NFL Power Rankings Week 5
After last year's scoring explosion, in which teams combined to average 46.6 points per game, scoring has reverted back down to levels that we've seen only once this decade. With just 44.4 points per game, this season is on pace to be the second-lowest scoring year of the decade.
However, this doesn't account to the fact that we are still in the early portion of the season. Scoring averages are always higher early in the season. Offenses generally leave training camp ahead of the defenses. The weather hasn't turned yet. Injuries haven't fully enveloped some offenses. And coaches haven't had a chance to make defensive adjustments to offensive tendencies.
So, if this kind of the peak of scoring in this year's NFL, how are these games going to look when things start to swing the other way?
Last week the league put a horrible product out on the field. In terms of betting, the 'under' is hitting at a nearly 60 percent clip this year, and underdogs are covering at an incredible 62.9 percent rate this year. Those are the two trends to ride right now and two to watch as the season ramps up.
Here is Doc's Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. New England Patriots (4-0) - I don't know that I buy into the "Tom Brady is concealing an injury" narrative. Although it is the Patriots, so you can't put it past them. Regardless, these guys are the inevitable Josh Gordon blunt away from having serious issues on offense. The Patriots are 20-9 ATS in their last 29 road games and 19-7 ATS against a team with a losing record.
Related: New England Patriots vs. Washington Redskins Free Picks
2. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) - It is almost impressive how aggressively bad the Chiefs are on defense. It really is at the point now where I almost think it is an accident every time they get a stop. It is going to make them a frustrating team to bet on all season. Especially if they are going to be consistently laying double-digits this year to teams at .500 or above.
3. Los Angeles Rams (3-1) - I'm not hitting the panic button on this group just yet. They had three solid wins to start the season, and they have outgained all four of their opponents. They have beaten Seattle three straight times but are just 1-5 ATS in their last six Thursday games.
4. New Orleans Saints (3-1) - Run the ball and play great defense. It's not rocket science. The Saints have been outplayed over the last three weeks, though, despite their two wins. And I wonder who is in the bigger letdown spot this week, the Saints or the Bucs?
5. Dallas Cowboys (3-1) - Those three opening wins, over three teams with a combined 2-10 mark, look less and less impressive when you can't go on the road and drop the hammer on a team that's basically playing without a quarterback. About seven days ago this group was riding high. But a home loss this week would start to unpack all kinds of drama, loathing and insecurity for this overrated organization. Dallas is 0-4 ATS in its last four games against a team with a winning record.
6. Chicago Bears (3-1) - I don't think it speaks well to Mitch Trubisky's long-term viability as a franchise quarterback when all Bears fans are not-so-secretly rooting for backup Chase Daniels to seize the job. Daniels looked poised and accurate last week. And like we've seen time and time again in all sports, an injury to a key player has led to a short-term bump in effort from the rest of the team. The Bears are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games and 5-1 ATS after a win.
7. Green Bay Packers (3-1) - The Packers have owned the Cowboys over the past decade. Green Bay is 7-1 straight up and 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games against Dallas. The road team is 5-1 ATS in the last six in this series and we'll see if the Packers can overcome the fact that they lost on Thursday night last week.
8. Baltimore Ravens (2-2) - I'm not selling all my stock in the Ravens just yet. However, they better bounce back pretty hard here against the rival Steelers this week or things could really start to go sideways as they slide into third place in the division. The road team has been the play in this series recently, winning three of the last four meetings outright and going 5-0 ATS in the last five.
9. Seattle Seahawks (3-1) - There is no player in the league that does more with less on his side of the ball than Russell Wilson. That guy is running for his life on every single snap, yet still finds a way to keep the chains moving. Seattle's offense might be one of the ugliest in football, yet they are still in the Top 10 in scoring. It's incredible. Seattle is 7-0 ATS in its last seven Thursday games and on a 12-5 ATS run. They also don't lose two straight home games very often.
