2017 Week 5 NFL Picks

Pick of the Week

GB +2 @ DAL

High Confidence Picks

MIN -3 @ CHI

SEA +1.5 @ LAR

Medium Confidence Picks

CLE +2 vs. NYJ

OAK -2.5 vs. BAL

LAC+3.5 @ NYG

Low Confidence Picks

TEN +1.5 @ MIA

JAX +7.5 @ PIT

PHI -6.5 vs. ARZ

DET -2 vs. CAR

IND -1.5 vs. SF

No Confidence Picks

TB +5.5 vs. NE

BUF +3 @ CIN

KC PK @ HOU

Upset Picks

SEA +105 @ LAR

TEN +105 @ MIA

GB +110 @ DAL

CLE +110 vs. NYJ

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans: 2017 Week 5 NFL Pick

Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) at Houston Texans (2-2)

The Texans dropped 57 points on the Titans last week, picking up 33 first downs in the process. That performance was night and day from their week 1 performance in a 29-7 loss to the Jaguars. The obvious difference is the quarterback, as week 1 starter Tom Savage was benched at halftime against the Jaguars and replaced with first round pick Deshaun Watson, but Watson’s career didn’t get off to a great start either. He struggled to move the ball in the second half against Jacksonville week 1 and then again in Cincinnati week 2, before taking a big step forward against a weak New England defense week 3.

Watson’s week 4 game was easily his best performance yet and a big part of that was the return of Will Fuller from injury. A first round pick in 2016, Fuller had an up and down rookie year, showing blazing speed, but struggling with drops, before missing the first 3 games of this season with a broken collarbone. He looked like a new receiver in his first game back and that, along with the improved play of Watson, helped lead to arguably the best single game offensive performance by any team all season. Fuller and Watson might not always be that good this season and they still have major problems on the offensive line, but they run the ball well with Watson under center and have a pair of talented outside receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller that Watson can hit off of play action. At the very least, their offensive outlook looks better than it did at the start of the season.

This week, they face a banged up Kansas City team. The Chiefs are 4-0, but they’re going to be missing 4 week 1 starters with injury in this one, center Mitch Morse, guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, safety Eric Berry, and outside linebacker Dee Ford. The Chiefs have had some close calls so far this season and aren’t as good as their record suggests, but I still have them about 4 points better than Houston. This line is a pick ‘em, suggesting that the visiting Chiefs are about 3 points better. We’re not getting any real line value with the Chiefs, but they’re probably the smarter choice in a game that’s close to a toss up.

Kansas City Chiefs 17 Houston Texans 16

Pick against the spread: Kansas City PK

Confidence: None

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears: 2017 Week 5 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (2-2) at Chicago Bears (1-3)

The Vikings have had some of the worst injury luck in the league over the past couple seasons and the injury bug struck again in last week’s loss to the Lions, when promising rookie running back Dalvin Cook tore his ACL, ending his season. The good news is they get quarterback Sam Bradford back from a 3-game absence with a bone bruise on his knee. The Vikings were incredibly cautious with Bradford, who has had two surgeries on that knee, so he’s probably close to 100% if they’re letting him play.

That’s bad news for the Bears, as Sam Bradford had arguably the best game of his career in week 1 before getting hurt. The Bears’ defense isn’t as bad as the defense of the New Orleans Saints, the Vikings’ week 1 opponent, but they’re not nearly as talented as they were when they entered the season, with middle linebacker Jerrell Freeman, safety Quintin Demps, and outside linebacker Willie Young out for the season and middle linebacker Danny Trevathan suspended for this game for an illegal hit in last week’s loss to the Packers.

Bradford should have a good game against them, as he has been playing the best football of his career since arriving in Minnesota last year and he has an improved supporting cast around him in 2017, even with Dalvin Cook out. His top-2 receivers, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, have both taken steps forward and the Vikings have better running backs and offensive linemen this season, after making several additions this off-season, including left tackle Riley Reiff, right tackle Mike Remmers, and new starting running back Latavius Murray.

