Week 5 NFL picks: Best bets, odds for every game

By VSiN Staff  (VSiN.com) 


Welcome to another exciting weekend in the NFL.

With 14 games on Sunday's slate, there are plenty of betting opportunities. Our VSiN experts -- Adam Burke, Wes Reynolds, Dave Tuley, Will Hill and Matt Youmans, along with Ben Brown from Pro Football Focus -- combine to give their opinions on every game.

Note: Lines are from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Thursday night.

Here are our Week 5 best bets:

New York Jets vs. Atlanta Falcons (-3, 46) in London

Tuley: I guess I’m getting up early Sunday for this London game at 6:30 a.m. PT. I love these games, especially since it lowers the number to eight games in the 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT time slot. The Jets picked up the first win of the Zach Wilson era, 27-24 in overtime vs. the Titans. We’ll see how New York handles the trip over the pond, but I trust them more than the Falcons at this point. Wilson should have his second straight good game while the defense should be able to pressure Matt Ryan into mistakes. There were some 3.5s early this week. Those are long gone, but that’s OK as we’re calling for the outright upset. The Falcons are also going to be without WR Calvin Ridley, so one of the possible edges for Atlanta in this matchup is now gone.

Pick: Jets + 3

Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers (-3.5, 45)

Burke: Under money has hit the board in this game, but there is still enough meat on the bone for the rest of us to gnaw on. The total here is 45, which probably seems low given the recent high-scoring games for these two teams, but they have a common opponent in the Cowboys, who are one of the best offenses in the NFL.

Teams are required to change their game-plans based on the opposition and that may mean more aggressive offensive play calls or some decisions that otherwise may not have been made. The Eagles don’t really want to get into shootouts with Jalen Hurts. The Panthers want to rely on their defense and a ball control offense.

These are still two top-10 teams in yards per play on defense, an illustration of how their games against non-elite offenses went. Neither of these offenses is elite. The Eagles just have a few really big explosive plays to drive up their yards per play number. They’ve also hurt themselves badly with penalties on offense. Philadelphia’s 45 penalties were the most in the league by 12 over the Bucs and the Chargers going into Week 5.

The teams rank 14th and 15th in points per drive and 19th and 20th in percentage of drives ending with points. This should be a much more balanced game than what we’ve seen recently from these two teams.

Pick: Under 45

New Orleans Saints (-2, 44.5) at Washington Football Team

Burke: The Washington Football Team was supposed to bring a good defense to the table, but we have seen anything but prowess on that side of the ball to this point. The WFT ranks 31st in points per drive allowed this season and opponents have scored on over 57 percent of their possessions.

In this game, though, the Washington side draws a little bit of a breather. Not facing Justin Herbert, Josh Allen or Matt Ryan should help here, as Jameis Winston has not really looked the part as the heir to the throne of Drew Brees. Winston eight TDs to only two INTs and has completed 64 percent of his passes, but the Saints have set him and the rest of the offense up for success a lot.

New Orleans has only gained 4.8 yards per play, and the Saints are 19th in points per drive, despite an average starting field position of their own 32.3-yard line (second in the NFL). New Orleans is + 5 in turnover margin and that big edge has come in the two wins that the Saints have this season.

Washington has some offensive issues, but taking care of the ball hasn’t really been one of them. Furthermore, Taylor Heinicke has played really well as the injury replacement to Ryan Fitzpatrick. He has only been sacked three times in three starts and has thrown eight touchdown passes.

The Saints offense is very limited without the ability to generate takeaways, so as long as Washington holds on to the football, this should be a close game. The total here is down in the mid-40s, so we’ve got a low-scoring expectation. As a result, this game is a perfect candidate for one of those “Wong teasers” to go through the 3 and 7 with the underdog.

The move here is to take Washington up to + 8 and pair the Football Team with another football team on the board. For me, that team is the Patriots taken down under the key number of 3 against the Texans.

