Pro Picks leans toward Broncos to kick off Week 5
A month into the season, it’s clear Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan are still adjusting to their new teams.
The star quarterbacks go head-to-head this week on Thursday night when Wilson and the Denver Broncos (2-2) host Ryan and the Indianapolis Colts (1-2-1).
“I think here, the transition has been great,” Wilson said. “I can’t speak for (Ryan), but I think the transition has been great. Obviously, it’s a different environment, a different challenge and everything else, but I think what’s made it so great here, for me personally, is my teammates. My teammates have been so welcoming and so on it every day. ... The walkthroughs, the time, the energy, the focus they put in daily and that obsession that they put in makes it easier for me and better for me.”
Wilson still hasn’t found a rhythm in rookie coach Nathaniel Hackett’s offense. Ryan has a veteran coach in Frank Reich, but ball security has been his biggest problem. He has nine fumbles and five interceptions in four games.
Both teams have injury concerns at running back. The Broncos lost Javonte Williams to a season-ending knee injury. The Colts are being cautious with All-Pro Jonathan Taylor because of an ankle injury.
“On a normal week, you kind of got a lot of time,” Taylor said about short rest. “So just trying to push as much treatment as I can to see how far I get feeling well before we have to take off.”
The Broncos are three-point favorites, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. After going 20-12 against the spread over the past two weeks, Pro Picks aims to stay ahead and leans toward the home team in an even matchup.
Los Angeles Chargers (minus 3) at Cleveland
Justin Herbert and the banged-up Chargers (2-2) are back on track. Their defense has to slow teams down in the second half. The Browns (2-2) are a couple of plays away from being 4-0.
BEST BET CHARGERS 28-23
Philadelphia (minus 5 1/2) at Arizona
The Cardinals (2-2) haven’t scored a point in the first quarter and they’re 9-16-1 at home under Kliff Kingsbury. The Eagles (4-0) are the only undefeated team in the NFL. They’ll continue their reunion tour as they face Zach Ertz after dominating Carson Wentz and beating Doug Pederson.
UPSET SPECIAL: CARDINALS 27-24
New York Giants (plus 8) vs Green Bay in London
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers (3-1) needed overtime to beat third-string QB Bailey Zappe and the Patriots. The Giants (3-1) have some QB injury concerns, too.
Tennessee (minus 2 1/2) at Washington
The Titans (2-2) have turned things around after losing their first two games. They’ve scored a touchdown on the opening drive of each game. That might be enough against the struggling Commanders (1-3).
Seattle (plus 5 1/2) at New Orleans
The Seahawks (2-2) are rolling on offense behind Geno Smith, but their defense is struggling. The Saints (1-3) nearly beat Minnesota without Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas.
Pittsburgh (plus 14) at Buffalo
The Steelers (1-3) kick off the Kenny Pickett era after the rookie QB was 10 for 13 with three picks last week in a loss to the Jets. Josh Allen and the Bills (3-1) finally won a one-score game after seven straight losses.
Chicago (plus 7) at Minnesota
The Vikings (3-1) need to get their pass rush going. The Bears (2-2) need to get a pass game.
Houston (plus 7 1/2) at Jacksonville
A year ago, it would’ve been hard to believe the Jaguars (2-2) would be touchdown favorites against anyone. Doug Pederson has this team vastly improved. The Texans (0-3-1) have showed fight and stayed competitive.
Miami (minus 3 1/2) at New York Jets
Teddy Bridgewater makes his first start for the Dolphins (3-1). Zach Wilson tries to get the Jets to their first 3-2 start since 2017.
Detroit (plus 3) at New England
The Patriots (1-3) turned to Zappe because Mac Jones has an ankle injury and Brian Hoyer sustained a concussion. The Lions (1-3) are allowing a league-high 444.8 yards and 35.3 points per game.
Atlanta (plus 8 1/2) at Tampa Bay
Tom Brady finally got the Buccaneers (2-2) going offensively, but now the defense has major issues. The rebuilding Falcons (2-2) won’t have Cordarrelle Patterson.
San Francisco (minus 6 1/2) at Carolina
Coming off an impressive Monday night win over the Rams, the 49ers (2-2) need to avoid a letdown against the struggling Panthers (1-3).
Dallas (plus 4 1/2) at Los Angeles Rams
The Rams (2-2) had major problems against San Francisco’s defense. Led by Micah Parsons, the Cowboys (3-1) present plenty of issues for opposing offenses.
Cincinnati (plus 3) at Baltimore
The Bengals (2-2) are coming off extra rest after Joe Burrow led the defending AFC champs to two wins in five days. The Ravens (2-2) would be unbeaten if they could protect double-digit, second-half leads at home. They were outscored 82-38 in two losses to Cincy last year.
Las Vegas (plus 7 1/2) at Kansas City
Patrick Mahomes and the rest of Kansas City’s offense looked unstoppable against a tough Tampa defense. The Chiefs (3-1) have won seven of eight at home over the Raiders (1-3). Las Vegas rode Josh Jacobs’ legs to Josh McDaniels’ first win as Raiders coach.
Last Week: Straight up: 11-5. Against spread: 10-6.
Season: Straight up: 38-26. Against spread: 34-30.
Best Bet: Straight up: 1-0. Against spread: 1-0.
Season: Straight up: 3-1. Against spread: 3-1.
Upset Special: Straight up: 1-0. Against spread: 1-0.
Season: Straight up: 2-2. Against spread: 2-2
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL