5 picks for Week 5

I’m in an NFL contest where you have to send five picks against the margin each week. Through four weeks, those teams are 13-7 after going 4-1 last week for the second time this season. Picking just one winner can be tough, let alone picking five, but it’s a good challenge. It is worth noting that the lines are set spreads that are released every Wednesday and the picks are sent out on Friday nights.

Here are the five ATS picks I like for Week 5.

Cowboys +5.5 vs. Rams

This is a game for the Dallas pass rush. Both LB Micah Parsons and DE DeMarcus Lawrence should feast on Los Angeles’ battered offensive line. Three starters are (probably) returning from a concussion, groin injury or knee injury. As a result of injuries to the front end, we’ve seen Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford sacked 16 times this season, while only throwing for four touchdowns with six interceptions. The Cowboys sacked Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow six times in a 20-17 win in Week 2. This matchup could be similar.

Seattle’s offense was in the red zone or scored a touchdown in 47% of its drive, trailing only the Chiefs. In part it’s due to the consistent play of Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, who leads the league in completion percentage (77%) and ranks in the top 10 in passing yards. New Orleans’ defense is a bigger test, but it’s the Saints’ offense that I’m fading. The Saints lead the league in turnovers with 10 fumbles and five interceptions. In no way am I endorsing a near-touchdown favorite who is vulnerable to freebies.

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Cardinals +5.5 vs. Eagles

Philly looks dominant, but a breakout is the score in the second half. The Eagles were shut out in the second half of two games, against the Vikings and Washington. That’s not even counting that they were shut out in the fourth quarter of Week 1 against Detroit. The Eagles scored nine last week against the Jaguars, but it was two Jacksonville turnovers that led to a field goal and a touchdown. With the Cowboys on deck in a Week 6 NFC East matchup, this has backdoor cover written all over it.

49ers -6.5 vs. Panthers

San Francisco’s defense is strong. The 49ers lead the league in opponent clearances per play. Teams just aren’t playing downfield against this unit, let alone scoring. In fact, San Francisco’s defense has yet to allow a touchdown in the first half of games this season, allowing zero trips to the red zone in the first half of games in 22 total possessions.

That complicates matters for a Panthers offense that has been anemic thus far with just six touchdowns scored on 46 drives, tied for the lowest rate in the league. They’re also averaging just five plays per possession, the fewest in the league. Carolina QB Baker Mayfield and this Panthers offense is getting sacked, turning the ball over or clearing the ball. Good luck improving this week against a solid 49ers defense.

Bucs -8.5 vs. Falcons

I’m not putting weight on the off-the-field problems Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady may or may not be going through. I can only use the data that I have and the data shows that the Bucs are in a solid point of recovery. In four games against the Falcons, Brady has 15 touchdown passes with just two interceptions, outscoring Atlanta 153-96. Atlanta’s Swiss Army Knife of a player at RB Cordarrelle Patterson is out, accounting for half of the total rushing yards and scores.

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Falcons QB Marcus Mariota has been a good QB, but with four interceptions on just three touchdowns, he doesn’t seem to have the skills to handle a ‘play from behind’ situation. His pass attempts have decreased each week, starting with 33 pass attempts in Week 1 to just 19 last week against Cleveland. This is a bad matchup for Atlanta, which will go down as the only team in the league that is perfect against the spread.

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