Pick: Washington Football Team + 8.5 (six-point teaser with Patriots -2.5)

Brown: Things have gone south for Taylor Heinicke over the past two games. He has posted three turnover-worthy plays during this stretch. The Bills were able to take advantage, but the Falcons struggled to do so.  Turnover-worthy plays are the best way to evaluate interception prop totals. Despite his bad two-game stretch, Heinicke has been successfully taken care of the football throughout the rest of his short career.

The Saints defense ranks sixth in PFF's opponent-adjusted defensive grades. New Orleans has a skewed ranking when judged by unit, as its coverage team ranks third while the pass rush sits 28th. The Saints have generated the fourth-lowest pressure rate this season despite blitzing at the 11th-highest rate. They simply haven’t been able to generate the pressure they desire, but their coverage unit has held up regardless. Heinicke has shown the ability to extend plays, as he's recorded one of the highest average time to throw in the NFL.

Given the Saints’ lack of pass rush, Heinicke should be making a lot of his decisions from a clean pocket. If he can cut out one or two errant throws, he should easily be able to play a turnover-free game. Given the status of the Saints’ defense, the + 140 price is an enticing option. 

Pick: Taylor Heinicke Under 0.5 Interceptions (+ 140) vs. New Orleans

Tennessee Titans (-4.5, 48.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Reynolds: Well, someone’s gotta do it. No team has had a worse bad news cycle in the NFL this week than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Aside from being just one of two winless teams in the league, the Jaguars are dealing with a head coach in Urban Meyer who has seemingly already worn out his welcome in Duval.

After a Thursday night loss -- but a cover -- in Cincinnati, Meyer did not fly back with his team as he apparently had better things to do (check Twitter for the photos). NFL beat writers galore have said that it is unprecedented for a coach to not fly back home with his team. Some of those same writers have spoken to sources on the roster that Meyer does not have the respect of the locker room. 

Meanwhile, Tennessee saw money come against them throughout last week and eventually lose outright to the then-winless Jets. While the Titans won the turnover battle, had a 30-16 first down edge and outgained the Jets 430-355, Ryan Tannehill was sacked seven times and the Jets were able to prevent explosive plays down the field with Tennessee missing its top two receivers A.J. Brown (expected back this week) and Julio Jones (still questionable). 

This all sets up as a “get right” spot for the Titans, but keep in mind that they are just 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 games as a road favorite. Meanwhile, Jacksonville has covered seven of its last nine as a home divisional underdog. The perception is that the Jaguars will quit on Meyer and it seems like they have tuned him out. However, this team also may take the attitude of “to hell with this guy and let’s just focus on ourselves and each other.” Although Jacksonville blew a 14-0 lead, the team did play its cleanest game of the season; turnover free and limiting Trevor Lawrence sacks to just one. Clearly, this is buying on weakness with the Jaguars. Hopefully, this is just a buy on weakness and not buying a total penny stock. 

Pick: Jaguars + 4.5


Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-10, 49)

Tuley: The Lions are clearly the best 0-4 team in the NFL (though Jaguars are the only other winless team), but they’re also better than several 1-3 teams. They covered in losses to the 49ers and Ravens and the loss to the Packers was more competitive than the 35-17 final score indicates. I was disappointed they came up short against the Bears, but I’m back on them this week against a Minnesota team that looked awful in an ugly 14-7 loss to the Browns. Now, maybe we’re not giving the Cleveland defense the credit it deserves in holding the Vikings down, but we expect the Lions to be able to stay within a touchdown.

Pick: Lions + 9.5

Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers (-1, 39.5)

Youmans: With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under attack from critics, the Steelers will be playing with a great sense of urgency to end a three-game losing streak. Big Ben still has coach Mike Tomlin in his corner, but for how long? Roethlisberger has four touchdown passes and four interceptions through four games, and Pittsburgh is tied for 28th in scoring offense (16.8 PPG). The Steelers are doing a better job of using rookie running back Najee Harris, who had 15 carries for 62 yards and six receptions for 29 yards in the 27-17 loss at Green Bay. The defense dropped Aaron Rodgers for three sacks and will not give much ground to this Denver offense.

