NFL Week 5 best bets and expert picks for the Sunday slate. Find best bets for NFL Week 5 featuring Texans vs. Falcons, Panthers vs. Lions, Jets vs. Broncos, and more.
NFL Week 5 Best Bets (10/8/23)
Week 5 of the NFL season is upon us, and the slate of games on Sunday offers plenty of betting opportunities. In this article, our football staff covers our favorite bets from the Week 5 slate. Check out our YouTube channel where we provide game picks and player prop content for all of the primetime NFL games, as well.
Last week was a great one for the program. We went a collective 8-1 on our best bet picks and nearly swept the board on our Sunday slate picks. That’s in the rearview mirror now, though, as we’re looking for more winners in Week 5. Let’s get to work.
Jacob Wayne’s Record: 10-5 (+4.5 units)
Kody Malstrom’s Record: 5-2 (+2.9 units)
Will Schwartz’s Record: 7-5 (+1.7 units)
Houston Texans at Atlanta Falcons
I’m going head to head with my esteemed colleague Kody Malstrom here as I like the Falcons to win this game. I’m looking to sell high on a surging Texans team and buy low on a Falcons team coming off a loss to the Jaguars in London.
Everyone watched Desmond Ridder implode last week with two interceptions, including a pick six,, and it’s true – he stinks. His 40.2 PFF passing grade is the worst in the NFL while his 6.6% turnover-worthy play rate is the highest in the league. His future is not very bright at the moment.
However, when the Falcons’ offense is working, Ridder doesn’t need to do much. The Falcons want to run the ball early and often, but that wasn’t possible last week against the Jaguars – they rank top seven in run defense EPA and DVOA. The Texans, however, rank 25th in EPA and 28th in DVOA.
That makes for a beautiful opportunity for a breakout game for Bijan Robinson. The rookie running back has flashed the elite upside that made him the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft, but he has yet to have a signature performance. That will change this week as he faces a terrible run defense that’s now without one of its three starting linebackers in Christian Harris.
Atlanta’s defense is also quietly much improved under new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen. New additions Jessie Bates and David Onyemata have been brilliant – Bates is the highest graded defensive back in the NFL per PFF while Onyemata is enjoying a career year.
Kody will wax poetic about C.J. Stroud below, and it’s true – he’s been excellent. However, this is still a rookie quarterback playing behind a banged up offensive line and without a receiver who’s had 1,000 yards in a season. Stroud’s current pace isn’t sustainable, and opposing defenses will adjust as they have more film on the rookie passer.
I’m a believer in what DeMeco Ryans is building in Houston long term, but this is an excellent sell high buy low spot in a game that opened Atlanta -3.5 before money hit the Texans. Houston looks like the most public underdog of the week, and I’ll fade them here.
Best Bet: Falcons -1.5 (play to -2)
Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions
I’m always looking for buy low and sell high points for teams, especially as we get deeper into the season. This game certainly qualifies. The Lions are fresh off a decisive win over their divisional rival Packers at Lambeau Field, cementing themselves as a real threat in the NFC. Meanwhile, the Panthers are 0-4 and reeling.
However, I came away from last week very impressed with the Carolina defense – the Panthers held the Vikings’ offense to 14 points (they had a fumble return for a touchdown) and 14 total first downs. Minnesota was just 1-8 on third downs in the game and the Panthers picked off Kirk Cousins twice.
That shouldn’t be a surprise – the Panthers’ defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero did one of the best defensive coaching jobs in the NFL last season, leading the Broncos to a top ten defensive finish in EPA and success rate despite being on the field constantly due to a nonexistent offense. This year, Ejrio’s Panthers rank top 12 in pass defense DVOA and EPA.
The Lions’ offense has been excellent thai season, ranking fifth in DVOA, but the potential absence of Amon-Ra St. Brown this week looms large as he’s doubtful with an abdomen injury. While this Detroit offense is well coached and polished, they aren’t exactly loaded with top-end playmakers. I don’t expect Jameson Williams to make a massive impact in his first game back off a suspension.
Carolina’s offense is a tougher sell than its defense. The Panthers are 29th in offensive DVOA, and there aren’t any positive metrics to hang your hat on. However, I like what I’ve seen from Bryce Young on film, and I expect improvement as the season goes on even if his circumstances don’t improve in terms of pass blocking and receiving play.
Frank Reich has proven to be a quality head coach, but it was always going to take time for things to gel in Carolina. I believe this is the perfect time to buy low on this team while the market is the lowest its been on them all season.
Best Bet: Panthers +10 (play to +10)
New York Jets at Denver Broncos
While I agree with Schwartz on his pick of the Patriots ML, I couldn’t get out of here without explaining why I disagree with his selection of the Jets ATS this week. Full disclosure here – I’m a Broncos fan and I bet them +7 against the Dolphins earlier this season. Yes, that’s the game where they allowed Miami to score 70 points.
