The NFL season is at the approximate quarter-way point, and Week 5 brings us into October football. While it’s not time to think about the postseason quite yet, divisional matchups start to gain much more significance, as well as head-to-head bouts among conference contenders.
The Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, both after receiving their first loss of the season, are eager to bounce back. They play each other, in what could be a playoff preview or important head-to-head tiebreaker down the line.
In the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers can rebound from an 0-3 start if they beat the Baltimore Ravens to even the records of the two teams.
The New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, and San Francisco 49ers all aim to stay undefeated; the latter two teams on prime-time national television.
Pull up a chair, get comfortable, and settle in for Sak Sports Blog Week 5 NFL Picks.
Week 1: 9-6-1
Week 2: 9-7
Week 3: 11-5
Week 4: 6-9
Overall Record: 35-27-1
Week 4 was absolutely brutal for me. There were definitely a lot of upsets, but a few incorrect upset predictions doomed me even further. I thought the Redskins would follow up their strong second-half performance against the Chicago Bears with a similiar showing against a weaker Giants defense. New York’s defense shut them down even more dominantly. I also thought the Bengals would win the “somebody has to win” Monday Night Football matchup, but the Steelers actually looked pretty good.
Week 4 was my first losing week, so I’ll look to bounce back in Week 5. Still positive on the season, 35-27-1.
In Week 4 I incorrectly predicted:
- Packers over Eagles
- Redskins over Giants (oof)
- Colts over Raiders
- Vikings over Bears
- Texans over Panthers
- Falcons over Titans
- Rams over Buccaneers
- Ravens over Browns
- Bengals over Steelers (ouch)
Thursday Night Football
Los Angeles Rams (3-1) at Seattle Seahawks (3-1)
Line: Seattle Seahawks (-1.0)
Vegas has the Seattle Seahawks as favorites, but to me, this game is a straight push. The Los Angeles Rams have looked a little off this season, but so has Seattle. Both teams are 3-1, and even though neither team has been dominant, they’ve found ways to win football games.
Home-field advantage in Seattle surely has to do with the Seahawks being narrow favorites. But that advantage hasn’t been apparent this season: Seattle barely beat the currently 0-4 Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 21-20. And in Week 3, Teddy Bridgewater led the New Orleans Saints to a road win in his first start of the season.
The Rams have questions of their own after a shocking 55-40 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If the team was experiencing any type of Super Bowl-appearance hangover, hopefully the loss sobered them up.
This is an important early season matchup in the NFC West, with the San Francisco 49ers sitting at 3-0 and the loser of this game getting their second loss of the season. I hate to bet against Pete Carroll and Russel Wilson in Seattle, but the Rams play with a little extra edge coming off last week’s loss.
Rams win 31-28, Rams win ATS
Sunday London Game
Chicago Bears (3-1) vs. Oakland Raiders (2-2)
Line: Chicago Bears (-5.0)
The Chicago Bears land in London with three straight wins, but will start Chase Daniel after Mitch Trubisky’s shoulder injury. Daniel was efficient in relief against the Minnesota Vikings: 22 for 30 with 195 yards and a touchdown pass. He was sacked just once and did not turn the ball over.
Since Trubisky wasn’t playing stellar anyway, the change at quarterback doesn’t do much to shift the outcome of this game.
For two weeks, the Oakland Raiders looked like a joke in losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings. But last week they willed a 31-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts, proving they can’t be counted out.
Chicago’s offense won’t be flashy, but a game-manager role for Chase Daniel paired with a dominant defense should be more than enough to dispatch Oakland. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears defense gets a score or two on their own.
Bears win 23-13, Bears win ATS
Sunday Day Games
Arizona Cardinals (0-2-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-4)
Line: Cincinnati Bengals (-3.0)
I actually thought the Bengals would beat the Steelers last week on Monday Night Football…
One of these teams will get their first win of the season (unless the Cardinals get their second tie of the season.) Last week, I may have been inclined to pick the Bengals. But Cincinnati might be descending into the same category as the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins.
Kyler Murray still has many obstacles to clear to be a successful, winning NFL quarterback. But he’ll cross something off that checklist in Cincinnati: his 1st NFL win.
Cardinals win 18-13, Cardinals win ATS
Buffalo Bills (3-1) at Tennessee Titans (2-2)
Line: Tennessee Titans (-3.0)
For the first time this year, I’ll admit it: I’m not sure who the Buffalo Bills are. I’m not quite ready to label them a good team, but I couldn’t imagine a more inspiring loss than holding the New England Patriots without an offensive touchdown. Buffalo also became the first team to score an offensive touchdown against the Patriots this season.
Buffalo’s defense is legit, there’s no doubting that. The offense has done enough through four weeks, but Josh Allen (or Matt Barkley) may not have enough talent to sustain winning this season.
But then, who are the Tennessee Titans? Are they the team that handled the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons handily? Or the one that couldn’t move the ball in key divisional games against the Colts and Jaguars?
I could see Buffalo winning, but I’m giving the Titans this one at home. They’re 0-1 in their only home game this season, but they treat the home crowd this week.
