The NFL is officially one-quarter through their 2020-21 season, with almost every team playing four games so far. There’s a slew of undefeated teams left: the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, and Seattle Seahawks are all 4-0, while the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers retain 3-0 records after their matchup was postponed.
But Week 5 could still change the landscape of this season with some key games set to be played.
Can Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win their fourth straight game, or can Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles beat Brady again and propel the Bears to a 4-1 record?
Can Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles build on their two-game “non-losing streak,” and perhaps hand the Pittsburgh Steelers their first loss?
The Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons are still searching for their first wins of the season, but actually find themselves favored against some weak competition.
Week 1: 10-6
Week 2: 11-5
Week 3: 8-7-1
Week 4: 10-5
Overall: 39-23-1 (63% correct)
Last week I incorrectly predicted:
- Bears over Colts (Chicago’s strong start came to a screeching halt in Foles’ first start)
- Jaguars over Bengals (Maybe time I start showing the Bengals a little respect)
- Cowboys over Browns (Who saw THAT performance by Cleveland happening)
- Texans over Vikings (A close game, Houston just can’t catch a break)
- 49ers over Eagles (Didn’t think San Francisco would struggle after manhandling the Giants)
Thursday Night Football
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) at Chicago Bears (3-1)
Line: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5)
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers offense is clicking, scoring 30 points per game. The Bears struggled in Nick Foles’ first start, possibly a symptom of pulling Mitch Trubisky from the starting role too early. Chicago’s defense is good, but Brady will still put up more points than Foles in this quarterback Super Bowl rematch.
Buccaneers win 27-17, Buccaneers win ATS
Sunday Day Games
GAME OF THE WEEK: Buffalo Bills (4-0) at Tennessee Titans (3-0)
My intended pick for game of the week is this one, with the 4-0 Buffalo Bills clashing against the 3-0 Tennessee Titans. But with more positive COVID-19 tests coming out of Tennessee, as well as possible protocol violations, this game is currently up in the air.
I will tentatively select the Bills. Their defense has been vulnerable this year, so Josh Allen might need to outscore Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry to earn a victory. But with just a +6 point differential this season, the Titans are susceptible to lose a close game eventually.
Bills win 27-26, if it gets played this week
Carolina Panthers (2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (0-4)
Line: Atlanta Falcons (-2.0)
The winless Atalanta Falcons are actually favored here, due to their usually high-flying offense. Atlanta was shut down by Green Bay’s offense on Monday night, but against a softer Carolina defense, could fare better
This game is pretty much a toss-up to me. I correctly predicted the Panthers upset of the Arizona Cardinals last week, and I think they’re the stronger team overall. But with the nature of the game, I think Carolina is due for a loss while Atlanta might be due for a win.
Falcons win 30-24, Falcons win ATS
Las Vegas Raiders (2-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-0)
I’m not sure who is injured for there to be no line on this game at time of writing on Thursday morning. The Las Vegas Raiders seem to be a decent team, and could potentially play a gritty game against their AFC West rivals. But I wouldn’t bet on it. Chiefs roll to 5-0.
Chiefs win 27-20
Arizona Cardinals (2-2) at New York Jets (0-4)
Line: Arizona Cardinals (-7.0)
The Arizona Cardinals have slid to 0-2 after a promising 2-0 start. But Kyler Murray catches a break here against a hapless Jets team. Joe Flacco starting in place of the injured Sam Darnold could be a wildcard, but I doubt we’ll see anything special from the 35-year old.
Cardinals win 30-17, Cardinals win ATS
Philadelphia Eagles (1-2-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)
Line: Pittsburgh Steelers (-7.0)
If you keep up with my weekly Power Rankings, you’ll see the Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to break into the Top Ten. They’re undefeated with a solid offense and defense, but just haven’t played any good teams.
The 1-2-1 Philadelphia Eagles are hardly a good team, but have been playing better the past two weeks. I think this game is much more of a toss-up than the touchdown-line suggests. I would almost go with Philadelphia, but the unexpected rest Pittsburgh got last week may give them a slight edge.
Steelers win 24-20, Eagles win ATS
Los Angeles Rams (3-1) at Washington Football Team (1-3)
Line: Los Angeles Rams (-7.5)
Take out the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1, and Washington hasn’t played much good football at all. The Los Angeles Rams surprisingly had a little trouble with the New York Giants last week, but Washington doesn’t present a bigger challenge.
Washington Football Team will employ Kyle Allen as their starting quarterback, demoting second-year quarterback and former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins to third-string. Frankly, it’s a disgraceful move as the organization continues to lack the effort needed to give Haskins any chance at success.
Rams win 26-15, Rams win ATS
Cincinnati Bengals (1-2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (3-1)
Line: Baltimore Ravens (-13.0)
Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals have looked better each week, but the Baltimore Ravens are just too strong of an opponent. A humbling loss in Burrow’s young NFL career.
Ravens win 41-17, Ravens win ATS
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) at Houston Texans (0-4)
Line: Houston Texans (-6.0)
Another winless team is favored, with the 0-4 Houston Texans getting six points against the Jacksonville Jaguars. To be fair, Jacksonville has lost three straight. I think Houston is better than their 0-4 record suggests, and I even wrote a piece on why they still might make the playoffs over on The Athletes Hub.
