NFL Week 5 Betting Preview & Picks

Oct 05, 2018
NFL Week 5 Betting Preview & Picks

Week 5 started off right with another winner, as the Patriots cruised to a 38-24 win over the Colts as a 10-point favorite. Indianapolis made it interesting for about a minute in the third quarter before New England pulled away.

With that victory, I am now 16-4-1 against the spread with my NFL picks in this column. Now let’s get to some Sunday picks, starting off with my favorite play of the weekend.

461 Atlanta Falcons at 462 Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Spread: Steelers -3
  • O/U: 58
  • Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

Line Movement

The Steelers hit the board as a 3-point favorite and while some sportsbooks bumped the line up to 3.5, most shops have kept the number at a field goal. As for the total, it opened at 55.5 but shot up to an eye-popping 58 points. I haven’t seen many totals in the NFL listed that high.

Public Betting

As of Friday morning, 51 percent of the betting tickets were on the Falcons but 67 percent of the money wagered is on the Steelers. There’s also a split for the total, as 64 percent of the public tickets are on the over but 59 percent of the money wagered is on the under.

Key Injuries

Where do I start for Atlanta? Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen and now Grady Jarrett are out for the Falcons defensively. That’s an insane amount of talent to be sidelined for one team, nevertheless one defense. Offensively, the Falcons are healthy, including at running back where Devonta Freeman (knee) is expected to return from a three-week absence.

For the Steelers, offensive line Marcus Gilbert sat out practice Thursday dealing with the same knee injury that held him out of Week 3’s matchup with the Bucs. Vince Williams is also dealing with a hamstring injury that kept him out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday, while receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey sustained an ankle injury last week and he may not suit up versus the Falcons.

Meanwhile, Mike Hilton missed Sunday night’s game against the Ravens with an elbow injury but he’s expected to play this weekend versus Atlanta.


The underdog covered the spread in five of the last six meetings between these two teams.


On Monday, I put together some takeaways from Week 4 and one thing I noted was that I would continue to bang the over in Atlanta games. I should have waited until I saw the lines for Week 5 before making that comment. The total for this game is two points shy of 60. That’s insane for an NFL game. Sure, the Falcons and Steelers are capable of scoring 30 points apiece but I’m not going to overpay on a number just because I’ve liked the over in previous Atlanta games.

No, this time around, I love a side. Why the Steelers are only 3-point favorites in this game is beyond me. I’m well aware of Pittsburgh’s struggles in September but that only makes me like the Steelers more on Sunday. They’re desperate, they’re angry having lost to division rival Baltimore last Sunday night, and they’re at home.

Meanwhile, the Falcons lost a defensive player to injury. This is not a repeat of Week 1, Week 2 or Week 3. This team is hemorrhaging defenders. Gone are linebacker Deion Jones, safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen, and now defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is out Sunday with an ankle injury suffered in last week’s loss to the Bengals. As Atlanta owner Arthur Blank noted earlier in the week, that’s like a baseball team losing its starting catcher, shortstop, second baseman and centerfield all at one time. That baseball team couldn’t survive and neither are these Falcons.

Matt Ryan has been sensational since that dud performance in Philadelphia on opening night. Calvin Ridley is the real deal and Freeman is back this week. But what makes anyone believe this will be the week Ryan and Co. out-score their own defense? They couldn’t at home against the Saints and Bengals the last two weeks, so why should I assume they’ll do it now that they have to go on the road?

Pittsburgh will surrender some big plays and points this week. But if Dan Quinn, a defensive-minded coach don’t forget, tells OC Steve Sarkisian to run a more ball-control offense to protect the banged-up defense, that would be a mistake. The only way for the Falcons to win games now is the way the Chiefs have shown the first four weeks: By outscoring opponents. I wouldn’t be surprised if Quinn tells Sarkisian to pound the ball more on the ground and if that happens, the Steelers could win comfortably.

If you have been following my advice, take this to heart: Play this line now in case it jumps to 3.5.

Pick: Steelers -3

451 Baltimore Ravens at 452 Cleveland Browns

  • Spread: Ravens -3
  • O/U: 45.5
  • Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

Line Movement

This game opened as low as a pick’em at some sportsbooks but the line quickly moved in favor of the Ravens, who are now 3-point road favorites. The total, meanwhile, sits at 45.5 points, down from the original number of 46.

Public Betting

Both the betting tickets (78 percent as of Friday morning) and the money (79 percent) are on the Ravens. The betting tickets (61 percent) and money (81 percent) are also on the under.

