NFL Week 5 Line Movement: Market Downgrades Titans, Upgrades Cardinals

Written By Mo Nuwwarah on October 5, 2021
NFL Week 5 spreads

Each week during the 2021 NFL seasonTheLines will examine how the coming week’s NFL lines have changed relative to preseason or prior expectations. Often, early lines can give an objective look at teams’ relative talent levels, absent week-to-week recency bias when the weekend results take hold. Let’s take a look at NFL Week 5 spreads and see which numbers have changed and, potentially, why.

Tracked lines below come from FanDuel Sportsbook, which provide the basis for our Week 5 look-ahead lines. Prices are -110, unless otherwise noted.

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Biggest NFL Week 5 Spread Move: Tennessee Titans

GameLook-Ahead LineOct. 5, 11:45 a.m. ET
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville JaguarsTitans -7Titans -4

Titans At Jaguars

The Titans laid maybe the biggest egg of Week 4, losing as sizable favorites against the Jets. To say the market responded would be putting it lightly. They moved all the way from -7 to -4, matching the massive move we saw last week on the Bears.

In that spot, they cleaned up for anyone willing to buy low. Can the Titans do the same?

What makes this so fascinating is you can be sure the move came based 100% on how poor the Titans looked.

That’s because the Jaguars did not look particularly impressive on Thursday despite building a lead against Cincinnati. They got shredded through the air once again — 10.4 yards per pass this time.

And to top it off, the team finds itself in serious leadership turmoil thanks to Urban Meyer’s off the field activities.

The fly in the ointment for the Titans and the reason the market probably hates this team right now: they still might not have professional wide receivers. The status of Julio Jones and AJ Brown remains up in the air. In their stead, Ryan Tannehill turned to … back-up RB Jeremy McNichols as his lead target. Even the Jags can probably cover if that sort of offense continues.

Among NFL Week 5 spreads, this one could see a big move back to Tennessee based on those guys coming back. So if you like the Titans, it’s probably best to get in soon.

NFL Week 5 Spread Moves Based On QB Injuries

Two QBs went down in Week 4, and those players look questionable at best for Week 5. Let’s see what the market thinks of their backups.

GameLook-Ahead LineOct. 5, 11:45 a.m. ET
Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh SteelersBroncos -1.5Steelers -1.5
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona CardinalsCardinals -1.5Cardinals -5.5

Broncos At Steelers

Teddy Bridgewater went down with a concussion after leading the Broncos to a stellar start to the season. Now, Drew Lock, whom he narrowly beat out for the starting gig in the preseason, seems likely to take over for at least one week.

While Bridgewater is no superstar, he has been a competent QB in his NFL career. And his against-the-spread record is legendary among gamblers, earning him the moniker “Teddy Covers” from some.

Lock has been pretty poor as a pro. He checked in at 28th in the league in DVOA last season and has 23 TDs and 19 INTs in his career.

The downgrade seems pretty substantial despite the reportedly close competition in the preseason. And the Steelers will not be a welcoming bunch at home.

To top off the issues, the Broncos have already lost a couple of wide receivers to long-term injuries, and their offensive line is banged up as well with both starting guards missing the loss to Baltimore.

On the other hand, QB Ben Roethlisberger facing a nasty Denver defense looks like a mismatch as well. He managed just 5.2 YPP on passing plays last week despite having four possessions of essentially garbage time against Green Bay.

The Steelers may have flipped to favorites but nobody expects much out of their offense in a game with a total.

49ers At Cardinals

As we detailed in the weekly survivor guideTrey Lance did not produce an auspicious 49ers debut. After Jimmy Garoppolo hit the pine due to a calf strain, Lance led the team to just three first downs in six non-garbage possessions, and one came on a completely blown coverage for a 76-yard TD.

That came against a Seahawks defense that has leaked versus opposing passing games to the tune of 7.5 YPP, 22nd in the league.

Garoppolo seemed resigned to missing some time, but fresher reports took a more positive tune. Still, he seems more likely than not to miss this week’s road game against Arizona.

Interestingly enough, the market rated the 49ers at least equal with the Cardinals coming in, based on the look-ahead numbers. Not so anymore, as the Cardinals surprisingly dominated the favored Rams on the road.

The sample size on the Cards playing good football has gotten big enough that we can’t ignore it.

Overall, this is a pretty huge adjustment among NFL Week 5 spreads. Remember that while Lance looked pretty poor, he brings a completely different skill set to the table compared to Garoppolo. He might have much more success with a full week of reps with the starters along with the staff having the ability to fully craft the offensive game plan around his legs.

Notable Line Movement Off Key Numbers

Several other games moved off of or onto key numbers. We’ll hit a few in quick fashion.

GameLook-Ahead LineSept. 28, 12:30 p.m. ET
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City ChiefsChiefs -3.5Chiefs -3 (-102)
Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati BengalsPackers -3.5Packers -3
New England Patriots at Houston TexansPatriots -7Patriots -9

Bills At Chiefs

Just looking at the final score, you might think the Chiefs finally put together a dominant performance in their first time beating market expectations this season.

However, while the offense played outstanding once again, the defense remained as leaky as it gets. They still rank at the stone bottom of the league according to Football Outsiders after giving up 6.6 yards per play to the Eagles.

Aside from the guys on the other side of the practice field, the Bills might be the last team the Chiefs D wants to see when they can’t stop anyone. While the Bills have admittedly not matched the heights of 2020, the market still likes their chances enough to nudge them off the hook. A move off of -3 even looks like a distinct possibility.

Packers At Bengals

After a shaky start to the season for the first 1 1/2 games, Green Bay appears to have righted the ship for the most part. They routed the Lions in the second half then dominated the 49ers in spite of a close final score. They then came through for the public big time against Pittsburgh.

Yet, the market has adjusted them slightly downward in advance of traveling to Cincinnati. A few things helping the Bengals here:

  • Injuries are breaking their way. WR Tee Higgins is expected to practice this week, while star CB Jaire Alexander sounds like he’ll be out awhile with a shoulder injury.
  • They come in with extra rest after playing on Thursday.
  • They’ve brought a solid pass rush this season, while the Packers are still struggling some to protect Aaron Rodgers (18th in adjusted sack rate).

Expect the Pack to be a popular side with the betting public this week laying a short number on the road. The line here might surprise some people, but the Bengals have been solid thus far against admittedly fairly easy competition.

Patriots At Texans

Davis Mills performed as poorly as an NFL quarterback pretty much can this weekend against the Bills. QBR is by no means a perfect metric but a 0.8 number there tells you all you need to know.

Now, the Texans must face a New England defense that played more than credibly against the high-powered Bucs passing game. Tampa Bay took a grueling, grinding path to 19 points.

If you’re wondering how on Earth Mills will move the ball in the spot, you appear to not be on an island. Even at home, the market has responded to the 40-0 drubbing the Texans absorbed by moving the line two points toward the Pats.

NFL Week 5 Spreads, Movement Tracker

GameLook-Ahead LineOct. 5, 11:45 a.m. ET
LA Rams at Seattle SeahawksRams -1.5Rams -1.5 (-120)
NY Jets vs. Atlanta Falcons (London)Falcons -4Falcons -3 (-115)
Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina PanthersPanthers -3.5Panthers -3.5 (-114)
Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay BuccaneersBucs -10Bucs -10.5 (-106)
New Orleans Saints at Washington Football TeamSaints -1.5Saints -1.5
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville JaguarsTitans -7Titans -4
Detroit Lions at Minnesota VikingsVikings -7Vikings -7.5 (-105)
Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh SteelersBroncos -1.5Steelers -1.5
Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati BengalsPackers -3.5Packers -3
New England Patriots at Houston TexansPatriots -7Patriots -9
Chicago Bears at Las Vegas RaidersRaiders -6.5Raiders -5.5
Cleveland Browns at LA ChargersChargers -1Chargers -1
NY Giants at Dallas CowboysCowboys -8Cowboys -7
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona CardinalsCardinals -1.5Cardinals -5.5
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City ChiefsChiefs -3.5Chiefs -3 (-102)
Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore RavensRavens -6.5Ravens -7
Mo Nuwwarah Avatar
Written by
Mo Nuwwarah

Mo Nuwwarah got his start in gambling early, making his first sports bet on his beloved Fab Five against the UNC Tar Heels in the 1993 NCAA tournament. He lost $5 to his dad and got back into sports betting years later during a 15-year run in the poker industry. A 2011 journalism graduate from Nebraska-Omaha, he combines those skills with his love of sports and statistics to help bettors make more informed decisions with a focus on pro football, baseball and basketball.

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