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NFL picks, Week 5: Should you believe in the Los Angeles Rams?

Are the Rams for real? It’s not quite the Greatest Show on Turf, but the sudden emergence of the once-lowly Rams is similar to 1999, when then-unknown Kurt Warner turned the Rams into an almost unstoppable juggernaut.

This time it’s the very well-known Jared Goff in the Warner role, and the results are equally impressive. The Rams entered Week 5 leading the NFL in scoring (35.5 points per game) after finishing last in scoring last season (14.0). That’s actually a bigger jump than the Warner-led Rams, who averaged a league-best 32.9 points per game after ranking 24th in 1998 at 17.8.

Goff, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft, had a 63.6 passer rating as a rookie (five touchdowns, seven interceptions). Through four weeks this season under new coach Sean McVay, Goff led the NFL in yards per attempt (9.2) and was third in passer rating (112.6), with seven touchdowns and only one interception.

It remains to be seen if Goff’s Rams can sustain their success like Warner’s did in 1999, but this week could be telltale. The Seahawks have been the gold standard in the NFC West for the last five seasons. They love a challenge. If they can’t stop Goff & Co., there might actually be a changing of the guard in the division.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) leads the huddle against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 1. | Michael Ainsworth/AP

The Rams were a thorn to the Seahawks even when the Seahawks were on top and the Rams at the bottom. Seattle was 5-5 straight up/3-7 against the spread the previous five seasons. Now the Rams are favorites for the first time since 2011. They look capable of handling the pressure.

Pick: Rams 27, Seahawks 17.

Bears game pick

VIKINGS AT BEARS

  • Time: 7:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN.
  • Line: Vikings by 3. Total: OFF.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Vikings 2-2/2-2; Bears 1-3/2-2.
  • Outlook: Two forces at work here. The Vikings’ defense, one of the best in the NFL, has to be licking its chops facing rookie Mitch Trubisky in his first NFL start. But the Bears, who have a pretty fair offensive line, will be energized by Trubisky’s ascension and figure to play at a higher level than they have. Trubisky won’t wilt, but the better team will win.
  • Pick: Vikings 20, Bears 16.

Top Plays for Week 5

TITANS AT DOLPHINS: 

  • Time: Noon.
  • Line: Titans by 1.
  • Total: OFF.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Titans 2-2/2-2; Dolphins 1-2/1-2.
  • Outlook: This time for sure? Dolphins are playing at home for the first time since Aug. 17. On the other hand, they’re playing in a different stadium for the sixth straight week. Marcus Mariota will be limited if he plays.
  • Pick: Dolphins 17, Titans 13.

PANTHERS AT LIONS

  • Time: Noon, Fox-32.
  • Line: Lions by 2½.
  • Total: 43½.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Panthers 3-1/2-2; Lions 3-1/3-1.
  • Outlook: Cam Newton is coming off a big game but still managed to have a bad week. After gouging the Patriots, the Panthers will be in tough against the Lions, who are tied for the league lead with 11 takeaways. 
  • Pick: Lions 33, Panthers 17.

CHIEFS AT TEXANS

  • Time: 7:30 p.m., Ch. 5.
  • Line: Chiefs by 1.
  • Total: 46½.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Chiefs 4-0/4-0; Texans 2-2/3-1.
  • Outlook: Chiefs already are having a magical season. Deshaun Watson faces huge test vs. Chiefs’ defense, but he has been up to every challenge so far — from 60 to 75.9 to 90.6 to 125.0 last four weeks.
  • Pick: Texans 24, Chiefs 17.

The rest of the NFL picks

JETS AT BROWNS

  • Time: Noon.
  • Line: Pick ’em. Total: 39.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Jets 2-2/2-2; Browns 0-4/1-3.
  • Outlook: Josh McCown is too nice of a guy to be out for revenge against the team that dumped him after last season with a year left on his contract. But he’s still a competitor and will have at least a little motivation to be at his best against his former team. 
  • Pick: Jets 16, Browns 13.

JAGUARS AT STEELERS

  • Time: Noon, Ch. 2.
  • Line: Steelers by 8½. Total: 43½.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Jaguars 2-2/2-2; Steelers 3-1/2-2.
  • Outlook: Not a great matchup for the Jaguars. Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell rushed for 144 yards against the Ravens last week. The Jaguars allowed 256 yards on the ground against the Jets (without Matt Forte) and are last in the NFL in rushing defense. But when it looks too easy, it usually is.
  • Pick: Steelers 31, Jaguars 23.

BILLS AT BENGALS

  • Time: Noon.
  • Line: Bengals by 3. Total: 39.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Bills 3-1/4-0; Bengals 1-3/2-2.
  • Outlook: Bills have been a surprise team but are due for a letdown after a big upset of the Falcons in Atlanta last week. Plus, WR Jordan Matthews is out. Bengals have been a disappointment but got back on track with a convincing victory over the Browns, if there is such a thing. 
  • Pick: Bengals 26, Bills 17.

49ERS AT COLTS

  • Time: Noon.
  • Line: Colts by 1½. Total: 44.
  • Records (overall/ATS): 49ers 0-4/3-1; Colts 1-3/2-2.
  • Outlook: Niners’ defense is deceptively improved. It ranks 24th in points allowed but eighth in yards per play. Colts are a good matchup here without Andrew Luck. All QB Brian Hoyer has to do is avoid disaster.
  • Pick: 49ers 23, Colts 16.

CARDINALS AT EAGLES

  • Time: Noon.
  • Line: Eagles by 6½. Total: 45.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Cardinals 2-2/0-4; Eagles 3-1/2-2.
  • Outlook: Two teams seemingly headed in different directions. The Eagles have lost only to the unbeaten Chiefs on the road. Cards’ only wins are taffy-pulls vs. the Colts and 49ers.
  • Pick: Eagles 24, Cardinals 17.

CHARGERS AT GIANTS

  • Time: Noon.
  • Line: Giants by 3½. Total: 44½.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Chargers 0-4/0-3-1; Giants 0-4/2-2.
  • Outlook: Crummy Game of the Week. Both teams were narrow losers to good teams last week, but the Chargers allowed the Eagles to run out the last 6:44 after getting within 26-24.
  • Pick: Giants 31, Chargers 27.

RAVENS AT RAIDERS

  • Time: 3:05 p.m.
  • Line: Raiders by 2½. Total: 39.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Ravens 2-2/2-2; Raiders 2-2/2-2.
  • Outlook: David Carr’s back injury is a blow to the Raiders, but EJ Manuel is not a bad option. He had the chance to at least cover if the TE didn’t alligator-arm a pass in the end zone. 
  • Pick: Raiders 23, Ravens 20 (OT).

PACKERS AT COWBOYS

  • Time: 3:25 p.m., Fox-32.
  • Line: Cowboys by 2. Total: 52½.
  • Records (overall/ATS): Packers 3-1/2-2; Cowboys 2-2/2-2.
  • Outlook: Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott (3.6 ypc) not looking like the team they were last year. Cowboys have the revenge factor, but the Packers have Aaron Rodgers. Advantage: Packers.Pick: Packers 31, Cowboys 24.