The Broncos have all sorts of injury issues, starting with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who’s in concussion protocol. I’m definitely willing to bet against Drew Lock, who was sacked three times in the second half against Baltimore. Rookie cornerback Pat Surtain II and wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler are among nine starters with recent injuries.

Pick: Steelers -1

Green Bay Packers (-3, 51) at Cincinnati Bengals

Tuley: I’m assuming a lot of bettors and contest players will quickly take the Packers and lay the 3 points with Aaron Rodgers without hesitation, especially if they’re not believers in this Bengals team. However, I see Cincinnati as a live home underdog here (despite home teams being under .500 SU on the season, home dogs are still profitable at 12-10 ATS). While Rodgers is the man, I’m still not a fan of the Green Bay defense (allowing 25 PPG) as the Bengals’ stop unit is actually better (18.8 PPG). RB Joe Mixon is questionable, which doesn’t help, but Joe Burrow (988 yards and 9 TD passes vs. 897 yards and 7 TD passes for Rodgers) is doing a great job of spreading the ball around to all of his weapons. This could come down to a field goal, so even if it’s not bet up to 3.5 like we’re hoping, the + 3 is still good insurance in case Rodgers squeaks out a narrow win.

Pick: Bengals + 3

New England Patriots (-8.5, 39.5) at Houston Texans

Burke: The Patriots look great in teasers for bettors that can get them at -8.5. There aren’t a ton of those lines available, as most sportsbooks have moved to 9 or 9.5 to get some teaser protection. There aren’t a lot of interested parties in the Texans at any number, so most risk managers would rather aim high on the spread rather than get buried by teasers.

The Patriots may be 1-3, but Mac Jones has not played like the QB of a 1-3 team. The rookie hasn’t found a ton of big plays, but he has completed 70 percent of his passes and has stayed away from most of the crippling turnovers. His three turnovers against New Orleans weren’t all his fault, including the pick-six that bounced off his receiver’s hands.

The loss of safety valve James White is concerning, but Jones has been able to find Brandon Bolden with some regularity and has also developed a really nice rapport with Jakobi Meyers. The Patriots are 31st in red zone efficiency this season, a stat that should be on the upswing as Jones gets more reps and more experience inside the 20.

If nothing else, we know that Bill Belichick eats rookie QBs for breakfast and lunch on Sundays. He is 22-6 against rookie QBs since he took over the Patriots in 2000, so it doesn’t seem like he’ll be losing to Davis Mills in this spot. Mills has five interceptions against just two touchdown passes. The Texans have scored 30 points in three games since the opener, a game that was played by Tyrod Taylor.

With Taylor still not eligible to come off the IR, it looks like another week with a Texans loss. The Patriots should be able to cover the teased spread of -2.5 as a result.

Pick: Patriots -2.5 (six-point teaser with Washington + 8.5)

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-3, 56.5)

Youmans: A mysterious season-opening loss to the Steelers is all but forgotten in the Bills’ rear-view mirror. Buffalo has bulldozed three weak opponents (Dolphins, Washington, Texans) with serious defensive and quarterback problems, so facing Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will be a big step up in class. Kansas City obviously has defensive issues, but I doubt Josh Allen’s ability to match Mahomes shot for shot in a shootout. Mahomes dissected the Buffalo defense for 325 passing yards and three touchdowns in a 38-24 win in last season’s AFC title game. The price on the Chiefs at home is rarely this cheap.

