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
49ers (+5.5) over Cardinals: I like the 49ers for several reasons in Week 5. First off, the point spread is way too big. The gap between these two teams isn’t 5.5 points, especially when the look-ahead line for this game was Cardinals -2.5 before Week 4. The biggest reason for the point spread adjustment is the likelihood that rookie QB Trey Lance will start in place of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo. Lance looked shaky when he relieved Garoppolo on Sunday, but I like the idea of Kyle Shanahan having a full week to scheme for a player he traded a lot of draft capital to select.
This is also a good “sell high” spot on the Cardinals. They are coming off a statement win over the Rams, marking the first time in five tries that Kliff Kingsbury bested Sean McVay. Now, Arizona is getting a lot of praise this week for being the only NFL team without a loss. Last week’s performance against the Rams reminded me of when the Cardinals played a near perfect game as road underdogs against the Titans in Week 1. The following week they barely beat the Vikings and failed to cover as home favorites. I like the 49ers to cover, and with the variance that Lance brings, I wouldn’t be surprised if they won outright.
Sides I’m Considering
Rams (-2.5) over Seahawks: The Seahawks won a must-win game at the 49ers last week to stay competitive in the loaded NFC West, but it wasn’t a masterpiece by any means. The Seahawks were outgained 457-234 and only recorded 4.3 yards per play. Their underwhelming performance is likely why we saw the Rams get bet up from -1 to -2.5 on Monday morning.
While the Rams lost to the Cardinals last week, it was a result I anticipated after their big win over the Buccaneers in Week 3. I give Sean McVay’s team a pass for the loss last week and expect them to bounce back for Thursday Night Football.
Dolphins (+10) over Buccaneers: I’m going to look to fade both the Buccaneers and Patriots this week after Sunday’s dramatic game featuring Tom Brady’s return to New England. The Buccaneers are banged up in their secondary, and they have a Thursday night game at the Eagles in Week 6 to make this scheduling spot a little more challenging. With QB Jacoby Brissett, it’s hard for the Dolphins to attack the Buccaneers’ deficiencies on the backend, but I expect a much better effort from Miami after they lost at home to the Colts.
Eagles (+3.5) over Panthers: Two weeks ago, I incorrectly predicted that the Eagles would cover as 3.5-point underdogs to the Cowboys. Last week, the Panthers closed as a 4.5-point underdog to the Cowboys in a game I ultimately stayed away from. So now that the Panthers are over-a-field-goal favorite against the Eagles, I think I have to back Philadelphia out of principle.
I wrote last week how I was looking for an opportunity to sell high on the undefeated Panthers after they started the season with wins over teams led by Zach Wilson, Jameis Winston and Davis Mills. I didn’t fade them last week because they had more time than the Cowboys to rest and prep. The Cowboys ended up winning 36-28, but the score was 36-14 early in the fourth quarter. I want to now fade the Panthers, but I’m worried about the Eagles’ offensive line situation, as they were missing four Week 1 starters from that unit last week. If things improve in the trenches, I’ll bet on Philadelphia catching more than a field goal.
Packers (-3) over Bengals: I feel like I’m missing something here with the Packers only handicapped as a field goal favorite against a Bengals team that I’m still not buying after a 3-1 start. The Bengals played last Thursday night and were inches away from going down 21-0 at halftime at home to the lowly Jaguars. Cincinnati had a crucial fourth-down stop at the goal line and came out of the locker room hot in the second half, ultimately winning on a last-second field goal as 7.5-point favorites.
If the Bengals would’ve lost that game, I think this line would look a little bit different than it is right now at -3. Maybe I’m too low on the Bengals, but I would make this line closer to Packers -4.5, so I’ll take Green Bay here unless there’s some evidence to change my mind later in the week.
Texans (+8.5) over Patriots: Last week, I backed the Patriots as a seven-point home underdog in this section, but I’m going to now consider betting against them as a road favorite of over a touchdown. They put so much time into the game plan to stop Tom Brady and exploit the Buccaneers on defense that a letdown spot is natural here, especially with the way they lost.
The point spread was +9.5 on Tuesday before ticking down with the news that Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn and left guard Mike Onwenu were placed on the COVID-19 list. The Texans are coming off a 40-0 loss to the Bills where they gained only 2.6 yards per play, so I’m not in love with betting on them with Davis Mills as the starting quarterback. But the situational spot, potential COVID-19 concerns and a game with a total of only 39.5 has me at least considering Houston.
