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Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (February 8-17)

The English Winter Break is in play for the first time this season and I think it has not gone as well as the Premier League and the top clu...

Sunday, 9 October 2016

NFL Week 5 Picks 2016 (October 6-10)

The first month of the regular season has been very interesting with some teams massively underachieving and others looking stronger than most would have tipped for them.

Things will clear up over the next month from the contenders to those teams who have simply overachieved, while it is a big month for teams who have started badly and don't have too many losses they can afford.

Week 4 turned out to be a winning week for the picks after a poor start to the week, but I will take a winning week when I can get one. I do want one where I have a very, very strong week, but obviously winning every week from here to the end of the season will produce a winning result over the course of the season.

My picks from Week 5 will begin with the Sunday games because I wanted no part of the Arizona Cardinals visiting the San Francisco 49ers with injuries meaning it was Drew Stanton versus Blaine Gabbert at Quarter Back. There is a real chance that neither will be the starting Quarter Back for those teams the next time they come out to play with Carson Palmer likely to be out of the concussion protocol and Colin Kaepernick expected to take over from Gabbert to spark Chip Kelly's Offense which has stagnated over the last three weeks.

There are some big games in Week 5 and the return of Tom Brady for the New England Patriots will produce plenty of headlines too as I look for a fourth winning week in five to open the NFL 2016 season.

New England Patriots @ Cleveland Browns Pick: The New England Patriots will have Tom Brady back under Center on Sunday after his four game suspension came to a close. It didn't affect the team in the manner they would have expected as the Patriots finished 3-1 in those four games and now head to the terrible Cleveland Browns who are at 0-4.

The Browns have been so bad that some in Ohio actually think they would not be able to beat College Football Ohio State Buckeyes, although that is unlikely. They have had some competitive losses though and Cleveland might have been in a much better position if they had an ability to close games effectively in the Fourth Quarter rather than the production they have produced.

Cody Kessler is going to get another start at Quarter Back having started the season behind Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown, but injuries have knocked both of those players out of games. Kessler is a rookie but has played well for the most part, although a key has been the success that the Browns have had in running the ball.

Cleveland have averaged almost 150 yards per game at 5.7 yards per carry and they should be able to establish the run against the New England Defensive Line. However we all know that Bill Belichick is a genius when it comes to taking away the strength of an opponent and I think the Patriots will dare Kessler to beat them through the air.

There is a possibility that Kessler will be able to open up the running lanes with his arm as the New England Secondary have not been at their best. That might be down to the limited pressure they have gotten up front, although Rob Ninkovich is also back from suspension this week and can help give them another push to get after Kessler who is playing behind an Offensive Line that has been better opening running lanes than protecting the Quarter Back.

The Patriots are coming off a loss this week but the return of Brady is all that anyone will be talking about. They look one of the best teams in the AFC and Brady is hard to back against when he is in a 'bad mood' and you have to think he is going to have been itching to get back on the field and take out his anger on every opponent he will face.

Brady is going to be well protected, but the concern is that both Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski have been a little banged up. Martellus Bennett is a new weapon for Brady who should have time to make plays with his arm against a Cleveland team that haven't gotten to the Quarter Back effectively all season.

Tom Brady should also be able to hand the ball to LeGarrette Blount to churn out some yards on the ground and wear down Cleveland up front. Blount has been banged up too, but should be able to go and has a decent match up against the Browns who have to be trying to make sure Brady is not able to do what he wants when looking to throw the ball.

The layers do think New England will come out and put the foot down on Offense with Brady looking to show he is back in the only way he knows how. They are coming off a loss too so motivation should be high, but you can't discount the month without football that Brady has had to endure and it should take some time to get on the same page with some of his new weapons on the Offense.

New England were also only 1-2 against the spread coming off a loss as a favourite last season and they are 0-2 against the spread as the double digit road favourite in recent seasons. I do have to say Cleveland have been in a number of games and a better finish can make these points tell while Kessler and the running game have a chance of controlling the clock and not giving the Patriots enough possessions to cover this number.

Turnovers are a worry as this rookie Quarter Back takes on the Belichick Defense which can bamboozle the best out there. However this is still a lot of points and I will back the Cleveland Browns to cover in Week 5.

Chicago Bears @ Indianapolis Colts Pick: At this point of the season there is no point sugarcoating things- the Chicago Bears (1-3) and the Indianapolis Colts (1-3) are two really bad teams. At least the Bears can say they got their first win on the board last week over Divisional rivals the Detroit Lions, but the Colts came up short in London against the winless Jacksonville Jaguars.

They also become the first team that won't take a 'bye week' following the trip to London and it will be interesting to see how Indianapolis cope in that spot. They can't afford another loss this week as they face the Bears back at home, but failing to protect Andrew Luck has been a big problem for Indianapolis.

