NFL Picks For Every Game: Bet Seahawks & Cowboys To Cover Week 4 Spreads, More ‘Lean’ or ‘Pass’ Betting Angles
Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson
It’s time for some October football, so let’s finalize our Week 4 picks.
Remember, it’s Short Underdogs Week. Dogs of three or fewer points are 11-5 against the spread (ATS), with all 11 covers winning outright. We’ve got six more short underdogs this week, so be careful about betting against any of them unless you feel certain.
And folks — be very careful with those Sunday teasers. We’ve got five favorites of 6-7 points just dying to be teased, and I genuinely believe there’s a real chance that any of them could lose (maybe even two or three).
We already covered every game in some detail below, but let’s circle back with a few late-week updates to our positions now that we have more information on injuries and line movement.
First, let’s recap picks from below that remain unchanged, though a few of them have moved from leans to bets:
- Falcons +1.5 vs Washington (Lean)
- Vikings +2 vs Browns (Lean)
- Cowboys -4.5 vs Panthers (Bet)
- Bills -17.5 vs Texans (Lean)
- Rams -4 vs Cardinals (Bet)
- Seahawks +2.5 at 49ers (Bet)
- Broncos +1 vs Ravens (Lean)
- Patriots +7 vs Bucs (Bet)
- Chargers -3.5 vs Raiders (Lean)
Not every game needs a play, though. I still think we’re giving the New York teams too many points and wouldn’t be surprised if one of them gets a big upset win this week. However money has come in on both dogs all week, crossed off key numbers and killed off most of the value now:
- Jets +6.5 vs Titans (Pass)
- Giants +7 at Saints (Pass)
Alright, let’s dive a little deeper into four games we waited on this week now that we have a little more injury news and saw how the lines shifted.
Chiefs (-7) at Eagles
On the one hand, there’s NO way Patrick Mahomes loses a third straight game … right? The Chiefs offense is far too talented to come up short three weeks in a row, right?
On the other hand, the Chiefs have now played 10 consecutive one-score games in the regular season, excluding a meaningless Week 17 game. Mahomes seemingly always found a way, winning eight of those, but he and the Chiefs have now lost two in a row. Kansas City is still 8-2 straight-up (SU) in those games, but they’re an awful 1-9 ATS.
So can the Eagles keep it close? They’re strongest in the trenches, and that’s just the way to attack the Chiefs. Philly can run the ball behind a terrific O-line, and the pass rush could find some success against a Chiefs line that hasn’t gelled yet.
Philadelphia is built to run, run, run with Jalen Hurts and Sanders, keeping Mahomes on the sidelines, the best defense against the Chiefs. That’s the formula for Philly keeping this close.
Still, it’s hard to buy. The Eagles are already picking up key injuries on both the offensive and defensive lines, and at the end of the day, do you really trust Hurts to score enough points to keep up with Mahomes? I don’t. This offense has scored a whopping 10 points the last two games until the final five minutes of garbage time.
I like what Chad Millman and Simon Hunter pointed out on The Favorites podcast — we’re getting a break here, with this game on the road. The Chiefs would easily be double-digit favorites at home, and do we really think Mahomes and this offense can’t travel? Kansas City has to cover again at some point, right? I don’t trust the spread, but it’s hard to see the Chiefs losing. If it drops to -6.5 like it’s trending at some books, I may grab it.
THE PICK: Pass Chiefs -7 | Previously “Wait”
Lions at Bears (-3)
We waited on Chicago’s quarterback decision, and apparently Matt Nagy is waiting to surprise us all at kickoff like some sort of Peewee League team. It doesn’t look like Andy Dalton will be healthy, so that probably means either rookie Justin Fields or third stringer Nick Foles.
You know it’s bad when you have three quarterback options and they’re somehow all worse than Jared Goff.
Do the Bears even believe in their coach anymore? It sure didn’t feel like in that ugly loss to the Browns, while the Lions are out here fighting hard, biting kneecaps every week for Dan Campbell.
