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Early NFL Parlay and Best Bets: Week 5

by October 4, 2021
Thursday Night Football First Touchdown Scorer Prop Bet Picks: Saints vs. Cardinals (Week 7)

We may not have hit last week, but we’re going to turn things around this Sunday. How can I be so sure? Easy, I looked at the lines. The sportsbooks have made a couple of mistakes that open up some opportunities for sharp bettors. Oh, and you can thank Detroit’s hyper-aggressive approach to fourth downs for busting last week’s play; every other leg hit.

The underlying thesis of this article series is that it’s best to bet early. You should do so because sportsbooks will adjust their lines after sharp bettors place their initial wagers. Once they’ve done so, you’re not just playing against the house — you’re also playing against some of the smartest minds in the game. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s what professional gambler (and Jeopardy! champion) James Holzhauer has to say on the matter:

“When you bet right after the opening number is posted, you essentially gamble that you’re smarter than the handful of sportsbook employees who set the line. When you bet 10 minutes before the game starts, you hope in vain that you know something all the world’s sharp bettors don’t.” You can read the rest of his comments here in The Athletic.

Ultimately, I recommend that you read this article as a guide to two things: first, a smart parlay for the weekend’s action; second, a list of smart straight bets to target individually. Aside from the parlay, I’ll label my favorite picks each week and advise you on the proper unit size for each play.

Parlay YTD: 0-4-0 (-4u)
Straight Bets YTD: 5-4-0 (-0.89u)
All NFL Bets YTD: 16-12-0 (+0.41u)

Leg #1. Saints ML | -130 at DK Sportsbook

Straight Bet Size: 1u

Okay, this one is a freebie. The Washington Football Team suffered a handful of injuries on Sunday. They lost three starters: tight end Logan Thomas (hamstring), linebacker Jon Bostic (pectoral), and guard Brandon Scherff (MCL), all of whom will probably miss at least one week. Yet Washington is just a two-point underdog.

In contrast, the Saints are relatively healthy and could even get a handful of players back from injured reserve. The Saints can remove cornerback Ken Crawley, wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith, linebacker Kwon Alexander, and kicker Wil Lutz from the list before Sunday.

But even if the Saints don’t get any of those players back, they should still take care of business against Washington. New Orleans ranked 11th in DVOA Adjusted for Variation Early (DVOA), per FootballOutsiders, heading into Week 4. They ranked eighth in actual DVOA, too. In contrast, Washington ranked 21st in DAVE and 23rd in DVOA. That points to a more significant advantage for the Saints than this line indicates.

Leg #2. Ravens -2.5 | -255 at DK Sportsbook

Related Straight Bet: Ravens -3 (-220 at DK Sportsbook)
Straight Bet Size: 1u

The Ravens will play their third primetime game in five weeks next Monday, and I expect them to beat the Colts by at least a field goal. Indianapolis finally won their first game of the year against the Dolphins on Sunday, but they moved star guard Quenton Nelson to the injured reserve on Saturday. That’s terrible news for Carson Wentz and Jonathan Taylor.

The Colts’ offensive line has looked terrible without Nelson this year, and knowing that he’ll remain out for the foreseeable future makes Indianapolis a team to fade. The team ranked seventh in adjusted sack rate with Nelson last season, but they’ve fallen to 23rd through Week 3, and the Dolphins successfully brought Wentz down twice. Meanwhile, Baltimore’s pass rush doubled its sack total against the Broncos last week, and they’ll bring that momentum into Monday’s matchup.

That said, I’m teasing this line down to a field goal, just to be safe. The Ravens should control this game from the outset, but on the off chance they don’t, you can always trust Justin Tucker to give Baltimore a field-goal advantage.

Leg #3. Jaguars +10.5 | -330 at DK Sportsbook

Related Straight Bet: Jaguars +6.5 (-175 at DK Sportsbook)
Straight Bet Size: 1u

The Jaguars have a lot of things going for them in this matchup. For starters, they’re coming off some extra rest and will get to play at home. They’ll also draw an opponent that’s trending in the wrong direction, the Tennessee Titans.

Last week, the Titans had to play without two of their starting wide receivers, Julio Jones and A.J. Brown. There is no guarantee that they’ll get them back in time for Week 5, either. Jones missed seven games with injuries last year, and he never fully recovered from the hamstring issue he developed early in the season. History could be repeating itself this year. A.J. Brown has only missed three games in his short career due to injury, but the fact that he couldn’t practice at all last week renders him questionable at best for Week 5.

Now add in the fact that Jacksonville has found an offensive rhythm with a solid run-blocking scheme and strong play from James Robinson, and it becomes a lot easier to stomach betting on Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence to keep this within 10 points.

The efficiency metrics also suggest that there isn’t that much of a difference between these teams. The Titans entered Week 4 ranked 24th in DAVE (-8.3%) and 27th (-27.2%) in DVOA. The Jaguars weren’t far behind, sitting 31st in both DAVE (-22.6%) and DVOA (-45.1%). Also, that gap will shrink somewhat before Sunday — the Jaguars should gain DVOA because of their close loss to the Bengals, while the Titans should lose some DVOA after they fell to the 32nd-ranked Jets.

Total Odds: +220 at DraftKings Sportsbook

Parlay Bet Size: 1u

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Isaiah Sirois is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Isaiah, check out his archive and follow him @is_sirois.

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