Identifying Value and NFL Week 5 Underdogs
We have to put Week 4 behind us as an 0-3 result on our underdog picks drops the 2020 record on these pages to 4-8 and the 3-plus year record now 81-62 ATS selecting only underdogs. The Lions and Dolphins were close ATS results, but still point spread losses, with only teaser bettors able to cash in. Turnovers (3) for Miami were an issue and Russell Wilson continued his dominating MVP-level play to keep the Seahawks undefeated.
Teams with strong running games did well again in Week 4 as teams that outrushed their opponent by at least 30 yards went 8-2 SU and 8-1-1 ATS. We'll find our way towards more of those projections and better handicapping as the season moves forward, but know too that teams that run the ball at least 30 times in a game are 37-3-1 SU and 32-7-2 ATS (82%) this season, and that's a longterm 75% ATS situation if you can handicap and project it properly and it plays out accordingly.
As you monitor the record scoring through four weeks, you're aware that NFL games are averaging 51.3 points per game - the most scoring in through four weeks in Super Bowl era (post-1966). There are seven more games with posted totals of 51 or more points in Week 5, and we're supporting two big 'Dogs with the two highest posted totals against two high-scoring teams with the two leading MVP quarterbacks.
Tell Fairway he's fk'd if you like, or read on for Week 5 picks with insight, analysis and information you can bet on at leading online sportsbooks. I can't imagine there will be many readers liking the big ugly 'Dogs we endorse this week, but we'll suggest some of the online sportsbooks offering cash bonuses where you will get paid.
453 Las Vegas (+12.5) at Kansas City – Raiders Moneyline +550
458 Washington (+7.5) vs LA Rams - Washington Football Team Moneyline +285
467 Cincinnati (+13) at Baltimore - Bengals Moneyline +575
475 Minnesota (+7) at Seattle - Vikings Moneyline +260
Las Vegas at Kansas City
Offshore Gaming Association Elite-Rated William Hill sportsbook is still offering the Raiders at +12.5 Friday morning although the line has dropped to 12 and 11.5 at selected online sportsbooks like BetOnline. The Raiders defense remains a major problem while the Chiefs scoring defense has improved dramatically now allowing just 17 points per game. Kansas City (-11) was very fortunate to cover last week against New England as the Chiefs explosive offense was held to just 323 yards offense and allowed 185 rushing yards on 35 carries but won 26-10 thanks to four Patriots turnovers. The Raiders have the running game and will rely heavily on Josh Jacobs and a quick controlled passing game to hopefully control the ball, clock and chains enough to keep this more competitive than the linemaker's number. Not favorable match-ups for the Raiders overall, but recall they were even more favorable against the Chargers but escaped with an OT win despite being outplayed and outgained in Week 2. Kansas City is on a 9-1 ATS run dating back to last season, but we'll stick with the Raiders to bring their best on the road this week.
Los Angeles at Washington
The Rams third road trip to the East coast in four weeks looks easy on paper and the point spread, especially with the Football Team's struggles on offense. But clueless QB Haskins is benched where he belongs, and riverboard Ron Rivera has turned to his former Panthers backup QB Kyle Allen. The Redskins defense may get a boost with the return of No. 1 pick Chase Young along the line as he was back at practice Thursday. The Redskins defense has been the teams lone bright spot, and the Rams showed their potential inconsistency last week with just 240 yards offense and a weakened interior line to hold on against the bottom of the barrel Giants at home 17-9. Another ugly 'Dog and lower scoring scrum has us playing under and that team from Washington.
Cincinnati at Baltimore
The Ravens running game could clearly prove problematic for the Bengals, but we've seen Baltimore's stock soar while playing sub-par football the last two weeks. The Bengals had their best and most balanced offensive output last week with 205 rushing and 300 passing in their first win of the season over the Jaguars. Clearly the Ravens defense is superior to the Jaguars or other opponents the Bengals and rookie QB Joe Burrow have faced, but Burrow has been impressive in passing for 300 yards or more in three straight games. So has the Bengals special teams units, which rank among the leagues best thus far. Baltimore bounced back last week off their embarrassing home loss to the Chiefs, but check the status of QB Lamar Jackson (knee) before you decide to bet Baltimore as he missed practice Wednesday and Thursday. Or bet the Bengals knowing they will give a big effort as big 'Dog off last year's embarrassing defeat to the Ravens.
Minnesota at Seattle
Many readers who continue to follow may be surprised to know that the Vikings (1-3) net yards per play of 0.3 is slightly better than the Seahawks (4-0) at 0.2. That despite turnover troubles for the team in purple as Minnesota is -4 and Seattle +4 in turnover differential this season and that's the biggest discrepancy in Sunday's Week 5 games. Sure QB Russell Wilson is likely to have another strong game against the inexperienced Vikings defense. But things tend to even out, especially when a teams' defense is a sieve. You may also be surprised to know that Seattle's defense is allowing a league-worst 476 yards per game and NFC-worst 6.5 yards per play. I can't endorse that laying 7 points against RB Dalvin Cook and a Vikings ground game that has found traction the last two games rushing 33 times for 226 yards against the Titans and 40 times for 162 yards against the Texans. The Seahawks defense is poorly coordinated by Ken Norton, Jr. and they have been out-gained in both home games by New England and Dallas while escaping with wins. No doubt Seattle will also be a popular teaser play, which I won't endorse either as forecasted rain Sunday makes this a potential mess on Sunday night football.
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and betting analyst, and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter @FairwayJay