We’re sure the Bears should be favored? Against anyone? I’ll take the Lions if I’m forced to pick a side, but I’ll mostly just pretend this game doesn’t exist.
THE PICK: Pass Lions +3 | Previously “Wait”
Colts at Dolphins (-2)
It’s ugly right now for the Colts. You already know how rough Carson Wentz looks. The dude sprained both of his ankles and couldn’t move even a little in the pocket last week.
The good news is he might not have to worry about that this week. The Colts offensive line is so decimated that Wentz might just get swallowed whole before he even has time to look up. Stud guard Quenton Nelson and tackle Braden Smith have both been ruled out, so that line is in shambles against an aggressive Dolphins front seven that loves to bring pressure.
That sounds like trouble for Wentz and the Colts, who might also be without RB Jonathan Taylor, TE Jack Doyle, LB Darius Leonard and DE Kwity Paye. The Dolphins might be undervalued anyway.
I’m not sure it’s much of a downgrade from Tua Tagovailoa to Jacoby Brissett, and you know he’d like to get one over on his old team. He has a great chance to bury this walking MAS*H unit.
THE PICK: Lean Dolphins -2 | Previously “Wait”
Steelers at Packers (-6.5)
We waited on this game to see which direction it would move from Packers -7 and hoping to get more injury news.
The injury news moved significantly in Pittsburgh’s direction, and that’s how the line has shifted too. T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith are both off the injury report after missing last week, and that’s massive. Watt is one of the league’s best defenders and that’s Pittsburgh’s two best pass rushers, while the Packers will be without both starting LT David Bakhtiari and replacement Elgton Jenkins. The Steelers also get lead WR Diontae Johnson back.
And there’s this: no coach the last two decades has been more profitable as an underdog than Mike Tomlin. Per Action Labs, Tomlin is 39-19-2 ATS as a dog, an absurd 67.2% cover rate. If you bet $100 on Tomlin every time he was a dog, you’d be up $1872. Tomlin has covered 10 of his last 12 as an underdog.
And the Steelers don’t just cover — they win. Tomlin is 32-28 straight up as a dog. He’s one of only four coaches in our system with a winning record as a dog, and the other three are Bill Belichick, Tony Dungy, and Mike Vrabel. Pretty good company. Heck, the Steelers just won in Buffalo in Week 1 as underdogs at this exact number. Tomlin has won seven of his last 10 outright as a dog. He has a 34.7% return on investment to the moneyline lifetime as an underdog.
Besides, the Packers haven’t exactly looked great this year. They got destroyed by the Saints, struggled to put the Lions away, and almost blew a huge lead to the 49ers before Aaron Rodgers saved the day. Tomlin and Big Ben are always at their best when we count them out. The Steelers are the play here, and you might want to sprinkle that moneyline too.
THE PICK: Lean Steelers +6.5 | Previously “Wait”
Editor’s Note: The content below was published on Wednesday. Please check out the information above to see how Brandon Anderson’s picks have changed — and why — since then.
Can you believe this Sunday is already October football?
In Week 1, we went with our preseason reads. Week 2 was Overreaction Week, and Week 3 was Kitchen Sink Week. Now it’s Short Underdogs Week. And really, it’s been a short underdogs kind of season so far.
Check out this stat from Action Labs:
This NFL season, underdogs of 3 points or less are 11-5 ATS, a 69% hit rate. Nice.
All 11 covers also won straight up. A $100 bettor on short ML dogs would be up $828 already with 52% ROI, per BetLabs.
Six short dogs this week: Falcons, Lions, Vikings, Colts, Seahawks, Ravens.
— Brandon Anderson (@wheatonbrando) September 28, 2021
Sixteen times this season a team has closed as an underdog of a field goal or less, and 11 of them (69%) have covered, with all 11 winning outright. These close underdogs are traps set by the sportsbooks, and the dogs are covering and winning, week after week.
