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October 05, 2023

Week 5 NFL picks

Who's Jimmy Kempski taking in Week 5 of the NFL?

For the gambling degenerates, here are my Week 5 NFL picks. To note, the team logos indicate who I think will win the game, not cover the spread. At the end of the picks, I'll note a few teams that I like based on the spread.


Bears at Commanders (-6): I suppose this game is of tepid interest (like a 3 out of 10) for Eagles fans, since a division rival is playing, but if you're a fan of an AFC team holy crap it doesn't get much worse than this in primetime.


Jaguars at Bills (-5.5): This is the second of two straight London games for the Jaguars after they beat the Falcons a week ago. There's probably some small advantage to already being there while the Bills have to travel and get acclimated to the time change. But ultimately, after a Week 1 loss to the Jets, the Bills have since looked like the best team in the NFL, outscoring their opponents 123-33.


Ravens (-4) at Steelers: This feels like the season Mike Tomlin finally finishes with a losing record. The Steelers have great edge rushers, but little else.


Panthers at Lions (-10): Frank Reich lost his final three games with the Colts last season before he was fired, and he is off to an 0-4 start with the Panthers. Because the Panthers don't have their first-round pick in 2024, their fans are in the worst type of fandom hell in which their team might be the worst in the NFL, and there's no consolation prize after suffering through what is going to be an awful season.

Meanwhile, the Lions have a pair of 14-point wins to go along with their Week 1 upset of the Chiefs. They're legit.


Texans at Falcons (-2): Last week I pointed out that the Texans might be good, and that I was going to "get in on them early," picking them to beat the Steelers outright. I had them as one of my picks against the spread, but chickened out just before I clicked "publish," and then watched as they smoked Pittsburgh 30-6. I am so mad at myself for being a coward on that one. Not this week! The Texans are better than the Falcons. Oh, and I also get points? Sure, I'll take them.


Saints at Patri*ts (-1.5): The Saints went 142-86 (0.623) in games Drew Brees started from 2006-2020. Since 2021, they are 18-20 (0.474).

The Patri*ts went 219-64 (0.774) in games Tom Brady started from 2000-2019. Since 2020, they are 26-28 (0.481). 

My conclusion? Quarterbacks are kind of a big deal. #Analysis.

Anyway, this is a matchup between two teams that are already on a steep downward trajectory after losing their Hall of Fame quarterbacks, and it's probably only going to get worse. I do like betting on Bill Belichick against any crappy quarterback, which is what the Saints have, no matter who they start.


Giants at Dolphins (-11): Projecting that the Giants were going to have a bad follow-up season to their surprise playoff appearance in 2022 was a pretty easy call. There were plenty of compelling reasons (in my opinion) that they just weren't a very good football team. However, I did not expect them to be this bad.

In the second half against in Arizona Week 2, they outscored the Cardinals 31-8. The rest of the season, they have been outscored 114-15, and have only scored one TD. Here are their offensive numbers in their three losses:

Opponent Points Yards Giveaways Sacks 
 49ers12 150 
 Seahawks248 11 

Brian Daboll should have to give back his "Coach of the Year" award.


Titans (-2) at Colts: The Colts are better than the Titans, in my opinion, and they're at home, and they might be getting Jonathan Taylor back, and they're getting points. Yes, please.


Eagles (-4.5) at Rams: When the schedules came out in May, this was probably a game most Eagles fans quickly chalked up as a win without much thought. As it turns out, the Rams might be the Birds' best opponent so far this season. One of the Rams' biggest strengths — receivers who get open out of the slot — is currently one of the Eagles' biggest concern areas. If the Rams can pull off the home upset, it will likely be a result of the Eagles' secondary being unable to cover the Rams' smooth route-running receivers.

I was tempted to pick against the Eagles, but ultimately they have matchup advantages all over the field otherwise, notably their receivers against the Rams' corners, their run game vs. the Rams' run defense, and their pass rush vs. the Rams' shaky offensive line.

