NFL Power Rankings Week 5
We’ve already seen the beginnings of the The Purge, as coaches and quarterbacks suffer the consequences of early season struggles. Most of these moves are acts of desperation (like firing Bill O’Brien). The rest (like benching Dwayne Haskins) are belated attempts to rectify mistakes that never should’ve happened.
October is a really interesting month in the NFL betting season. Bettors have gotten over the thrill and excitement of a new season and the first few weeks of the campaign. Now everyone is settling in for The Long Haul. Gamblers realize that we are not even a quarter of the way through this gauntlet, and the known horrors of December are lying in wait.
At this point in the season, bettors and fans have just enough information to think they know who’s who and what’s what. It’s dangerous. Because nothing has been firmly established in this season. Several teams that are in my Top 10 right now will flame out and miss the playoffs. And at least one mid- or lower-tier team is priming itself of a significant out-of-nowhere run. It happens every season. And just because this COVID-pocked NFL session stands in its own separate category, I don’t think it is immune from the random insanity that engulfs any “normal” pro football season.
It’s only been a month. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t rest on the laurels of any early season success. And don’t believe for a second that you’ve got anything figured out.
Here is Doc’s Sports NFL Power Rankings:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) – The Chiefs are in the middle of a stretch of three games in 11 days. They played a grinder against the Patriots on Monday, have to take on division rival Las Vegas this Sunday, and then they have to travel to Buffalo next Thursday to face the upstart Bills. The Chiefs have somehow dodged the massive injury bullets that have hit all over the league. If they make it through this stretch unscathed (and unbeaten), that will go a long way to cementing their No. 1 seed in the AFC.
2. Baltimore Ravens (3-1) – Over the last decade, the Ravens have had one of the best – and most underrated – home field advantages in the NFL. It looks like it has caught up to them, though. Baltimore is just 4-12 ATS in its last 16 home games and they are just 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games as a home favorite.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) – Betting on a team off of a bye week under the premise that “they’ve had extra time to prepare” is one of the most overrated angles in sports betting. The Steelers are just 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games as a favorite and 2-5 ATS as a home favorite.
4. Seattle Seahawks (4-0) – Sure, there are plenty of flaws on this team. But the fact of the matter is that Seattle is 4-0 SU And ATS and they’ve been the best bet in the NFL.
5. New Orleans Saints (2-2) – It looks like New Orleans isn’t headed to Indianapolis for their Monday night game against the Chargers. The Saints are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight MNF games and just 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games as a home favorite.
6. Buffalo Bills (4-0) – It is pretty clear that the defense really misses Star Lotulelei on the defensive line. Buffalo has not been early as dominant at the point of attack this year. And until the fourth quarter last week in Oakland, that had actually been a liability for this group.
7. Tennessee Titans (3-0) – The Titans should either have to forfeit this week’s games – with the added penalty of having to cover the weekly payroll for the players on both teams – or they should be forced to play with a skeleton crew of healthy bodies, even if they have to pull them off the street. I have no sympathy for anyone suffering from their own stupidity.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) – Mike Evans is going to be a game-time decision for Tampa Bay tonight at Chicago. The Bucs should have Scotty Miller and a couple tight ends. But I’m not sure where they are going to get wide receiver production from against a tough Bears defense. The Bucs are just 1-5 ATS in their last six Thursday games and 3-8 ATS as a favorite.
9. Green Bay Packers (4-0) – Until I see someone stop focused Aaron Rodgers, I don’t believe anyone can. If Atlanta had not been so focused on running the ball to protect its tattered defense – and if the Packers hadn’t squandered an early chance inside Atlanta’s 5-yard-line – then Green Bay would’ve rung up 40 points again. At this point, we should be blindly betting the ‘over’ with this team.
10. New England Patriots (2-2) – The worst part about their loss to Kansas City on Monday is that if they had played the Chiefs with Cam Newton, the Patriots absolutely would’ve covered the spread. Brian Hoyer is way too experienced to make the mistakes that he did in that game, though. He absolutely has to be better than that.
11. Indianapolis Colts (3-1) – I was high on the Colts heading into the season, and now people are starting to catch on as to why. Indy’s defense has been physical and imposing. And as long as Philip Rivers can keep the turnovers under control – a problem that’s plagued him his entire career – then the Colts are going to be in the AFC mix all season long.
12. Los Angeles Rams (3-1) – This week is the third time in four weeks that the Rams are going to have to fly to the East Coast. Also, if you kick out about 15 minutes of their game against Buffalo, the reality is that the Rams have looked shallow over the last two weeks. The Rams are 13-5 ATS as a favorite, 9-3 ATS on the road and 15-4 ATS in their last 19 games against NFC opponents.
13. Arizona Cardinals (2-2) – Where is the Kliff Kingsbury innovation that we heard so much about? How can the Cardinals play an entire game and fail to throw the ball more than 10 yards down the field? DeAndre Hopkins clearly isn’t 100 percent. But the Cardinals have other guys. They have to be more aggressive with their attack to loosen things up underneath.
