Week 4 NFL Odds, Picks & Predictions: Your Guide To Betting All of Sunday’s Games
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Derek Carr
COVID-19 has finally impacted the NFL schedule, with the Titans’ outbreak forcing the league to reschedule their matchup against the Steelers for Week 7. Then on Saturday morning, Cam Newton tested positive, postponing the Patriots-Chiefs game with it’s new date still to be announced.
Still, there are 12 games to be played on Sunday, including 11 in the 1 and 4 p.m. ET windows. To help you prep for that main slate, our staff has previewed each game below, featuring odds and picks for every matchup.
Week 4 NFL Odds, Picks & Predictions
Click on a matchup to skip to that preview and pick.
Written by Raheem Palmer
The New Orleans Saints opened the 2020 season as one of the favorites to make Super Bowl LII. After a 1-2 start, back-to-back losses and the noticeable decline of future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, it appears the sky is falling in the Bayou.
New Orleans looks to get its season on track Sunday when it travels to Detroit to take on the Lions, who are coming off an underdog victory against the Cardinals.
Can Brees and the Saints keep their Super Bowl hopes alive, or will the Matthew Stafford and the Lions pull off their second consecutive upset?
New Orleans Saints
The biggest issue surrounding the Saints has been Brees’ play.
With the deterioration in his arm strength, Brees is last in intended air yards (4.6) among all quarterbacks. But despite him no longer looking to throw downfield, the talk of his decline feels overblown as he’s still eighth in completion percentage (70.2), 12th in touchdown rate (5.8), ninth in quarterback rating (106.2), 10th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and has thrown just one interception.
It’s important to note that he’s been without Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas for the past two games and been working with a new receiver in Emmanuel Sanders. Unfortunately, Thomas will be missing in action again this Sunday (as will tight end Jared Cook), so Brees will have to find rapport with his other targets.
Alvin Kamara’s presence has kept the Saints offense playing at an elite level, leading the team in touchdowns (6), rushing yards (153), receptions (27) and receiving yards (285), where he ranks fifth in the league.
To put it frankly, Kamara is currently the Saints offense, and is one of the biggest reasons they’re scoring 29 points per game. New Orleans is also third in rushing success rate and get to face a Detroit defense giving up 172 yards per game on the ground and 27th in rushing success rate.
Defensively, New Orleans does have some issues. For starters, it leads the league with 17 penalties for 261 yards. Although the Saints’ run defense is still stout, ranking fifth with just 3.4 yards per attempt, they’ve struggled defending through the air.
New Orleans held Tom Brady to a rough outing in Week 1, but followed that up by allowing 120 passer ratings to both Derek Carr and Aaron Rodgers. After giving up 71 points over the past two weeks, the Saints are seventh in points allowed (31.3) as well as 23rd in completion percentage (67.9) and 18th in yards per attempt (7.6) allowed.
The secondary had no answer for Raiders tight end Darren Waller, who caught 12 passes for 105 yards two weeks ago, and things won’t get any better this week facing weapons like T.J. Hockenson and Kenny Golladay. That’s partially due to the fact cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins have been ruled out with hamstring and shoulder injuries, respectively.
P.J. Williams, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Patrick Robinson are playing in the slot or at the safety, so there will be an adjustment without their top two corners.
The Lions defense played its best game of the season last week, picking off Kyler Murray three times. Although turnovers were enough to help the Lions get the win, their defense is still the weak link — they struggle to generate a pass rush and are last in pressure rate (13.8%).
Despite having a defensive-minded head coach in Matt Patricia, Detroit’s defense is 27th in run success rate and 23rd in passing success rate.
Although safety C.J. Moore is out Sunday, cornerback Desmond Trufant could return after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. If he can go, he would replace third overall pick Jeff Okudah, who’s had a rough start to his NFL career. Okudah has allowed 12 catches on 16 targets, ranking 108th out of 109 cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus.
Given the Lions defensive struggles, Stafford and the Lions will need to move the ball through the air. Stafford is coming off his best game of the season, throwing for 270 yards, two touchdowns, a 70.97% completion percentage and a 119 quarterback rating against Arizona.
Nine different receivers caught passes last week, with Golladay, Hockenson and Jones all going for more than 50 yards.
If there’s an Achilles heel of this offense, it’s the tendency to overcommit to the run in the second half of games. The Lions are 27th in run success rate and 15th in passing success rate, yet they’ve consistently chosen to run more in the second half.
Detroit averaged 11 yards per play with a 71% passing success rate in the first half of last week’s game against Arizona. After halftime, the Lions ran the ball on 11-of-15 first downs, averaging just 1.5 yards per play. It speaks volumes that the Lions have blown 11 fourth-quarter leads during the 33 games in which Patricia has been head coach.
Initially, I thought this was a good buy-low spot for the Saints, due to the fact the Lions beat the Cardinals by just three points despite picking off Murray three times last week.
I believe Brees’ struggles are a bit overblown, but the receiving and defensive absences makes the Saints all but unplayable. The Lions are getting healthier, while the Saints are losing players on both sides of the ball.
That said, this is a good spot to back Detroit.
PICK: Lions +3
Written by Mike Randle
Los Angeles Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert has been thrust into the starting role as a result of injury to veteran Tyrod Taylor. The University of Oregon product has performed better than expected despite two losses. But how will Herbert handle the long trip to the East coast, where he will face the resistance put forth by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense?
I think he’ll struggle. Let’s examine why.
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles will be dealing with significant injuries on both sides of the ball.
