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Ryan Meyer/Cincinnati Bengals

2022 NFL Game Picks: Week 5

Last week: 12-4

Season: 34-29-1


IND (1-2-1) @ DEN (2-2)

Thursday, October 6 | 8:15 PM ET | Prime Video


The Colts not having Jonathan Taylor (ankle) tonight definitely drains some of the star power from this game, and it will be up to Frank Reich and the Indy coaching staff to put together a successful game plan without their best player. If there is a positive to pull from the absence, Reich wants to throw the ball—and a lot—at his core, which will maybe lead to Matt Ryan finding a groove and in turn opening up running lanes when Taylor is back. In the meantime, Nyheim Hines needs to be featured in space, and tight end Mo Alie-Cox should remain an integral part of the passing attack coming off a career day with six receptions for 85 yards and two touchdowns. On Denver’s offense, Courtland Sutton gets a tough draw with Stephon Gilmore, but KJ Hamler could see increased involvement behind Sutton and Jerry Jeudy after he connected on a 55-yard reception last week for his first grab of the campaign. Overall, the thing that would most help the Broncos find their groove—especially with Javonte Williams (knee) done for the year—is Russell Wilson being more willing to take off and run when the opportunity presents itself.


Winner: Denver Broncos


NYG (3-1) @ GB (3-1)

Sunday, October 9 | 9:30 AM ET (London) | NFL Network


Giants-Packers could have easily been a winless team versus an undefeated team based on preseason expectations, so the London fans are lucky to be treated to a matchup between two playoff hopefuls in the NFC for the second week in a row. The main reason New York has been able to defy expectations is their willingness to feed Saquon Barkley—who had 33 touches last week—and the superstar runner isn’t getting enough credit for playing better than ever after a couple of injury-plagued seasons. To beat the Packers this week, though, it will take more than Barkley, so it’s important for Kadarius Toney (hamstring) and rookie Wan’Dale Robinson (knee) to be active and contribute offensively as guys that can make things happen with the ball in their hands. Green Bay has some injury issues of their own, but Aaron Rodgers is healthy, and the connection with fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs is progressing faster than anyone could have imagined; I think the duo could be primed for a monster game.


Winner: Green Bay Packers


PIT (1-3) @ BUF (3-1)

Sunday, October 9 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


It’s tough to not feel bad for Mitchell Trubisky losing his starting job when he was solid across four games, but Kenny Pickett is the future for Pittsburgh, and the wideouts—namely Diontae Johnson and George Pickens—openly showing frustration on the field every week was enough to make the permanent change (though I’m surprised Mike Tomlin allowed the receivers to be as demonstrative as they were at times, and it was Johnson and Pickens that let the Steelers down with drops in the Week 3 loss). Unfortunately for Pickett, his first career start will come on the road against a Buffalo team that leads the league in pass defense (150.8 yards per game) and has allowed a 3:7 touchdown-interception ratio through four weeks, so the Steelers need to play through Najee Harris as best they can to keep the pressure off the rookie. In general, Pickett has underrated mobility and should work through progressions a bit faster than Trubisky did, but there is a reason why Pittsburgh is a two-touchdown underdog, and outdueling Josh Allen is highly unlikely without T.J. Watt (pectoral) there to make an impact like he did in the 2021 victory.


Winner: Buffalo Bills


LAC (2-2) @ CLE (2-2)

Sunday, October 9 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


The matchup between the Chargers and Browns last season was a 47-42 shootout that Los Angeles won with three touchdowns by Austin Ekeler in the final 7:30 in the fourth quarter—and the rematch feels like it could be another high-scoring affair if Cleveland’s running game (222 rushing yards and three touchdowns by Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the 2021 matchup) isn’t stopped and Mike Williams is funneled targets by Justin Hebert (8/165/2 line on 16 targets). The 75-yard touchdown run by Dameon Pierce last week for the Texans showed that LA is vulnerable on perimeter runs, and Chubb’s vision could help him break another long one against them; as was the case in both wins for the Browns this season, their best player needs 20+ attempts every week, and Chubb has notably averaged 7.8 yards per carry in two career matchups versus the Chargers. Still, the Cleveland cornerbacks don’t match up well with Williams on the outside because of his size advantage, and Justin Herbert has been excellent aside from the rib injury impacting him in Week 3.


