Every Monday during the NFL season, I’ll be comparing game spreads to my own power ratings and giving my perspective on whether I think the betting lines are accurate or not. Paying attention to the NFL market is one of the single most important aspects of successful wagering. With all the variance and volatility of pro football, placing a bet on the most advantageous side of a number is often the only difference between a winning or losing ticket.
All lines are consensus numbers across the U.S. Sportsbooks as of Monday morning. Some may not be out yet. Early lines that stick out as great early bets are highlighted in red.
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos (-3), Total: 43
I have this line as Broncos -2.5, but that’s not enough disparity for me to like the Colts since they haven’t shown me much of anything. Matt Ryan continues to struggle and looks statuesque in the pocket. He fumbled twice against Tennessee and threw another pick, followed by visual displays of frustration throughout the contest. The Colts aren’t getting severely outplayed; they just can’t find any continuity on offense.
The Broncos were bested by the Raiders on the road and didn’t look great either. But I love the home-field advantage in Denver, and Russell Wilson is still far more capable than Matt Ryan at catalyzing his skill players. The total is low and appropriate– no leans there, either.
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers (-9 at Hotspur Stadium in London), Total: 41.5
This line is as high as 9.5 at some sportsbooks, and I can’t agree with that. I’m a Giants fan, but that doesn’t mean I’m overly biased. True fans (me) are often the opposite, excessively critical, and the Giants’ victory against the Chicago Bears wasn’t all that impressive. The Giants should win that game at home, especially against a Bears team allowing so many rushing yards. It was an excellent setup for New York.
Either way, I have this in red ink because I’m not overly impressed by the Packers, either. The Patriots’ secondary played above its talent level at Lambeau Field on Sunday. I give them credit, but I think it was more about Green Bay’s lack of offensive prowess. It’s evident the Packers just don’t have the same skill players or chemistry we’re used to seeing from an Aaron Rodgers-led squad.
The Giants are coached well on defense. They’re a top-10 team in points allowed per game, and they’re second overall in opponent third down conversion percentage (29.41%). They haven’t faced the NFL’s best offenses, but I don’t think Green Bay is in a different class this year. I have a strong lean on the Giants in London. I have this game at Packers -6.5.
Seattle Seahawks at New Orleans Saints (-4), Total: 45.5
This total shot WAY up (at some sportsbooks, it came out at 40.5), and I agree with that movement. The Saints finally found some rhythm on offense in last week, especially in the second half. The Seahawks can clearly move the ball behind Geno Smith. This is Seattle’s second straight road game as an underdog, so I lean slightly towards the Saints here.
I have this at Saints -3.5, so there is not a ton of disparity in my power ratings. But eventually, it feels like the Saints will put it all together at home. Some unfortunate penalties and bad luck led to the Minnesota Vikings’ three-point victory against New Orleans, but they were in that game and easily could have won. The Seahawks are still hard to trust since they benefitted from playing a bad Lions defense. But in most circumstances, they have the talent to stay competitive. No strong lean here.
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-7), Total: 45
I’ve wagered on the Texans a few times this season. I’m not sure if this will be one of those spots. The Jaguars came out on fire against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, ascending to a quick 14-0 lead. Then, they got immediately stifled and outscored 29-7 for the remainder of the contest. Jacksonville is a young team who will play really well in select spots if they catch a team by surprise.
But, this is still a divisional game, and the Texans continue to hang around even when they lose. I have this as Jaguars -5.5, and I’d probably lean Jaguars if that were the line since they’re at home off a tough loss, but I’m not overly excited to pull the trigger on where the line sits now. The total does feel right.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (-14), Total: 47
The first massive line of the year is finally here – the Bills are favored by two whole touchdowns at home against the fledgling Steelers in Week 5. However, we don’t have a strong lean in this contest. The Bills proved why they deserve to be a title contender by completely derailing the Baltimore Ravens’ offense in the second half of Sunday’s showdown. They trudged ahead late behind Josh Allen and some gutsy play from their defense.
I liked what I saw from Kenny Pickett; two of his three interceptions weren’t his fault. But, the historically vaunted Steelers’ defense allowed Zach Wilson to go up and down the field in the fourth quarter to secure a win at Heinz Field. That’s not a good sign for the Steelers heading to Orchard Park this weekend. The Bills could light up the Steelers at home. Conversely, the away team could also treat this like their Super Bowl and cover the line in a complete team effort. I’d rather not touch this game, but I have the Bills as 11.5-point favorites, so I show some value on the Steelers.
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7.5), Total: 48.5
I was hoping this line would give the Falcons more credit after a nice win, but this feels very sharp. I have Tampa Bay at exactly where the line sits now, 7.5-point favorites, and it’s a beautiful setup for Tom Brady and his squad.
In an offense that’s still working out the kinks, we finally saw a game where all of the Buccaneers’ star offensive players were on the field. They’re just not in sync yet. The 41 points allowed by Tampa’s defense were a lot of Patrick Mahomes and his magic. I wouldn’t expect the same production from Atlanta this Sunday. This is an ideal situational game for the Buccaneers. I’d caution wagering on Atlanta in Week 5. I’d lean, on Tampa Bay.
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-7), Total: 42.5
I have this line as Vikings -7.5, but I don’t think that’s anything to note. Apparently, the Vikings are still the Vikings, which means they’ll stumble sometimes and compete inconsistently, despite having exceptional skill players on their roster. They’re just not very good at maximizing their talent, but maybe that’ll come with time as Kevin O’Connell gets more acclimated.
The Bears fell to the Giants on Sunday in a game that looked exactly like all their other contests. They’re very committed to their run game.
