NFL Week 5 Picks: Bills To Shift AFC Balance Of Power In Kansas City?

An AFC Championship rematch highlights a 'prove it' week for a handful of teams

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The “Sunday Night Football” matchup in Week 4 of the 2021 NFL season might have been the most anticipated game in quite some time, but the Week 5 “SNF” matchup might be the best game on the calendar this season.

The Buffalo Bills head to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs this Sunday night, a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game. While it might not have the same juicy storylines we saw this past week in Patriots-Buccaneers, this primetime tilt features the two best teams in the AFC and very well could be another potential playoff preview.

We’re still not certain what to make of either team, and that’s the case for a handful of games this week, as we should learn a lot about certain squads that are trying to prove the first four weeks weren’t (or were) an aberration.

Oh, and London football is back … with two very bad teams.

As always, NESN.com’s Mike Cole and Ricky Doyle are here to break it all down with their Week 5 against-the-spread picks. They already tackled some of the best games of the week on “The Spread,” NESN’s football picks podcast, which you can listen to below.

And here’s how the dynamic duo fared last week.

Here are their Week 5 picks, with all lines coming from DraftKings Sportsbook.

THURSDAY, OCT. 7

(-2.5) Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m. ET
Mike: Seahawks.
We’ve got four weeks of data now, and a lot of the numbers point to these two teams being pretty evenly matched. Seattle has done very well to protect the football and is home, so I’ll roll with the ‘Hawks getting the points on Puget Sound.
Ricky: Seahawks. Seattle at home … in primetime … against a divisional opponent … getting points. That’s a recipe I’m willing to devour.

SUNDAY, OCT. 10

New York Jets vs. (-3) Atlanta Falcons, 9:30 a.m. ET (in London)
Mike: Jets.
Let’s just say there are four units most likely to decide this game, which are the offenses and defenses of both teams. The only one of those units that gives me any sort of confidence at all is the Jets’ defense, so I’ll grab the points and assume (or hope) Robert Saleh brings the more prepared team to London.
Ricky: Falcons. This is the 29th game the NFL has played in London. Not one has featured two teams with winning records. And it doesn’t get much worse than this. Simply banking on a letdown from the Jets after their first win in Week 4.

Detroit Lions at (-8.5) Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m.
Mike: Lions.
Detroit has been weirdly competitive this season, but the Lions obviously don’t have the horsepower to take the next step. The Vikings are a tough nut to crack, and they didn’t do a ton last week to inspire confidence. That was against Cleveland, sure, but the points feel too high here against the knee-biters.
Ricky: Lions. The Lions are pesky, and the Vikings, while better than their 1-3 record indicates, just aren’t good enough to be throwing around numbers this large in a divisional matchup.

(-2) New Orleans Saints at Washington Football Team, 1 p.m.
Mike: Saints.
People who think this job is easy don’t realize you sometimes have to predict what’s gonna happen in a Saints-Washington game. I’ll take the more talented team, I guess.
Ricky: Saints. Said before the season New Orleans would be a Jekyll-and-Hyde team, but not even that expectation could prepare anyone for the Saints’ rollercoaster ride through four weeks. Sean Payton needs to get Alvin Kamara more involved in the passing game against a Washington defense that has been a huge disappointment. Payton, for whatever it’s worth, is 48-26 ATS (65%) coming off a loss, per Action Network.

(-8.5) New England Patriots at Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Texans.
Was ready to hammer the Patriots in this spot, but I’m officially spooked by the Patriots’ offensive line issues, with 80% of the starting unit missing practice Wednesday due to injury or COVID. Houston’s pass rush has been nonexistent, but even the Texans could make life difficult for the Patriots offense if it’s without the majority of the O-line.
Ricky: Patriots. New England’s defense looked good last week against Tom Brady, and now it’ll face a struggling first-year quarterback in Davis Mills. You know the deal with Bill Belichick vs. rookie QBs. This is a game the Patriots absolutely need after falling to 1-3, and it shouldn’t require many points from New England’s offense to cover the number.

Miami Dolphins at (-10) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bucs.
Tampa Bay not having a secondary feels like a potential issue, and Brian Flores is quite familiar with Tom Brady. However, I think the Bucs are gonna be free and easy with the hoopla of last week behind them, and the poor Dolphins will feel the brunt of that.
Ricky: Bucs. The Dolphins rank dead-last in yards per play (4.0). They haven’t totaled five yards per play in any game this season. Flores will need to dial up something really special to compensate for Miami’s offensive woes, which are exacerbated by Jacoby Brissett still filling in for Tua Tagovailoa.

(-3) Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bengals.
The Packers have big-time injury concerns on defense after No. 1 cornerback Jaire Alexander went down with a shoulder injury. Joe Burrow has completed 78% of his passes with a 135 passer rating over the last two weeks, so he and that Cincy offense should be able to keep pace in a shootout.
Ricky: Packers. Not ready to buy Cincinnati’s defense just yet. The Bengals are trending in the right direction, particularly on offense, but losing to the Bears in Week 2 and needing to rally from 14 points down against the Jaguars in Week 4 is enough to make me uneasy about backing Cincinnati against a Green Bay team with an all-world quarterback that can grind away the game with its rushing attack.

