We’re onto Week 5 of the NFL season, and there are some fascinating games on the board to bet on. This week presents several big favorites of a touchdown or more, and that means plenty of opportunities for teasers. I’ll present two teasers that I love at the end of this article, but first, let’s look at some of the most valuable sides on the Week 5 slate. As always, follow me on Twitter @wayne_sports_ to see the latest NFL and college football bets that I’m placing. Let’s get to work.
NFL YTD: 35-26 (57.3%)
Seattle Seahawks at New Orleans Saints
Game Info: Sunday, October 9, 1:00 PM EST
Notable Betting Trends:
Geno Smith has completed 77.3% of his passes so far this season, which is the highest rate of any quarterback through the first four games of a season in NFL history. He’s done that with an average depth of target (aDOT) that ranks 16th among starting passers. That’s ahead of big names like Joe Burrow, Trevor Lawrence, Justin Herbert, Josh Allen, and Matthew Stafford. Offensive coordinator Shane Waldron is continually putting him in positions to succeed, and we need to change our expectations for this team as a result.
Geno Smith? pic.twitter.com/8nDzJe84nz
— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) October 4, 2022
The best way to beat Smith and the Seahawks offense is by applying pressure, and the offense stalled in the second half against the Broncos and in the game against the 49ers when their opponent put heat on Smith. However, the Saints have the second-lowest pass rush win rate through four weeks and are generating pressure at just a 21% rate, the second-lowest in the league. The Seahawks scored at will against similarly poor pass-rush teams in the Falcons and Lions.
After playing in the London game last week, the Saints are returning home where they haven’t been the dominant force we’ve come to expect as of late. New Orleans is just 2-7 both straight up and against the spread in their last nine home games. The Saints’ defense ranks top ten in EPA per play allowed and DVOA, but they’ve faced the Falcons, an injured Buccaneers offense, the Panthers, and the Vikings overseas. That’s not exactly a gauntlet of elite offenses.
The Saints are getting Alvin Kamara back to full strength, and he should have a great game this week against the hapless Seattle defense that ranks bottom three in EPA, DVOA, and yards per play allowed. However, Andy Dalton is far from a high-octane passer, and he’s set to be without top receiver Michael Thomas this week. While Seattle’s defense has its problems, they can be opportunistic and limit big plays.
If you’re into betting trends, history suggests backing Geno Smith against the spread. Smith is 23-15 ATS in his career, including 10-2 ATS in his last 12 starts. Meanwhile, Dennis Allen is also 2-7 ATS in his career as a favorite, and I don’t believe the market has fully adjusted to the significant downgrade from Sean Payton at head coach. I don’t trust Allen to have his team ready to go coming off the London game with no bye.
Overall, I believe this sets up as a great spot to fade the Saints, who are a late comeback win over the Falcons away from being 0-4. Without a bye week to recover from their international travel, their defense will struggle to limit the explosive Seattle offense, particularly with their inability to generate pressure. With either an injured Winston or limited Andy Dalton under center, I don’t expect their offense to keep pace.
I bought this line twice, once at Seattle +4.5 and once at +6, and I firmly believe the Seahawks can pull off the upset win. Look around for the best line you can find and hammer the Seahawks this week. You can also look into alternate line options and perhaps sprinkle on the moneyline, as well.
Best Bet: Seahawks +6 (bet to +3.5 and explore alt line options)
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets
Game Info: Sunday, October 9, 1:00 PM EST
Much of the national conversation regarding the Dolphins has to do with the Tua Tagovailoa controversy, but while Tagovailoa is injured, Miami has had ten days to get Teddy Bridgewater up to speed and ready to be the QB1. Bridgewater is 43-21 ATS and 24-6 ATS on the road in his career, making him the fifth-most profitable quarterback over that span. While he wasn’t spectacular against the Bengals, this offense will put him in consistent positions to succeed.
I’ve been very impressed with new Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel, and I believe he’s building something special in Miami. The wide receiver duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle presents a ton of issues for opposing defenses. That will be especially true for a New York defense that ranks 29th in DVOA against the pass this season and 29th in EPA per play allowed overall.
The Dolphins have struggled to run the ball this year as they rank 28th in yards per rush, and the Jets have a solid run defense that ranks sixth in yards per carry allowed. However, the Jets also have the ninth-worst tackling defense per PFF, and that creates issues against those elite YAC weapons in Miami. Look for McDaniel to scheme short-area opportunities for Hill and Waddle like he’s done for Deebo Samuel in San Francisco in the past.
"I can't be Tua. I had to learn a lesson when I was in New Orleans. I couldn't be Drew Brees. So it's like, as long as I continue to be myself, the guys realize, man, this guy isn't fake."
