It’s official, the NFL has officially gone bonkers. There is no professional sports league that thrives on parity more than the NFL and after 102 years of existence, it appears the NFL might have finally reached full parity. I thought it would take at least 312 years for that to happen, but no, the NFL did it 102.
Every game is unpredictable and if you need proof, just consider this: Of the 16 games played in Week 4, 15 of them were within one score in the fourth quarter, which is the most in NFL history for one week. Also, there have been 23 games decided by three points or fewer this season, which is the most in NFL history through four weeks. Basically, every game is close and any team can win, and I think what I’m trying to say here is that I am blaming all of my bad picks on the NFL for being so unpredictable. I hate unpredictable. If I wanted unpredictable, I’d buy a cat (As we all know, cats are notoriously unpredictable).
Anyway, let’s get to the picks.
Actually, before we get to the picks, here’s a quick reminder that you can check out the weekly picks from every CBSSports.com NFL expert by clicking here, but you don’t need to click over this week, because we have more important things to go over right now, like why you should sign up for the Pick Six newsletter that we have here at CBSSports.com.
Based on my unscientific research, I’ve found that roughly 57% of the people who read this picks column wish they could get an email from me every day. Well, YOU CAN. I write the Pick Six newsletter and it comes out every week day. If you want it sent to your inbox, all you have to do is click here and subscribe. Once you sign up, you’ll start getting one email per day where I’ll be touching on every NFL-related topic I can think of and even ones that I can’t think of. If you’re wondering how that’s possible, you’ll have to subscribe.
Although I’m writing the newsletter, I still make time in my busy schedule to bother Will Brinson four days per week on the Pick Six Podcast. For Tuesday’s episode, which you can listen to by clicking here, we spent roughly 27 minutes arguing about who’s going to win the NFC West, a division where every team is currently 2-2.
Alright, that’s enough self-promotion for one week, let’s get to the picks.
NFL Week 5 Picks
Indianapolis (1-2-1) at Denver (2-2)
8:15 p.m. ET, Thursday (Amazon Prime)
If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to watch football back in 1928, you can actually find out this week by watching this game. The Colts and Broncos have single-handedly set football back 94 years with their offensive play this season. I mean, the forward pass had barely been invented in 1928 and the Detroit Wolverines still managed to average 18.9 points per game. The Colts and Broncos aren’t even able to do that. Through four weeks, the Colts are the lowest-scoring team in the NFL (14.3 points per game) and the Broncos are the third-lowest scoring team (16.5 points per game). If the Detroit Wolverines were playing in this game, I’d pick them to win, but they’re not, so I have to pick one of these two teams.
The thing about the Colts and Broncos is that they actually had a similar offseason: They both made a major trade for a starting quarterback with the hopes that their new guy would lead them to the Super Bowl this year, kind of like Matthew Stafford did with the Rams and Tom Brady did with the Buccaneers. I know we’re only four weeks into the season, but I’m starting to think neither team is going to get to the Super Bowl.
To add some spice to this game, the NFL should get rid fo the quarter system and just give the win to the first team to score 20 points. Sure, it could take three days for that to happen, but it would be an entertaining three days.
This game is about picking the lesser of two evils and even though Russell Wilson is banged up, I think I’m going to go with the Broncos. One reason is because the Colts are bad and the other reason is because this is the two-time zone special: The Colts are flying two time zones west and in the history of “Thursday Night Football,” road teams are 2-13 straight-up and 2-12-1 against the spread in Thursday games where they have to travel two or more time zones west. Also, those two wins both came from the Packers, which means no other NFL team has won in this exact situation.
The pick: Broncos 20-17 over Colts
L.A. Chargers (2-2) at Cleveland (2-2)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Los Angeles Chargers
After four weeks of picking Browns games, I’ve come to realize that I am not good at picking Browns games. The Browns have played four games so far this year and I’m 0-4 picking those games. They’re the only team in the NFL I’ve whiffed on in every game this season. The Dolphins were previously in this group, but I publicly shamed myself last week and got my pick right, so that’s what I’m going to do here with Cleveland.
In Week 1, I picked Carolina to beat Cleveland because the Browns never win their opening game and they immediately responded by winning their opening game for the first time in 18 years. To add insult to injury, my pick was only wrong because a rookie kicker somehow hit a 58-yard field goal.