The Rams are a formidable opponent with a good quarterback in Matthew Stafford, the best defensive player of the last decade in Aaron Donald, and a top 5 receiver in Cooper Kupp (when healthy), but the Eagles are still just better.


Bengals (-3) at Cardinals: The Bengals' offense is a mess right now. Joe Burrow is hurt, the offensive line isn't protecting well, and as shown in the video below, their scheme sucks:

I was tempted to take the Cardinals outright, but then came to my senses. Jonathan Gannon's soft shell defense is just what Burrow desperately needs right now.


Chiefs (-5) at Vikings: If you were an alien from another planet that had football and you watched the first four games with no prior knowledge of the teams or players in the NFL, would you really be impressed by the way the Chiefs have looked this season? They blew out the Bears, but have otherwise looked sloppy offensively against the Lions, Jaguars and Jets.

The Vikings were rightfully outed as a team in 2022 that was nowhere near as good as their 13-4 record, and the complete inverse of that is true in 2023, in that they are nowhere near as bad as their 1-3 record. Let's go big. Vikings in an upset.


Jets at Broncos (-2): The Broncos allowed 35 points to the Commanders Week 2, 70 points to the Dolphins Week 3, and 28 points to an absolutely garbage Bears offense Week 4. I get that Zach Wilson isn't exactly an awesome quarterback, but why should the Broncos be favored over any decent-ish team when they can't stop anyone?


Cowboys at 49ers (-3.5): Obviously, this is the premier matchup on the Week 5 NFL schedule. The 49ers haven't beaten any legitimate contenders yet, but they have (mostly) smashed everyone in their path so far, the lone exception being the Rams, who played them tight in Week 2. The Cowboys had their one embarrassing slip-up Week 3 against the Cardinals, but they rebounded by handing Bill Belichick the worst loss of his career last Sunday. In their three wins they have outscored their opponents 108-13.

These two teams have faced off in the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, with both games being won by the 49ers in defensive struggles. I expect Christian McCaffrey and the Niners to have success against a Dallas defensive front that has shown some vulnerability against the run. The Niners' defense has also proven that they can frustrate Dak Prescott and force him into bad decisions.


Packers (-1) at Raiders: During the Raiders' loss to the Chargers on Sunday, a gaggle of Raiders fans were yelling toward owner Mark Davis to fire Josh McDaniels, and rightfully so! Davis responded by yelling back that the fans should "smarten up." So that's how the Raiders' season is going. I don't love the Packers, but this is a pretty easy call to me.

• Picks against the spread: Texans (+2), Colts (+2), Vikings (+5), Jets (+2), Packers (-1).

• Eagles picks (straight up): 4-0
• Eagles picks (ATS): 2-1-1

• 2023 season, straight up: 42-22 (0.656)
• 2023 season, ATS: 11-11-2 (0.500)
• 2022 season, straight up: 176-107-2 (0.621)
• 2022 season, ATS: 50-50 (0.500) 
• 2021 season, straight up: 179-105-1 (0.630)
• 2021 season, ATS: 46-40-1 (0.534)
• 2020 season, straight up: 169-81-1 (0.675)
• 2020 season, ATS: 45-37-3 (0.547)
• 2019 season, straight up: 160-107-1 (0.601)
• 2019 season, ATS: 42-35-3 (0.544)
• 2018 season, straight up: 173-94-2 (0.647)
• 2018 season, ATS: 41-36-2 (0.532)
• 2017 season, straight up: 181-86 (0.678)
• 2017 season, ATS: 36-32-2 (0.529)
• 2016 season, straight up: 171-94-2 (0.644)
• 2016 season, ATS:  41-34 (0.547)
• 2015 season, straight up: 163-93 (0.637)
• 2015 season, ATS: 46-30-2 (0.605)

• Last 9 years, ATS: 356-302-15 (0.540)

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