You simply cannot allow your franchise Quarter Back to take the beating that Luck has been in the opening weeks of the 2016 season, especially when you think his 2015 season was ended early thanks to a lacerated kidney. Luck was under constant pressure last week against the Jaguars and is on pace for a 60 Sack season which is incredible when you take into consideration his ability to move the pocket.

The Offensive Line has been bad in pass protection which limits the big plays Luck can make, while his Receivers outside of TY Hilton have struggled for consistency. Indianapolis might at least benefit from the fact they are not going to be facing a team with the pass rush pressure of previous teams as Chicago have struggled to get to the Quarter Back. Unfortunately for the Colts, Chicago are coming in after limiting what Matthew Stafford could do with the Lions Offense having finally been able to get some pressure on the Quarter Back.

It has been tough for Luck as the Offensive Line have not only struggled in pass protection, but they have not been able to open consistent holes for Frank Gore which means the team are stuck in obvious passing situations. At least this week the Colts take on a Defense that had a big game last week, but who also have a number of injuries on that side of the ball.

Chicago will have to try and match some of the Offensive production that Andrew Luck will produce through his sheer talent alone. Brian Hoyer will get the start at Quarter Back again having had a decent outing against Detroit, although more problems with their Field Goal unit, particularly Connor Barth, has limited their output. Hoyer should be able to have a decent game this week too against a Colts team that cut two starting Defensive players this week and who have struggled against the pass all season.

Kevin White is missing with yet another injury for the Bears, but Hoyer should have Zach Miller overcome his injury issues having scored 3 Touchdowns already. The Quarter Back should also be backed up by Jordan Howard who had a strong game running the ball in the absence of Jeremy Langford and that should keep Chicago in third and manageable situations where Hoyer won't be asked to do too much and make the mistakes that have blighted him at times.

Both teams should have their chances moving the chains and that makes this spread look too big. No one can tell how the Colts will react playing the week after being in London as they are the first team in that spot since the games began to be played at Wembley Stadium, but at this moment they should not be favoured by this many points against any team.

This is not a great spot with two Divisional games to come after this one for Indianapolis too and they are just 3-5 against the spread as the home favourite since the beginning of the 2015 season. Even the cover against San Diego came in very fortunate circumstances and I think the Bears can be backed to keep this one close enough to cover.

Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins Pick: Hurricane Matthew has been battering the East Coast of the United States over the last couple of days, but the NFL have announced that this game will go on as scheduled. It should still be a very windy day in Miami, but the majority of the storm front would have moved further up north although the conditions could make it a very difficult to throw the ball with consistency.

That might suit the Tennessee Titans who have one of the stronger rushing Offenses in the NFL through the first four weeks of the season. DeMarco Murray has rediscovered his form after a poor season with the Philadelphia Eagles and has helped the Titans average almost 130 yards per game on the ground with Quarter Back Marcus Mariota able to make some plays with his legs.

Mariota has been a little disappointing when it comes to throwing the ball though and that is where the Miami Defense have really struggled although the conditions might mean neither team is taking too many chances through the air. He should be using a few screens though because the money has been invested on the Miami Defensive Line and they have at least been able to slow the run somewhat.

The Dolphins are giving up almost 130 yards per game on the ground but they are doing that at 3.7 yards per carry and have shown they can at least limit the damage done on the ground. Unfortunately the Secondary troubles means they can't get off the field and might be worn down over the course of a game as the Defense struggles to prevent sustained drives being made against them.

With the team being behind more often than not, Miami have not really been able to get the rushing Offense going as they would want and instead have Ryan Tannehill throwing the ball too much. There is little doubt in my mind that Tannehill is not a serviceable Quarter Back at the NFL level with his mistakes being too much to overcome and his numbers much more to do with the new rules in the NFL than any actual skill he possesses.

Tannehill will at least be forced to rely on his Running Backs more than usual in the conditions and Jay Ajayi should be able to have some success. Miami have opened the running lanes for 4.2 yards per carry but have only averaged 77 yards per game as they have been forced to play catch up in New England and Cincinnati so have had to rely on throwing the ball.

I expect Miami to establish the run too and that should open things up for Tannehill to make some plays with his arm. He has two very good Receivers and Tannehill should have time to make plays with Tennessee struggling to get consistent pressure on the Quarter Back through the first four months of the season. That should mean the Dolphins can have success too, but the kicking game could be important on a day like this Sunday is expected to be and there doesn't look a lot between these teams.

Certainly not enough for Miami to be favoured by more than a Field Goal despite their crushing win over Tennessee here last season. This time it should be a shortened game with both running games eating the clock and I think the Titans have a chance for the upset outright.