In Week 2, I actually picked the Browns to win, and with 90 seconds left in the game, I looked like a genius because they were up 30-17 on the Jets. Since NFL teams had won 2,229 consecutive games when leading by at least 13 points in the final two minutes, it seemed like a lock that the Browns would win, but as we all know, nothing is ever a lock with the Browns.
In Week 3, I predicted that the Browns would lose to the Steelers and I have to say, I haven’t been that wrong about something since the time I tried to convince people that “Battleship” was a good movie. Spoiler alert: “Battleship” was not a good movie and from now on, if I want to watch a film based on a board game, I will stick with “Clue.”
In Week 4, I predicted that the Browns would beat the Falcons and I think Kevin Stefanski has it out for me, because that’s the only way to explain all his bizarre decisions in Cleveland’s 23-20 loss.
The bottom line here is that my Browns picks are starting to get out of hand. No matter what I predict, it ends up being wrong. If I predicted the Browns to beat the Chargers by 13 this week, they would lose by 31.
Since the opposite of what I predict always seems to happen when the Browns play, I’ve decided to take that into account and I’m going to predict the opposite of what I think is going to happen. My gut originally told me to take the Browns because we have a west coast team playing an eastern time zone game in the early time slot, but I’m ignoring my gut and going with the Chargers.
The pick: Chargers 30-20 over Browns
Dallas (3-1) at L.A. Rams (2-2)
4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
Los Angeles Rams
If I have learned one thing during Cooper Rush’s NFL career, it’s that you should never pick against him. Cooper has made four starts in his career and he is now 4-0 with three of those wins coming this year. I’m not saying we should get his Hall of Fame bust ready, but I’m not not saying that.
As much as I’d like to ramble on here about how the Cowboys are only good because of Cooper Rush, I’m not going to do that because it’s not exactly true. The Cowboys are 3-1 right now because their defense is destroying everyone: They can stop the run, they can stop the pass and they are exceptionally good at embarrassing opposing quarterbacks.
The Cowboys have totaled 15 sacks this season, which is the second-highest total in the NFL. On the other hand, the Rams offensive line has been banged up all year, which has turned the first four weeks of the season into a nightmare for Matthew Stafford.
If you saw what happened to Stafford in Week 1 — he got sacked seven times against the Bills — then you got a taste of what might happen to him this week. If you saw what happened to Matthew Stafford on Monday night — he got sacked six times against the 49ers — then you got a taste of what might happen to him this week. Stafford has been sacked 16 times this season, which is tied for the second-most in the NFL, and based on what I’ve seen from the Cowboys defense, they might double that total.
The other thing about the Cowboys is that no one can score on them. The Cowboys have yet to surrender 20 points in any game this year, which is impressive when you consider that they’ve already faced quarterbacks like Joe Burrow and Tom Brady.
Since Dak Prescott went down, the Cowboys’ formula for winning games has been pretty simple: Play great defense and pray that Cooper Rush doesn’t make any mistakes on offense. Well, the prayers have clearly been working because Rush has zero interceptions through four weeks.
I have no idea if the Cowboys will be sticking with Rush for one more week or turning the offensive reigns over to Dak Prescott, but I don’t care, I’m taking them no matter what.
The pick: Cowboys 23-20 over Rams
Cincinnati (2-2) at Baltimore (2-2)
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Based on what I know about these two teams, this game is going to play out in one of two ways. The first possibility is that Joe Burrow throws for 700 yards and Cincinnati wins. The Bengals swept this series last season for one big reason and that was Burrow, who absolutely shredded Baltimore’s defense. He threw for 416 yards in one game and 525 in the other. If you don’t remember the 525 game, the Bengals were kind of enough to cut up a video of every single throw he made. Ravens fans, you might not want to watch the video below.
The thing about this year’s game is that the Ravens haven’t really fixed anything when it comes to stopping the pass. Through four weeks, the Ravens are surrendering an average of 315.3 yards per game through the air, which is the most in the NFL. To put that number in perspective, NO OTHER TEAM has even given up more than 300 yards per game through the air.
The Ravens were able to keep Josh Allen in check on Sunday, but they did get some help from Mother Nature, who clearly is not a Bills fan, which we’ve all known ever since she sent that gust of wind that made Scott Norwood’s kick miss in Super Bowl XXV. For this week’s game, Mother Nature will be taking the week off. Instead of a torrential downpour, the forecast in Baltimore is calling for clear skies and a temperature of roughly 54 degrees on Sunday night, which I think is Joe Burrow’s favorite temperature.
