NFL Predictions Week 5: Underdogs Sure to Surprise This Weekend
This is a tricky week for underdogs across the NFL, since there isn't a single game being played between two teams with winning records.
In other words, it's pretty easy to tell who should win and who should lose, and the lines reflect that fact.
But fear not, dear readers, for I've peered into the tea leaves, crystal balls and magic eight balls of the world to reveal to you a few underdogs worth rolling with this week. Let's predict the future.
(All lines via Bovada. My pick in caps.)
DENVER BRONCOS (+7) at New England Patriots
The Bill Belichick Patriots defense of old gave Peyton Manning fits. This, though, is not the Patriots defense of old.
I think what we'll have in this game is a fun, gun-slinging duel between Manning and Brady. While I think the Patriots will get the win at home, I don't think they have the secondary to keep Manning from putting up a lot of points and keeping things interesting.
Meanwhile, Denver's ability to get pressure with just four or five rushers could give Brady trouble. Take the points with Denver.
BUFFALO BILLS (+10.5) at San Francisco 49ers
One of the bigger surprises of the young season is that, despite a vaunted defensive line, the Bills are allowing 137 rushing yards per game. For some, that might be a red flag against a team like the 49ers, a team we all know wants to pound the rock.
But I think the Bills defensive line will show up and make things tough on San Francisco. Against the Patriots, the Bills had to be conscious of the pass and left themselves vulnerable to the ground game, but they can stack the box with less fear of being beaten over the top against the 49ers.
I see this one being a fairly low-scoring game. The 49ers will win, yes, but the Bills will keep it close enough to cover. With another week to recover from injuries, look for the team to get bigger performances from both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, and the defense to force some Alex Smith errors.
Arizona Cardinals at ST. LOUIS RAMS (+2)
The Rams have won both of their home games in 2012. The Cardinals barely survived the Miami Dolphins in Week 4 and look primed for an upset. It's a risky line, as you're basically picking the Rams to win outright, but I for one believe they will.
Which team is most likely to cover?
Take away the win over the Eagles, and the Cardinals have won their other three games by a combined nine points (and one overtime). They've been living on the edge this year, and frankly, I don't think they have a good enough offense to keep it up.
Meanwhile, the Rams could easily be 3-1 right now had they not blown a Week 1 game late against the Detroit Lions. They aren't spectacular in any area, but they're playing solid, fundamental football.
I think this one could be a pretty dull affair, but I like the Rams sneaking out a 16-13 win, covering along the way.
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