Last week alone, the Saints, Falcons, Bengals, Rams, Vikings, and Packers all covered and won as short underdogs. This week, we’ve got six more short dogs: the Falcons, Lions, Vikings, Colts, Seahawks, and Ravens. The way this season has gone, we need a very good reason to bet against one of these short dogs.
And though we’re picking spreads in this column, this is a great time to remember that it’s almost always a good idea to play a bit on the moneyline too, if you’re already betting an underdog to cover.
Remember, all 11 of these short dogs who covered also won, so if you like one of these slight underdogs, you might just want to skip the spread and go for the moneyline.
We’re rolling this piece out each Wednesday to get ahead of the market, but that timing can sometimes cost us key injury news, so the confidence ratings for this initial edition of our Week 4 column are “bet,” “lean,” or “wait.”
On Saturday you can check back for my final rulings and decisions on “waits.” It’s a tough Week 4 slate with 12 “leans” right now, but we’ll see on Saturday which leans have moved into bet status and which games are passes.
Alright, let’s make some picks!
Note: All lines are from BetMGM as of Tuesday night. Compare real-time NFL odds across multiple sportsbooks here.
Thursday Night Football
Jaguars at Bengals (-7.5)
Did anyone enter September thinking we’d finish the month watching the Bengals play on national television with a shot to get to 3-1?
Cincinnati has been relatively dominant for 11.5 quarters, the only real blip was an unfortunate stretch when the Bears intercepted Joe Burrow on three consecutive throws. The Bengals are starting to figure things out offensively with Joe Mixon the workhorse back and Ja’Marr Chase the star rookie wide receiver, but the real story has been the defense. Cincinnati has the No. 4 rated Defensive DVOA per Football Outsiders, including the league’s second best run defense.
Hey, you know who hasn’t been good? The Jacksonville Jaguars.
Urban Meyer is so far over his head he’s probably already writing up another memo about retiring to spend time with his family, and Trevor Lawrence has been a turnover machine thus far. The Jaguars rank third-to-worst in passing on both Offensive and Defensive DVOA. Jacksonville has allowed at least 398 yards and 22 first downs in all three games, allowing over 30 PPG against a pretty underwhelming slate of offenses in Houston, Denver, and Arizona.
Teams averaging at least three turnovers per game, like the Jaguars, are 52-71-5 against the spread (42.3%) from Week 4 forward. This line is so high the books are absolutely begging us to take the Jaguars again, who are now 0-3 ATS and “due” for a cover, but some teams just aren’t good.
This is a perfect teaser spot for a genuinely decent Bengals team at home with a bad rookie coach and quarterback on the road on a short week, but I’m banking on Cincinnati covering too.
THE PICK: Lean Bengals -7.5
Early Sunday Afternoon
Panthers at Cowboys (-4.5)
This is the most interesting game on the early Week 4 slate, featuring two of our three remaining teams that are a perfect 3-0 ATS.
It’s no surprise that the Panthers are overlooked, but did you ever think the Cowboys would be underrated by the public? Well, somehow they are.
Dallas has lived up to billing on offense. Dak Prescott is healthy and the rushing attack looks explosive again behind Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard — the two most effective running backs in the league thus far, per Football Outsiders. The Cowboys have the league’s No. 1 offense on first downs. They’re constantly getting into good position to keep the chains moving.
We already knew the Dallas offense would be good, but the defense might be an even bigger story. Trevon Diggs is making the leap before our eyes. He took a pick-6 to the house on Monday night with a great read, and rookie Micah Parsons looks special as a pass rusher and playmaker. Dallas has been league average on defense, and that’s miles better than anyone expected or saw after last year’s disaster.
The Panthers have been the opposite of the Cowboys — totally dominant on defense with just enough offense. Carolina has the top Defensive DVOA in the NFL and ranks No. 1 overall in DVOA. Shaq Thompson has been a revelation, but last week’s Thursday night win was underwhelming and costly.
