NFL
October 8, 2020
BY Bryan Zarpentine

NFL Best Bets: Week 5

Week 4 was one of the oddest slates of the 2020 NFL season. One game was postponed to later in the season, another game was delayed until Monday, and a former MVP had to sit out all because of COVID-related concerns.

Throughout it all, we came out of the week at 3-2, bumping us up to an even 10-10 on the season, so things are moving in the right direction. In theory, games should get a little easier to pick with four weeks of research under our belt. Then again, there’s always the chance that things get a little weirder after last week. Nevertheless, here are our picks for the five best bets in the Week 5 NFL schedule.

Cincinnati Bengals +13 at Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens covered a double-digit spread last week against Washington, but not by much. Expecting them to do the same two weeks in a row is playing with fire. Keep in mind that intra-division games tend to be a little more unpredictable because of their familiarity with one another. After all, the Bengals will be more familiar with Lamar Jackson than most teams, so they’ll know what to expect against him.

More importantly, Cincinnati has done nothing but play close games this season. Their two losses this season have come by a combined eight points, in addition to a tie against the Eagles and last week’s win over the Jaguars. Joe Burrow looks more comfortable every week and has thrown for at least 300 yards in three consecutive weeks.

Even if the Cincinnati defense struggles to contain Jackson, it won’t be easy for Baltimore to run away with the game. With a garbage-time touchdown being a possibility as well with Cincinnati’s good receiving corps, the Bengals have a good chance to keep this game within two scores and beat the spread — especially with the reigning MVP dealing with a knee injury. 

New York Jets +7 vs Arizona Cardinals

This might be the week the Jets finally get a notch in the win column. Even if that seems like a stretch, there are several things working in their favor. For starters, the Cardinals have to come to the East Coast and play an early game. Plus, the Jets played last Thursday, so they’ll have a few extra days of rest and preparation. And with Arizona losing two in a row, the team’s confidence is down, making this an opportune time for the Jets to play the Cardinals.

Admittedly, the Jets aren’t a strong defensive team, but Kyler Murray and the Arizona offense have hit some bumps in the road the last two weeks. Murray tossed three picks in a loss to the Lions two weeks ago and managed just 133 passing yards against a suspect Carolina defense last week. That doesn’t sound like a team that’s going to win easily and cover a seven-point spread, even against the worst team in the NFL. One last time, we’ll give the Jets the benefit of the doubt, even if it only means a close loss.

Pittsburgh Steelers -7 vs Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles finally notched a win last week, but it sure was an ugly victory. The Philadelphia offense managed just 267 total yards and the Eagles only won because they forced three turnovers against a team that used two backup quarterbacks. They aren’t going to have that luxury this week against the Steelers, so we’re likely to see the same team that looked awful during the first two weeks of the season.

In just three games this season, the Pittsburgh defense has already racked up 15 sacks. The Steelers are more than capable of taking advantage of a weak Philadelphia offensive line. That means Carson Wentz will be under constant pressure and will be vulnerable to turnovers. On top of that, the Steelers have been productive running the ball this season. Philadelphia will need at least 20 points to keep this game within striking distance, which is far from a guarantee. Look for the Steelers to win with defense and get a decent showing from their offense, allowing them to win and cover against their in-state rivals.

Seattle Seahawks -7 vs Minnesota Vikings

One win is not going to cure all that has ailed Minnesota early in the season. Kirk Cousins remains unpredictable from week to week and still has as many interceptions as touchdown passes on the season. In fairness, the Vikings have been a strong rushing team all season thanks to Dalvin Cook. However, stopping the run is where Seattle’s defense has excelled. They are holding teams to just 76 rushing yards per game, which isn’t going to be nearly enough for a team with Cousins under center.

On the other side of the ball, this game brings together one of the top offensive teams in the NFL against one of the league’s worst defenses. The Seahawks have surpassed 30 points in every game with Russell Wilson averaging four touchdown passes per game. In fact, by his standards, he had an off-game last week, so he’ll be poised to bounce back this week. With the Vikings giving up over 30 points per game and vulnerable against the pass, Wilson is likely to have a field day with Seattle running up the score against Minnesota.

Los Angeles Chargers +7.5 at New Orleans Saints

Even after beating the Lions last week, it still seems a little early to drink the Kool-Aid on New Orleans. The Saints have been effective on offense, but the big plays haven’t been there in the passing game unless Alvin Kamara is able to make something happen after the catch. Without the possibility of the quick strike, covering more than a touchdown becomes problematic, especially for a team that’s 2-2 and allowing opponents to score more than 30 points per game.

At the same time, the Chargers aren’t as bad as their 1-3 record suggests. Those three losses have come by a combined 15 points, so they are in every game. Plus, two of those losses have come against the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady. Rookie Justin Herbert has looked good and improved every week. Granted, injuries are holding back the Chargers a little, but they’ve done enough to convince us that they can stay within striking distance against the Saints and beat the 7.5-point spread.

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