I was one of the top CBS Sports NFL "pickers" in Week 4, as I went 10-5-1 against the spread. There's not much point in bragging, as I certainly needed a boost after a poor start. I was a bit nervous taking 11 favorites to cover last week, but it clearly worked out. Sometimes you just need to trust your gut.
I'm not happy with the 3-2 record on my top five picks in Week 4. It's wild that the Green Bay Packers let rookie Bailey Zappe take them to overtime, and then the Los Angeles Rams are clearly cursed against the San Francisco 49ers. Remind me to financially stay way from that NFC West rivalry for the rest of my life.
Let's take a look at what I'm thinking this week. As always, credit to the CBS Sports research team for making me sound smart.
All odds come courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook
Top five picks ATS record: 8-12
Overall ATS record: 31-32-1
Straight up record: 36-27-1
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-7)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
I can't believe I'm making a Texans-Jaguars best bet in this column, but the Jaguars are a much more solid team than people realize. Before you assume I'm getting ahead of myself, I made fading them a best bet last week, so maybe I just have a solid grasp on what this team is capable of. The Jaguars had a chance against the Philadelphia Eagles last week, but Trevor Lawrence fumbled possession away four times in the rain. Despite turning the ball over a total of five times, the Jaguars only lost by eight points! That's almost impressive.
All the trends will tell you to take Houston this week. The Texans have won eight straight games against the Jaguars, and won both games last season by 14-plus points despite being an underdog in each contest. However, the Texans are the only NFL team without a win this season, and I shouldn't have to tell you that this Jaguars team looks different.
Lawrence ranks No. 8 in passer rating this season, the Jaguars are tied in having the third-best turnover margin in the NFL (+3), and then Jacksonville has the odds-on favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year in linebacker Devin Lloyd. The former Utah stud has recorded 38 combined tackles, six passes defensed and two interceptions in just four games played. We aren't talking about him enough.
Jags running back James Robinson has been great save last week, but maybe this Sunday will be the Travis Etienne show. Join me in betting on him to score the first touchdown of his career this weekend.
The pick: Jaguars -7
Projected score: Jaguars 28-17
Tennessee Titans (-1.5) at Washington Commanders
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
Are the Titans back on track? After two straight embarrassing losses to open the season, the Titans have won two straight. Last week, Tennessee took down the Indianapolis Colts -- who defeated the Kansas City Chiefs the week prior. The defense bottled up Jonathan Taylor, holding him to 2.1 yards per carry, and the offense quickly jumped out to a 24-3 lead. It's quite absurd that the Titans have been outscored in the second half, 64-7, but that's something that has to change soon.
The Commanders, on the other hand, quickly went from an intriguing team to watch to one of the worst clubs in the league. Truly, Washington looked like it had a new sexy offense through the first two weeks of the regular season, but that same offense has mustered just 18 total points over the past two contests. A big reason why is the offensive line. Center Chase Roullier is on injured reserve, replacement center/offensive guard Wes Schweitzer was also just placed on injured reserve, Trai Turner got benched last week vs. the Dallas Cowboys, and then right tackle Samuel Cosmi underwent thumb surgery this week. If the Titans get to Carson Wentz consistently like the Eagles and Cowboys did, then they will win this game. Wentz has been sacked 16 times over the past three weeks, and is currently the favorite to win the "Joe Burrow Award" -- or most-sacked quarterback.
The Commanders are on a three-game losing streak. They have lost each game by more than one possession, been outscored, 58-7, in the first half, allowed nine passing touchdowns while recording zero interceptions and turned the ball over four times while forcing zero turnovers. As for the Titans, Derrick Henry looks like he's back to his old self, as he rushed for 114 yards and one touchdown last week, and the Tennessee defense is playing with some juice. I expect an entire highlight reel produced this week containing just Jeffery Simmons plays vs. Washington's O-Line.