That’s an area of concern for Minnesota in this contest since the Vikings are bottom third in the NFL in opponent rush yards and rush touchdowns per game. Chicago could foreseeably hang around in this contest. Still, Kirk Cousins hasn’t had a big game at home since Week 1, so maybe he will explode and annihilate a weaker divisional opponent. I have no strong thoughts from a betting perspective, although I lean toward making an over bet.
Tennessee Titans at Washington Commanders (+3), Total: 43.5
How can we trust the Commanders anymore? I’m not sure I can. I also have this as the Titans -3, but initially, the line came out as closer to a pick-em. You can still get the Titans around -140 on a money-line play. Tennessee won’t overwhelm any opposing defenses this season, but they’re getting the job done with some smart play calling and disruptive defense.
Carson Wentz cannot get consistent protection from his offensive line, and he’s looked very uncomfortable as Washington’s “leading Commander,” pun and sarcasm intended. Until we see otherwise, the Commanders are a team to fade, but this line feels right.
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (+3), Total: 44
There’s a ton of controversy on the Dolphins right now for their mishandling of Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion. We get that. But there’s also no way they should only be 3-point favorites against the Jets, even on the road. Let’s give credit to Zach Wilson, who led his team down the field and earned a win in a challenging environment at Pittsburgh. Still, that was more about the Steelers’ mistakes and defensive transgressions than a sterling endorsement of the Jets.
Whether it’s Teddy Bridgewater or Tagovailo or seventh-round pick Skylar Thompson, Miami proved through four weeks they’re well-coached and extremely innovative on offense. Their defense also flies around the field with blitzing schemes that are chaotic and confusing for opposing quarterbacks. We like the Dolphins here and are happy to take this early line. I also have a slight lean towards the over because of that explosive Miami offense. The Jets’ defense has not been good against the pass, besides their first-round pick Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner.
Los Angeles Chargers at Cleveland Browns (+2.5), Total: 49.5
From my purview, this is probably the toughest game to handicap on the Week 5 slate. The Chargers got their redemptive win against the Texans in Week 4, but they almost allowed Houston to climb back and cover their line (+5). The Browns lost outright on the road to an Atlanta Falcons team that’s apparently better than many of us estimated.
However, the Browns are still an above-average outfit, and they’re at home Sunday. This is tough. I have the Chargers as 2-point favorites on the road, but if I adjust some things in my power ratings, I could make this a virtual pick-em. The Chargers just continue to under-impress and their defense, despite its talent, allows too many big plays to opposing offenses. The Browns can take advantage, but will they? I’d rather stay off this game for now.
Detroit Lions at New England Patriots (-3), Total: 47
The Patriots found ways to stay competitive on Sunday in a tough spot at Lambeau Field in a 3-point loss. On the other hand, the Detroit Lions couldn’t muster a fraction of defense and allowed the Seahawks to drop 48 points on them at home. This feels like a reactive line, though. I have this as Patriots -1, so I show fairly significant value on the Lions, but it’s impossible to bet on it without knowing the health of some of their skill players.
The loss of D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown was noticeable on Sunday even though they still scored 45 points. The Patriots’ defense probably won’t be so forgiving, but they rolled out third-string quarterback Bailey Zappe and looked okay despite that. This feels like a better setup for the Lions off a loss, but I can’t pull the trigger without more injury updates.
San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers (+5.5), Total: 39.5
If this were played on a neutral field, I would have the 49ers as 7-point favorites. This line is right, but I’m still inclined to wager on San Francisco here. The Panthers are playing some uninspiring football, especially on offense, and the 49ers have too much talent to struggle in this matchup. We’ll see how the 49ers look on Monday Night Football against their divisional foe. If the Niners lose tonight, jump on their side of this line before it shoots up. In my opinion, the 49ers will respond with more ferocity following a tough loss, and the Panthers don’t have the talent or coaching to prevent a blowout.
Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals (+5), Total: 49.5
Why are all of us not betting on the Eagles every week? They’ve covered against the spread (ATS) in three straight games and showed us they’re adept at responding to adversity. They went down 14-0 at home on Sunday and still won by an eight-point margin; that’s impressive.
The up-and-down Cardinals got a victory on the road Sunday – that was a bet we were telling people to play on all week – but the Eagles are a different animal. I have this game as Eagles -6.5, so I’m inclined to bet on them in this spot. Even on the road, there’s nothing to not like about this team. They win in the trenches and should annihilate mistake-prone teams like the Cardinals.
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (-4.5), Total: 46
We haven’t seen how the Rams will look on Monday Night Football, so it’s hard for me to assert anything yet in this contest. The Dallas Cowboys have played well, especially on defense, and there’s nothing to hate about Cooper Rush. He makes the passes he needs to and moves the ball for Dallas when it’s most crucial.
This line is correct as it stands now. But if the Rams lose, I wouldn’t be shocked if it rose in a redemptive spot for them at home.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-3), Total: 48
The Ravens laid a big goose egg in the second half of their contest against the Buffalo Bills. Otherwise, we may think differently about how elite Baltimore is this season. That’s not a great sign for their offense, though. The Bills smartly executed blitzes in the final two quarters, forcing Lamar Jackson to scramble around and make throws in really tough spots.
It’s still Jackson, so he made it happen on a few occasions. But, the Ravens only gained 36 total yards in the second half until their final drive of the game. And Jackson was intercepted twice during the same span. This is a big game for both teams, and Cincinnati is coming off 10 days of rest heading into this showdown. They also looked pretty sharp at home against Miami. This is a really tough game, and the line is correct.
Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-7), Total: 53
I have this exactly where it lies, so no big stance here. The Raiders finally won, and the Chiefs got a slice of Super Bowl revenge on Sunday. My money will probably be on the Chiefs to take the Raiders to the woodshed. But, if Josh McDaniels and Derek Carr have a decent outing, they can stick around. It’s a divisional game, after all.