NFL Picks Week #5 (2019 regular season)



University Professor. PhD in stats. Proud dad of 2 boys.




The first 5-star pick of the year!

Last year we waited until Week #12 before getting a pick rated 5 stars. This season, we’ve got our first 5-star play in Week #5!

Speaking of 2018, here is how my 26-21 record was broken down as a function of their ratings:

  • 5 STARS: 3-0
  • 4 STARS: 3-7
  • 3 STARS: 7-5
  • 2 STARS: 6-5
  • 1 STAR: 5-3
  • NOT RATED (Week #3 picks): 2-1

Back in 2017, I didn’t rate the picks, so unfortunately I cannot break down the 35-23-3 record we obtained that year.

Written Wednesday October 3rd, 2019 at 11 AM Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)

Official Picks

PICK #1: San Francisco 49ers -3.5 vs Cleveland Browns (rated 5 stars)

Are we going to remain perfect on 5-star picks? We have an astounding 7 betting angles pointing in San Francisco’s direction!

The only downside to this pick is the Niners could be looking ahead to a key meeting with the Rams next week. But all of the other factors are going their way. Let me review some of them.

First, the rest factor is HUGELY in favor of the 49ers. They are coming off their bye week and they played at home in their past two games. In other words, they haven’t had to travel for three straight weeks. Meanwhile, the Browns are on the road for the third time in four weeks, including two in a row.

I also want to point out the fact that Cleveland is going to travel three time zones for this game. That’s never easy.

I mentioned earlier how this could be a look-ahead game for San Francisco. I could argue that this meeting will be a letdown game for the Browns, who are coming off an emotional game against a division rival. Not only were they playing a big rival, but Cleveland also managed to pull off a great upset in Baltimore. This week’s game against a non-conference team won’t look as sexy. I’m afraid they might have left some energy on the field in Baltimore and won’t have nearly as much in San Francisco, where the crowd will be fired up in a primetime game to remain unbeaten.

I’m betting the Niners by laying 3.5 points against the Browns. 

PICK #2: Chicago Bears -5 against Oakland Raiders (rated 4 stars)

I was that close to rating it 5 stars as well. I love this play. Let’s call it 4.5 stars. There are still a few bookies with a point spread of 5, but most have now moved it to 5.5. Get on this one before the line changes too much.

The Raiders won’t be in super shape after traveling that much. They crossed the country to play in Minnesota, in Indianapolis, and now in England!?! Wow!! That’s an incredibly tough stretch.

Oakland might also letdown after making a nice upset in Indianapolis last week. However, you could argue that the Bears could also be less motivated after getting a key victory against the Vikings, a division rival.

Oakland’s best wide receiver, Tyrell Williams, is still beaten up. His offensive coordinator said he’s “hopeful” that Williams will be able to suit up this Sunday.

Can’t you feel the Chicago train is picking up some speed? They started the season slowly by losing 10-3 to the Packers and then squeaking by the Broncos, thanks for a 53-yard field goal as time expired. Since then, they were dominant against the Redskins and the Vikings.

Even before the season began, in my NFC North preview, I was claiming I wasn’t convinced that Mitch Trubisky was a good quarterback. He’s been struggling most of the season thus far.

He got hurt last week, and backup Chase Daniel looked better than him. He led the Bears to 4 scores in his first 5 drives off the bench against a more than decent Minnesota defense. I trust Matt Nagy to keep designing plays that are well-suited for him.

PICK #3: Denver Broncos +6.5 at Los Angeles Chargers (rated 2 stars)

The Broncos are being underrated because they are 0-4. They’ve lost those games by an average of just 5.8 points. And they should have beaten the Bears.

When you look at their roster, it’s not that bad. In the backfield, they’ve got a good duo with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. In the passing game, they’ve got veteran Joe Flacco at quarterback, whose best years are behind him, but he can still make plays.

I like the wide receiver duo of Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders, two guys that are not getting much recognition but that can do a fine job. Tight end Noah Fant, a first-round pick in the last draft, is getting more and more comfortable playing at NFL speed. He caught his first touchdown pass last week.

Denver’s defense is fairly solid; they have not allowed more than 27 points this year, despite four losses!

Meanwhile, the Chargers are 2-2 with one win coming against the lowly Dolphins and the other at home in overtime against the Colts. Nothing impressive there.

I expect the Broncos to be better prepared for this game. Not only are they looking for their first win of the season, but they are coming off a disappointing home loss to the Jaguars. As for the Chargers, do you believe facing such a weak team as Miami is good preparation for a divisional matchup? I don’t.

I’m taking the Broncos to keep this game close, or perhaps even win it.

PICK #4: New Orleans Saints -3 vs Tampa Bay Bucs (rated 1 star)

I was surprised the line wasn’t bigger than this. Maybe people got too excited over the big upset win by Tampa against the Rams. Let’s not overreact to just one game. Don’t forget the Bucs lost at home to the Giants the week before!

