Beating the Spread: Week 5 Picks

Our Week 5 Beat the Spread column is ready to go for your consideration as you put in your weekly bets!

Sitting at 3-1 on the week, looking to expand my lead, I only needed to cash the bet I felt best about in last week’s column. Green Bay and Atlanta getting the over on a rather sizable but completely realistic 58. What you don’t want to see is a goal line stand by the moribund Falcons defense followed by a 94-yard FG drive that drained 10+ minutes off the clock. That, my friends, was the beginning of the end. Such is life. I’ll settle for my fourth straight 3-2 week, slowly but steadily grinding out rent money rising to the top of the standings. The view from here is nice. I think I’ll stay.

This week we have the Lions and Packers taking a bye week and the Titans-Bills game off the board and in jeopardy of not being played due to continued positive COVID-19 test results from Titans players. I don’t know what the league will do in terms of punishment for the Titans – we are in truly uncharted waters here – but I would assume nothing is off the table. We’re just running a humble betting column here, but the COVID-19 test results have had a huge bearing on individual games already. Cam Newton missing a game against the Chiefs that looked winnable. The Steelers losing their optimal bye week due to rescheduling with the Titans. Whether in a vacuum or the domino effect, it’s something we need to keep in mind as we move through the year.

As always, good luck, and may you cash your bets.


The following lines were captured on Tuesday. Betting lines can vary by site and move throughout the week so check yours to make sure that you have similar information.

Week 5 Betting Lines
Away Home Line O/U
Bucs Bears Bucs -5.5 44.5
Panthers Falcons Falcons -3.5 56.5
Raiders Chiefs Chiefs -12.5 57
Broncos Patriots Patriots -8.5 48.5
Jaguars Texans Texans -6.5 54
Rams Washington Rams -9 46
Bills Titans NA NA
Cardinals Jets Cardinals -6.5 47.5
Eagles Steelers Steelers -7 44
Bengals Ravens Ravens -13.5 51
Dolphins 49ers 49ers -8.5 46.5
Giants Cowboys Cowboys -9.5 54
Colts Browns Colts -2.5 47.5
Vikings Seahawks Seahawks -7 58
Chargers Saints Saints -7.5 52


Staff Picks




Jeff Berckes: This may be some recency bias at work but the Colts domination of the Bears last week makes me truly believe they are legitimate contenders. The Browns offensive line and the Colts defensive line will be the premier football nerd match up of the weekend and I’m here for it. I truly appreciate the Browns finding an identity on offense and they are as talented as anyone with high first-round picks littering this roster, but I just believe in the Colts right now. IND -2.5

You’re telling me that Kyle Allen is going to be an upgrade over Haskins? I’m not saying that Haskins was lighting the world on fire, but that’s a quick hook for a young player – there must be something else in play there. I’d be surprised if Allen comes in and lights the world on fire against a good Rams defense and as talented as Washington is along the defensive line, I’ll take my chances with Sean McVay here. LAR -9

Okay, I swear this is the last time I bet the Cardinals if this doesn’t work out. The Cardinals are on a bit of a skid after starting off the year with a strong win against the 49ers. They travel to New Jersey to take on the Jets who just announced they’ll start Joe Flacco. At this point in Flacco’s career, I’d like to bet against him covering spreads. The Cardinals have struggled as of late – now’s their best chance to get back on track. ARI -6.5

In my estimation, Seattle is playing as good on offense as anyone in the league. They’re letting Russell Wilson do his thing and the guys surrounding him have responded by making huge plays. Seattle tends to play up or down to their level of competition, but Minnesota has looked like one of this year’s biggest disappointments thus far in 2020. To think that they can travel to Seattle and keep up with the ‘Hawks is wishful thinking. SEA -7

Finally, I’ll take my 5th straight favorite by taking the Steelers at home against a struggling Eagles squad. The Steelers got an unexpected bye week with their game against the Titans pushed back so you might forget that they were playing as well as anyone. The Eagles have looked almost comatose through the first part of the year, and while that makes them royalty in the NFC East, they’re simply not in the same class as the Steelers right now. Seven points seem more than reasonable. PIT -7


