Injuries are starting to become a factor in the NFL as several quarterbacks are dealing with concussion-like symptoms entering Week 5. Carson Palmer has already been ruled out for Arizona’s Thursday night game against San Francisco, while Cam Newton has a little longer to clear the concussion protocol and return to practice before Carolina hosts Tampa Bay on Monday night. Rob Gronkowski also doesn’t seem to be 100 percent recovered from his hamstring injury.
Injuries like these others are important factors when handicapping the NFL especially since the injury report designations have changed and coaches become more and more tight-lipped.
Record: 5-7 (0-3 last week)
Teams on bye: Jacksonville, Kansas City, New Orleans, Seattle
Note: All games on Sunday and times ET
Houston Texans (3-1) at Minnesota Vikings (4-0), 1 p.m.
Minnesota continues to be one of the biggest surprises in the league after shutting down the Giants this past Monday night. The Vikings have allowed just 50 points so far in four games with just one team gaining more than 100 rushing yards and two throwing for more than 250. Their offense has been good enough to win with not much of a running game to speak of. That part of the offense should continue to struggle against Houston, which has done well limiting teams on the ground. The Texans’ offense has been hit-or-miss with Brock Osweiler showing flashes of good play mixed with awfulness. The good thing for each struggling offense is that the defense has kept their respective team in games. Minnesota has gone under in 25 of its last 37 games including 12 of its last 19 at home. SELECTION: Under 40.5
Atlanta Falcons (3-1) at Denver Broncos (4-0), 4:05 p.m.
The Falcons are flying high as they head to Denver to complete their back-to-back of Super Bowl 50 participants. Atlanta has beaten Oakland and New Orleans on the road as well as Carolina at home. Sunday will represent the Falcons’ third road contest in the last four weeks. Atlanta's defense has allowed 419.2 passing yards per game and could struggle against the Broncos, who have been able to run and pass the ball. Denver's defense won't have the same issues with Julio Jones that Carolina did as there is no comparing the talent and depth of the each team’s secondary. The Broncos have held opponents to 169.5 passing yards per game and should force Matt Ryan into some tough situations. Denver has covered in 21 of its last 40 games including all four this season. Atlanta has failed to cover in 10 of its last 18 road games. The Falcons also have failed to cover in six of their last nine non-conference games. SELECTION: Denver -5.5
San Diego Chargers (1-3) at Oakland Raiders (3-1), 4:25 p.m.
Another week and another devastating injury for San Diego, as top cornerback Jason Verrett is likely lost for the season after tearing his ACL. The Chargers’ defense was putting up good numbers, but he is a huge loss to a unit that allows nearly 300 passing yards per game. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree should have a field day in this one for the Raiders, who have defensive issues of their own. The question is whether the Chargers can take advantage when they have the ball. They have lost a few tough, close battles while the Raiders are coming off back-to-back road wins at Tennessee and Baltimore. San Diego has covered in just two of its last nine October games. I think the injuries eventually catch up to the Chargers. SELECTION: Oakland -3.5
— The Rams are 3-1 entering their home tilt with the Bills. Their offense hasn't been great, but the defense has kept them in games. Los Angeles is coming off a huge road win at Arizona while Buffalo knocked off the archrival Patriots in Foxboro. Both teams would be ripe for the picking if playing other teams.
— Tom Brady's returning for the Patriots, who must be fuming coming off a loss. They travel to Cleveland to play the Browns as a double-digit favorite. You won't see me ever laying double digits on the road especially in the NFL. Cleveland is actually 4-2-1 ATS in its last seven at home in this series since 1992. I'm not advocating the Browns either though.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.