LOS ANGELES, October 5, 2017 — The NFL has been turned upside down. Forget events not related to the game of football itself. This is about football. The Patriots were supposed to be 16-0. The Jets were supposed to be 0-16. Both of them are 2-2. Those who deride parity should keep in mind that several teams are 0-4. Only one team is 4-0, which means the 1972 Dolphins will be popping champagne corks quicker than usual.
There is no dominant team. The Super Bowl is truly up for grabs this year. For all of the people complaining about behavior, boycotters are missing out. The play on the field has been just as good as ever.
Pete Rozelle’s vision of “Any Given Sunday” is thriving.
Americans are hurting. We are as divided as we have ever been. Yet one thing that can truly unite us is football. That unity is under threat, but it will pass. As the season wears on, what will truly matter in football games is football. If ever there was a week to bet against favorites, this week is it.
We could see a bunch of underdogs not only beat the point spread but win outright. With that, here is the NFL 2017 Week 5 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, October 5, 2017, 8:30 p.m.
New England Patriots (-5.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — The Patriots are only 2-2, and their defense is a major concern. However, every time New England is counted out, the doubters live to regret it. Patriots cover.
Sunday, October 8, 1:00 p.m.
Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants (-3.5) — The San Diego Chargers of Orange County and Los Angeles play the New York Giants in New Jersey. Experts say these teams are better than their records. Bill Parcells always said your record is what it is. These teams are winless for a reason. Go with the home field. Giants win but fail to cover.
Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals (-3) — The Bills just took down Denver at home and previously unbeaten Atlanta on the road. The defense is for real. The Bengals got a win against Cleveland, but so has almost everyone else over the last two years. This game could be where the Bills revert to normal, but give them one chance to prove they really are for real. Upset special, Bills win outright.
New York Jets at Cleveland Browns (-1) — The Browns deserve to be 0-4, but the Jets have won two straight games. The Jets and Browns were supposed to be horrendous, but only the Browns are listening. The Browns are terrible in every phase of the game. Upset special, Jets win outright.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers (-8.5) — Every time we hear that these are not the same old Jaguars, they prove that they are. The Steelers have the far superior quarterback, running game, and defense. This could get ugly early. Steelers cover.
Tennessee Titans (-3) at Miami Dolphins — Tennessee lost by 43 points last week yet is favored. That is because the Dolphins were one play away from being shut out two consecutive weeks. Marcus Mariota is injured, but Jay Cutler is playing like Jay Cutler. If the Dolphins lose this game, their season is pretty much done. At home, give them one chance against a backup quarterback. Upset special, Dolphins win outright.
San Francisco 49ers at Indianapolis Colts (-1.5) — The 49ers are winless and the Colts are playing miserably with a backup quarterback. The 49ers have a defense, and they have played better teams tough. Upset special, 49ers win outright.
Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) — The Cardinals are not nearly as good as they were two years ago, but the Eagles are nothing special. Carson Wentz has been unspectacular, but the Cardinals are old and out of sync. Eagles win but fail to cover.
Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions (-2.5) — The Lions are for real. They are one controversial call from being a 4-0 team. The defense is solid and Matthew Stafford is playing great football. Cam Newton led an emotional road win over Tom Brady and New England, and could be ready for a letdown. Again, the Lions have a much better defense than New England. Lions cover.
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams (-1.5) — The Rams always play the Seahawks tough. Both teams have had solid defenses for years, and both offenses began this year sluggish. Both offenses are catching up. The Seahawks have the experience, and Todd Gurley cannot do it all by himself. It is hard to trust Jared Goff against the Legion of Boom. Upset special, Seahawks win outright.
Baltimore Ravens at Oakland Raiders (-2.5) — Both of these teams are a mess. The Raiders are 2-2, which is not bad considering they played three of their first four games on the road. However, without Derek Carr the Raiders are an 0-16 team. He is out two to six weeks with an injured back. This is the one chance for the Raiders to prove they can win without him. The Ravens are playing badly and Joe Flacco has been off the whole year. Raiders cover.
Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys (-2) — Last year in a playoff thriller, Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay to a road win at Dallas. Since then, Dallas has been less special. As great as Dak Prescott is, betting against Rodgers is just not wise. Upset special, Packers win outright.
Kansas City Chiefs (-1) at Houston Texans — Houston won by 43 points last week yet are a home underdog. Nobody wins ugly like the Chiefs. They play terrible for long stretches and grind out hideous wins. Houston finally has a quarterback in DeShaun Watson, but he is still a rookie going up against a defense that gives up many yards but forces turnovers at all the right times. Chiefs cover.
Monday, October 9, 8:30 p.m.
Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Chicago Bears — Roone Arledge and Howard Cosell are weeping in the sky at the thought that their once proud franchise has to show this awful game. Both teams are awful, and Mitchell Trubisky will start his very first game over the ineffective Mike Glennon. Minnesota has quarterback problems as well. John Fox will take this game back to the stone age, running the ball as much as he can. Minnesota has a defense, but the Bears did play Pittsburgh tough at home a couple weeks ago. Upset special, Bears win outright.