NFL WEEK 5: This Week 5 began with a whimper, as the Colts outlasted Denver on Thursday night in one of the ugliest football games you will ever see. It was the type of performance that should make sensible Indianapolis fans feel even worse about their team despite the victory, and as for the Broncos and their new $245 million man… yikes. I mean, I know Russell Wilson is only 33 years old, but he sure looks washed to me and anyone else with a set of eyeballs and a shred of objectivity. They’re stuck with Wilson because they paid him so much, but it’s starting to look like first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett will be lucky to last the season.

There are some interesting matchups on this Week 5 slate, and a couple of snoozers too. That said, even the “snoozers” will likely be competitive affairs, as the parity that the League Office has long strived for is evident and in full effect this season. Last Sunday, for instance, every game but one was a one-score affair (team leading by 8 points or fewer) at some point in the 4th quarter. That’s pretty remarkable, and it means that even in our wins there’s going to be a sweat. And so there we were last Sunday, sweating it out all the way to the bank after all our bets cashed… a perfect sweep. Love those days. Let’s see if we can keep it rolling with these:


Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets (MIA -3, 46)

Recommendation: Miami -3 at 1.89; Miami moneyline (to win) at 1.59

The Jets are a popular pick as a home underdog this week, and I certainly understand the reasoning—they’ve been better than people expected, particularly on offense, and the Dolphins will be without injured starting QB Tua Tagovailoa. Let’s be real, though: the fact that the Jets have exceeded low expectations does not make them a good team, and much of the positive stuff they’ve done on offense came with Joe Flacco at the helm. Zach Wilson stepped in last week and engineered a win over a godawful Pittsburgh team, but this will be a real test for Wilson, as Miami hangs its hat on an attacking-style defense that blitzes more than any team in the league. Wilson will have to endure some serious heat from the Miami front seven and I suppose we’ll find out a lot about the young man, but I feel like I’ve seen this movie before, many times, and I have a hunch that a “learning experience” is on the way. On the other side of the ball, I simply don’t think Teddy Bridgewater is much of a downgrade from Tua… he looked very comfortable when he stepped in last week, which probably shouldn’t be all that surprising considering his experience and the tools he has at his disposal right now—the Tyreek Hill/Jaylen Waddle WR tandem has been an absolute nightmare for opposing defenses. Look for Teddy to keep the offense rolling in a comfortable Dolphins win.


Seattle Seahawks @ New Orleans Saints (NO -5.5, 45.5)

Recommendation: New Orleans -5.5 at 1.99

It’s been a rough start to the season in New Orleans, with tough losses, injuries, and frustration piling up. The Saints actually played better than I expected them to in London last week, however, and after getting his feet wet in the offense and having another full week to prepare, I expect Andy Dalton to play a very clean game on Sunday. Much like the Miami situation, I just don’t think the Saints are much worse off with Dalton under center than they are with the turnover-prone Jameis Winston, and this week Dalton has a very friendly matchup against the generous Seattle secondary. Also helping his cause is the fact that the Saints will be getting their best offensive player back, star tailback Alvin Kamara, who should act as a safety valve in the short passing game and give Dalton and the offense some easy first downs. The New Orleans defense will have to contend with one of the NFC’s top receiving corps, but Seattle triggerman Geno Smith has a long history of erratic play, especially after he’s been hit a few times and roughed up a bit, so you can rest assured that Cam Jordan and the Saints defense will be smelling blood in the water with Smith in the pocket. I’m expecting an easy Saints victory here.


Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars (JAX -7, 44)

Recommendation: Houston +7 at 1.98

I saw one of those “power ranking” polls this week that had Houston ranked as the worst team in the NFL, and if that’s true then these Texans are the best “worst team” the league has seen in quite a while (but… it’s not true). Though they’re still seeking their first win, all four games that the Texans have played this season have been tight in the 4th quarter, and the offense is starting to find a rhythm now that rookie RB Dameon Pierce has taken control of the backfield and given the team some serious pop in the running game. The Jags struggled matching Philadelphia’s physicality last week and were unable to stop Philly RB Miles Sanders, who had a career day with 134 yards and 2 TDs on 27 carries, and they also lost their best run defender, DT Foley Fatukasi, to a quad injury that will keep him sidelined this week. Jacksonville has a below-average secondary, so I expect the Texans to move the ball with some degree of consistency in this game, as they have for most of the season, and though the Houston secondary certainly has problems of its own, the Jaguars don’t have any game-breakers in the passing game and the offense, even when it has been effective, would never be classified as “explosive”. The number here is simply too big in my opinion… Jacksonville covering 7 feels like a tall order.


Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens (BAL -3.5, 47.5)

Recommendation: Cincinnati +3.5 at 1.92; Cincinnati moneyline (to win) at 2.6

The panic in Cincinnati reached a fever pitch after the Bengals lost to the Cooper Rush-led Dallas Cowboys in Week 2 but has subsided considerably after back-to-back wins over the Jets and Dolphins, and with another win this week Cincy will be back on course and sitting atop the AFC North. A road trip to Baltimore sounds scary, but these Ravens have actually been pretty bad at home recently, losing their last five games at M&T Bank Stadium dating back to last year. And the worst-kept secret in the league is that Joe Burrow is much better on the road than he is at home… an oddity that may correct itself over the years but can’t be denied at this point. In Burrow’s past eight road games he’s thrown 18 TD passes and only 4 INTs, with the Bengals winning six of those games, and this week he’ll be facing a leaky Baltimore secondary that has surrendered over 1,000 passing yards in the team’s last three games. It’s a dream matchup for Burrow and the league’s best receiving corps, and Lamar Jackson will have to put on a real superman show just to keep up. If the line here were Cincinnati -3, I would still like the Bengals.


DAQMAN Tues: Fontwell NAP
DAQSTATS Tues: Fontwell NAP
WORLD CUP ULTRA Tues: MOROCCO v SPAIN, PORTUGAL v SWITZERLAND
WEEK AHEAD: England v France the highlight
PAT HEALY blog: Awesome Constitution Hill
MARK HALSEY blog: England’s discipline a credit to Southgate
THE ULTRA: World Cup Group Stage Preview
LIFTING THE LID: Clayton Blackmore’s World Cup predictions 
SETTING THE SCENE: The World Cup
THE ULTRA: World Cup Knockout Stage Preview
PURPLE PUNDIT: Five Reasons Not To Back Brazil
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