– Teddy Bridgewater pic.twitter.com/R7FNIdXs5Z
— Dolphin Nation (@Dolphin_Nation) October 5, 2022
On the other side of the ball, the Dolphins play a unique brand of defense that presents challenges for Zach Wilson. In his one start against Miami last year, Wilson completed just 13 of 23 passes (56%) for 170 yards. Miami blitzes at the seventh-highest rate in the NFL, and Wilson has struggled against the blitz in his career. Last week, Wilson averaged 8.4 yards per attempt and completed 60% of his passes when he wasn’t blitzed – that dropped to 3.7 yards per attempt and 27% completion rate when he was blitzed.
Last year, Wilson ranked dead last in the NFL in on-target throw rate when kept clean at 51%, and that dropped to 27% when he was under pressure. Perhaps that will improve this season, but he won’t get any help from his offensive line who had to resort to shifting Alijah Vera-Tucker to left tackle last week as they have lost their top four options at the position to injury. The Jets are allowing pressure at a 50% rate against the blitz, which ranks 28th in the NFL.
The Dolphins have owned the series against the Jets as of late, winning seven of the last eight matchups both outright and against the spread. The Jets are also 3-7 ATS as a home underdog under Robert Saleh, and 1-6 ATS in their last seven such games. While Zach Wilson might be improved this year, he’s facing a fresh Miami defense off ten days of rest that plays to his biggest weaknesses. I’m happy to back Bridgewater with the much better offensive system and supporting talent in this game.
Best Bet: Dolphins -3 (bet to -3.5)
Los Angeles Chargers at Cleveland Browns
Game Info: Sunday, October 9, 1:00 PM EST
Last week, I had the over on 49.5 points in the Browns and Falcons game, and while that didn’t hit, it wasn’t far away. The Browns turned the ball over on downs on one trip to the Falcons red zone, and if that was a touchdown instead, the total would have gone over. Cleveland’s rushing offense has been the best in the NFL by EPA per play, and they have forced 46 missed tackles, by far the most in the league.
This week, the elite Browns run game faces a Chargers run defense that hasn’t improved the way that their fans had hoped this year. The Chargers rank bottom five in rushing EPA per play, rushing success rate, and yards per carry allowed. On the back of that elite ground game, the Browns rank sixth in offensive DVOA and in early down offensive EPA. Thanks to the support of the run game and an elite O-line, Brissett ranks top-ten in EPA+CPOE composite.
Have to be fully connected as a unit in order to be a strong run defense. The Chargers have taken a lot of positive steps into becoming a good run defense but mistakes like these are clearly holding them back (stating the obvious I know). pic.twitter.com/qiR1eRQzFN
— Steven Haglund (@StevenIHaglund) October 5, 2022
In that same metric, Justin Herbert ranks seventh in the NFL, and the Chargers rank sixth in passing offense DVOA despite injuries to Rashawn Slater and Keenan Allen. Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney will play in this game, putting the Los Angeles O-line that allows the fourth-highest pressure rate in a bind. However, both are recovering from notable injuries, and rookie Jamaree Salyer was excellent in relief of Slater last week, not allowing a single pressure in 41 pass-blocking snaps per PFF.
The Browns’ secondary has been a problem this year as they have allowed several big plays on their way to the seventh-worst defensive rating by EPA and the third-worst by DVOA. Cleveland’s run defense has also struggled, as they rank 30th in run defense DVOA and 32nd in tackling. While Keenan Allen is unlikely to play this week, Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams, and Josh Palmer will help Herbert carve up this defense.
When these teams played last season, they combined for 89 total points. The Browns don’t necessarily want to play at a fast pace, but the Chargers rank eighth in the NFL in neutral pace of play, and they force their opponents to play more sped up. With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt ripping off chunk yardage on one side, and the Chargers passing game firing on the other, I expect some points to be scored in Cleveland on Sunday.
Best Bet: Over 47.5 (bet to 49.5)
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams
Game Info: Sunday, October 9, 4:25 PM EST
Cooper Rush is now 4-0 against the spread, making him the only undefeated quarterback ATS over the last 20 years. While his 3-0 record as a starter this season has been fascinating, it’s time to sell high on Rush. The Cowboys offense has relied on a very balanced offensive approach with the run and pass, but that won’t be possible this week against the Rams defense.
Los Angeles ranks third in the NFL against the run by DVOA and first by EPA. The addition of future Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Wagner has transformed their run defense, and they’ve been excellent at limiting big plays on the ground. The Rams will force the Cowboys into more of a one-dimensional offense and limit the production of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard on the ground. The Cowboys rank third-worst in third-down offense, and they will be behind the sticks often in this game.
The Rams have struggled to get consistent pressure against opposing quarterbacks this year – they surprisingly rank last in the NFL in pressure rate – but Aaron Donald could thrive in this matchup. The Cowboys have suffered significant injuries along their offensive line this season, and they rank 26th in pressure allowed this year. With guards Connor McGovern and Zack Martin at less than 100%, and Jason Peters likely to miss this game, Donald could feast this week.
