Week 5 NFL Sunday matchup analysis

Week four pick results: eleven wins, three minor losses, one major loss (by more than a converted touchdown, was Colts at Dolphins).

I have listed the teams that I think will win in italics in the matchup headings.

Jets at Falcons

Falcons key player Calvin Ridley is out – Christian Blake would be a strong replacement, but trends indicate he’d be WR3 at best with Ridley and Gage out, and the Falcs might just play flex tight end Kyle Pitts more. I think the Falcons win narrowly, with the handicaps not worth betting on, as both teams have the defensive playmakers to stop each team’s offense and possibly create great field position at the least.

Eagles at Panthers

For the Eagles’ sake I hope they play Andre Dillard to replace Lane Johnson at offensive tackle, otherwise they’ll be depleted. The Panther’s Erving is a big loss at o-tackle. I’d recommend taking the Eagles win with a -3.5 handicap, worth $2.89, as the Shaq Thompson-less Panthers have very few defensive playmakers, while the Eagles have great free agent additions in Anthony Harris and Steven Nelson to help stop the good Panthers receiver duo of Robby Anderson and DJ Moore.

Dolphins at Buccaneers

For the ‘Phins, Albert Wilson will likely fill in for Will Fuller at receiver, a good outcome. Austin Reiter has supposedly gotten some first team snaps at center and would be an upgrade over Michael Deiter’s previous replacement Greg Mancz. With Jakeem Grant traded, a Parker-less Dolphins offense will be less effective (Parker is questionable to play). For the Bucs, a healthy Gio Bernard plays a fair bit at running back, and is an upgrade over Ronald Jones. The Phins have such long odds to win that a +20.5 handicap is paying $1.23, so I’d take that if you want the multiplier, as I think the Bucs will win, but maybe by just a touchdown or less.

Saints at Washington

For the WFT, going from the injured Brandon Scherff to Wes Schweitzer at guard is a downgrade. With Logan Thomas out and Coach Rivera playing Ricky Seals-Jones over stud rookie John Bates, the offense will struggle to get points, unless Jaret Patterson gets snaps if he replaces the possibly inactive Antonio Gibson at running back. I’m giving a slight edge to Washington due to that Patterson potentiality, but no handicap for either team is worth it.

Titans at Jaguars

With Coach Vrabel historically not playing Cam Batson to replace the injured Julio Jones at receiver, the Titans will not dominate the Jaguars like they could, so neither handicap is worth betting on, considering the replacements for tackle Taylor Lewan (questionable) and edge defender Bud Dupree (out) aren’t great.  I think the Titans will win by a touchdown or more, but they have such short odds to win that betting on either team’s handicap is unwise, as the Titans weak secondary and the Jaguars solid special teams play will keep JAX within striking distance.

Lions at Vikings

With the Lions’ offensive tackle Taylor Decker out, they’ll be ok as his likely replacement Matt Nelson is a quality player. With Lions RBs Deandre Swift and Jamaal Williams possibly inactive, the superior players in Jermar Jefferson and Mike Warren could get reps, improving the Lions’ chances. Dalvin Cook is battling injuries, so if he doesn’t play much, Alexander Mattison might actually be an improvement at running back for the Vikings. I think the Vikings -4.5 handicap bet is pretty safe, paying $1.42, as the Lions have little offensive weapons against some solid defensive tackles and a top-3 linebacker league-wide in Anthony Barr, who appears to be fully healthy and is expected to receive starters snaps on Sunday.

Broncos at Steelers

I’d go for a -5.5 Broncos win paying $2.47 since I think they’ll win by atleast 20, but if Steelers QB Roethlisberger is benched for Mason Rudolph, the margin could be 10 or less. Thus, a -2.5 paying $1.85 is safer. The Steelers chances will improve if Ant McFarland and Stephon Tuitt get in the rotation after coming off IR recently. Overall, the Broncos will be able to move the ball and create turnovers with their quality personnel.

Packers at Bengals

The Bengals passing attack should run riot with the Packers’ best defender in Jaire Alexander out. Bengals D-tackle BJ Hill would do a good job replacing the possibly inactive Larry Ogunjobi. Jake Hanson would be a good replacement for the Packers’ Myers at center, but other reported options are underwhelming. I like the Bengals win, with a handicap of +6.5 paying $1.46 safe, as they have some strong pieces at receiver and in their secondary.

Patriots at Texans

The Texans d-line will feast on the Pats depleted o-line – anyone facing opposite Yodny Cajuste would be the lone exception. The possible WR3 for the Texans is interesting – I like Amendola and Andre Roberts, but less so Nico Collins. Texans +6.5 paying $2.08 is a good bet here, due to their defensive playmakers and superiority on special teams.

Bears at Raiders

Bears d-tackle Akiem Hicks is out, a huge loss for the Bears, but Bilal Nichols and Eddie Goldman will pick up some of the slack, alongside great edge defenders in Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn. Little-known Bears players in Ryan Nall and Jesper Horsted (if the latter plays) will give a good boost to the Bears special teams units at the least, and the Bears run game will always be ok due to their decent o-line. The Raiders also have some quality players but I think they will fall by around 10 points, so a Bears +7.5 handicap bet paying $1.57 is nice.  

Browns at Chargers

While the Chargers special teams play will let them down, I think they have the edge here due to their defensive playmakers – James Hudson will replace the injured Jedrick Wills at left tackle for the Browns and will likely struggle a lot against the likes of Uchenna Nwosu. The Browns will be in it if their potentially inactive players do play considering the Baker to Beckham Jr and Rashard Higgins link is so powerful. Expect a dominant Chargers victory if Myles Garrett and Troy Hill are out for the Browns however.

Giants at Cowboys

The Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott and Randy Gregory are so good that their game status will likely determine the outcome of this game. The Giants have the defensive lineman to stymie the strong Cowboys run game (which would be an impressive feat considering ‘Boys RB Tony Pollard is a great running back to potentially spell Elliott), but will give up some big plays due to a woeful secondary – although Julian Love, who should get snaps to replace the inactive Jabrill Peppers, will help mitigate that to an extent. Because of the potentiality for key Cowboys players being out, I’d avoid betting on this matchup.

49ers at Cardinals

I worry about the Cardinals’ stopping power with Byron Murphy out and Marco Wilson potentially inactive at cornerback, but the Niners will be without superstar tight end George Kittle, so I still think the Cards will win comfortably due to their dynamic offense and the Niners inability to play their great young defensive talents (eg Dontae Johnson, Ambry Thomas, Talanoa Hufanga, Arden Key). The Niners brought in Joey Slye to replace the injured Robbie Gould at kicker, so they’ll still be good in special teams, with Mitch Wishnowsky likely to have no issues getting punts off, while pinning the Cardinals offense back on occasion. Even with Wilson and potentially Chase Edmunds out for the Cardinals, I think a Cardinals -2.5 handicap paying $1.47 is safe.  

Bills at Chiefs

The Bills benching guard Cody Ford is a huge mistake in my view – while the Chiefs don’t have many good edge rushers that play predominantly on their left edge to help expose new Bills right tackle Spencer Brown, the Bills run game will suffer hugely with that decision, as I think Ford is elite. I think the Chiefs will pass all over the Bills as there will be little resistance against KC’s dominant receivers in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs’ defensive studs and great special teams play will make this a comfortable victory for them, in my view. I think the Chiefs handicap of-11.5, paying $3.82, is a good bet.

Here are my weekly matchup predictions from week two, three and four of the 2021 NFL season.