So every blog I’ve started this year I have said the same thing; that there is not enough data available on teams just yet. We sit here now at week 5 and that is no longer the case. All of the important info is available and we have a pretty good feel for what teams are to this point. The only issue with that is the bookmakers also know the teams. Making this one of the toughest boards of the year so far. As evidenced by the Thursday night game closing with the Seahawks -1.5 and winning by 1. The board feels sharp and I don’t really love any picks this week. I’m going to start using a unit system (1-5) to gauge my confidence because I’m not sure I have a lock for this week but let’s get into the games.
Vikings @ Giants +5.5
To put it plainly I am not yet sold on Daniel Jones or the Giants in general. They absolutely should have lost the game against the Bucs and last week they played the Redskins who are just gross. The Vikings definitely struggled last week and there were reports circulating about Thielen and Diggs being unhappy. However one thing the Vikings and Kirk cousins both do well is win games against inferior teams and I think that is what we have here. Despite their struggles so far playing Green Bay and Chicago, they have beaten up on the Falcons and Raiders pretty convincingly. Their offense has been ok despite their lack of a passing game through 4 games. They are ranked 4th in rushing efficiency and go against a Giants defense ranked 20th in overall efficiency. Other than the Redskins who have no idea what they are doing with the QB position, the Giants pass defense has been ripped to shreds by every QB they have faced. Also their defensive line is ranked 25th in adjusted line yards and is going against a Vikings offensive line ranked 4th in adjusted line yards. Another thing to mention is the familiarity in the coaching matchup. Pat Shurmer was the Vikings offensive coordinator two seasons ago before becoming the Giants head coach. I think this will work in Mike Zimmers advantage as he will have a better idea of how Shurmer will want to run his offense for a rookie QB. I like the Vikings here for 3 units.
Raiders vs Bears -6.5
This game is being played in London. It is important to note that the Raiders have been there all week after playing in Indianapolis last week. The Bears left for London on Thursday. I think this is an advantage for the Bears here. As much as there is some advantage when a team stays together for some time like the 49ers did before week 2, I’m not sure Jon Gruden is the best coach to keep his team engaged while they are away from their friends and families for a week. Plus being in London the focus won’t be 100% on football like the 49ers had when they were in Youngstown, OH for a week. I think the advantage in preparation goes to Matt Nagy here, who should be able to orchestrate a good game plan going against a Raiders defense ranked 23rd in overall efficiency. Even with Trubisky injured, I don’t think the drop-off from Trubisky to Chase Daniel is really all that much. Led by their defensive line, the Bears defense has been dominant again this year. Their d-line ranks 6th in adjusted line yards and is tied for 2nd in adjusted sack rate. This will be a tough task for the Raiders who are without their starting right guard Gabe Jackson as well as their top wide receiver Tyrell Williams. I like the Bears for 1 unit here.
Packers @ Cowboys -3.5
I’m leaning towards the Cowboys here in what should be a close game. No doubt they looked bad in New Orleans on Sunday night but this is a good spot to bounce back. The Cowboys offensive line ranks 5th in adjusted line yards and is facing a Packers d-line that ranks 31st. We all know the Cowboys are going to try to run the ball and they should be successful doing so this week. The Packers offense has not looked great by any means and the losses of Davante Adams and Jamaal Williams will hinder them further. The Cowboys will also be getting Michael Gallup back who was their leading receiver before going down with an injury. The Eagles were able to rip the Packers defense to shreds with their running game and play action. I expect the Cowboys to do the same this week. I like the Cowboys here for 1 unit.
Vikings -5.5 (3 units)
Bears -6.5 (1 unit)
Cowboys -3.5 (1 unit)