NFL Picks Week #5 (2020 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #5)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Thursday October 8th, 2020 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
As promised last week, here is an update about BetOnline’s Mega Contest:
I did not win the $4,000 quarterly prize awarded to the top contestant through four weeks.
I dropped from 2nd to 24th place (out of 2671 participants) after posting a disappointing 2-3 record last week.
Still in good shape for season prizes, which are given to the top 100 contestants. Let’s keep grinding!
Let’s now move on to my favorite plays in Week #5!
PICK #1 (4 STARS): PITTSBURGH STEELERS -7 VS PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
The better a team is, the more they benefit from additional rest. That’s not theory, but something that was verified through statistical analyses. It also makes sense from a logical standpoint, as these teams tend to make better use of the extra time for game planning.
That being said, the Steelers are in great position here. Not only are they coming off a bye week, but they will be at home for the fourth straight week! Indeed, they hosted the Broncos and Texans in Weeks #2 and #3 before resting last week.
Over a four-year period, home favorites coming off a bye week have posted a 26-20-2 record against the spread (ATS).
Pittsburgh has very few injured players too! Other than right tackle Zach Banner and backup offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, there’s no notable players who are banged up. Although JuJu Smith-Schuster and cornerback Joe Haden just popped on the injury list today, but they seem to have a fair chance of suiting up this Sunday.
Philly, on the other hand, is dealing with lots of injuries. I won’t list them all, but the situation on the offensive line is particularly worrisome. That’s very bad news when facing a ferocious defense like Pittsburgh! Jason Peters and Isaac Seumalo are officially out for this game, while Lane Johnson is questionable.
I’m taking the Steelers to handle their state rival by more than a touchdown.
PICK #2 (3 STARS): ARIZONA CARDINALS -7 AT NEW YORK JETS
When will the Jets finally fire Adam Gase? It seems super obvious that he needs to go. He’s a horrible head coach. I believe Sam Darnold has talent, but he’s been regressing under Gase, who was supposed to be an offensive mastermind. I could see Darnold flourishing once Gase is gone, or if Darnold goes to another team.
The Jets are not playing like a team. They are blowing assignments and taking way too many penalties. They are not disciplined and repeatedly make dumb things on the field. Again, it all starts with the head coach to fix those issues.
As long as Gase is the leader, fading the Jets sounds like a good plan.
Both of the Jets’ tackles are uncertain to play this weekend: George Fant and Mekhi Becton. Even their backup, Chuma Edoga, is banged up.
Joe Flacco will be under center for the Jets following Darnold’s shoulder injury. Over the past five seasons, Flacco has thrown 70 TD passes versus 51 interceptions. That’s not a good ratio at all. He’s 35 years old and unlikely to be the savior.
Arizona is coming off two consecutive losses to ordinary teams after beating the 49ers and the Redskins. I do believe they will rebound; they simply cannot afford to lose this game and won’t take it lightly.
The rest factor is not favoring the Cards, though. They will be playing an early game on the East Coast, but such teams have been beating the spread at a higher rate over the recent years. The Jets benefit from three additional days of rest after playing last Thursday. However, bad teams don’t benefit as much from extra rest compared to elite ones.
I’m banking on Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins to hammer the Jets, which might finally put an end to Adam Gase’s tenure as the Jets’ head coach.
PICK #3 (1 STAR): NEW YORK GIANTS +9.5 AT DALLAS COWBOYS
I can’t say I’m overly confident about this play, but there are so many betting angles pointing in the Giants’ direction that I can’t ignore them.
First, the bad news. New York’s offense has been very anemic this season. They haven’t scored more than 16 points in any game, while averaging less than 12 points per match! That’s awful!
The Giants will also be playing a third road game out of their past four meetings, including a long trip to Los Angeles last week.
Now, the good news. Here are two betting strategies I’ve been following recently who both support taking the Giants this week:
- Bet a bad team facing a divisional opponent on the road when coming off a loss by more than seven points (60-40-2 ATS record);
- Bet a bad team who is established as a road underdog by more than seven points if they are coming off at least four straight games in which they were underdogs (63-45-1 ATS record).
I also like the revenge factor here. Last year, the Cowboys handled the Giants easily in both matchups: 35-17 in Dallas, 37-18 in New York.
You’ve also probably heard of the rash of injuries in Dallas. I especially like to focus on offensive line injuries since they play a key role and are undervalued by the general public. Center Joe Looney is out, as well as right tackle Cam Erving. Also, the status of left tackle Tyron Smith is still up in the air.
Some might argue the Cowboys will be super motivated after such an embarrassing loss to the Browns. Fair enough, and to be honest that’s one of my main concerns when picking the Giants here. But the counterargument would be that Dallas is playing on their heels and don’t have much confidence right now.
Personally, I’m tempted to buy half a point and grab the Giants at +10 points. That would make me feel more comfortable with this pick.
NFL PLAYER PROPS
I’ve been sending selected player prop bets on Fridays to those of you subscribing to my mailing list.
All three picks sent last week were losers, which was a shocker considering we had gone 10-2 thus far in the year.
So, overall, our record stands at 10-5, which is great!
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(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)