Nostrathomas Predicts: Early Claims on AFC Playoff Seeding Up for Grabs

Nostrathomas didn’t write an article for Thursday night’s game between the Los Angeles Rams visiting the Seattle Seahawks but documented his pick of Los Angeles -2.5 to win and cover on his Twitter feed (@tjpollin).

With a 1-0 straight-up and against the spread start, let’s dig into the rest of the NFL’s Week 5 slate.

Game of the Week

Buffalo Bills vs Kansas City Chiefs -2.5 (Sunday Night Football; Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO)

The Buffalo Bills are one of seven 3-1 teams in the AFC and need a statement victory to put those teams on notice that the top seed in the postseason runs through them. The Kansas City Chiefs are going into this game needing a win to keep from falling to a 2-3 record and making a climb past the conference leaders into the playoffs that much harder to accomplish.

Buffalo has been on fire on offense and defense since their disastrous season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but some of that can be attributed to the competition they’ve faced. Their lowest point total on offense was in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins in a 35-0 win. They also shut down the Houston Texans 40-0. The only team that has scored against the Bills since their opener has been Washington, who Buffalo downed 43-21.

The problem with those dominant victories is that they were over teams with a cumulative record of 4-8.

Kansas City has travelled a tougher road to their 2-2 record. The Chiefs have the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers before facing their first sub-.500 team in Week 4, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Despite the stiff competition, Kansas City is first in the NFL in points per play and points per drive. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is third in the league in net passing yards per attempt.

The Chiefs brand new offensive line is also building into a cohesive unit in front of Mahomes. Due to their efforts Kansas City is fourth in rushing yards per attempt, first in third down conversion percentage and have only allowed five sacks of Mahomes in four games.

I have to see the Bills go toe to toe with an elite team before I’m ready to take them to win and cover in a showcase game like this one. Until they do, Nostrathomas says, take Kansas City to win and cover.

Kansas City Chiefs 34 Buffalo Bills 30

Best Bets

Tennessee Titans -4.5 vs Jacksonville Jaguars (1PM ET; TIAA Bank Stadium, Jacksonville, FL)

The Jacksonville Jaguars covered in their Week 4, Thursday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals despite losing the game on a last-second Even McPherson 35-yard field goal. That was the high point of their week.

Head coach Urban Meyer has done everything in his power to counter any positive vibes that the Jaguars might have had heading into Week 5. Let’s discount what happened at the bar and realize the respect he lost with his players for not flying back to Florida with them after the game. He also cancelled the Monday morning meeting to avoid addressing the situation with his team.

Add all of that on top of reports by a number of reliable sources that Meyer was not well respected within the Jaguars clubhouse even before his latest incident.

No player ever goes out on the field with the intention to lose but they’re not going to go above and beyond for a coach that they don’t respect.

As for the Titans, they’ve struggled with consistency so far this season but they still are the defending AFC South Division champs. They are also getting Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Brown back in the lineup this week.

Take the Tennessee Titans to kick the Jaguars while they’re down.

Tennessee Titans 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 20

New Orleans Saints -2.5 vs Washington Football Team (1PM ET; FedEx Stadium, Washington D.C.)

Surprisingly, this game opened as a “pick ‘em” before sharp money (professional betters) and the public came in heavy on New Orleans.

What has happened to Riverboat Ron Rivera’s defense? Washington’s line boasts first round draft picks from end to end yet that front, more often than not, fails to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and is the worst in the NFL in third down conversions allowed.

The New Orleans Saints are still searching for a consistent identity on offense but their defense has shown up every week. They are third on defense in points per play and fourth in points per drive allowed. New Orleans’ defense is also fourth in the league in passer rating allowed.

Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke isn’t going to have as much time in the pocket and won’t be seeing as many busted coverages against the Saints that he did last week against the Atlanta Falcons.

Take the New Orleans Saints to show up ready to take down Ron Rivera’s Football Team.

New Orleans Saints 24 Washington Football Team 15

Chicago Bears +5.5 vs Las Vegas Raiders (4:05PM ET; Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV)

The heavy public money that has come in on the game this week has pushed the Raiders from four to 5.5-point favorites against the Chicago Bears. It is also expected that tourists coming into town for the weekend will be dropping more money on the Raiders side.

If you want to take the Bears and the points in this game, it would be best to wait until closer to kickoff when the point spread could make a jump to the Bears +6.

