KC Joyner's Week 5 NFL selections

KC Joyner, one of the most accurate pick'em experts in the business over the past six years, details his winners for all of the Week 5 matchups.

KC Joyner

6 Oct, 2020

My Week 4 picks went 10-5, bringing my 2020 season mark to 46-16, or a 74.2 percent win rate that ranks tied for seventh highest among the 100+ analysts tracked by Pickwatch.com.
 
Here are my Week 5 picks. Each section details which team is predicted to win and provides a quick summary of why that selection was made. The picks also contain a confidence value for each selection, based on a 1-10 scale with “10” being the most confident and “1” being the least confident.

Now on to the picks!

Thursday, October 8

Tampa Bay at Chicago

KC’s pick: Tampa Bay
 
Confidence level: 3
 
The concerns that Tom Brady isn’t fitting in with the Bruce Arians offense have disappeared now that Tampa Bay has scored 30+ points in three straight games and Brady threw five touchdown passes against the Chargers. The Bucs defense has also played quite well this year, allowing fewer than 20 points in two of the past three games. Chicago’s strong defense will slow Tampa Bay’s offense down a bit, but the Bears have scored only 19.3 points per game over the past three weeks and won’t do better than that against the Bucs, so Tampa Bay is the pick here.
Sunday, October 11

Carolina at Atlanta

KC’s pick: Carolina
 
Confidence level: 5
 
Atlanta’s defense has been abysmal this year, as the Falcons have now allowed thirty or more points in every contest. Their offense used to be able to keep up and turn these games into shootouts, but injuries to Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are a big part of why Atlanta has posted fewer than 300 net passing yards in three straight games. Mike Davis has helped the Panthers so much that they almost don’t miss Christian McCaffrey and Carolina’s defense has shown vast improvement over the past two weeks. Add these trends together and it equals a fairly sold pick for Carolina.

Cincinnati at Baltimore

KC’s pick: Baltimore
 
Confidence level: 6
 
Joe Burrow has the inside track for Offensive Rookie of the Year, as he helped lead the Bengals to a 500-yard offensive showing last week in only his fourth NFL start. As impressive as Burrow and the Cincinnati offense has been, Baltimore’s power rushing attack should dominate a Bengals defense that has allowed 150+ rushing yards in three out of four games this year. Merge those factors with Lamar Jackson’s passing ability, a Ravens defense allowing fewer than 60 yards per game to opposing running backs over the past three weeks, and this being a home contest for Baltimore, and it lands this pick in the Ravens column.

Jacksonville at Houston

KC’s pick: Jacksonville
 
Confidence level: 2
 
The metrics strongly lean towards the Jaguars in this contest. Houston has allowed 162 yards per game to opposing running backs this year and has the worst defensive expected points added mark in the league. Their offense hasn’t fared much better, as the Texans have yet to score more than 23 points in a single game. Those elements would normally lead to Jacksonville being a comfortable pick, but it’s always tough to tell how a club will react when its head coach is fired midseason. The change could cause Houston to play closer to its talent level, so the pick is Jacksonville but with a low confidence level.

Las Vegas at Kansas City

KC’s pick: Kansas City
 
Confidence level: 8
 
The Raiders offense has held its own this year yardage-wise, as the Silver and Black has posted 370+ offensive yards in four straight contests this season. That pace has helped Las Vegas to rank 10th in points per game despite facing quality defenses in every matchup. That might have led to more wins had the Raiders not posted six turnovers in the past three weeks and ranking 27th in defensive expected points added for the season. Those are not good trends headed into a matchup at Kansas City, where the Raiders haven’t won since 2012, so the pick goes in the Chiefs direction by a very strong margin.

Arizona at New York Jets

KC’s pick: Arizona
 
Confidence level: 5
 
What in the world has happened to the Cardinals? Arizona has been regressing after starting the year off on such a high note. Last week they posted their lowest offensive yards total since Week 13 of last season. The Cardinals defense has also been atrocious, as that platoon allowed 766 offensive yards and 52 first downs in the past two weeks. That might be a big problem if the Jets were at full strength, but Joe Flacco is likely to start in the place of the injured Sam Darnold, meaning that a New York offense that already ranks last in the league in offensive expected points added could be even worse. That factor is strong enough to push this game into the Cardinals column.

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh

KC’s pick: Pittsburgh
 
Confidence level: 8
 
Doug Pederson deserves a ton of credit for last week’s win over the 49ers. The Eagles probably had only a couple of potential paths to victory and Pederson put together a gameplan that exploited San Francisco’s injury weaknesses and led his team down one of those paths. The problem this week is Pittsburgh is coming off of an unexpected bye week and is fully healthy. The Steelers also have the best defense in the league and Ben Roethlisberger has started to return to his 2018 form. It’s too much to ask the Eagles to pull off a second straight upset under these circumstances, so the Steelers are the pick with a strong confidence level.
 
