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Here we are again this year, back for more NFL picks. It is with great pleasure that I begin my third season writing this column. As someone who has won and lost their fair share of money on the NFL (and many other sports), this is bound to be a fun and unpredictable ride. Join me, won’t you?
As with the format in previous years, this article will help those of you who compete in confidence pools and in ranking selections, which may come in handy on those Las Vegas trips. Games are rated based on preference for both the point spread and other angles (such as totals or over/unders) with 1-3 “Stars”, which basically highlight the best bets for the week. Those games which have zero stars are not preferred one way or the other, but will still be covered, discussed and a winner will be predicted for those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools.
Through four weeks of action, the underdogs have gone 38-26 against the spread, a mark that will adjust itself over time as Vegas becomes more familiar with the teams. Until such a time, we have a window to pounce. Let’s take advantage with the Week 5 lines.
Note that the over/unders are taken from VegasInsider.com
(Thursday Night) LA RAMS (-1.5) at SEATTLE (Over/Under 54.5)
The NFC West has been a division to watch on a perennial basis for the last decade or so, but the Rams’ loss to the Cardinals turned things asunder. As Kyler Murray added some fuel to the fire in support of his MVP candidacy, Matthew Stafford and the Rams offense simply couldn’t keep pace. More concerningly, the defense that had been stifling against the Bucs just a week earlier fell horribly short of their usual standard. The quick turnaround to face Seattle may suit Sean McVay in terms of motivation, but there will be some fragile egos in the locker room with four days to prepare.
Seattle, meanwhile, dug deep to knock off the 49ers and reminded the doubters that the death sentence for their season was premature. Russell Wilson should be prepared to face a fired-up Rams pass rush, a unit that obliterated Seattle’s offensive line in the playoffs last season. The high total of 54.5 is sensible given the shootout that these teams are capable of. Given the short turnaround, the edge has to go to the home team on Thursday night.
(London) NY JETS at ATLANTA (-3.5) (Over/Under 44)
The first London clash of the season will have us up earlier than usual setting our fantasy line-ups on Sunday – and maybe kicking off the first leg of a teaser bet. The Jets’ win against the Titans was rousing, with the reaction of head coach Robert Saleh saying it all. When the Jets players return to work this week, they will have a spring in their step. Zach Wilson’s signature throw, when he signaled to Corey Davis to go deep, was his true "Welcome to the NFL" moment and should give down-on-their-luck Jets fans a glimmer of hope for this season and beyond. Wilson shouldn’t be running scared of an Atlanta defense that simply can’t find its way.
The 34-30 loss to the Washington Football Team was entirely predictable. There may be a different head coach in town in Atlanta, but the script appears to be the same. Matt Ryan performed well, but the sieve-like defense couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain. Vegas may have made a miscalculation in making Atlanta 3.5-point favorites this week; after all, what have they done to deserve that extra half-point? Jump on the underdog Jets before that half-point gets shaved off.
Pick: New York
MIAMI at TAMPA BAY (-10) (Over/Under 48)
The Dolphins withered against a committed and bullish Colts team on Sunday, dropping Brian Flores’ team to 1-3. In a lackluster AFC East, it puts them tied with the Patriots and Jets – not the company the regime wants to be keeping. It is expected that Tua Tagovailoa will return from injury in Week 6, so it will be the bumbling, stumbling and fumbling Jacoby Brissett starting once again. The Fins will have to put forth their best performance to even be able to keep up with the Bucs.
Indeed, Tom Brady may be able to sit back a little bit and let his defense set the table for success in this contest. After the emotional high of last week’s game in Foxborough, it may be just what TB12 needs. Tied atop the NFC South at 3-1 with the Panthers, the Bucs are into their stride now and should flex their considerable muscles against an inferior opponent here. Ten points may not be enough.
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