The pick: Titans -1.5
Projected score: Titans 27-21
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Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings (-7.5)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox, FuboTV)
I made fading the Bears a best bet last week and it cashed, so let's do it again. The Chicago Bears-New York Giants matchup was wild to me. Matt Eberflus was slow to adjust to Brian Daboll's effective bootleg rollouts, and then the Bears' offensive play-calling was confusing. The Bears went 0-for-3 in the red zone last week and seemed like they were playing for field goals the entire matchup. There was even an instance on third-and-6 where Chicago dialed up an underneath tight end screen on New York's 14-yard line that went for a loss of 3 yards. I don't like this offense.
I was surprised that the Vikings were separated from overtime against a short-handed New Orleans Saints team by just a double-doink. Without Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, you would expect the Vikings to roll, but that did not happen. I also don't love that Minnesota doesn't get its bye week after its trip to London, but this pick is more about fading the Bears than it is supporting the Vikes. Chicago has the second-worst offense in the league (274.8 yards of total offense per game) and the worst passing attack by far in the NFL, as the Bears average just 97.5 passing yards per game. Every other NFL team averages at least 139 passing yards per contest. I like this number better at MIN -7, but give me the Vikings.
The pick: Vikings -7.5
Projected score: Vikings 27-17
Philadelphia Eagles (-5) at Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, 4:25p.m. ET (Fox, FuboTV)
The Eagles are one of the top teams in the NFL this season, and they have covered in each of their past three games after failing to do so in their season opener against the Detroit Lions. I've made them a best bet to cover in each of the past two weeks, so why stop now? The Eagles look like a complete team to me. Jalen Hurts and the offense have been the headline -- and I can understand why. The Eagles lead the NFL in "big plays" this season with 36. If you were wondering, "big plays" are rushes of at least 10 yards and passes of at least 20 yards.
The Eagles have run 184 offensive plays with the lead this season, which is the most in the NFL, while the Cardinals have run 13 offensive plays with the lead this season, which is the worst in the NFL. The Cardinals defense has been interesting to watch, as they blitz at the highest rate in the NFL (41%), but are allowing a 125.8 passer rating with blitz, which ranks No. 29 in the NFL. Hmm.
Arizona doesn't really have home-field advantage, as the Cardinals have lost seven straight home games -- which is the longest such streak in the NFL. But here's the key stat: The Cards have failed to cover in all seven of those home games as well.
The pick: Eagles -5
Projected score: Eagles 28-21
Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs (-7)
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN, FuboTV)
I think you could make a case that the Chiefs are the best team in the NFL right now. I get that they suffered an embarrassing loss to the Colts a couple weeks ago, but it was because they beat themselves. The Colts did not "win" that game as much as the Chiefs "lost" it. As for the Raiders, they've had a slow start, having just earned their first win of the season against the Denver Broncos.
Patrick Mahomes is 22-3 in his career in division games, which is the best record by any quarterback since 2000 (minimum 10 games). Additionally, Derek Carr is 3-13 vs. Kansas City, which is tied for the worst record by a quarterback who has made at least 15 starts against a singular opponent since 2000. The Chiefs have won seven straight regular season home games and six straight prime-time games. It's true that Andy Reid's squad has won an astounding 17 games without covering since 2018, but I like getting this number at seven. The Chiefs have beaten the Raiders by 27 or more points in each of their past two meetings.
The pick: Chiefs -7
Projected score: Chiefs 30-21
Other Week 5 picks
Packers 26-20 over Giants (+8)
Saints 28-27 over Seahawks (+5.5)
Buccaneers 28-24 over Falcons (+10)
Dolphins (-3.5) 24-16 over Jets
Bills 30-17 over Steelers (+14)
Lions (+3) 27-24 over Patriots
Chargers (-2.5) 31-23 over Browns
49ers (-6.5) 27-20 over Panthers
Rams 24-20 over Cowboys (+5.5)
Ravens (-3.5) 30-25 over Bengals