Week 5 brings us our first London game of the year, with the Chicago Bears heading across the pond to face the Oakland Raiders. It's the 25th NFL game being played in London since the league began scheduling regular-season contests outside of the NFL in 2007, but it's the first at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which has a synthetic turf field underneath the normal soccer pitch to be used for occasions like this.
With only 24 previous games in the United Kingdom, we don't have a ton of data showing what to expect from a betting perspective. But if we acknowledge the danger of small sample sizes, there are a few trends to consider.
First, the favorite in all London games is 15-9 against the spread. Teams that are favored by more than a field goal, as the Bears are expected to be at close, are 9-4. The over/under is right at 12-12, but totals that close at 41 or less are 5-0 to the over. The total for Bears-Raiders sits at 40.5 as of Tuesday evening.
The other small-sample angle to consider is what happens when teams out west have to take the long trip to London. If you throw out the two games between two western teams (Broncos-49ers in 2010, Rams-Cardinals in 2017), those western teams are 1-5 ATS when facing a team that plays its home games in a Central or Eastern time zone, the one cover being a team that was favored by 14.5 points in the matchup (2013 49ers).
What's it all mean? The Bears are probably the smart play here based on limited trends, even if Chase Daniel starts as expected. The Raiders sure don't feel like those 2013 49ers who have the one cover in this situation, as that team finished 12-4 en route to the NFC Championship Game.
Each week, I break down what you need to know about each game from a betting angle before you lock in your picks. I'll talk about big line moves, teasers and parlays to consider and more.
If you want to know which sides I like, you can find that info at the SportsLine link below, where all my rated plays appear during the season along with my five SuperContest picks each week and plenty of great analysis from a fantastic collection of experts. You can also check out where all our CBS Sports staff lands on each game each week right here.
Over at SportsLine, I'm coming off a mediocre week but still have hit 57% of the time in my last 44 picks, and I'll be posting plenty of picks for Week 5 over the next few days. Join now and use promo code WHITE for $1 on your first month and you can get mine and every SportsLine expert's picks throughout the year, as well as my SuperContest picks each Saturday.
Will Brinson, Pete Prisco and R.J. White break down all of this week's games with their picks, parlays and best bets on Friday's Pick Six Podcast. Give it a listen below and be sure to subscribe:
Big line moves (lookaheads)
Rams at Seahawks -1.5 (lookahead of LAR -2.5)
Buccaneers at Saints -3.5 (lookahead of NO -6.5)
Patriots -15.5 at Redskins (lookahead of NE -13)
Bears -4.5 vs. Raiders (lookahead of CHI -6.5)
Colts at Chiefs -10.5 (lookahead of KC -8.5)
Lookaheads are lines that are posted for matchups before the previous week's games. Analyzing the biggest movers is beneficial for smart bettors, who have a chance to examine those moves to determine whether there's value in playing against a potential overreaction.
The biggest move has come on the Thursday night game, with the line swinging four points after Jared Goff had about as poor a 500-yard game as you'll ever see while the Bucs racked up 55 points in L.A. Seattle is money at home in primetime under Pete Carroll, going 17-2 straight up and 15-3-1 against the spread. It'll be interesting to see how high the market will push the line by kickoff.
Speaking of the Bucs, that huge performance against a previously undefeated Rams team plus the Saints offense putting up less than 270 yards for a second straight game despite banking another win has caused a big shift in that line as people start to take Tampa Bay seriously.
You can't make Patriots lines high enough for bettors, despite them failing to cover in Buffalo last week, but this is all about Washington's dud performance against the Giants. Another abysmal game against the league's best defense and Washington could be in danger of falling into Dolphins territory in bettors' eyes.
With the Raiders scoring the upset win in Indianapolis and the Bears looking like they'll be starting their backup after Mitchell Trubisky's injury, it's easy to see why that line has come down a bit. That Raiders upset also took some of the shine off the Colts, who now head into Kansas City as double-digit 'dogs.
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Where DVOA disagrees with line
Part of my research each week is calculating the DVOA (or DAVE, which is partially reflective of preseason projections) as tracked by Football Outsiders and seeing where the metric has a significant disagreement with the market. Now that defensive adjustments have been included following Week 4, I'll include that analysis here.
Cincinnati has been more than twice as bad as Arizona in DVOA, and even when you take their respective DAVEs, the gap would suggest the line would be around Cardinals -3 on a neutral field. In Cincinnati, where the Bengals don't get a full three points in my ratings, the Cardinals should still be favored, if we go strictly by this metric.
I only give the Giants 1.5 points of home field advantage, but a line of Vikings -5.5 is still too high in this matchup per the Football Outsiders metrics, which even have the Giants ranked 28th in DAVE thanks to poor preseason projections. So even if you look at the Vikings in the most favorable terms possible (poor HFA and poor projections for Giants pre-QB change), the line is still too high for this metric.
Those are the only two matchups that meet my barrier for a significant disagreement outside of Patriots-Redskins, but the formula isn't going to track well with massive spreads so I tend to exclude them. Lines that come close to meeting the mark of being a value play by DVOA standards are Rams +1.5, Steelers +3.5, Chargers -6.5 and Cowboys -3.5.
Fading the public
Patriots -15.5 at Redskins
If 80% of the action or more is on one side of a line, you want to be thinking about taking the other side, a practice commonly known as fading the public. If the consensus thinks it has a game figured out, that should be flashing warning signs for you. All betting trends data is from Sports Insights as of Tuesday night.
This week, only one matchup hits our benchmark, with the Patriots getting 87% of the bets, but Bill Belichick's team regularly defies any potential angles against them, so good luck finding someone who's all-in with Washington here.
Sides that top 70% and bear monitoring include Vikings -5.5 at Giants and Cardinals +3.5 at Bengals.
Underdog parlay of the week
Cardinals +150 at Bengals
Broncos +240 at Chargers
Here we're taking our DVOA play from above in the Cardinals and finding a solid longshot to pair them with and get +750 odds on the two-team package. Why Broncos? The Chargers are coming off a long road trip to Miami, and I like fading them in that spot and going with a Denver team desperate for a win for their new coach.
It was a good week for 'dogs in Week 4, as several that were catching more than a field goal won outright. In fact, we had the two longest 'dogs that got the win in our parlay (Bucs and Browns), but we were ruined by our other two picks. Hopefully you found a winning combination and cashed a big ticket.
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Teaser of the week
Patriots -9.5 at Redskins
Cardinals +9.5 at Bengals
There honestly isn't a whole lot worth teasing; if you try and get tricky and go through zero with a 3.5-point favorite, you aren't getting to +3 on a six-point teaser. So I'm going to take the Patriots down to only needing to win by 10. I would hate doing this with most teams on the road, but if there's anyone that should be safe for this play, it's Bill Belichick's squad. And of the 3.5-point lines we can tease up, I'm most comfortable doing it against an awful Bengals team.
The teaser of the week is just 1-3 this year after a 12-5 in 2018. Thanks, Colts!