Football never disappoints! Tom Brady returning to New England, a Washington/Atlanta shootout, and some other exciting matchups; Week 4 was a fantastic week of football!
Today, let’s take a look at the Week 5 slate! Every week, I’ll be providing my projections on the outcome of each game, and then contextualizing what to do with that information: best bets, teasers, parlays, survivor picks, and much more!
These projections started with me using projected PFF grades to decipher the true talent of every team. From there, I utilized those projections to establish each team’s offense and defense rank, which allowed me to derive how talented each team is compared to the average team with a neutral field; as the season goes, I’ll be analyzing PFF data and other key metrics to continue to update each team’s offense and defense ranking. Adding in an adjustment for home field, and, what do you know, each game had a projection! The combination of the foundation of it starting objectively, and then the mixture of subjective analysis to make it less of a “blind” projection, will hopefully lead us to where we want to go. You can consider these, based on the subjective touch, predictions instead of pure projections, but, hey, it gets us in the same place!
Enough rambling; it’s time to get to the point of this article! Let’s completely preview Week 5 from a betting perspective! Right now, the Bengals are leading the AFC North. Should we stop the count? As we’ll get to, perhaps we should for Bengals fans!
All Stats via Pro Football Focus
Week 5 Personal Projections
GB (-3) at CIN
This isn’t a pick that my personal projections are a major fan of compared to some of the other games, yet it’s my favorite bet of the week.
It’s been a strange season for the Packers thus far, who are 3-1, but still rank just 22nd in yards/play. However, this is a very small sample size, and it’s worth remembering that this same offense ranked 3rd in yards/play and was the highest-scoring unit last season. They’ve scored 27+ points in each of their last three games, while we’re expecting Aaron Rodgers‘ performance under pressure (5.3 yards/attempt) to regress positively eventually. Most of all, though, you’re banking on the talent of an offense led by Rodgers, which is generally a smart idea.
The Bengals have shown signs of increasing their pass frequency, especially with running back Joe Mixon out. This could actually make them a more productive offense, though I wouldn’t be as optimistic about their hot start. Joe Burrow (86.1 PFF grade) has been fantastic, but that’s also boosted by tremendous deep-ball production, which can be unstable. Burrow’s 8.7 big-time throw rate sticks out like a sore thumb, and the Packers are tied for second in the fewest amount of explosive passes allowed, per Sharp Football Analysis.
Mainly, though, my case is this: these 3-1 teams came into the season with significantly different expectations, and that should be reflected better. I don’t think playing the Bears, Steelers, and Jaguars suddenly mean Cincinnati has a stout defense, while I’ll trust Matt LeFleur over Zac Taylor. Without this crossing a key number, sign me up to place my bets with Rodgers.
BAL (-7) vs IND
For the second straight week, we’re looking at the Ravens as a team to bet on this week! However, whereas they were an underdog in Denver last week, this is a much different setting.
I don’t think Baltimore is getting the amount of credit that they should be receiving. Despite ranking just 26th in third-down conversion rate, they rank 5th in yards/play and have increased their passing frequency this year. They’re a well-balanced offense that ranks 6th in overall PFF grade, whereas the Colts rank 27th in that metric.
Lamar Jackson or Carson Wentz? I’ll gladly hedge my bets with Jackson. Jackson (83.8 PFF grade, 6.9% big-time throw rate) has been fantastic this season and performed very well despite playing a tough Broncos defense. Indianapolis, who ranks 6th in explosive passes allowed and has slower cornerbacks, could be susceptible to the Ravens’ vertical passing attack, whereas Wentz offers little in the way of explosiveness right now.
As someone with one of the highest time to throw and sacks rates in the NFL, Wentz is primed to struggle against Baltimore’s blitz-happy defense. The Ravens rank 7th in PFF coverage grade this year, are well-equipped to handle a limited Indianapolis receiving corps, and could wreak havoc on Wentz all night long. Plus, similarly to the Packers, I don’t have to worry about crossing a key number here! In primetime, expect Baltimore to show out with a major win over a very limited Colts team.
SEA (+8.5) vs LAR
SF (+11.5) at ARI
CLE (+7.5) at LAC
BAL (-1) vs IND
DAL (-1) vs NYG
Do you want to bank on well-regarded teams not getting blown out, or favorites winning outright? That’s your call here. Personally, the latter two might be my favorite two-game teaser, though there are plenty of teaser options to be excited about this week.
Parlay (Four Games and Eight Games)
GB (-3) at CIN
BAL (-7) vs IND
SF (+5.5) at ARI
CAR at PHI (Over 45)
CLE at LAC (Over 47)
TB (-10) vs MIA
SEA (+2.5) vs LAR
CHI LV (Over 44.5)
For the rest of the season, I’m forcing myself to deliver an eight-game parlay, which is a worse option than the four-game parlay this week. The three “over” plays here consist of low totals with at least one competent offense in each game, which leads to value with all of them. Meanwhile, the mystery of Trey Lance is volatile, yet the 49ers are a very productive team, and it’s worth noting the Cardinals have benefitted from strong turnover luck this year. Also, do we really think the Dolphins are going to keep it within two touchdowns of the Bucs? Color me skeptical.
TB vs MIA
MIN vs DET
The Bucs play the Jets and some other softer teams later in the year, yet they’re your best bet to win this week. Meanwhile, the Vikings will play the Lions again, but that will be on the road. Thus, rather than waiting for that matchup, why not act now. I’ll also add the Patriots against the Texans as a survivor pick, though you may have used them against the Jets, or are saving them for their next matchup against the Jets.
Parting Bold Predictions
The Packers Lead In Yards/Play This Week
Carson Wentz Is Sacked 5+ Times vs BAL
The Colts Fail To Score a Touchdown
Remember, these are BOLD predictions! All of these align with my previous betting picks, but allow us to get a bit spicy here! Enjoy an exciting week of football, and please remember to bet responsibly!
Photos by Cody Glenn & Ian Johnson /Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on Twitter)