14. Los Angeles Chargers (1-3) – I know this team is better than its record. The schedule certainly hasn’t done them any favors, and now injuries are starting to creep up on them. The Chargers are 33-15 ATS in their last 48 games as a road underdog and they are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games as an underdog overall.
15. Cleveland Browns (3-1) – Look, I’m proud of the Browns for winning in Dallas last week also. However, let’s not overlook the fact that Cleveland nearly blew a 41-14 lead in that one. The Browns defense is terrible right now, and Cleveland is just 7-24 ATS in its last 31 games against a team with a winning record.
16. Chicago Bears (3-1) – The Bears are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 games as a home underdog. However, they are 0-6 ATS in their last six games against teams above .500, 4-12 in their last 16 games overall, and 4-12 ATS in their last 16 Thursday games.
17. Detroit Lions (1-3) – How the hell does Matt Patricia still have a job?
18. Las Vegas Raiders (2-2) – The Raiders-Chiefs series has been a big-time underdog series. Kansas City has dominated recently (4-1 ATS in the last five and 4-0 ATS at home). But for the first 15 years of this century, the underdog and the road team was an automatic play in this series.
19. San Francisco 49ers (2-2) – Why are so many people are giving the 49ers so much respect right now? I understand that they have had a ridiculous amount of injuries. But what remains of this team stinks. Their only wins came against the pathetic Jets and Giants, and their two losses have come against two other mediocre-at-best teams, the Eagles and Cardinals. This is a bad team right now, and I think that they are massively overvalued.
20. Dallas Cowboys (1-3) – The Cowboys have absolutely dominated the Giants over the last three years, going 6-0 straight up and 6-0 ATS in those games. Dallas is actually 15-3 ATS in its last 18 divisional games and may have a chance to finally beat a number this week.
21. Minnesota Vikings (1-3) – This is the third year in a row that Minnesota has traveled to Seattle, and this is the fifth meeting between the two teams over the last six years. The Vikings have lost all four games and they are just 1-3 ATS in those tilts. Those were also much better Vikings teams facing worse Seattle squads.
22. Miami Dolphins (1-3) – The Dolphins have to find a way to run the ball. They are putting too much on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s shoulders. I know Miami’s offensive line is shaky as hell. But Matt Breida and Myles Gaskin have both looked good. They need more touches.
23. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2-1) – That was a much-needed win for the Eagles last week, despite the fact that they were outgained by nearly 150 yards. Now we will see how up they can get for a rivalry game against their Keystone State brethren. The Eagles have gone ‘over’ in 18 of 24 games as a road underdog, and they are 5-1 against the total in their last six on the road.
24. Cincinnati Bengals (1-2-1) – I can’t say enough good things about Joe Burrow. I was skeptical about him coming out of college. And we’ve seen the Bungles crush the souls of first round quarterbacks in the past. Burrow is legit, and this team, which is on a 3-0 ATS run, is one to keep an eye on.
25. Carolina Panthers (2-2) – Joe Brady is absolutely the truth. The Panthers are running a really interesting offensive system right now, and they are completely confusing their opponents. This is where not having a preseason hurts handicapping. I feel like I would’ve sniffed out the improvement on this offense if I had seen them play in August.
26. Denver Broncos (1-3) – The Broncos are just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games against the Patriots and 0-5 ATS in their last five games in Foxboro. The road team is just 2-7 ATS in this series and the underdog is just 3-7 ATS. Denver does have the benefit of not enduring a potential team-wide COVID outbreak, though, so they have that going for them.
27. Houston Texans (0-4) – It is easy to assume that Houston’s problems walked out the door with Bill O’Brien. He was clearly the architect of this debacle. But that’s the main issue: this team is a debacle. They haven’t forced a turnover yet on defense, and offensively they have no identity. Don’t get roped into thinking this is a good team.
28. Atlanta Falcons (0-4) – Is it me, or does Matt Ryan look like he has lost a lot of zip on his fastball? There are so many issues on this roster, and this team that it is easy to overlook Ryan’s struggles. The Falcons have dominated the Panthers, but they are just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games as a favorite.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) – The Jaguars have lost four straight to the Texans, and all four have been absurdly low-scoring games. These two have averaged just 26 points per game in their last four meetings, and five of the last six have gone ‘under’. The underdog is 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings.
30. Washington Football Team (1-3) – Usually when a team loses its starting quarterback, the line adjusts two or three points – the other way. However, this line has dropped two points since it was announced that Washington was going to be benching Dwayne Haskins. All I can say is: it is about time. Haskins is a huge loser and will never be a competent NFL quarterback.
31. New York Giants (0-4) – Finally: a silver lining. The Giants defense has actually been really solid. Especially when you consider how little help they are getting from the offense. New York is No. 5 in yards allowed and No. 6 in passing defense.
32. New York Jets (0-4) – In case you’re wondering: Joe Flacco is not anyone’s savior. The Jets do have the advantage of a few days of extra rest and taking on an Arizona team that is making its second straight trip to the East Coast. That is their only advantage, though. And anyone really thinking about backing the Jets right now is not making a “sharp” wager; they need to have their head examined.
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