Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, October 6, 2018 at 12:00 AM
THE JIM SEZ REPORT: HERE ARE SUNDAY'S NFL WEEK 5 KEY GAMES
It hasn't taken long - just one-fourth of this here-and-now NFL season, in fact - to discover that unpredictability still rules the roost when it comes to the league where they play for pay:
Who amongst you out there thought that 25 percent into this season the combo of Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Philadelphia would have combined for only five total SU (straight-up) wins ... out of 16 total games! And don't forget this quartet heads into NFL Week 5 play at 4-11-1 ATS (against the spread). Funny thing, of course, is these teams - Falcons at Steelers, Vikings at Eagles - will be playing each other this October weekend and you have to wonder aloud if the losers in these games are just about "toast" when it comes to possible playoff berths.
We'll zig-zag 'round the league with a batch of NFL Week 5 quick-hitters previews chock full of pointspread goodies but first this key message:
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NFL WEEK 5
JACKSONVILLE (3-1) at KANSAS CITY (4-0) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
The Chiefs are back in their own backyard following the riveting MNF 27-23 comeback win/cover in Denver - and keep in mind Kansas City's a rock-solid 7-3 ATS as hosts since the start of last year. Maybe Kansas City's WR Tyreek Hill will be looking to quiet loud-mouth CB Jalen Ramsey here after another week of yapping - hush up already, Mr. Ramsey - while remember the visiting Jaguars enter this bash at 17-9 spreadwise overall going all the way back to late 2016. No RB Leonard Fournette (hamstring) again but Jags' slinger Blake Bortles did throw for 389 yards in last week's 31-12 walkover win against the wobbly New York Jets.
ATLANTA (1-3) at PITTSBURGH (1-2-1) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Lots of folks had these two teams making their way to SB 53 but truth is the margin for error on both sides is rather slim these days: The Falcons - who last year were generally unproductive on offense - have scored 31, 37 and 36 points the last three weeks and yet Dan Quinn's crew has won just one of these games. The defense is battered - both starting safeties are out here - and so QB Matt Ryan (10 TDs / 2 INTs) must make sure every red zone trip ends with TDs, not FGs. Did you know that Atlanta is 6-10 ATS in non-divisional games dating back to Super Bowl 51? Pittsburgh, meanwhile, ranks 30th in the NFL in total defense while allowing a whopping 29 points per game. Expect this game plan here to be have Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger (1,414 yards passing with 6 TDs and 5 INTs) to execute ball-control drives to cut into the amount of time Pittsburgh's "D" has to stay on the field. Hey, the Steelers are just 4-9-1 spreadwise at home since late '16.
MINNESOTA (1-2-1) at PHILADELPHIA (2-2) - 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Okay, so we all know these NFC Championship Game foes from a year ago have sputtered badly through the quarter pole but betcha didn't realize that they combined for a haughty 24-11-2 spread mark a year ago (that's a .686 winning rate)! The visiting Vikings have had a couple of extra prep days following the 38-31 Thursday Night loss to the LA Rams back on Sept. 27th while the Eagles are hoping QB Carson Wentz can knock off some more rust here after a batch of turnovers (and nine sacks) in last Sunday's 26-23 OT setback in Tennessee.
On Sunday Night, it's ...
DALLAS (2-2) at HOUSTON (1-3) - 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC
The Lone Star State's the center of the gridiron universe on this October evening but can the visiting and 3.5-point underdog Cowboys actually expect another 240 yards from scrimmage from RB Ezekiel Elliott? Last week's 25 carries / 4 receptions for nearly two-and-a-half football fields translated into a 26-24 come-from-behind non-cover win against Detroit but expect J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and friends to have Elliott eye-balled the second he breaks the huddle. Our key to victory here is whether or not Texans' QB Deshaun Watson can evade some fierce pass rushes ... if he throws on the run then this 'Boys secondary will be in mucho trouble and so Houston's WRs may have plenty of fantasy league value (in case you care!).
NOTE: Catch all the NFL Week 5 recaps and a MNF preview - that's Washington at New Orleans - in the next Jim Sez.