Sides I Plan to Use in a Six-Point Teaser
Washington (+2) over Saints: I thought about putting Washington in the section above because I would consider betting on them as a home underdog against a Saints team I don’t believe in. I really think this line should be closer to a pick’em, so getting Washington over a field goal is a no-brainer teaser leg in a game with a total of 44.5.
Vikings (-8.5) over Lions: The case for the Lions against the spread is that they were able to move the ball against the Bears. Detroit had three first-half red zone trips that ended inside Chicago’s 10-yard line but self-inflicted errors led to zero points. However, the Lions lack talent and the injury bug has hit them hard in the early portion of the season. I like the 1-3 Vikings to win this game, so that’s why I’ll tease them to under a field goal.
Browns (+2) over Chargers: I’m excited to watch this game between two of the most innovative head coaches in the NFL. Kevin Stefanski and Brandon Staley seem to be leading the NFL’s new-age class of aggressive coaches that value win probability and analytics. I expect a lot of fourth-down attempts between both teams, and whoever converts more of them will end up winning.
The under in this game has been bet down throughout the week, as the Browns’ defense has dominated, while QB Baker Mayfield struggled in a win against the Vikings. I do have some concerns about Mayfield’s chemistry with WR Odell Beckham Jr., but I trust Cleveland enough to keep this game within a possession — if not win it outright.
Cowboys (-7) over Giants: Last week, I was on the Giants at the Saints because of Joe Judge’s record against the spread when his team is a road underdog. New York is now 8-1 in that role, and they once again find themselves in that position when they travel to Dallas for a second-straight road game.
With Dak Prescott returning from an ankle injury, the Cowboys’ offense has been one of the stories of the season. The Cowboys are a better team than the Saints, but Dallas is currently favored by the same point spread that New Orleans closed at against the Giants. Judge’s road underdog trend will keep me from betting on the Cowboys at -7, so I’ll use them for a teaser in which they just need to win the game.
Jets vs. Falcons (-3): This is an early game in London on Sunday morning, and I don’t think the Falcons should be a three-point favorite on a neutral field. But what’s keeping me off the Jets is that while they won their first game last week, their defense was on the field for 93 plays in the overtime affair. That factor coupled with transatlantic travel has me off either side for now.
Titans (-4) at Jaguars: The Urban Meyer drama is definitely something to consider when handicapping this game, but I’m just not sure how to read it. I can see Jacksonville’s players quitting on their head coach if they trail early on, but maybe they rally and play for each other instead. The bigger factor for me is the Titans’ wide receiver injury situation, as A.J. Brown and Julio Jones both missed last week’s game due to hamstring injuries. If at least one of them was able to return, then this line would be different. I need more injury information before playing this game.
Broncos at Steelers (-1): The Broncos were a short favorite on the look-ahead line for this game, but now there has been a flip because Denver QB Teddy Bridgewater is in the concussion protocol. This line likely assumes that Drew Lock will start instead of Bridgewater, and it’s probably a justified line move. The math says the Broncos would be a good teaser play if they got out to a 1.5-point underdog in a game with a low total of 39.5. But Lock’s erratic play makes me want to stay away from teasing this one.
Bears at Raiders (-5): There’s a little more clarity in this matchup with Justin Fields being named the full-time starting QB for the Bears. The line seems accurate, but I have a lot of questions about both teams, so this is a game I will likely avoid.
Bills at Chiefs (-2.5): This is Sunday’s best game, but it’s hard to make a decision on the side. The case for the Bills is that this is the matchup they’ve been looking forward to since the schedule was released, as Buffalo lost in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium last season. But the Chiefs are less-than-a-field-goal favorites in a night game at home, meaning there won’t be many opportunities like this in Patrick Mahomes’ career to back Kansas City at that price. The total seems high at 56.5, so I would target the under if forced to make a bet.
Colts at Ravens (-6.5): Maybe it’s not the best Monday night game, but at least it becomes a little more interesting after the Colts won their first game of the season last week. Meanwhile, the Ravens had an impressive win against the Broncos and are sitting in a good spot at 3-1 despite all the injuries and travel that they’ve already faced. I considered using the Ravens in a teaser, but I can see the Colts keeping this game close, so I’ll likely stay away.