Philadelphia Eagles @ Pittsburgh Steelers (Sky Sports HD 6pm)

The Eagles have alternated wins and losses on their last seven trips to Pittsburgh and lost 27-3 on their last trip there in 2004. They receive 3.5 points on the BETDAQ handicap, making this a viable underdog play, given that the Steelers have yet to look balanced, particularly in the running game – their top rusher in any of their four games totalled 43 yards. Rashard Mendenhall should be fit to return, so expect a significant improvement in this department.

The Eagles have won eight of their last 11 overall against the Steelers, but can anyone be really convinced about Michael Vick’s form? He has been responsible for nine of the 12 Eagles turnovers (six interceptions and three fumbles) and while Dick LeBeau’s defence has forced just two turnovers this year, they will be hungrier than ever to discombobulate Vick. The key matchup could be Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and Steelers receiver Mike Wallace, who is Ben Roethlisberger’s favourite target.

Asomugha has been targeted since his big free-agent move to Philly and he needs to start earning his bucks – there have been times when he has taken bad angles and his play has been so sloppy at times (and this is pure speculation on my part) that one wonders if he isn’t carrying an injury. If Vick plays mistake-free football, the Eagles have enough weapons – in particular running back LeSean McCoy, who returns to Heinz Field having played his college career there with the University of Pittsburgh – that they will soon start averaging more than their 16.5 points per game (which ranks 30th of the 32 NFL teams).

Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots (Sky Sports HD 9.25pm)

Which camp am I in? Matt Birk’s. Get over it. Oh sorry, wrong argument. You either love Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. You can’t love both. You are not Meg Ryan or Tiger Woods (but if you are Meg Ryan, shouldn’t you have something better to do?). It’s not apples and oranges, rather anvils and cupcakes. Yes, Ugg-wearing pretty boy, Manning is the iron man in my book.

Brady may be 1-5 against the handicap in his last six games against Peyton Manning, but Manning is 2-8 all time in Foxboro and the money came early for New England this week; in some places the line moved from 6.5 points to the key number of 7. The BETDAQ line is still 6.5 in favour of the Patriots, who demolished Buffalo last week, with some impressive play from their offensive line and an unheralded running game.

The Broncos are just 1-7 against the handicap in their last eight October games but you have to go back to 1964, when the Patriots were known as the Boston Patriots, to find the last time that Denver lost on three consecutive trips there (they have lost their last two in New England).

While not sold on the Broncos being a contender in the AFC, neither am I convinced by New England’s defence. They still appear to have innumerable problems in the secondary and their pass rush is strong enough to give Brady a few anxious moments. Denver also have a shaky secondary, but 6.5 points looks worth taking in a game that could end up as another classic slugging match.

San Diego Chargers @ New Orleans Saints (C4 1.20am)

It’s a little surprising to see the 0-4 Saints as 3.5-point favourites against a team that has only ever lost once in five trips to Louisiana, a team with a 3-1 record coming off an emphatic road win against the Kansas City Chiefs, who have already beaten the Saints in the Superdome. Yet the Chargers are 3-7 in October road games under Norv Turner and the Saints will be rabid for a first victory, having thrown away good opportunities against the Chiefs (they held a 24-6 lead and still lost) and in Green Bay last week, going down 29-28.

They are giving up an average of 463.3 yards per game, which is horrific. But the problems do not end there. Quarterback Drew Brees, who faces his old team, is trying to do too much. He leads the league in pass attempts with 191 yet has just a 57.6% completion rate, although they are still averaging 27.5 points per game, compared to San Diego’s 25ppg. Chargers have won both their road games – albeit against the lowly Raiders and Chiefs – and despite their record, you would have the Saints as favourites over both those clubs. You would not altogether trust the Chargers in this spot.

There has been an interesting line move on the points total earlier in the week, opening at 52.5 and rising to 54. Bettors could be chasing their money on Sunday night, and linemakers know that bettors are an optimistic breed. Week 5 always fills me with pessimism, so I’d take the opposing view and go under 54 with BETDAQ.

Miami Dolphins @ Cincinnati Bengals

This looks a potential trap game for the Bengals. They invariably have trouble beating the Dolphins, who are 8-3 on the road in Cincinnati all time (and 13-3 in their last 16 clashes). You are as good as your record shows, but the fact is Joe Philbin’s rebuilding Dolphins are 1-3 when they could be – and probably should be – 3-1, thanks to two back-to-back overtime losses in games they had largely controlled, against the Jets and Cardinals.

While Ryan Tannehill has progressed in each game, he is still a rookie quarterback and he is prone to making mistakes, as he did when lobbing a costly interception in overtime which led to Arizona’s winning score last week.

Cincinnati are unlikely to run the ball against a dominant run-stuffing line, but the Dolphins can be beaten on the backend and the Bengals will spread out the defence, utilising tight end Jemaine Greasham and a fleet of excellent young receivers including A.J. Green, Armon Binns and Andrew Hawkins. It should be enough for the hosts to chisel out a rare home win against the Phins.

