After an 16-6 mark through four weeks, let’s keep things rolling. Below are my NFL picks for Week 5 — centered around three wagers against the spread. As always, these are bets I have wagered my own money on as well and will never post a bet I haven’t also made.
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Los Angeles Chargers at Cleveland Browns
For starters, this look-ahead line was Chargers -1.5. It quickly swelled to -3 once the market reopened on Sunday night. Therefore, the sizable adjustment — at a key number — reflects each team’s most recent outcome.
The Browns were outgained by the Falcons in Yards Per Play (YPP), leading to their three-point road loss. Nevertheless, Cleveland was without a handful of its core front-seven, including Myles Garrett (shoulder), Jadeveon Clowney (ankle), Taven Bryant (hamstring), and Anthony Walker (IR). Atlanta’s offensive line owned the line of scrimmage in the process, notching the fifth-highest Rushing EPA in Week 4.
Despite Walker’s injury costing him the entire season, Clowney is expected to return to the lineup on Sunday. Garrett and Bryant could potentially suit up, too.
This time around, Joe Woods’ game plan revolves around limiting Justin Herbert & Co. through the air. Mind you, Los Angeles boasts the league’s eighth-highest passing rate (64.4%). That percentage didn’t see much of a dip in its victory at the Texans — even with a positive game script.
Cleveland’s pass defense ranks in the middle of the pack, so its ability to pressure Herbert will be key. Thus far, Woods’ group has tallied the ninth-highest Pass Rush Win Rate. On the flip side, Herbert’s offensive line has compiled the 10th-lowest Pass Block Win Rate.
Granted, those numbers are within a small sample size. But given the absence of All-Pro left tackle Rashawn Slater (IR), the Browns should sustain some success in that area if at least Clowney is back. It doesn’t appear as if wideout Keenan Allen (hamstring) is healthy enough to play, either.
Conversely, the Chargers’ inept run defense isn’t a product of short-term variance, as it dates back to 2021. They’re surrendering the fifth-highest Rushing EPA and recently lost Pro Bowl defensive end Joey Bosa for the season. Brandon Staley’s bunch will match up against one of the league’s top run-blocking units — a result of its wide-zone rushing scheme.
Couple that with an elite tailback duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and Kevin Stefanski’s team should be in position to dictate the clock with their below-average pace in neutral situations (via Football Outsiders).
Moreover, Cleveland’s market rating is likely off a bit. Not only did it blow a double-digit lead to the Jets in the final two minutes, but they also squandered a goal-to-go opportunity and fumbled inside their own territory versus Atlanta.
I’m backing the Browns at +3 for the first of my NFL picks. if you’re unable to grab that spread, see whether the market reverses course. If not, try to hop in live.
Beat The Closing Line Podcast: Eli Goes In-Depth On His Browns Bet
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Tennessee Titans at Washington Commanders
You’re probably asking yourself, “Is he really going to back Carson Wentz again?” Unfortunately, you already know the answer.
The Titans were fortunate in both of their last two wins. In Week 3, the Raiders found the paydirt on two of their six red-zone possessions. The Colts subsequently gift wrapped three turnovers on Sunday, along with out-gaining Mike Vrabel’s team by 1.1 YPP.
Tennessee is slightly overvalued in the betting market as a result, considering the look-ahead line was priced around pick’em. Incredibly, it’s generated the highest offensive DVOA in the red zone — 58.9 percentage points above the next team (via Football Outsiders). Regression could very well be en route.
Plus, the offense is a shell of itself when it fails to establish stud tailback Derrick Henry. While the Bills represent a substantially more threatening opponent than the Commanders, Ryan Tannehill & Co. posted 3.5 YPP in their blowout loss in Buffalo — in which Henry was held to a measly 25 rushing yards.
Contrary to popular belief, Washington actually showcases a respectable run defense, which dates back to last season. This time around, Jack Del Rio’s unit has let up the fourth-lowest Rushing EPA. Combine that with Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan (knee) on IR, and their rushing output should suffer a setback versus an underrated defensive front.
On the other side of the ball, Tennessee’s pass defense ranks bottom-five in nearly every metric. It may also be without safety Amani Hooker (concussion), who’s arguably their top defensive back in coverage.
Admittedly, Wentz has severely underperformed his low preseason projections. The seventh-year quarterback has accrued the eighth-lowest Completion Percentage Over Expected (CPOE) — a metric that isolates a QB’s performance from the opposition. He won’t have promising rookie wideout Jahan Dotson (hamstring) at his disposal, either.
But Wentz still possesses the weapons to expose a vulnerable secondary. Specifically, Commanders tight end Logan Thomas could work the middle of the field against a weak set of Tennessee coverage linebackers.
This wager could ruin your Sunday — even by the end of the first quarter. However, backing repulsive teams is a part of the business. I grabbed +2 (-110) since it doesn’t look like +3 (-110) is coming.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
I saved the best situational spot for last — the only team I backed on the Super Bowl 57 odds board.
Remarkably, the Ravens have combined to trail for 14 seconds in their two losses. The second one came on Sunday, as John Harbaugh’s blew a 17-point lead versus the Bills despite covering our +3.5 tickets.
If Baltimore hung on for the outright victory, this line probably includes the hook. Instead, it’s undervalued in a bounce-back spot while also seeking revenge against the Bengals. Keep in mind, Cincinnati swept their 2021 season series in blowout fashion.
The Bengals have yielded the 10th-lowest Rushing EPA through their first four games. Still, they’ve only faced one competent rushing attack during that span — the Cowboys. Hence, there will likely be some negative variance on the way, especially versus a Ravens offensive line that’s manufactured the fourth-highest Run Block Win Rate.
It’s a byproduct of their read option, thanks to duel-threat QB Lamar Jackson, and gap rushing scheme. All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) could wind up making his season debut, too, only aiding their effort on the ground.
Although Baltimore offensive coordinator Greg Roman is difficult to trust at the moment — given his conservative second-half approach in the two defeats — Jackson and his running mates will be in position to make that notion inconsequential.
On the other hand, a sidelined Rashod Bateman (foot) would leave Jackson without one of his premier receivers. The betting market wouldn’t bet this down to -2.5 (-110) should he be ruled out, though. Therefore, the -3 (-110) price tag at BetMGM Sportsbook (as of Wednesday) was my buy-point.
Defensively, Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald operates primarily a Cover-2 defense. In spite of Joe Burrow’s fine showing against the Dolphins’ zone looks in Week 4, he’s failed to consistently deliver against this set-up.
Keep in mind, the Baltimore defense that Burrow obliterated last season incorporated Don “Wink” Martindale’s man-to-man coverage. It was a banged-up secondary as well — without the likes of both Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters.
Factor in the insertion of safeties Marcus Williams and rookie Kyle Hamilton, and this result should be different.
Best of luck with your Week 5 NFL picks.