Key Injuries

Alex Collins (knee), Brandon Carr (knee) and Hayden Hurst (foot) are all probable for the Ravens. There’s a chance cornerback Jimmy Smith (suspension) will play too, assuming he had a good week of practice (John Harbaugh’s words, not mine).

The Browns should have receivers Jarvis Landry (knee) and Antonio Callaway (knee), who both returned to practice on Thursday after being held out Wednesday. Defenders Damarious Randall (knee), Jabrill Peppers (lower body) and E.J. Gaines (lower body) are all questionable.


The Ravens are 5-0 against the spread in their last five games versus the Browns and are 3-0-1 against the number in their last four games in Cleveland. The road team is also 12-4-1 against the number in the last 17 games between these two teams.


You can take one of two standpoints on the Ravens: Either you believe they haven’t played anyone and thus, haven’t been as impressive as their 3-1 record would indicate, or you’re buying into them as a sleeper team that could make a deep playoff run.

I fall into the latter category. This Baltimore team is better than people think and now that it’s getting Smith back, an already stout defense is about to get even stronger. Offensively, the upgrades the front office made at the wide receiver position (John Brown, Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead) have already paid dividends for Joe Flacco, who has been relentless in taking shots deep. While he needs to stop putting the ball on the ground, I also believe Alex Collins is one of the more underrated runners in the league.

Now the Browns. Baker Mayfield has brought life to this Cleveland offense and there’s no question Hue Jackson’s squad is better as a whole. They should have won last week in Oakland and could easily be 2-0 in games that Mayfield plays.

That said, they traveled cross country last week to Oakland, played in overtime, and then came back to Cleveland to get ready for Baltimore. For as opportunistic as this Browns defense has looked at times this year, guys like Myles Garrett are playing a ton of minutes early in the season. Thus, in my eyes, I’m getting the better team in the Ravens and the one that is more well-rested, too. Oh, I’m also getting the better coaching staff, which has proven beneficial when fading the Browns for two years now.

Sharper bettors may view this game as a trap with Baltimore only laying three and back the home dog. If the spread were higher, I’d lay off completely but I see the Ravens pulling away in the fourth quarter and winning by a touchdown.

Pick: Ravens -3

469 Arizona Cardinals at 470 San Francisco 49ers

  • Spread: 49ers -3.5
  • O/U: 40
  • Time: 4:25 p.m. ET

Line Movement

The 49ers opened as 3.5-point home favorites, the line was bet up to 4 at one point during the week, but then came back down to 3.5. The total has also dropped, moving from 41 down to 40.

Public Betting

The majority of the betting tickets (65 percent) and the money wagered (82 percent) are on the Cardinals to cover the point spread. The over is also receiving most of the betting tickets (69 percent) and money (56 percent).

Key Injuries

The Cardinals received good news on Thursday when Larry Fitzgerald (back, hamstring) returned to practice. He might not be 100 percent but it looks like he’ll suit up on Sunday. Tight end Jermaine Gresham (Achilles), meanwhile, was limited on Wednesday, but other than that Arizona is relatively healthy.

The same cannot be said for the 49ers, who will be without starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (knee). Left tackle Joe Staley (knee), right tackle Mike McGlinchey (knee), running back Matt Breida (Shoulder), receiver Marquise Goodwin) and wideout Dante Pettis (knee), are all questionable. Corner Richard Sherman (calf) is out for another week.


The road team is 4-0 against the spread in the last four meetings between these two teams while the under cashed in four of the last five meetings.


One of my general rules is don’t bet on bad teams because bad teams often find ways to lose. But when both teams are bad, there is value to be had.

Josh Rosen impressed me last week. He took shots deep, he was accurate with those shots, and he looked comfortable in the pocket. Had his receivers not dropped so many passes, the Cardinals may have pulled off a small upset versus the Seahawks.

I was a huge Rosen fan before this year’s NFL draft and I’m going to back him on Sunday when he and the Cardinals face C.J. Beathard and the 49ers. In fact, why is a C.J. Beathard-led team favored by over a field goal against any opponent?

San Francisco is banged up along its offensive line and defensively. This Arizona team is bad but not as bad as it showed the first three weeks when a disinterested Sam Bradford was leading the charge offensively. I see major value in the dog here and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Cards pulled off the outright upset.

Pick: Cardinals +3.5

Season Records

  • Week 1: 5-0
  • Week 2: 3-2
  • Week 3: 4-1
  • Week 4: 3-1-1
  • Week 5: 1-0
  • Overall: 16-4-1

Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images.

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