The Dolphins are just 5-12 against the spread as the home favourite since Ryan Tannehill was drafted and I think I want to oppose them more than I have a lot of faith in Tennessee. I just can't ignore the fact that Miami have been outgained in every game they have played this season and the conditions might even the field enough with more faith in Murray running the ball for the Titans than Ajayi for the Dolphins. Again I will take the points in this game this week.

Washington Redskins @ Baltimore Ravens Pick: They might not play in the same Conference, but that won't mean there is less of a rivalry between the Baltimore Orioles (3-1) and the Washington Redskins (2-2). There isn't much travel time between these two teams and that means there is bragging rights at stake, plus the importance of this game cannot be lost on either team.

The Redskins have bounced back from their 0-2 start and rumours that the players were not happy with Quarter Back Kirk Cousins and they come into this one with back to back wins behind them. However you have to consider they have been actually outgained in both of their last two wins and I am not sure Washington are as good as their record might suggest.

Cousins has had two decent games for Washington since a horrific Interception against the Dallas Cowboys which effectively cost them that game. He has been helped by a strong running game, but things might be much more difficult this week against the Baltimore Ravens who have the the top ranked Defense in the NFL.

Matt Jones is unlikely to have the same running lanes in this one against the Baltimore Ravens Defensive Line which has only given up 80 yards per game on the ground. Keeping Washington in third and long will put the pressure on Cousins at Quarter Back who should have some time to make his plays, but who is throwing into a Secondary that have given up less than 180 passing yards per game in 2016.

Cousins has big targets, most notably Jordan Reed, but he has to look after the ball against this Secondary who have made a point of creating Interceptions as Washington will have to try and keep up with Baltimore.

The Ravens have not been happy with their own Offensive performances but this is a big chance to turn things around for them. Joe Flacco was critical of the way they failed to produce the big plays last week in a narrow loss to the Oakland Raiders, but this week the Quarter Back is facing a Secondary that have struggled outside of Josh Norman.

It could be a chance for Mike Wallace to stretch his legs and get behind a Secondary that have plenty of injuries and are allowing 280 passing yards per game. This week Flacco will also benefit from getting his first experience of playing with Kenneth Dixon in the regular season with the Running Back returning from an injury and a big threat as a pass catching Back coming out of the backfield.

Dixon is likely to take some carries off of Terrance West, but the latter had a really strong day against Oakland last week and should have another big showing in this one. The Redskins have not been able to slow the run effectively and have given up 133 yards per game on the ground at 4.9 yards per carry so both West and Dixon should help open up the big play for Flacco.

I was hoping that Baltimore might be a little more underrated this week having been beaten by Oakland and Washington coming in with back to back wins. They still look a little short as the favourite to win at home though and I think Baltimore are going to make some big plays that were missing last week and that should see their Defense take over the game and force Kirk Cousins into a couple of big mistakes.

It could develop into something of a shoot out between these teams, but I will look for the Ravens to make the big plays Defensively to lock the game out. I will back the Ravens to be one of the favourites to win and cover this week.

San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders Pick: There won't be many teams after four weeks in the NFL who have actually scored more points than they have allowed, but are actually at 1-3 overall. One of those is the San Diego Chargers who have managed to find losses in games they should have won and more composure would have seen this team coming into the weekend at 4-0 instead.

This is a big game for the Chargers if they want to have any hope of making the Play Offs as they face Divisional rivals the Oakland Raiders who have a 3-1 record. With the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs rounding out this Division, San Diego can't afford to fall to 0-2 in the Division games having already blown a big lead at Arrowhead Stadium this season.

Despite the host of injuries on the Offensive side of the ball, San Diego still have one of the better Quarter Backs in the NFL in Philipp Rivers and he makes everyone better around him. He can make Receivers look better than they are and Rivers looks to have a very nice match up against the Oakland Raiders this weekend.

Rivers should have time to make his plays as Oakland have surprisingly struggled to get to the Quarter Back despite having Khalil Mack and investing in Bruce Irvin. They have also tried to use Free Agency to improve the Secondary, but Oakland are giving up 325 passing yards per game and you have to think Rivers is good enough to move the chains despite missing the likes of Keenan Allen from the line up.

Even if Rivers is not making all the throws, he should have some success giving the ball to Melvin Gordon as long as the Running Back doesn't make the costly mistakes of turning the ball over. It was turnovers which killed San Diego in their home loss to New Orleans last week, but Gordon has another good match up against the Raiders who gave up over 100 rushing yards to Terrance West last week.

While San Diego will be confident they can move the chains and score points, this could be yet another shoot out in which the Chargers are involved. That is because their own Defensive unit have struggled to contain teams, although they did restrict Drew Brees last week before mistakes meant they were trying to defend on their own goal line.