Titans win 20-17, PUSH ATS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) at New Orleans Saints (3-1)
Line: New Orleans Saints (-3.5)
Heads were turned last week when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers upset the defending NFC Champion Los Angeles Rams. Tampa Bay controlled the game by going up 21-0 early. Although their defense still let up 40 points afterwards, it was still an inspiring win.
The Saints also won last week, but in a completely different way: a 12-9 field goal festival over the Dallas Cowboys.
Teddy Bridgewater is now 2-0 as a starter, and the Saints defense is playing some great football. New Orleans lone loss this season was to the same Rams team the Buccaneers just beat. So by the transitive postulate, the Buccaneers are better than the Saints, right?
Not quite. Jameis Winston is prone to up and down games, and the Saints defense is still fired up after holding the Cowboys to 9 points. Bridgewater rides the defense to a home victory.
Saints win 24-16, Saints win ATS
Minnesota Vikings (2-2) at New York Giants (2-2)
Line: Minnesota Vikings (-5.5)
This is a really tough one for me. I’m 1-3 picking New York Giants this season, and 0-2 since Daniel Jones has become the starter, betting against him both times. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times?
The Giants defense played lights out against the Redskins. The 0-4 Redskins who inserted rookie Dwayne Haskins in the second quarter, a quarterback who reportedly saw some offensive plays for the first time that day.
I’ll admit it, the Giants aren’t the laughing stock I thought they would be, and Daniel Jones has a lot to do with that. But his performance against a Redskins defense that made Mitch Trubisky look like Joe Montana wasn’t stellar: 225 passing yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions (Yes, my decision to start him over Matthew Stafford cost me a fantasy win this week, but we won’t talk about that.)
All jokes aside, this pick isn’t revenge against Jones. I’m going with the Vikings because their defense will force Jones to continue turning the ball over (3 turnovers in 2 starts) and because Minnesota’s offense is due for a breakout game. Kirk Cousins lights up the Giants defense for a couple passing touchdowns, and Jones leads a comeback attempt that’s too little too late.
Vikings win 31-24, Vikings win ATS
New York Jets (0-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-2)
Line: Philadelphia Eagles (-13.5)
In my preseason predictions, I thought the New York Jets would take a step forward and finish 2nd in the AFC East at 7-9.
I didn’t envision them being double-digit underdogs every week.
Of course the absence of Sam Darnold has a lot to do with the Jets offensive woes, but it doesn’t exactly look like it will be an easy fix when Darnold returns.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been up and down this year, and riding off extended rest after a Thursday night win over the Green Bay Packers. If it were later in the season, maybe they would overlook the Jets to focus on stronger opponents. But it’s far too early in a crowded NFC East for the Eagles to pick and choose where they put their effort.
Carson Wentz lights up the Jets defense in front of the home fans en route to an easy victory. But unless the Eagles break 30 points, the Jets can probably cover.
Eagles win 27-15, Jets win ATS
Baltimore Ravens (2-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3)
Line: Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)
Before last Sunday and Monday, the AFC North didn’t seem complicated at all. The Ravens were the best, the Browns might have a chance to make things interesting, and both the Steelers and Bengals were out of it.
But after an 0-3 start, the Steelers are suddenly just a game behind first place with quarterback Mason Rudolph adapting to the NFL game. A win over the Ravens on Sunday would make things especially interesting; the Steelers could even be tied for first with a win and a Cleveland Browns Monday Night Football loss.
Through three weeks, I thought the Baltimore Ravens were right there with the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. They played tight with Mahommes and the Chiefs all the way to the final buzzer. After a beatdown by the Browns, can this Ravens team rebound?
This is an AFC North rivalry game, so having the better team (Baltimore) doesn’t always translate to a win, especially on the road. I’m not super confident in this pick, but I do think the Ravens get it done to get back on track. The Steelers won’t be horrible this year, but we don’t need to give them too much credit for beat the Bengals.
Ravens win 23-20, Steelers win ATS
New England Patriots (4-0) at Washington Redskins (0-4)
Line: New England Patriots (-15.5)
New England has a had a ridiculously laughable early season schedule. In their 16-10 over the previously undefeated Buffalo Bills, they failed to score an offensive touchdown. I’m not trying to imply the demise of the Patriots dynasty, just that this team hasn’t even had a real test this season (which is why I rank them #2 in my power rankings.)
Number two. As in, they’re still easily better than 30 other NFL teams. The Washington Redskins are one of the three worst teams in the league, and have actually regressed as the season has gone on.
Washington ranks 29th in the league in points scored this season with just 66. New England has scored 122 points this year, 4th most in the league.
Patriots by a million. Washington won’t cover.
Patriots win 34-10, Patriots win ATS
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) at Carolina Panthers (2-2)
Line: Carolina Panthers (-3.5)
Gardner Minshew is questionable for this matchup with a knee injury. It sounds like he might play through it, but it could still impact his performance.
If hes’s healthy enough and both teams come to play, this could be a fun back-and forth game on both sides of the ball. Kyle Allen has been playing well in his personal 2-0 start, and the Minshew magic keeps the ball moving down the field. Both defenses are capable of shutting down plays and making big plays of their own.