The Chargers will be without starting wide receiver Mike Williams (hamstring), forcing them to rely heavily on veteran Keenan Allen. In Week 3, Allen posted the overall WR3 game in fantasy with 19 targets from Herbert. Now Allen will be the focus of a Buccaneers defense that’s allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. With the absence of Williams’ deep threat, Allen’s 72nd-ranked yards per target average (7.2) indicates he’ll again need heavy volume to make a significant impact on offense.
Los Angeles is also dealing with several defensive injuries. The Chargers will be without defensive end Melvin Ingram, defensive tackle Justin Jones and cornerback Chris Harris. Making things worse, All-Pro defensive tackle Joey Bosa was limited in practice this week with both triceps and ankle injuries.
Finally, right guard Bryan Bulaga (back) and right tackle Trai Turner (groin) have been ruled out for Sunday, which will make things difficult against a strong Tampa Bay defensive front.
The Chargers’ ground game will face its stiffest test of the season against a Buccaneers defense that’s allowed running back averages of just 2.4, 3.6 and 3.0 yards per carry through the first three weeks. This will limit the upside of rookie rusher Joshua Kelley, which will put extra emphasis on the pass-catching prowess of Austin Ekeler. The Buccaneers have allowed the fourth-most receiving yards to opposing running backs, but that’s greatly skewed by facing Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey over the first two weeks.
Herbert was impressive in his initial start against a Kansas City defense that had prepared for veteran Tyrod Taylor in Week 2. But then against a poor Carolina defense last week, Herbert took a step backward. He was able to lead the offense to only 16 points against a defense in the NFL’s bottom four in both pass and run efficiency. He fumbled twice (losing one), threw an interception and mustered only one touchdown through the air.
Playing on the road against one of the NFL’s best defenses represents a big jump in difficulty for Herbert.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers are starting to come together as a team after consecutive wins over the Panthers and Broncos, outscoring the pair by a combined 59-27 points.
The Buccaneers offense will be without leading wide receiver Chris Godwin, who left Week 3 with a hamstring injury. Fortunately, Tampa Bay will still have wideout Mike Evans — who is tied for a league-leading four receiving touchdowns — and competent slot receivers Scotty Miller and Justin Watson.
Head coach Bruce Arians is now forced to return the lead running back duties to Ronald Jones after Leonard Fournette (out) suffered an ankle injury during the fourth quarter of last week’s game in Denver. However, before the injury, Fournette had totaled only 15 yards on seven attempts (2.1 yards per carry) in the game. Jones was the more explosive runner against the Broncos, and has a chance to restore the faith in all his preseason truthers (myself included).
Both Tampa Bay tight ends have the potential for big games on a weekly basis. O.J. Howard ranks third in average target distance (11.7) and fifth in yards per route run (2.23) at the position. Veteran Rob Gronkowski saw his snap share rise to a season-high 88.9% in Week 3 while finishing as the overall TE11 in fantasy.
The Buccaneers defense has been one of the NFL’s best so far this season. They rank third against the pass, fifth against the run and second overall in Football Outsiders’ DVOA while allowing the fourth-fewest yards per game. Tampa Bay is also tied for second in the league in interceptions (four) as well as third in the league with 13 sacks.
This line opened at Tampa Bay -4.5 and has risen throughout the week to Tampa Bay -7.
Both teams are limited, but the defensive advantage lies with the Bucs. The Chargers defense, while ranking fourth in points allowed and eighth in yards allowed, simply do not force turnovers. In 2019, Los Angeles recorded a franchise-low 14 turnovers and have not forced one since Week 1.
The Buccaneers still have plenty of offensive weapons for Tom Brady and their defense will force Herbert into multiple turnovers.
I’m laying the seven points with the Buccaneers and would bet this up to 7.5.
Pick: Buccaneers -7 (up to -7.5)
Written by Phillip Kall
The Bengals were able to escape with a tie in Week 3 despite the Eagles swarming Joe Burrow for eight sacks. Now the Bengals will look to take the next step forward and get Burrow his first win against the Jaguars.
Cincinnati should have the weapons to attack a struggling Jacksonville secondary that allows the league’s highest quarterback rating. However, to do so, the Bengals will have to hold off a Jaguars’ pass rush that has produced a respectable pressure rate of 24.2%.
The Jaguars enter Week 4 after playing their worst game of the season on Thursday Night Football.
Allowing three touchdowns on the Dolphins’ first three drives was an instance of the Jaguars’ defensive struggles in the first half. Fortunately for them, the Bengals have struggled to move the ball through the air early in games, as Burrow has a quarterback rating of 76.5 in the first quarter. If the Jaguars are able to avoid an early deficit, they will have a chance to lean on their run game against a Bengals defense that’s allowing 5.0 yards per carry.
Coming off extra rest, the Jaguars should be ready to show they’re the team from Weeks 1 and 2 — not the pushover that showed up Week 3 — and take down the Bengals.
Undrafted rookie running back James Robinson has been everything the Jaguars could have wanted when they released Leonard Fournette and backup Ryquell Armstead was placed on the COVID/IR list. Averaging 3.1 yards after contact per carry, Robinson should cause lots of problems for the struggling Bengals run defense.
Attacking the Bengals’ sixth-ranked pass defense will be more difficult, as no receiver had more than 43 yards for the Jaguars in Week 3. The return of D.J. Chark should provide a nice boost to Jacksonville’s passing attack. While he has only 109 yards in his two games played, he draws coverage from the defense’s top corner, making life easier for the rest of the receivers.
