More positive tests for the coronavirus. A hurricane possibly forcing a game to be moved. Several prominent players out with major injuries. The news has not been good over the last few weeks for the N.F.L., and while the on-field product has remained strong, the growing list of issues is certainly a concern.
For now, the league is pressing ahead. With an acknowledgment that things could change based on news developments, here is a look at N.F.L. Week 5, with all picks made against the point spread.
Last week’s record: 7-7-1
Overall record: 34-28-1
Sunday’s Best Games
Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks, 8:20 p.m., NBC
Line: Seahawks -7 | Total: 57
Oddsmakers have predicted this to be the week’s highest scoring game, and it’s not hard to figure out why. The Vikings (1-3), with a multipronged offensive attack led by Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, have averaged 26.5 points a game — topping 30 points in three of their four outings — and the Seahawks (4-0) are in the midst of what looks like an M.V.P. season from Russell Wilson, who has Seattle averaging 35.5 points a game.
Add in the fact that both teams’ defenses have at best been marked “present” in every game this season, and that Seattle potentially will be without safety Jamal Adams, cornerback Quinton Dunbar and linebacker Jordyn Brooks, and this one might be a prime time matchup in which the winner is the first team to 50.
There will be no fans at CenturyLink Field, so Seattle’s typical noise advantage won’t be an issue. And while Wilson should be expected to win against just about anyone, there is every reason to believe that Minnesota can score enough to make this a close game rather than a blowout. Pick: Vikings +7
Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m., CBS
Line: Off | Total: Off
Will this game be played? That’s the big question after two more members of the Titans (3-0) were reported to have tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday. Tennessee will have to wait to see if it is allowed to practice or play this week. With the Titans’ Week 4 matchup already delayed to Week 7, and the team having burned its bye last week, any further interruption would be disastrous.
Should the game be played, it could be a good one. The Bills (4-0) have been absolutely dominant on offense, and would have a field day against Tennessee’s shoddy defense. The Titans, provided they don’t come in with too much rust from an unexpected week off, could, in turn, be expected to score quite a bit against Buffalo’s struggling defense. The Bills should be favored if there is a game, but that is a big if. Pick: Bills
Indianapolis Colts at Cleveland Browns, 4:25 p.m., CBS
Line: Colts -1.5 | Total: 47
After allowing 27 points against Jacksonville in Week 1, the Colts (3-1) have allowed a total of 29 points over the last three weeks. They have their offense right where they want it, with a heavy focus on running the ball, and Philip Rivers has been a nice addition at quarterback. That run of good fortune may go on hiatus this week against the Browns (3-1), who are underdogs at home despite coming off three consecutive wins in which their offense has generated an average of 39.3 points. The Colts certainly have the defensive personnel to slow any team down, but even with running back Nick Chubb out for several weeks with a knee injury, Cleveland should still have a great chance of improving to 4-1 for the first time since 1994. Pick: Browns +1.5
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m., CBS
Line: Ravens -13 | Total: 51
For a second consecutive week, the Ravens (3-1) are two-touchdown favorites, and the scary thing is, that’s somewhat reasonable since their average margin of victory in their three wins is 21 points. Baltimore’s defense has dominated against every team they’ve played with the exception of Kansas City, and its offense continues to thrive thanks to its enviable collection of running options and a passing game that is higher in quality than in quantity. The Bengals (1-2-1) are a poor match, as their defense is particularly susceptible to the run. But quarterback Joe Burrow has looked terrific over his first four games, and the combination of him and running back Joe Mixon — provided Mixon can channel some of last week’s magic — could be enough to give Cincinnati a narrow loss, rather than a blowout. Pick: Bengals +13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears, 8:20 p.m., Fox & NFL Network
Line: Buccaneers -4.5 | Total: 44
The Buccaneers (3-1) do not seem as if they will be at their best. Chris Godwin (hamstring) has yet to practice after missing Week 4, which takes away one of their top two receivers, and tight end O.J. Howard is out for the year with a ruptured Achilles’ tendon. Running back Leonard Fournette will be a game-time decision with an ankle injury, and Rob Gronkowski has yet to make much of an impact. All of this seems like it’s adding up to be a real issue when facing a 3-1 team, the Bears. The good news is, Chicago is 3-1 in name only. The Bears have played fairly terrible football outside of two brilliant fourth quarters (one against Detroit, the other against Atlanta) and their offense is no match for the Buccaneers’ stellar defense. Even short-handed and on the road, Tampa Bay should be expected to dominate. Pick: Buccaneers -4.5
Sunday’s Other Games
Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m., CBS
Line: Chiefs -13 | Total: 56
The Chiefs (4-0) are starting to feel like a team capable of beating the best teams with ease, but one that often shows a total lack of concentration and urgency when playing against lesser competition. Needing overtime to beat the Chargers was bad enough, but playing three quarters of totally uninspired football against the decimated Patriots in Week 4 — the score was 6-3 at halftime, and 13-3 after three quarters — was even worse. The offense did finally wake up, cruising to a 26-10 win, but if the Chiefs are not going to take the entire game seriously, making them two-touchdown favorites against the Raiders (2-2), who run and pass the ball fairly well, doesn’t seem right. Pick: Raiders +13
Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Steelers -7 | Total: 44
The Steelers (3-0) are playing at home with an extra week of rest (as a result of their Week 4 game against Tennessee being delayed) against the Eagles (1-2-1), who despite being the nominal division leaders in the N.F.C. East are beat up and wildly inconsistent. Despite everything, Philadelphia’s defense has played above average football and the team shouldn’t get blown out too often. But this doesn’t seem like it will be a pretty week for them, and their reign as a division leader should be short-lived. Pick: Steelers -7
