3 Value Picks For NFL Week 5 Pick’em and Confidence Pools (2020)

NFL Week 5 offers a familiar team as a great value pick yet again, and a head-turning upset pick opportunity for weekly prize pools.

Week 5 Pick'em

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the title game (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)

NFL Week 5 features a lot of big favorites and plenty of early uncertainty impacting the betting markets. Three games were off the betting board on Tuesday, because of both injury issues and coronavirus-related fallout potentially impacting teams. Of the 12 games that did have a line available to bet, nine of them featured a team favored by five points or more.

In other words, there are a high number of perceived mismatches in Week 5, and big favorites command high pick popularity from the public. The dynamics of a week like this one typically mean it’s harder to find underrated teams that have a good shot to win, so you might need to be more selective with the risks you decide to take.

As you start to think about your NFL Week 5 picks, the analysis below will help you make smarter decisions in your private NFL office pool or in online contests like ESPN Pigskin Pick’em, Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em, and CBS Sports Football Pick’em.

The foundation of this pick analysis is the Data Grid feature of our Football Pick’em Picks product, the only tool on the market that customizes picks to maximize your edge in football pick’em and confidence pools.

Recap of Last Week’s Picks

The value picks highlighted in this weekly article went 3-2 last week. The two larger favorites split; Baltimore won comfortably but the San Francisco 49ers were upset by Philadelphia. The biggest value favorite, Indianapolis, won on the road at Chicago, with the majority of the public picking the Bears. The Jets lost as a very unpopular toss-up, and Carolina hit as the upset gamble of the week.

The public only picked the Panthers 12% of the time, so if you include that game all five value picks delivered 3 wins vs. only 2.2 for the public. Excluding that game, the public came out slightly ahead.

Three NFL Week 5 Picks You Must Consider

We’ve categorized the picks below according to where they fall on the risk vs. reward spectrum.

Overall, it’s slim pickings in terms of underrated favorites this week. Because of the off-the-board games early in the week, we are only listing three games initially here, but check back on Wednesday afternoon as we might add more as the week develops.

Note: Win odds and estimated pick popularity data below may change between publication time and kickoff time. If you want to see the latest numbers, our product updates multiple times per day.

Favorite At A Reasonable Price

The picks below may not be significantly underrated by the public, but compared to other favorites this week, they are a relative bargain in terms of pick popularity. Think twice about picking against them, as there are smarter upset pick opportunities on the board.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at Chicago)

Tampa Bay might not ordinarily qualify in this category, but given the dynamics of this week, the Bucs stand out in terms of their pick profile.

The Buccaneers are a 5-point favorite at Chicago, with win odds of 68% according to both the betting markets and our projections. The public is currently picking them 79% of the time, but compared to some teams just ahead of Tampa Bay in win odds this week, there are far more entries going the other way and taking the underdog in this game.

(The three other games with win odds within 5% of Tampa are averaging 90% pick popularity for the favorite.)

Both teams may be 3-1, but Tampa is up to No. 4 in our NFL predictive ratings while the Bears sit way down at No. 17. The Buccaneers defense has been among the best in the league through the first four weeks, and should have the advantage in this matchup.

Value Favorite

2020 NFL Week 5 features one favorite that the public is picking at a lower rate than their chance to win. These teams are as close to no brainer picks as you can get in NFL pick’em contests, since you can take the team that’s expected to win, yet still “fade the public” (in relative terms, at least) at the same time.

Indianapolis Colts (at Cleveland)

For the second week in a row, and the third time in four weeks, the Indianapolis Colts show up as our top value favorite. It already marks the third time this year they will be favored in a game while drawing less than 50% of the public picks.

The Colts are a 2.5-point favorite at Cleveland with 56% win odds, but being picked only about 39% of the time in pick’em pools.

Is it because the Week 1 upset to Jacksonville still lingers in the public’s mind? As we discussed in our Week 4 betting breakdown, the Colts rank first in most key defensive categories after Week 4, and have allowed the fewest total yards after four games of any team in the last 10 years.

This week, Indy draws another team that had been unpopular after a Week 1 blowout, but who have reeled off three victories since, and had a big performance last week against America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys. After that, the public is backing the Browns in a major way, opening up a very rare value opportunity this week.

Value Gamble

If you’re going to make a gamble on a decently sized underdog, you need to make sure that the potential reward if you get it right — that is, how much your odds to win your pool will increase — is big. Take a bunch of extra risk to make a super trendy upset pick, and the joke is on you.

The pick below is definitely not appropriate for all pools. If you’re in a smaller, season-long pool, it is probably not worth the risk. However, it should be seriously considered for single-week contests or if you only care about weekly prizes.

Minnesota Vikings (vs. Seattle)

Week 5 doesn’t present many clear-cut gamble opportunities because there are so many larger favorites. But if you are looking for the best “bang for the buck” upset pick in a pool, Minnesota looks like the best early option.

The Vikings are only being picked by 4% of the public, but they have 30% win odds as a 7-point underdog. The other two teams with pick popularity close to Seattle’s this week are both favored by 13+ points.

Undefeated Seattle continues to be public darlings, and continues to win close games at an unheard-of rate. The Seahawks are now 14-3 in games decided by eight points or less since the start of the 2019 season, including 3-0 this year. Seattle is also +5 in turnovers so far in 2020, while allowing the most yards of any team in the NFL this year.

Seattle is clearly a good team, but their record so far and Russell Wilson at the helm likely has a lot of people thinking they are better than they actually are.

The Vikings’ defense has its own issues, but the offense has rebounded after a slow start (and playing the Colts’ D in Week 2) to score 30+ points in each of the last two games. This one could be a shootout, and the Vikings will need some turnover luck to go their way (and for Seattle’s turnover luck to start regressing), but the potential payoff in a weekly prize pool is that very few opponents will be picking against Seattle.

Important Notes About Using These Picks

The Week 5 pick opportunities highlighted in this article are based on data from our Football Pick’em Picks product, which provides objective game predictions and projected opponent picking trends for every game.

Note that we are not saying that you should make all of the picks we list above — the upset picks especially. The best Week 5 picks for your NFL pool depend on strategy factors such as your pool’s size, rules, and prize structure, plus situational factors like your current place in the standings and the number of weeks left.

(To learn more, check out our free articles about strategy for winning football pick’em pools. If you want our game-by-game pick recommendations for your specific pools, you’ll need to use the product.)

What we are saying is that the teams mentioned in this post provide some of the best opportunities to differentiate your Week 5 picks from your pool opponents, by taking on only a modest amount of risk, or no additional risk at all. We also call out matchups where picking an upset is almost certainly a bad idea.

Get All Our NFL Week 5 Picks For Your Pool

Once you know the best value opportunities of Week 5, you can typically increase your odds to win your pick’em pool by taking a calculated risk or two (or more). If you’re in a confidence pool, for example, it may be wise to bump up the number of confidence points you assign to a value pick like Indianapolis.

In a non-confidence pool, the process is more about deciding whether the risk of making one or more upset picks is worth it this week, especially with 16 weeks still to play. The right answer depends on factors like the rules and size of your pool, and on how much you care about contending for a season prize vs. weekly prizes.

There are a lot of decisions to make, which is why we built technology to do all the necessary data gathering and analysis. Based on algorithms we designed, our Football Pick’em Picks product is the only product that customizes weekly pick recommendations based on the key strategy dynamics of your pick’em pools.

The result? Every year since 2014, on average, 72% of our subscribers have reported winning a prize in a football pick’em or confidence pool.

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