The Jaguars’ run defense has been their strength. Myles Jack has been the main source of production with a league-leading 33 tackles. Jacksonville should be well-positioned to control Cincinnati’s rushing offense, which averages a measly 3.4 yards per carry and ranks 31st in the NFL.
Defending the pass will be a much more difficult challenge.
The Jaguars have allowed an 80% completion rate and quarterback rating of 118.6, ranking last in both categories. With the struggles of their defensive backfield, they’ll need to rely on the pass rush to slow the passing attack. This unit, led by Pro-Bowler Josh Allen, has produced the 12th overall pressure rate. And while this may not be the cream of the crop, it should be enough to cause problems for Burrow.
Burrow has shown he was deserving of the first overall pick, producing a respectable Pro Football Focus grade of 76.1. However, despite his play, the Bengals offense ranks 25th in points scored, 27th in yards gained and last in yards per play.
The struggle to move the ball lies on the shoulders of the offensive line and wide receivers.
The line has allowed a league-high 14 sacks and has blocked for the sixth-fewest yards before contact on rush attempts. And while the receivers were hyped coming into the year, the big names have struggled: A.J. Green looks like the injuries have caught up to him, catching 13-of-28 targets; rookie second-rounder Tee Higgins averages only 5.0 yards per target; and former first-rounder John Ross was a healthy scratch in Week 3. Tyler Boyd has been the only receiver to perform with a career-high 76.7 yards per game.
Even if the line is able to keep Burrow upright, his receivers will need to step up and do their part.
While former All-Pro Geno Atkins was able to return to practice in a limited fashion, the Bengals will be without him for at least one more game. Without Atkins providing reinforcements, linebackers Josh Bynes and Germaine Pratt will need to improve their play to slow down the run. Otherwise, Robinson will have a field day against the 31st-ranked rushing defense
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The pass defense has played well, allowing the second-fewest yards per pass attempt at a mark of 5.8. Cornerback William Jackson III has been the leader of the group, guarding the opposing offense’s No. 1 target and still holding quarterbacks to a rating of 72.0 when targeted.
The Bengals should have an advantage against the Jaguars’ 21st-ranked passing attack.
Due to the struggles on the offensive line, the talented Bengals offense has produced a league-worst 4.2 yards per play. So if the Jaguars can keep the Bengals from getting ahead early, Robinson should be in a position to take advantage of the Bengals’ 31st-ranked run defense.
Pick: Jaguars +3
|Vikings Odds||+3.5 [BET NOW]|
|Texans Odds||-3.5 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||53.5 [BET NOW]|
|Kickoff||1 p.m. ET on Sunday|
Written by Raheem Palmer
Someone’s perfect record must go.
The Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans enter Week 4 winless, leading to incredibly disappointing starts for teams that advanced to the Divisional Round in their respective playoffs last season.
Needless to say, both franchises hope to get off the snide Sunday in a game that oddsmakers have installed Houston as a 3.5-point favorite.
In the battle between two winless teams, let’s see where the betting value lies.
Minnesota’s season couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start.
After a heartbreaking 31-30 loss to the Titans that dropped the Vikings to 0-3 on the season, it was announced that there was a COVID-19 outbreak within the Tennessee organization.
Although the Titans’ game against the Steelers this week was postponed, the Vikings game will go on as scheduled. With players quarantined early in the week, they weren’t able to practice until Friday. And while there’s no way to specifically quantify what that time lost as a team is worth in regard to the point spread, it should provide Houston a distinct advantage.
The Vikings’ defense has been historically bad and is off to its worst three-game start in franchise history. The Mike Zimmer-led unit is second in points allowed (34 points per game), fifth in yards allowed (440), second in passing yards per play (8.0) and 19th in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA.
Along with the defensive free-agent losses, the Vikings have also been hit by the injury bug, with Pro Bowl defensive end Danielle Hunter and linebacker Anthony Barr both on injured reserve.
Zimmer’s teams are known strong defense and establishing the run. And while they haven’t been overly successful at stopping teams, Dalvin Cook had a big game in Week 3 against the Titans, rushing for 181 yards on 22 carries.
The Vikings face a Texans defense that’s giving up 5.2 yards per carry and ranks 24th in Football Outsiders’ rush defense. Still, with a defense that’s as bad as the Vikings’ unit, they could find themselves in a negative game script situation in which they won’t be able to rely on the run and instead need to depend on the turnover-prone Kirk Cousins to generate opportunities.
After starting the season against the likes of Kansas City, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, Houston finally catches a break in its schedule.
The Texans’ inability to protect Deshaun Watson has plagued them all season, which has led the quarterback to be sacked a league-leading 13 times. Coming off games against three AFC powers that are much better at rushing the quarterback, Sunday should feel like a breath of fresh air.
The Vikings have the fifth-fewest sacks (4) in the league and yielded the third-most passing yards in the league (292.3).
Watson and the passing game should be in for the best game of the season against a young and beat up Vikings secondary. Per Sharp Football Stats, the Vikings are last in explosive pass plays, allowing 13% of pass plays to result in 20 or more yards. As you would probably guess, opposing receivers have put up astounding numbers against the Vikings.
How good have those numbers been? Take a look:
- Packers WR Davante Adams: 14 rec; 152 yards; 2 TDs; longest reception: 40 yards
- Colts TE Mo Alie-Cox: 5 rec; 111 yards; longest reception: 33 yards
- Titans WR Kalif Raymond: 3 rec; 118 yards; longest reception: 61 yards
Against a running quarterback like Watson, who has an array of weapons at his disposal in Randall Cobb, Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks and Jordan Akins, the Vikings should have their hands full.
