During the NFL season, Stadium sports betting analyst Nate Jacobson will break down every single point spread using lines as of Thursday morning. Here are his thoughts on the Week 5 slate.
Note: Nate will discuss all of his college football and NFL bets on the Sharp Lessons podcast that drops every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.
Sides I Like
Dolphins (-3.5) over Jets: I like to bet on NFL teams when they have a backup QB filling in for their first start. That is the case with the Dolphins, who are turning to Teddy Bridgewater as Tua Tagovailoa recovers from a concussion. Bridgewater is a very good backup, and I don’t think there’s much of a drop-off between him and Tagovailoa. Bridgewater will be helped by having a full week to prepare for this game, and he might have extra motivation playing against a Jets team that he signed with in the 2018 offseason before New York traded him to the Saints months later.
I also want to fade the Jets after their dramatic win against the Steelers in what was Zach Wilson’s first start of the season. There’s a perception that Wilson played well because he caught a touchdown on a trick play early in the game and then led a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. However, between those plays, Wilson had some of the struggles you’d expect for an unproven quarterback. I held off betting Dolphins -3 earlier in the week because I want to see Miami’s injury reports for this game. If -3 returns for the Dolphins, it will very likely be a bet.
Browns (+2.5) over Chargers: When looking at odds on Sunday evening, the Browns getting a full field goal was the one side that stood out to me. The Browns are coming off a tough loss to the Falcons in a game they could’ve won and should bounce back this week. I also thought the Chargers were getting too much credit for beating the Texans in Week 4.
There were a lot of injuries on the Chargers side last week, and that’s why they only closed as a 5.5-point road favorite against one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Chargers got out to a 27-7 lead at halftime but allowed the Texans to draw within three before scoring a late touchdown to cover the game. The week before that, the Chargers were embarrassed at home by the Jaguars. That shows me they’re a team with a lot of talent, but aren’t quite consistent enough, so I will look to bet against them in the favorite role.
The Browns are stepping up in class after facing the Panthers, Jets, Steelers and Falcons in the first four weeks. After starting 2-2, a game like this is one Cleveland needs to win if they want to remain in the playoff race before Deshaun Watson is eligible to return from his 11-game suspension. The line for this game moved from +3 to +2.5 on Wednesday with the news that Myles Garrett was back at practice for the Browns. The Chargers deserve to be the favorite in this game, but it should be less than a field goal. As long as I can get +3, I’ll have a bet on the Browns this week.
Sides I’m Considering
Packers (-8) over Giants: This is the early Sunday morning game being played in London. There’s a lot of injury questions for the Giants, who are already down multiple receivers, and quarterbacks Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor both sustained second-half injuries in Week 4. The Packers aren’t an offense that I trust to cover big numbers because of their personnel and the slow pace they play, but I would recommend teasing Green Bay from -8 to -2 and pairing them with some of the other big favorites this week.
Texans (+7) over Jaguars: Jacksonville finds itself in a very unfamiliar position as favorites in a regular season game. They pulled off outright wins as underdogs against the Colts and Chargers before losing a rain-plagued game in Philadelphia last week. It’s a much different situation for the Jaguars to not only win but have to win by margin to cover the point spread. I’m going to make the case for some ugly teams in this section, and the Texans will be one of them.
Steelers (+14) over Bills: This is primarily a situational play against the Bills. Buffalo is coming off two big games at the Dolphins and Ravens, where they exerted a lot of effort. Looking ahead to next week, the Bills travel to play the Chiefs in a revenge-driven game after last season’s heart-breaking loss in the Divisional Round.
I believe this game is a flat spot for the Bills against a Steelers team that has had success in the heavy underdog role. Rookie QB Kenny Pickett is taking over for Mitch Trubisky as the Steelers’ starting quarterback, and it’s a tough spot for the 24-year-old on the road against the NFL’s best team, but I don’t think he’ll be worse than what we’ve seen from Trubisky. The Bills are very likely to win but the Steelers can keep this game within the number.
Buccaneers (-8.5) over Falcons: The Buccaneers are taking a huge step down in class with their opponent this week. Tampa Bay started the season with games against the Cowboys, Saints, Packers and Chiefs, respectively, winning the first two games on the road while dropping the last two at home. Tampa Bay was dealing with a lot of new faces and injuries on offense, so going 2-2 in that stretch is a pretty good outcome for the Buccaneers.