I’ve been impressed by how well Teddy Bridgewater has played thus far. Sure, it helps to have such strong weapons as Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, but he still did a decent job. It wasn’t easy against the Cowboys last week, but there is a huge difference between Dallas’ defense and Tampa’s defense. The Cowboys have allowed just 14 points per game versus a jaw-dropping 29 points per game for the Bucs!

Tampa has won its first two road games and lost its first two home games, which is weird. I don’t see them winning a third straight match on the road, especially in such a tough environment like New Orleans.

The Bucs will be playing a third game on the road in their past four meetings. They had to travel across the country, all the way to Los Angeles last week.

Unofficial Picks

LEAN #1: Los Angeles Rams +1.5 at Seattle Seahawks

When I picked the Eagles in the Thursday Night game last week, many people asked whether I was worried about taking the road team on a short week. I was indeed worried about it, but the fact that they were such a desperate team still enticed me to pick them over Green Bay.

I looked into the numbers to verify if road teams do tend to struggle in Thursday games. Over the past three years, they went 16-30-3 against the spread (ATS); that’s a very bad 35% success rate. If you look at the three years before that (i.e. the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons), road teams went 27-21-3 ATS, which was good for a 56% win rate.

Now, if you combine the numbers over those past six years, you get a 43-51-6 record for road teams ATS; that’s a 46% win percentage.

My main conclusion is you want to be cautious with road teams, while not necessarily avoiding them at all costs. If the conditions are right, you might want to bet them. This factor is the main reason why I’m taking the Rams, but not as an official play.

The Rams and the Seahawks have identical 3-1 records. However, Los Angeles’ opponents have a combined 9-7 record compared to 4-11-1 for Seattle’s opponents. In other words, the Rams have faced tougher opposition.

One more thing makes me tilt towards Los Angeles: they are coming off a very disappointing home loss to the Bucs. Good teams tend to rebound after a straight up loss.

However, the revenge factor is in favor of the Seahawks since they lost both meetings with the Rams last year. Indeed, Los Angeles won 33-31 in Seattle and 36-31 in L.A.

Neither team has noteworthy injuries, except left tackle Duane Brown who is questionable to play.

A quick bonus for you: I’ve got a collaborator, that I’m going to call JMF, who is a pretty smart guy and analyses matchups rigorously. He recommends betting the following proposition bet: over 4.5 receptions by Brandin Cooks (at -114 with Pinnacle right now).

He mentions how Seattle’s pass defense is below-average and he likes Cooks’ matchup with Tre Flowers, who is the Seahawks’ worst cornerback. Tedric Thompson is also ranked among the worst free safeties around the league. With head coach Sean McVay being good at exploiting favorable matchups, he might design many plays to get Cooks many balls going his way.

LEAN #2: Carolina Panthers -3.5 vs Jacksonville Jaguars

The Panthers seem to be picking up some steam. After losing their first two games of the season, they won their next two meetings, both on the road. Now back in front of their home crowd, they should be fired up.

Jacksonville also lost their first two games before winning their next two. They may not be as motivated from facing a non-conference team on the road, though.

Quarterback Gardner Minshew is nursing a knee injury. He’s still expected to start the game for the Jags, but he is not 100%. Also, it’s still unclear whether star cornerback Jalen Ramsey will be in the lineup this Sunday.

The average bet size on Jacksonville is $47 compared to $72 for Jacksonville. The big whales definitely like Caroline in this one!

LEAN #3: Green Bay Packers +3.5 at Dallas Cowboys

Both teams got off to a fast start in 2019 with three straight victories, followed by a loss last week.

The Cowboys have defeated the Giants, the Redskins and the Dolphins, whose combined record is 2-10. Meanwhile, Green Bay won against the Bears, the Vikings and the Broncos, whose combined record is 5-7.

Notice the Packers are 3-0 at AT&T Stadium, including the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers seems to relish facing Dallas; he has thrown 15 TD passes versus just 2 picks over 8 meetings.

Green Bay gets three extra days of rest after playing the Thursday Night game in Week #4. They are also coming off three straight home games, so they didn’t have to travel for a while. They are coming off a disappointing home loss to the Eagles, so I wouldn’t bet against Aaron Rodgers under these circumstances.

I like Green Bay to either win the game, or lose by a field goal or less.

LEAN #4: New York Jets +13.5 at Philadelphia Eagles

This is clearly a sandwich game for the Eagles. They just racked up an emotional win in Green Bay on primetime television, and they are awaiting matchups against the Vikings and the Cowboys. Facing the Jets this week isn’t the best source of motivation.

Philadelphia gets three extra days of rest after playing last Thursday, but the Jets got even more rest since they were on their bye week. Generally speaking, I love picking winless teams coming off a bye.

Sam Darnold has a chance to play this week. He will probably be a game-time decision. Against a weak Eagles pass defense, it would be a good matchup for him. It would also help the running game. Le’Veon Bell hasn’t been able to get going so far this season, but keep in mind he faced three very strong defensive teams: Buffalo, New England and Cleveland. I could see him breaking out this week.


Have a great weekend!

Professor MJ

(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)