Winner: Los Angeles Chargers


HOU (0-3-1) @ JAX (2-2)

Sunday, October 9 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Davis Mills and the Texans haven’t been able to make a leap this season, but signs of life were shown last week in a comeback attempt versus the Chargers, and Houston will now face a Jacksonville squad that they swept in 2021 with a point differential of +30. However, the Jaguars are a much different team that they were a season ago, and the linebacker duo of Foyesade Oluokun (16 tackles last week) and rookie Devin Lloyd (14 tackles lasts week) might be getting overlooked a bit because of the excitement around edge pairing Josh Allen and No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker. On the other side of the ball, both James Robinson and Travis Etienne can have a big game against a defense allowing the second-most rushing yards per game in the league, and Christian Kirk is a wideout that could give Lovie Smith’s unit problems working the middle of the field.


Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars


CHI (2-2) @ MIN (3-1)

Sunday, October 9 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Chicago versus Minnesota doesn’t feel as intense with former Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks—the rival of Dalvin Cook—now in Tampa Bay, so the struggles for the star running back against the NFC North foe could be over, especially seeing as Chicago is allowing a league-high 183.3 rushing yards per game. Just as concerning for the Bears is rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon being routinely picked on in coverage, as I’m sure the Vikings will do what they can do match up Justin Jefferson on him whether or not Jaylon Johnson (quad) is back in the lineup. There are quite a few winnable games on the schedule for the Bears to remain competitive, but as stated last week, Justin Fields needs to show signs of progress if Chicago is going to contend for a playoff spot and not search for a franchise quarterback in 2023.


Winner: Minnesota Vikings


DET (1-3) @ NE (1-3)

Sunday, October 9 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


I had both the Lions and Patriots making the playoffs this year, so their 1-3 starts have been among the most disappointing of the young season to me. For Detroit, I’d assume 100% of fans would have taken a deal that made them the NFL’s top-scoring team through four weeks, but the cost has been allowing the most points in the league with Jared Goff’s NFL-high 11 touchdown passes not being enough to win more than one game. Historically, Goff hasn’t played great versus Bill Belichick, so the defense for the Lions cannot get torched again with New England likely to start Brian Hoyer (concussion) or rookie Bailey Zappe as Mac Jones (ankle) continues to push for a quick return. Stopping the run is where Aaron Glenn’s unit has really struggled (5.6 yards per carry allowed), and the Pats will know how to attack them by feeding Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson for what is crucial game to not fall to 1-4 in the loaded AFC.


Winner: New England Patriots


SEA (2-2) @ NO (1-3)

Sunday, October 9 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Geno Smith has been a record-setting passer through four games with a completion percentage of 77.3%, and the effectiveness of the passing attack has helped to open holes for Rashaad Penny—who rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns last week and is up to 6.2 yards per carry snice the start of 2021. The Saints have a much better defense than Detroit does and won a 13-10 slugfest versus Seattle last year with Smith under center, so it will be interesting to see how the unlocked offense fares for the Seahawks with New Orleans desperate to get a win; I’d like DK Metcalf be used to stretch the defense vertically early in the game, which might get cornerback Marshon Lattimore on his heels to create easier separation on shorter routes. In the trenches, rookie tackle duo Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas will face a tough test at the Superdome, and I’m giving the Saints a slight edge with homefield advantage and Alvin Kamara (ribs) expected back.