The Texans are in a great spot to pick up their first victory. They face a Vikings team that didn’t get to practice most of the week, allows the most explosive plays in the NFL and can’t capitalize on their biggest weakness in their inability to protect the quarterback.
After opening the season against a Murderers’ Row of sorts when it comes to opponents, the Texans finally catch a break and have a good shot at saving their season. Meanwhile, the Vikings insert themselves into the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes in what should be another tough outing.
Pick: Texans -3.5
Written by Mike Randle
The undefeated Seattle Seahawks journey cross-country to face a 1-2 Miami Dolphins team in rebuilding mode. With Russell Wilson posting historic numbers, should Seattle feel comfortable getting into a shootout with unpredictable Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick?
Even with the second-highest total on Sunday’s slate, there’s still value on the over. Let’s take a closer look.
The Seattle secondary has struggled to defend the pass all season. The Seahawks rank 29th in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA, allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Seattle has yielded an average of 47.9 fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts, more than 40% more than the second-worst team (Dallas).
The Seahawks will also be without two key pieces of that secondary, with cornerback Quinton Dunbar (knee) and safety Jamal Adams (groin) both missing the game. In addition, starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin is questionable with a shoulder injury.
Seattle will need to rely on its stiff run defense, which ranks fourth-best in the league per Football Outsiders. Through the first three games, opposing running backs have produced only 2.7 yards per carry against the Seahawks’ defensive front.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has finally unleashed Wilson on the NFL, making fantasy owners forever thankful. Seattle ranks second in the league at 37 points per game, with Wilson leading the NFL in passing touchdowns (14) and fantasy points per game (33.3).
Both Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf have been spectacular this season. Last week, Wilson connected with Lockett for three touchdowns passes en route to the overall fantasy QB2 and WR1 performances, respectively.
Lockett ranks sixth in targets (29), third in receptions (24) and second overall in PPR fantasy points per game (24.6), while Metcalf is fourth in air yards and is eighth with 19.2 fantasy points per game. Now they face a Dolphins secondary that was scorched by Stefon Diggs (8/153/1) and John Brown (4/82/1) in their Week 2 home loss to Buffalo. Miami’s top cornerback Byron Jones (groin) is listed as doubtful, making Seattle’s path to scoring even easier.
The Seahawks received good news, with lead running back Chris Carson practicing in full Friday after suffering a knee injury against Dallas. He’s listed as questionable but is expected to play, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The Dolphins earned their first win of the season in Week 3 with an impressive 31-13 win in Jacksonville. Fitzpatrick started to heat up, connecting on an incredible 90% (18-of-20) of his passes for 198 total yards and three total touchdowns.
Miami should be able to attack the Seattle secondary with receivers DeVante Parker and Preston Williams. Seattle has allowed more than 430 passing yards per game and these opposing wideouts have put up these numbers:
- Julio Jones (ATL): 9 catches/157 yards/0 touchdowns
- Calvin Ridley (ATL): 9/130/2
- Russell Gage (ATL): 9/114/0
- Julian Edelman (NE): 8/179/0
- Michael Gallup (DAL): 6/138/1
- Cedric Wilson (DAL): 5/107/2
Parker was a fantasy league-winner down the stretch last season, parlaying his connection with Fitzpatrick into big weekly performances. But using the RotoViz Stat Explorer, we can see that Parker has yet to match his incredible 2019 year-end efficiency:
Williams caught his first touchdown catch in Week 3 and is now freed from the gauntlet of cornerback matchups that included Stephon Gilmore, Tre’Davious White and dynamic rookie C.J. Henderson.
Miami tight end Mike Gesicki is also a big-play threat, as evidenced of his eight catches for 130 yards and a touchdown in Week 2 against Buffalo.
The Dolphins’ offense will need to score points to stay competitive, as their defense will likely provide little resistance for Seattle. Miami ranks last in defensive DVOA, including 25th against the pass and 32nd against the run.
The second-highest projected game total on the early Sunday slate belongs to Seattle and Miami. I can’t see how this game stays competitive unless it is high scoring. Per our public betting data, 87% of the bets and 92% of the money is on the over as of writing. And while I usually prefer to fade the public, I simply can’t in this matchup.
Fifty-five is a key number for totals, so I would only feel comfortable betting the over up to the 54.5 points.
Pick: Over 54.5
Written by Raheem Palmer
With a 2-1 record to start the season, the Cleveland Browns are finally above the .500 mark for the first time since since December 2014. While things are looking up for the Browns, the Dallas Cowboys (1-2) are tending in the wrong direction following three consecutive lackluster performances.
Despite the rough start, oddsmakers still have the Cowboys pegged as 4-point favorites against the Browns. But is that warranted, or is “America’s Team” getting too much love?
I think it’s time to fade Dallas.
Baker Mayfield hasn’t been great this season, but he hasn’t had to be. Cleveland’s rushing attack, featuring Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, has been fueling a Kevin Stefanski offense that’s averaging 5.2 yards per carry and 170 yards per game.
The Rams’ performance in the opening week against the Cowboys — when L.A. ran the ball 40 times for 153 yards (albeit more efficiently) and controlled the time of possession (35:38 minutes to 24:22 minutes) — could be a blueprint for the Browns to follow in this game.
