NFL Predictions 2019: Week 5

It’s hard to lose. Even worse, it’s hard to lose at things I’ve historically been really good at. The over/under is always my strength and 3-12 (26-36-1 overall) is the worst week I’ve ever had by far. It’s horrific. I was 7-8 against the spread (26-36-1 overall) but that still leaves me -20 against Vegas on the season with a lot of making up to do. I was 6-9 picking winners (36-29-1 overall) and to be fair a lot of weird things happened. The Rams allowed 55 points at home to the Bucs? The Cowboys lost to Teddy Bridgewater? The Panthers beat the Texans on the road behind Kyle Allen? Well, I have to learn more and be better because I was never much for quitting.

LA Rams (3-1) @ Seattle (3-1): Momentum on a short week is for sure with the home team. The Seahawks just cleaned house with a 27-10 win at Arizona. The Rams were treated like a college team at home by Tampa Bay, allowing 55 points in an ugly loss. It’s a weird league and suddenly the idle 49ers have taken over the lead in the NFC West, making this feel like an early litmus test for who is going to be in charge of this division. Los Angeles is pissed off. Seattle is maybe finding their groove in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. It’s primetime and we’ll see who wants it more. I think the visitors aren’t nearly as bad as they just showed and will tighten things up on the defensive end. Goff did throw for 517 yards and the Legion of Boom isn’t around to slow them down. I think the defending champs get off the map and show out here: LA Rams 24, Seattle 20 (LAR +1.5/under 50)

Arizona (0-3-1) @ Cincinnati (0-4): The Cardinals are for sure undergoing growing pains with their rookie quarterback and are looking to find a result (read: win) to reward their effort thus far. The Bengals looked dismal on MNF to close out week 4 against a Pittsburgh team that was backpedaling. It’s only their second home game and they have been steamrolled twice in the last three weeks. An offense that hasn’t topped 20 points yet was held to 3 and while this appears to be a good spot for them to show up I’m not sure it happens. Arizona is on the road for only the second time, but they have played some good teams. They are looking to shake off consecutive wipeouts and the road might do them some good actually. Their defense is probably not good enough, especially the secondary. Dalton is likely going to be a backup somewhere the rest of his career, but he’s still capable of big games. I think this is a shootout and I’m stubborn so I’ll take the road underdogs: Arizona 31, Cincinnati 28 (AZ +4/over 47)

Buffalo (3-1) @ Tennessee (2-2): Who are these Titans? They’ve looked pretty good outside the division in road wins at Cleveland and Atlanta, but in between they lost to two AFC South foes. The consistent factor is a defense that has yet to allow over 20 points. The Bills have yet to give up more than 17 and looked dangerous in a 16-10 loss against New England last week. Josh Allen is in concussion protocol, but he’s been a turnover machine with 7 already. Mariota is the only quarterback who has started every week and is yet to turn it over. That’s really the story here in a matchup of two teams with mobile (assuming Allen plays) signal callers, great defenses and a power lead back. As much as I admire Gore, I favor Henry and with respect to the Brown leading each respective side in receiving yards there really isn’t a game-changing receiver on either team. I want to take the visitors because I feel they are probably better, but uncertainty at quarterback is a tough one. Barkley isn’t someone I trust and if Mariota continues protecting the ball that’s why they win a game like this: Tennessee 20, Buffalo 19 (BUF +3/over 38)

Chicago (3-1) @ Oakland (2-2): The London “home” game for the Raiders is all about the Mack trade. He wants revenge against his former team, but their tackle situation is pretty solid right now and Incognito’s return on the inside has their line overall looking great. The Bears got a huge win over Minnesota last week, but Trubisky was injured. Chase Daniel is a stiff. Can the defense carry them? They have only allowed 45 points all season, or 10 fewer than the Rams did last week, so the answer is probably yes. Oakland got a nice road win at Indianapolis, who isn’t as bad as expected without Lucky, but their already awful situation at linebacker got worse then Burfict was suspended for the season. Chicago’s game plan is simple. They are going to run the ball, punt and hope for the best. Oakland has a better chance to win this game than most people think. The defense needs to again adapt to a key loss and their rookie safety was sorely missed when Kansas City swamped them at the end of the half two weeks ago. It’s set up for a shocker, but defense rules: Chicago 17, Oakland 16 (OAK +6/under 41)