The Bears defensive front has been raining thunder down on opposing quarterbacks and Las Vegas’ offensive line is vulnerable to a strong rush. Chicago’s defense leads the league with 15 sacks through four weeks.

The Los Angeles Chargers defense held Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr to 196 passing yards and the Raiders offense to 213 total yards. Carr is not going to find the going any easier against Chicago.

Also, people who are betting heavy on the Raiders have rookie quarterback Justin Fields’ first start against the Cleveland Browns in mind when they evaluate the Bears offense. Last week against Detroit, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor took over the play calling duties from head coach Matt Nagy and a game plan emerged that was more suited to Fields’ skillset.

This isn’t to say that Fields is ready to take his place alongside the elite of the league but he showed that there is more to his game than what he was able to show in Cleveland.

Nostrathomas is recommending that you take those points to finish this weekend’s three-game parlay. One trend you might want to consider when picking this game, going back to the 2017 season, the Raiders are 2-13 in the month of October. That trend is also why I’m taking the Bears as road dogs to upset Las Vegas this week.

Chicago Bears 26 Las Vegas Raiders 23

Best of the Rest

New York Jets +3 vs Atlanta Falcons (9:30AM ET; Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, UK)

You’d normally find this matchup under the “Games of the Weak” header but this is the NFL’s first trip to London after cancelling games across the pond due to Covid-19.

The Atlanta Falcons had the opportunity to head into this game with a 2-2 record but couldn’t close against the Football Team last week. The problems with picking this game is, they don’t stack up any better statistically than a New York Jets team that gave Robert Saleh his first win as an NFL head coach last week with a 27-24 win over the Tennessee Titans.

Atlanta will be without number one receiver Calvin Ridley, who didn’t make the trip to London. Also, rookie safety Erik Harris is questionable with a calf injury. Even if he plays, he won’t be at full strength which further weakens an already suspect Falcons secondary.

The Jets got their turnover problem under control last week against Tennessee and the problem should stay under control against a Falcons defense that is weak at forcing them.

Take the Jets to win and cover.

New York Jets 24 Atlanta Falcons 16

Miami Dolphins vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers -10 (1PM ET; Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL)

Tampa Bay defeated the Patriots last Sunday night but couldn’t cover the seven-point spread. This week, the Buccaneers are favored by 10 points against a Miami team that is struggling on both sides of the ball.

If the Dolphins run game was capable of more than 3.6 rushing yards per attempt on the ground, 26th in the league, I would say they have a decent chance of keeping this game within reach. They also don’t ask quarterback Jacoby Brissett to make big plays downfield.

An offense that takes a lot of plays to move the ball downfield is also an offense that is likely to make a mistake that kills a drive. The Buccaneers aren’t a forgiving team when it comes to mistakes.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 Miami Dolphins 16

Philadelphia Eagles vs Carolina Panthers -3 (1PM ET; Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC)

Carolina’s undefeated run came to an end last week when Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott tore the game open by putting up 20 points in the third quarter. The problems for Philadelphia is, the Panthers are still formidable on defense. They’ve allowed the third fewest points on defense in the league through four weeks.

Jalen Hurts has played well early this season but he is carrying a majority of Philadelphia’s offense on his back.

Take the Panthers to recover their winning ways at home.

Carolina Panthers 28 Philadelphia Eagles 20

Detroit Lions vs Minnesota Vikings -10 (1PM ET; U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN)

If NFL games were decided within the 20-yard lines, Detroit would have massacred the Bears at Soldier Field last week. The hell of it is, the Lions have played tough this season and are still 0-4.

Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins had his worst game of the season last week but that was against a tough, Cleveland Browns defense.

The Vikings are 1-3 this season but each loss was against a team that is currently over .500. In this game, they have strong statistical edges on both offense and defense over a beat-up Detroit team who have five starters listed as questionable for this game.

The Lions need to show more consistency in finishing drives but they still are always a danger for a backdoor cover. Still, you can’t let something like that affect your betting strategy. Sharp betters have laid heavy money on the Vikings. In this case, follow the pros.

Minnesota Vikings 32 Detroit Lions 20

Green Bay Packers vs Cincinnati Bengals +3 (1PM ET; Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH)

Cincinnati is off to a strong 3-1 start in the tough AFC North and the Packers have recovered from their embarrassing Week 1 loss with a three-game winning streak.

