The NFL season is just about 25 percent done, and well, the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams all lead their respective division.
Football is weird, man.
That being said, NESN.com’s trio of pigskin prognosticators — Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian — will once again try to make sense of things entering Week 5. See and hear them break down their picks in “The Spread” in the video above or read on and get their against-the-spread picks for every game this week below.
Before that, a look at how they did last week.
Mike Cole: 8-8 (30-31-1 overall)
Ricky Doyle: 7-9 (31-30-1)
Andre Khatchaturian: 7-9 (29-32-1)
Now, the Week 5 picks with lines courtesy of OddsShark.
(-5.5) New England Patriots at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:30 p.m. ET
Mike: Bucs. The Patriots’ defensive issues are well documented, and now they have injuries on that side of the ball. Trying to slow down Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson won’t be easy. Patriots should win, but it’ll be close.
Ricky: Patriots. Do you really think the Patriots are going to fall flat on their faces again? Sure, they have issues. But the Bucs’ defense isn’t perfect, either. In fact, Tampa Bay ranks 31st in the NFL — just ahead of New England — with 315.7 passing yards allowed per game in three contests. The Bucs were carved up two weeks ago by Case Keenum. Tom Brady and the Pats’ offense should have a field day.
Andre: Patriots. In the last two seasons following a loss, the Pats are 3-0 with an average margin of victory of 16.3. The Pats defense might stink, but Tom Brady still has yet to throw a pick and looks like he hasn’t lost a step.
Arizona Cardinals at (-6.5) Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m.
Mike: Eagles. Carson Palmer has been sacked 12 times in the last two weeks, and now the Cardinals face an elite pass rush, not to mention the three-hour time difference from travel combined with a 1 p.m. ET kickoff.
Ricky: Eagles. The Cardinals just don’t do anything for me, while the Eagles have looked like the class of the NFC East. Plus, everyone knows an actual eagle would crush an actual cardinal.
Andre: Eagles. Arizona’s Carson is old, brittle, has thrown the same amount of picks as touchdowns and needed almost five quarters to score a touchdown against the lowly 49ers. Philadelphia’s Carson thrives at home with a 7-2 record, 10 touchdowns and five picks.
Buffalo Bills at (-3) Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bills. These two teams are both among the best yards per play defenses and worst yards per play offenses. The difference? Cincinnati turns it over a lot.
Ricky: Bills. Buffalo has the league’s best scoring defense, allowing just 13.5 points per game. The Bills, who are coming off back-to-back wins over the Broncos and Falcons (two legitimate Super Bowl contenders), didn’t surrender their first passing touchdown until last week.
Andre: Bills. The Bills are eighth in the NFL in sacks and they’ll be going up against an offensive line that allows sacks on more than 10 percent of dropbacks (fifth-highest). Tyrod Taylor is a master at not turning the ball over and the Bills are second in the league in turnover differential.
Carolina Panthers at (-3) Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.
Mike: Panthers. It’s been more than a year, and I’m still not ready to buy in on the Lions. They’ve played a pretty soft schedule, and the Panthers are riding high after a win in Foxboro. I will say, though, I liked this pick more before Cam Newton’s press conference outburst Wednesday.
Ricky: Lions. Both defenses are surrendering 17.5 points per game, good for fourth in the NFL, and the units are fairly comparable in terms of yards allowed. However, Detroit is tied for the league lead with 11 takeaways, while Carolina has just two. Expect a big turnover to shift momentum in the Lions’ favor.
Andre: Lions. Detroit was third-to-last in sacks last year with 26. They already have 10 this year. They also have the league’s best turnover differential and they’re going up against a turnover-prone quarterback in Newton, who gets sacked a lot.
Jacksonville Jaguars at (-8.5) Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. Le’Veon Bell looks like he’s hitting his stride after a slow start following his holdout. He’ll continue to look good against a Jaguars defense allowing 5.7 (!!!) yards per carry through four weeks.
Ricky: Steelers. The Jaguars have been alternating between very good performances and lackluster efforts. That trend ends this week, though, when Jacksonville loses its second straight road contest due to its offense’s inability to keep up with both Bell and Antonio Brown.
Andre: Steelers. In a game between two elite defenses, I trust Ben Roethlisberger at home more than Blake Bortles, who’s completed just 54.5 percent of passes this year. The Jags also allow the most rushing yards per carry, so expect Bell to take advantage of that.
Los Angeles Chargers at (-4) New York Giants, 1 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. Hopefully Eli Manning has a solid life insurance plan because he might need with that offensive line trying to slow down Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
Ricky: Chargers. You know how this one’s going to play out. The Chargers will make a few plays, sprinkle in some costly mistakes and end up losing by a field goal in gut-wrenching fashion … which is good enough for a cover here.
Andre: Chargers. Of Philip Rivers’ 90 career NFL losses (including playoffs), 28 of them have come by a margin of three or less. If that seems like a lot, it’s because it is the most amount of losses by three points or less for active quarterbacks. A four-point spread seems like a great opportunity for Rivers to tack on to that total.
New York Jets at (-1.5) Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.
Mike: Browns. Not gonna let two straight wins distract me from the fact the Jets are still the Jets. Both wins came at home, but it’s a different story when you go on the road, even if that road leads to Cleveland.
Ricky: Browns. The Jets winning three games in a row? Nah, not happening, especially with this game being played in Cleveland.
Andre: Jets. Josh McCown is the league’s second-most accurate quarterback and the Jets’ running game is averaging nearly five yards per carry. As a result, they somehow have managed to attain the ninth best yards-per-play differential mark.
