2016 NFL Picks: Week 5

2016 NFL Picks: Week 5

Last Week: 2-3

YTD: 8-11

This Week:

Buffalo Bills +3 at Los Angeles Rams

Cincinnati Bengals -1.5 at Dallas Cowboys

Washington Redskins +4 at Baltimore Ravens

Philadelphia Eagles -3 at Detroit Lions

Minnesota Vikings -6.5 vs. Houston Texans

Denver Broncos -5.5 vs. Atlanta Falcons

This week was funky, which is exactly what someone three games below .500 would say. I promise I do actual research for these posts, reading recaps, listening to podcasts, and searching for statistics every week. Much of it even explicitly discusses gambling lines! It would take a couple of undefeated weeks for me to reach my target of 60%, but based on my usual sources at least I’m not the only one!

In the moment, I thought last week was full of surprises, but after further review the call is confirmed! Most of the scores kind of make sense. The Falcons dropping 48 points on Carolina sticks out as the greatest surprise, because we assumed the Panthers great defense would remain at least good without Josh Norman. Units take time to gel, which means starting two rookie cornerbacks might pan out, but not without some growing pains. Julio Jones was the source of those pains this week, and they were excruciating.

I was also wrong about the Cardinals, but I blame that in part on Carson Palmer’s early exit. They were up 3 when he exited the game to enter the league’s concussion protocol, and another touchdown seemed very possible. It’s not like the Rams (288 total yards) were threatening on offense.

The Jets got worked by the Seahawks because Russell Wilson wasn’t much hampered by his leg injuries. Despite consistent pressure from the defensive front, he consistently spun and danced his way out of trouble in the backfield for demoralizing third-down conversions. Ryan Fitzpatrick followed up his six-interception game with a three-interception game, and that was that.

I was right about the Broncos, who I picked using the same logic I used to correctly pick the Cardinals in Week 2. Jameis Winston is a turnover machine, and it's fun to pick against him when he plays good defenses.

I also just barely got my Raiders pick right after a dramatic comeback victory in Baltimore. It probably shouldn’t have come to that, but a win is a win, and with my record I’ll take it. Thank you, Michael Crabtree!

Someone wise once said “if at first you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and try again”, and I like to take those words to heart. So I’m picking six games this week! Hopefully this gets us headed in the right direction!


Buffalo Bills +3 at Los Angeles Rams

NFL Picks Week 5 Buffalo Bills Los Angeles Rams

Last week, the Rams controlled most of their game against the Cardinals before taking the lead for good shortly after Carson Palmer left with a concussion. It wasn't pretty, which is exactly the type of game Case Keenum and the Rams specialize in. The key part of that description is "after Carson Palmer left the game"; before then, the tide was shifting in the Cardinals' favor and they were up 13-10. Without the injury and the ensuing reminder of Drew Stanton's inadequacy on a football field beyond his celebration of a big play, the Cardinals might have gone on to win and cover. I know the Bills aren't great, and their win against New England needs to be taken with a grain of salt the size of a mountain, but I'll still take them (and 3 points!) against this Rams team. Keenum is terrible, Todd Gurley has averaged 2.6 yards per carry, and I bet you can't name their leading receiver. 

Cincinnati Bengals -1.5 at Dallas Cowboys

NFL Picks Week 5 Cincinnati Bengals Dallas Cowboys

I made a side wager last week on the Niners getting points at home against a Cowboys team led by Dak Prescott. It was looking pretty good until Blaine Gabbert remembered who he was and the San Francisco offense fell apart spectacularly, scoring just 3 points in the second half. The big difference-maker, though, was the departure of NaVorro Bowman after suffering a torn achilles; until then, Ezekiel Elliot was averaging 4.8 yards per carry, and afterward he averaged 7.1. I think the Cowboys were lucky to get out of this game against a bad team, and Cincinnati is a competent team despite their recent struggles. I think they shut down the Cowboys offense, intercept Dak for the first time, and win by at least a touchdown.

Washington Redskins +4 at Baltimore Ravens

NFL Picks Week 5 Washington Redskins Baltimore Ravens

I've picked against the Ravens a few times this year with mixed success. They played a tight game against Oakland last week, and if Oakland is good, that's an encouraging sign for this Baltimore team. I'm not sure how good Oakland is just yet, though, so I'll take an offensively interesting Redskins team plus 4 points against a Ravens defense I think is getting by on a weak schedule. Captain Kirk might have some more "You like that?!" left in the tank.

Philadelphia Eagles -3 at Detroit Lions

NFL Picks Week 5 Detroit Lions Philadelphia Eagles

So far the Eagles have trounced the Steelers, Bears, and Browns. I don't want to overreact to their win against Pittsburgh for the reasons detailed in our podcast, but it shouldn't be ignored either. The Lions are coming off a loss to my Bears, who are among the worst teams in the league. The transitive property doesn't apply in the NFL; you can't say because Team X beat Team Y, and Team Y beat Team Z, Team X should automatically beat Team Z. But good teams usually beat bad teams by more than three, and it seems like this matchup fits the bill.

Minnesota Vikings -6.5 vs Houston Texans

NFL Picks Week 5 Minnesota Vikings Houston Texans

The Vikings have throttled the offensive attacks of Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Cam Newton, and...well, Marcus Mariota. No one has cracked 20 points against them, and Brock Osweiler won't be the first to do so. On the other side of the ball, I'd be concerned as a Vikings fan that Sam Bradford will at any moment revert to the pumpkin form he's existed in most of his NFL career. In the meantime, if they can maintain their average margin of victory (9 points per game) against the worst offense they've faced yet, this one should pay off. 

Denver Broncos -5.5 vs. Atlanta Falcons

NFL Picks Week 5 Denver Broncos Atlanta Falcons

Another home favorite, a similar storyline. The Broncos have the best defense in the game in my opinion, and they're going against a Falcons team ranked 1st in offensive DVOA. As I mentioned last week (in one of my incorrect picks), the Falcons haven't faced stiff competition when it comes to moving the ball. I thought Carolina would change that, but instead they single-covered Julio Jones and he exploded for 300 yards receiving. The Broncos are a much different team; they have two top-tier cornerbacks in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr., a menacing pass rush led by Von Miller, and one of the best Defensive Coordinators in the game making the calls. I might get burned by underestimating the Falcons once again, but I'm asking them to prove themselves one more time. On the other side of the ball, Atlanta sports the 31st-ranked defense by DVOA, meaning Trevor Siemian and/or Paxton Lynch should be able to keep the offense operating at a respectable level. If they can get a lead, and the Denver defense can start rushing Matt Ryan without concern for the run game, they should win by at least one touchdown. 

Enjoy your weekends, everyone, and we'll see you next week!


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