Green Bay can be beaten on defense. The Packers are 19th in points allowed, Cincinnati is eighth. Green Bay’s defense has allowed opposing quarterbacks to put up a 100.2 passer rating in four games. Joe Burrow is sixth in the league with a 113.8 passer rating.

The Packers are 25th in the league with only seven sacks this year and are 22nd in pressures per dropbacks

If the Bengals come out flat like they did against Jacksonville they won’t have the chance against Green Bay to make a second-half comeback. They won’t get caught like that this week though.

The public has bet heavily on Green Bay this week. The sharps are heavy on the Bengals. Again, follow the pros.

Cincinnati Bengals 28 Green Bay Packers 24

New England Patriots -8 vs Houston Texans (1PM ET; NRG Stadium, Houston, TX)

With Davis Mills at the controls in place of Tyrod Taylor, Houston’s offense is a mess.

New England quarterback Mac Jones has had trouble getting his offense into the end zone this season but he shouldn’t have trouble putting up enough points in this game for the Patriots to win and cover.

New England Patriots 23 Houston Texans 10

Cleveland Browns vs Los Angeles Chargers -2.5 (4:05PM ET; SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles, CA)

The Chargers overcame their home field disadvantage last week with a 28-14 win over Las Vegas. This week, they play a Cleveland Browns team that struggled on offense last week but is rolling on defense.

If you want to look at trends, there are plenty of those and they don’t favor the Browns. Cleveland has lost eight of their last nine games against the AFC West. The Browns are also on an 11-game losing streak when playing on the road in the late afternoon time slot. As for Los Angeles, they’ve covered the spread in seven of their last eight games.

If you want something statistical to chew on, Cleveland is 3-1 but has yet to play a team that is currently over .500, yes, that includes Kansas City. The Chargers are 1-1 after laying waste to Las Vegas last week.

Baker Mayfield has a lot to make up for after a dismal showing last week in Minnesota. He has another tough defense to try and do it against though while Los Angeles is capable of taking this game over.

Los Angeles Chargers 25 Cleveland Browns 19

New York Giants vs Dallas Cowboys -7 (4:25PM ET; AT&T Stadium, Dallas, TX)

New York has spent the last three weeks playing three strong games, winning last week in overtime over the Saints. If they were playing last season’s Dallas Cowboys, I’d say that they would have an excellent chance to win this game, especially with quarterback Daniel Jones having a breakout season so far.

Saquon Barkley should have a big game against a Dallas defense that is 26th in the league in rushing yards per attempt allowed. The question is, will that be enough to keep New York in a game against a team that can light up the scoreboard at will.

The Giants appear to be a team on the rise but Jones is going to need more around him for them to take the next step. I expect the Cowboys to score enough to help them cover the spread for the fifth straight game.

Dallas Cowboys 31 New York Giants 23

San Francisco 49ers vs Arizona Cardinals -5 (4:25PM ET; State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ)

Trey Lance will be starting for the first time in his NFL career for San Francisco in place of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo. He gets to do this against a Cardinals team that is one of the best in the NFL on both sides of the ball.

Teams have been successful in running the ball against Arizona. That’s not going to keep Arizona within five points when the game clock winds down to zero.

This is the NFC West and the Cardinals have Los Angeles breathing down their necks. Arizona will not be letting down because of San Francisco’s quarterback situation.

Arizona Cardinals 34 San Francisco 49ers 16

Indianapolis Colts vs Baltimore Ravens -7 (Monday Night Football; M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD)

The Indianapolis Colts picked up their first win of the season last week against Miami. They’re stepping up in class this week to play the 3-1 Baltimore Ravens.

A completely healthy quarterback and offensive line would allow the Colts to give Baltimore a game. The only hope for Indianapolis is if the Ravens are looking past this game to their showdown at home against the Chargers in Week 6. Considering that Baltimore is currently in a dogfight for the lead in the AFC North with Cleveland and Cincinnati, being overlooked is too much for the Colts to hope for.

Baltimore Ravens 29 Indianapolis Colts 19

Game of the Weak

Denver Broncos -1.5 vs Pittsburgh Steelers (1PM ET; Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA)

Teddy Bridgewater is out with a concussion which means Drew Lock gets the start for Denver. Lock in at quarterback shouldn’t matter in this game though. Ben Roethlisberger has only been a shell of his Hall of Fame form and he’s playing one of the best defenses in the business.

Denver Broncos 16 Pittsburgh Steelers 10

Point spread from VegasInsider.com and is accurate as of this writing.

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