For a while the NFL looked to be invincible from COVID-19. But in the span of a few days last week, an outbreak in Tennessee happened, a game was cancelled, and many questions were raised.
There’s a reason I expanded my league’s bench and IR spots in fantasy football. Players were always going to get this thing…it’s just that the marquee ones avoided it thus far during the season until Cam Newton tested positive late last week.
The NFL made a drastic scheduling error with their bye weeks this season. As I had been saying on radio in April and May, the league should’ve scheduled four weeks of byes with eight teams each between Weeks 5-8 and a second bye with four teams each between Weeks 12-16 (still making sure each team played on Thanksgiving weekend).
Now any further postponed games throughout the season has disastrous potential when it comes to scheduling. Does the league add a potential Week 18 where only a handful of teams are playing? What if multiple weeks need to be tacked on in order to make sure that all teams play 16 games? Can the Super Bowl really be moved back a week or two?
What’s also interesting, in the absence of adding weeks on to the schedule, is the NFL’s potential to apply forfeits to teams in the event of future outbreaks. Can you imagine if a team is barreling towards the playoffs and a forfeit derails them? Honestly neither can I…
So from now through the Super Bowl, here’s to hoping we don’t continue waking up reading Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport‘s tweets about players testing positive and games in jeopardy. One can dream, right?
Since I’m never shy to make predictions, I’ll say that a Week 18 will take place the weekend of January 8th-9th with a minimum of six teams playing. And don’t even get me started how those postponements will affect fantasy football (which some of us VERY MUCH care about)!
Wednesday morning update: After I posted this column on Tuesday night, more Titans players and star Patriots cornerback, Stephon Gilmore, tested positive for COVID. I would assume at least two games will be postponed this weekend if not more. Damn you, coronavirus!
Now when it comes to making picks, I’ve been downright dreadful against the spread this season. Play or fade them at your own risk!
Week 5 Picks
Last Week: 9-6 Straight Up (SU), 5-10 Against the Spread (ATS)
Overall: 39-23-1 SU, 28-35 ATS
Preseason Picks Matrix – Last Week: 8-7, Overall: 36-26-1
(Picks against the spread in parentheses; HOME TEAMS IN CAPS)
CHICAGO BEARS 20, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16 (ATS: Bears +5.5)
Arizona Cardinals 27, NEW YORK JETS 14 (ATS: Cardinals -7.5)
ATLANTA FALCONS 27, Carolina Panthers 23 (ATS: Falcons -2.5)
BALTIMORE RAVENS 33, Cincinnati Bengals 20 (ATS: Bengals +13.5)
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 23, Denver Broncos 17 (ATS: Broncos +8.5)
HOUSTON TEXANS 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 17 (ATS: Texans -6.5)
Los Angeles Rams 30, WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM 22 (ATS: Washington +8.5)
Buffalo Bills 27, TENNESSEE TITANS 23 (ATS: Bills Pick’em)
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 41, Las Vegas Raiders 24 (ATS: Chiefs -12.5)
PITTSBURGH STEELERS 26, Philadelphia Eagles 13 (ATS: Steelers -7.5)
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 24, Miami Dolphins 17 (ATS: Dolphins +8.5)
CLEVELAND BROWNS 23, Indianapolis Colts 20 (ATS: Browns +2.5)
DALLAS COWBOYS 35, New York Giants 23 (ATS: Cowboys -9.5)
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 34, Minnesota Vikings 27 (ATS: Vikings +7.5)
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 30, Los Angeles Chargers 20 (ATS: Saints -7.5)
5 Quick Thoughts on Week 5
1. How are the Bucs, with a receiving core as thin, due to injuries, as any in the league, a 5.5 point road favorite over a 3-1 team? I understand that the Bears very well could’ve been 0-4 at this point…but that line seems flat out wrong.
2. If you would’ve told me a month ago that one team in the Carolina-Atlanta game would be 2-2 and the other one 0-4, I’d have bet a million bucks that the 0-4 team would be the Panthers. In the meantime, how is Dan Quinn still employed? I’d venture that if the Falcons can’t defend their home turf on Sunday, Quinn’s run in Atlanta will come to an unceremonious halt.
3. Speaking of coaches getting whacked, the NFL head coaching community said bye bye to Bill O’Brien this week. Who knows what to make of the 0-4 Texans under the league’s now oldest head coach of all-time, Romeo Crennel…but I’d venture on a solid bounce back effort, especially on defense by a bewildering Houston squad.
4. The Cowboys have been an eyesore to watch this season…but I’m still kicking myself for not pulling the trigger on betting Dak Prescott to lead the league in passing yards a few weeks ago at 6-1. Dak throws for another 350+ this Sunday in a fairly easy Dallas win over the hapless Giants.
5. Did I make a mistake ONLY predicting 61 points in the Seahawks-Vikings game? Seattle’s offense seems borderline unstoppable while their defense leaves plenty to be desired.
Week 5 Betting Locks
(Last Week’s Result, Season Record in Parentheses)
Favorite (WIN, 2-2): Steelers -7.5 vs. Eagles
Underdog (LOSS, 2-2): Bears +5.5 vs. Buccaneers
Bet the Over (LOSS-by 0.5!!!, 3-1): Rams / Washington Over 45
Bet the Under (WIN, 2-2): Jaguars / Texans Under 54.5