However, it’s important at times to have a short memory, and I believe this is a spot that favors this team. Sean Payton finally got his first win as the Denver head coach last week, and the Broncos are starting to clear out the stench from last season’s misery. However, one major obstacle remains, and he’s headed back to Denver this week.
Nathaniel Hackett flamed out as the Broncos’ head coach very quickly, and Payton had some choice words this offseason for the coaching job done by Hackett. He made it personal, and while that might give an extra motivational edge to both coaches, it’s hard to imagine Payton letting this game slip away.
Denver’s defense has been a massive problem, but the offense has quietly been much improved as it ranks 11th in EPA. Russell Wilson has been enjoying a bounceback season as he’s top seven in PFF passing grade and yards per attempt. The Jets’ defense has a reputation as an elite unit, but the numbers don’t reflect that – they’re bottom five in EPA and success rate against the pass.
Zach Wilson flashed some promise on Sunday Night Football, but we have a large sample size of him being completely ineffective. While Denver’s defense has been wildly underperforming, this will be a much more difficult game for Wilson on the road in one of the toughest places to play at Mile High Stadium.
The Broncos’ defense is getting healthier with the expected return of a handful of key players including former All Pro safety Justin Simmons. Denver’s defense might not be as good as it was last year without Ejiro Evero as the defensive coordinator, but I expect them to positively regress in the coming weeks with increased health.
Most importantly, this is a brutal spot for the Jets. That Sunday Night Football game at home was there for the taking, and New York’s season feels lost now at 1-3 and with Aaron Rodgers out for the foreseeable future. This is a natural letdown spot against a Broncos team on the rise after their first win of the new season.
Best Bet: Broncos -1.5 (play to -2.5)
Carolina Panthers vs. Detroit Lions
Last year the Detroit Lions were in the middle of a second half surge to salvage their season and one win away from holding their own destiny. That was until the Panthers ran wild over the Lions, averaging over 10 yards per carry for the first three carriers in an eventual win.
A heartbreaking loss for the Lions fanbase as they now needed outside help in order to make the playoffs. This forced the Lions into a scenario that revolved around the injury riddled Rams to beat the Seahawks, a game that they lost late in the fourth quarter.
Revenge is now on their mind as a massive -10 favorite and improvement on both sides of the ball. While asking anyone to cover a two score spread is a tough ask in the NFL, I instead turned my sights towards the Lions team total over. The current number of 27.5 sits right under the key number of 28, making this a play.
The Lions turned their hype into a reality as this unit is playing as one of the best teams in the league. They are currently third in Overall DVOA, bowling over teams with their hyper paced offense and sending relentless pressure to opposing quarterbacks.
The defense is especially surprising, going from near dead last in Def Rush metrics to now third in Def Rush DVOA and 1st in Def Rush Success. This has been done by their defensive line routinely pushing back opposing offensive lines, plugging gaps and securing the edges with crashing linebackers.
This unit is now poised to make Bryce Young’s day a long one as he has already mightily struggled with pressure. The offensive line is already one of the worst in the NFL while his weak receiving unit fails to create separation. This will force Young into constantly scrambling situations in a collapsing pocket, giving the Lions plenty of opportunities to capitalize on Havoc.
Factor the stalled out drives with the Lions offensive expectations of a scoring onslaught and this one may be over in a flash. Especially with the Panthers secondary dealing with injuries, leaving major gaps in their coverage. The defensive line will only be able to do so much against one of the most stout offensive lines in football, giving Goff plenty of time to dice up this defense in pass sets.
Best Bet: Detroit Lions Team Total Over 27.5
Houston Texans vs. Atlanta Falcons
Until the market catches up to this young Houston Texans squad then they will be a mainstay in my best bets column. They were a pretty big bet for me last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, covering the +3 with ease as they routed the Steelers in an offensive explosion.
CJ Stroud has quickly put himself in contention to win the OROY, dicing up defenses with pinpoint precision. Critics (including myself) were adamant about his chances of being successful as Stroud can be a one read type of quarterback but he has quickly proved us wrong with his hot start to the season.
In fact, his progression may actually be in large part to his offensive line getting decimated by injuries. This has forced Houston to turn to a quick throw style of offense, relying on streaks across the middle and gaining yards after the catch.
Rookie wide receiver Tank Dell has excluded this since his call up to the starting unit, serving as the perfect complementary role to Stroud as a speedy slot receiver. His production has also freed up the field for Nico Collins to exploit, serving as both a down field threat and go-to target for when Stroud is in a pinch.
Scarier yet, the Texans offensive success has all come without a ground game as Dameon Pierce has been slow in getting out the gate. They are currently ranked 32nd in Rush Success and 30th in Rush DVOA.
It’s hard to put all the blame on Pierce as the offensive line injuries greatly impact the ground game in comparison to the pass attack. Lucky for the Texans they may be able to skate by again without the run as the Falcons are a far better run stopper than limiting the pass. The Falcons currently rank 10th in Def Rush DVOA and 26th in Def Pass DVOA.
