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NFL

NFL Week 5: Part 1

It’s officially Week 5, which means it’s time for the annual London game! On the season so far, we are .500 on our picks (32-32). Last week, we went 10-6 to rebound after a rough start.  

The Chiefs, Chargers, Bills, Jets, Browns, Ravens, Seahawks, WFT, Cowboys, and Packers all pulled out wins for us this week. The 10-6 week pushed us back to .500 and was an excellent momentum boost for us, as we head into the meat of the season.

Our best win percentage for a division on the season are in the NFC West, NFC South, and AFC South (all 10-6), while our worst are the AFC East and NFC East (both 6-10). On the year, we are a perfect 12-0 on picking the Panthers, Seahawks, and Ravens’ games.

This week, we’ll cover the first eight games of the week in this article and the last eight in part two.

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Rams -2.5 at Seahawks

We’ve been rough this year on the Thursday night games, but I have a good feeling this is a bounce-back week for us. The Rams will also be looking to erase the memory of their ugly Sunday performance against the Cardinals.

Kyler Murray ran circles around the ill-prepared Rams defense, and Matt Stafford had an uncharacteristically off-day in the home loss. With only four days to prepare for the Seahawks, the advantage here has to be with LA.

Unlike many of the offenses in the NFL, the Rams run a system based on personnel and formation mismatches. The Seahawks, on the other hand, do not. On a short week, I trust Sean McVay a lot more than I trust Pete Carrol. In a short week, need we say more?

Rams 27 Seahawks 17

 

Jets +3 at Falcons

The Jets came through in a big way for us last week, only a week after getting completely smashed by the Broncos. I was very nervous throughout that one, but the Jets finally figured some stuff out, like we always assumed they should. This week, it’s off to London!

The Jets’ best strength is their Red Zone Defense (4th in NFL). Prior to this week, the Jets had played three great defenses. This past week, the Jets faced the Titans, who have one of the least impressive defenses in the league. The offense was finally able to breathe against the Titans.

This week, the Jets will get to face the Falcons defense (another one of the worst defenses in the league). The Falcons are bleeding points week in and week out on defense. Despite the offensive weapons, the Falcons have found an unconventional approach in scoring this season (Cordarrelle Patterson).

With little going from a consistency standpoint, it would be hard to imagine the Falcons solving the Jets defense this week. We saw what happened when Zach Wilson got a decent amount of protection. I think it’s likely we could see the Jets win again this week in London.

Jets 23 Falcons 17

 

Eagles at Panthers -3

The Eagles are on a major cold streak. The Panthers are licking their wounds after getting completely dismantled by the Cowboys last week. Both these teams are primed to turn it around.

In the last two weeks, the Panthers have added CJ Henderson and Stephon Gilmore to their CB core. Henderson has yet to play at the level he was drafted (Top 10) and Gilmore is 31 and fresh off injury. They aren’t likely major upgrades, but it shows the Panthers are in win-now mode.

The line here has shifted from -3.5 to -3. Carolina still holds a major handle on the cash (72%) compared to the tickets (69%). The Eagles have an offense that has struggled mightily against competent defenses. That’s going to be a big issue this week when they face the Panthers.

Toss last week out the window for the Panthers, because they just had too many weapons to deal with on the Cowboys. I feel like the Panthers will bounce back in a big way this week and right the ship on their course to the playoffs.

Panthers 31 Eagles 20

 

Packers at Bengals +3

The Bengals are a very interesting team. They’re 3-1, with wins over the Steelers, Jaguars, and Vikings. The Packers appear to be firing on all cylinders now, but something still appears to be off with Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers has been uncharacteristically off in most of his games thus far, and his numbers under pressure are terrible this season (39.7 Passer Rating under pressure). There’s also the questionable status of both teams’ RBs to consider. When I’m considering this matchup, I keep looking back to what the Bengals did against Pittsburgh a few weeks ago.

The pressure they applied to Big Ben will no doubt be another strategy at the forefront of the Bengals’ plan this week. Expect the Bengals to put together an exotic blitz package against Rodgers, with a focus on covering Tonyan and Aaron Jones as the release guys.

Adams will get the majority of attention on the outside this week. The Bengals will likely mix the run and pass well again this week and should have a few chances to take the top off the Packers’ secondary (as long as Mixon is there to keep the defense concerned up front). If Mixon plays, I like Bengals +3. If he doesn’t, I like Packers -3

Bengals 24 Packers 23

 

Patriots -8.5 at Texans

The Patriots aren’t too happy about last week’s loss at home to Tom Brady. On the other side, we’ve emphasized how the Texans aren’t as bad as we thought they’d be. The big concern I have with this game is the Patriots’ offense.

Anytime you have a spread of nearly 10 on the road, the first question you must ask is, “can this team even score that much”? It’s a fair question, considering the training wheels still present on Mac Jones’ time with the Patriots thus far.

The Texans are sort of in limbo right now, effective with Tyrod Taylor but the opposite with Davis Mills. It’s good that Mills is getting reps this early-on in his career, but the state of the Texans is not one that will benefit his future going forward.

Belichick has been great against rookie QBs and I expect this to be no different. The variety of defensive looks the Patriots will show the Texans will be extensive and too challenging. I like the balance of the Patriots’ offense and expect this to be a safe, conservative win for the Pats this week.

Patriots 23 Texans 13

 

Titans -4 at Jaguars

We saw what happened when the Titans got embarrassed in their Week 1 loss to the Cardinals. Mike Vrabel will likely whip the Titans into shape for this week’s game against the Jaguars.

The Jags appear to be a complete mess, albeit not as impotent as they looked through weeks 1-3. Urban Meyer’s tenure so far has been a tremendous dumpster fire. They are 1-3 ATS and amongst the very bottom of the league (30th or worse) in ELO ranking, Offensive ranking, and Defensive ranking.

I love the Titans in this game and anticipate this snowballing. I can’t expect Urban Meyer, whose players are laughing at him, could muster the effort required to beat a Titans team, fresh off an embarrassing loss to the Jets.

Titans 34 Jaguars 24

 

Broncos +1 at Steelers

The Broncos are about the team we expected to start the year. They have a solid defense, but the offense has been hampered by injuries all season. This game, to me, comes down to the status of Teddy Bridgewater.

Bridgewater has shown to be a considerably big upgrade to Drew Lock, so if Bridgewater plays, the Broncos should at least have a chance. If Teddy is out, I’m 100% sold on the Steelers this week, even with the impotency of their offense.

People forget the Steelers have an amazing defense, amidst all this losing they’ve done lately. Part of the reason the defense hasn’t looked amazing is the time they spend getting worn down on the field because the offense can’t hold the ball.

This game should be a defensive slog for both teams. The early money came in on the Broncos, but late money has trickled towards Pittsburgh. If Bridgewater plays, I like Denver. If he doesn’t, I like Pittsburgh.

(With Teddy) Broncos 20 Steelers 17      (Without Teddy) Steelers 20 Broncos 15

 

Saints -2.5 at WFT

How hard has it been picking the Saints this season? I’m not even sure what their biggest problem is. When the run game isn’t working, they aren’t picking things up in the pass game.

Last week, the Saints blew the game against the Giants. Their inability to run the ball cost them, and their defense appeared to get a little worn down against the Giants. This week, the Saints travel to DC to face the WFT. We picked the WFT last week, solely based on their soft matchup.

The real Saints are not the team we saw choke away the lead last week. Alvin Kamara was practically not involved in the pass game and I’d expect that won’t happen again this week. I like the Saints to rebound this week, spreading the Washington defense thin and clamping down on the WFT offense.

Saints 26 WFT 20

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