The Vikings also have a strong defense, so if they can stay healthy, they could be one of the more complete teams in the league. Against a banged up Bears team with a first-time starting quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, the Vikings should be favored by more than 3 points. I have this line calculated at -6.5 in favor of the Vikings, so we’re getting good line value with an underrated Vikings team. The only reason this isn’t my Pick of the Week is because the Vikings could get caught looking forward to Green Bay next week, but I still give them a good chance to cover both this week and likely next. This is a high confidence pick.

Minnesota Vikings 20 Chicago Bears 13

Pick against the spread: Minnesota -3

Confidence: High

Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals: 2017 Week 5 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (3-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-3)

The Bills aren’t getting a lot of attention, but they’ve been a pleasant surprise so far. They’re 3-1 with wins over Denver and Atlanta and their only loss was in Carolina in a game they had a chance to win at the end. Their receiving corps are a major problem, especially with de facto #1 receiver Jordan Matthews now injured, but their defense has overperformed under new head coach Sean McDermott, who has always gotten the most out of his defenses, they have a solid running game, and they have a capable quarterback under center in Tyrod Taylor. Losing Matthews hurts, but they do get talented left tackle Cordy Glenn back from injury for the first time since week 2, to add to what was already a capable offensive line. They could easily push for a playoff spot in the AFC.

That being said, the Bengals aren’t much worse than the Bills, despite their 1-3 record. They too have a strong defense, especially with guys like Adam Jones, Shawn Williams, and Vontaze Burfict back after missing the start of the season, and their offense has been better since firing offensive coordinator Ken Zampese. Their offensive line will be a problem all year, but they have some playmakers around Andy Dalton, so they’re not one of the worst offenses in the league like they appeared to be to start the season. I have this line calculated at -2 in favor of the Bengals at home. At +3, The Bills are the smarter pick for pick ‘em purposes, but I wouldn’t bet anything on either side in this game.

Cincinnati Bengals 17 Buffalo Bills 15

Pick against the spread: Buffalo +3

Confidence: None

Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions: 2017 Week 5 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (3-1) at Detroit Lions (3-1)

The Panthers entered the season on my underrated list, but they’ve had bad injury luck thus far. They’ve lost tight end Greg Olsen and center Ryan Kalil, two of their most important offensive players, for an extended period of time, while Cam Newton has not looked sharp in his return from shoulder surgery. This week, safety Kurt Coleman is added to the list of injured starters, while left tackle Matt Kalil could also be out after barely practicing this week with a groin injury. The Panthers might actually be a little overrated right now, following their upset win in New England. It’s not that beating the Patriots in New England isn’t impressive, but the Patriots have not been as good this season and they were in a tough spot with another game in 4 days. Prior to that game, the Panthers lost 34-13 at home to the Saints.

The Lions, meanwhile, were on my overrated list coming into the season. They went 9-7 last season, but they had just 1 win by more than a touchdown and no wins over playoff teams and they lost left tackle Taylor Decker and defensive end Kerry Hyder with injuries before the season even started. They’re 3-1, but they’ve lost the first down battle in all 4 games, despite not playing that tough of a schedule, with games against the Cardinals, who was leading until David Johnson got hurt, the Giants, who held them to 12 first downs, the Falcons, who beat them despite being -3 in takeaways, and the Vikings, who were starting Case Keenum at quarterback.

However, I think we’re actually getting a little bit of line value here because Carolina is a little overrated after last week’s win. I have these two teams about equal, so this line should be at -3, but it’s at -2 instead. That’s not a ton of line value so I can’t be that confident in the Lions, but they should be able to beat a banged up Carolina team at home by a field goal or more, so they should be the right pick in pick ‘em leagues. I wouldn’t recommend betting on the Lions this week though.