Although we’re seeing a decrease in Mayfield’s statistics, his efficiency has increased as he’s effectively managing the offense. Mayfield ranks ninth in ESPN’s Total QBR after finishing 19th last season, and the Dallas defense is allowing the fifth-most passing yards per game (277), which means this could be a spot where Mayfield shows more with wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
Defensively, Cleveland has a vaunted front seven that’s led by Myles Garrett. The standout, who had double-digit sacks last season, has amassed three sacks and two forced fumbles already this campaign. Adrian Clayborn has been ruled out with a hip injury, but Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson, Larry Ogunjobi and Jordan Elliott will be tough on the banged up Cowboys line.
One of the biggest reasons sharps were bullish on the Cowboys coming into the season was due to the fact conventional wisdom says their 0-5 record in one-score games (featuring a point differential of minus-5) would regress to the mean.
Unlike 2018, when it went 8-3 and had a plus-6 point differential in games decided by seven or fewer points, Dallas appears to be repeating the 2019 season all over again. All three of the Cowboys’ games have been decided by seven or fewer points, with losses to the Rams and Seahawks. The lone Dallas win was a come-from-behind victory against the Falcons.
Dak Prescott has yet to land a long-term contract, but that hasn’t stopped him from leading the league in passing at 396 yards per game. Although some of that is a product of a leaky defense that’s forced Dallas to pass its way back into games, it can’t be discounted how explosive this Cowboys offense has been this season.
Offensive weapons Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and first-round pick CeeDee Lamb are familiar names, but Cedric Wilson — a 2018 sixth-round pick — has also emerged as an exciting threat for Dallas.
The Cowboys’ patchwork offensive line will face its toughest test in this game. Left tackle Tyron Smith is on track to play, but Dallas’ full projected starting offensive line has yet to play this season with La’el Collins on IR and multiple starters going down along the way.
Left guard Zack Martin moved to right tackle in the Seattle game, which marked the fifth offensive-line combination in three games. For a unit that’s lacked continuity, the Browns’ defensive line could be a nightmare.
The defense is a disaster to say the least. Through the first three weeks, Dallas has given up 1,214 yards and allowed 32.3 points per game. The Falcons and Vikings are the only teams who have given up more points.
According to Sharp Football Stats, the Cowboys are 31st in explosive pass plays, allowing 12% of them to gain 20-plus yards. The decision to not pay Byron Smith Jones hasn’t paid off, as the Cowboys are 24th in Football Outsiders’ pass defensive DVOA. The loss of Chidobe Awuzie to a hamstring injury hasn’t helped, either.
With this defense, the Cowboys’ success is dependent on whether the offense can score 30-plus points every week.
The Cowboys are a miracle, onside-kick away from being 0-3, yet they’re still laying points to the Browns. If there’s one thing we’ve seen from Dallas this season, its defense will put it behind the eight ball on many occasions.
The Cowboys’ offense will give it a chance to win every game, but given the Browns’ talent on the defensive line, ability to run the ball and having offensive weapons like Beckham and Landry, this road dog is live and could bark louder than you think.
My model makes this game closer to 3 points rather than 4. I would sprinkle a small percentage of your wager on the ML as well.
Pick: Browns +4
Written by Brandon Anderson
The Cardinals and Panthers are two teams headed in the right direction for the long haul.
Carolina dumped its entire coaching staff after last season and started over with head coach Matt Rhule, and Arizona did the same thing a year ago with Kliff Kingsbury. The Cardinals also had the luxury of drafting Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick in 2019.
Both teams have bright futures with their young play-callers and college-style spread offenses, but the Cardinals have the better outlook for 2020. Unfortunately, both offenses could be missing their key playmaker — Christian McCaffrey is out for Carolina while DeAndre Hopkins is questionable for Arizona.
Lucky for the Cards, that’s not the side of the ball on which they’ve thrived this season.
The Cardinals were a popular sleeper team entering 2020 with Murray entering his second season and the addition of the All-Pro Hopkins from the Texans. Hopkins was expected to give Murray a go-to weapon, and Hopkins has looked the part through three games.
This week against Carolina, though, Hopkins is considered questionable due to an ankle injury and Kingsbury said he will be a game-time decision.
Hopkins enters Week 4 with 32 catches for 356 yards and a touchdown. He’s had instant chemistry with Murray, who has been incredible on his own with a handful of highlight-reel runs. But for all the numbers and flashy plays, the 2-1 Cardinals’ offense actually hasn’t been very good. They’re not creating long, sustained drives and have been too dependent on their playmakers to make something out of nothing.
The real surprise for Arizona has been its defense.
In many ways, the Cardinals and Panthers were expected to be mirror images of one another this season, with both featuring fun offenses with dumpster-fire defenses. But the Cardinals have won with defense so far, with the No. 7 defense according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA. The offense, however, ranks 24th in the NFL.
The Cardinals’ stars may be on offense, but they have been winning in spite of that unit so far in 2020.
The Panthers started the year 0-2 to the surprise of few.
This is a rebuilding team, and Carolina’s season took a turn for the worse when McCaffrey suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 2. He was responsible for nearly half the touches in this offense, and Rhule built his entire attack around his running back’s unique talent as a dual-threat runner and pass catcher.
Then the Panthers pulled off a surprising win on the road against the Chargers in Week 3, and suddenly the Panthers getting some respect with this line. But while it’s nice to get that first win, it wasn’t necessarily a breakout moment for Rhule’s Panthers: They won against rookie Justin Herbert, who was making just his second career start, and the Chargers generally play to the level of their opposition.
Carolina’s offense hasn’t collapsed without McCaffrey, but it hasn’t been great, either. QuarterbackTeddy Bridgewater is holding his own with a couple nice weapons at wide receiver in D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson.
