As Lovie Smith would say, the first quarter of the season is over. But it really doesn’t feel like 25% of the NFL season is over at this point. There are still endless questions that need to be answered about the collective league. But after four games, we can at least trick ourselves into believing we have more information than a month ago. For your fade-worthy picks on a Friday, here are my NFL Week 5 picks against the spread.
Carolina Panthers +1.5 at Atlanta Falcons
Who wants to bet on this Atlanta Falcons team? Not the people who were telling you to take them +6 against the Packers last week. This week, those folks are all saying “Bet Panthers!” This line was Falcons -6 when it first opened this summer. It moved to Falcons -3.5 on Sunday night. After Atlanta’s pathetic Monday night loss to the Packers, the line plummeted to 1.5 points. And on the surface, this spread is probably correct. COVID home field has been worth about 1.5 points to the bookmakers, and you can’t blame anyone for calling this game a pick’em on a neutral field.
But while Teddy Bridgewater has been commendable in his play to date for the Panthers, are people forgetting how bad Carolina’s defense is? And as OK as Mike Davis has looked at running back, are we forgetting that Christian McCaffrey is one of the most valuable offensive players in football?
For those that believe this Falcons team will just quit on the season, Atlanta started 1-7 last year before winning six of their last eight games. Matty Ice is not giving up. These players all have future contracts to play for. Atlanta is coming home after a brutal defeat on the hallowed ground of Lambeau Field. This team should be extremely motivated to put a hurting on a bad Carolina defense ranked #28 in the league in DVOA. We’re getting great line value on the Falcons in this game as well. This was Falcons -6 heading into the season and that was before Christian McAffrey was out. Very conservatively McAffrey is worth 1.5 points to the spread, which takes this game down from Falcons -7.5 to -1.5, which is basically a free teaser leg. Sign me up for that.
The Pick: Falcons -1.5
I have no strong opinions on the rest of this NFL Week 5 slate so far. I’d love to see what the Bills vs. Titans line is, but no one has released a number for that game which should take place on Tuesday. Here are my other four picks for Week 5:
- Vikings +7 at Seahawks
- Cowboys -9 hosting Giants (Yes, I’m crazy)
- Chargers +7.5 at Saints
- Colts -1 at Browns