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Columns - Magazine

The Gambling Solution: Week 5

by Jeff Baldwin
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Both Jeremy and Jeff started with a 1,000 unit bankroll as they go head to head all season long.

 

Jeff started the day off with a winner as he hit the over in the IND/JAX game in London.  However, he was unable to hit any of his side selections as he lost with the Panthers, Ravens and 49ers.  Jeff finished the week down 80 units.  Jeremy dropped his selections last week as he fell short with the Lions, Chargers, Browns and over DEN/TB.  Jeremy dropped 120 units for the week.  Jeff currently has a 160 unit lead in the season-long contest.  Can Jeremy cut into Jeff's lead?  Let's get to the picks for Week 5.

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Baldwin

Record: 7-8-1

Units: 980

 

Jeremy Wardwell

Record: 4-11-1

Units: 820

 

Bills at Rams (-2.5) - 40 units
The Bills made it two straight wins after opening the season at 0-2.  They came up with a huge effort on the road as they shutout the Patriots 16-0.  The Rams extended their win streak to three games as they upset the Cardinals on the road 17-13.  The Rams return home after winning two straight games on the road.  They host the Bills in a game they have been installed as a 2.5 point favorite.  Understand the Rams have been playing better, but I simply can't trust this team in this spot as a home favorite.  Look for the mobility of QB Tyrod Taylor to give this Rams defense problems as Taylor will pick up key yardage with his legs.  The Bills will look to get the running game going with RB LeSean McCoy.  McCoy will also pose a challenge for the Rams defense with in the passing game as he excels in that area.  With Sammy Watkins placed on injured reserve, WR Robert Woods came up with a solid game against the Patriots as he finished with seven catches for 89 yards on 10 targets.  As for the Bills defensively, they'll need stay focused and bring the same energy as they did versus the Patriots.  LB Zach Brown was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance last week.  Brown tallied 18 tackles, forced two fumbles and registered one sack.  Brown clearly has been one of the top inside linebackers so far this young season.  The Bills will also get a nice jolt on defense as they'll get DT Marcell Dareus back from suspension.  Dareus will be making his season debut this weekend.  The Bills defense will need to focus on keeping RB Todd Gurley in check as they can't afford for him to pick up big plays in the running game.  The Rams have struggled putting points on the board as they've averaged a little under 16 points/game.  Look for the Bills’ pass rush to be key in this contest as this is a unit that can get after the quarterback.  They currently sit near the top of the league in sacks.  In what will be a close, low scoring game, a late field goal by the Bills will be the difference as they'll get the outright victory. 
Pick: Buffalo Bills +2.5

Vikings (-6.5) at Texans - 40 units
After improving to 4-0 with a 24-10 victory over the New York Giants, the Minnesota Vikings will host the Houston Texans at US Bank Field. Houston improved to 3-1 with a 27-20 win over the Titans last week and will look to get their offense going against the stingy Vikings defense. Minnesota is allowing just over 300 total yards per game and has held opponents to a measly 12.5 PPG. The Vikings lead the league in takeaways with 11. Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler has six interceptions on the year and will likely see that number increase in this one. Minnesota's pass rush will limit Osweiler's time in the pocket which will make it difficult for him to get the ball downfield to his top targets DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. RB Lamar Miller has been solid but unspectacular throughout the first four games and I don't see him having a breakout game here. Offensively, the Vikings have handled the early season losses of Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson fairly well. QB Sam Bradford has stepped in and provided a steadying presence completing nearly 70% of his passes and throwing four touchdowns without an interception. Houston comes in with the league's top-ranked pass defense and while they have hardly faced the most talented passers in the league, I don't see Bradford lighting up the scoreboard. His top deep threat, Stefon Diggs, has been dealing with a groin injury but is expected to play. Look for Minnesota to try to establish the running game early with Jerick McKinnon to open up some chances deep for Diggs. While Houston is 3-1, the teams that they have beaten are a combined 4-8 and don't have nearly the defense that Minnesota does. The Vikings will still be riding the high of playing at their new stadium and their defense will feed off that energy. I like Minnesota to cover at home behind their defense. Take the Vikings giving 6.5.
Pick: Minnesota Vikings -6.5

