Parity has been a theme of this NFL season, with only eight teams over .500 after four weeks. Unexpected results keep rolling in. Which underdogs are the best bets in Week 5?
Pittsburgh Steelers (+14) vs. Buffalo Bills
Rarely do you see such a dramatic line in the NFL, especially without an injured quarterback on either side. I fully expect the Bills to come away with the win in this one, but it’s tough to see Mike Tomlin letting the Steelers get dismantled by Buffalo.
Don’t be fooled by Kenny Pickett’s three interceptions in his debut. One came on a Hail Mary attempt, and he generally didn’t have a bad day. In fact, every non-interception was a completion. Expect the Steelers’ offense to look a little more fluid.
As much as the defense probably won’t be able to stop Josh Allen, Pittsburgh did beat Buffalo in 2021, and the unit rarely gets picked apart by opposing offenses. I’m taking the Steelers to stay within two touchdowns.
Cleveland Browns Moneyline (+135) vs. Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers got themselves back on track in Week 4, though they let the NFL’s only winless team get back into the game late. The win doesn’t erase all of the injury concerns LA is still dealing with. Rashawn Slater and Joey Bosa remain out (and will be out long-term), Keenan Allen should play but isn’t a guarantee, and J.C. Jackson and Corey Linsley just returned after battling injuries.
I understand why the Chargers are favored – Justin Herbert looked healthy in the win over the Texans and rookie Jamaree Slayer filled in well for Slater – but the Browns’ defense is much better than Houston’s even if Myles Garrett can’t suit up. Marcus Mariota just put together one of the worst performances by a quarterback this season against the unit.
Nick Chubb is also primed to take advantage of a very shaky Chargers run defense. With moderately cool temperatures in store, this feels like a game the Browns can win at home.
Cincinnati Bengals Moneyline (+145) vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are better positioned to win this one at home with how electric Lamar Jackson has looked at times this season, but their late-game meltdowns are impossible to ignore.
After blowing a 21-point lead to the Dolphins in Week 2, Baltimore was shut out by the Bills in the second half and blew a 17-point lead in Week 4. Both losses were at home. Any blown lead of that caliber is a combination of offensive struggles, lack of adjustments, and defensive lapses. Against Buffalo, the offense disappeared in the second half.
With the Bengals’ defense looking strong so far this season, Cincinnati might be the better value here. Joe Burrow has beaten the Ravens before and has a chance to stay on his feet against a Baltimore pass-rush averaging only 2 sacks/game.
Detroit Lions (+3) vs. New England Patriots
The Patriots played well against the Packers, forcing overtime with third-string QB Bailey Zappe in a tough environment. Here’s a sentence you never thought you’d read: It’s worth wondering whether slowing down the Lions’ offense will be a much greater challenge than slowing down the Packers’ offense.
Jared Goff had the unit firing on all cylinders against Seattle, even without Amon-Ra St. Brown, D’Andre Swift, and D.J. Chark. If St. Brown is ready to go, he and T.J. Hockenson could wreak havoc on the Patriots’ defense.
The Lions have gotten accustomed to shootouts this season – their defense is a mess – but New England is not a team that’s well-equipped to win a shootout, even if Mac Jones plays. Unless the Patriots can force this game to be played thei