Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, October 7, 2017 at 12:56 PM
Is NFL Week 5 action too soon to discuss "must-win" situations? In a word (or two) ... heck no!
The fact of the matter is there are plenty of 2016 playoff teams thirsting for a win here this autumn weekend - including the 0-4 New York Giants - as the likes of the Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans all zoom into Week 5 play on this second Sunday in October knowing full well if they lose they will indeed fall - at least, for now -- south of the .500 mark.
We've got a few NFL Week 5 key previews - some of 'em involving these teams, in fact -- in a moment but first this key reminder ...
Jim Hurley's Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are gonna pound out another big winning week on the gridiron and don't forget there's lots of Major-League Baseball Playoff winners too all weekend long when you check in with us online or 1-800-323-4453. Remember we come off a monster week last Sunday (NFL Week 4 winners the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants).
On Sunday, it's ...
CAROLINA (3-1) at DETROIT (3-1) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Believe it or not, this is the only NFL matchup on the Week 5 card that pits a pair of winning teams against one another and - surprise, surprise - these Lions are actually doing it with defense! In fact, the Motowners already have forced 11 enemy turnovers (they forced all of 14 turnovers last season!) and probably need a QB Cam Newton fumble or interception to snag this one at Ford Field where the Lions are a collective 8-10-1 spreadwise since late 2014.
GREEN BAY (3-1) at DALLAS (2-2) - 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Everyone's been quick to bring up last year's NFC Divisional Playoff game - Packers 34, Cowboys 31 courtesy of a 51-yard game-winning FG by Green Bay's Mason Crosby - but does it really have anything to do with this key tilt? Probably not but one thing that stays to a similar script is the Dallas defense must corral QB Aaron Rodgers who burnt 'em late with a key sideline pass to set up the Crosby winner and here Rodgers (10 TDs, 3 INTs this year) will test some Cowboy cornerbacks that have not exactly been stellar. Fun fact for this bash in Arlington: The Cowboys lost only one regular-season home game last year and would drop two straight at home if they lose here and remember RB Ezekiel Elliott is averaging only 69.3 rushing yards per game in '17.
On Sunday Night, it's ...
KANSAS CITY (4-0) at HOUSTON (2-2) - 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
No doubt that Texans' rookie QB Deshaun Watson - the AFC Offensive Player of the Week following last Sunday's 57-14 win against Tennessee - has become the toast of the town in the Space City but no time to celebrate his four TD passes (and one TD run) as here come the KC Chiefs as the lone NFL team to be perfect through the first four weeks ... that's 4-0 SU (straight-up) and 4-0 ATS (against the spread). Kansas City's all-too-wild cover of the price tag in last MNF's 29-20 win against Washington notwithstanding, the Chiefs do sport an NFL-best + 45 point differential (122 points scored, 77 points allowed) and better believe the Texans' defense must get that famed pass rush cranking against QB Alex Smith. Does J.J. Watt have a three- or four-sack game in 'em here?
In other NFL Week 5 Notes ...
Up above we touched on the NY Giants who are part of the aptly-named "0-and-4 Bowl" against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Jints have dropped back-to-back games on last-second field goals in Philadelphia and Tampa Bay (imagine losing to the Bucs on a last-second field goal, if you know what we mean!) and may not have ace pass rusher Jason-Pierre Paul (shoulder) here. Hey, if the Giants lose we won't be shocked if over-his-head HC Ben McAdoo gets axed sometime during the course of this '17 season ...
Pointspread ditties for y'all:
The Arizona Cardinals (at the Eagles) are the NFL's one-and-only 0-4 spread side this year, the Chargers stagger into that game at MetLife Stadium at 0-3-1 ATS - and Bruce Arians' club is a brutally bad 6-17 vig-wise overall dating back to late 2015 ...
Finally, don't look now but the San Francisco 49ers - still seeking their first SU win of the year - have covered their last three consecutive games and you have to go back to the Jim Harbaugh days in
2013 to find the last time the Niners covered the spread four consecutive games. San Fran's at 1.5-point fav Indianapolis on Sunday and the last time these teams clashed was in 2013 when the Niners were a 10.5-point home fav and lost 27-7. Egads!
NOTE: Catch our Monday Night Football preview - that's Minnesota at Chicago - plus lots more in the next edition of Jim Sez.