10. Minnesota Vikings (2-2) - If I'm the Vikings front office, I'm doing everything in my power to make a trade with Washington to bring Case Keenum back. The Bears physically manhandled the Vikings last week. And in a way it may be good that the Vikes aren't playing at home this week. Because if Kirk Cousins doesn't get it going - quickly - then things are going to get real ugly from the fans and in this locker room. Minnesota is just 1-5 ATS on the road, but they are 35-15 ATS after a loss.
11. Los Angeles Chargers (2-2) - I am willing to bet against the Dolphins just on spec. However, I didn't take the Chargers last week because I've seen them flop in situations like that before. Los Angeles has gone just 11-27 ATS in its last 38 home games, and the home team is just 5-13 ATS in the Broncos series.
12. San Francisco 49ers (3-0) - I'm interested to see how sharp this team is coming out of a bye week. Kyle Shanahan's father, Mike, was always - and I mean always - an automatic bet coming out of an extra week of prep. How far does that apple fall from the tree? The 49ers are 26-7 ATS in their last 33 games on Monday Night Football but are just 7-17 ATS in the last 24 home games.
13. Philadelphia Eagles (2-2) - They needed the win. They got the win. I wouldn't become so completely enamored with Philadelphia's running game. The Packers were No. 25 in the league in rush defense before the Eagles pounded them for 176. They are facing a Top 10 Jets rush defense this week but have to stay committed to the ground game. The Eagles are just 2-7 ATS in their last nine home games, and the majority of the action this week is actually on the Jets.
14. Tennessee Titans (2-2) - That was a workmanlike effort for the Titans last week in a must-win game. I don't know about this team back in the role of favorite , though. The Titans are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games against a team with a winning record. However, they are just 21-48 ATS in their last 69 conference games and just 1-4 ATS in their last five games at home.
15. Indianapolis Colts (2-2) - The Colts are back in their preferred role this week as big underdogs at Kansas City. They are obviously not going to outscore or outshoot this Chiefs team. So, we will see if the Colts are smart enough and capable enough to pound the ball with their No. 7 rushing game and try to play keep away. The Colts are 5-1 ATS on the road, 8-1 ATS against a team that's over .500, and 38-18 ATS after a loss.
16. Houston Texans (2-2) - Here is another AFC South team that I simply can't trust as a favorite. I want to give Bill O'Brien credit. But it is getting clearer and clearer that he's not part of the problem - he is THE problem. This is his sixth year with the Texans. They have the tools and talent. But their scheme and his atrocious in-game management is just an anchor around this squad. The Texans are 1-4 ATS in their last five home games.
17. Detroit Lions (2-1-1) - If you have been a Lions fan over the last 15 years, you certainly have seen your share of wild, bizarre, unexplainable games. Last week's five lost fumbles in the third quarter was unlike anything I had ever seen.
18. Buffalo Bills (3-1) - Full credit to the defense. The Bills defense is absolutely legit and overwhelmed another opponent. Their ground-and-pound approach is going to be put to the test this week with Matt Barkley under center, though. Buffalo has avoided a letdown in weeks after facing the rival Patriots, going 6-2 ATS in their last seven games after taking on New England.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3) - I'm not going to go overboard praising Pittsburgh's 'innovation' in the running game. I will applaud them for sticking with that running game against the Bengals last week. They averaged only 2.6 yards per rush. But those 25 runs helped keep the clock moving, shorten the game, and keep the pressure off Mason Rudolph. The underdog is 7-1 ATS in the Ravens series. But Pittsburgh is just 2-8 ATS on a Sunday following a Monday night game.
20. Cleveland Browns (2-2) - Run the ball and play great defense. It's not complicated. The Browns ran the ball 29 times and threw it 30 times and - surprise - their offensive efficiency went through the roof. Prior to last week, the Browns had been throwing on 63 percent of their offensive plays. We will see if last week's success helps them rethink their identity. This week's trip to San Francisco also marks Cleveland's third primetime game in four weeks. Do they have enough in the tank, emotionally?
