Nostrathomas Predicts: Time for Dominance to Show Itself

It’s Week 5 and there only eight teams over .500 in the NFL so far this season. Also, before Thursday night’s crap fest between the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts there were 14 teams at 2-2, including the entire NFC West.

This has made the NFL a tough league to pick this season but it doesn’t mean it’s time to quit. Now it’s time to take out the crystal beer mugs again, fill them up, peer through the suds and get a reading on what we can expect in Week 5.

Game of the Week

Cincinnati Bengals +3.5 vs Baltimore Ravens (Sunday Night Football, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD)

The Baltimore Ravens looked like they were ready to be major players for the AFC title this season until last week. They blew out to a 20-3 lead over the Buffalo Bills but failed to score in the second half and lost 23-20.

The Cincinnati Bengals have gone the opposite way with their season through four weeks. They lost two tight games to start the season but have soundly defeated two AFC East opponents the last two weeks.

The problem keeping the Ravens from being taken seriously as a Super Bowl contender is their inability to finish games. They’ve turned 17-point leads into losses in their last two home games.

Is Cincinnati’s Super Bowl hangover over after wins against the Jets and Dolphins? Let’s leave that question out there for one more week. Since Baltimore seems unable to do anything easy this season, I’m picking them to win but in a close game that the Bengals cover.

Baltimore Ravens 26 Cincinnati Bengals 23

Best Bets

Chicago Bears vs Minnesota Vikings -7.5 (1PM ET; U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN)

The Minnesota Vikings haven’t been setting the NFL on fire this season. They barely survived the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints the last two weeks. Fortunately for Minnesota, they get back from their London trip with the Chicago Bears waiting at their home stadium.

Chicago will have success running the ball but quarterback Justin Fields is last in the NFL in net passing yards per attempt. Even worse, they don’t have enough defense to make up for their offensive issues.

The Bears don’t get consideration against teams over .500 until they prove they can move the ball through the air.

Minnesota Vikings 26 Chicago Bears 16

Seattle Seahawks +5 vs New Orleans Saints (1PM ET; Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LA)

The New Orleans Saints are returning from London but decided to take their bye week later in the season. Because of that decision, New Orleans gets to face a Seattle Seahawks team that has been playing some surprisingly strong football in 2022.

The Saints will also have to play another game without Michael Thomas (foot) and quarterback Jameis Winston (back/ankle).

Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith has been everything the New York Jets thought they were getting when they drafted Smith in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He’s third in the league in passer rating and sixth in net passing yards per attempt.

New Orleans should be able to keep Smith uncomfortable in the pocket but that’s about the best that can be expected in this game.

Seattle Seahawks 24 New Orleans Saints 20

Houston Texans vs Jacksonville Jaguars -7 (1PM ET; TIAA Stadium, Jacksonville, FL)

This week the Jaguars go from playing the only undefeated team in the NFL to the only winless team in the league.

Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw one interception and lost four fumbles against the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Jaguars were still within one score at the end.

Lovie Smith has his Houston defense playing well but they’re susceptible to running attacks. That should make for a big day for Jacksonville running back James Robinson.

The Jaguars have made big strides this season under new head coach Doug Pederson. Houston still has work to do to reach respectability as a franchise again.

Jacksonville Jaguars 30 Houston Texans 19

London Calling

New York Giants +8 vs Green Bay Packers (9:30AM ET; Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London)

This is Green Bay’s first trip across the pond to play a regular season game. They are the last NFL team to make their debut in London.

Both the New York and the Packers are 3-1 but neither of those records are as dominating as they sound. Green Bay was blown out by the Vikings in Week 1 and pulled out close games in Weeks 3 and 4 against Tampa Bay and New England.

The Giants boast a tight win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 1 and one score wins over Carolina and Chicago.

Both teams are going to rely on their ground games in this game. The Packers are eight in the league in rushing yards per attempt and New York is second behind the rejuvenated Saquon Barkley.

The difference in this game will be the passing attacks. The Giants don’t have one. Quarterback Daniel Jones has one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL.

Aaron Rodgers may not have Davante Adams as his go-to target anymore but between Romeo Doubs, Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan, he’s been able to move the ball through the air when he needs to.

Their ability to still attack through the air is why Green Bay wins this game. That the Giants are going to run Barkley down their throats is why the Giants cover the spread.

Green Bay Packers 24 New York Giants 20

Division Rivalries

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

The Atlanta Falcons have played every opponent tough on their way to a 2-2 start. This week, the Falcons get to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for first place in the NFC South.

The Buccaneers defense will be a challenge for Atlanta’s improved running offense. It’s the Falcons passing attack that’s going to keep them from competing against Tampa Bay, especially with tight end Kyle Pitts declared out for this game.

Tom Brady may not be playing the best quarterback of his career so far this season but there are too many ways for the Buccaneers to attack Atlanta’s defense.

Tampa Bay is on a 10-0 run against the Falcons. The Buccaneers will stretch it to 11-0.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 Atlanta Falcons 16

Miami Dolphins vs New York Jets +3 (1PM ET; MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ)

Last week the Miami Dolphins showed that there are holes on their team when Tua Tagovailoa is sidelined. Teddy Bridgewater could only manage one first half touchdown. Miami’s only second half score came on a Jason Sanders 20-yard field goal. That came on a fourth down on the Cincinnati Bengals two-yard line.

