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Week Five Picks

October 6th, 2019

I sort of saw week four coming. That is, I knew I was scheduled to take a beating with my picks. I didn’t know it was going to happen by way of an early upset week. But that’s what we got.

It’s hard to perform well picking straight up in any week when more than half of the games are won outright by the underdogs. It’s harder still when seven of those dogs are playing on the road.

So I’ll take my 8-7 finish straight up and against the spread in that context. And hope for better moving forward.

Overall, if you don’t count the Thursday night game (which I got straight up and missed with the points thanks to an unsuccessful two-point try), I currently stand at 42-20-1 (.674) on my straight picks and 32-30-1 (.516) picking against the spread.

Let’s see how much worse I can get. Here’s what not to expect in week five.

Baltimore (-3.5) at Pittsburgh
I’m not sure anyone knows at this point where either of these teams is headed. For the moment, they look like a couple of fairly typical second- or third-tier teams. If I thought the Steelers could stop the Ravens’ ground game, I’d be sorely tempted to take Pittsburgh straight up. But I don’t. So I’m expecting the road team to win and the home team to make it a game. Ravens by a point

Chicago (-5.5) vs. Oakland at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
Blah, blah, blah, Khalil Mack … . I mean, look, all that stuff everyone else has said or written about Mack making his former team look silly in this game probably turns out to be accurate. But that’s the case regardless of whether I repeat it. Chicago by 13.

Arizona (+3) at Cincinnati
One of these teams is going to turn out to be worse than the other. Probably. I think it works out to be the Bengals. Arizona by four.

Jacksonville (+3.5) at Carolina
My gut says the Jaguars win this game. My head counters with, “How?” And my gut shrugs and say, “Rush offense?” Gut may be right, but head controls the writing. So … Carolina by a field goal.

Minnesota (+5) at NY Giants
I’m not sure this game is so uneven that the home team should be getting five points. I think Minnesota comes out on top, but I think they do it with D while their offense continues to sputter. Vikings by three.

New England (-15.5) at Washington
I’m pretty sure no one needs me to do this, but I’m gonna do it just the same: Passer rating differential, Patriots +41.7; scoring differential, Patriots +18.4; takeaway/giveaway differential, Patriots +9. Another view of the same variables: The Racists have allowed more points per game on average (29.5), and more actual points in three out of four games, than the Patriots have given up so far this season (27). The only way this game is competitive is if New England falls asleep. Patriots by 24.

NY Jets (+14.5) at Philadelphia
The Jets are a disaster. But the Eagles haven’t shown themselves to be a team you pick to blow out opponents. Philly by nine.

Tampa Bay (+3) at New Orleans
You know what? I think right now, just for this brief moment in time, the Bucs might be a better team than the Saints. Tampa pulls out another impressive road win. This time the margin is a single point.

Atlanta (+4.5) at Houston
The Texans are a tick above average. The Falcons are at least a tick, maybe two, below. Houston by a touchdown.

Buffalo (+3) at Tennessee
I hope you like defense. Titans 10-6

Denver (+6.5) at LA Chargers
The Chargers have yet this season to beat a good team. That trend continues. Los Angeles by 10.

Green Bay (+3.5) at Dallas
My generally unfavorable opinion of the Cowboys hasn’t shifted any. But, man, you’re not beating Dallas if you can’t stop the run. Cowboys by six.

Indianapolis (+11) at Kansas City
The Colts have neither a defense that can keep the Chiefs out of the end zone nor an offense that can take advantage of the Chiefs’ D. Kansas City by 14.

Cleveland (+4) at San Francisco
Following a brief pause, the Browns go back to being the Browns. As long as they can hold on to the ball, the well rested 49ers should beat a Browns team that’s traveling for a second straight week by at least six.

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