The NFL may have once been known as a league of parity, but those days are long gone. Week 5 has once again left bettors having to evaluate just how many points are enough for some of the league’s worst teams to become worth betting on.
Heading into Sunday’s action, the Washington Redskins and New York Jets are both underdogs of more than two touchdowns, the kinds of spreads that were once confined to mismatches that might happen once a year or less at the professional level.
Redskins Struggle With Quarterback Controversy
At DraftKings Sportsbook, the winless Redskins are getting 15 points from the New England Patriots, who are a perfect 4-0 on the season. The Patriots would be a heavy favorite under the best of circumstances for Washington, which is dealing with a number of injuries on offense, including the loss of tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis.
Washington is also dealing with a quarterback controversy, as Case Keenum is still limited due to a foot sprain. On Friday, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden named Colt McCoy as the starting quarterback over Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins, who many fans want to see get playing time in what feels like a lost season.
There’s a lot of talk of what we should do with him, but we’re here every day and I have a pretty good gauge of what we should do with him,” Gruden told ESPN. “There’s a lot that goes into playing quarterback. If you haven’t done it, there’s a lot on your plate. Until he gets really comfortable, it’s for his own good.”
Meanwhile, the Patriots biggest area of concern is at kicker, as long-time standout Stephen Gostkowski was placed on injured reserve. In his place, New England has signed veteran Mike Nugent, and added Younghoe Koo to its practice squad for insurance.
“Mike’s got a lot of experience,” New England coach Bill Belichick told reporters. “He’s kicked in New York, kicked in Cincinnati. I don’t know if [that cold weather experience] is going to be a big factor this week, so we’re just worried about this week right now, worry about December in December. But it doesn’t hurt that he’s done that.”
Darnold Won’t Be Ready for Week 5
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles are 14.5-point favorites at home over the winless Jets. New York is still without starting quarterback Sam Darnold, who thought he might be over his mononucleosis before lab tests showed that his spleen was enlarged, a condition that makes it unsafe for him to play.
It’s a tough thing,” Darnold told reporters. “I want to make sure I’m safe out there, and I’m not going to die.”
In his place, Luke Falk will start for the Jets. He also started in Week 3, completing 12 of 22 passes for just 98 yards in a 30-14 loss to the Patriots.
That could be just what the doctor ordered for the Eagles, who are dealing with their own injury concerns. Philadelphia had a long break after beating the Packers 34-27 last Thursday, but still needed to sign Ryan Lewis – formerly on the team’s practice squad – in order to make sure they had four healthy cornerbacks on their roster.
For fans and bettors looking for more competitive games, there are some marquee matchups on the schedule. The best of the bunch is likely the clash between Dallas and Green Bay, with the home Cowboys installed as a 3.5-point favorite in a battle of 3-1 teams with playoff aspirations.