Pick: Chiefs -2.5

Hill: I like the under here and will bet it … just not yet. I believe these high-profile teams and two MVP candidate quarterbacks will draw plenty of “Over” money, especially late Sunday as it’s the standalone game in primetime, and the last game of the day. The Bills are allowing a league-best 4.0 YPP on defense, but it is their approach that makes the under so appealing for me in this one. These two teams played in Week 6 last year, and Bills coach Sean McDermott made no secret of the fact that his “two-deep safety” tactic on defense was the way to contain the Chiefs. He even commented after the game that despite the loss, the game plan was one he would duplicate if given another opportunity. The Bills coaxed the Chiefs into 46 (!!) rushing attempts for 245 yards. While the Chiefs moved the ball at will, they were held to just 26 points. 

When they met in the AFC Championship Game last January, Patrick Mahomes threw for 325 yards and the Chiefs ran it just 25 times, piling up 38 points en route to a runaway victory. With Mahomes being more turnover-prone this year (4 INTs), I look for the Bills to back off, dare the Chiefs to run the ball and use long, time-consuming drives, hoping Mahomes gets impatient and forces a throw at some point. I expect Buffalo’s approach to be similar to the Week 6 matchup last year, which ended with a 26-17 final. Wait, as you’re likely to get the better of the number closer to kickoff, but take the under.

Pick: Under 56.5

Burke: How much does strength of schedule matter in the NFL when it comes to the next game on the docket? Maybe we’ll find out this Sunday when the Bills and Chiefs come together. The Bills have played teams with a collective record of 5-11 in the Steelers, Dolphins, Washington and Texans. The Chiefs have played three likely playoff teams in the Browns, Ravens and Chargers, and also an Eagles team that was a clear step down in class.

The Bills have looked the part since that season-opening loss to the Steelers, outscoring the opposition 118-21. That also brings into question whether or not you can punish a team for its schedule with that level of dominance. The offensive numbers aren’t a huge surprise with at least 35 points in three straight games. The defensive numbers are what we should probably take with a grain of salt.

In those last three games, the Bills have forced 11 turnovers and have only turned the ball over once. It is easy to blow out opponents with that kind of disparity. The Chiefs have seven turnovers already, as they’ve struggled to take care of the ball. They still lead the league in points per drive and are second in total points. The turnover margin could simply be what decides this game.

The Chiefs’ offense has never been the worry. The defense, though, is a concern. Kansas City has allowed at least 29 points in every game and the most points per drive in the NFL. The task at hand doesn’t get any easier facing the Buffalo offense.

Without the turnovers, Kansas City’s offense would be performing at an even more elite level. We don’t really know how good the Bills defense is. We know Kansas City’s is not great, but the Chiefs should get Frank Clark and Charvarius Ward back this week.

We haven’t seen this type of line on KC in the Mahomes era very often. Buffalo is a good team, but -2.5 looks a little bit cheap here on the Chiefs.

Pick: Chiefs -2.5

Brown: Buffalo’s offense appears to be fully back to its 2020 form after looking lost in its first game of the season. The only thing that hasn’t returned fully is Allen’s passing touchdowns. He has failed to eclipse his prop number in three of four games to start the season.

The obvious reason is that Allen hasn’t had the game script to continue throwing, as he easily could have thrown over 2.5 passing touchdowns against the Dolphins and Texans if necessary. There are no game script concerns for Allen on Sunday night, as everyone projects a back-and-forth shootout with Mahomes and the Kansas City offense.

Allen should clear this prop hurdle easily given the Bills’ offense leads the league in early-down pass rate over expectation. At a + 145 price, this looks like the ideal target to bet on Sunday Night Football. 

Pick: Josh Allen Over 2.5 Passing Touchdowns (+ 145)

Tuley: I’ll be contrarian here. I love Mahomes as much as the next football fan, but I’m not so sure the right team is favored here. The oddsmakers obviously have to stick with their power ratings and also the public’s desire to bet the Chiefs, but Allen and the Bills’ offense (No. 5 in yards per game) is playing just as well if not better than the Chiefs (No. 2 in yards per game, but committing too many turnovers) so far this season and the defense (with two shutouts and ranking No. 1 in yards allowed per game with the Chiefs ranking No. 31) is far superior. But, hey, we’ll take any points they’re willing to give us.