The Panthers lost Christian McCaffrey, the centerpiece of their offense, and rookie corner Jaycee Horn will miss most of the season. Those are huge losses for the Panthers who rank first in the NFL against No. 2 WRs but just 29th against No. 1s.
Carolina traded for cornerback C.J. Henderson but he hasn’t been good and may not even be ready. CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper are not the receivers you want to see when your corners are banged up.
Carolina built its entire rushing and passing attack around CMC’s talents. Without McCaffrey, the offense falls to rookie running back Chuba Hubbard and Sam Darnold on the road against an improving defense. Yikes.
I like Dallas better, though the Cowboys’ defensive front seven is banged up too. And don’t be thrown off by a short Dallas week with extra rest for Carolina. Teams coming off a Monday game versus an opponent with extra rest are 50-36-1 ATS per Action Labs, a 58.1% cover rate. One of these teams will stay perfect against the spread, and I think it’s America’s Team.
THE PICK: Lean Cowboys -4.5
Browns (-2) at Vikings
We might know the winner of this one quickly. Both teams play quite well with the lead but aren’t built to succeed playing from behind.
Minnesota has the worst Defensive DVOA in the NFL in the first half, and they’re also dead last in first down defense. Combine that with the Browns’ No. 2 Offensive DVOA and No. 1 rushing DVOA attack, and Cleveland could take a stranglehold on this game if they set the tone early.
On the other hand, Minnesota has the league’s second-best Offensive DVOA in the first half and improves to ninth-best on defense in the second half. The Browns pass defense as been leaky, and Cleveland’s pass blocking ranks near the bottom of the league so far. Whichever team comes out swinging will have a huge advantage in this game.
Remember, though, this is Short Underdogs Week. Minnesota is a short dog at home, and they’ve been lethal there under head coach Mike Zimmer. Coach Zimmer is 35-21-1 ATS at home (62.5%), and that cover rate leaps to 24-11-1 ATS in non-division games (68.9%) and 9-4 ATS as a home dog (69.2%). The Action Labs numbers trust Zimmer and the Vikings as home underdogs, so we will too.
THE PICK: Lean Vikings +2
Chiefs (-7.5) at Eagles
I loved this one on Sunday night when we did our Week 4 Hot Read. The Chiefs were -5.5 then and I grabbed that line and threw Kansas City into a teaser too. The Chiefs may not be able to stop anyone on defense, but Patrick Mahomes isn’t really going to lose three games in a row, is he?
But now that the line has jumped past those key numbers, we lost a ton of value here, and I’m starting to get a little queasy. The last 10 meaningful Chiefs games have been one-score affairs, and Kansas City is 1-9 ATS in those games. Philly should be able to run on this team and that could keep it close.
Right now, this line is in the no zone. I’m going to wait to see where the number lands. If it drops back down, we might still take the Chiefs. If it rises even further, we may have to swallow hard and pick the Eagles.
THE PICK: Wait to see where the number lands
Giants at Saints (-8)
The Saints aren’t as good as they seem, and the Giants aren’t that bad either.
New Orleans has two blowout wins but neither was as dominant as it appeared. Week 1 against the Packers was just a complete egg by Green Bay and could’ve still gone the other way if a couple Rodgers throws had hit differently. Week 3 against the Patriots was by 15 points in a game in which New Orleans essentially got two pick-6s. The Saints defense looks legit, but this team has no reliable QB and can’t reliably move the ball or score points.
The Giants are 0-3 but could be 2-1. They blew a winnable game late in Washington, then gave up 10 points to the anemic Falcons in the final five minutes to blow it last week. The Giants are more blah than bad, and Daniel Jones is 10-4 ATS on the road in his career. His first start ever came on the road against Jameis Winston, who’s basically the “After” picture of Jones. The Giants covered that one as road dogs and stole a win.
In a battle of two wildly unpredictable quarterbacks, we’ll bet on Jones keeping this close too — and maybe even pulling a stunner.