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Falcons -2.5 | Total: 53.5
If the Falcons (0-4) have a desperation mode, this is the time to engage it. Coach Dan Quinn almost has to be on the hot seat after a winless start and multiple dramatic collapses, and a game against the Panthers (2-2) is a challenge even at home. Carolina has played well in the last two weeks, spreading the ball around and beating two decent teams, the Chargers and the Cardinals. Atlanta doesn’t have its typical home-field advantage because of the reduced capacity at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, so the Panthers might be able to get above .500 after starting the season 0-2. Pick: Panthers +2.5
Giants at Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m., CBS
Line: Cowboys -9.5 | Total: 54
In his last three games, Dak Prescott of the Cowboys (1-3) has thrown for 450, 472 and 502 yards passing. It’s an unprecedented run of 450-yard games, and the only thing stopping him from getting to four is the likelihood that Dallas will get off to a big lead against the Giants (0-4) and will not need to keep throwing the ball. The point spread is a little aggressive in this game, and the Giants made Las Vegas look foolish last week by playing the Rams much closer than was predicted, but Prescott might want to prove a point against a division rival. Pick: Cowboys -9.5
Los Angeles Rams at Washington Football Team, 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Rams -7.5 | Total: 45.5
Coach Ron Rivera believes the Footballers (1-3) have a shot at the playoffs thanks to their presence in the putrid N.F.C. East. “At one point you want to build and you want to build, and now you’re looking at the opportunity to potentially win this,” Rivera told reporters. “You start thinking along those lines and start thinking, ‘You know what, maybe we need to do that.’” His big solution for getting his team past division-leading Philadelphia (pause for chuckling) is to start Kyle Allen at quarterback rather than Dwayne Haskins when facing the Rams (3-1), a team that is more than capable of hanging 30-plus points on Washington’s defense. Maybe Alex Smith will see the field? Pick: Rams -7.5
Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m., Fox
Line: Off | Total: Off
During the prime time broadcast of San Francisco’s game against Philadelphia in Week 4, the announcers somewhat shockingly discussed whether there was a quarterback controversy for the 49ers (2-2). The conjecture followed a few exciting plays from backup quarterback Nick Mullens, but by the end of the game, Mullens (200 yards, two interceptions) had been replaced by C.J. Beathard, and San Francisco had lost to the lowly Eagles. So based on that, the team is probably going to stick with Jimmy Garoppolo, who guided them to the Super Bowl last season, once he’s healthy. That might not come this week, but as the 49ers’ roster continues to get healthier, a home game against the Dolphins (1-3) is winnable. Pick: 49ers
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans, 1 p.m., CBS
Line: Texans -6 | Total: 54.5
On Oct. 4, it was reported that Bill O’Brien, the coach and general manager of the Texans (0-4) would add play-calling to his duties. On Oct. 5, it was announced that O’Brien would no longer have any duties at all. It seems as if the team finally noticed that quarterback Deshaun Watson’s prime years were being entirely wasted, though that realization happened after O’Brien, in his G.M. role, had largely gutted the team. The good news for Romeo Crennel, who will take over the team on an interim basis, is that his team has an excellent chance to start off a new era with a win thanks to the visiting Jaguars (1-3) being the type of team that Watson should absolutely shred. Pick: Texans -6
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots, 4:25 p.m., CBS
Line: Off | Total: Off
One might have envisioned this as a game to watch when the schedule was made. Drew Lock, a plucky sophomore quarterback for the Broncos (1-3), going into Foxborough, Mass., for the first time to face the hard-charging Patriots (1-3), who had been remade by Cam Newton. Instead, Lock is out with a shoulder injury, replaced by Jeff Driskel, who was replaced by Brett Rypien — who honestly was extremely fun to watch in a bad game last week!
The Patriots (2-2) are still waiting for Newton to come back from the Covid-19 list, and last week they started Brian Hoyer (who was terrible) before turning to Jarrett Stidham (also terrible). Adding to the mess is New England’s best defensive player, Stephon Gilmore, reportedly joining Newton on the Covid-19 list.
More positive tests could theoretically delay this game, but if they are able to play it’s a tossup, with the advantage going to the home team with the better coach. Pick: Patriots
Arizona Cardinals at Jets, 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Cardinals -7 | Total: 47
The Cardinals (2-2) are suddenly reeling, having followed up a 2-0 start with consecutive losses, the second of which involved quarterback Kyler Murray averaging a meager 4.3 yards per passing attempt — a statistic that was quite likely heavily influenced by an ankle injury to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. It certainly isn’t where Coach Kliff Kingsbury wants the Cardinals to be, but the Jets (0-4) have done an excellent job making other teams feel good about themselves this season, and even as a full touchdown underdog at home, it’s hard to believe they’ll be competitive. But hey, last week LeBron James tweeted about Sam Darnold (who is not expected to play in this game because of a shoulder strain). So they have that going for them. Pick: Cardinals -7
Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans Saints, 8:15 p.m., ESPN
Line: Saints -7.5 | Total: 50.5
The N.F.L.’s string of scheduling issues continues, with this game potentially being moved to Indianapolis as a result of Hurricane Delta bearing down on New Orleans. The Saints (2-2) would still be the home team even if the game is moved, and running back Alvin Kamara is justifying his huge new contract by leading the N.F.L. in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns. But there is no question that the Saints’ defense has disappointed thus far, and if they give the rookie quarterback Justin Herbert some room to make plays, the Chargers (1-3) could turn this into a game. Pick: Chargers +7.5
Bye weeks: Detroit, Green Bay
All times are Eastern