Well, Week 4 in the NFL was unpredictable, but we can say this much about Week 5: The lowly 0-4 Miami Dolphins will not lose this week.
That’s because the Dolphins have a bye. Good one, huh?
Anyway, NESN.com’s Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian are back with their weekly against-the-spread NFL picks.
Here’s how they fared last week.
Mike Cole: 6-9 (32-30-1 overall)
Ricky Doyle: 7-8 (31-31-1)
Andre Khatchaturian: 7-8 (31-31-1)
Here are their Week 5 picks.
THURSDAY, OCT. 3
Los Angeles Rams at (-1.5) Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Seahawks. Big game coming for Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Anseh, who will be in the backfield all night against this shaky Rams offensive line.
Ricky: Rams. Seattle typically plays well in these situations, but this line seems like an overreaction to both the Seahawks beating up on the lowly Cardinals and the Rams losing in a shootout to the unpredictable Bucs. Los Angeles initially was pegged as the favorite in early look-ahead lines. As such, it seems like good value to jump on the Rams, who will enjoy success through the air while continuing to manage around a watered-down version of Todd Gurley.
Andre: Seahawks. Russell Wilson is less likely to make mistakes than Jared Goff, especially at home. Wilson has 39 touchdowns and just four interceptions (zero interceptions this year) over his last 19 games. The Rams have become a one-dimensional team and Goff has the second-most pass attempts in the NFL this year. He also has a league-high 33 “bad throws,” a stat tracked by Pro Football Reference.
SUNDAY, OCT. 6
(-3.5) Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Steelers. I don’t want to overreact to a game against the Bengals, but it sure looked like Mason Rudolph is starting to feel more comfortable in the Pittsburgh offense, and we’re getting pretty close to needing to worry about the Baltimore pass defense, which has the seventh-worst passer rating against in the last three weeks (since the Dolphins game).
Ricky: Steelers. Pittsburgh’s defense made significant strides in Week 4, whereas Baltimore’s defense again got exposed. That’s worth noting as quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Rudolph prepare for their first real taste of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry. Pittsburgh is 16-3 SU in home divisional games since 2013.
Andre: Steelers. Rudolph looked comfortable against the Bengals and that shouldn’t change in Week 5 against a terrible Ravens defense. Baltimore allows nine yards per pass attempt (third-worst). Pittsburgh’s defense continues to be a strength. They’re fourth in sacks and turnover differential and have allowed fewer than five yards per play since their Week 1 loss to New England.
(-5) Chicago Bears vs. Oakland Raiders, 1 p.m. (in London)
Mike: Bears. Classic “What am I missing here?” situation. Chase Daniel has been a fairly effective backup when called upon in Chicago. Dating back to last year, he’s completed 71 percent of his passes and has put the Bears in a situation to win each game. With that defense, that’s all you need most of the time.
Ricky: Bears. No Mitch Trubisky? No problem. This game is more about Chicago’s defense, which will feast on Oakland’s offensive line as Khalil Mack exacts revenge on his former team. Also keep in mind: The trip overseas comes amid an already grueling schedule for the Raiders, who will face an uphill battle given the success of favorites (18-5-1 SU and 15-9 ATS) in London games dating back to 2007.
Andre: Bears. Now is a great time to remind everyone that former Raider Mack has 17 sacks and 10 forced fumbles since the start of last season. The Raiders collectively have 18 sacks and five fumble recoveries during that span. The strongest defense the Raiders have faced in terms of yards allowed per play were the Vikings and they lost 34-14.
Arizona Cardinals at (-3.5) Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bengals. Neither team can protect the quarterback, so I guess I’ll just take the home team.
Ricky: Cardinals. Can we just throw the Dolphins in here, too, and make it a triple-threat match?
Andre: Cardinals. Both of these teams are equally bad when it comes to turnover, pass rush and yards per play metrics, so I’m just going to take the points.
Jacksonville Jaguars at (-3.5) Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jaguars. The Jags have a decent enough chance of slowing Christian McCaffrey — they’re a top-10 defense against running backs catching the ball — and their running game (7.1 yards per carry last week) should have early-down success against a Panthers defense that has struggled against the run on first and second down.
Ricky: Panthers. Carolina’s defense is a borderline top-five unit, ranking first in opponent yards per completion (7.0), first in sack percentage (11.32) and second behind only New England in opponent yards per play (4.3). So long as Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen takes care of the football, Carolina is well-positioned to stop Jacksonville’s “Minshew Magic” dead in its tracks.