Erik Smith: I skipping all of the COVID-19 games to make sure that I’m picking games that actually get played. First up is in Atlanta, where I have been betting against this Falcons team all year and don’t intend to stop now. Carolina looks frisky, and a defense that was expected to be among the worst is keeping the team in games. The Falcons defense, on the other hand, is just as bad as we thought. Matt Ryan looks lost on his deep passes, and the Panthers all of a sudden are battling for a potential playoff birth. I think the Panthers will win this game outright, so I’m definitely taking the points. CAR +3.5

I’m not as high on this Colts team as some, as I see a defense that has beaten up on some poor offenses and I’m still not sold on the Indianapolis offense. While I’m not ready to anoint the Browns as a Super Bowl contender either, they actually have a better running game and more explosive weapons in the passing game than the Colts. With the Browns at home, and a pass rush that can do some damage, it is an easy decision for me to take the points here. CLE +2.5

Seven points is a lot of points to give the Vikings, who seem to be awaking from their slumber offensively and desperately need a win here. But Minnesota’s defense has been uncharacteristically bad, and we’ve seen what Russell Wilson can do against bad defenses. Seattle knows how to use their firepower better than the Vikings, and the deep ball should keep the Seahawks lighting up the scoreboard all game long. SEA -7 

I’m playing a bit of a hunch here in Houston, as Bill O’Brien has been fired after J.J.Watt called him out in practice. With defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel taking over head coaching duties this week, this has the feeling of a “win one for Romeo” game, or maybe a “win one to spite Bill” game. Either way, I expect this subpar Texans defense to bring the energy this week, and with a Houston offense that isn’t clicking on all cylinders either, I think the point total is lower than usual. JAC/HOU U54

Dallas has been a shootout team every week, but this might be the week it ends. The Giants are not a good offense, and their defense has been surprisingly decent so far. But more importantly, I have a hunch the Cowboys would prefer to give Dak Prescott a bit of a break and not rely on him to throw for 500 yards every week. I expect a little closer to that 17-9 Giants loss last week against the Rams than everyone else does, and I expect to see a lot of Ezekiel Elliott as the Cowboys cruise in the second half. NYG/DAL U54


Bryan Sweet: We’ve had a run of bad luck and given some money back the last two weeks, so let’s right the ship and start winning again!  We’re going to start with a home underdog that might well be playing better than anyone realizes.  The Browns have been on fire the lat three weeks averaging nearly 40 points per game in their three wins.  Indianapolis is winning by relying on their defense and a ball-control offense.  I think the explosive plays win out in this one and like the Browns outright.  Getting points is a bonus.  CLE +2.5

The writing seems to be on the wall for Ryan Fitzpatrick and his time as the starting QB of the Dolphins.  Brian Flores named Fitzpatrick the starter ahead of this week’s game against the 49ers, but it’s telling when the HC has to address whether the starting QB continues to start or not.  The 49ers have been decimated by injuries but are slowing getting offensive pieces back.  Jimmy Garappolo is practicing and may start this week, which would give the offense a boost.  I think San Francisco comes together and handles Miami.  SF -8.5

The Jets are a bad football team with Sam Darnold at QB and now it looks like Joe Flacco is going to start Week 5 due to Darnold’s shoulder injury he suffered last week.  Is Flacco the answer for the Jets to show some competitive fire?  I don’t think so.  Arizona can put points up in a hurry and this looks like a get-right game for the offense as they have struggled through four games.  I like getting the number below 7, too.  ARIZ -6.5

The Chiefs are the first team in NFL history to start four consecutive seasons 4-0 or better and now they get a Raider team that just lost one of their stud defensive players.  Defensive tackle Maurice Hurst was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list ahead of this game.  The Chiefs are 4-0 against the Raiders with Patrick Mahomes at QB and I think they roll to 5-0 on the season and over the Raiders.  KC -12.5

We already know the Seahawks are one of the top teams in the NFC and Russell Wilson is the early frontrunner for the league MVP award.  The defense, however, has been less than adequate.  Now, offseason acquisition Jamal Adams has been ruled out for the game against the Vikings.  The Vikings defense hasn’t been much better allowing at least 28 points in every game this season.  Additionally, the NFL has called fewer offensive holding penalties than in year’s past, increasing scoring across the NFL.  This game might come down to which defense can make one stop.  MIN/SEA OVER 58



What are your favorite picks of the week? Put in your comments below to play along. We’ll be updating our records all season!


Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

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