2021 Week 5 Preview and Bettor’s Guide: A silly NFL season
LOS ANGELES, October 6, 2021 — The Arizona Cardinals are for real. That sentence itself seems silly. Born in 1899, this franchise has been the model of futility. They moved from Chicago to St. Louis before relocating to Phoenix. They have endured mostly losing seasons. The last time they started 4-0 in 2012, they finished 5-11. The only time they made the Super Bowl in 2008, Kurt Warner got them off to a 7-3 start before they staggered into the playoffs at 9-7.
Yet this year’s team feels differently.
Tyler Murray is exciting. Kliff Kingsbury is creative. Buddha Baker is far less peaceful than your average Buddha. It is one thing to pile up wins against patsies. The Cardinals went on the road against a Rams team thinking Super Bowl.
It was the Cardinals who beat the daylights out of the Rams.
In stating the obvious, the 1972 Dolphins have nothing to fear this year.
They will be popping champagne corks much earlier than usual. The Cardinals will not go 17-0. They are however a serious threat to win the very competitive NFC West.
The Cardinals are more than just a good team. They are an exciting team.
Kingsbury and Murray were initially described as gimmicky. Their offense would fail just as every college offense. Defenses would quickly figure them out. So far, the conventional wisdom has been trounced by the unconventional play-calling and execution.
This week they take on the rival 49ers, and Kyle Shanahan is also an unconventional play-caller. A loss will have all the naysayers chirping even louder. After the win over the Rams, it would be foolish to dismiss the Cardinals. This is the longest regular season in NFL history, with 17 games instead of 16. For now, the Cardinals have surprised us. A few more wins like last week and Arizona victories will become the norm. as the cliche says, this is not your father’s Cardinals team. The Cardinals are for real.
With that, here is the NFL 2021 Week 5 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by SportingNews.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, October 7, 2021, 8:00 p.m.
Los Angeles Rams (-1.5) at Seattle Seahawks — The Rams were humiliated at home in a loss to Arizona. Seattle’s defense is not what it has been in past years. Matthew Stafford and Russell Wilson can both sling the rock. The 12th man home-field advantage is not as rock-solid as in past years, and Stafford spent over a decade playing in a dome. In a shootout, the Rams have more weapons. Rams cover.
Sunday, October 10, 9:30 a.m.
New York Jets at Atlanta Falcons (-3) —
Both of these teams are terrible, although the Jets finally won last week. This game is being played in London, as the British ask what they ever did to be punished with the worst of American football. Matt Ryan has more experience than Zach Wilson. Go with Ryan to do just enough. Falcons cover.
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-7.5) —
The Lions are winless for a reason, but the Vikings have been far from impressive. Minnesota’s defense looked improved in a home loss to Cleveland. The spread has been too high given that Kirk Cousins has not been more impressive than Jared Goff. Dalvin Cook can run the football, but Detroit can be counted on for a garbage touchdown. Vikings win but fail to cover.
New Orleans Saints (-1.5) at Washington Debt Ceilings —
The Saints blew an easy home game in a stunning loss to the Giants. Now they play a Washington team that lacks plenty. Ron Rivera usually has a tough defense, but they have been subpar this year. Give the Saints one more chance to show they are a good team even without Drew Brees. Saints cover.
New England Patriots (-9) at Houston Texans —
Davis Mills was awful in a 40-0 loss last week. Mac Jones played relatively well even though the Patriots lost on the final play in the rain.As bad as the Texans are, the spread is too high for a road team that wins with running the ball and defense. Jones does not do enough yet to justify a blowout win. Patriots win but fail to cover.
Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-10.5) —
The Dolphins have been blown out in two of the last three weeks. Now they travel intrastate to a Buccaneers team with fr too many weapons on both sides of the ball. Tom Brady against Jacoby Brissett is not a fair fight. Miami’s defense has regressed from last year. Buccaneers cover.