Carolina’s main problem as a team is not McCaffrey’s absence, though. In 2020, the Panthers became the first team in NFL history to use every draft pick on one side of the ball, with a focus on remaking its defense after linebacker Luke Kuechly’s retirement. They have a long way to go.
The Panthers have one of the worst defenses in the league, and they rank 30th so far this season in defensive DVOA.
This could be a get-right game for the Cardinals’ offense, especially if Hopkins is active, against a bad Carolina defense. The Panthers don’t have anyone who can keep up with Hopkins and the other Cardinals receivers in coverage, and the Carolina defense may struggle to contain the mobile Murray.
A week ago, Arizona would have been favored by a touchdown in this matchup. Then the Cardinals had a letdown loss to Detroit while the Panthers beat the Chargers. Suddenly, this line settled in around a field goal.
Bettors need to take advantage of that recency bias. Flip the schedule around — put those Week 3 results back to their season openers and give the Panthers two losses in a row while the Cards dominate Washington and win in San Francisco against a healthy 49ers team — and Arizona would be seen as a sizable favorite here. The Cardinals should be.
I love Arizona to bounce back in this spot against a Carolina defense that has little chance against them when things are clicking. I’m not sure about the game over, because Arizona’s defense could hold a limited Carolina offense missing McCaffrey, but the Cardinals’ team over looks tasty if Hopkins is a go.
Keep an eye on the injury news. Hopkins is a big enough name that his presence or absence could move the line, and at -3, a half point is huge. Still, the Cardinals are the better team with or without Hopkins.
I’ll grab the lowest line I can find (you can shop for the best real-time lines here), but will play to -4 even without Hopkins.
Pick: Cardinals -3
|Ravens Odds||-14 [BET NOW]|
|Washington Odds||+14 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||45.5 [BET NOW]|
|Kickoff||1 p.m. ET on Sunday|
Written by Reed Wallach
The Baltimore Ravens travel approximately an hour south to the nation’s capital, still licking their wounds after suffering a 34-20 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs at home Monday as 3.5-point favorites.
Surely, Baltimore will look to get back on track when it faces the Washington Football Team (1-2), which is coming off a 34-20 defeat against the Cleveland Browns. The host failed to cover the 7-point spread in the setback.
Baltimore is laying a lofty number, favored by 13.5 points as of this writing, and faces a Washington team with a stout defense and flimsy offense. Expect Lamar Jackson and the explosive Ravens’ offense to try and take their frustrations out on Washington and get back in the win column.
Despite the loss to the Chiefs, the Ravens are still among the AFC’s elite, scoring on 60% of their drives through three weeks, second to only the Packers.
Baltimore sets the tone on offense with a strong running game. Averaging more than five yards a carry and paced by the reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson’s legs, the Ravens open up their downfield attack by establishing the run. And while Jackson’s ability to take off downfield strikes fear in defenses, his passing is much improved in this season — he’s completing nearly 69% of his passes and has become more than just a running quarterback.
On the defensive end, Baltimore has picked up where it left off in 2019 in the turnover department, generating six through three games, currently second-best in the league.
The Ravens’ high-pressure defensive scheme — they blitz on roughly 46% of defensive plays — is sure to make Dwayne Haskins and the Washington offense uncomfortable, considering the Football Team was minus-5 in turnover margin last week against an average Browns defense. This is a turnover-prone bunch, and Baltimore should be able to exploit its opportunities.
While the Ravens have only six sacks — which is middle of the road compared to the rest of the league — they are third in quarterback hits (23). They could drive up that total against Haskins, who has been sacked at least three times in each game this season.
Washington Football Team
Washington has shown itself to be a one-sided club.
In his first season at the helm, head coach Ron Rivera has a strong defensive front that has held up well despite an underwhelming offense. Washington has been solid against the run, limiting opponents to a little more than four yards per carry and has done a good job limiting big passing plays.
If Washington wants to pull off the stunner, it’s going to have to lean on that line that’s leading the league in adjusted sack rate according to Football Outsiders.
On the other side, Baltimore’s offensive line has the second-worst adjusted sack rate allowed. Despite Jackson’s ability to escape the pocket, he’s taken a surprising amount of sacks early on. The Football Team is going to hope it can push Baltimore behind the sticks and get the ball back in favorable positions.
However, standout rookie Chase Young will be out after leaving the Browns’ game early with a groin injury. Young has been as good as advertised and has already become an integral part of the Washington pass rush. Without him, the task of slowing the Ravens’ offense down becomes that much harder.
Baltimore has to be disappointed in its performance against Kansas City. In a battle of the AFC’s top teams, the Ravens came out flat and got badly beaten.
In his coaching career, Baltimore’s John Harbaugh is 13-5 against the spread off a double-digit loss, so you know that he’s going to refocus the team in the Battle for the DMV.
Without Young on the field, Washington’s strength is somewhat neutralized. On the offensive end, Haskins has shown that he’s incapable of handling pressure and can’t be trusted to keep pace with the Ravens offensive attack.
While a double-digit spread is always a tough number to bet on with the fear of the late cover, I feel this is a number worth laying.
Washington is struggling to move the ball and Baltimore is going to come out hungry, looking to make a statement and beat up on an inferior opponent.
I would play this up to -14, but nothing higher, and fully expect the Ravens to put their foot on the gas to get their groove back.
Written by Brandon Anderson
The Bears had a miraculous September. They got three fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Mitchell Trubisky in Week 1 to beat Detroit, then repeated the feat with three fourth-quarter TDs from Nick Foles in the final seven minutes to shock Atlanta in Week 3.