Andre: Panthers. What Ricky said. Also, Carolina is the most disciplined team in football, averaging 2.8 penalties per 100 plays (best mark in the NFL). Jacksonville is the sixth-most penalized team. The Panthers are one of six teams with a net yards per play of more than 1.
(-5.5) Minnesota Vikings at New York Giants, 1 p.m.
Mike: Vikings. The Giants run defense looked great against the Redskins, but who hasn’t this year? In the prior three games, however, the Giants were allowing 128 yards per game, and it will be even more difficult this week without linebacker Ryan Connelly against a very capable Minnesota rushing attack.
Ricky: Vikings. It’s looking more and more like the Vikings can’t be trusted against legitimate contenders — see Week 2 vs. Green Bay and Week 4 vs. Chicago — but I’ll trust that Mike Zimmer has something up his sleeve to slow rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, who benefited from starting his NFL career against the Bucs and Redskins.
Andre: Giants. Too many points. Since Jones took over, the Giants are averaging more than six yards per play. If one calculates the spread using the two teams’ net yards per play for the entire season, the Vikings should be 3-4 point favorites.
(-15.5) New England Patriots at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Patriots. The Patriots have issues — Julian Edelman is nicked up, Josh Gordon has a knee problem, they didn’t have a kicker as of this writing — but I really don’t know if Washington will score anything here. Also, New England is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 as double-digit favorites. That’s nuts.
Ricky: Redskins. It was a good ride, Jay Gruden. Eh, not really. The Patriots will put the Redskins head coach out of his misery in Week 5, but a backdoor cover will leave New England bettors licking their wounds.
Andre: Patriots. The Patriots already have 10 interceptions this year, twice as many as any other team and now they take on a team with probably the worst quarterback situation in the league. The Redskins also only average 2.9 yards per carry and they’re going up against a defense that allows the fewest yards per play. I’ll go one step further and predict a shutout in this one.
New York Jets at (-13.5) Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m.
Mike: Eagles. The Jets covered in Luke Falk’s first start, but that was fluky as hell. Not expecting a similar fate here in Philly, assuming the Washington State product is still under center for Sam Darnold.
Ricky: Jets. New York’s injury situation — namely the status’ of quarterback Darnold and linebacker C.J Mosley — makes this game nearly impossible to project, but there’s just something unsettling about laying so many points given Philadelphia’s Jekyll and Hyde act so far this season.
Andre: Eagles. The Eagles only have three sacks, but their pass rush is ranked 12th on Pro Football Focus thanks to Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox, who are third and 12th in the NFL in pressures. The Eagles only allow 3.2 yards per carry, so expect a pass-heavy game from Luke Falk and the Jets.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at (-3.5) New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bucs. The Bucs’ run defense under Todd Bowles has been elite, which they have to hope continues here and puts the game in Teddy Bridgewater’s hands. Despite the Saints’ success under the backup QB, New Orleans has scored just three offensive touchdowns since he took over for Drew Brees.
Ricky: Saints. Stay woke. Just when you think it’s safe to buy into the Bucs, Jameis Winston no doubt will have a few turnovers up his sleeve, thus tilting the field in the Saints’ favor.
Andre: Bucs. The Bucs allow fewer than three yards per carry. If the Saints can’t get the run going, they’re going to struggle passing the ball just like they did against the Cowboys last week, when they scored no touchdowns. New Orleans’ defense allows the fifth-most yards per play and the Bucs have had solid performance on the road against tough teams like the Panthers and Rams.
Atlanta Falcons at (-5) Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Texans. There’s a lot of talk about the Houston offensive line and for good reason. But Atlanta’s offensive line hasn’t been a whole lot better and has a whole bunch of injuries right now, which doesn’t bode well for Matt Ryan and his 52.1 passer rating under pressure.
Ricky: Falcons. Houston’s defense ranks 27th in coverage this season, per Pro Football Focus, representing a huge mismatch in Atlanta’s favor given the Falcons’ bevy of offensive weapons. The key will be keeping Matt Ryan upright long enough for him to use those weapons.
Andre: Falcons. The Falcons are one of three teams that are top 10 in yards per play and yards allowed per play. They’re getting crushed in the turnover battle, though. Have to think that Matt Ryan cleans it up eventually and maybe the Falcons pass rush has a get right game against a Texans offensive line that’s allowed 18 sacks.
