Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press
Even with four weeks completed in the NFL season, 2020 is still a hard year to predict.
Sure, there are some teams that are unmistakably bad. Both New York teams have made it clear they would like Trevor Lawrence to live in the Big Apple next year. Then there are some teams that may be secretly bad, such as the Chicago Bears, who are 3-1 but rank 22nd in Defense-adjusted Value Over Average.
With just four games gone, the picture of who’s good and who should be looking forward to next year isn’t complete but it’s starting to gain focus. That’s reflected in the lines where only two games have double-digit lines and just four have a line under a touchdown.
Below is a complete list of the games along with the latest lines and totals for each contest and a score prediction. Let’s take a look at an intriguing weekend slate.
NFL Week 5 Lines, Over/Unders and Predictions
Thursday, October 8
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4.5, 44) at Chicago Bears: Bucs 13, Bears 10
Sunday, October 11
Cincinnati Bengals (+13.5, 51) at Baltimore Ravens: Ravens 35, Bengals 13
Buffalo Bills (n/a) at Tennessee Titans: Bills 23, Titans 17
Las Vegas Raiders (n/a) at Kansas City Chiefs: Chiefs 38, Raiders 17
Philadelphia Eagles (+7, 45) at Pittsburgh Steelers: Steelers 20, Eagles 10
Arizona Cardinals (-7, 47) at New York Jets: 30-20 Arizona: Cardinals 28, Jets 14
Los Angeles Rams (-7.5, 45.5) at Washington Football Team: Rams 28, Washington 21
Jacksonville Jaguars (+6, 54) at Houston Texans: Texans 30, Jaguars 20
Carolina Panthers (+2, 53.5) at Atlanta Falcons: Falcons 30, Panthers 24
Miami Dolphins (n/a) at San Francisco 49ers: 49ers 21, Dolphins 13
New York Giants (+10, 54) at Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys 38, Giants 13
Indianapolis Colts (-2, 47) at Cleveland Browns: Colts 28, Browns 23
Denver Broncos (n/a) at New England Patriots: Patriots 23, Broncos 10
Minnesota Vikings (+7, 57.5) at Seattle Seahawks: Seahawks 28, Vikings 16
Monday, October 12
Los Angeles Chargers (+8, 51.5) at New Orleans Saints: Saints 31, Chargers 21
Odds obtained via DraftKings.
Steelers (-7) over Eagles
The Eagles finally got in the win column in Week 4, but there isn’t a lot to like about the spot they find themselves in Week 5.
For one, they’ll be on the road for the second consecutive week coming off a Sunday night game. They traveled all the way to the West Coast to get their first win of the season and will be on the road once again with a somewhat shortened week.
Meanwhile, the Steelers ended up having the week off last week. Their game with the Titans was postponed due to players and staff with Tennessee testing positive for COVID-19.
The Eagles defense should expect an upgrade at the quarterback position as well. The 49ers had to trot out a quarterback tandem of Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard that went a combined 32-of-45 for 301 yards and a touchdown and an interception.
This week, Philadelphia will see Ben Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster, while Diontae Johnson is expected to come back from a concussion.
The real key is the Steelers defense against a struggling Philly offense, though. Carson Wentz has been one of the least accurate passers this season and will now face a defense that has tortured quarterbacks in 2020.
The 27-year-old will be lining up against a defense that is allowing the seventh-lowest quarterback rating to opposing signal-callers.
With Johnson back in the lineup, the Steelers have a much better shot of finding success against an Eagles defense that has allowed opposing quarterbacks a passer rating of 100.0 on the season than Wentz does of getting hot enough to get another win.
Texans (-6) over Jaguars
Regardless of an 0-4 start, the Texans made positive headlines when they made the decision to fire head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien on Monday. The news came after a disastrous start and a Week 4 loss at home to the Minnesota Vikings.
The record isn’t indicative of how bad the Texans are, though. The team is 21st in DVOA which accounts for efficiency in all three phases of the game but doesn’t take into account record. For reference, the 3-1 Bears are one spot behind at 22.
The Texans’ woes can be attributed to a brutal schedule that has seen them open with the Chiefs, Ravens and Steelers before getting the Vikings and O’Brien’s leadership. According to reports, that wasn’t going so well before the Texans sent him on his way this week.
O’Brien’s exit this week won’t be a cure-all, but it’s important to note the impact morale and organization can have on a franchise.
The larger the sample size, the more apparent it is that the Jaguars are one of football’s worst teams. Things started off promising enough in a surprise win over the Colts to start the season and a 33-30 loss to the Titans, but they’ve come crashing down to earth the last two weeks.
A double-digit loss to the Dolphins and an eight-point defeat to the one-win Bengals are more in line with the expectations fans had for this Jacksonville team.
Expect this to be a week when the Texans look more like we expected them to and the Jaguars to do the same.
Cowboys (-10) over Giants
Backing a 1-3 team to cover a 10-point spread seems like a bad idea on the surface, but this is a referendum on just how bad the Giants are and the potential that still exists on the Cowboys roster.
The Giants are 0-4 and have just one game that has been decided by a touchdown or less. With Saquon Barkley out, the rushing attack has been anemic at just 3.9 yards per carry. That’s good news for the Cowboys who just gave up over 300 yards on the ground to the Browns.
For all the issues Dallas has on defense right now, the offense is still undeniably talented. Mike McCarthy’s team is still third in the league in yards per play and put up 24 points in the fourth quarter of the Browns game to give itself a chance to overcome a massive deficit.
To put that in context, the Giants are averaging 11.8 points per game. If the Cowboys merely score the same as they did in a quarter against the Browns and the Giants have their average game, Dak Prescott and Co. would still cover the spread by two.
The Giants aren’t just attempting to defend this offense for a quarter. They’ll have to try to slow it for four quarters, and the offense isn’t likely to do them any favors, even with the Cowboys’ struggles on defense.
A matchup against either New York team is the exact prescription for the kind of woes Dallas has right now. It will get back on track with a big win over a divisional rival.