Tampa Bay (2-2) @ New Orleans (3-1): What got into these teams last week? The Bucs were looking like a team ready to fade to 1-3 at the Rams and they exploded for a 55-40 win. The Saints followed up a win at Seattle with a victory over 3-0 Dallas. Their defense had allowed 28, 27 and 27 points the previous three weeks and took a huge step up in the 12-10 victory. Tampa Bay has scored 86 over the last two games so something has to give. This one makes me nervous. New Orleans was up for it in primetime against a marquee opponent, but this is a division foe that knows all their tricks. It can go either way, I’ll stick by the home team: New Orleans 23, Tampa Bay 21 (TB +6.5/under 47)

Minnesota (2-2) @ NY Giants (2-2): Well it really looks like Cousins is incapable of beating good teams and he’s in a good spot here because the Giants aren’t good. They do have a promising rookie quarterback, but against a great defense the loss of Barkley is huge. Minnesota has a power back in Cook and while their offense was stifled in Chicago last week, this is a different situation. It’s not going to be a walkover. New York will show up at home, but they don’t have enough balance on offense to deal with this defense: Minnesota 23, NY Giants 17 (MIN -5/under 46)

NY Jets (0-3) @ Philadelphia (2-2): The Jets caught a break with the early bye week as Darnold tries to get back on the field. Luke Falk has a tough task here on the road against a team that is playoff tested. The Eagles in a way saved their season with a 34-27 TNF win at Green Bay. All of their games have been high scoring, and the last three quarterbacks they faced off against were former first round picks. Falk, is not. New York had a lot of promise this season and it’s about to go up in smoke. There is time left for them to play spoiler and that’s about it. The Eagles are going to roll here: Philadelphia 31, NY Jets 12 (PHI -13/under 44.5)

Baltimore (2-2) @ Pittsburgh (1-3): It’s amazing how much one week can change the perception of a matchup. The Ravens were looking dangerous until they were blown up 40-25 by an uneven Cleveland team. The Steelers were hapless before MNF when they manhandled the other Ohio team 27-3. All bets are off when these teams connect. It’s a fistfight in the AFC North. Rudolph has to grow up in a hurry because with a trip to the Chargers next week this team could be 1-5 in a flash. Baltimore has to find their defense again. It’s one thing allowing 33 at Kansas City, but last week was a bad look. Their wins were over Miami and Arizona, who are a combined 0-7-1. This is no lock for the visitors and suddenly the dynamic in this division has shifted. I think Jackson is enough of a playmaker to pull this out, but not by much: Baltimore 21, Pittsburgh (PIT +3.5/under 45)

New England (4-0) @ Washington (0-4): Who makes the schedule for the Patriots, Gisele? They finally allowed a touchdown, but might have been lucky Allen was injured in a 16-10 win at Buffalo last week. It hardly matters here, or next week against the Giants or the following week at the Jets. Just chalk them up to 7-0 including consecutive primetime wins over the New York teams. Jay Gruden is about to be fired and is probably hoping for one more week with a trip to Miami on deck. He might start Colt McCoy, and it’s not a bad thought because his rookie Haskins isn’t ready. This isn’t the defense to play him against either. It’s going to be as ugly as the visitors want it to be: New England 27, Washington 10 (NE -13/under 47.5)

Jacksonville (2-2) @ Carolina (2-2): A generation has passed since these franchises came into the league together. Now both are trying to survive losing their starting quarterback early in the season. So far so good for each team, right? Minshew is a rookie sensation and got a clutch win in Denver thanks to 225 yards rushing out of Fournette. Allen led another road win in Houston 16-10 and has an elite back at his disposal. It’s easy to look at Newton’s 0-8 record to close last year and start this one and say he’s done, but that’s just timing. Still, they are sparked and next week in Tampa Bay the young passer gets a chance to prove he’s good enough to do what Newton couldn’t in week 2. Minshew is so fun to watch and Jacksonville is in a division that is 2-2 from top to bottom at the moment. These are the crucial games, to get above .500 and gain a psychological edge. I think the home defense is better: Carolina 20, Jacksonville 17 (JAX +3.5/under 42)