Foles was a mid-game substitution and has been announced as Chicago’s starter, and he has Bears fans believing as one of only seven 3-0 teams remaining.
Now Chicago hosts Indianapolis and has its eyes on a fourth straight win to start the season, but the Colts are favored and look like the better play.
The Colts threw many bettors off the scent with a disappointing Week 1 loss to the Jaguars. Many came into the season expecting Jacksonville to contend for the worst record in the league and quickly wrote Indianapolis off after the loss.
But the Colts were the far better team in that game and immediately became my favorite value play in the NFL, and the books still haven’t caught up. Indianapolis is still finding its footing on offense with the addition of Philip Rivers and the loss of Marlon Mack, but the Colts benefit from one of the best offensive lines in the league.
The story of this team so far has been on defense.
The addition of DeForest Buckner has pushed an already talented D to the top of the league. Indianapolis has the No. 1 defense in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. That probably flatters the Colts a bit after facing the Jaguars, Vikings and Jets, but it’s not that surprising in the end — the Colts were supposed to be good this season, and so far they look the part.
The Bears do not look the part.
Chicago may be 3-0, and in the end, the standings are all that matter. But if it were possible for an undefeated team to have a negative point differential, these Bears might have done it.
Indeed, Chicago has a -19 point differential through three quarters. They needed a dropped Lions TD in the final seconds of Week 1, a late-stalled Giants drive in Week 2 and a miraculous meltdown by the Falcons in Week 3 to avoid 0-3. The Bears, by any real measure, are the worst 3-0 team in football.
Chicago’s defense has been terrific, as usual. It’s the offense that has been the problem.
The run game has been non-existent, and Trubisky was mostly terrible. He’s out now, but Foles has been more mediocre than anything for most of his career, and the Bears also lost one of their best playmakers for the season with Tarik Cohen injured.
The Bears offense has more of a chance in this game with Foles than they would have had with Trubisky, but they’re still going to struggle to move the ball. Foles may throw the ball up to Allen Robinson and other Bears receivers to give them a chance, but outside of those occasional big plays, Chicago should struggle to move the ball.
This looks like an odd line at first, with the 2-1 Colts favored on the road against an undefeated Bears team. But the underlying metrics paint Indianapolis much closer to a 3-0 team while Chicago looks more like a 1-2 team struggling to find its way. And we know by now that home vs. road is not making much of a difference.
This feels like a game where the Colts should be favored by around a touchdown, and yet they’re not even getting a field goal.
How do the Bears win this game? It’s going to have to come the way most Chicago wins seem to come — with stout defense keeping the Bears in the game and forcing Rivers into a few characteristic mistakes, with Chicago’s offense doing just enough to capitalize. If you do like the Bears here, you should probably play the under, too — Chicago isn’t throwing three fourth-quarter TDs against Indy.
The Colts are the better play, especially while this line continues to sit at -2.5. They’re still a recommended play even at -3 or -3.5, which should tell you how much of a mismatch this is even around that key number. Indianapolis is better on offense, defense and in special teams, along with coaching. It’s a sweep.
With two strong defenses in play, don’t expect much scoring. A lower-scoring game typically favors the underdog since it’s closer and leaves more room for the upset. But I can’t get there, even with that logic.
I’d lean toward the under but I’m coming out strong on Indy -2.5 while it’s still on the board.
Pick: Colts -2.5
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Written by Reed Wallach
The Los Angeles Rams return home after back-to-back East Coast games to face the 0-3 New York Giants.
The Rams have had a strong start to the 2020 season, despite their 28-3 comeback last Sunday being ruined by Bills quarterback Josh Allen in the final minute. Meanwhile, the Giants are desperate for any sort of hope. With Saquon Barkley out for the season due to a torn ACL, they didn’t get in the end zone against the injury-riddled San Francisco 49ers.
Now in L,A., the Giants are catching 13.5 points against the Rams’ fearsome Aaron Donald-led defense. In what expects to be a blowout, the backdoor always stays open with a two-score spread. With that in mind, let’s figure out how to bet this NFC matchup.
New York Giants
The Giants are lacking much of an offensive identity right now. With a nonexistent offensive line, defenses have feasted on New York in the backfield.
Daniel Jones has been under constant duress and the Giants are averaging not even two yards per carry. Without Barkley, New York loses its most dynamic play-maker and is not able to give Jones enough time to look downfield to find receivers.
Now Big Blue travels across the country to face a star-studded Rams defense that is sure to dial up the pressure on Jones and the New York backfield.
For the Giants to have a chance in this one, the defense is going to have to hold the line.
The Rams offense has been able to find success in the passing game this season and it will be imperative for the Giants pass defense to show up on Sunday. Jared Goff is averaging a league-high of more than nine net yards per attempt and the team is averaging more than six yards per play. However, the Giants are banged up in the secondary. Jabrill Peppers will be out on Sunday, but New York needs to continue its solid play in the passing game despite the injuries.
Most importantly, the Giants need to find a way to stay on the field on offense.
The team has put a huge burden on its defense by not being able to stay on the field. The defense has held its end of the bargain, giving the Giants an average starting at their own 30, yet the average Giants offensive drive lasts less than three minutes. On top of that, the offense has not been able to cash in on its good field position, scoring the third least amount of points per drive.
Los Angeles Rams
Despite the deflating loss last Sunday, the Rams have asserted themselves once again as a contender in the NFC West.
L.A. has been able to find consistent running back production this season with a mix of different backs, but lately it has been Darrell Henderson. The Memphis product is averaging more than six yards per carry on a healthy 32 rush attempts in the last two games.
