Skip to content

Blurred Lines: Comparing NFL Week 5 Betting Lines

NFL Lines Week 5

With Week 4 in the rearview mirror, we’ve essentially reached the quarter pole of the season as we head into the NFL Week 5 betting lines. Don’t get me started on the inanity of teams playing an odd number of games. Let’s take a look at the early season from a 30,000-foot view. The overarching theme is there’s a lot of mediocrity out there. There is only one undefeated team, the Philadelphia Eagles, and only eight teams have winning records. Four of the eight divisions don’t have a team with a winning record. That’s frankly astonishing.

Obviously, we need to take these early season results with small sample-size grains of salt. The flip side of this is that there’s only one winless team, the Houston Texans, who at least have a tie on their resume. Put that all together, and you have a lot of mediocre to bad football. There have been some wild comebacks and exciting games, but not a whole lot of really good games so far. It’s tough to have good games when there aren’t good teams.

From a spread standpoint, things look similar. Only one team is unbeaten against the spread, the Atlanta Falcons, who are unsurprisingly (since almost half the league is .500) 2-2 straight up. Similar to straight-up, for the one unbeaten team, there is one corresponding winless team against the spread, the New Orleans Saints.

Home field really hasn’t been an advantage so far. Home teams are 33-29-1 (not counting the neutral site London game) straight up. While this is certainly heavily affected by the early season scheduling, home teams are only 32-30-2 against the spread.

The reason your fantasy team feels like it’s struggling (pour one out for Javonte Williams)? Expected scoring is down. No teams are 4-0 to the over, and four teams, Cincinnati, Dallas, the Giants, and San Francisco, haven’t hit an over yet.


At this point, I can only be happy that sports betting isn’t yet legal in my state of residence. Another horrific week for myself and the ELO model. Mediocrity makes things hard to handicap. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I may need to go to the George Costanza opposite approach if things don’t turn around soon.

Last week: My picks, 1 – 5 – 1; Analytics, 2 – 4 – 1; Best Bets, 1 – 5

Miami at Cincinnati“You can’t make this line high enough to get me to take the Fish. I normally don’t like laying minus money for favorite money lines, but this one should be way over -200 for the Bengals.

I basically called this and literally nothing else correctly last week.

New York Jets at Pittsburgh“Pittsburgh gets the benefit of extra time off to try and figure out their offensive struggles.”

Time heals all wounds–except Mitch Trubisky.

Denver at Las Vegas“The only constant with these two teams has been Denver’s defense.”

Who, of course, proceeded to go out and give up 32 points to the Raiders, a team that previously hadn’t hit an over.

New England at Green Bay“Green Bay’s defense has allowed 28 points in the last 10 quarters and now gets Brian Hoyer at Lambeau.”

They only got Brian Hoyer for a couple of series before his injury allowed an apparently capable rookie to lead the Pats to a near upset. But, then, Aaron Rodgers’ incomprehensible pick-six killed any hope for the under.

Buffalo at Baltimore“This is the Miami situation without the short rest, but with a tougher opponent.”

In my preseason preview, I called John Harbaugh the Mike McCarthy of the AFC. This game is example 1A. Blowing a 20-3 lead and a mind-numbing decision not to take the points in the 4th that cost them the outright win and left them with a push.

Los Angeles Chargers at Houston“Who’s the only winless team that hasn’t lost against the spread (2-0-1)? Houston.”

Who’s the only winless team that hasn’t lost against the spread (2-0-1)? Houston.

Arizona at Carolina“This game is a Bad Coach-Off if there ever was one, I’ll take the home team.”

Matt Rhule is now a demonstrably worse coach than Kliff Kingsbury. Let that sink in for a minute.

Minnesota – New Orleans Under 43 “plus, there’s the specter of Andy Dalton running the Saints offense.”

Andy Dalton actually seemed like a clear upgrade over Jameis Winston’s turnover-fest quarterbacking.

Cleveland – Atlanta Over 47.5 “These two teams are a combined 5-1 to the over so far, and playing in a dome.”

So, of course, both teams go out and put of their lowest point totals of the year against each other. Just not my week.

Season: My picks, 11 – 23 – 1; Analytics 13 – 21 – 1; Best Bets, 2 – 6 – 1

Both sides of the ball matter when placing NFL bets, and Club Fantasy covers defense too. Check out You Down with IDP?, every Thursday at 7 PM EST.

NFL Lines Week 5

(Standard disclaimer – All opinions are my own and may or may not reflect those of this website. “Analytic Lines” are ELO point spreads from, and “Vegas Lines” are courtesy of, current as of the writing of this article. Predicted Line (“PL”) is my early week estimate of where the Vegas line would be set. Chosen games are those with a multiple-point variance between the Vegas and Analytic Lines.)

Only three games with multiple-point differences this week. Interesting that Vegas and the ELO model are converging this early in the season. We’ll see if it continues.

Game of the Week

Seattle at New Orleans – Analytic Line: NO (-2), Vegas Line: NO (-5.5), PL: NO (-3.5)

Interestingly, both teams that played in London last week get home dates, with teams playing back-to-back road games. These two teams feel like they would be a pick ‘em on a neutral site, so 5.5 feels like too big a line. I’ll take the points.

Pick: Seattle (+5.5)

Make It A Parlay

Philadelphia at Arizona – Analytic Line: AZ (+2.5), Vegas Line: AZ (+5.5), PL: AZ (+6.5)

Philly has to go cross-country this week, then go back for a huge game with Dallas next week. This might be a letdown spot for them. My gut says take the Cards and the points. Vegas has small juice on them to cover, so it’s not just indigestion telling me that.

Pick: Arizona (+5.5)

Detroit at New England – Analytic Line: NE (-1.5), Vegas Line: NE (-3.5), PL: NE (-4.5)

Detroit hasn’t played a game with a final point total under 52. The over/under for this game is 45.5. Detroit’s only under of the year was in their only other road game when they missed it by a whopping ½ point.

Pick: Detroit (+3.5); Best Bet: Over 45.5

Are you looking for some more fantasy content? Then, check out our Week 5 rankings!