Detroit Lions 23 Carolina Panthers 20

Pick against the spread: Detroit -2

Confidence: Low

Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants: 2017 Week 5 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Chargers (0-4) at New York Giants (0-4)

The Chargers are 0-4 on the season and are now 9-27 over the past 3 seasons, but they’ve been ridiculously unlucky. They are just 4-19 in games decided by a touchdown or less over that time period and a whopping 10 of their 27 losses have come by 3 points or fewer. That’s very relevant considering this line is 3.5 in favor of the hometown Giants. The Chargers are also unlucky to play in front of the home crowds that they play in front of, as they attract a disproportionately large amount of road fans to their games, a problem that has only gotten worse in Los Angeles. As a result, they have little to no homefield advantage. They’re just 5-14 ATS at home since 2015, but 11-6 ATS on the road.

They’re on the road here and frankly that might be a welcomed sight for this team at this point. At least you expect road crowds to cheer against you. At the very least, the Chargers won’t be nearly at as much of a disadvantage on the road as regular teams. They almost won in Denver earlier this year. The Giants are better than their 0-4 record too, but the Chargers are the better of these two teams and the Giants are also banged up, missing center Weston Richburg and possibly missing defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon. Those three are all key players and, even if JPP and Vernon play, they could be limited and have not been playing well so far this season. The Chargers have a good chance to win this straight up and, even if they don’t, I like their chances of keeping this within a field goal.

New York Giants 24 Los Angeles Chargers 23

Pick against the spread: NY Giants +3.5

Confidence: Medium

Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins: 2017 Week 5 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (2-2) at Miami Dolphins (1-2)

The Titans had a week from hell last week, as they lost 57-14 in Houston in a game in which they lost quarterback Marcus Mariota with an injury. It was an eerily similar game to their 38-17 loss in Jacksonville in week 16 of last season, when Mariota broke his leg. Those are the only two losses by more than 10 points for a Tennessee team that has generally played well over the past couple seasons. They were even able to win at home against the Texans without Mariota week 17 last year.

Mariota’s injury isn’t as serious as last season, as he only has a hamstring pull, but his mobility will be severely limited in this one, if he can even play. Given that they’re playing the Dolphins, they may opt to hold him out. The Dolphins are one of the worst teams in the league and should be 0-3 right now, if not for 2 missed makeable field goals by the Chargers week 1. They rank dead last in first down rate differential at -9.07%, despite a relatively easy schedule (Chargers, Jets, and Saints). They can beat them with a run heavy offense and Matt Cassel under center.

The Titans are also in a good spot as teams tend to bounce back off of blowout losses, going 54-29 ATS since 2002 after a loss by 35 or more. Teams tend to be overlooked, undervalued, and embarrassed after big losses like that and they tend to bounce back as a result. That being said, I can’t take them with any confidence as 3 point road favorites, even as bad as the Dolphins are. I have this line calculated right at -3, with Tennessee’s uncertainty at quarterback factored in, and I wouldn’t want to bet anything on the Titans even if Mariota does end up playing, given how limited he would be. This is one of my lowest confidence picks of the week.

Sunday Update: Marcus Mariota is out for the Titans and the line has shifted to -1.5 in favor of the Dolphins. Even with Matt Cassel out there instead of Mariota, I have this line at -2.5 in favor of the Titans, so we’re getting a little bit of line value with the Titans, even if it’s between the field goals. The Dolphins are a terrible team and are in a tough spot in what will be a week 5 home opener for them. Teams are 27-55 ATS since 1989 in week 3 home openers and the Dolphins have already played games in Los Angeles, New York, and London before returning home to Miami, where they have little homefield advantage anyway (27-42 ATS since 2008, including 12-27 ATS as favorites). The Titans had a bad week last week, but are still a talented team and they should be able to execute a run heavy offense well enough to bounce back from a blowout and win this game. This is still only a low confidence pick, but it’s worth a small bet on the money line at +105.

Tennessee Titans 19 Miami Dolphins 17 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Tennessee +1.5

Confidence: Low