I went 2-4-1 in Week 4 in what turned out to be a chaotic week in the NFL. The Steelers-Titans game was postponed, the Vikings-Texans tilt ended up being played despite coronavirus-related concerns and the Patriots-Chiefs game moved from Sunday to Monday after Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19. Then there was one more scare late Saturday night when a player on the Saints had a false-positive test ahead of their game at the Lions.
It’s definitely unprecedented times when it comes to betting on football, picking games for contests and playing fantasy football. Because of COVID-19 and an abundance of injuries around the league, I’m going to wait as long as possible to lock my seven contest picks for the week. Waiting on late news is the biggest advantage I can have because the lines are locked in my contest. There’s a chance I’ll change my mind on a few games after this article is published, so make sure to follow my Twitter as I update my thoughts on games toward the end of the week.
This week I’m going to hold off on a writeup for the Broncos-Patriots and Bills-Titans matchups since both games are facing scheduling uncertainties.
I’ll use lines from the Las Vegas SuperContest, a popular football challenge hosted by the Westgate SuperBook. The point spreads for the contest come out Wednesday evening and are locked at those numbers for the rest of the week.
I’m in a contest where I pick seven sides a week using the SuperContest’s lines, so in this weekly breakdown I will unveil my first impressions of the games and point spreads. I hope this can be a guide for people who are in similar NFL pick’ems or looking to bet games.
Note: My picks could change based on information and any news that is not factored into the contest line. I will discuss and finalize these picks on a Periscope show I host called Weekend Warriors. The show will be live for an hour on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET and can be seen on Stadium’s Periscope channel or Stadium’s Twitter. After the show, I will tweet my seven picks for the contest from my Twitter.
Here are my thoughts for Week 5.
Sides I’ll likely use
Washington (+7) over Rams: The Washington side stood out to me when I was looking at the Week 5 board this past Monday morning. At the time, Washington was a nine-point home underdog. My numbers have the Rams as only a six-point favorite in this game, so I thought there was instant line value. I also liked the idea of fading the Rams on their third trip to the Eastern Time Zone in four weeks — and they have a big primetime divisional game coming at the 49ers in Week 6. Because I’ve become very cautious by not placing wagers early in the week due to COVID-19, I missed out on the best number. I still like Washington catching a touchdown for the contest I’m in, and I believe the quarterback change from Dwayne Haskins to Kyle Allen is a small boost for Ron Rivera’s team.
Dolphins (+8.5) over 49ers: Regardless of the quarterback that the 49ers start this week, I’ll likely be using the Dolphins in the contest. Nick Mullens was San Fran’s starter last week, and three turnovers led to him being benched for C.J. Beathard in the fourth quarter. Jimmy Garoppolo has a chance to return to his normal starting role after finally practicing, so I would assume he gets the nod for the 49ers. San Francisco is a team that I want to continue to fade in a big favorite role due to the amount of injuries they have on defense. Ryan Fitzpatrick is still starting for the Dolphins, so there’s always a chance of a late-game cover if Miami is down two possessions.
Picks I’m considering
Panthers (+1.5) over Falcons: The line for this game was Falcons -3.5 before Atlanta’s Monday night loss at Green Bay. It was an all-in game for the winless Falcons and they lost by two touchdowns. Their defense got exposed, and QB Matt Ryan looked like a shell of himself playing outdoors. The Panthers are a surprising 2-2 given the state of their franchise with a new coaching staff and a lot of new players. I could only look at the .500 team trending up as an underdog against the 0-4 team that might lack motivation.
Jaguars (+6) over Texans: I was mildly shocked that the Texans decided to fire head coach and GM Bill O’Brien when they did. The team started the season 0-4, but two of the losses were against the two best teams in the league (Chiefs and Ravens), and they lost to another playoff contender in the Steelers. It seems that firing him had more to do with his puzzling moves as the GM as opposed to his role as a head coach and play-caller. Usually, I like betting teams who just fired their coach because the players want to have a strong performance so they aren’t blamed for the team’s shortcomings. But I don’t buy into that theory in this situation, so I could only consider the Jaguars at this number.
Cardinals (-7) over Jets: I don’t love taking huge road favorites in the NFL, but I also have no interest in betting the Jets, so I’ll at least consider the Arizona Cardinals in what should be a bounce-back performance for their offense. Jets QB Joe Flacco playing in place of the injured Sam Darnold is another reason why the Cardinals are in play.
Eagles (+7) over Steelers: Philadelphia played at San Francisco last week, and the 49ers got bet up to -9.5 on game day after being a seven-point favorite most of the week. The game closed at 49ers -7.5 or -8, but there was a serious surge of anti-Eagles money due to an influx of injuries on the team. Now the Eagles sit as a touchdown underdog for this game against a rested Pittsburgh team — but I still slightly lean toward Philadelphia. Maybe I believe in the Eagles more than most because I personally made the Steelers a five-point favorite, but I’m also not sure how to evaluate Pittsburgh after their wins against the Giants, Broncos and Texans. I’m guessing we’ll learn more about them this week, but I’ll consider Philadelphia in what I expect to be a low-scoring game.
Cowboys (-9.5) over Giants: It’s not often you see a 1-3 team as almost a double-digit favorite in a divisional game. But that’s where the Cowboys are as they welcome in the Giants in what can be called a revenge game for current New York OC Jason Garrett. The Cowboys’ defense has been the weakness of the team, but I believe they should be able to contain the Giants’ lackluster offense. Meanwhile, I still believe in Dallas’ offense to put up points, so I’m really considering the Cowboys.
Browns (+1.5) over Colts: This is the game I’m looking forward to the most this week. It was lined up as pick’em on Sunday night hours after the Browns’ impressive win against the Cowboys and right after the Colts put on a defensive clinic against the Bears. On Monday morning the line shot up to Colts -2.5 and got to -3 at some shops. Now the line is sitting in the middle as the Colts are 1.5-point road favorites. Browns RB Nick Chubb will miss time after sustaining an injury last week, while the Colts have important players questionable for this matchup, including LB Darius Leonard and OT Anthony Castonzo. I wouldn’t bet the Browns unless it got back to +3, but I do like Cleveland in a teaser going up through a touchdown. Due to a potentially weird slate this week, I might include the Browns in my contest selections.
Games I’ll likely avoid
Buccaneers (-3.5) at Bears: I usually stay away from Thursday night games, but I would’ve been interested in Bears +6 when that number was available on Monday. It has now dropped to Buccaneers -3.5 because of a flurry of injuries to Tampa Bay’s offense. I would still lean Bears if I had to play the game, but I will hold off betting because there was a much better number available earlier in the week.
Raiders at Chiefs (-12.5): I personally make this game Chiefs -14, but would be weary laying the points because Kansas City is coming off a short week and they play the Bills in Week 6.
Bengals at Ravens (-12.5): This line is accurate because while the Bengals have improved this season, I’m not sure if they’ll be able to stop the Ravens’ rushing attack — so I’m staying away.
Vikings at Seahawks (-7): Maybe it’s a surprise for the regular readers, but I’m not going to bet against the Seahawks this week. I believe this line is exactly right for the Sunday night game. If anything, I would include the Seahawks in teasers with the Browns.
Chargers at Saints (-7.5): This is another primetime game where a Saints teaser would be my only play. I’d just ask them to win in a game where I can see the Chargers hanging around the point spread.