Now Tampa faces a Falcons squad that is much worse than the aforementioned teams that they’ve battled, and I expect an uptick in play from the home team. I’m considering laying the points with the Buccaneers in this spot, and they’ll likely be involved with teasers as long as the line stays at -8.5 or lower.
Vikings (-7) over Bears: I think this line is a little lower than it should be because the Vikings played in London last week and don’t have a bye this weekend. That being said, the Vikings are going to be in the teaser with the other big favorites I like in this section.
Commanders (+2.5) over Titans: I have downgraded the Commanders quite a bit after NFC East losses to the Eagles and Cowboys. As for the Titans, they’re coming into this game after beating the Raiders and Colts as underdogs after an 0-2 start. Those recent results have created line value on the Commanders, especially if it gets to +3 in this game. I need a full field goal to do it, but I’ll reluctantly be looking to bet Washington this week.
Panthers (+6.5) over 49ers: The Panthers join the Texans, Steelers and Commanders as bad teams I’m looking to bet on this week. It’s all about the number this early in the NFL season, and I might have a small bet on the Panthers if they get to +7 at home. The look-ahead line was 49ers -3 before the Panthers lost to the Cardinals and the 49ers dominated the Rams on Monday night. While I bet on the 49ers last week, I can see a letdown in this spot coming off a primetime win and a short week to prepare for a trip across the country. The total in this game is extremely low at 39, so that’s another reason I can see the Panthers keeping the game close.
Raiders at Chiefs (-7): The number for this game seems right for this Monday night showdown. The reason I have the Chiefs included in this section is I want to use them in six-point teasers, where they just need to win the game.
Colts at Broncos (-3.5): This is the Thursday night game between two teams who have underachieved so far this year. After entering the season as the odds-on favorite to win the AFC South, the Colts have been a massive disappointment with a 1-2-1 record. The Broncos are 2-2 but Russell Wilson and the offense have struggled in the two primetime games they were involved in this season. Both teams have a bevy of injuries, which makes this a hard game to handicap. With a short week of preparation for the two AFC teams, I won’t be involved in this game.
Seahawks at Saints (-5.5): Led by QB Geno Smith, the Seahawks offense has been one of the pleasant surprises of the season. Seattle, coming off a 48-45 win in Detroit this past week, goes back on the road to face a banged-up Saints team (QB Jameis Winston, RB Alvin Kamara and WR Michael Thomas all were out with injury last week). There’s also an interesting dynamic in this game regarding the Saints playing without the usual bye week that NFL teams take after they make the London trip. I want to know more about the Saints’ injury situation before possibly making a bet in this game.
Lions at Patriots (-3): This is the game I had the most trouble handicapping because of the Patriots’ quarterback situation. Backup Brian Hoyer started in place for Mac Jones last week against the Packers and left the game early with an injury of his own. Rookie Bailey Zappe took over and led New England to an overtime loss in Green Bay. Jones returned to practice on Wednesday and any of the New England quarterback options could have success against a bad Lions defense. Let’s see where the line goes as the week progresses.
Eagles (-5.5) at Cardinals: I was thinking of making a case for the Cardinals in the home underdog role this week, especially if this number got to +6. I just don’t want to step in front of the Eagles, who I have rated as the best team in the NFC.
Cowboys at Rams (-5.5): The line feels short and might be the spot to sell high on Cowboys backup QB Cooper Rush. It was just two weeks ago that the Cowboys closed as a one-point underdog against the Giants. However, Dallas has a huge matchup advantage with their pass rush against a Rams offensive line that’s playing several backups on the interior. We saw the Rams’ front struggle with the 49ers on Monday night, and that same scenario could play out here. The Cowboys will also have a lot of fans in the crowd, which negates any home-field advantage the Rams have in this game.
Bengals at Ravens (-3): This is a very important Sunday night game because of the AFC playoff implications. I believe this line is correct, but if the number got to 3.5, I would consider the Bengals, who have extra time to prepare for this game after playing last Thursday. For now, I’m going to pass.