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N.F.L. Week 5 Picks: Can the Jaguars Slow Down Patrick Mahomes?

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Passing, passing and more passing. The N.F.L. is on a record-setting pace for points, mostly because enough teams have fully embraced that the game has gone vertical. Far from making games uncompetitive, it has resulted in an average margin of victory of 9.9 points, which, according to the league, would be the lowest such mark since 1932 were it to continue.

Week 5 will provided an intense matchup between the Kansas City offense and the Jacksonville defense. It will probably also provide another sea of 400-yard passing games. But leave time to celebrate should Drew Brees throw for 201 yards for the Saints on Monday night, thus passing Peyton Manning to become the N.F.L.’s career passing leader.

Here is a look at this week’s schedule, with all picks made against the point spread.

Last week’s record: 4-10-1

Overall record: 32-29-2


Jaguars at Chiefs, 1 p.m., CBS

This could be the week Patrick Mahomes returns to earth. Either that or he should start making room on a shelf for a Most Valuable Player Award. Mahomes, the N.F.L.’s most exciting offensive player, will face off against its most devastating defense. It should be incredible to watch.

Much has been written about the offensive attack of the Chiefs (4-0). Kareem Hunt is among the league’s most versatile running backs. Tyreek Hill is a potential touchdown on every play. At tight end, Travis Kelce is the surest thing not named Gronkowski. It has all come together under Mahomes, a 23-year-old who does not seem to know things shouldn’t be this easy.

The Jaguars (3-1), however, are the team best equipped to slow him down. Jacksonville has elite defensive players and will try to fluster Mahomes with a pass-rush led by Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue and a secondary headlined by Jalen Ramsey.

This type of challenge seems to bring out the best in Ramsey, so while the Chiefs deserve to be favored at home, expect the Jaguars to make Mahomes pay for the win with hard sacks and interceptions. Pick: Chiefs -3

Vikings at Eagles, 4:25 p.m., Fox

Those who claim they expected these teams to have these records heading into a rematch of last year’s N.F.C. championship game are lying. The Vikings (1-2-1) are coming off a pair of losses: They were blown out by Buffalo and then nearly kept up with the high-powered Rams, which at least showed some versatility. The Eagles (2-2) have yet to have a game in which they looked like defending champions, and the return of Carson Wentz has hardly given them a boost. He is 1-1, including a loss to Tennessee last week.

So where do they go from here? Minnesota, beyond off-field issues with Everson Griffen, seems to be in a fine spot. Its record is unfortunate, but Kirk Cousins has looked good enough to believe in the offense, and the defense should come around as well. Philadelphia has more questions, including some uncertainty about when Wentz will be 100 percent.

The key for the Eagles might be the return of Alshon Jeffery. If their star wide receiver can help get Wentz back to playing like an M.V.P. candidate, Philadelphia should quiet its critics. Pick: Eagles -3

Rams at Seahawks, 4:25 p.m., Fox

If there was any doubt that the Rams (4-0) had established themselves as the top team in the N.F.C. in the first quarter of the season, it is now gone. They’re getting so much respect, they’re favored by a touchdown in the hostile confines of Seattle’s CenturyLink Field. The Rams have an offense every bit as exciting as Kansas City’s, and the potential for a blowout is certainly there, but the Seahawks (2-2) have always played so much better at home and should be able to keep the game respectable, even with Earl Thomas out with a broken leg. Pick: Seahawks +7

Falcons at Steelers, 1 p.m., Fox

Few teams have done as little with as much talent as this year’s Falcons (1-3) and Steelers (1-2-1). Atlanta has been flat-out awful on defense, and Pittsburgh can’t defend or run the ball, which is a combination so strange in Steelers history that it is hard to comprehend. Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones will probably torch Pittsburgh’s secondary, but a home game in which Ben Roethlisberger can just rear back and throw all day should favor the Steelers. Pick: Steelers -3


Colts at Patriots, 8:20 p.m., Fox

The Colts (1-3) do not appear overly concerned about the surgically repaired shoulder of Andrew Luck, as they had their quarterback attempt a franchise-record 62 passes in a loss to Houston last week. But based on how well the Patriots (2-2) played against the previously undefeated Miami Dolphins last week, Luck may need to throw even more than that just to stay in the game. There’s plenty of reason to believe that Luck, employing a pass-happy offense installed by Coach Frank Reich, can make a dent in New England’s defense, but with his top receiver, T.Y. Hilton, expected to sit out with a hamstring injury, the chances that the Colts do anything beyond perform well in a loss seem slim. Pick: Colts +10.5

Packers at Lions, 1 p.m., Fox

The Packers (2-1) managed to win, 22-0, last week, but after throwing an interception and losing a fumble, Aaron Rodgers was not ready to have the team pat itself on the back. “It was as bad as we’ve played on offense with that many yards in a long time,” he told reporters.