Derek Carr has been in fine form and has some big time Receivers on whom he can call and I think the Chargers have a tough time containing the passing game. They have struggled for much of the season and Carr is good enough to make the plays while also protecting himself with the speed in which he makes his throwing decision.

That ability has opened up the running lanes for Oakland although the San Diego Defensive Line has played the run very well. That might be more of an issue this week as they try to slow Oakland through the air and so the Raiders should be able to establish the run which brings in play-action passes to attack the Secondary.

The records of the two teams seem to be playing a big part in this spread and getting the hook with San Diego looks very difficult to ignore. The underdog has also gone 9-1 against the spread in this series between these Divisional rivals and the Chargers are 19-9 against the spread as the road underdog overall which becomes 10-2 against the spread when a road underdog at a Divisional rival.

You can't ignore the fact that Oakland have been outgained in every game they have played this season and are not used to being the home favourite as they have gone 0-3 against the spread in that spot over the last two seasons. The Raiders are improving, but San Diego have not been as bad as the 1-3 record suggests and I will take them with the points in what feels an underdog kind of week.

New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers Pick: At the start of the week, the spread came out with the New York Giants (2-2) briefly hitting over a Touchdown worth of points. That has since come back to the key number seven, but I still think the Giants can make a game of this on primetime when they visit the Green Bay Packers (2-1) who are coming off a bye week.

There are two Super Bowl winning Quarter Backs leading their teams this week on Sunday Night Football, but both have had to deal with questions. Aaron Rodgers at least silenced some of those with his performance in Green Bay's win over the Detroit Lions to move above 0.500 but he is still searching for a long awaited 300 day passing game, the last coming in the ninth game of the 2015 season.

Rodgers might need to get close to that mark to help the Packers win this one and he is facing a banged up Secondary having had another week to work Jordy Nelson back into the line up. With Randall Cobb, Richard Rodgers and DeVante Adams as other credible passing threats, Rodgers could have a huge game this week as a Quarter Back who loves playing in front of the national television cameras.

The other reason it will be down to Rodgers is that the New York Giants Defensive Line has actually played the run well and Eddie Lacy has still not looked completely up to speed. They have't always been able to get to the Quarter Back though even after signing Olivier Vernon from the Miami Dolphins, and that should mean Rodgers is able to make his plays from a clean enough pocket and downfield against this Secondary that have been banged up.

It will be up to Eli Manning to keep up with Rodgers but he has done that in the past with a big Play Off win at Lambeau Field most memorable. Manning has escaped some of the blame for his poor play in the loss to the Washington Redskins as the media have focused on Odell Beckham Jr and the fact he has perhaps not been at 100% mentally in games. This is still a star player though and OBJ might be ready to break out in the best manner possible by producing a big game on primetime.

There is a strong Receiving unit the Giants can trot out every week, but they have not had the balance they have wanted with their struggles to run the ball. Rashad Jennings looks set to be limited at best and Shane Vereen is a big loss as a safety valve for Manning coming out of the backfield, while they are up against a Defensive Line that haven't given up anything on the ground.

That has allowed the Green Bay pas rush to tee off on Quarter Backs and they have been able to pressure their opponent's Quarter Back all season. That has to be a concern for Manning in those obvious passing situations the Offense will be in because the Offensive Line struggled to give him much time against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football and the only reason Sacks didn't show up is because Manning kept throwing the ball away early.

It has the same effect of slowing down Offenses, but Manning is battling a Secondary which has struggled this season compared with Minnesota's which has locked down Offenses. Green Bay have allowed over 300 passing yards per game and Manning should be able to find OBJ, Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard who are all very capable at Wide Receiver.

It should help the game develop into an exciting one but the chances of seeing both teams move the ball effectively makes the points appealing. I respect how well Aaron Rodgers has played in primetime and how well Green Bay have done coming out of a bye week, but the Giants might be underrated by their blow out loss to the Minnesota Vikings. I just don't think Green Bay can play the kind of Defense Minnesota did and the Giants have covered the last four times Manning and Rodgers have played one another.

I feel this is a lot of points in favour of the Giants and will take those this week having backed them to fail to cover on Monday Night Football in Minneapolis.

MY PICKS: Cleveland Browns + 10.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Chicago Bears + 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
Tennessee Titans + 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Baltimore Ravens - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
San Diego Chargers + 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
New York Giants + 7 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)

Week 4: 5-5, + 0.26 Units (19 Units Staked, + 1.37% Yield)
Week 32-3-1, - 2.27 Units (10 Units Staked, - 22.70% Yield)
Week 25-5, - 0.70 Units (20 Units Staked, - 3.50% Yield)

Week 14-3-1, + 0.29 Units (15 Units Staked, + 1.93% Yield)

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