For Week 5 in the NFL, three games interest us for our underdog picks: Saints vs. Patriots, Bengals vs. Cardinals, and Jets vs. Broncos.
I like to invest three-quarters of a unit in the underdog ATS and the remaining quarter in the underdog ML.
- Saints +1.5 (-110) at Bet365
- Cardinals +3 (-110) at Bet365
- Jets +2 (-110) at Bet365 (check our Bet365 Review)
Sunday, October 08, 2023 – 01:00 PM EDT at Gillette Stadium
Patriots’ Key Injuries
Last Sunday, the Patriots lost two key playmakers on defense due to injuries. One is linebacker Matt Judon, who leads the team in sacks. The other is their top cornerback, Christian Gonzalez. With Gonzalez out, the Patriots’ secondary is reeling all the more heavily.
Currently, six of their defensive backs are injured. Of those six, only Jonathan Jones has a chance of playing in Sunday’s game – he is listed as ‘questionable.’
These injuries enabled Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott to produce an excellent stat line in his team’s win over New England: he was 28-for-34 with 261 yards and one touchdown.
The key in this game is that New Orleans’ offense has playmakers whereas New England’s does not.
With Gonzalez out, the Patriots lack someone with the competence to cover New Orleans’ top wide receiver, Chris Olave.
Running back Alvin Kamara is likewise a weapon in the passing game, whose dangerousness in space enables him to amass yards after the catch.
Patriots’ Lack of Playmakers
On offense, New England needs guys who can get open quickly. This need exists because their pass protection is unreliable: as a team, they rank last in pass-block win rate.
However, the Patriots don’t have a reliable wide receiver who ably gains separation from defensive backs. That is, they don’t have an Olave, whose elite speed – he runs a 4.39 40-yard dash – and acceleration helps him get open right away.
Even if they did, New Orleans has its top cornerback available to limit him. While quarterback Mac Jones is trying to find a target, three-time All-Pro selection Cameron Jordan is going to be rushing the quarterback.
Further, Help for Derek Carr
New Orleans’ quarterback also gets the benefit of Kamara as a runner. Kamara averaged a promising 4.6 YPC in his first game back last week against Tampa Bay’s tough run defense.
The Saints rank among the best in run-block win rate.
Patriots’ Slow Starts
Following the NFL computer picks, expect New Orleans to lead from start to finish. The Patriots are an especially awful first-quarter team: they have been outscored 29-6 in this quarter.
NFL Pick: Saints +1.5 (-110) at Bet365
NFL Pick: Saints ML (+105) at Bet365
Sunday, October 08, 2023 – 04:05 PM EDT at State Farm Stadium
The Injured Joe Burrow
Cincinnati is favored because the NFL odds are slow to adjust to its demise.
With Joe Burrow playing injured – he is enduring a hurt calf that impairs his mobility – the Bengals pose a negligible threat on offense, a threat that is further reduced by the injury to Tee Higgins, who is Burrow’s second-favorite pass-catcher.
So far, Burrow is completing fewer than 58% of his passes. In four games, he has yet to reach 260 passing yards. He exceeded 200 passing yards twice and needed over 40 passes to do so.
Moreover, he has thrown as many interceptions, two, as touchdowns. His 69.1 passer rating is over 30 points lower than last year’s. But most concerning of all is that he’s continued to struggle even against vulnerable secondaries, such as Tennessee’s, which had just made Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson look like his old self.
Thanks to Burrow’s limitations, Cincinnati is averaging 12.3 points per game, ranking only ahead of the Giants.
In view of Burrow’s problems, any argument made for Cincinnati’s offensive outlook would have to rely on claiming that Arizona’s defense is bewilderingly incompetent. However, the Cardinals’ defense has been more than respectable, especially at home.
While it is true that they gave up 31 points in Week 2, they also had a massive lead. It is easy to turn the light switch off with a big lead, and, once it’s off, turning it back on is difficult.
In Week 3, Arizona bounced back to limit Dallas to 16 points, which is quite impressive considering that the Cowboys scored 30 or more points in each of their other games.
The Cardinals are 2-0 ATS at home in large part because of their defense.
Given Arizona’s defense at home and Burrow’s struggles, the Cardinals’ offense will not need to do much in order for Arizona to win, but the Cardinals’ offense has proven capable of scoring a lot even against the NFL’s toughest defenses.
Cincinnati’s pass defense hasn’t been tested much, but it did allow Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson to have his second-best game as a passer with a 112.8 passer rating.
Cincinnati’s overhauled secondary and insufficient pass rush will not do nearly enough to limit the Cardinals’ offense.
NFL Pick: Cardinals +3 (-110) at Bet365
NFL Pick: Cardinals ML (+140) at Bet365
Sunday, October 08, 2023 – 04:25 PM EDT at Empower Field
I can’t believe that Denver is favored against a Jets team that is good enough to have beaten Buffalo and taken Kansas City to the brink of defeat.
The main reason why the Broncos have, in four games, only managed to beat Chicago is their defense. In their last three games, they surrendered 35 points to Washington, 70 points to Miami, and 28 points to Chicago.
They made two different young quarterbacks trying to figure things out, Sam Howell for the Commanders and Justin Fields for the Bears, look elite.
Against Denver, Howell completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and amassed 299 passing yards and two touchdowns. Also against Denver, Fields completed 80 percent of his passes for 335 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Both quarterbacks had, by far, the best game of their season against the Broncos.
New York is undervalued by oddsmakers because Zach Wilson is starting in place of Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. However, besides the fact that the Jets can beat even Buffalo without Rodgers, Wilson has improved tremendously and looks confident.
His primetime performance against the Chiefs showed his development as a passer, whose accuracy, decision-making, and mobility enable him to be a dangerous playmaker who can lead his team downfield.
In that game, against a Chiefs defense that gave Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence his worst performance of the season, Wilson completed 71.8 percent of his passes and achieved a 105.2 passer rating.
The Jets’ pass defense has been solid against Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, limiting each star to his lowest passing rating of the season.
Russell Wilson, who throws too many interceptable passes and too few catchable ones, will pose a relatively soft test.
As PFF grades have confirmed, the Jets have a solid cornerback group, led by DJ Reed and Sauce Gardner. Their cornerback play will, like Miami’s, be too difficult for Denver’s pass attack to overcome.
The upshot is that the Jets will have a much easier time passing their way downfield.
NFL Pick: Jets +2 (-110) at Bet365
NFL Pick: Jets ML (+105) at Bet365
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