Pick: Bills + 2.5, plus using Bills + 8.5 in six-point teasers

Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-10, 48)

Burke: Is the Super Bowl hangover a real thing? If we look at the 2021 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it sure feels like you could make a pretty strong argument. The Bucs are 3-1, but it hasn’t been pretty. They’re only + 17 in point differential and have already allowed 105 points; they only allowed 355 all of last season. The Bucs defense is on pace to allow four more points per game than last season.

The beleaguered defense should get a respite this week, however, against Miami. The Dolphins offense is pathetic in a word and really pathetic in a couple of words. Miami has averaged just 4.0 yards per play, which ranks dead last in the NFL. The Dolphins are 31st in the league with 62 points, 31st in points per drive with 1.29 and have only turned the ball over six times. They have only scored on 23.8 percent of their possessions.

It isn’t like the Dolphins have played a grueling schedule either: They’ve played the Patriots, Bills, Raiders and Colts. They’ve been badly outgained in each one of those contests and have a -1.5 yards per play differential.

All things considered, though, the defense has played admirably. Opponents have run 282 plays in four games, so the defense has had a lot of work to do and has only allowed 5.5 YPP.

The Buccaneers offense hasn’t been quite as potent as what we saw last season. They’ve picked up 5.9 YPP, which ranks ninth. That is while having the most pass attempts in the NFL by a margin of 12. The Rams are second and they’ve played five games.

This feels like a good spot for the Bucs defense to come together and look something like the unit that we saw last season. The offense hasn’t been nearly as efficient, which should allow Miami to hang around a little bit defensively.

The total has come down from 49.5 to 48, which is a move I agree with for this Sunshine State clash.

Pick: Under 48

Chicago Bears at Las Vegas Raiders (-5.5, 44.5)

Burke: The Bears have finally put their QB controversy to rest. It was announced in the middle of the week that Justin Fields will be the starter going forward. The last thing a young QB needs is to be looking over his shoulder while trying to adjust to the pro game, so this can only help Chicago.

This may be a good spot for Fields to put his stamp on the position. The Raiders are on a short week and do have some major concerns in the secondary, much like the Lions did last week. Detroit allowed 209 yards on just 11 completions to Chicago last week. 

David Montgomery and Damien Williams had big games, as the Bears ran for 188 yards. The Raiders have given up rushing yards in bunches this season, with 4.9 yards per carry allowed, which ranks 29th in the NFL.

Perception has probably taken a bit of a dive on the Raiders. Their win over the Ravens is still impressive, but the road win over Pittsburgh looks less impressive by the day and the close win against a struggling Miami team looks concerning. Keep in mind that the Raiders really dominated in both of those games, holding an edge of 94 yards against the Steelers and 167 yards against the Dolphins.

The Chargers are just a legit team and really emphasized playing well in the follow-up to that huge Chiefs win in Week 3. This feels like a much better spot for the Raiders offense. As bad as the Dolphins are offensively, they still have a good defense. The same can be said about the Steelers.

The Bears have played relatively well defensively, though the Rams and Lions have found success through the air and the Browns found a ton of success on the ground. Chicago has allowed 5.6 YPP this season and has had problems keeping teams out of the end zone on possessions not ending in a turnover.

This is a low total because of Chicago’s offensive ineptitude, but the Raiders have all kinds of injury problems in the back seven and really need to focus on getting the offense going through the air. The over looks like the play at Allegiant Stadium on the fast playing surface.

Pick: Over 44.5

Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers (-2, 47)

Reynolds: The Chargers are off a “home” win over AFC West rival Las Vegas. It was more of a home game for the Raiders and that clearly motivated Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Cleveland also comes in with a 3-1 record. The Browns defense has been suffocating over the last three weeks, giving up just 11 points per game. Last week’s 14-7 victory in Minnesota was not pretty, but it was just as effective. Cleveland proved that it could win on the strength of its defense. 

