboys are always going to be in games with an offense that includes Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper, but both need to be used correctly for the Cowboys to have a chance to contend for a Super Bowl this year.
I have a feeling this is going to be a week where both teams are able to lean heavily on their offenses. Both teams have the ability to go off when they are clicking, and I’m thinking we might see a high scoring game on Sunday. When I’m having trouble figuring out what I want to do, I’ll usually take the points. I’ll take the Packers getting +3.5.
Indianapolis Colts (+11) at Kansas City Chiefs
I was really excited about this game right until the Colts managed to cake their pants against the Raiders and the Chiefs just barely survived the Lions. Indy is a completely different team when it is fully healthy, but are infinitely beatable if TY Hilton and Darius Leonard are out. The Chiefs seem like last week was a blip on the radar. If Hilton isn’t able to play, then Jacoby Brissett is going to have to lean on a very inexperienced wide receiving corps again.
The Chiefs should be looking to use national television as a showcase for what they can do. I expect them to score early and often, and get the official “Mahomes for MVP” train rolling. If TY Hilton AND Darius Leonard are playing, then I’d take the Colts +11 and the Chiefs to win, but if they aren’t playing, I’ll take the Chiefs giving the points.
Cleveland Browns (+3.5) at San Francisco 49ers
Anybody who says with any certainty that either of these teams is real is lying. The Browns, for all their star power, still have major problems across their offensive line and parts of their secondary. The 49ers are undefeated, but they haven’t exactly destroyed any worlds or beaten any contenders on the way to that point.
You don’t actually know what team is going to show up with the Browns. Is it going to be the team that went out and beat the Ravens from start to finish on Sunday, or is it the team that got their butts handed to them by the Titans?
Can Jimmy Garappolo show that he is a star quarterback and run this offense up against Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward and come out on top? The 49ers are still running a buffet line at running back, and you’d be hard pressed to know what the actual 49ers receiving depth chart is. George Kittle is going to break the record for most touchdowns called back by penalty this season.
I really want the Browns to lose and the Steelers to win just to create an unholy dumpster fire at the top of the AFC North, but I think the Browns should actually be able to win this game outright, so getting points feels like a big get here. I’ll take the Browns getting the points.
You can follow Brandon on Twitter @theBman
Brandon is also the founder of Fancy Boys Club