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NFL picks against the spread, Week 5: The weight of expectations

This week we’re betting, or betting against, expectations.

NFL: Preaseason-New England Patriots at New York Giants William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s a theme to this week’s betting picks, it’s “changing course.” I’m looking at teams who desperately need to answer a question or two that’s been plaguing them this season (hello, Giants), trying to keep seemingly inexplicable momentum going against the odds (Falcons), or just plain looking to stay undefeated (go Vikings).

What we see from a team through the first four weeks of the NFL season rarely holds all year long. Week 5 is usually a good time for seismic shifts to start happening; something to think about if you’re planning on making a wager.

As usual, all betting information comes via OddsShark. You can check out the full matchup details over on their site. The home team in all these games is represented in all caps.

Happy betting!

Giants (+7) over PACKERS

Odell Beckham gets all the attention when it comes to the Giants. I’m not questioning that. When one of the game’s biggest stars has a regular meltdown every week, it tends to get folks talking. Those dramatics have overshadowed a Giants defense that’s been a solid unit all year long. However, the team’s offensive struggles caught up with the defense too; there’s only so much you can do with a -8 turnover ratio.

The Packers seemed to fix their offensive issues in a Week 3 game against the Lions. Their defense, however, has been the picture of mediocrity, and this week they won’t have cornerback Sam Shields.

With this game, you’re essentially betting on the Giants offense, a unit that should be much better than it has been. They’re producing 382 yards per game, but scoring just 18 points per game.

Factor in the threat of Beckham getting benched, or possibly suspended, with one more outburst, and this would be a good week for the Giants to offense to get its act together, at least enough to cover a seven-point spread.

Patriots (-10.5) over BROWNS

Hey, the Browns have kept it close these last few weeks, so maybe ...


What if Tom Brady is rusty or the Patriots overconfident?


But maybe ...

Nope. Nope. Nope.

Do not bet on the Browns. We feel sorry for the Browns, but pity is not a reason. Even if you are a wealthy railroad baron with a gold monocle and more money than you know what to do with, then you’d know because you probably didn’t get rich by wasting your money on folly.

Bears (+5) over COLTS

I thought it was strange when the Colts gave head coach Chuck Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson a contract extension in January instead of firing them, which is what they clearly should have done. But this is Jim Irsay we’re talking about.

Grigson confirmed his inability to be a general manager on Friday with a fantastically insulting quip. Here’s what he said:

“We have a defense that is a work in progress, and when you have to tighten up once you pay Andrew what we did, it’s going to take some time to build on the other side of the ball.”

No, it’s actually something a lot of teams have managed to do. Whiffing on draft picks so consistently — Bjoern Werner anyone? — doesn’t make it any easier.

Whatever. The Colts are stuck with this guy too.

Pick the Bears. Brian Hoyer is going to tear that “work in progress” apart.

VIKINGS (-6.5) over Texans

I’m honestly surprised this spread isn’t bigger. Brock Osweiler is a turnover machine, and the Vikings lead the league with 11 takeaways. Not exactly the recipe for success if you’re the Texans. It doesn’t help that Osweiler can’t seem to get on the same page as DeAndre Hopkins.

If you want more fun with this game, bet on the over/under, currently hovering around 41 points. Five of Minnesota’s last six games have gone under, and they’ve yet to score more than 25 points in a game this season.

BRONCOS (-4.5) over Falcons

Unstoppable force meets immovable object. Bet on the immoveable object that is the Broncos defense. The over/under on this one is 46. I’d probably take the over because I think the Broncos are going to score more points than we think they are.

Jets (+9) over STEELERS

That’s a pretty big spread, but Ryan Fitzpatrick does have nine interceptions in his last two games. He might have a better game this week, and I am foolish for betting that he does, but here we are. I think they can cover.

Ealges (-3.5) over LIONS

DOLPHINS (-3) over Titans

Mike Mularkey’s dumb “exotic smashmouth” might actually do well against the Dolphins. But it’s Mike Mularkey.

Washington (+4) over RAVENS

RAIDERS (-3.5) over Chargers

The Chargers will lose, but will they blow another fourth-quarter lead? At this point it’d be kind of funny if they did.

Bills (-1) over RAMS

Jeff Fisher and Rex Ryan have more in common than branches of the Buddy Ryan coaching tree. They’re both vastly overrated, but at least Rex gives a good quote. There’s just no way the Rams can keep winning the way they have been. Right?

COWBOYS (+2.5) over Bengals

Buccaneers (+4) over PANTHERS