We’re back with the fifth edition of MTS’ weekly picks against the spread for the 2016 season. After Perry answered his Week 3 stinker with an unexciting 7-8 Week 4 record, he has been begging us for another shot to redeem himself.
As you can see, we fell for his small-town charm, and are going to afford him the opportunity to better his lousy 21-26 ATS record on the season. We at least appreciate his “Pledges of the Week” sitting at a reasonable 6-6. But it’s time to pick it up, Mr. Port. We want some gold already!
An asterisk denotes one of Perry’s “Pledges of the Week.” (Don’t call them “locks”; there’s no such thing!)
Week 5 Picks ATS
Thursday, October 6
Arizona Cardinals (-3) at San Francisco 49ers
What is wrong with the Cardinals? Well, their ten giveaways are a good place to start (tied for third-most), especially when you consider all ten have come in their last two games. Carson Palmer may have to sit out with a concussion, but that may not be a terrible thing with the way he’s been playing lately.
The issue with the 49ers is just as obvious as well: Blaine Gabbert. The sixth-year signal caller has thrown for a measly 728 yards with just four touchdowns to four interceptions, and has a passer rating of 73.1. For some further perspective on his passing stats, here is a list of players who have thrown for more this season: Carson Wentz (in one fewer game), Case Keenum, and Trevor Siemian. Matt Ryan has more than double.
I have confidence that one of these two will resolve their issues, at least for this week.
Pick: Cardinals (-3)*
Sunday, October 9
Houston Texans at Minnesota Vikings (-6)
Without J.J. Watt, the Texans defense is not going to be the same, evidenced by giving up 320 total yards to the Titans (most allowed this season). But even with Watt, they were leaking yards on the ground. Brock Osweiler has yet to look the part of a franchise quarterback and he’s holding the offense back.
The Vikings defense is winning games on its own, but Sam Bradford and the offense are coming along as well. The team broke 100 yards on the ground for the first time in Week 4. Most importantly, Bradford continues to protect the ball and is extending drives with his arm.
Osweiler is in above his head and is going to throw this game away.
Pick: Vikings (-6)*
Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts (-4.5)
Even with all of the injuries the Bears have suffered on the defensive side of the ball, they really haven’t played that poorly. Unfortunately, they have yet to score more than 17 points in a single game this season.
The Colts defense is horrible; they lack a running game; and Andrew Luck is probably wishing he took a little less money so the team could afford some protection. (Or maybe he’s content with the money. What do I know?)
Luck is going to put up points, and I don’t believe Brian Hoyer or Jay Cutler will be able to keep up.
Pick: Colts (-4.5)
New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)
For the Jets, the only thing that could be worse than starting Ryan Fitzpatrick right now would be starting Geno Smith. Fitz has now thrown nine interceptions in the last two weeks and leads the league with ten on the season. But the turnovers aren’t the team’s only problem; the defense continues to give up big-plays through the air.
Speaking of big-plays through the air, the Steelers are second to only the Falcons in passing plays of 40 yards or more. Antonio Brown continues to prove he cannot be covered, and now Le’Veon Bell’s return has reminded us all how deadly the Pittsburgh offense is when the “Killer Bs” fly together.
Pick: Steelers (-7)*
Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins (-3.5)
One of these teams ranks fourth in rushing yards per game, while the other gives up the fourth-most rushing yards per game. Although it’s pretty obvious, I won’t make you guess: “exotic smashmouth” has had success on the ground, and the Dolphins are giving up just under 130 rushing yards per game.
On the bright side for Miami, their embarrassingly bad offensive line should get a bit of a break this week; the Titans haven’t been able to generate much of a pass-rush all season, only racking up six sacks through four games.
In a battle of 1-3 teams (who could both easily be 0-4), I’m not comfortable giving up points, especially not more than a field goal.
Pick: Titans (+3.5)
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) at Detroit Lions
The question you have to answer here is whether you believe the Eagles are what they showed in Week 3. Then again, the Bears just proved that you don’t have to be a great team to beat the Lions.
I am a believer in Carson Wentz. The rookie quarterback has yet to throw an interception, and I don’t see that changing this week. The Lions have only generated one turnover on the season, and their defensive backs have been getting torched by less than stellar passing offenses.
On top of that, the Eagles defense is only allowing nine points per game and looks strong from front to back.
Pick: Eagles (-3)*
New England Patriots (-10.5) at Cleveland Browns
The Patriots are fresh off being shutout by the Bills at home in Week 4. They gave up 134 yards on the ground and failed to rush for at least 100, themselves, for the first time this season. But I’ve heard New England is getting one of their pivots back this week; is that correct?
No team averages more yards per carry, or more rushing yards per game, than the Cleveland Browns. Unfortunately, their defense just can’t stop anyone. Only two teams in the league have given up more passing touchdowns than the Browns, and they’re about to face the wrath of a man who has had to sit out four games for an under-inflated football.
