Taking a look at the NFL Week 5 schedule
Week 5 has arrived and our first round of bye weeks begins. Four teams are idle - Browns, Chargers, Seahawks, Buccaneers - so that leaves us with 14 games instead of 16. Every team in the AFC heads into this week with at least one loss, but that isn’t the case in the NFC, where the Eagles and 49ers are still unblemished. Both are favored this week, but may face stiffer tests, as Philly heads to LA and San Francisco hosts Dallas.
That Sunday Night Football clash between the Niners and ‘Boys is definitely Game of the Week material, but there are some other interesting matchups and some games that stand out as good betting opportunities.
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Here are some Week 5 thoughts:
(odds as of 10/1, 7:00 p.m. PT)
Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET
It might be too early to put the cart in front of the horse, but the Bears look like a team capable of picking No. 1 overall. Would they punt on the development of Justin Fields and take Caleb Williams? Another loss this week would get them one game closer to having that decision, as the Bears hit the road on a short week against the Commanders. Washington lost a heartbreaker to division rival Philadelphia, but Sam Howell showed a lot of heart and skill once again in the defeat.
Meanwhile, the Bears managed to blow a 28-7 lead at home to a previously winless Broncos bunch that looked like a team hoping to be in the mix for Williams as well. Even with Washington coming up short and in a bad situational spot coming off of an overtime division game, this line is touching -6 at most shops and has a legitimate chance of going higher.
Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET
This is a unique scenario in that the Jaguars are playing back-to-back games in London. It is a home away from home (or maybe a home at home at this point) for the Jags, who welcome in a Bills team that has throttled the Commanders and Dolphins in successive weeks. While the game does shift from Wembley Stadium to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Jaguars will get to practice in London all week and not worry about the travel. This is a unique situation in that we’ve never seen a team play back-to-back weeks in London. That has to give Jacksonville an advantage, but based on the bodies of work for these teams, that is clearly built into the line.
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Polar opposite performances took this line from a lookahead number of -3.5 down to -2.5, blowing right on through the key number of 3. It felt like it was going to be an interesting data point to see C.J. Stroud against an elite pass rusher in TJ Watt, but Stroud and Texans passed that test with flying colors.
On the flip side, the Falcons looked inept against a Jaguars team that had struggled two weeks in a row, including a Week 3 loss to the Texans. Desmond Ridder is clearly a problem for the Falcons offense and everybody knows it. Could the Texans get even more love as a short road dog here? If nothing else, teaser liability will be heavy on Houston if the line stays around where it currently is.
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
The Ravens may have caught a little bit of a break with Deshaun Watson out due to injury, but that was far from the only reason that Baltimore seemed to put something of a chokehold on the AFC North Division. Baltimore had 5.4 yards per play against Cleveland, which doesn’t seem terribly impressive, but with how the Browns had played up to that point, it really is. The Ravens reeled off some chunk plays on the ground and through the air.
The Ravens are getting healthier by the week as well, which is important, especially on the offensive line since Watt and the Steelers are coming up this week. Pittsburgh’s offense looked awful against Houston and Mike Tomlin vowed that changes were coming. We’ll see if they do and we’ll see what they are, but the Ravens are laying over a field goal in what may very well be the last chance for somebody to provide resistance in the division. If the Ravens win, they’ll be 3-0 against the division and two games up in the win column.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET
We’ve got a real good one here to finish out the Sunday slate and this is easily the most interesting game of the weekend. Some will view this as an NFC Championship preview, though the Eagles will definitely have something to say about that. The ball control offense of the 49ers against the turnover-hungry defense of the Cowboys will get a lot of run this week, but I’m most interested in seeing how the Dallas offense does.
The Cowboys have had some major red-zone issues and have gotten some help from the defense when it comes to scoring points. This will be easily the best defense that they have seen and there are questions about the Mike McCarthy/Brian Schottenheimer offense and what it will do in games such as this. This is our first chance to really find out, so that’s where my intrigue lies for this game.
Early plays I like for Week 5
The Eagles looked a little bit sluggish in the game against the Commanders, especially late. Jalen Hurts doesn’t seem to be moving around as well as normal and the defense has had some issues against teams that can throw it around a bit, as the Vikings scored 28 and the Commanders scored 31. The Rams have been a pleasant surprise, as Matthew Stafford has found a rapport with his new receivers and it looks like Cooper Kupp will be back.
It’s a long trip for the Eagles for a non-conference game coming off of surviving an NFC East opponent, so I like the spot for the Rams, but I’m also not sure that the Eagles are operating at 100% at this point.
Despite the performance from Tennessee against Cincinnati last week, I still don’t think the Titans are a very good team. The Bengals are littered with problems, as the defense isn’t playing well and the offense led by Joe Burrow is just not firing on any cylinder right now.
At least the Colts have shown some things and battled back admirably against the Rams, despite coming up short. The Titans had major issues defending in the secondary against the Browns, especially when Deshaun Watson got out of the pocket and moved around a bit. Richardson can do a lot of those same things. Also, the strength of the Titans defense is in stopping the run and the Colts don’t really run the ball a lot. I find it telling that the Titans looked so good last week, yet this line is where it is.