San Francisco 49ers at (-1.5) Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Mike: 49ers. There some bad football games this week!
Ricky: 49ers. The 49ers are winless, but their last three losses — all against superior divisional opponents (Seahawks, Rams and Cardinals) — have been by three points or fewer. This is the week Kyle Shanahan gets his first victory as an NFL head coach, as the Colts just aren’t very good.
Andre: 49ers. The Niners have somewhat of a good defense, allowing just 4.9 yards per play this season (sixth in the league). Jacoby Brissett has looked OK at times, but the Colts’ non-existent running game puts way too much pressure on the young quarterback.
(-3) Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Dolphins. Marcus Mariota’s status is up in the air, and the Dolphins have done a nice job against the run, ranking fifth in yards per carry allowed. That, plus the home debut is enough for me to ignore the London travel.
Ricky: Titans. The Jaguars and Ravens both lost in Week 4 after playing in London in Week 3. The Dolphins might be better than those teams, but even that’s up for debate right now with how terrible Miami’s offense has looked through three games.
Andre: Titans. Since the start of last year, Mariota has 13 touchdowns and two interceptions following a loss. He’ll go up against the league’s worst offense in terms of yards per play and will have all time to throw against a pass rush that’s second-to-last in sacks.
Baltimore Ravens at (-2.5) Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Raiders. Without Brandon Williams, one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, opponents have gashed the Ravens for 339 rushing yards over the last two weeks. It’s a nice spot for a get-right game for Marshawn Lynch and Co., even with Derek Carr out.
Ricky: Raiders. Joe Flacco has thrown an interception in 10 consecutive games. Not only is he not elite but he also isn’t much better than E.J. Manuel at this point, rendering Oakland’s loss of Carr meaningless for this particular matchup.
Andre: Ravens. The Raiders allow 5.8 yards per play, the fifth-highest mark in the league and unlike last year, they haven’t been able to mask that deficiency by forcing turnovers. They’re one of four teams with zero interceptions. Now, Carr is gone and the Ravens, who lead the league in picks, can easily make Manuel pay.
Seattle Seahawks at (-2.5) Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Rams. It’s OK to believe in the Rams, who, under Sean McVay, suddenly have an explosive offense. But it’s the Rams’ defense that will make the difference by chasing around Russell Wilson, who’s already been sacked 10 times this season.
Ricky: Rams. Seattle’s 46 points against Indianapolis last week look good on paper. But the Colts’ defense stinks, the Seahawks scored two defensive touchdowns (against a team with turnover problems) and Seattle’s offense still looked like crap for much of the first half. Add in the injuries that the Seahawks suffered in Week 4, and this could be a breakout performance for the Rams’ defense.
Andre: Rams. The Seahawks have the league’s worst drive start position, while the Rams have the league’s best drive start position. Seattle’s only two wins have come against the 49ers and Colts. You’d think a historically great defense like theirs would be among the league’s elite because of crappy opponents, but they actually rank 16th in yards allowed per play.
Green Bay Packers at (-2) Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Packers. Assuming the Packers get their expected reinforcements on both lines — Mike Daniels on defense, David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga on offense — this will be the healthiest Green Bay has been since Week 1. That should help against Dallas’ two biggest strengths: the run game and pass rush.
Ricky: Packers. There’s still something a bit off about the Cowboys’ offense this season. The rushing attack has been good, but it hasn’t been dominant. Dallas ranks 23rd in average time of possession after ranking third last season. This game could be decided on third down, where the Packers have been much better than the Cowboys, both offensively and defensively.
Andre: Cowboys. David Irving returns to the Cowboys’ roster to bolster an already electric pass rush featuring Demarcus Lawrence, who leads the NFL in sacks. The Packers have allowed the fourth-most sacks in the NFL. Ultimately the difference of the game will come down to Ezekiel Elliott eating up clock and keeping the ball away from Aaron Rodgers’ hands.
(-1.5) Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Chiefs. K.C. is averaging 10.5 points per first quarter on the road this season and won’t let the game get away from it like the Titans did in Houston last week. Also, expect a big game from Travis Kelce.
Ricky: Chiefs. The Texans had five takeaways in last week’s blowout win over the Titans, their most in a game since 2008. That won’t happen this week, as the Chiefs, who have only one turnover this season, are very good at taking care of the football. Plus, Texans rookie QB Deshaun Watson will be tested much more than he was against either New England and Tennessee.
Andre: Chiefs. Kansas City has won 26 of its last 30 regular season games, has the league’s highest yards per play differential, most yards per play, most yards per carry, the league’s most accurate quarterback, no interceptions and opposing quarterbacks (Tom Brady, Kirk Cousins, Philip Rivers and Carson Wentz) have completed a league-low 51.4 percent of throws against the Chiefs’ defense.
(-3) Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Bears. The loss of Dalvin Cook really hurts the Vikings. And all Mitchell Trubisky has to do is take care of the football, and he’ll be an upgrade over Mike Glennon.
Ricky: Vikings. Minnesota ranks third in the NFL against the run (71.3 rushing yards allowed per game), which will make life extremely difficult for Chicago’s rookie quarterback.
Andre: Vikings. Minnesota quietly has the third-best yards per play differential in football. Sam Bradford and Case Keenum have yet to throw a pick. The Vikings only lost by a touchdown to the Lions despite two really bad fumbles that led to points and another that ended the game.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images
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