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Los Angeles Rams at Washington

KC’s pick: Los Angeles
 
Confidence level: 7
 
The Rams offense has seen its share of problems this year. Los Angeles tallied a meager 15 first downs, 58 rushing yards, and 240 total offensive yards last week against the Giants. The Rams have also had at least one turnover in every game this year and just can’t seem to find a running back to focus this offense around. Those issues all pale in comparison to Washington’s problems, as the Football Team has allowed 30+ points in three straight games in part because their offense has committed eight turnovers in that span. Having the second longest road trip of the week does lower the Rams confidence level, but this still ends up very strongly in their direction.

Miami at San Francisco

KC’s pick: San Francisco
 
Confidence level: 7
 
Ryan Fitzpatrick has a well-deserved reputation for being a hit or miss quarterback. When he is in Fitzmagic mode, he’s capable of keeping up in any shootout contest. When Fitzpatrick loses that magic tough, however, his risk-taking ways usually get him benched in a hurry. Keep that in mind when noting that Miami head coach Brian Flores nearly benched Fitzpatrick this week for a rookie quarterback returning from a serious hip injury. Now add that to Miami taking the longest road trip of Week 5 and facing a 49ers team that will be highly motivated to put last week’s game against Philadelphia behind them and it lands this pick comfortably in the 49ers column.
 
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Indianapolis at Cleveland

KC’s pick: Indianapolis
 
Confidence level: 3
 
The Browns have rightfully been the punch line of many jokes over the years, but after four weeks of the 2020 season this is a top 10 team trending upward. Cleveland leads the league in rushing yards per game with a ridiculous 204.5-yard mark and if last week is any indication, they may be able to absorb the loss of Nick Chubb without much of a drop-off in production. The problem for the Browns is they face a Colts defense that is the best in the league and ranks first in scoring drive percentage, yards per play, and points allowed. Defense travels well, so the Colts are the pick here by a small margin.

New York Giants at Dallas

KC’s pick: Dallas
 
Confidence level: 6
 
The Dallas Cowboys have been playing football since 1960. In those sixty years, the Cowboys had never allowed a team to rush for more than 300 yards. That changed last Sunday against Cleveland and it shows why Dallas may have the worst defense in the NFL right now. That factor should vault the Giants offense forward, but Big Blue’s rushing attack is also the worst in the league in many categories and thus may not be able to fully capitalize on this favorable opportunity. Regardless of how that platoon battle turns out, Dallas has much more firepower in its passing game than the Giants and therefore gets the pick here with a fairly solid confidence level.

Denver at New England

KC’s pick: New England
 
Confidence level: 7
 
Give Denver head coach Vic Fangio a ton of credit for having the guts to make a quarterback change in a short week road contest against the Jets last week. He allowed Brett Rypien to take plenty of chances and that led to some big offensive plays and an upset win for the Broncos. That type of approach isn’t going to work against a Patriots defense that just got through holding the powerhouse Chiefs offense to only a pair of field goals in the first half of the early Monday night game. It is possible that Cam Newton won’t play in this game and Drew Lock will, but however the quarterback situation pans out, the Patriots are still a comfortable pick.

Minnesota at Seattle

KC’s pick: Seattle
 
Confidence level: 3
 
It speaks volumes about the Seahawks defense this year that their 415 offensive yards allowed last week against Miami was a season-long low for that platoon. Seattle has offset that weakness this year by letting Russell Wilson cook early and often, a factor that has resulted in the Seahawks ranking second in the league in points scored. Minnesota’s offense hasn’t been a slouch in the scoring department, as the Vikings have racked up 30+ points in three games, so they can keep in a shootout. Those types of games are roughly 50/50 propositions even for the best offenses in league history, so Seattle earns this pick but with a relatively low confidence level.
 
Monday, October 12

Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans

KC’s pick: New Orleans
 
Confidence level: 6
 
The Saints are no longer the pass-happy team they were for years but racking up 30+ points and/or 390 offensive yards in every game this season shows that their new run-first approach is working like a charm even without Michael Thomas. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn doesn’t seem to want to keep Justin Herbert in the lineup, but with Herbert averaging 311 passing yards per game, it will be tough to keep him on the bench. This game could turn into a shootout, but if it does, Herbert’s penchant for throwing picks will likely cost the Chargers the game, so the Saints are the selection here with a solid confidence level.
 
 

Buffalo at Tennessee

The projection for the Buffalo at Tennessee game is currently on hold due to the Titans COVID-19 situation. This will be updated as the game's status is clarified in the coming days.