A quarter of the season is in the books and there’s two teams that have no business being over .500 (Ravens and Rams). I don’t think either will fare well this weekend.
I’ve been hovering around .500 this year and I currently sit at 30-30-3 on the season. I hope to widen the gap between wins and losses. I feel pretty good about this week’s picks.
NFL game against the spread and throw out a few upsets in Week 5 of the 2016 NFL season.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (+3) – My pick is Arizona Cardinals
What the hell is up with the Arizona Cardinals? You could point the finger at QB Carson Palmer, but Palmer is out with a concussion. QB Drew Stanton will start for the Cards on the road and on short rest. The Niners haven’t looked very good since their 28-0 defeat of the Rams in Week 1. I have faith in Stanton to help right the ship to get some of their confidence back. He’s a very capable backup quarterback. I’m picking the Cardinals to cover.
Houston Texans at Minnesota Vikings (-6.5) – My pick is Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings are 9-0 ATS in their last nine games (including last year’s postseason game). They have been undervalued for a long time since they haven’t had a marquee quarterback. QB Teddy Bridgewater was mostly a game manager last season and QB Sam Bradford has taken over that role (and then some). The Vikings defense is the ‘marquee star’ on the team. I still think the Texans are one of the best teams in the AFC, but they are without J.J. Watt and the Vikings defense just scares me right now.
Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) – My pick is Washington Redskins
The Baltimore Ravens finally lost last week ending their perfect season. I’ve been bashing them for a few weeks now. What’s so sad is that Oakland let them back into last week’s game and only won by a point. Washington hasn’t been great against the run this season and I expect a good game from Baltimore RB Terrance West. Washington is the better overall team and think they will keep this close. I’m taking the points and I may put a few jellybeans on the Washington moneyline.
New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7) – My pick is Pittsburgh Steelers
I guess you have to chalk up the Steelers loss to the Eagles as them having a ‘bad game.’ They quickly wiped away all memory of that loss with a blowout win of their own. They dominated the Chiefs in nearly every area of Sunday Night’s game. The Jets were nearly blanked by Kansas City just two weeks ago. I think it’s a given the Steelers will win this game and will most likely cover the spread.
New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns (+10.5) – My pick is New England Patriots
The Messiah Tom Brady is back this week for New England. He will come back with a chip on his shoulder. It’s unfortunate for the Browns that they end up in this position. They are going to be slaughtered. I know this is a large point spread, but the Patriots have been pretty good against covering double-digit spreads in the past. I’m taking the Pats to cover.
Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions (+3) – My pick is Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are a flawed team, but the Lions have many more flaws. The Lions have relied heavily on WR Marvin Jones, who has slipped into the role left by the retired Calvin Johnson. QB Matthew Stafford has other weapons and will need them all after losing starting RB Ameer Abdullah. The Lions would need a balanced offense to keep up with the Eagles. I have to take Philly to cover.
Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins (-3.5) – My pick is Tennessee Titans
The Dolphins have been a disaster so far this season. Their lone victory came against the Browns who was playing their third-string quarterback. The Dolphins will end up finishing at the bottom of the AFC East this season. As for the Titans, they have been keeping games close and I like their defense more than most. If they can get their running game going against the Dolphins, it’s over. I am taking the points.
Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts (-4.5) – My pick is Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are coming off a loss to Jacksonville in London. Teams usually end up with a bye after playing games overseas, but the Colts didn’t get one. I guess they got about as close as you can get to a bye, by playing the Chicago Bears. They aren’t a total pushover as the Colts have had issues on defense this season. I do think they cover this spread and start to build up some wins.
Atlanta Falcons at Denver Broncos (-6) – My pick is Atlanta Falcons
This one is a bit tricky. I love Denver this season, but Atlanta has impressed me in their last three wins. They won’t be able to move the ball as easily against Denver’s fantastic defense. I would like the points even more if it was at least a touchdown, but I’m still going to take the points in this game.
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders (-3.5) – My pick is San Diego Chargers
How many injuries can a team have without completely imploding? The Chargers have lost numerous guys on both offense (Keen Allen, Danny Woodhead) and defense (Manti Te’o)…and now star CB Jason Verrett will miss the season after partially-tearing his ACL. I know the injuries are hard to ignore, but I still think San Diego has a shot in this game. The Raiders have been bad at home and their secondary has given up a ton of yards this season. QB Philip Rivers should have a really good game and will keep this one tight. I’m taking the points.
Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys (pk) – My pick is Dallas Cowboys
Oh man, this one is nearly a coin flip. I love QB Dak Prescott’s story and think the team has played outstanding in Tony Romo’s absence. They do have an issue on an entire side of their offensive line that worries me. Cincinnati WR A.J. Green had a 176 receiving yards against Miami last week. QB Andy Dalton misses TE Tyler Eifert as a red zone target. It’s unknown if he will finally suit up this weekend. Dallas has unleashed rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott the last two weeks. If they can keep him fed and get him 20+ carries, the Cowboys should be able to pull out a win. I’m taking the Cowboys to win.
Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) – My pick is Buffalo Bills
How are the Rams 3-1? Well, they were shutout in Week 1 and then squeaked out victories the last three weeks. It hasn’t been pretty on either side of the ball, but a win is a win I suppose. The Bills have looked great since firing Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman two weeks ago. They shouldn’t have an issue moving the ball against the Rams. I don’t understand how the Rams are favored, so I’m for sure taking the points.
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers (-7) – My pick is Green Bay Packers
The Packers really needed a bye last week. Hopefully they fixed some of their issues on offense. The Giants also look like a team needing a bye after getting smoked by the Vikings on Monday night. WR Odell Beckham Jr. is pouting and claiming that football isn’t fun anymore. That doesn’t bode well for the Giants if your star receiver is mentally tapping out after just the fourth game. I don’t like the smell of the Giants right now, so I’m taking the Packers to cover.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (-4) – My pick is Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carolina QB Cam Newton suffered a concussion last week and will not play Monday night. QB Derek Anderson will start in his spot and be without starting RB Jonathan Stewart. Carolina’s offensive line has been pretty bad this season. Anderson isn’t a mobile quarterback, so he won’t be able to avoid the rush like Newton. This game could be close. I think the Bucs will show up to play. I’m taking the points.
*These picks are for entertainment purposes
Sweetbob’s NFL picks against the spread record in previous seasons:
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob