By week five in the NFL, you start to get to the point where teams are who they are. It sounds simple and obvious, but it’s actually a pretty important tool to judge how a game might end up. For example, if the Jets lose this week, they’re 1-4 and effectively out of the playoffs. If they win, then they’re a possible playoff team. But do you really want to take a chance on picking for or against them when they have their entire season on the line?
I don’t, and it’s why week five is probably my favorite to pick games. There are several I’m pretty confident about, which is good, because overall my record of 9-10-1 after last week is nothing to write home about. But it all changes this week! Here’s what we’ve got:
Baltimore Ravens -4 over Washington Redskins (1pmET): I have a general rule where I don’t pick my favorite team, even to win, but I have to break that this week and take the Ravens to mop up the Redskins at home. The Ravens were one minute away from a 4-0 record and the Redskins are a mess. The Ravens don’t have a high-powered offense, but their running game is improving each week and their defense is very solid. I like the Ravens by double digits against their sort-of-crosstown-rivals.
Chicago Bears +5 over Indianapolis Colts (1pmET): Did Las Vegas see the early game in London, where the Colts could barely muster a competition with the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars? Now they’re five point favorites. Yes, the Bears are banged up, and it’s getting worse each week (this week they lost wide receiver Kevin White, again, for the season), but Brian Hoyer has been decent and the Colts defense is absolutely awful. The Bears just need to keep it close.
San Diego Chargers +3.5 over Oakland Raiders (4:30pmET): Are the Raiders a playoff team? We find out this week. Are the Chargers terrible? I say no, and for a team that was one quarter away in every game from being 4-0, all they need to do is make some minor adjustments to get themselves on track. Philip Rivers has been good to great, as usual, and their receivers have overperformed. The Raiders are good, but they’re young and inexperienced. I like the Chargers to complicate the AFC West playoff picture.
Dallas Cowboys +1.5 over Cincinnati Bengals (4:30pmET): Let me get this straight: the Dallas Cowboys are 3-1, and have won two games convincingly, and play well at home. The Bengals have been unimpressive, and sit at 2-2. The Bengals go into Dallas…and are favored?! This is my favorite pick of the year so far. I like the Cowboys to win by 7+, and the Bengals don’t feel like they’re making their way back to the playoffs this season.
Green Bay Packers -6.5 over New York Giants (8:30pmET): The Packers opened as 7.5 point favorites after their bye week against a very up-and-down, but talented, Giants team. I like the Packers to win by exactly 7, so with the line moving in a favorable direction, take the Packers to win it. While I haven’t been as good the rest of the day, I’m 3-1 so far on Sunday night. With Aaron Rodgers well rested and the Packers defense playing better than years past (and the Giants nearing an ODB-caused implosion), take the Packers despite the big point spread.