Atlanta (1-3) @ Houston (2-2): What’s wrong with the Falcons? Ryan is averaging 331 yards per game passing. Jones, who usually struggles to score, already has 4 touchdown receptions. I guess they miss Coleman because the new power back Smith has only 13 carries to balance the offense. The Texans have given their 1-2 punch a combined 75 rushes and 396 yards for an average of 5.28. Turnovers are a killer and Ryan has thrown 6 picks while Watson has only 1. Still, Houston is coming off a soft outing last week in a loss to Carolina who came in with a backup quarterback. Their defense has been good enough this season and the offense is going to catch up. It’s a dome team on the road and their back is against the wall. At some point I lose faith in a team and they might be done after this: Houston 24, Atlanta 20 (ATL +5/under 49.5)

Denver (0-4) @ LA Chargers (2-2): Chubb’s injury is one of those things that will leave fans saying this just isn’t our year. No one thought the Broncos would make a run this season and now it’s clear they are in survival mode from here on out. Lock is on injured reserve so they can’t even see what they have in their young quarterback. The Chargers do have expectations and could easily be 4-0. Last week’s rout in Miami is what they needed after consecutive losses. Melvin Gordon is back and could play. Two of their next three opponents will be starting backup quarterbacks assuming Trubisky is still out, so they could get on a nice roll. Denver feels like a team ready to quit. Next up is a really good defense (Tennessee) and after that an elite offense (Kansas City) so I’m feeling 0-7. I think this is a lopsided result: LA Chargers 24, Denver 13 (LAC -6.5/under 44.5)

Green Bay (3-1) @ Dallas (3-1): Can we get dueling broadcast booths with Aikman and Romo? Just kidding. This game should have been a matchup of 4-0 teams with the lead of the NFC on the line, but struggling opponents desperate to get a win stung these teams last week. The Packers are well rested after Philly shot past them 34-27 while the Cowboys come in off a 12-10 loss to New Orleans. Dallas has to worry about coming up flat the first time they went up against a decent opponent. They do return home and their defense is playing well. The same was true for Green Bay prior to last week. Now they have to deal with a team that features their old friend Randall Cobb who along with Witten has provided veteran depth to the passing game. Smith is a big loss on the line, and that’s a factor. Rodgers is definitely the better passer, but his ground support is limited. It’s a close one and as usual I’ll take the home team: Dallas 24, Green Bay 21 (GB +4/under 48)

Indianapolis (2-2) @ Kansas City (4-0): Quick, which quarterback has more passing touchdowns this season Mahomes or Brissett? It’s a trick question, they each have 10 and that’s a shock right? Mahomes of course is averaging almost 150 yards more per game through the air, but the Colts are in decent shape without Luck. They can stay in this game offensively. Their defense was shaky last week in a loss to Oakland who is a better team than most people think by the way. The Chiefs won a shootout 34-30 in Detroit and just barely. It’s a game they easily could have lost. In primetime things are always elevated and Arrowhead Stadium is a madhouse. Plus, Mahomes thrives in the spotlight. It’s definitely possible they just light it up and turn this into a show. However, let’s remember they have allowed 26-plus points three times already this season. Indianapolis can come in here with a game plan and execute to at least make it close. I think they will, relatively speaking: Kansas City 35, Indianapolis 27 (IND +11.5/over 54)

Cleveland (2-2) @ San Francisco (3-0): The Browns turned a corner last week. They started the season giving up 43 in a shocking home loss to Tennessee. They probably saved it by scoring 40 at Baltimore and suddenly they are leading the AFC North. This is a tough trip west on MNF though. The 49ers spent their week becoming the last unbeaten team left in the NFC thanks to being off. They come in ready to show the nation they are for real this season and maybe they are. When last season they were overcoming a ton of turnovers to escape with a win over Pittsburgh 24-20. I think it was a good way to humble them and this is a situation where they are set up to be confident. Losing Staley came at a bad time, however, with Garrett bearing down on Jimmy G. I think this offense is creative enough to compensate though and they win an entertaining contest: San Francisco 27, Cleveland 23 (SF -3.5/over 46.5)

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