On the other hand, the Browns do have the league’s No. 1 rushing attack (177 yards per game), and will be facing the league’s 29th-ranked rush defense. The total has dropped from 48.5 to 47, which gives a bit more value to an underdog that can run the ball, stop the run (third, 66.5 yards per game) and control the clock.

Pick: Browns + 8/Eagles + 9 (six-point teaser)

Tuley: The Chargers are certainly gaining a lot of bandwagon jumpers with their 3-1 start and back-to-back wins over the Chiefs and Raiders. But the Browns are also 3-1, with a defense to match the Chargers. Cleveland has allowed just 16.8 PPG compared to 18.5 PPG for the Chargers, though it should be pointed out the Chargers have faced much better offenses (both have faced Kansas City, but the Chargers have also had to contain Washington, Dallas and Las Vegas while the Browns have faced Houston, Chicago and Minnesota).

This really should be a back-and-forth battle, but not in typical shootout mode like we see in today’s NFL. I see both defenses stepping up and for this game to be about 20-17 or 23-20. 

Charger fans will be tempted to take the six-point teaser and apply it to the Chargers -2 and turn that into Chargers + 4, but the mathematically better way to tease this game is to take the Browns from + 2 to + 8 as you also win the bet if the Chargers win by a touchdown.

If you’re betting early enough before Sunday’s games, you could use Washington (+ 2 up to + 8) vs. the Saints. If you’re not betting until closer to gametime for the Browns-Chargers game, you could use the Cowboys (-7 down to -1) vs. the Giants, which is being played at the same time, or start with Browns-Chargers game and lead into the Sunday or Monday prime-time games with the Bills (+ 2.5 up to + 8.5) at the Chiefs or the Ravens (-7 down to -1) vs. the Colts.

Pick: Browns in six-point teasers

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-7, 52)

Youmans: The Giants were a better bet in the road dog role during the Eli Manning era and the same trend is showing with Daniel Jones, who just stuck it to the Saints in New Orleans. Jones passed for a career-high 402 yards and rallied the Giants from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter. He pulled it off without injured wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton. The emergence of running back Saquon Barkley, who totaled 126 yards (74 receiving, 52 rushing) is a positive sign for an offense with potential. Jones has only two turnovers in four games. The Cowboys are 4-0 ATS and pumped up with hype, so I’ll take the underdog in this division game.

Pick: Giants + 7

Tuley: I know I’m using the Cowboys in teasers (as posted above), but I do like the Giants plus the points. I don’t want to get too carried away with the Giants’ upset of the Saints, but Daniel Jones has been playing well enough (in retrospect, they could be 3-1 if they probably should have also beaten the Football Team and lowly Falcons) and Saquon Barkley is always dangerous when healthy. The Cowboys’ are on a roll after losing the opener to the Buccaneers, but I’m not as sold on the new, improved defense, though Trevon Diggs (five INTs in four games) is an early candidate for defensive player of the year. Still, I’ll go on record as taking the Giants + 7, though I’m hoping the public pushes it to 7.5.

Pick: Giants + 7, though also using Cowboys -1 in teasers

Brown: The second-highest total on Sunday’s slate has continued to rise. It’s not a stretch to say the Cowboys have been close to the best offense in the NFL, as they sit fourth in EPA generated on all offensive plays. Prescott is the clear reason for this success.

The Cowboys offense looks to be in lockstep with its 2020 scheme usage. Prescott has a similar average depth of target (aDot) and adjusted completion percentage while relying on his receivers to gain yards after the catch at an above-average rate. Prescott’s ability to utilize his tight ends has been on full display in 2021 and opens up additional options when the Cowboys get closer to the end zone. Ezekiel Elliott is having a career year from a rushing standpoint but hasn’t slowed down Prescott’s ability to clear his passing touchdown props.

With Prescott sailing over his prop number in three of four games, expect the winning ways to continue on Sunday. This is only the second time Prescott has seen 2.5, but the heavy plus price makes this an easy wager to lock in for Sunday. 