Patriots (-10.5) at Browns - 40 units
The Patriots’ three game winning streak came to an abrupt end as they couldn't get anything going offensively versus the Bills.  The Browns are still looking for the first win of the season after losing on the road to the Redskins 31-20.  Even with the disappointing loss to the Bills, the Patriots were able to start the season 3-1 during QB Tom Brady's suspension.  Though they'll never admit it, they have to be happy with that start.  Brady is set to make his season debut on the road as the Patriots take on a Browns defense that is giving up a little under 29 points/game.  This is a perfect scenario for this Patriots offense to get in gear as Brady could be a little rusty coming out of the gate as he hasn't seen game action since the preseason.  Look for the Patriots to implement a balanced attack as they'll ease Brady into action.  RB LeGarrette Blount is nursing an injured hip, but I fully expect him to play as he'll be leaned on in the running game.  Blount has been very productive so far this season.  In the passing game, Brady will do what he does best which is spread the ball around to his receivers.  WRs Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola will serve as Brady's reliable targets in moving the chains and picking up those key first downs.  TE Rob Gronkowski is still not 100% after suffering a hamstring injury in training camp.  Expect TE Martellus Bennett to continue to pick up the slack in the passing game until Gronkowski gets fully healed.  After three big defensive efforts, the Patriots defense didn't play as well against the Bills.  I expect this unit to bounce back in a big way in this matchup as they'll face rookie QB Cody Kessler.  The Patriots will definitely show Kessler multiple looks in an attempt to force him into making mistakes.  The Patriots are giving a lot of points on the road, but I like the fact they got shutout last week which means they will be mentally focused to put a complete game together on both sides of the ball.  Brady's return will spark not only the offense, but the defense as well as they'll win this game by two touchdowns.
Pick: New England Patriots -10.5
Bengals (-1) at Cowboys - 35 units

The Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) and Dallas Cowboys (3-1) will square off at AT&T Stadium on Sunday.  Dallas is coming off a 24-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers thanks to a late comeback aided by the loss of 49ers linebacker Navorro Bowman. The Cowboys racked up nearly 200 yards rushing as RB Ezekiel Elliott went for 138 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals are significantly better against the run than the 49ers and have yet to give up a rushing touchdown while allowing less than 100 yards per game on the ground. The Bengals’ run defense should get a boost this week as LB Vontaze Burfict will be a full go after being limited in his first game back from suspension last week. It appears WR Dez Bryant will miss his second straight game as he recovers from a knee injury. Without Bryant, Dak Prescott will continue to rely on TE Jason Witten while Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams see more targets. Cincinnati will be playing on 10 days’ rest after beating the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football. The Bengals will to look to continue their success in the passing game against Dallas' mediocre secondary which ranks 20th in the league and has allowed seven touchdowns through the air. Quarterback Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green combined for 173 yards and a touchdown in the win over the Dolphins. Dalton will likely be without his favorite red-zone target in Tyler Eifert who is now dealing with a back injury in addition to his bum ankle. Without Eifert, the Bengals have struggled in the red zone, scoring a touchdown on only 30% of their trips inside the 20. Cincinnati is 4-2 against the spread in their last six games against Dallas and I like that trend to continue in this one. Look for Dalton and Green to put up big numbers as the Bengals win by a touchdown. Take Cincinnati giving 1.  
Pick: Cincinnati Bengals -1

Bengals (-1) at Cowboys - 20 units
The Bengals travel to Dallas looking to making it two straight wins after taking care of the Dolphins last Thursday night 22-7.  The Cowboys were able to dig themselves out of an early 14-0 deficit versus the 49ers as they came away with a 24-17 victory.  In the Bengals’ victory over the Dolphins, WR A.J. Green went off for 10 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown.  Look for QB Andy Dalton to target Green early and often in this contest as the Cowboys will have their work cut out for them slowing him down.  RB Jeremy Hill injured his chest against the Dolphins as he has practiced this week on a limited basis.  However, all signs point toward Hill suiting up versus the Cowboys.  RB Giovani Bernard is another player the Cowboys defense will have to contest with as his receiving ability out of the backfield creates mismatches that the Bengals will look to exploit.  The Bengals defense got LB Vontaze Burfict back from suspension against the Dolphins which definitely provided a spark to this unit.  Look for Burfict's snap count to increase this week which can only be viewed as a positive as they'll have a great challenge slowing down the Cowboys rushing attack led by RB Ezekiel Elliot.  Elliot is coming off an impressive outing against the 49ers as he finished with 23 carries for 138 yards and a touchdown.  The Cowboys’ question mark for this game is status of WR Dez Bryant.  Bryant sat last week and it is possible they'll rest him again this weekend.  If he does play, it’s unclear how effective he will be as he is dealing with an injured knee.  In what will be a tight game throughout, look for the Bengals defense to come up with a big stop late in the game to secure the victory.  The Bengals are a solid 8-1 against the spread on the road over their last nine games.
Pick: Cincinnati Bengals -1

