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Upset Picks for Week 5 in the NFL – Betting Against Bad Coaches, Both New and Old

Eric Thompson

by Eric Thompson in NFL Football

Updated Mar 9, 2021 · 1:36 PM PST

Mike Davis running
Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis carries the ball up field during an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
  • Carolina shouldn’t be an underdog against the 0-4 Atlanta Falcons, but hey, good news for us!
  • Will a new head coach right the ship for Houston with Jacksonville coming to town? 
  • Last week’s picks went a frustrating 0-3, bringing us down to +4.85 units on the year

Before we tackle the most tempting underdogs from the NFL’s Week 5 slate, we should discuss something that has yet to come up this season: hedging.

Every pick I give is a team that I’m pretty confident can pull off the upset. But nothing is certain in the NFL, especially this year, where we’ve already seen an alarming number of big comeback wins. So if one of these picks jumps out to an early lead, like the 17-point edge the Chargers held last week, there’s no shame in hedging your bets by playing both sides of the moneyline. In fact, as Tom Brady rudely reminded me, hedging is just good business in a league where leads can disappear like that.

You can learn more about how to maximize your hedge bets here. Now let’s get to this week’s picks, and hopefully a few underdogs that can open up big leads.

Week 5 Upset Picks

Matchup Spread Moneyline Pick Units
Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons ATL -1.5 +100 Carolina 2
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Houston Texans HOU -5.5 +210 Jacksonville 1

Odds taken Oct. 10th from DraftKings and FanDuel

Panthers Devour Flailing Falcons

The most surprising thing about the Bill O’Brien firing this week was that it came before Dan Quinn got the axe. The Falcons and Quinn are like that couple that stays together for the kids, except the kids went off to college four years ago. There’s no reason for this partnership to keep going, other than maybe Atlanta trying to help their own chances of landing the first overall pick?

Atlanta’s defense is ineffective when healthy, which they haven’t been all season. Injuries just keep stacking up in the secondary and now they’ve got to find a way to stop a surprisingly effective Carolina passing game.


Meanwhile, the Falcons offense is unimaginative and unable to close games, whether they’re leading or trailing. For a team that was supposed to be carried by Matt Ryan and these excellent receivers, ranking 21st in offensive DVOA can’t be what Falcons fans had in mind.


Also, Julio Jones is banged up again.

I don’t know why Atlanta is favored here. The action on the Panthers vs Falcons odds is leaning Carolina, and it’s obvious why.

Jags Topple New-Look Texans

Speaking of bad coaches, the Houston Texans have a new one. Sadly, Romeo Crennel and his 28-55 career record is not what you would call an inspiring replacement.

Hosting Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars, the Jaguars vs Texans Odds favor Houston to pick up their first win of the season this weekend. But will they? Minshew was a two-point conversion away from upsetting the Texans last season in his first career start, and he’s only been getting better since then.

The Jaguars actually rank sixth in offensive DVOA through four weeks. Against a Texans D that is allowing 31.5 points a game, Jacksonville should be able to find the endzone often on Sunday.

The only worry about going against the Texans is the plays that Deshaun Watson can make out of nothing. And often he has to, because Houston has the worst pass blocking line in football, allowing 16 sacks on the year,  an adjusted sack-rate of 10.9%.

The Jaguars haven’t gotten much pressure on opposing QBs this season, but they do have talent along the line if Josh Allen is healthy enough to play opposite of rookie K’lavon Chaisson.

Changing the coach and GM in Houston was a necessary move, but it’s not going to suddenly solve all the Texans issues. At this point, they’re an untalented team that shouldn’t be giving more than a field goal to any opponent.

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