Buffalo Bills at (-3) Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Titans. Tennessee might be the most average team in the NFL, but that should get it done at home against Matt Barkley. I also like that the Titans don’t turn it over, while the Bills have multiple giveaways in three of their four games this season.
Ricky: Bills. Buffalo’s defense just made Tom Brady look human. It’s hard to think Marcus Mariota will fare much better, and the potential drop-off from Josh Allen to Matt Barkley at quarterback for the Bills isn’t significant enough to scare me away from the underdogs.
Andre: Bills. Coming into the season, Mariota had 23 picks over the last two seasons. Now he all of a sudden has zero. He’s due for a pick this week against a Buffalo team that allows a league-best 5.1 yards per pass attempt and made Brady look like Falk at times last week.
Denver Broncos at (-6.5) Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05
Mike: Chargers. I think it’s time to admit I was very wrong about the Vic Fangio experience in Denver.
Ricky: Chargers. The Broncos just lost a key piece, Bradley Chubb, while the Chargers are getting back a key piece, Melvin Gordon. Denver also has been terrible against divisional opponents (2-10 ATS in last 10 games versus AFC West teams) and on the road (5-15 ATS in last 20 away games) of late.
Andre: Chargers. The Broncos still don’t have a takeaway this season and are second-to-last in sacks.
Green Bay Packers at (-3.5) Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Cowboys. Brutal matchup here for the Packers, who have allowed 174 rushing yards per game over the last three weeks and now have to slow down Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. Also, injuries abound for Green Bay, who might be without No. 1 wideout Davante Adams, starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga and running back Jamaal Williams, while All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari is still banged up. Yikes.
Ricky: Cowboys. Green Bay’s run defense has been leaky, ranking 26th in opponent rush yards per game (142.2) and 29th in opponent yards per carry (5.0), and it now faces a Dallas offense that has the second-most rush plays of 10-plus yards (18) through four weeks. This opens the door for some favorable down-and-distances for the Cowboys, who rank second in third-down conversion percentage (52.38).
Andre: Cowboys. Tyron Smith’s health concerns me, but the Packers’ rush defense is so bad and Elliott is so efficient I don’t think it’ll matter. The Cowboys are still tops in net yards per play despite a rough showing in New Orleans.
Indianapolis Colts at (-10.5) Kansas City Chiefs, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Chiefs. Colts players on the injury report right now include linebacker Darius Leonard, safety Malik Hooker, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, receiver Parris Campbell and running back Marlon Mack. Even if they all played Sunday, they wouldn’t be 100 percent, and trying to take on a Chiefs team looking to get back on track after a nail-biter last week isn’t a good recipe for success.
Ricky: Colts. The possible return of Leonard, who missed the last two games with a concussion but returned to practice Wednesday, would go a long way toward stabilizing Indianapolis’ defense. Now, if the Colts can get back Mack and Hilton on offense, then there’s real upset potential here.
Andre: Chiefs. The Colts and the Chiefs are 31st and 32nd in terms of rushing yards per carry, respectively. Both teams will succeed running the ball, but I think the Chiefs’ offensive explosiveness will put them ahead early and force Jacoby Brissett to play catchup all game.
MONDAY, OCT. 7
Cleveland Browns at (-3.5) San Francisco 49ers, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: 49ers. If you can limit Cleveland’s big-play opportunities, it’ll eventually shoot itself in the foot, and San Fran is fourth in explosive run plays allowed and sixth in explosive pass plays allowed, per Sharp Football Stats. Continue to do that, and the undisciplined Browns should take care of the rest.
Ricky: 49ers. Is San Francisco really this good? I don’t know. But the discrepancy between Cleveland’s ceiling and floor is way too jarring to trust the Browns, who are traveling across the country to face an undefeated team that’s coming off a bye. Baker Mayfield continues to look shaky in the pocket, because of both Cleveland’s inconsistent offensive line and his own wrongdoing, and San Francisco will exploit that en route to a statement victory.
Andre: 49ers. The Browns are the most undisciplined team in football. They’ve allowed 368 penalty yards and have the worst net penalty differential at minus-160. They also have the third-most pre-snap penalties, which could be a problem with a rookie quarterback in a raucous Monday night environment.