With the 2019-20 NFL season underway, oddsmakers are constantly adjusting lines to account for the performance of players and teams in Weeks 1-4.
Injuries to key players such as Davante Adams (toe), Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder), and Saquon Barkley (ankle) will play into the point spreads listed by US sportsbooks like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook for Week 5 of the NFL season.
At PlayPicks, we feel confident with the information that we have to start making our picks against the spread.
In this weekly column, we will list three of our best bets against the spread with data to support our picks. Then, we will list the following games on the NFL slate in order of our confidence in analyzing the matchup. Keep in mind that lines can often shift due to weather or other unforeseen issues. Of course, injury news plays a huge role throughout the NFL season, and the status of specific players often bears monitoring until a couple of hours before kickoff.
NFL Week 5 Best Bets
New Orleans Saints (-3) vs Tampa Bay Bucs
This is a classic case of recency bias and a line that you should pounce upon immediately before it increases. The Bucs pulled off a shocking win at the Rams and are looking much better on the defensive side of the ball, but let’s not equate the struggling Rams defense to that of the Saints. New Orleans struggled offensively against an elite Cowboys defense, but put together a complete team win to prove that they’re still the class of the NFC even without Drew Brees (thumb).
The matchup to watch here is the Saints defense against turnover-prone Jameis Winston. While he made a living over the middle of the field against the Rams Cover-2 scheme, the Saints play a base 4-3 with creative blitz packages and aggressive man-to-man coverage. New Orleans has allowed a modest 34.1% of completed passes to go for first downs and has 10 sacks through four games. The Saints players won’t forget a 48-40 loss to the Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs in last year’s home opener. Since that game, they allowed 18.8 PPG with a 12:11 TD:INT ratio at home (excluding a shootout with the Rams).
Winston is averaging just 183.7 passing YPG and has been sacked seven times in three appearances at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. He’s tossed four picks (With six sacks taken) over his last two starts against the Saints and has fumbled 24 times with 32 interceptions over 30 career road games. We expect Winston to come crashing back to earth after his explosion at the L.A. Coliseum last week, allowing Teddy Bridgewater and the Saints offense to use great field positioning and time of possession to pull away.
Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday’s implosion against a previously struggling Browns offense should only add fuel to the fire for the Ravens as they prepare to face their archrival. Despite giving up 40 points and getting shredded by Pat Mahomes the previous week, Baltimore’s defense is still capable of shutting down a very limited Pittsburgh offense and might get top CB Jimmy Smith (knee) back for this game.
Mason Rudolph managed the game in a 27-3 win over hapless Cincy on Monday night, but currently ranks 35th amongst QBs in completed air yards (2.5) and average pass attempt distance (5.6). The Steelers are on a short week and James Conner (ankle) might not be at full strength. Baltimore held Conner to a meager 19 rushing yards in a 26-14 win at Pittsburgh last season.
Pittsburgh is 7-10 against the spread (ATS) as home favorites since 2017 and that was obviously with Ben Roethlisberger calling the shots. Baltimore’s offense continues to move in the right direction with dual-threat Lamar Jackson ranking ninth in completed air yards (5.1) and fifth in pass attempt distance (10.8) to dwarf Rudolph’s production. The Steelers have faced the eighth-most rush attempts (15) from QBs this year and will be in trouble if Jackson gets going on the ground.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+3) at Carolina Panthers
Gardner Minshew has paid off for bettors in every start of his young NFL career. Why not ride with the rookie once again in a winnable game at Carolina? The Panthers pass defense has been lights out thus far, but ranks 29th in DVOA rush defense and is tied for the most 20-plus yard rushes (5) allowed. Leonard Fournette is coming off a huge game (29 carries, 225 yards, 2 TD) at the Broncos and is flourishing now that defenses have to respect the Jags passing game.
Jacksonville is allowing a below-average 99.5 rushing YPG at 4.1 YPC this season. The Jags have allowed the fourth-fewest receptions (16) to RBs and have the personnel required to slow down Christian McCaffrey. Take away McCaffrey, and Kyle Allen is unlikely to beat a Jags secondary that is still quite talented even without disgruntled CB Jalen Ramsey.
NFL Week 5 Picks Against The Spread
New England Patriots (-15) at Washington Redskins
Washington ranks 29th in DVOA pass defense and Tom Brady will be highly motivated to bounce back from his worst statistical performance in recent memory. Washington will be hard pressed to match points with Colt McCoy or rookie Dwayne Haskins lining up against the Patriots’ league-leading defense.
Chicago Bears (-5) vs Oakland Raiders
The Bears offense should function just fine in London with veteran Chase Daniel at the controls. The same can’t be said of Derek Carr and the Raiders offensive line against a ridiculous Bears defense led by a highly motivated Khalil Mack.
Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) vs Green Bay Packers
With Davante Adams (toe) ruled out, the Packers offense becomes much less dangerous. Green Bay will struggle to stop Ezekiel Elliott even with LT Tyron Smith (ankle) out and Dallas should be able to bounce back from a loss.
Philadelphia Eagles (-14.5) vs New York Jets
The Eagles should be able to tee off on third-string QB Luke Falk while containing Le’Veon Bell and the Jets modest rushing game.
Arizona Cardinals (+3) at Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals home field advantage is limited at best and so is their crop of skill position players with John Ross (shoulder) joining A.J. Green (ankle) on the shelf. David Johnson should have a big day against Cincy’s shoddy run defense.
Denver Broncos (+6) at Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers barely managed to cover in Miami last week and are basically a longshot to cover against a divisional foe, especially a desperate 0-4 Broncos team. The Chargers are 11-19-1 ATS as home favorites since 2014 and the Broncos four losses have only come by a total of 23 points.
Buffalo Bills (+3) at Tennessee Titans
We will be more confident in predicting a close game or outright Bills win if Josh Allen clears the concussion protocol. As it stands, we still expect a very close game between two stout defensive teams, so a 3-point cover is still the safer play.
New York Giants (+5) vs Minnesota Vikings
This number has come down since opening at 6.5 points and is now a tough call considering all the storylines surrounding Kirk Cousins and his receivers. So far, Daniel Jones ranks third in QBR (80.1) and Cousins has the lowest QBR (29.2) amongst active QBs this season. This is a great matchup for Jones and Evan Engram to produce through the air and keep the Giants in the game, so we’re taking the points.
Houston Texans (-4) vs Atlanta Falcons
This is a make-or-break game for Bill O’Brien, since Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins should absolutely smash the Falcons struggling secondary. Atlanta is now 0-6 ATS when facing nonconference foes over the past two seasons and a putrid 2-8 ATS as road underdogs during that span.
Indianapolis Colts (+11) at Kansas City Chiefs
The Colts are 41-28 ATS following a loss this decade and are a disciplined team that you can trust in primetime at Arrowhead Stadium. If T.Y. Hilton (quad) and Marlon Mack (ankle) are available, you could feel even more confident of a Colts cover. Additionally, taking the Under (56.5) has appeal given Indy’s ability to control the clock by running the ball.
San Francisco 49ers (-5) vs Cleveland Browns
The Niners revamped pass defense should make life very difficult for Baker Mayfield, with Jarvis Landry (concussion) in doubt, the spread has moved from 3.5 to 5 points on some books.