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NFL Week 5 picks: Vikings cover vs. Giants, Eagles crush Jets; Cowboys top Packers; 49ers lock of the week on MNF


MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - SEPTEMBER 08: Wide receiver Adam Thielen #19 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons in the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Credit: Getty Images/Hannah Foslien

By now, you should have a good feel for most teams. A month in, and there are 13 2-2 teams, including the entire AFC South. Parity!

It's been the year of the backup quarterback, as they are 11-6 (11-2 if you don't count the Jets and Dolphins). Underdogs and road teams are off to hot starts, too. Underdogs went 10-5 against the spread last week and are 39-24. Road teams won a whopping 11 matchups to improve to 35-28. There are three double-digit spreads this week but a lot are right around a field goal so expect plenty of close finishes.

My most confident picks ATS are the 49ers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Bears and Patriots. Two tricky games to avoid: Jaguars-Panthers and Bucs-Saints.


TV: Ch. 5, 1 p.m.

Vikings by 5; O/U: 44

You might look at this spread and wonder why the Vikings are such big road favorites. They're 0-2 away from Minnesota and have scored 16 and six points, but those were at Green Bay and Chicago. The Giants' defense is a big drop-off. This is a "get right" game for Kirk Cousins (only 735 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs) and the passing attack. Adam Thielen basically called him out after last week's stinker in Chicago and wants the team to throw more deep balls. They'll find many opportunities against Big Blue, and while the Stefon Diggs drama worries me a bit, I'll bank on the explosive Dalvin Cook doing enough in the run game to open up the play action for Cousins and Thielen. If the Vikings don't score at least 27 points, I'll be surprised. Another reason to back the Vikings: Mike Zimmer's defense has the edge over former OC Pat Shurmur and rookie Daniel Jones.

The pick: Vikings

JETS (0-3) AT EAGLES (2-2)

TV: Ch. 2, 1 p.m.

Eagles by 13; O/U: 44

The last we saw the Jets, they were pulling off an all-time backdoor cover as 22-point underdogs at New England: 30-0 to 30-14 without an offensive TD! Yes, I'm still upset about it. Now they're big 'dogs again, and even if a not-100 percent Sam Darnold plays, expect another lopsided score. Poor Jets. They're off a bye, but their opponent had a mini bye having played on Thursday night. The Eagles will build off their big win at Green Bay in a big way.

The pick: Eagles

1 p.m. GAMES


BEARS (3-1) VS. RAIDERS (2-2)

Bears by 5.5; O/U: 40.5

I don't know Khalil Mack, but I'm willing to bet the All-Pro edge rusher would walk to London he's so pumped to face the team that traded him. Jon Gruden will see one of the NFL's best defenders constantly chasing Derek Carr as Chicago's stingy defense (11.3 points per game allowed) dominates. Chase Daniel knows Matt Nagy's system and might even be an upgrade over Mitchell Trubisky so don't be afraid to back a backup QB.

The pick: Bears


Patriots by 15; O/U: 42.5

After eking out a 16-10 win at Buffalo, the Pats will look like the team that won their first three games by 30, 43 and 16. If the New England defense outscores the Washington offense, would you really be surprised?

The pick: Patriots


Ravens by 3; O/U: 44.5

A win and Pittsburgh can go from 0-3 to 2-3 and a possible tie for first place in a span of six days. Baltimore's offense is improved but its defense has taken a big step back (73 points allowed the last two weeks) so expect a close rivalry game.

The pick: Steelers

BUCS (2-2) AT SAINTS (3-1)

Saints by 3; O/U: 47

So much for the Bucs having no chance against the Rams. Their 55-40 win was a shocker, and also produced the 1,050th unique final score in NFL history (shout-out to one of my favorite Twitter accounts, @NFL_Scorigami, for that). The Saints are 2-0 without Drew Brees, but this won't be big or easy against a reenergized Tampa Bay team that has our attention. Since 2015, the NFC South foes have split the season series every year.

The pick: Bucs

BILLS (3-1) AT TITANS (2-2)

Titans by 3; O/U: 38.5

To quote from last week's column: "Tennessee's tendency is to win when you expect it to lose and lose when you expect it to win." After beating Atlanta as a road underdog, Tennessee is now a home favorite. The Bills' defense might be the best in the NFL, and even if Josh Allen can't go, I'll continue my Titans strategy and pick against them this week. In a similar spot last year (also Week 5), the Titans followed up an overtime win at home against the Eagles with a 13-12 loss at Buffalo. I can see the same exact score in this one.

The pick: Bills


Bengals by 3; O/U: 47.5

Arizona played well in its one road game, a 23-17 loss at Baltimore, and Cincinnati lost, 41-10, to San Francisco in its home opener. Give me the points in what could be the week's highest-scoring game.

The pick: Cardinals


Panthers by 3.5; O/U: 41

This is the "Pointing Spider-Man GIF" Bowl, as these two are nearly identical. They both joined the NFL in 1995 as expansion teams, have coaches who aren't afraid to gamble and have won two games each with their backup quarterbacks. Kyle Allen is 2-0 on the road, so it's tempting to take Carolina back home as a small favorite. But a half-point means a whole lot, and with Gardner Minshew's magic and the Jaguars' pass rush, I'll take the three-plus points in what could be a field-goal finish.

The pick: Jaguars


Texans by 5; O/U: 48.5

After back-to-back losses to the Colts and Titans, the Falcons are 1-9 in their last 10 regular-season matchups against the AFC. Now they head back to Houston, site of the 28-3 meltdown in Super Bowl LI. The trend says to fade the Falcons but here's the thing: The Texans are the kings of close games, and their first two at home have been a 13-12 win and a 16-10 loss. Julio Jones goes toe drag-to-toe drag with DeAndre Hopkins as the desperate Falcons make this another tight game for the Texans.

The pick: Falcons

4 p.m. GAMES


Cowboys by 3; O/U: 47

Both teams are coming off close losses to fellow NFC contenders, so this should tell us a lot about each team going forward. I like Dallas to rebound and do it with Ezekiel Elliott. The Eagles supplied the blueprint how to beat the Packers: Be physical and run the ball. Green Bay won't be able to run on Dallas' defense, and with Davante Adams likely out, Aaron Rodgers won't have it easy. The Packers have scored just 20 second-half points, which tells me rookie coach Matt LaFleur isn't making the necessary adjustments.

The pick: Cowboys


Chargers by 6.5; O/U: 44.5

Denver is done after another two-point home loss on a last-second field goal, but it's still the play here. This is too many points for a division game against a Chargers team that is 0-2 ATS as a "home" favorite.

The pick: Broncos


COLTS (2-2) AT CHIEFS (4-0)

TV: Ch. 4

Chiefs by 11; O/U: 56

Kansas City scored 33 points in its home opener, averaged over 32 at home last regular season and then crushed Indy, 31-13, in the playoffs  The Colts fall to 0-3 vs. the AFC West as Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs score 34, maybe even 40.

The pick: Chiefs



BROWNS (2-2) AT 49ERS (3-0)


49ERS by 4; O/U: 46.5

Cleveland — and writers who picked the Browns to make a Super Bowl run (hi!) — got an extra week to avoid criticism after a big win at Baltimore. This is a tough spot, though. The 49ers are home and off a bye, and I like Kyle Shanahan having two weeks to prepare for a Browns defense that has weak spots in the secondary. San Francisco's pass rush should give Baker Mayfield (sacked 12 times) fits, too.

The pick: 49ers


(best bets in bold)


35-28 overall, 3-1 best bets

Last week: 9-6

Vikings Eagles Bears Patriots

Steelers Bucs Bills Cardinals

Jaguars Falcons Cowboys

Broncos Chiefs 49ers


26-37, 0-4

Last week: 6-9

Vikings Eagles Raiders Patriots

Ravens Saints Titans Bengals

Jaguars Texans Cowboys

Chargers Chiefs Browns


27-36, 1-3

Last week: 4-11

Giants Eagles Bears Patriots

Steelers Saints Bills Cardinals

Panthers Texans Cowboys

Chargers Colts 49ers


30-33, 1-3

Last week: 9-6

Vikings Eagles Bears Patriots

Steelers Saints Titans Cardinals

Panthers Falcons Cowboys

Chargers Colts 49ers

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