Chargers (+3.5) at Raiders - 25 units
The 3-1 Oakland Raiders play host to the 1-3 San Diego Chargers in Oakland on Sunday in an AFC West battle. The Raiders are coming off a 28-27 fourth quarter comeback victory over the Baltimore Ravens while San Diego suffered a crushing defeat as they blew a 13 point lead in the final five minutes against the Saints. The road doesn't get any easier for the Chargers who will be without CB Jason Verrett against the Raiders’ potent passing attack. Derek Carr has been on fire to start the year throwing for more than 1,000 yards with nine touchdowns while only being intercepted once. Carr has been well protected all season, having been sacked only twice. The Chargers don't have a highly intimidating pass rush and Carr should have plenty of time in the pocket to find Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. In their win last week, Crabtree hauled in three touchdowns and has seen his targets rise each week.  The absence of Verrett should open up more opportunities for Cooper who has been nearly invisible since his Week One performance in which he had six receptions for 137 yards. Over the last three weeks, Cooper has averaged 60 yards per game without a touchdown. The Raiders will likely be without Latavius Murray meaning DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard will split carries with Washington likely to get the lion's share. The Chargers will need to find a way to shake off last week's loss. QB Philip Rivers and the Chargers' offense will be able to move the ball against the Raiders who rank dead last against the pass and have given up 326 passing yards/game. RB Melvin Gordon leads the league in touchdowns with six and will be featured heavily in the game plan against a Raiders team that ranks 31st in the league against the run and is the only team allowing more than 5 YPC to opposing backs. The Raiders have won the last two meetings between the teams while the Chargers have won six of the last ten. This promises to be a high scoring back and forth game featuring two of the league's top passers. The Raiders are 5-2 against the spread in the last seven games with the Chargers and I see that trend continuing here. Take Oakland to cover over the beat-up Chargers.
Pick: Oakland Raiders -3.5

Giants at Packers (Total: 48 points) - 20 units
The Giants travel to Green Bay looking to bounce back offensively after the Vikings defense held them to 10 points.  The Packers enter this game well rested coming off their bye week.  I think this matchup has all the making of a high scoring game.  QB Aaron Rodgers faces a Giants defense that struggles getting pressure on the quarterback, and is banged up in the secondary.  Also throw in the fact the Giants are on a short week after playing on the road on Monday night and this is a prime spot for Rodgers to shred this secondary.  WR Randall Cobb has been slow out of the gate, but I expect him to break out here on Sunday night.  The Giants offensively will need to throw a ton in this game as they'll struggle running the football against the top rated rush defense in the league.  The Packers are only giving up 42.7 yards/game on the ground.  QB Eli Manning will need to get this passing game going if the Giants hope to stay with the Packers offensively.  The Packers will be without their top cover cornerback Sam Shields which is good news for the Giants’ passing game.  WR Odell Beckham is in a great spot to turn things around as I expect him to get into the end zone for the first time this season.  In a game that will be full of big, offensive plays, look for this game to go over the posted total.
Pick: Over 48
Patriots at Browns (Total: 47 points) - 20 units
In his first game back after serving a four game suspension, Tom Brady leads the New England Patriots into Cleveland to face the Browns. New England was shut out last week by the Bills behind third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett. During that game RB LeGarrette Blount was limited as the Patriots were playing from behind most of the time. I'm expecting Blount to be more involved in this game as Brady shakes off the rust. It also appears TE Rob Gronkowski will be more of a factor this week after being limited the last two weeks with a hamstring injury. The big tight end has only one reception on the year. Despite being 0-4, the Browns have given opponents all they can handle. In last week's loss to the Redskins, RB Isaiah Crowell went off for 142 total yards and a touchdown. I don't see Cleveland having the same success on the ground this week as the Patriots have yet to allow an opposing running back more than 90 yards in a game. New England will also be getting LB Rob Ninkovich back after his four game suspension. The Browns come into this game averaging 19 PPG and giving up 29 while the Patriots are averaging just over 20 and holding opponents to 15. The posted total for this one is 47 which seems a bit high to me. I don't expect Brady to be at his normal level of efficiency and accuracy right away and I don't expect Gronkowski to be at 100% yet. The Patriots defense will focus on shutting down the run and force QB Cody Kessler to beat them through the air. New England will win this game relatively easily but I don't see it being a high scoring game as New England keeps the Browns in the mid-teens and New England scores in the mid-to-upper 20s.
Pick: Under 47

Editor's note: Both Jeremy and Jeff started with 1,000 units as they go head to head all season long.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffBaldwin4 and Jeremy @jdwardwell5.

Jeff Baldwin
Jeff Baldwin has written Rotoworld's 'Gambling Solution' on Season Pass since 2011. He can be found on Twitter @JeffBaldwin4.