Pick: Dak Prescott Over 2.5 Passing Touchdowns (+ 165)

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-5.5, 50)

Burke: There is a really strong narrative running down the tracks that the Cardinals are the best team in football. Maybe that is the case, but a lot of people are conveniently forgetting that the Cardinals trailed the Vikings in the fourth quarter and needed a missed 37-yard field goal to survive. Arizona also trailed by nine late in the third quarter against Jacksonville.

The Cardinals are a very good team, but perception and reality seem to be different right now. This line has been driven all the way up to 5.5 and that has created some value on the 49ers in my opinion.

San Francisco was a right-side loser last week that nearly outgained the Seahawks by a 2:1 margin, but lost the game 28-21. The 49ers had 457 yards to 234 for the Seahawks. San Francisco had 6.3 YPP to 4.3 YPP for Seattle. Sure, the 49ers had to throw more often and that made up some of the disparity, but that's still a healthy difference. The Niners had all three turnovers (one on downs) and also missed a field goal.

San Francisco was also 37 seconds away from a win over the Packers before Aaron Rodgers went 42 yards in six plays to set up Mason Crosby from 51 yards out for the win. In that game, the 49ers erased a 17-0 deficit to have the lead in the final minute.

San Francisco is a better team than the 2-2 record would suggest; Arizona could very well be 2-2 as well. The way that this line has run out in a game where the 49ers have the better defense and a good enough offense to compete looks like a bit of a sell-high spot on the Cardinals and something of a buy-low on the Niners.

Pick: 49ers + 5.5

Reynolds: The Cardinals are the NFL’s only 4-0 team after beating the Rams in Los Angeles last week. The Redbirds are just the fifth team in NFL history to score 30-plus points and tally 400-plus yards of offense in each of their first four games. Now they are the talk of the NFL and are firmly on the radar. 

Meanwhile, the 49ers are off two consecutive home losses as home favorites. No. 3 overall pick rookie Trey Lance will get his first start at quarterback in place of Jimmy Garoppolo (calf). However, Lance does not seem like much of a downgrade if at all. Kyle Shanahan can be trusted to put Lance in good situations with designed runs and getting him on the move against an Arizona defense that can be had in space. 

Over the summer, this game was priced as a PK at the Westgate SuperBook. Late Sunday afternoon, the line was re-priced at Arizona -2.5. Now it is Arizona -5.5. This is a classic “sell high” spot against Arizona. Now that the Cardinals are the talk of the league, they must deal with all the national media types coming in for interviews and being hyped on all the pregame, daily and weekly chat-fests. Arizona proved that they are legitimate, especially offensively, but this could be a “too much, too soon” situation.

Pick: 49ers + 5.5 

Brown: It took six years, but Maxx Williams has finally arrived as a legitimate pass-catching option for the Cardinals in 2021. He has eclipsed his reception prop number the past two weeks while seeing 11.6 percent of the Cardinals' team target share in 2021.

Things could slow down quickly for Williams if we take a closer look at his underlying usage, though. Arizona runs the eight-fewest percentage of pass plays with a tight end on the field, which is an increase from previous seasons. This is an offense that hasn’t featured a tight end since Kliff Kingsbury took over, which is why the sudden emergence doesn’t appear to be a long-term trend.

Williams is coming off his lowest snap and routes run per dropback percentages last week despite seeing his second-highest target share of the season. If we continue to see a drop-off in routes run and overall snaps on the field, Williams’ targets will eventually follow. Arizona has turned Rondale Moore and Christian Kirk into afterthoughts, but this doesn’t look like the long-term outlook for this offense.

Although Williams has been better than expected to start, don’t expect his usage to continue as the Cardinals turn to more four-receiver sets, where Williams will stay in to block or be on the sideline. Getting ahead of this trend is one of the easiest ways to profit this weekend, so take a shot at Williams finishing under 2.5 receptions at a plus price.

Pick: Maxx Williams Under 2.5 Receptions (+ 135)

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