Could Tom Brady be rusty after missing the last four weeks? Of course. But these are the Browns. Don’t expect Brady or Bill Belichick to show any mercy in this one.
Pick: Patriots (-10.5)
Washington at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)
Washington has won two straight now, but the offense didn’t really explode as expected against the Browns in Week 4. Their biggest offensive flaw may be that Jay Gruden refuses to run the ball in spite of the team averaging 4.4 yards per carry.
The Ravens defense has been one of the surprises of the season, ranking first in total defense and seventh in scoring. However, their offense has been rather conservative, and when they have tried to spread it out, Flacco hasn’t been great.
Baltimore will be able to run the ball against a weak Washington defense, and their secondary will bottle up Cousins and the aerial attack.
Pick: Ravens (-3.5)
Atlanta Falcons at Denver Broncos (-6)
The Falcons offense ranks first in both total offense and scoring, and are coming off one of the most memorable performances we have seen in the last few years. But their offense may be dealt a blow on Sunday as the altitude could force Tevin Coleman (who suffers from sickle cell trait) to sit out.
The Broncos got to see their first glimpse of rookie Paxton Lynch last week when Trevor Siemian left the game with a shoulder injury. However, Siemian will likely be available come Sunday and should be back at the helm. As good as the Broncos defense has been this season, they have sacrificed a lot of yards on the ground.
The key here will be for Denver’s offense to get started early, which shouldn’t be tough against a weak Falcons defense, and force Matt Ryan and company to become one dimensional. The Falcons may get their yards, but Aqib Talib and Chris Harris certainly won’t allow Julio Jones to go for another 300.
Pick: Broncos (-6)
Cincinnati Bengals (-1) at Dallas Cowboys
The Bengals may have physically dominated the Dolphins last Thursday night, but they allowed Miami to hang around for far too long. Their offense is really missing Tyler Eifert, and without Hue Jackson calling the plays, they have struggled mightily to run the ball.
Conversely, Dallas continues to rely on their ground game, while Dak Prescott refuses to make those errant throws we expect from a rookie quarterback. But the Cowboys have yet to face a very good defense.
Cincinnati may not be very good defensively, but their pass-rush will be able to get after Dak if they can force them into third-and-long situations. Marvin Lewis will sell out to stop the run on first and second downs, and Andy Dalton will continue putting the ball in the hands of A.J. Green.
Pick: Bengals (-1)
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders (-4)
Here’s a crazy statement: the Chargers (1-3) are only a couple of plays away from being 4-0. San Diego has fallen victim to a couple costly late game turnovers, and one of the wildest comebacks we’ve seen in some time. Their offense is third in scoring and their defense is generating turnovers.
Oakland’s offense has been equally as good, but the other side of the ball ranks last in total defense, bleeding yards both through the air and on the ground.
The Raiders are 0-5 ATS in their last five games at home, and have lost three of their last five games to the Chargers. Rivers keeps this one within a field goal.
Pick: Chargers (+4)
Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams (-3)
I can’t think of two worse teams to try to bet on. Just when you think you have a sense on these two, they come out the next week and completely surprise you.
One thing I am certain of is that the Rams always play their own division incredibly tough, even when they are a bad team. That might be all we’re seeing from them so far. But I’m also aware how bad Buffalo is on the road.
For me, this comes down to which team I trust more. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’ll side with Rex Ryan and the Bills. Tyrod Taylor instills more confidence in me than Case Keenum, and LeSean McCoy has had a lot more room to run than Todd Gurley. Truthfully, I’m just not comfortable laying points in this game.
Pick: Bills (+3)
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers (-7)
It appears teams have figured out how to slow down Odell Beckham Jr.: get in his head. The Vikings held the star receiver to just 23 yards on three receptions, despite Eli Manning trying to force a few balls his way.
However, the Packers do not have anyone who can match up with Beckham the way Xavier Rhodes did, and this is a great opportunity for the Giants offense to get back on track. Green Bay ranks 29th against the pass and has given up six touchdowns through the air in three games.
Apart from one half against the Lions, Aaron Rodgers and company haven’t really been on the same page this season. You’d expect something big from the O coming off a bye week, but even if the Packers get the old Rodgers, the defense won’t allow the team to run away with this one.
Pick: Giants (+7)
Monday, October 10
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers (-6)
The bad news for the Panthers: their secondary is horrible and Cam Newton may miss this week with a concussion. The good news for the Panthers: they are playing Tampa Bay.
While Mike Evans may be a great receiver, he is not the same threat after the catch that Julio Jones is; and Jameis Winston is far from Matt Ryan. After getting embarrassed in Week 4, the Panthers defense will bounce back while the capable Derek Anderson will move the ball against a sub-par Tampa D.
Pick: Panthers (-6)
Photo Credit: Andrew Campbell (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.