Fairway' Football Forecast - NFL Week 5 Underdog Picks And Insights

FairwayJay continues his pursuit of profit in NFL point spread prognosis in Week 5. Now 10-5 ATS this season and 61-32 (65%) the past 2+ years selecting only underdogs, you may want to pay attention to the picks and insights from a proven professional.

Last week we went 3-2 on these pages which was about as bad as it could have been with Sunday underdogs going 9-4 ATS. Bookmakers buried many bettors last week who prefer to bet on more favorites and especially the top teams including the powerful Patriots and Chiefs who failed to cover but got fortunate wins last week. We had both the Bills and Lions in those games with so many underdogs of interest last week which also included the Saints which we mentioned and also the Bucs, but decided to keep the card at five plays on these pages.

This week, we'll actually be on more favorites, but chip in a small sample of underdogs for you to consider for your wagers when betting at the leading online sportsbooks.  

When we go inside the numbers through the opening quarter of the season and evaluate the Week 5 contests, there are not many match-ups where we can project a team with a significant edge at the point of attack, especially for underdogs. But we'll still shoot for the green hoping to score more birdies and add to our scorecard, which now stands 10-5 ATS this season selecting only underdogs and 61-32 ATS (65%) the past 2+ seasons on these pages with 40 outright underdog winners. That continues a long history of NFL winners covering more than 15 years of weekly winners plus some selected NFL contest success.  

As we evaluate the many quarterback changes, and continue to study the stats, know that Sam Darnold has been ruled out again for the NY Jets this week in their game at Philadelphia. There will be at least 10 quarterbacks starting in Week 5 that were backups at the start of the season. The Bills QB Josh Allen cleared concussion protocol and is expected to play and keep his starting position. The list of teams with quarterback changes includes: 

AFC: Colts, Jaguars, Steelers, Dolphins, Jets 
NFC:  Saints, Panthers, Bears, Giants, Redskins

The AFC West and NFC West are the only two divisions that have not had a quarterback changes this season.

A look at the top rushing teams and you see the Ravens (205/game), 49ers (175) and Vikings (155). All are favored this week with two on the road - Baltimore and Minnesota. However, the Ravens opponents Pittsburgh has the best run defense to potentially slow the Ravens ground game which also leads the league in yards per rush (5.9) and rush attempts per game (35) utilizing QB Jackson in the ground assault. But while it looked like the Ravens would run over the Browns last week at the point of attack, we cashed in on Cleveland outright and it was the Browns who out-rushed the Ravens 193-173 with each team running the ball 29 times. The projections would not have indicated a better Browns running game, and that's why it can be difficult to determine in so many games which team will control the line of scrimmage and running game. 

When turnovers become problematic, they are most often too difficult to overcome. That was the case for the Bills last week with four turnovers to just one for the Patriots. Buffalo was an ATS winner for us, but lost 16-10 with a blocked punt return for a Patriots touchdown as well. Yet is was the Bills who dominated the stat sheet with a 23-11 first down edge, 135-76 rushing edge, 375-224 yardage edge and 5.4 to 3.6 yards per play edge. Oh, and Buffalo had a 33-27 time of possession edge. 

That leads us into one of this weeks underdog plays, and it will be an ugly one that few will be willing to bet - the Washington Redskins. In fact, it will be the 'powerful' Patriots taking most the bets with Sports Insights showing a week-high 85% of the spread bets on the Patriots from a consensus of seven leading online sportsbooks which includes BookMaker and 5Dimes

NFL Week 5 Underdog Picks 

462 Washington (+15.5) vs. New England - Redskins Money Line +665

Where do we start with this one-sided match-up?  The Patriots get ultra-lucky to escape Buffalo last week and benefit again from the softest schedule in the league having beaten a now weaker Pittsburgh team, worst-ever Miami, Jets with a first time starting quarterback and now the winless Redskins, who will start Colt McCoy as he returns from a pre-season injury. Oh, and the Patriots have the Giants up next on Thursday and then the Jets again. Jesus. Sure New England's defense is strong, and the stats are dominant allowing a league-low 243 yards per game adn 4.0 yards per play. The Redskins defensive numbers are 399 at 6.1 to rank in the bottom quartile of the league, and Washington just lost at New York 24-3 and managed just 8 first downs and 176 yards against the Giants. Another oh Lord. 

So it seems the bookmaker and sportsbooks could set this line a good field goal higher and still draw more Patriots money even on the road. But Washington's big loss sets up some positive profiles as a contrary selection. 

Last week's performance by Tom Brady produced his worst QBR rating since 2006. Sure that was against the strong Bills defense, which we projected, but Brady is passing mostly to his running backs with little help from his receivers or tight ends in recent weeks. The Patriots running game has dropped to 91 yards per game, but that's still better than the Redskins pathetic rushing attack which is almost league-worst at 49 yards per game. That makes this pick a little contrary when evaluating the rushing numbers we review in our inside the numbers projections. Especially since the Patriots run defense is allowing just 61 yards per game and the Redskins run the ball a league-low 17 times per game.

The Redskins will have to pass more, and they are also without their top two tight ends. McCoy could be rusty in his return, but he knows coach Jay Gruden's system better than anyone, and we far prefer him than rookie QB Haskins, as we would not be playing the 'Skins if Haskins was under center. 

The Redskins have failed to cover three straight including to Dallas and Chicago at home losing by 10 and 16 points. But those two solid teams with stronger defenses were laying 6 and 5 points. Now New England is laying more than 15 and has a Thursday game on deck with this line in the same range as the Patriots were priced at Miami. This time it's more of an overreaction. The Redskins also led the Eagles 17-0 in the opener before getting blitzed badly. Washington's turnover troubles show a turnover margin of -6 while the Patriots are +3. 

Rumors are rampant that coach Gruden could be fired, and potentially as soon as next week if the Redskins are rolled badly by the Patriots. Many expect that, but we believe the Redskins will play with more pride and have enough to stay within this inflated range in a game that is also expected to have less scoring with sharp move down on the total. Play under 22.5 offered at BookMaker in the first half if the total is your preference. We're siding with the Redskins as our ugly 'Dog of the week. 

The Broncos are 0-4 but they are far from the worst team in the league. They've been unlucky and also -5 in turnover margin following a second straight home loss at the gun last week against Jacksonville. Back in division play against a still banged up Chargers team, Denver should bring a big effort. And likely take more shots downfield with QB Flacco as the Chargers run defense could make it tough for the Broncos again after Denver ran the ball last week 16 times for 68 yards. The rushing numbers don't work and the Broncos were just run over last week allowing the Jaguars a week-high 269 rushing yards. We'll pass on a play for these pages, but note that more than 55% of the bets at Sports Insights and their consensus betting data from seven leading online sportsbooks are on the Chargers, yet the line is dropping with some sharp support on Denver.

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