Denver Broncos at (-1) Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Broncos.
Putting a lot of stock in Teddy Bridgewater’s brain health for this pick, but it does sound like he’s making some progress after suffering a concussion last week. Even if Drew Lock goes, is he that much worse than current-day Ben Roethlisberger? Denver’s defense bounces back and harasses immobile Big Ben all day.
Ricky: Broncos. I want nothing to do with this game if Lock starts in place of Bridgewater. But I also want nothing to do with the Steelers offense right now. At least there’s a chance Denver musters up some points, as Pittsburgh’s defense has lost its luster, as well.

Philadelphia Eagles at (-3.5) Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Eagles.
Philly hung with KC last week, but in the end, the Eagles just couldn’t match the Chiefs’ firepower. It’s a different story this week against Carolina, who also got a little exposed by the Cowboys, especially on the ground with Dallas running for 245 yards (!) on 34 carries. Could be a big game for Jalen Hurts running the rock this week.
Ricky: Eagles. Philadelphia allowed 41 points and 42 points to Dallas and Kansas City, respectively. Not good, to be clear, but those are elite offenses. The Eagles — who held the Falcons and 49ers to six points and 17 points, respectively — should have an easier time slowing the Panthers, even if Christian McCaffrey returns.

(-4.5) Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Mike: Titans.
Squarest of picks, especially if Tennessee’s health at the receiver position doesn’t improve. That said, it was a week from hell in Jacksonville, and that thing is an absolute mess. The Titans, 7-point favorites on the look-ahead line, had seemingly justified Super Bowl aspirations entering the season, so they have to be able to get right here.
Ricky: Titans. Don’t overthink it.

Cleveland Browns at (-1.5) Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Chargers.
I’ve got questions about Cleveland’s offense, as the Browns rank 24th in offensive EPA/play in the last two weeks after playing real defenses (Chicago and Minnesota). It’s looking like Browns left tackle Jedrick Wills might not go, making a matchup with Joey Bosa and Co. even more difficult for Baker Mayfield and his paltry 32.8 passer rating when under pressure.
Ricky: Browns. Hard to look past the apparent mismatch in the trenches. The Chargers’ defense ranks 30th in rush success rate and 23rd in rush EPA — less than ideal when facing a Browns offense that revolves around its ground game. Cleveland, led by the running-back tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, ranks second in explosive run rate.

Chicago Bears at (-5) Las Vegas Raiders, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Raiders.
The Vegas pass rush has been able to create some pressure and get home at times this season, and they’ll probably look pretty good against a below-average Bears offensive line.
Ricky: Raiders. I’m OK with picking the Bears against clearly inferior competition at home — like last week when they were laying only three points to the Lions. There’s value there. However, I’m not OK with picking them against seemingly superior competition on the road, especially in wake of them losing running back David Montgomery.

San Francisco 49ers at (-5.5) Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: 49ers.
If we get Jimmy Garoppolo here, the Niners feel like the play — if for no other reason than everyone on the NFC West is gonna beat up on each other, and more than a field goal feels too high.
Ricky: Cardinals. It sure seems like Trey Lance will start this week, with Garoppolo missing practice Thursday. That could be a good thing in the long run for San Francisco, but the unpredictability that comes with a rookie QB making his first career start — especially one with limited college experience — is enough to scare me away from the Niners. After all, we’ve already seen some splash plays from Arizona’s defense through four weeks.

New York Giants at (-7) Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Giants.
The Cowboys are 4-0 against the spread this season, so something has to give. The Cowboys have done a good job forcing turnovers, while still giving up chunks of yards through the air. Somewhat surprisingly, though, only three QBs have been more careful with the ball than Daniel Jones. Maybe he can keep it close?
Ricky: Giants. Doesn’t it kinda feel like things are going way too smoothly in Dallas? Anyway, the Giants are a good road bet (11-2 ATS in their last 13 away games), and their conservative offense might help here, preventing the Cowboys from adding to their NFC-leading 10 takeaways.

Buffalo Bills at (-2.5) Kansas City Chiefs, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Chiefs.
I’m not entirely sold yet on Buffalo given its schedule to this point, with wins over Miami, Washington and Houston. KC’s defense is an issue, yes, but it’s also hard to pass up the chance to lay less than a field goal at home with Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid.
Ricky: Bills. Kansas City has the better offense and Buffalo has the better defense. However, the difference between the defenses is far greater than the difference between the offenses. The Chiefs can’t stop anyone right now, whereas the Bills are capable of winning in a variety of ways.

MONDAY, OCT. 11

Indianapolis Colts at (-6.5) Baltimore Ravens, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Colts.
Indy has done a nice job of getting takeaways, and the Ravens are susceptible to the occasional turnover. The Colts just need a couple of key swing plays to keep this within the number.
Ricky: Ravens. Baltimore typically takes care of business against bad teams, winning 15 of its last 16 games against opponents with losing records, with the average margin of victory in those contests being almost 17 points.

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