Week 5 of the 2016 NFL season begins with a Thursday, Oct. 6 NFC West matchup between the defending division champion Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers in the Bay area. It concludes Monday, Oct. 10 in Carolina as Tampa Bay visits. The Chiefs, Saints, Seahawks and Jaguars are on the bye. Here are my early picks on NFL betting odds.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (+7 on NFL odds)
I’m shocked this early line is only a touchdown as the Cardinals are loaded and the 49ers are terrible. Arizona swept San Francisco last year. The score was 19-13 3 in Week 12 in Santa Clara. Arizona QB Carson Palmer ran for a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown with 2:28 left. It was Arizona’s first road win in the series since 2008. Chandler Catanzaro missed the extra-point try, giving Blaine Gabbert and the 49ers one more chance with 2:21 left. Anquan Boldin caught an 18-yard pass on fourth-and- 20 to clinch the win for Arizona.
On a day when its defense largely stood its ground, San Francisco committed 13 penalties for 81 yards to help the Cardinals’ cause. There was a costly roughing the passer flag on Quinton Dial during the winning drive.
The Cards made news this week in signing star defensive back Tyrann Mathieu to a huge five-year extension worth $62.5 million, including $40 million guaranteed. The most worrisome concern surrounding the 24-year- old now is his durability. His ACL tear in Week 15 at Philadelphia last year was his second major knee injury in three years. It’s a deal that makes Mathieu easily the NFL’s highest-paid safety.
But in reality, Mathieu isn’t really a safety. Moving all over the secondary, the Honey Badger is every bit as likely line up as a cornerback as he is to slot behind one. In fact, when issuing its player grades for 2015, Pro Football Focus graded Mathieu as a cornerback. Mathieu received the highest grade in the league (28.1) at the position by a large margin. Mathieu was having a Defensive Player of the Year kind of season before injury struck and robbed him of the final games of the season, as well as robbing Arizona of the best slot weapon in football for the playoffs. Mathieu spends the majority of his time (70.6 percent of his coverage snaps) in the slot.
Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins (-3.5 in online NFL betting)
I don’t happen to think the Dolphins will be any better than 7-9 this season, but that they are giving just 3.5 points right now against a Tennessee team that's not likely to top three wins again is too good to pass up.
The Fins won easily in Nashville last year 38-10 in their first game after firing head coach Joe Philbin in Week 4. Cameron Wake got his first four sacks of the year and also forced two fumbles — all in the first half. The Dolphins finished with six sacks and intercepted Marcus Mariota twice. The rookie quarterback needed a knee brace and was replaced by Zach Mettenberger after the 2-minute warning. The Dolphins also rushed for a season-high 180 yards and controlled the tempo of the game. Ryan Tannehill threw for 266 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He nearly threw a third pick in the second half that was dropped by a Titans defender.
Will new Titans receiver Andre Johnson make the team? Johnson, 35, will put pressure on Kendall Hunter, who is in a contract year, and Dorial Green-Beckham, who hasn’t established himself heading into his second season. The Titans spoke glowingly about adding a player who ranks eighth in the NFL in career receptions (1,053) and ninth in yardage (14,100). He was just signed to the team late last week.
“He made some really eye-popping catches,” safety Rashad Johnson said. “He knows the game. He’s going to be a great addition to this team. I think it was a huge, huge pickup for us. He’s only going to make us much more explosive offensively and help open up that run game.”
Go Miami here in NFL betting.