Green Bay Packers (-3) at Cincinnati Bengals —
The Bengals have differently improved, and this game will be a major measuring stick. After an opening humiliation, the Packers have been on a tear. Joe Burrow has a bright future ahead of him, but for Aaron Rodgers the future is now. Rodgers is playing with a chip on his shoulders. Go with the red hot hand until it cools down. Packers cover.
Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.5) —
The Broncos were humbled at home by Baltimore while the Steelers have been faltering badly. Ben Roethlisberger is playing badly. The Broncos have the better defense. Teddy Bridgewater took a concussion last week, and Drew Lock was ineffective in his place. Von Miller is still great, but Denver’s defense took a pounding last week. The Steelers are desperate to save their season. Give them one final chance to turn it around before writing them off at home. Steelers cover.
Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers (-3.5) —
The Panthers were knocked from the unbeaten ranks last week, but they still have more talent than the Eagles. Jalen Hurts is not bad, but he is not receiving much help. Sam Darnold can hand the ball to Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers have a decent enough defense to handle the anemic Philadelphia offense, especially at home. Panthers cover.
Tennessee Titans (-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars —
The Titans suffered a shocking and embarrassing loss against the Jets. Yet this week they play the worst team in the league. The Jaguars have no leadership, in Urban Meyer has been a bigger distraction than any of his players. Derrick Henry should be able to run right through the Jaguars, and Ryan Tannehill should rebound and throw the ball at will. The Jaguars almost beat Cincinnati last week, but they have too much of a circus going on to think they can respond well again. Titans cover.
Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers (-1) —
The Browns defense went on the road and shut down Minnesota, but the Chargers have a much better quarterback in Justin Herbert. Baker Mayfield is a tough competitor, but Herbert is playing lights out. The Chargers may have a letdown after an emotional home win over the Raiders, but Brandon Staley has plenty of tricks in his coaching bag. If the Chargers are for real, a tough game against a grinding Dawg Pound will be the test. Go with Herbert’s hot hand. Chargers cover.
Chicago Bears at Las Vegas Raiders (-5.5) —
The Bears are awful, and Justin Fields has been named the starter by a desperate Matt Nagy. The Raiders were knocked from the unbeaten ranks in a beating against the Chargers. The Raiders keep starting slow, while the Bears never seem to get going. The Raiders have plenty of offensive weapons, but their sluggish beginnings and insistence eon running the ball means the spread is too high. Until the Raiders pass the ball first, expect close games. The Raiders never win easily and play down to the level of their competition. Raiders win but fail to cover.
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-5.5) —
The Cardinals are the only remaining unbeaten NFL team. Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray are for real. The Cardinals went on the road and beat the daylights out of a Rams team thinking Super Bowl. Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to play, but he is not completely healthy. Trey Lance struggled in his place last week. The 49ers have enough talent to make this a game, and the Cardinals may have an emotional letdown after such a big win. Cardinals win but fail to cover.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-7) —
Even the Giants have no idea how they won a game last week at New Orleans. The Cowboys are significantly improved. The defense is much better and Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are playing with purpose. Prescott should be able to throw at will, and Daniel Jones will not have two great games in a row. Cowboys cover.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-3) — This AFC Title Game rematch could be a classic. The Bills have throttled two teams 40-0 and 35-0. The Bills have a great defense and the Chiefs have an offense that can fire at will. Forget the early Chiefs’ struggles. Patrick Mahomes is still a superhuman with an arsenal of weapons. Josh Allen is playing well, but go with the home field. Chiefs cover.
Monday, October 11, 8:00 p.m.
Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (-7) —
The Colts finally won a game, but now they face a Ravens team that is clicking on both sides of the ball. The Baltimore defense shut down previously unbeaten Denver. Lamar Jackson is as big a threat as ever. Carson Wentz will have a tough day against an angry Baltimore team at home. The Ravens can pound the ball and wear down a defense. Ravens cover.
Lead Image: QB Kyler Murray / Photo by Arizona Cardinals – AZCardinals.com