Winner: New Orleans Saints


MIA (3-1) @ NYJ (2-2)

Sunday, October 9 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


The Jets deserve credit for getting through the first month of the season at 2-2, and they should have increased confidence—and experience with multiple rookies playing a key role—entering the nightmare stretch before Thanksgiving (v MIA, @ GB, @ DEN, v NE, v BUF, @ NE). I’m very intrigued by how New York will use rookie cornerback Ahmad Gardner to defend Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle this week, but the pure speed of the Miami weapons always makes it a major challenge to contain both (and it helps having a capable backup like Teddy Bridgewater with Tua Tagovailoa recovering from what common sense would suggest was two concussions in five days). The other interesting wrinkle for this game is that Hill apparently spurned the Jets for the Dolphins with Kansas City leaving the destination up to him when traded, and New York could come out firing versus a secondary that could be without Xavien Howard (groin). Nonetheless, the Dolphins had a few extra days to prepare and have won eight of the past nine meetings.


Winner: Miami Dolphins


ATL (2-2) @ TB (2-2)

Sunday, October 9 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The Buccaneers were let down by their undermanned offense in Week 3 and the shocking struggles by their defense in Week 4, but the team should only be healthier heading into the weekend with the determination to avoid three consecutive losses (something that’s only happened to Tom Brady once throughout his illustrious career). It sounds like the Falcons might not have Kyle Pitts (hamstring) to make the mission much easier for Tampa Bay, so a lot will be on Marcus Mariota’s shoulders—or perhaps more appropriately, his legs—to find a way for a gritty Atlanta squad to pull off the upset. Looking ahead, I just hope the Falcons don’t give in to calls for third-rounder Desmond Ridder to start if Mariota understandably struggles over the next two weeks versus the Bucs and 49ers; luckily for Mariota, head coach Arthur Smith doesn’t seem like the type to throw in a rookie with Atlanta hoping to be a surprise contender this season, and this isn’t a situation like in Pittsburgh where Kenny Pickett is the clear quarterback of the future.


Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers


TEN (2-2) @ WAS (1-3)

Sunday, October 9 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


The Commanders have not looked good at all over the past three weeks, and it’s fair for fans to express concern/disappointment about the franchise—a question head coach Ron Rivera dealt with this week—when it appears that the team has taken a step back from “average” over the past two years. The second-round pick used to acquire Carson Wentz (which would be a third-round pick if he doesn’t play 70% of the team’s offensive snaps) didn’t make sense to me at all when you look at some of the cheaper options available and the strength of the upcoming quarterback class, so Wentz needs to provide optimism about being “the answer” at the position; if not, Washington may need to spin the carousel again to climb out of limbo as a franchise. Jahan Dotson (hamstring) will likely miss a week or two with the Commanders playing next Thursday night, but I like how things set up for Terry McLaurin over these next two weeks, including against Tennessee’s heavy man coverage. That said, the Titans are the more trustworthy team with Derrick Henry handling 25 touches in each of the past two weeks to snap the 0-2 start.


Winner: Tennessee Titans


SF (2-2) @ CAR (1-3)

Sunday, October 9 | 4:05 PM ET | CBS


The play sheet for DeMeco Ryans saying “S.W.A.R.M.” perfectly encapsulates how the 49ers play on defense, and it could be another long day for Baker Mayfield this week if San Francisco doesn’t have a letdown following their big win over the Rams on Monday night. Although he wasn’t the defensive coordinator at the time, Ryans’ defense certainly “swarmed” Baker Mayfield in their lone meeting back in 2019—limiting him to eight-of-22 passing for 100 yards and two interceptions, sacking him four times, and forcing two fumbles to win 31-3. Last week, the Panthers took too long to feature Christian McCaffrey, but they need to lean on him and force turnovers defensively to get a needed win with the Rams on deck and the Buccaneers in the hole. Carolina has a very good defense to make it close, but because Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t looking over his shoulder, I expect he’ll not force any of those head-scratching throws that have been costly in the past.


