Fresh off a 12-3 stretch over the last three weeks (ATS), the SportsChump compared me to Liam Neeson this week. This is the first and last time that I’ll ever be compared to Liam Neeson. Then again, like Neeson, if I keep making picks at this pace, I could very well be typecast into a certain role, too. It’s time for our Week 5 Best Bets! This week’s NFL and College Football slate was a bit tricky. So, I first narrowed it down to ten games (then eventually to five).
I also planned to roll with Coastal Carolina this week, only to realize when I first started this draft (last night), that the Chanticleers were already on the field. Too bad, because that would have led to another victory. Oh well, when the schedule’s busy, you occasionally miss the kickoff times (and days).
Perhaps I don’t entirely have a “very particular set of skills” after all.
As a reminder, Chris Humpherys (the SportsChump) – a good friend of mine through years and years of blogging – has a pick ‘em contest rolling with me for the duration of the football season. We pick our top five games by confidence (against the spread). The wrinkle is this: top selections can be from either the NFL or College Football slate.
Here are our Week 5 Best Bets for the week (all ATS), which includes both Week 5 NFL Best Bets and Week 6 College Football Best Bets. The list is ranked in order of confidence, from 50 points down to 10 (or fictional dollars, as the SportsChump prefers).
Week 5 Best Bets: The Wife Hates SportsChump – Liam Neeson Edition
DraftKings Sportsbook: Week 5 NFL Lines | Week 6 College Football Lines
KP’s Picks: The Wife Hates Sports
$50 – NFL: Tennessee Titans (-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars
By now, we all know that Urban Meyer is a more quality meme and dirty joke producer than an actual NFL coach. It appears that he has lost a lot of his players (and the locker room). That grinding distraction is one thing. On the flip side, yes, the Titans were the only team that burned me last week. However, I made that pick early in the week knowing that there was a chance that neither Julio Jones or AJ Brown would play. Neither did. Now, Brown is set to return this week, as well as Bud Dupree on defense. Jacksonville’s only hope is to establish the run with James Robinson (facing a Titans defense that ranks 8th against the run). Also, they’ll need to stop Derrick Henry. After this beatdown, I wonder which bar Urban will head to next. Get your cell phones ready. Titans cover.
$40 NFL: New England Patriots (-8.5) at Houston Texans
I bumped this game up my list as the week progressed. Why? First, there’s Mac Jones, who completed nearly 78% of his passes last week, going toe-to-toe with Tom Brady and a solid Bucs defense. Second, there’s Davis Mills, who tossed four picks in a 40-0 loss to the Bills. Mills also sports a 17.9 QBR on the season and now faces Bill Belichick, a guy that tends to give rookie quarterbacks nightmares. So, while New England is off to a sluggish 1-3 start, the one win was a 25-6 victory at the Jets. The Patriots have been inconsistent, but still place beatdowns on lesser teams. That is the Texans. Pats cover.
$30 College: Alabama Crimson Tide (-18) at Texas A&M Aggies
A&M had lofty expectations this season. Injuries have certainly been a part of the problem. The Aggies have lost two straight, falling to Mississippi State at home last week and Arkansas on the road two weeks prior. Now, they face the #1 team in the country. Sure, the home crowd will be loud and the players will be amped up. Only, since joining the SEC, A&M is 1-8 against Alabama (that includes 4-5 ATS). A&M has had success ATS when at home, but that’s not with a team that is reeling and hit hard by injuries, including its QB Haynes King. Texas A&M will try to establish the run with star Isaiah Spiller. Overall, Nick Saban was quoted as calling this a “trap game”, but these are just things coaches say. ‘Bama wins big.
$20 NFL: Green Bay Packers (-3) at Cincinnati Bengals
Both starting running backs (Aaron Jones and Joe Mixon) are currently questionable with ankle injuries. Green Bay has more depth at the position with AJ Dillon. Overall, everyone keeps asking if the Bengals are for real. The short answer for me is that this team has improved. Still, look at the schedule: Cincinnati has narrow wins over the Vikings and Jaguars. They beat a struggling Steelers team on the road by two TD’s. There’s a loss to the Bears, a team with plenty of issues, a coach on the seat, and now a rookie QB. So, I don’t think we know who the Bengals are yet. But we do know who Aaron Rodgers is. In Jeopardy! voice, “Who is a future Hall of Fame QB for the Green Bay Packers?” Cincy gets its strongest opponent to date. Three points? Yeah, give me the Packers to cover on the road.
$10 College: Michigan Wolverines (-3.5) at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Here is an interesting game. For the last few years, these teams have underachieved. In 2021, Michigan seems to be legit following a beatdown of the Badgers last week. Meanwhile, despite a horrific showing to open the season (a 30-22 loss at Illinois), the Huskers have been playing better and have home field. For Nebraska, the improvements are noticeable, including a three-point loss to #11 Michigan State and a seven-point loss at #6 Oklahoma. They are knocking on the door. But this week, I look to a strong Michigan defense that currently ranks 33rd in the nation against the run. I see a strong defensive front being a major factor, pushing the Wolverines to another key win. Michigan covers.
Give me $50 on Denver Broncos at Pittsburgh Steelers (-1)
I’m not going to say this is the Steelers’ last chance to save their season but it’s in the neighborhood, that’s for sure. Playing in the same division as Cleveland, Baltimore and Cincinnati, the Steelers are looking long and hard and finishing last in the AFC North. They’re already two games behind every other team. This week, they host the 3-1 Denver Broncos who bring in a recently concussed Teddy Bridgewater.