Obviously, Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel didn’t trust his offense to reach the end zone with Bridgewater at the controls.

As for New York, with the more athletic Zach Wilson back at quarterback in place of Joe Flacco, head coach Robert Saleh was willing to take chances on offense, having Wilson catching a touchdown pass from receiver Braxton Berrios.

Wilson also led two fourth quarter touchdown drives to lead the Jets to victory. This week, I’ll take the Jets at home against an undermanned Miami team.

New York Jets 24 Miami Dolphins 20

Las Vegas Raiders vs Kansas City Chiefs -7 (Monday Night Football; GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO)

The Las Vegas Raiders were able to pull out a victory against the Denver Broncos last week. This week they’re playing one of the best teams in the NFL on their home field. Kansas City wins and covers the -7.

Kansas City Chiefs 35 Las Vegas Raiders 23

Best of the Rest

Los Angeles Chargers vs Cleveland Browns +1.5 (1PM ET; FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH)

The Los Angeles Chargers have been making their mark through the air this season, which has been their entire 2022 offense. They are last in the league in rushing yards per attempt.

The problem for Los Angeles is they have major problems on defense against the run and that’s what the Browns do best. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett has also been doing a good job connecting with Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and tight end David Njoku through the air.

The Cleveland Browns are the home dogs but should win this game outright against a Chargers team that has a defense that struggles to make Justin Herbert’s efforts worthwhile.

Cleveland Browns 26 Los Angeles Chargers 23

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Buffalo Bills -14 (1PM ET; Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, NY)

This game features Kenny Pickett making his first start as an NFL quarterback. It will be memorable for him because he’s making that start against the best team in the NFL.

Most sports books opened with this game at -14 and they haven’t budged all week. There has been money coming in on Pittsburgh but not enough to get a half point shaved off the number.

The Bills are fourth in the NFL in rushing yards per attempt allowed so expect Najee Harris’ influence on the ground in this game to be negligible.

The Steelers have a solid roster of receivers to work with but again, Buffalo’s defense against the pass is formidable. The Bills are fourth in net passing yards allowed, first in defensive passer rating and first in passer rating differential.

The only way this game stays close is if Buffalo gets caught looking past this game to the rematch of last season’s Divisional Round matchup against the Chiefs in Kansas City.

Taking into consideration that we’ll be seeing a rookie making his first start at quarterback in front of a hostile #BillsMafia crowd and that Pickett threw three interceptions in his debut against the New York Jets last week, this is one of those situations where you have to give the points.

Buffalo Bills 30 Pittsburgh Steelers 13

Detroit Lions +3 vs New England Patriots (1PM ET; Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA)

The Detroit Lions are one of the top teams in the league on offense and one of the worst on defense. It’s made for some entertaining football for Lions fans.

Last week, rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe nearly led New England to a win over the Packers in Green Bay. What is overlooked about his performance last week was, counting the three sacks Zappe took for 24 yards, his net passing yards per attempt average was 4.1.

I’m looking for the road dogs to outscore the Patriots and their rookie quarterback.

Detroit Lions 34 New England Patriots 30

Tennessee Titans -1 vs Washington Commanders (1PM ET; FedEx Stadium, Washington D.C.)

The Washington Commanders are 31st in Nostrathomas’ power rankings after four weeks of the 2022 season. The Tennessee Titans are on a two-game win streak after a slow start. Look for Tennessee to go into their bye week on a high.

Tennessee Titans 26 Washington Commanders 18

San Francisco 49ers -6.5 vs Carolina Panthers (4:05PM ET; Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC)

The Carolina Panthers haven’t enjoyed the early season success that they had the last two years. San Francisco is one of the best teams in the NFL on defense.

Take the road favorites win and cover.

San Francisco 49ers 24 Carolina Panthers 13

Dallas Cowboys +5.5 vs Los Angeles Rams (4:25PM ET; SoFi Stadium, Los Angeles, CA)

The Los Angeles Rams’ offense has struggled to move the ball and score against two of the best defenses in the league in Weeks 1 and 4. They’re facing another one this week,

The Dallas Cowboys have one of the best defensive lines in the league and are also strong on pass defense. That’s been keeping Dallas at the top of the NFC East while Cooper Rush continues to fill in for the injured Zak Prescott.

The Rams are still living off of their reputation from last season. That’s why they’re still being bet as a favorite despite facing a team that is clearly superior so far in 2022.

Dallas Cowboys 23 Los Angeles Rams 20

Philadelphia Eagles -5.5 vs Arizona Cardinals (4:25PM ET; State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ

The Philadelphia Eagles will be attempting to improve their record to 5-0 when they visit the Arizona Cardinals.

The Eagles top the league in net passing yards per attempt and net passing yards per attempt allowed. Philadelphia is second in defensive passer rating and passer rating differential.

Arizona has yet to find their identity this season. They’ll have to wait until next week to locate it.

Philadelphia Eagles 27 Arizona Cardinals 17

All point spreads from VegasInsider.com and are accurate as of this writing.

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