The other possibility in this game is that the Ravens build a gigantic lead and then squander it away. If you’ve watched any Ravens games over the past three weeks, then you already know the formula here: The Ravens will have a big lead at some point and then suffer a spectacular collapse that will almost make you feel sorry for them.
Although I’m picking against the Ravens, I will say that picking against them when they’re playing at home in prime time is always a risk. Over the past 14 years, the Ravens are 14-1 in prime-time home games. On the flip side, the Ravens have lost five straight home games, so I guess I’ll just stick with the Bengals.
The pick: Bengals 34-31 over Baltimore
N.Y. Giants (3-1) vs. Green Bay (3-1) in London
9:30 a.m. ET (NFL Network)
Green Bay Packers
If the NFL was smart, it would just cancel this game, because there’s no way it’s going to top the drama that the last London game gave us with the Vikings beating the Saints 28-25. It was arguably the most dramatic battle to take place in England since William the Conqueror showed up at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
On the other hand, maybe the NFL shouldn’t cancel this game and that’s because fans in London are getting something they’ve never seen before: A game between two teams that both have a winning record.
During the 15-year history of the International Series, the NFL has sent so many bad games over to London that I was 91% sure England was going to declare war on us at some point. Since 2007, there have been a total of 31 NFL games played in London and NOT ONE OF THEM has featured two teams that both had a winning record going into the game. However, that streak will now be ending with the 3-1 Giants heading to London to face the 3-1 Packers.
On top of that, fans in London will also get to see Aaron Rodgers play up close for the first time. Over the past 15 years, 31 of the NFL’s 32 teams have played at least one game in England, but the Packers still have not. This Sunday will mark their first trip overseas for a regular season game.
Although I just spent two paragraphs hyping up the game, I’ve now got some bad news for everyone in London: The Giants might be down to their third-string quarterback. Not only is Daniel Jones dealing with an ankle issue, but Tyrod Taylor is in concussion protocol, which means there’s a chance that neither guy will be available on Sunday. If that ends up being the case, the start will go to Davis Webb.
The good news for Webb and the Giants though is that as long as he can hand the ball off to Saquon Barkley, then New York should be able to keep this close, but I don’t see them pulling off the upset here.
The pick: Packers 23-20 over Giants
London picks record: 1-0
NFL Week 5 picks: All the rest
Bills 31-17 over Steelers
Texans 24-21 over Jaguars
Vikings 27-20 over Bears
Saints 30-27 over Seahawks
Dolphins 34-24 over Jets
Buccaneers 26-23 over Falcons
Titans 24-17 over Commanders
Patriots 27-24 over Lions
Eagles 31-23 over Cardinals
49ers 24-16 over Panthers
Chiefs 34-27 over Raiders
Best pick: Last week, I predicted that the underdog Titans would go on the road and beat the Colts and guess what happened? The underdog Titans went on the road and beat the Colts. Now, did I know that Matt Ryan was going to turn the ball over three times with two fumbles and an interception? Of course, I did. If there is one thing Matt Ryan has perfected during his time in Indianapolis, it is turning the ball over. Through four weeks, Ryan has already fumbled the ball NINE times, which is the most in the NFL. I have no idea what the single-season fumble record is, but I have to think Ryan is about to smash it….
You know what, I kind of want to know the record now so I’m going to look it up.
So it turns out that the single-season fumble record was set by Kerry Collins, who had 23 in 2001 (Daunte Culpepper matched that total in 2002). To put Ryan’s fumbling problems in perspective, he’s on pace for THIRTY-EIGHT. Things have gotten so bad with Ryan that whenever I’m watching the RedZone channel and it flips to a Colts game, I just assume that they’re only doing it to show a crazy interception or another fumble by Ryan. Ryan should just get his own channel and call it FumbleZone, and yes, I’ll be trademarking that by the end of the week.
Worst pick: You know what, let’s keep this fumbling theme going. Last week, I fumbled away my pick in the Jaguars-Eagles game. For some reason, I thought the Jaguars could upset the Eagles and during the first half on Sunday, I actually thought it might have a chance of happening, but then Trevor Lawrence went full Matt Ryan and started fumbling away everything.
It was like he covered in his hands in Crisco before the game. I have no idea if he did, but I will now be boycotting both Crisco and the Jaguars just to be safe.
Straight up in Week 4: 9-7
SU overall: 33-30-1
Against the spread in Week 4: 5-9-2
ATS overall: 25-36-3