What we learned in Week 4...
We start this week with the rise of defenses in the NFL. The Rams, Seahawks, Vikings, Eagles and Broncos all seem to have quite superb defensive units and between them they've lost just two games all season. Could this be the year where the NFL turns from being an offensive league to one where shutdown Ds are all the rage? At this stage I really do think this is more than a statistical anomaly.
Next up what is going on with the defending NFC Champs? Carolina lost just once in the regular season last time around but are already sporting a 1-3 mark through four games in 2016. Teams seem to have learned that to beat Cam Newton you have to smack him in the mouth. He is out this week with a concussion and the NFC South isn't any good but I have significant concern going forward for them.
On the positive side of the ledger the Cowboys are 3-1 and I think pretty decent. They got themselves into a big 14-0 hole last Sunday on the road but fought back to beat the 49ers. I know San Francisco aren't anything great but overcoming a 14-0 deficit in the National Football League is nothing to be sniffed at. They are winning just how I thought they would in my pre-season preview - by pounding the rock. Huge game this week to see if they are really contenders but I don't see them ever not being in a game late in the fourth quarter.
Lastly the Oakland Raiders. These guys come to play. They are led by a head coach who is willing to roll the dice. I remember that Del Rio in Jacksonville. I think Derek Carr is a QB who is getting better with every game he plays. With Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree he has two deep threats that he trusts. If anyone is going to challenge Denver for the AFC West crown, it'll be this lot and not the Chiefs, who many raved about pre-season.
The Fine Five
1. Denver Broncos (+1)
2. Minnesota Vikings (+1)
3. New England Patriots (-2)
4. Philadelphia Eagles (No Change)
5. Seattle Seahawks (NEW)
What to watch for in Week Five
Tom Brady. Tom Brady. Tom Brady. Lets not try to bury the lead this week. The New England Patriots are getting back their Hall of Fame-bound QB after an enforced four game sabbatical and I'm just excited to see how he looks. I know they are only playing the Cleveland Browns and talking heads say he'll be rusty. I'm not with them. Not by a long chalk. I fully expect Brady to come back and rev that Patriots offense into high gear straight away. No doubt this will be the week the Gronk starts getting targets again. I'm going heavy on these props bets.
As trailed earlier, I think the Cowboys have a huge game this week. The general consensus is that the Cincinnati Bengals are a potential playoff team in the AFC. It will be fascinating to see how the Cowboys deal with them. I'm surprised Sky have gone with the Broncos/Falcons in the late window instead of this game but I can see why. Atlanta are a surprising 3-1 and can Denver stop their high-powered offense? (I fully expect the answer will be yes.)
If you are staying up late and aren't swayed by the Clinton/Trump debate, the Sunday night game also has some intrigue. I still have some issues with the Packers, and the Giants look like a team ready to self-implode every time Odell Beckham Jnr doesn't get the ball. Both these teams have the talent level to compete in the NFC, so this should be well worth watching.
5pt Back an anytime Rob Gronkowski Touchdown in Cleveland v New England at 8/11 on the Sportsbook
3pt Back over 292.5 passing yards in Cleveland v New England for Tom Brady at 5/6 on the Sportsbook
3pt Back over 50.5 receiving yards in Cleveland v New England for Rob Gronkowski at 5/6 on the Sportsbook
3pt Back over 53.5 points in Oakland v San Diego on the extended line at 13/10 on the Sportsbook
3pt Back an anytime Emmanuel Sanders Touchdown in Denver v Atlanta at 6/4 on the Sportsbook
3pt Back an anytime Demaryius Thomas Touchdown in Denver v Atlanta at 6/4 on the Sportsbook