The Dolphins are 8-0 against the handicap against a team with a winning record and Cincinnati are 1-4-1 against the handicap in their last six home games, which is why the line has moved drastically from an opening 5.5-point mark to 3.5 with BETDAQ in favour of the Bengals. That now makes the hosts a viable play.

Perhaps a little too much has been read into the chemistry that Tannehill and receiver Brian Hartline are developing, but the signing of Jabar Gaffney this week undoubtedly adds a veteran presence to the Dolphins’ still average receiving corps.

Miami does have a chance with the running game. The Bengals are 24th against the run (133.5 yards per game) and Miami’s offensive line has opened plenty of holes for Reggie Bush, who should be back to full fitness after suffering a bang on the knee two weeks ago.

And, of course, Miami’s not-so-secret weapon near the goal-line is 258lb fullback Jorvorskie Lane, whose blocking is improving all the while. He has also scored touchdowns in consecutive weeks, ploughing through defensive linemen like a bowling ball.

Philbin tagged Lane with an amusing nickname ‘Butterball’, but Lane, whose half-brother is Green Bay Packers’ tight end Jermichael Finley, is more commonly known as ‘Train’.

While the Dolphins continue to lose squeakers, Lane has been one of the finds of the season. So this week’s Musical Interlude – naturally enough by Train – is dedicated to him. It’s a scant consolation for what is likely to be another defeat. But if they do win, their immediate schedule does not look that tough. They may not challenge the Patriots in the AFC East, but this young Dolphins team appears to be heading in the right direction.

Baltimore Ravens @ Kansas City Chiefs

Can we trust Baltimore on the road? They are 4-7 in their last 11 road games and seem to raise their game against good opposition and lower their guard against weaklings. The Chiefs are usually tough at Arrowhead Stadium but they are worse than the when they were thrashed 30-7 by the Ravens there in the 2010-11 Wild Card Playoffs round. If anything, the Ravens have improved since then. Baltimore have had a few days extra rest, having failed to cover the handicap against Cleveland 10 days ago. A touchdown margin would seem a fair handicap to overcome and the untrustworthy Ravens should be good enough to stick their heels onto the throat of an overmatched opponent and win comfortably.

Atlanta Falcons @ Washington Redskins

The 3-point BETDAQ handicap that Atlanta are asked to concede has left me flummoxed. It screams ‘bet the favourite’, especially when you look at the matchup of Atlanta’s slick passing attack against Washington’s injury-riddled secondary. Injuries to Washington’s front seven also means that Atlanta running back Michael Turner should be able to close out the game and keep the ball away from Robert Griffin III, which means that it should not develop into the anticipated shootout. While not a great fan of betting on points totals, this might be a case of taking Under 50 offered by BETDAQ linemakers. But the handicap line looks plain wrong. It’s like a big, fat, calorific cake with whipped cream and a cherry on top. On the basis that something that looks this good is probably very bad for you, take Washington with the points – although this goes against the grain of all the matchups analysis.

Chicago Bears @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville have no pass rush (just two sacks in four games) so Jay Cutler, who is used to being put on his back more often than a $50 hooker, will no doubt be completely confused with so much time and will start lobbing interceptions all over the place. That’s really the only way you can see the Jaguars winning, because their offensive line will get little respite from the Bears’ defensive front. Despite playing off a short rest week on the second leg of back-to-back road trips, you can still put faith in Chicago, especially since the Jags are just 5-16-1 in their last 22 games against a team with a winning record. The BETDAQ handicap is 4.5 in favour of the Bears. Knowing my previous Week 5 luck, Chicago will win it by three.

Cleveland Browns @ New York Giants

With their tough schedule, the Giants simply have to have a win here. The beauty of betting with BETDAQ is that there are at least two handicaps on offer, with trading opportunities to back or lay 9.5 points or 10 points in favour of the hosts. The Browns beat the defending Super Bowl champion Giants 35-14 in their fifth game of the 2008 season (in Cleveland). Don’t expect lightening to strike twice. The Browns are still terrible and the Giants are still trying to defend a championship. But despite having exceptional playmakers like running back Trent Richardson and linebacker D’Quell Jackson, you have a rookie quarterback going on the road against a team who are coming off a division loss with a point to prove. The Giants will prove it, too.

Back – Philadelphia +3.5
Lay – New England -6.5
Back – San Diego +3.5
Back – Under 54 points in total San Diego/New Orleans
Back – Cincinnati -3.5
Lay – Kansas City +6.5
Back – Washington +3
Back – Under 50 points in total Atlanta/Washington
Lay – Jacksonville Moneyline
Back – NY Giants -9.5

Milham’s 2012 record:
Week 1: 7-5
Week 2: 7-6-1
Week 3: 5-8
Week 4: 10-3

Twitter: @simonmilham

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