NFL Picks Against the Spread: 3 Winners for Week 5
Like the Buffalo Bills, I got my first loss of the season last week.
Through the first four weeks of the year, my record is now 10-1 ATS (90.9 percent) with a push.
While my picks are for entertainment purposes only, of course, winning is certainly more "entertaining" than losing.
Here are my three picks for Week 5:
The Texans will be without wide receiver Andre Johnson for the next three weeks or so and will lean on their ground attack led by a healthy-again Arian Foster. In fact, this game features two of the league's top rushers in Oakland's Darren McFadden and Foster.
In four games this season, McFadden has exactly 600 yards from scrimmage and he leads the NFL in rushing (468 yards). The last time these two teams played, McFadden was held to only 47 rushing yards, but he also had six receptions for 82 yards.
Under new head coach Hue Jackson, the Raiders are a confident bunch. Jackson has predicted an AFC West title and has this team believing in themselves. I think the Raiders are better than their 2-2 record indicates and both of their losses are to 3-1 teams. In addition, the Raiders will be playing with a heavy heart with the passing of their legendary owner, Al Davis, on Saturday morning.
While I wouldn't be surprised if the Raiders pull off the upset, I expect them to keep this game close.
The general rule of thumb is that the portion of the point spread attributed to home-field advantage is three points. Based on that assumption, the spread in this game implies that the Falcons would be close to a double-digit underdog on a neutral field.
To be clear, the Falcons have their share of problems. The Falcons are 2-2 and nearly blew a 20-point second-half lead to the Seahawks, one of the league's worst teams. Atlanta hasn't protected quarterback Matt Ryan as well as they should have and their defense ranks 27th in scoring (26.3 points per game allowed) this season. Only the Bills have fewer sacks this season than the Falcons.
Facing the high-powered Packers offense and Aaron Rodgers, who is coming off a six-touchdown performance (four passing and two rushing), it could be a long day for Atlanta's defense. That said, the Packers defense has struggled as well.
Green Bay has allowed the fifth-most yards (406.8 per game) and only New England has allowed more passing yards. While the Falcons need to protect their quarterback better, Matt Ryan has a 21-2 record at home during the regular season and better ratios across the board.
While I think the Packers will win this game outright, I also think it will be a shootout with both teams putting up a lot of points. I wouldn't be surprised to see the final score be something like 35-31 and the Falcons covering the spread.
Through four weeks, these two teams have a combined 1-7 record. In other words, both teams have been huge disappointments. To be fair, both sides have suffered significant injuries to their best players.
While Kansas City got their first win of the season against the winless Vikings last week, the Colts have played their opponents reasonably tough in their past two matchups. It's likely that Curtis Painter will be the team's starting quarterback again this week. Although he didn't play great in his first career start last week, Painter did throw for 281 yards, two touchdowns and, most importantly, no interceptions.
Both of these teams rank in the bottom four in the league in offense and both teams have been bad against the run (allowing 130-plus rushing yards per game). With Jamaal Charles out for the season, the Chiefs will rely heavily on receiver Dwayne Bowe for their offensive output. On the other hand, the Colts have a better balance than the Chiefs when it comes to running the ball and skill players on offense.
After this weekend, there will be (at least) one less winless team tied for the lead in the "Suck for [Andrew] Luck" sweepstakes.
For more picks, check out all three handicappers' picks at The Weekly Blitz.
Speaking of the "Suck for Luck" sweepstakes, we have updated our 2012 NFL Mock Draft Database, which is full of links to various mock drafts on the web.
Good luck to all in Week 5!
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