It’s hard to believe the season is one quarter complete for 30 of the NFL’s 32 teams. Only New England and Tennessee, who had byes last week, have yet to play 4 of their 16 regular season games.
After three weeks of play there were 7 unbeaten NFL teams and 4 teams that were winless. One of those winless teams was Detroit, which visited Seattle on Monday night and was expected to return home 0-4 as the Lions were 10 point underdogs against the Seahawks.
If Monday night played out according to form the Lions would be the only 0-4 team as the other three winless teams each finally got their first win and each in dramatic fashion.
The unbeaten ranks fell by just one as Arizona fell behind early at home to St. Louis and did rally but fell just short, falling 24-22. The other six teams remained unbeaten with Carolina and Green Bay winning on the road to improve to 4-0 while Atlanta, Cincinnati and Denver each won at home. The sixth team, New England, remained unbeaten at 3-0 as the Patriots had their bye week.
Perhaps the biggest surprise concerning the unbeaten teams is two of those teams – Atlanta and Carolina – hail not just from the same Division but from the NFC South, the Division that produced a champion last season (Carolina) with a 7-8-1 record.
The ugliest losses of the week were suffered a continent apart. Early on Sunday morning stateside the Miami Dolphins played listless football for a second straight week, losing this time in London to their Division rivals, the New York Jets. A few hours later Houston was blasted 48-21 at Atlanta in a game the Falcons led 28-0 at the half and 42-0 after three quarters.
Not surprisingly, the Dolphins fired Coach Joe Philbin on Monday morning. Carolina, Miami, Minnesota and the New York Jets have byes this week.
Here’s a look at the 14 games that comprise the Week 5 schedule.
Pro Football – Thursday
Indianapolis Colts NL at Houston Texans: The status of Indy QB Andrew Luck keeps this game off the boards. There are major issues at QB and the defense has not played to last season’s level. Luck has not had a good start to his season in the three games he’s played. HOUSTON.
Pro Football – Sunday
Jacksonville Jaguars +3 at TB Buccaneers (42.5): This is a tough spot for the Jags who play a third straight road game and are off of a tough loss at Indy when their kicking game prevented an upset win. This could be Tampa’s only role as home favorite until perhaps hosting Chicago in late December. TAMPA BAY.
Buffalo Bills -3 at Tennessee Titans (43): Buffalo has alternated excellent and awful performances this week and following last week’s penalty filled home loss to the Giants should play more under control this week. Buffalo has the talent edge over the still developing hosts. BUFFALO
Cleveland Browns +6.5 at Baltimore Ravens (43.5): This has been a lopsided series since coach John Harbaugh and QB Joe Flacco arrived in Baltimore in 2008. The Ravens are 13-1 SU and 9-5 ATS. Despite a vulnerable defense, Baltimore has most of the edges and should be well prepared to avoid a second home Divisional loss. BALTIMORE.
Washington Redskins +8 at Atlanta Falcons (47.5): The Falcons have one of the NFL’s most potent and well balanced offenses but their defense, while improved, still remains a concern, allowing 6.1 yards per play. Washington’s offense has averaged 383 yards per game which suggests we could see points a plenty. OVER.
Chicago Bears +10 at Kansas City Chiefs (45.5): Chicago got its first win last week over Oakland, a team coach John Fox was familiar with from coaching at Denver the past 4 seasons. This spot sets up well for the Chiefs as they step down in class and face one of the league’s most porous defenses. KANSAS CITY.
New Orleans Saints +5 at Philadelphia Eagles (48): Drew Brees looked sharp in Sunday night’s win over Dallas with his injured shoulder apparently not an issue. The Philly offense still has not lived up to billing but should have success against a weak Saints defense. But their own defense should be tested as well. OVER.
St. Louis Rams +9.5 at Green Bay Packers (46): Green Bay is 4-0 both SU and ATS this season and is 11-0 SU, 8-2-1 ATS at home since the start of last season with 7 double digit wins and 4 by at least 21 points. If the line moves to -10 the call is a bit more tenuous but if laying less than 10 let’s continue to back the Pack. GREEN BAY.
Seattle Seahawks NL at Cincinnati Bengals: Barring injuries this line may come close to pick ‘em as Cincinnati continues to be impressive on both sides of the football after easily handling Kansas City. The well balanced Bengals have won at least 9 games in 5 of the past 6 seasons and have made four straight Playoff appearances. Could this be their year? CINCINNATI.
Arizona Cardinals NL at Detroit Lions: Arizona QB Carson Palmer has passed for over 300 yards in 3 of 4 games, including last week’s loss to defensively solid St. Louis. Arizona has won 6 in a row vs the Lions but 5 of those wins were at home. The Cards have the better defense and should bounce back after being held to less than 31 points for the first time this season. ARIZONA.
New England Patriots -7.5 at Dallas Cowboys (49): The Patriots appear intent on making every opponent pay for the 8 months of ‘deflategate.’ They return from their bye after scoring 51 and 40 points and face a Dallas defense that could be without their best player, LB Sean Lee. That only adds to the Cowboys’ woes with QB Tony Romo and WR Dez Bryant still sidelined. With a trip to deflategate instigator Indianapolis next week the Patriots may want to send a message to Indianapolis in addition to exploiting Dallas’ defensive deficiencies. NEW ENGLAND.
Denver Broncos -5.5 at Oakland Raiders (43.5): Denver remained unbeaten with a hard than expected home win over Minnesota last week. Oakland fell just short of a second straight road win, falling 22-20 in Chicago on a last second FG. But the Raiders continue to show they are an improved team since last season with a new coach and several new players at key positions. Denver has dominated this series with 7 straight wins, the last 6 by 13 points or more, going 6-0-1 ATS. This line may seem suspiciously low but books are not in the habit of giving away easy money. OAKLAND
SF 49ers +7 at NY Giants (43): The Giants have shown steady improvement since Week 1, especially on defense. The 49ers have major issues with an offense that is averaging just 12 points per game and was held to just 3 and 7 points the past 2 weeks. The defense played well in holding Green Bay to just 17 points despite allowing 362 yards but the Pack was on a short week. The Giants have some issues on offense developing a running game but defensively have not allowed more than 88 rushing yards in a game. NY GIANTS.
Pro Football – Monday
Pittsburgh Steelers NL at San Diego Chargers: Multiple injuries to San Diego’s offensive line keep this game off the board at press time. San Diego’s defense allowed what has been a challenged Cleveland offense to gain 432 yards for 6.6 yards per play. The extra rest should benefit the Steelers offense. OVER.
NFL Last week: 5-8-1
NFL Season record: 28-33-1
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to GamingToday readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Email: [email protected]