THE PICK: Lean Giants +8
Washington (-1.5) at Falcons
These are two of the more disappointing teams in the league, both 1-2 and should really both be 0-3 if not for late Giants collapses. For all the hype about the improvements these two offenses would make, it’s mostly been a disaster.
Atlanta ranks dead last in Offensive DVOA as Arthur Smith struggles to find his way, and Washington isn’t much better and isn’t getting much from Taylor Heinecke. He and Matt Ryan rate as two of the league’s worst quarterbacks in most metrics, basically down at the bottom with the rookies.
This is another spot where the home team is a slight underdog, and we’ve seen how dangerous that makes the Falcons; they’re one of the teams who won as a short dog just last week.
There are a couple other Action Labs trends in our favor. Atlanta’s average scoring margin this season is -15.3, and teams with an average margin of -14 or worse are 143-94-3 ATS (60.3%) in Week 4 or later. Washington is also 0-3 ATS, and underdogs of five or fewer points are 69-54-7 ATS (56.1%) against opponents on a three-game ATS losing streak.
This is a toss up, but I touted Atlanta as the best 0-2 team bet to turn it around and make the playoffs. I’ll give them one more chance.
THE PICK: Lean Falcons +1.5
Titans (-7.5) at Jets
The Titans are 2-1 but don’t look the part. Tennessee has been dreadful in first halves and poor overall. The defense is still terrible, bad enough that even the Jets might move the ball on them, and Ryan Tannehill might have turned back into a pumpkin without Arthur Smith. I’m not sure I’m ready to make Tannehill and these Titans a two-score road favorite against anyone — even the Jets.
The one marginal strength on this Jets team is the run defense, so that matches up up well against Derrick Henry and makes Tannehill even more important. There’s also a chance New York’s offense isn’t completely horrendous, considering they’ve looked this bad against Carolina, New England, and Denver, three of the league’s best defenses.
The metrics say Tennessee is overrated and that the Jets can really only get better. Teams coming off a shutout loss are 58-44-5 ATS (56.9%), while teams on three-game losing streaks both straight up and against the spread are 124-102-7 ATS (54.9%). The Jets also have an average scoring margin of -16.7 so far, so they fit the same trend that backs Atlanta above.
The numbers all say the same thing: the Jets might be bad, but all the recent awfulness has pushed the line too far. We have to bet New York.
THE PICK: Lean Jets +7.5
Texans at Bills (-16.5)
Don’t look now, but the Bills might actually be the Super Bowl juggernaut everyone expected coming into the season. An ugly Week 1 home loss against the Steelers threw us all off the scent, but Buffalo has absolutely dominated Miami and Washington the past two weeks.
What’s scary is that the Bills offense hasn’t even gotten moving yet. Really, the defense has carried the team. Buffalo ranks second in Defensive DVOA, top five in both passing and rushing defense. They shut out the Dolphins and weren’t that far off against the Football Team outside of a weird 30-second stretch with a home run Antonio Gibson TD and a fluky accidental kick recovery.
Look, the Texans are bad. They were decent for a couple games with Tyrod Taylor, but rookie Davis Mills should not be starting. We know the Texans are bad, and we know the Bills will win this game. This bet has little to do with Houston. Do you believe in Buffalo right now or not? I believe.
THE PICK: Lean Bills -16.5
Lions at Bears (-3)
What a mess these teams are — and you can copy and paste that into any Lions-Bears game in about 20 of the last 25 seasons too.
It’s hard to look any worse than the Bears did against Cleveland, with Justin Fields ‘starting debut ruined by nine sacks and an abysmal coaching performance by Matt Nagy.
Now Nagy has yet to name a starter for this week, and apparently it could be Fields, Andy Dalton, or mystery door No. 3 Nick Foles. Considering how little this offense incorporated Fields last week, we’re going to wait to make a pick until we know who’s under center.
THE PICK: Wait for Bears QB news
Colts at Dolphins (-2)
These teams were supposed to be AFC playoff contenders, and already both of them find their seasons on life support. We already know former Colts QB Jacoby Brissett will start for Miami in the absence of Tua Tagovailoa, but we don’t know what we’ll get from Indianapolis.