Winner: San Francisco 49ers


PHI (4-0) @ ARI (2-2)

Sunday, October 9 | 4:25 PM ET | FOX


The Eagles are the lone remaining unbeaten team in the NFL, and they have the makings of a legitimate powerhouse that might not be an underdog in any game this season. On Sunday, the defensive game plan should be fairly straightforward by containing Kyler Murray with a four-man rush and making him stay in the pocket, and this might be a spot where rookie linebacker Nakobe Dean is used more on defense to track the dual-threat quarterback; it’s at least something to consider if Murray is able to have early success by breaking contain. For the Philadelphia offense, Jalen Hurts’ play has put him towards the top of the early MVP race, and he totaled 401 yards and four touchdowns in a loss to Arizona as a rookie—not bad for a guy’s first career road start. It’s easy to imagine Philly going for a clean sweep of “Cardinals” teams this weekend if the Phillies take care of business in St. Louis by Saturday night—which would inevitably draw the ire of almost every other fanbase in sports.


Winner: Philadelphia Eagles


DAL (3-1) @ LAR (2-2)

Sunday, October 9 | 4:25 PM ET | FOX


Mike McCarthy used the “we’re nobody’s underdog” quote as head coach of the Packers, but the funniest part of the exchange is that he asked if the Cowboys were favored this week—with a backup quarterback against the defending Super Bowl champions—when told the line was 5.5 points:



It seems most agree with oddsmakers by rolling their eyes at McCarthy’s comments, but Micah Parsons could terrorize Matthew Stafford if the LA pass protection doesn’t hold up, and Dan Quinn might have something unique in store to slow down Cooper Kupp. Plus, Cooper Rush is a dangerous quarterback with nothing really to lose and plenty of soft boxes to throw against, so I’m at least anticipating a close game… if not an outright Dallas win.


Winner: Los Angeles Rams


CIN (2-2) @ BAL (2-2)

Sunday, October 9 | 8:20 PM ET | NBC


Joe Burrow and the Bengals absolutely shredded Baltimore through the air last season with 470.5 passing yards per game and a 7:1 touchdown-interception ratio in two blowout wins, and the pass defense of the Ravens again ranks last in the league (315.3 yards per game). The difference this year is Lamar Jackson being more likely to match opponents with his arm in the event of a shootout, and the running game could quietly get a boost with Gus Edwards (knee) returning to practice this week. Of course, the possible absence of Rashod Bateman (foot) would hurt, but James Proche II is a player to watch if given increased playing time on offense, as he caught seven-of-eight targets for 76 yards against the Bengals last December and has the talent to make an impact. I have a difficult time discounting what Ja’Marr Chase (15/326/1) and Tee Higgins (19/256/2) did against the Ravens last season, though, and Burrow’s calm demeanor has helped the Bengals settle down with just one turnover as a team since Burrow turned it over five times in the opener.


Winner: Cincinnati Bengals


LV (1-3) @ KC (3-1)

Monday, October 10 | 8:15 PM ET | ESPN


The Chiefs jumping out to an early lead and not looking back against the Buccaneers last Sunday night might be evidence that they did some looking ahead before the loss to Indy a couple of weeks ago, and they are in a somewhat similar spot on Monday night with the Bills coming to town in Week 6. However, Las Vegas—even coming off a win—could get buried in the AFC West by falling to Kansas City, and last year did not go well for the Silver and Black (losses of 41-14 and 48-9). If they are going to tighten up the division race, the Raiders will need another featured workload for Josh Jacobs (33 touches for 175 yards in Week 4), the return of Hunter Renfrow (concussion), and the duo of Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones to turn it up on the edge. I feel much better about Las Vegas than I did this time last week and was impressed by Derek Carr taking matters into his own hands with 40 rushing yards against Denver, but Mahomes has had his number with a 7-1 record in the rivalry over the past four years.


Winner: Kansas City Chiefs