Week 5 NFL Betting Picks: Team and Game Totals
With each passing week, we deepen the pool of data that we use to make decisions. The process of making decisions becomes more efficient, and ideally, we continue to be profitable.
I'm a week away from changing this article's name from totals to overs because let's face it, that's where the money is. Pulling for unders is like rooting for the house in blackjack. Also, we have math on our side this year, as well.
So far, overs are coming in at a 60 percent clip this season, and while the books have continued to drive the average total up week after week, they're still not catching up fully. The average combined score coming into Week 5 is 51.3 points-per-game.
Remember, those hit rates are for the combined game total, and we've seen that the best way to exploit these trends is to isolate team totals whenever we can.
Last week's picks went 5-1. Let's dig into this week's picks.
Carolina Panthers - Over 26.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
This is a great spot for Teddy Bridgewater and the Panthers. Atlanta will be playing this one without two of their top corners, and their two starting safeties. Rookie CB A.J. Terrell returns from the COVID list, but this defense ranks 31st in pass defense DVOA, 29th in explosive pass rate allowed, and 30th in points per drive. And now they're rolling out the backups? Let's not complicate things here. Jump on Carolina at 26.5, just shy of the key numbers of 27 and 28.
Las Vegas Raiders - Under 21.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
This game total has plummeted since opening at 57. It's down to 55.5 at most books now, but I don't want to be holding an under ticket when Patrick Mahomes is involved. Ever. The best way to approach this is to short the Raiders team total, and it's at a perfect number to do so. The Raiders scored a total of 19 points in the two 2019 matchups with their AFC West rival Chiefs, but this Kansas City defense is playing significantly better than the 2019 iteration. They're fifth in total defense DVOA, first in pass-defense DVOA, and allowing the third-fewest points per drive. They can be had on the ground, but game script often works like football's version of natural selection. At a certain point, they force you to keep up or catch up, and it's hard to keep establishing it when you're down 17 in the second quarter. I'd take this anywhere above 20, but ideally, you can play it at 21.5.
Minnesota Vikings @ Seattle Seahawks - Over 56.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
If I were to ask people to name the two teams that they think of first, over the past few seasons, when I say 'run-heavy offense' I think the Vikings and Seahawks are two of the most popular answers. But here we are, taking over 56.5 with confidence.
The Seahawks might get close by themselves. The Vikings are just 23rd in pressure rate and they're allowing the highest rate of explosive pass plays in the league. That is a terrible combination heading into Seattle. Our 4for4 projections have DK Metcalf slotted for 102 receiving yards, the highest of the week, and it's probably not enough.
On the other side, the Vikings remain a run-first offense, but the emergence of Justin Jefferson paired with an increase of targets for Dalvin Cook has raised their weekly floor. Kirk Cousins has half of the passing attempts that Dak Prescott has this season, so volume remains low, but his league-leading average depth of target raises their weekly ceiling. The Seahawks are 31st in yards per drive allowed, with most of the damage coming through the air against their 29th ranked pass defense.
Both clubs will face little resistance, forcing the other to keep up.
Indianapolis Colts @ Cleveland Browns - Under 48.5 (Bet Rivers Sportsbook)
While the Vikings and Seahawks have discovered the forward pass, the Colts and Browns are weeks away from breaking out the wishbone. They're both top four in total rushing attempts, rushing between 8-12% more than league average. I think there's a strong chance that this game has the fewest plays on the entire slate.
The Browns have the league's best offensive line through the first four weeks, and while I think the Colts front seven is legit, the concerns about their schedule to-date are valid. They'll also be without All-World LB Darius Leonard for this one, a massive loss to an overachieving unit.
The Colts offensive line will be without tackle Anthony Castonzo, and I expect them to run the ball often, while also playing it conservatively and keeping a tight end in-line to help block Myles Garrett. I'd lean under all the way to 47.