Green Bay’s issues were all on offense, as the team’s defense looked sensational, putting a ton of pressure on Josh Allen and forcing the rookie into countless mistakes. To repeat that against the Lions (1-3), the Packers will not only need a push upfront, but will need their secondary to buckle down and try to contain Matthew Stafford, who has averaged more than 300 passing yards a game. Pick: Packers -1

Raiders at Chargers, 4:05 p.m., CBS

The Raiders (1-3) finally started scoring last week. Coach Jon Gruden’s offense had gained plenty of yardage in the first three weeks of the season, with relatively few points to show for it, but in a win over Cleveland, the Raiders survived a 45-42 overtime shootout. This game figures to be much of the same as both teams have allowed an average of more than 30 points a game. The Chargers (2-2) have a decent chance of winning, but nothing about their play so far seems to justify a 5-point spread over Oakland. Pick: Raiders +5

Ravens at Browns, 1 p.m., CBS

A controversial respotting of a ball essentially cost the Browns (1-2-1) a second straight victory, but even in defeat Baker Mayfield was captivating as he mixed in jaw-dropping plays with brutal turnovers. He may not have Cleveland all the way to good just yet, but he has definitely made them must-see television. The Ravens (3-1) come in as road favorites for a reason, though: They have been one of the N.F.L.’s more surprising teams in the early going. Mayfield will probably put up some points, but Baltimore has the type of defense that can capitalize on his mistakes. Pick: Ravens -3

Giants at Panthers, 1 p.m., Fox

The Panthers (2-1) are superior to the Giants (1-3) in just about every way, and after a bye week, their key players (other than Greg Olsen) are rested and healthy. Their defense may also get a significant boost from the addition of safety Eric Reid, who signed during the bye week and will be motivated to show that his exclusion from the league for the first four weeks of the season was a mistake. Pick: Panthers -7

Cowboys at Texans, 8:20 p.m., NBC

These teams got back to their strengths last week. The Cowboys (2-2) put the ball in Ezekiel Elliott’s hands — both as a runner and receiver — and let him plow his way to victory. The Texans (1-3) opened up the offense for Deshaun Watson and got a game worthy of his dominant stretch just before his injury last year. Both performances seem repeatable, but Dallas has played well enough in its other three games that giving 3.5 points is too many. Pick: Cowboys +3.5

Titans at Bills, 1 p.m., CBS

The Titans (3-1) have won their last three games by a total of 9 points. They seem perfectly comfortable getting into ugly battles that drag down scoring and trying to be the team that escapes with the win. The Bills (1-3) are still hard to figure out now that we are fully in the Josh Allen era. Their win over Minnesota two weeks ago was great, but a total collapse in a shutout against Green Bay has them back to square one. Pick: Titans -3.5


Dolphins at Bengals, 1 p.m., CBS

These teams have the same record, but their momentum is going in different directions. Last week’s blowout loss to New England took the shine off the Dolphins (3-1), while the Bengals (3-1) come in on the heels of a dramatic comeback against Atlanta. Regardless of narrative, neither team is quite as good as its record, so even in a game Cincinnati should win, the Dolphins could rebound enough to keep things close. Pick: Dolphins +6.5

Broncos at Jets, 1 p.m., CBS

The Broncos (2-2) were not so much beaten by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs last week as they threw away their chances. Specifically, Case Keenum threw them away on what appeared to be a sure-thing touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas late in the fourth quarter that was exactly the type of throw Denver signed him to make. The Jets (1-3) have the disadvantage of a rookie quarterback going up against a decent defense, but this is a winnable game. Pick: Jets -1

Cardinals at 49ers, 4:25 p.m., Fox

Credit where it’s due: C.J. Beathard was a lot better for the 49ers (1-3) in his first start than anyone had predicted. It is open to debate whether that was a bad game by the Chargers or a result of his game maturing, but if Matt Breida’s knee is feeling better, there is every reason to believe San Francisco can dispatch the fairly terrible Cardinals (0-4). Pick: 49ers -4


Redskins at Saints, 8:15 p.m., ESPN

The Saints (3-1) have won three consecutive games, and while their defense has not been up to last year’s standards, their offense is generating 34.3 points a game. The Redskins (2-1) have been fairly stout on defense, but look what they have to contend with: The New Orleans offense will have Mark Ingram rejoining Alvin Kamara in the backfield as Drew Brees guns for Peyton Manning’s career passing yards record. That’s more than the Redskins can handle. Pick: Saints -6.5

All times are Eastern.


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