The Texans are desperate for a win, but the firing of head coach Bill O’Brien could make-or-break Houston’s season. I think we see a close game, and a strong finishing performance from Deshaun Watson.
Texans win 27-26, Jaguars win ATS
GAME OF THE WEEK #2: Indianapolis Colts (3-1) at Cleveland Browns (3-1)
Line: Indianapolis Colts (-1.5)
This game is my backup for most important game of the week, if Bills-Titans isn’t played. The Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns are both off to hot 3-1 starts, and a 4-1 start would be even sweeter. Baker Mayfield and the Browns are looking tto prove th last couple weeks weren’t a fluke.
I think something is starting to click in Cleveland, but it’s not 100% there yet. There will be up and down weeks for this Browns team. I’m not predicting they’ll play poorly, just not good enough to win.
Colts win 24-17, Colts win ATS
New York Giants (0-4) at Dallas Cowboys (1-3)
Line: Dallas Cowboys (-9.5)
The 2020 Dallas Cowboys are an anomaly: with the #1 offense in terms of yards per game (509.5) and a #30 defense with 430.5 yards per game allowed. Dallas has scored 126 points, the third-most in the league, and Dak Prescott is on pace to pass for an uncanny 6,760 yards over sixteen games.
Daniel Jones and the New York Giants offense could heat up against the Cowboys soft defense, but there’s no way they keep up in a shoot-out.
Cowboys win 34-23, Cowboys win ATS
Denver Broncos (1-3) at New England Patriots (2-2)
Line: TBA (Cam Newton)
The line and pick on this game are pretty dependent on if Cam Newton can start at quarterback after contracting COVID-19 last week. Either way, I did like what I saw from New England’s defense on Monday night, holding Kansas City to just six first half points. New England’s quarterbacks threw three interceptions though, killing any chance of a Patriots victory.
Even if Cam Newton can’t play, I think Bill Belichick just might be able to play his chess pieces right and beat an offense that doesn’t have Patrick Mahomes.
Cam Starts: Patriots win 27-13
Cam Out: Patriots win 17-16
Miami Dolphins (1-3) at San Francisco 49ers (2-2)
Line: TBA (Jimmy G)
Another matchup that’s dependent on quarterback health: can Jimmy Garroppolo go against the Miami Dolphins in Week 5? Nick Mullens was benched for C.J. Beathard in last week’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and I honestly don’t like either of them at quarterback for this particular 49ers team.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing just about how you’d expect: some great drives, some bad ones, some touchdowns, some interceptions. If Beathard or Mullens start, the 49ers could have some short drives. And given enough chances, Fitzpatrick would put some points on the board.
Jimmy G Starts: 49ers win 26-20
Jimmy G Out: Dolphins win 24-17
Sunday Night Football
Minnesota Vikings (1-3) at Seattle Seahawks (4-0)
Line: Seattle Seahawks (-7.0)
Russel Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks offense has been dominant. Wilson is my early leader for NFL MVP (check out my full Top 10 MVP contenders here) and the Seahawks have scored 142 points, the second-most in the NFL. They’ve also allowed 109 points (12th-most in the NFL,) getting into a lot of shoot-outs.
The 1-3 Minnesota Vikings have largely the same makeup: an above-average 106 points scored (13th in the NFL), but a not so-good 123 points allowed (7th-most in the NFL.)
The end result? A fun Sunday night matchup, where Wilson and the Seahawks come out on top once again.
Seahawks win 33-27, Vikings win ATS
Monday Night Football
Los Angeles Chargers (1-3) at New Orleans Saints (2-2)
Line: New Orleans Saints (-7.5)
Something has been off about the New Orleans Saints. Everything seemed fine Week 1 after a victory over Tom Brady’s Buccaneers, but New Orleans proceeded to drop their next two games and nearly blew a matchup against the Detroit Lions.
Assuming Justin Herbert remains the starter in Los Angeles, I could smell an upset brewing here. I do like Brees and Payton’s experience playing in prime time, but Herbert’s Chargers have been so close to a couple victories, even taking the Chiefs to overtime.
If Tyrod Taylor starts, a possibility if he’s healthy, I actually think the Chargers offense sputters and regresses. Therefore, this is the third game of the week whee I will offer two separate picks based o who starts the game.
Herbert Starts: Chargers win 27-23
Taylor Starts: Saints win 26-13
Teams on Bye
- Green Bay Packers (4-0)
- Detroit Lions (1-3)
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- NFL 2020 Picks: Week 1, 2, 3, 4
- NFL 2020 Power Rankings: Post-Week 1, Post-Week 2, Post-Week 3, Post-Week 4
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- Expectations for Odell Beckham Jr’s Second Year in Cleveland
- NFC 2020: Who’s In, Who’s Out
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- Entire Phillies-Yankees Series Postponed After Marlins COVID-19 Outbreak
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Travel and Hiking
Header Photo: Getty Images via SportingNews.com