Schwartz’s Trench Report: Texans-Colts, Browns-Raiders Highlight My Favorite Week 4 NFL Bets
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts line of scrimmage
- Former NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz offers his two best Week 4 bets based on the battles up front.
- The Texans offensive line has looked ugly. How can you find value in Houston's divisional matchup in Indianapolis?
- Also: Should you bet on the Browns in Baker Mayfield's first NFL start? Here are picks for both games from the trench perspective.
It’s already Week 4 of the NFL season and I got your trench report right here! The Week 3 report went 1-2 after a backdoor cover in Giants-Texans with one second on the clock, bringing us to 4-3 on the season.
Speaking of the Texans, we’ll kick off this week’s picks based on the battles up front with Houston’s road trip to Indianapolis, then look at Baker Mayfield’s first career start in Oakland.
>> All odds as of 2 p.m. ET on Thursday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets.
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
- Spread: Colts -1.5
- Over/Under: 47
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV channel: CBS
Houston’s offensive line isn’t good.
The unit is ranked 30th overall by Pro Football Focus, and even that might be generous. It also ranks 25th in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate and in power success, which measures running the ball in got-to-have-it situations: third or fourth down and two or fewer yards.
If you looked at the Texans’ overall rushing stats, you’d notice that they aren’t half-bad. They’ve faced below-average rush defenses on the road against the Patriots and Titans, and last week against the Giants — if you take out runs by Deshaun Watson — Houston backs rushed 14 times for only 23 yards.
The Indianapolis defense is so-so against the run, but excels in tackling. The Colts are ninth in broken tackles and face Texans running backs who don’t break any, managing just one so far this season.
The Colts’ pass rush gives them an extreme advantage. They have 37 pressures and 10 sacks this season and are facing the NFL’s second-worst offensive line in pass-blocking efficiency.
I can’t see the Texans scoring many points against the Colts, especially when Houston converts only 35% of third downs.
The Colts’ offensive line isn’t much better than the Texans’, but Indianapolis has young, talented players upfront who can move guys off the ball. I do worry about Colts tackles facing J.J. Watt, who seems like he’s back to his old self. But the Colts are fifth in adjusted sack rate, which is helped by Andrew Luck’s ability to move in the pocket.
And finally, the Colts’ offense ranks third in third-down conversions, which keeps Indianapolis with the ball and with opportunities to score.
Indianapolis should win this game by at least three points.
The Bet: Colts -1.5
Cleveland Browns at Oakland Raiders
- Spread: Raiders -3
- Over/Under: 45
- Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
- TV channel: FOX
People love the Raiders. I don’t get it.
Their defense has three sacks and is barely generating pressure with only 22 pressures through three weeks. The run defense isn’t any better, allowing 4.6 adjusted rushing yards per attempt to rank 24th, per Football Outsiders.
The Browns offensive line gets some grief, but it isn’t as bad as Twitter would lead you to believe. Lots of the unit’s “issues” were generated by Tyrod Taylor not making adjustments — and free runners at the quarterback who aren’t the fault of the offensive line.
Baker Mayfield should have all day to throw. The Browns should get Carlos Hyde going, too.
The Raiders offensive line used to be one of the best in the league, but it now has a rookie at left tackle, and Donald Penn was moved to right tackle after 170 starts at left tackle. As you could imagine, it’s not been an easy switch for the veteran. Pro Football Focus has the Raiders’ offensive line ranked 26th, which I couldn’t believe.
This unit is facing an awesome Browns defensive line, which will make things uncomfortable for the Raiders offense.
It’s tough for a rookie quarterback making his first regular-season start, but this feels like a good opportunity to fade the public and take the Browns.
The Bet: Browns +3