21. Carolina Panthers (2-2) - I really want to give Kyle Allen credit for that incredible, essentially game-winning play on Carolina's final drive. If you didn't see it, he somehow ducked under J.J. Watt, popped up and hurled a 17-yard completion. Again, I want to credit Allen. But the truth is that one was just clear, simple luck. Hey, ride the wave. Rather be lucky than good. Carolina is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games after a win and just 1-4 ATS at home.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) - Minshew Magic, baby. I will absolutely credit Jacksonville's win at Denver more to a meltdown by the Broncos than anything the Jaguars did. That said, my boy D.J. Chark is a player. I don't care about numbers. That guy just makes big plays and is really underrated. Back-to-back road games is tough. And Jacksonville is 1-4 ATS following a win.
23. Atlanta Falcons (1-3) - This team exhibits a shocking lack of execution week-in and week-out. Whether you want to put that on the coaching staff or overrated players is up to you. The offensive line is a mess. Isaiah Oliver is terrible, the secondary is a sieve, and there is really only three guys starting on that defense that I think would start on a Top 15 defense. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a turnaround from this group.
24. Oakland Raiders (2-2) - When last these Londoners saw these Raiders, they were getting pile driven by Seattle last October. Oakland looks like a more stable, talented, better-coached team this year. I feel like this week's game will be an adequate measuring stick to see if they are actually better than last year's group. The Raiders are 17-36 ATS in their last 53 games after a win.
25. New York Giants (2-2) - As I have said, Daniel Jones is not as great as Giants fanatics have themselves believing right now. The simple fact is that they have been watching substandard, pathetic quarterbacking for so long that they forgot what it was like to watch a guy that can make plays. The Giants are just 2-8 ATS in their last 10 home games and 3-9 ATS after a win.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) - I'm sorry, but I'm still not buying into these guys. They still can't stop anyone. And their yards per point were 8.4 last week and are 11.8 over their last three games. That's not at all sustainable. They have played the Saints tough, though, and they are have split the last eight meetings. Tampa Bay is 5-0 ATS in its last five road games and 7-3 ATS in its last 10 divisional games.
27. Denver Broncos (0-4) - These guys look completely and totally lost on both sides of the ball. They just look slow. Everyone in orange just looks a step slower than whomever they are facing. Joe Flacco is cooked. They aren't running the ball enough. And the defense looks clueless. They are 0-8 SU and 1-7 ATS in their last eight games. Denver is 5-16 ATS in divisional games and 8-22 ATS in their last 30 conference games.
28. Washington Redskins (0-4) - I said it last week: Dwayne Haskins is terrible. He is not going to be a good NFL quarterback, and there is no way in hell he should be out there this week. Colt McCoy has been scamming paychecks for years. How about they make him earn one of them this week?
29. Arizona Cardinals (0-3-1) - Wait, so hiring a guy with a losing overall record in college and with a losing record in his career in the Big 12 might not have been a great call? Who knew? Arizona is 1-4 ATS in its last five games against teams with a losing record and is 6-2 ATS in its last eight road games.
30. Cincinnati Bengals (0-4) - Wow. That was bleak.
31. New York Jets (0-3) - It is a joke if anyone thinks that Sam Darnold is going to do anything to salvage this train wreck of a roster, season or situation. If I'm the Jets, I'm holding Darnold out for as long as I can. The Jets are just 1-5 ATS in their last six games, 2-5 ATS after a bye week and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games after a loss.
32. Miami Dolphins (0-4) - The only reason not to bet against the Dolphins every single week is that they don't play every single week. Unfortunately, this is the week in which they don't play. Anyone that thinks these players are spending the bye week working diligently to fix all that ails this team, rather than enjoying every single second that they aren't on the field, is kidding themselves.
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