The NFL is starting to settle down a bit with four full weeks of action.
For the most part, contenders are establishing their strength, and pretenders are putting their flaws on full display. Surprising results happen every week, but we're getting to the point where total shockers are fewer and further between.
With that in mind, it's time to look at the betting information for each of the Week 5 games and make decisions on the spreads and over/under odds. After that, we'll take a closer look at the three divisional games this week and predict final scores for those contests.
|NFL Week 5 Against-the-Spread and Over/Under Predictions|
|Matchup||Pick Against the Spread||Over/Under Pick|
|Indianapolis Colts (2-2) at Houston Texans (1-3)||N/A||N/A|
|Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)||JAX (+3)||Under (42.5)|
|Chicago Bears (1-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-3)||KC (-9.5)||Under (45.5)|
|Washington Redskins (2-2) at Atlanta Falcons (4-0)||WAS (+8)||Over (47.5)|
|Seattle Seahawks (2-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-0)||CIN (-1)||Over (44.5)|
|New Orleans Saints (1-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-3)||PHI (-5)||Over (49)|
|Cleveland Browns (1-3) at Baltimore Ravens (1-3)||BAL (-7)||Under (43.5)|
|St. Louis Rams (2-2) at Green Bay Packers (4-0)||STL (+9.5)||Over (46.5)|
|Buffalo Bills (2-2) at Tennessee Titans (1-2)||BUF (-3)||Over (42.5)|
|Arizona Cardinals (3-1) at Detroit Lions (0-4)||ARI (-3)||Under (44)|
|New England Patriots (3-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-2)||DAL (+9)||Over (49.5)|
|Denver Broncos (4-0) at Oakland Raiders (2-2)||DEN (-6)||Over (43.5)|
|San Francisco 49ers (1-3) at New York Giants (2-2)||SF (+7)||Under (43)|
|Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) at San Diego Chargers (2-2)||SD (-3)||Under (45.5)|
|Betting information from Odds Shark (IND-HOU information not posted as of Oct. 6)|
Indianapolis Colts (2-2) at Houston Texans (1-3)
The result of this Thursday night game largely depends on the availability of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who is suffering from a shoulder injury and missed the team's Week 4 contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars. No concrete news has surfaced regarding Luck's availability for Thursday, but the signal-caller himself announced Tuesday that he was "preparing to start," per the Indianapolis Star's Zak Keefer.
Even if Luck doesn't play, however, Indianapolis might have a nice chance to win this one.
Houston has struggled mightily to start the season. The passing game has minimal big-play potential with Ryan Mallett as starting quarterback, and the running backs have been mediocre. Defensively, the Texans were supposed to be one of the league's best units, but they have a league-low two takeaways through four games.
There's also an opportunity here for Colts receiver Andre Johnson to explode against his former team after a poor start to the season. Assuming Luck plays, Indy should take this one in Houston and take control of the AFC South.
Prediction: Colts 27, Texans 16
Cleveland Browns (1-3) at Baltimore Ravens (1-3)
Although Cleveland and Baltimore share identical records, this matchup does have a clear winner on paper. The Browns have only played one winning team, the New York Jets, and lost 31-10. Meanwhile, the Ravens have played two of the AFC's unbeaten teams, the Denver Broncos and the Cincinnati Bengals, and lost by six and four points, respectively.
Baltimore is also simply the more talented team and will be playing at home.
That's not to say this matchup will be a total blowout. The Ravens receiving corps is depleted, with Steve Smith Sr. out again with an injured back, per Clifton Brown of CSN Mid-Atlantic, not to mention the absences of Michael Campanaro and Breshad Perriman. However, star Browns No. 1 cornerback Joe Haden didn't play in Week 4 with a broken finger and could be limited for the Week 5 contest if he plays.
Cleveland's defense is solid, but I like the chances of quarterback Joe Flacco and Justin Forsett leading Baltimore to more points against it than the Browns can manage against the Ravens' stingy defense.
Prediction: Ravens 24, Browns 14
Denver Broncos (4-0) at Oakland Raiders (2-2)
At some point, the vaunted Broncos offense has to explode to give its amazing defense some help. Peyton Manning has been mediocre this season, and when he's been on his game, the running backs have been off (see Week 3 against the Detroit Lions).
A Week 5 matchup against the Oakland Raiders looks like the perfect time for a breakout game.
Denver's early opponents have all been solid defensive outfits (the Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Lions and Minnesota Vikings), and the Raiders are not. Sure, 38-year-old Charles Woodson is turning back the clock at cornerback, and linebacker Khalil Mack is leading a tough pass rush. But the unit as a whole is nothing Manning and his talented backs and receivers can't deal with.
It should be interesting to see what rising young Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and Oakland's No. 1 wideout, rookie Amari Cooper, can do against the No. 1 defense in the league. But ultimately, the Broncos pack enough two-way punch and experience to stymie the upstart Raiders.
Prediction: Broncos 34, Raiders 17