The Falcons defensive pass struggles come from their inability to bring down the quarterback, ranking 29th in Def Adjusted Sack Rate. They do generate pressure at an elite rate, yet that may be negated by the Texans offensive tendency to make the quick read.
Factor in the Texans defense getting the chance to sell out in order to defend the run and they will be in a position to set a scoring pace that is too fast for the Falcons. They rank well below average in Def Rush DVOA, yet can afford to stack the box as Desmond Ridder does not serve as a lethal threat in the pass attack.
Best Bet: Houston Texans +2 (Play to PK)
New York Jets at Denver Broncos
After losing Aaron Rodgers just a few snaps into the season, the Jets have had a tough go of it, but they haven’t folded. They secured that opening day win against the Bills in the game in which Rodgers got hurt, then got blown out by the Cowboys but then fought to tight losses with the Patriots and Chiefs. They’re 1-3 right now, but not far from 3-1, and a matchup with the hapless Denver Broncos might be just what they need to get back on track.
This Broncos defense is an absolute disaster. Every single quarterback who has faced them has had his season-high quarterback passer rating, and usually by quite a wide margin. They’ve garnered the very worst defensive DVOA through the first four games of a season since the stat was tracked, dating back to 1981. They’re returning a number of starters from injury, but it’s hard to imagine everyone getting right back up to speed right off the bat.
Zach Wilson could definitely use a matchup against a defense like that. He’s struggled plenty early on this season, but was fantastic against the Chiefs as he became the first quarterback to throw for more yards and touchdowns, as well as fewer interceptions, than Patrick Mahomes in a head to head matchup. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to secure the win of course, but his positive strides were encouraging heading into a matchup with a defense against which solid play should be rewarded.
The Jets’ defensive metrics have been dragged down a bit by playing teams like the Chiefs, Bills, and to a lesser extent Cowboys, but if you’ve watched the games, you know that this unit has been putting in impressive performances week in and week out. They completely neutralized Josh Allen, and did a great job limiting Mahomes and Kelce.
There will be plenty of motivation for this team after the comments from Broncos head coach Sean Payton about the team’s management under Nathaniel Hackett, now offensive coordinator of the Jets. It may not be a coincidence that this is the week Hackett and head coach Robert Saleh have chosen to take running back Breece Hall off of a “pitch count” and essentially benched the struggling Dalvin Cook. In a spot that could be an emotional letdown for some teams, Saleh and his Jets have shown the resilience to lead me to believe that they will be nothing but motivated by their close misses, and do everything they can to get back into the win column in Denver.
Best Bet: Jets +2.5
New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots
This is a great opportunity to buy low on a Patriots team that hasn’t had an impressive start to the season in terms of the win column, but has overperformed in a lot of ways. To clarify, they had played above expectations in many regards over the first three weeks, but their week four matchup against the Dallas Cowboys was a complete disaster, giving us the opportunity to grab them at home at essentially even money against a very mediocre Saints squad.
Bill Belichick just suffered the worst loss of his storied career, and you can bet that he’ll be itching to show the World that he’s not done. This game will be his first opportunity to do so, and his team has every ability to make that happen. The Pats defense has looked like a classic Belichick-coached unit to start the year, as they’re top-10 in DVOA despite playing opponents like the Chiefs, Dolphins, and Cowboys. Stars Matthew Judon and Christian Gonzalez will be out, but a familiar face will be returning; cornerback J.C. Jackson. He’s struggled with the Chargers, but he wouldn’t be the first Patriots defender in the Belichick era who struggled after taking a big payday outside of New England, but regained his form back in Foxborough.
Derek Carr has been visibly hampered by injury, as his early days as a Saint have not panned out well. New Orleans ranks outside the top 20 in most offensive metrics, and along with the Patriots, are one of three teams who haven’t scored more than 20 points in a single game. Going up to Foxborough will be a tough test for Carr and his offense, and it’s hard to imagine them acing it.
Best Bet: Patriots ML (-105)
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Yes, this is a low number, but it’s hard to overstate how rough this game could be for the Steelers offense led by much-maligned offensive coordinator Matt Canada. The offense is 28th in the league or worse in terms of EPA, DVOA, and success rate in each of the categories of pass, rush, and overall. The o-line is soundly the worst unit in PFF’s grading system with a dismal mark of 31.8 on a scale going up to 100.
Quarterback Kenny Pickett is third from the bottom in PFF’s quarterback rankings, with just one big time throw compared to five turnover worthy plays. There’s buzz of replacing him with Mitch Trubisky, which is never a good sign, even if it doesn’t come to pass. It’s hard to imagine Pickett bouncing back against a Ravens defense that ranks fourth in both pass DVOA and EPA, and has squashed solid offenses such as the Browns and Texans.
Pittsburgh’s defense is a solid one too, around average in most categories. Baltimore’s offense has looked better of late, but is also only around the median in most metrics, especially in terms of passing the ball. They’re returning some offensive players from injury, and the defense is also bringing back Marlon Humphrey. The spread is an uneasy number, but in what figures to be another gritty AFC North game, the under is a great play.
Best Bet: Under 38