Aaron Donald flashes the short hesi, then takes his chest away as he clubs the blocker’s punch. Avoids being tripped as well. If you beat the hands, you beat the man! #passrush #ramshouse pic.twitter.com/W5vDb5XEd5
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) September 30, 2022
On the other side, the Rams have a great opportunity to bounce back this week, particularly on offense. The Rams have struggled to run the ball this year as they rank 29th in yards per carry and have called passing plays at the second-highest frequency in the league. However, the Cowboys have allowed the most explosive running plays in the NFL and rank 25th in rushing defense DVOA.
The Rams will look to get Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson going on the ground this week, and by doing so, they can go back to some of their play-action passing offense that worked so well last season. There’s no question that the Rams have a lot of work to do offensively, but the Cowboys’ defense is overrated given the opponents they’ve faced – Tom Brady with heavy injuries on offense, Joe Burrow with the Bengals’ offense struggling, Daniel Jones, and Carson Wentz. That’s the fourth-worst defensive strength of schedule.
Sean McVay has done an excellent job of getting his team ready for a game in a short week in the past. The Rams have won five straight games both straight up and against the spread under McVay on short rest, including three straight with Matthew Stafford. I believe this game sets up as a perfect opportunity to sell high on the Cowboys and buy low on the Super Bowl champion Rams, and I’ll be doing so at this number.
Best Bet: Rams -5 (bet to -6.5)
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
Game Info: Sunday, October 9, 8:20 PM EST
I’ve had this Sunday Night Football game circled all offseason, and I can’t wait to watch these divisional foes face off. The Bengals owned the Ravens last year, winning both of their matchups by an average of 22 points. However, the Ravens are a different team now as they suffered a litany of injuries last season. Let’s take a look at what has changed for Baltimore from last year.
The Ravens spent their offseason bolstering their secondary by adding Marcus Williams, one of the best free safeties in the NFL, to replace DeShon Elliott and Brandon Stephens, both of whom were dreadful last season. Williams is one of the best safeties in the NFL at limiting big plays, and Baltimore will drop he and Chuck Clark into Cover 2 shell defensive schemes to create issues for Joe Burrow and the Bengals.
Cincinnati has struggled all season in creating consistent offense when presented with the Cover 2 shell defensive looks as they rely on big plays. It hasn’t helped that their run game has been incredibly unproductive as just 12.2% of Joe Mixon’s carries have resulted in a first down or touchdown, which ranks second-to-last among running backs with 20+ carries. The Bengals continually try to run the ball on early downs nonetheless, which has resulted in them having the worst early down offensive EPA in the NFL.
It shouldn’t be the case with weapons like Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins on the outside, but the Bengals rank 27th in offensive DVOA and 18th in EPA this season. While the new-look offensive line has struggled to gel – they rank just 27th in adjusted line yards and in adjusted sack rate – I believe it’s also a function of Zac Taylor being an underwhelming play-caller and not utilizing his talent effectively.
To Cincinnati’s credit, their defense has been excellent as they rank seventh in DVOA and sixth in EPA. However, they’ve faced the 16th-ranked strength of schedule on defense against Mitchell Trubisky, Cooper Rush, Joe Flacco, and Teddy Bridgewater. This week, they have to go up against Lamar Jackson who’s playing at an MVP level. The absence of Rashod Bateman will hurt the offense, but Mark Andrews, Devin Duvernay, and J.K. Dobbins can supplement Jackson’s elite rushing ability.
Lamar Jackson has more rush yards than
— Derrick Henry
— Dalvin Cook
— Christian McCaffrey
— Leonard Fournette
— Joe Mixon
— Clyde Edwards-Helaire
While also leading the league in pass TD. pic.twitter.com/yTupAs8Fr1
— StatMuse (@statmuse) October 4, 2022
I had originally planned on making the Ravens -3 a 2-unit play, but I decided to split it between the full game and first half. Lou Anarummo is a master of second-half adjustments, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Ravens lead at halftime, and the Bengals come back somewhat in the second half. The Ravens have led at halftime in every game so far, and for all but 14 seconds of game-time this season, but are just 2-2 as they haven’t been as strong in the second halves of games.
Still, I love this spot for Baltimore, particularly with how John Harbaugh must have spent all summer preparing for this exact game. Jackson and his team will be fired up for this game, and I trust them to get the job done at home. I’m splitting my bets between the first half and halftime, but feel free to choose one or the other if you prefer. Either way, this should be a fascinating game on Sunday Night Football.
Best Bet: Ravens -3 (bet to -3.5) and Ravens 1H -3 (bet to -3.5)