The irony here is that Ben Roethlisberger is playing like he’s the one who’s concussed. Half the pundits in America are suggesting Big Ben should have called it quits but head coach Mike Tomlin continues to have faith in his starting quarterback, despite the constant criticisms of the offensive line that’s failed to protect him. They can ill afford to drop to 1-4 which is what would happen if they lose this week. Remember, this is a team that went into Buffalo in Week One and beat the Bills. I just can’t see them going out like that. They just need to find their Ju-Ju, Smith Schuster. I’m taking the Steelers at home to cover the single point.
I’ll take $40 on Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-2)
I honestly feel the Buffalo Bills aren’t getting the respect they deserve. Not to be overshadowed by their quarterback, their defense leads the league in yards allowed per game and turnover differential. That combination will win you a lot of ball games. We’ve also talked about how porous the Chiefs are defensively, which means Buffalo should be able to waltz into Arrowhead and put up some points. But I have this feeling the Chiefs want to remind Buffalo who’s boss in the conference. While Buffalo would like to wrestle the AFC championship away from Kansas City’s grasp, and still may,
I have this suspicion the Chiefs will remind them it’s still theirs to lose. It will be a loud Sunday night in KC where Chiefs fans will be going bonkers and I’m only laying two points. The Bills may be the better team pound for pound but it’s close. The road to the Super Bowl still goes through Arrowhead, at least on Sunday night. Giving the nod to the hometown mystique, barbecue beats buffalo. I have to take the Chiefs to cover.
Let’s bet some college where I’ll take $30 on Wisconsin Badgers at Illinois Illini (+10)
I’m not sure why I’m taking a stab at Big Ten Football but I’m going to throw two games from that conference onto my slate. This weekend, the 1-3 Wisconsin Badgers (that doesn’t even sound right) travel to Champaign to take on the Illini. Neither of these teams are very good. In fact, they have a combined one conference win between them. The over/under in this game is 42 which means you’re better off finding anything else on television to watch, or perhaps just turning it off altogether, for watching your wall is bound to be more entertaining.
I, however, will be watching (yawn) because it’s one of my top five. It’s not that these two teams are overwhelming defensively. It’s just that neither can score. So why on earth would I take Wisconsin, a team that scores under three touchdowns a game, and expect them to cover a ten-point spread. I wouldn’t. I’ll take Illinois plus the ten.
On to the game of the week and $20 on Penn State Nittany Lions at Iowa Hawkeyes (-1 ½)
Let’s turn things on their heads and talk about a Big Ten game that really matters. In the words of our former president, this Penn State-Iowa game is “huuuge” and unlike the other games between ranked teams so far this season, this contest promises to live up to the hype. It is by far the biggest game of the week with the winner not assured a seat at the big table but the loser is sure the hell out. Iowa can afford a loss more as they’re in the weaker half of the Big Ten but trust me when I tell you they don’t want to. For once, they’re in the driver’s seat.
This rivalry has seen some tight outcomes in recent years. Three of the last four games have been decided by less than a touchdown. In fact, Penn State had won six straight until the Hawkeyes finally got the best of them last year. These teams are so evenly matched that the home crowd should make the difference in this game. The longer Penn State keeps Iowa hanging around, the louder the crowd will get. The slightest hiccup could sway the outcome. These teams are ranked second and third in the nation in points allowed per game so scoring will be at a premium.
Here’s one last, otherwise meaningless tip. My chiropractor is an Iowa grad. When I asked him how he felt about the game, he was not in the slightest bit confident. “That’s the thing about being an Iowa fan. You just never know,” he said. Had he been overconfident, I’d be inclined to take Penn State in the upset. But his timidness told me Iowa’s got this. That plus Kevin is a Penn State alum so if Iowa covers this spread, not only will it piss him off, but it’ll piss him off even more that I picked against his alma mater. Sorry, buddy, but Iowa covers the two at home.
And finally, $10 on New Mexico Lobos at San Diego State Aztecs (-19)
I know absolutely nothing about this game but why should that stop me from picking it considering I’m 9-11 ATS the season. Here’s what I do know. New Mexico versus San Diego State sounds like a better college basketball matchup than it does football. I also know that San Diego State is ranked in the top 25 probably for the first time since Marshall Faulk went to school there. I’m joking, Aztec fans. This team went undefeated in conference back in 2015.
This year they almost blew a lead to Utah but still pulled out the win. The following week, they came back against Towson leaving no doubt. This Saturday, they host their first conference game and will want to make a good impression. There’s no way they’re losing this game. The question is by how much they’ll win. Vegas says 19. I told myself I’d be bold one week and choose nothing but double-digit favorites. This is my start. The Aztecs boast one of the best rushing offenses in the nation while the Lobos are one of the worst teams in the Mountain West. They allowed Air Force to run up and down the field on them last week warming them up for the beatdown they’ll be taking on Saturday. On a whim, I’ll take San Diego State minus the nineteen.
Season Standings (SportsChump | The Wife Hates Sports | Celebrity Guests)
Good luck (said in raspy Taken bad guy voice)…
Add your Week 5 Best Bets picks in the comments section below and as always, thanks for visiting and supporting The Wife Hates Sports!
Stat References: CFB Stats | Team Rankings
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Ha ha… nice. I’ll be surprised if I can match the previous three weeks. If I knew Coastal Carolina played Thursday, I’d already be off to a 1-0 start.
Good luck, my friend, even though I don’t really mean it.