Goff and his stable of receivers are also meshing well. Goff has been spreading the ball around and has been able to pick defenses apart this season. He’s completing 70% of his passes, which is a testament to his precision early on with him leading the league in net yards per attempt.
With Donald leading the front seven, the Rams blitz on only 19% of their defensive plays because, simply, they do not need to send extra pressure with Donald barreling through. With no need to bring extra men into the box, the Rams can drop back in coverage and put more defenders in Jones’ line of vision downfield.
Against a poor offensive line, the Rams pass rush will still be able to get to Jones and could lead to turnovers, as they have turned their opponent over on 17% of drives this season. Up against the most turnover-prone offense, the Rams may have a field day and line up in plus territory often.
The Giants are coming off what seems like rock bottom in Week 3, losing to a backup-quarterback-led San Francisco team. This is going to be a gut check for Jones and first-year coach Joe Judge to see if the Giants can put up any fight after rolling over last week.
With Donald likely going to be all over Jones, I expect to see Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett continue to try and use his quarterback in the running game like last week to get him out of a crowded pocket.
I’m going to play Jones’ over on rushing yards after watching the Giants start to scheme him that way as they try to free him up.
As for a game side, this feels like a must-win for the Judge era to ever show some life. While I’m not calling a Giants outright win or for them to cover, I expect them to put up a better effort than the one they showed against the 49ers in Week 3.
With L.A. coming home off the East Coast trip, the Rams may take their foot off the gas as they recover, and for that reason I’m going to play the over 48 in hopes that the Giants can string together a few scoring drives against a defense that is allowing nearly 24 points per game despite some other positive metrics.
Pick: Over 48 (up to 49)
[Bet the Giants-Rams Over at PointsBet risk-free up to $250]
Written by Mike Randle
The Buffalo Bills have been one of the most impressive teams over the first three weeks of the NFL season. Now, they fly across the country to face a surprising Las Vegas Raiders team that sits in second place in the AFC West, just one game behind the 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs.
Can Buffalo earn the road win against a Las Vegas team that comfortably beat the Saints, 34-24, in its Week 2 home opener?
Buffalo is one of the few NFL teams that received positive news from the weekly injury report.
Wide receiver John Brown left the Bills Week 2 win over the Rams without recording a catch. Fortunately for the Bills, he practiced in full Friday after carrying a limited designation on Thursday.
The main unknown for Sunday is rookie running back Zack Moss, who is listed as questionable with a toe injury, but did practice all week on a limited basis (track his status here).
Quarterback Josh Allen is playing at a career-high level. He ranks second in passing yards (1,040), passing touchdowns (10) and fantasy points per game 31.3. Allen joins with running back Devin Singletary (and potentially Moss) to exploit a Raiders defense that ranks last in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA.
The versatile Buffalo running backs should particularly enjoy facing a Las Vegas front that’s allowed the most fantasy points per game (35.8) and the most receiving yards (255) to opposing backfields.
Head coach Sean McDermott’s defense suffered a setback against a huge Rams rally in Week 2, but still profiles as one of the NFL’s best against the pass. Linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edwards returned for the Bills in Week 2, and were particularly effective in limiting Rams tight end Tyler Higbee to just two catches and 40 receiving yards.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders enter this game with much greater injury concerns: They’ll be without two huge wide receiver playmakers in rookies Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards. That said, expect the Raiders to lean heavily on their ground game behind running back Josh Jacobs.
The second-year lead standout was limited with a hip injury against the Patriots in Week 3, tallying only 83 total yards for the overall RB30 fantasy performance. The good news is his increased use in the passing game, as he is currently top-12 at the position in both targets (12) and receptions (10). Buffalo has struggled to stop the run in the past two weeks, allowing 4.9 yards per carry to both the Rams and Dolphins.
The Raiders will need to take better care of the ball against a Bills defense with four total takeaways this season. In its Week 3 loss at New England, Las Vegas lost three fumbles including two by quarterback Derek Carr. Facing an offense that is as explosive as the Bills, winning the turnover battle is critical to defeating one of the NFL’s hottest teams.
Las Vegas needs to find a way to get tight end Darren Waller involved in the offense after his two-reception, nine total-receiving yards performance against the Patriots. The only tight end to find success against Buffalo has been Miami’s Mike Gesicki, who took advantage of a depleted Bills linebacking corps. With Ruggs and Edwards out, Waller must get involved early and often.
Strong safety Johnathan Abram is questionable with shoulder and thumb injuries. Las Vegas will need him to limit the deep threat ability posed by Buffalo wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The former Minnesota wideout ranks sixth in the league in fantasy points per game (20.3), fourth in receiving yards (288), and third in completed air yards (232).
I expect a bounce back performance from Buffalo’s defense, and can’t see Las Vegas keeping pace with the Bills offensive weapons. Allen provides the big play ability that New Orleans couldn’t attack with an aging Drew Brees and no Michael Thomas. Diggs and Brown will find success down the field, while Buffalo will consistently exploit the Raiders’ NFL-worst run defense.
I’m backing the Bills at -3 on the road and would love to grab this line at -2.5 if available (shop for the best real-time line here). Buffalo should make enough big plays in the second half to cover the spread, leaning on its rushing attack in the second half. The limited weapons for Las Vegas will eventually succumb to McDermott’s defensive schemes.
I’m not overly worried about the field goal spread, and would take this line up to Buffalo -4.
Pick: Bills -3 (up to -4)