For once, there were no trends. No numbers. No patterns.
Week 5 featured the most sporadic system of outcomes this season. Nearly every trend was at or near 50 percent accuracy – favorites, road underdogs, division favorites, underdogs at 1PM, 4PM, and at night – and there were no runaway successes. Looking back, this is largely aligned with Week 5 results of the past three seasons. This relatively calm week – both historically and in 2014 – is what led to the expectation that one group (in this case, underdogs as a collective whole) was going to pull away from the pack.
It didn’t happen.
Not only did favorites edge out underdogs – favorites were 8-7 against the spread – Week 5 was largely influenced by a factor dreaded by those of us who pick games: randomness.
This forbidden word leads to the most indicting stat of the week: an incredible seven of the 15 games were within four points of their spreads.
Of these seven games, few of which were as close in the final score as in the spread, six were within one field goal – made or missed – of redefining the week. If Jacksonville doesn’t throw an interception for a touchdown immediately after recovering a Pittsburgh fumble or if Seattle gets a first down in the final minute of play and elects to kneel instead of kick a field goal, the landscape of the Week 5 outcome is vastly different. Instead, almost nothing was remarkable or noteworthy. The week was, in effect, boring.
Logic, therefore, would dictate that Week 6 should carry the torch dropped by its predecessor. With eight division games – the most since Week 3 (6 games) – Week 6 has the natural ability to realign some percentages, whether by returning back to the norm or skewing them further for a later regression.
Furthermore, this week contains no double digit spreads – the first time all season – and, while this is typically an argument for underdogs to sneak in under the line, there is an equal observation that games should generally be closer than usual. As noted many times, ‘weaker teams’ benefit from the familiarity of playing a division foe.
While certain go-to trends have failed to deliver as expected – home teams getting a touchdown are 0-2 against the spread despite historic success – the numbers suggest that these misses are natural, yet randomized as to when they occur.
The law of averages is powerful. This week’s games provide the perfect opportunity to offset early-season deviations and begin the road back towards the mean.
Below are predictions for each game against the spread. Spreads have been taken from various websites and are subject to change. The spread in parenthesis denotes the selected team and an asterisk denotes one of the week’s most confident picks.
*Confidence Picks: 3-3 (Season: 15-12)
All Picks Against Spread: 7-8 (Season: 38-37-1)