I’ll take the home team, favorite, and team with the healthier quarterback.
Panthers win 20-17, Jaguars win ATS
Atlanta Falcons (1-3) at Houston Texans (2-2)
Line: Houston Texans (-5.0)
What’s wrong with the Atlanta Falcons? They’ve been blown out twice, lost a close game, and won a close game this season. But I pegged them to be in the NFC South conversation coming into the season.
The Houston Texans haven’t been world beaters, coming off a narrow loss to the Panthers, but they’ve still shown more consistency and reason to trust them.
The Falcons offense needs to break out, but I’m worried it will be Houston’s offense that has the bigger day.
Texans win 27-17, Texans win ATS
Denver Broncos (0-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (2-2)
Line: Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5)
This 0-4 Denver Broncos squad is a tad better than their other winless counterparts. The defense has been playing well for the most part, but the offense has been stuck on stall. Still, the Broncos have the talent to steal a few games against superior opponents.
But the time won’t come just yet. Philip Rivers and the Chargers grind out a victory over Joe Flacco and the visiting Broncos.
Chargers win 23-17, Broncos win ATS
Green Bay Packers (3-1) at Dallas Cowboys (3-1)
Line: Green Bay Packers (-4.0)
Both NFC heavyweights are coming off their first loss of the season. This head-to-head matchup could have playoff implications down the line, but neither team is thinking about that yet. They’re focused on getting back on track with a win.
After beating some soft opponents to get to 3-0, it’s not like the Cowboys were blown out in their first loss. Their defense kept them in the game, but the offense couldn’t get anything done. I’d say Green Bay’s defense is in a similar caliber to the Saints: not yet elite, but capable of shutdown games.
I think Dallas’s offense will improve, and basically, we’ll have a classic Packers-Cowboys late afternoon game. It’s been a while since both teams have been this good, so hopefully this is a fun one. I have the Packers winning in a slow-starting game that leads into a second half shootout.
Packers win 27-21, Packers win ATS
Sunday Night Football
Indianapolis Colts (2-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)
Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-11.0)
Every time I write a pick for the Colts I feel almost obligated to say that they’re better than they’re given credit for. This was coming into the season, with many counting them out in a post-Andrew Luck era.
Now four weeks in, we have a clearer picture of who the Colts are: an up and down team capable of playing with almost anyone.
The Kansas City Chiefs are 16-4 in regular season games since 2018. It’s really hard to beat them. The Chiefs have kept it very close in their 4-0 start this year though, with a 33-28 win over the Ravens and a 34-30 last-minute win over the Lions.
The Colts have a chance to keep it close with Jacoby Brissett. But I also think there’s about a 50/50 shot this is a blowout and the Chiefs make a statement on national TV. I’ll predict a score somewhere inbetween. Colts could cover the spread, but then again, they could get blown out. 50/50 on that too.
Chiefs win 37-24, Chiefs win ATS
Monday Night Football
Cleveland Browns (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (3-0)
Line: San Francisco 49ers (-3.5)
Only three undefeated teams remain, with the San Francisco 49ers having only three wins instead of four after an early bye. Can the Niners jump into the conversation to be among the NFC’s best with a Monday Night win over the Cleveland Browns?
This won’t be the Browns first rodeo in primetime this season, as they defeated the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Monday Night Football, and then dropped a close game to the Rams on Sunday Night Football. That experience of having a night game routine and schedule already worked out shouldn’t go underappreciated.
But still, the Browns have been up and down this season. Which team will show up this Monday night? And how will their opponent impact them?
I’m not sure the 49ers are one of the three best, or even five best, teams in the NFL. It’s still early, but a 4-0 record would prematurely put them in the elite conversation.
San Francisco can score in bunches, and their defense can be opportunistic. I think the Browns inconsistency proves to be consistent, as they struggle just a week after an impressive win over the Ravens.
49ers win 30-17, 49ers win ATS
Detroit Lions (2-1-1): After failing to hold on to a last-minute lead against Patrick Mahommes and the Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit gets a week to regroup. For the defense, it’s a crushing loss, but there’s reasons to be optimistic about this Lions this year. Their next two games are vitally important to sustaining that optimism though: they face the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. Beat both of them, and they’re likely atop the NFC North after Week 7. Back-to-back losses may put them behind early, if the Packers and/or Bears emerge after Week 7 with only one loss.
Miami Dolphins (0-4): 163 to 26. That’s the combined score of the Dolphins four losses this season. There’s no optimism. There’s no hope.
Well, there is a sliver of something for this team to dream about: they may not go 0-16. Their next game is actually winnable, against the Washington Redskins. Two meetings with the New York Jets and one with the Cincinnati Bengals may also help their cause of not finishing the season winless.
Unless they win too many games and can’t secure the first overall pick. But I wouldn’t really worry about that: anything more than a win or two would be an absolute miracle from this putrid Dolphins team.
Power Rankings: Post-Week 4
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Header photo credit: Acquired via Packers Wire USA Today