Carson Wentz is playing through two sprained ankles and Quenton Nelson is an injury question mark too. Those are the two most important players in this game, so we’ll wait for more injury news and make a decision on Saturday.
THE PICK: Wait on Colts injury news
Late Sunday Afternoon
Cardinals at Rams (-4.5)
It’s an NFC West kind of afternoon, with all four division teams facing off. This one gets the marquee with two of our final five unbeaten teams going head-to-head. This one jumped to -6 after the big Los Angeles win over the Bucs and I thought for a bit that I might have to bet Arizona with such a high line, but the movement back toward the Cards has left me feeling good about the Rams.
L.A. leads the league in Offensive DVOA and looks the part, with Sean McVay fired up and confidently dialing up plays all over the field now that he has a real QB in Matt Stafford and a speedy deep threat in DeSean Jackson.
The Rams have blown out all three opponents and held on late through some garbage time that might be hiding just how good the team is so far. L.A. ranks fourth in Defensive DVOA in the first half, but 29th in the second half protecting a big lead. The Rams also rank second in first down offense.
McVay is back, and he is not messing around.
Keep an eye on the Rams offense on third and fourth downs. They lead the league in that stat at an unsustainable rate, and Arizona has been even more unsustainably awesome in defense on those downs. Something has to give, and it could be the key to the game. Then again, Arizona ranks only 24th defensively on first down so maybe the Rams won’t even get to third down very often.
And don’t forget about the huge advantage on the sidelines. McVay is a better coach than Kliff Kingsbury by magnitudes, and Kingsbury has an abysmal record ATS against great coaches.
McVay is 4-0 against him straight up and 3-0-1 ATS, and the Rams have won eight in a row over Arizona, all but one by double digits. One of these teams has earned their 3-0 record. The other one might get exposed here.
THE PICK: Lean Rams -4.5
Seahawks at 49ers (-3)
Seattle might actually be the NFC version of the Chiefs this year. Both teams are 1-2 and at the bottom of a loaded West division, and both have very problematic defenses holding them back. But Seattle’s defense is better than K.C.’s, and the offense might actually be better too.
The Seahawks rank second in the league in Offensive DVOA, and it looks like new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron has really unlocked this attack. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett will be a huge problem for a banged-up secondary missing Jason Verrett and Josh Norman, and San Francisco has major injury issues on the defensive line and in the backfield too. This has all the makings of a shootout, and I know which quarterback I want in a shootout.
Seattle is averaging 7.4 yards per play right now, more than half a yard ahead of the second-best team in the league! We give teams four plays to gain 10 yards in the NFL. When Seattle runs four plays, the Seahawks are picking up 30 yards instead. Seems good.
This is a must-win game for the Seahawks, who can’t fall to 1-3 with the Rams up next. The Seahawks have won 13-of-15 against the 49ers. I love them in this spot, and I’ll grab the +125 moneyline too.
THE PICK: Bet Seahawks +3 and play the moneyline
Steelers at Packers (-7)
I’m still trying to decide what I think about these two teams trying for one last dance with their franchise quarterbacks.
The Packers are the better team, but this seven-point spread feels spot on. I’ll wait for now and hope the line moves off this key number in either direction.
THE PICK: Wait for the line movement
Ravens at Broncos (-1)
The Ravens should probably be 0-3 right now. They would’ve lost to the Chiefs if Clyde Edwards-Helaire hadn’t fumbled late, and they’d have lost last week too if the Lions weren’t the Lions and Justin Tucker wasn’t a god.
Granted, Baltimore would’ve blown that Detroit game open in the first half if Marquise Brown hadn’t dropped three potential touchdowns (yes, seriously), but something just feels off with Baltimore this year. The defense hasn’t been up to snuff, they still can’t pass the ball, and the team has been ravaged by injuries up and down the roster.
Are the Broncos for real? We have no idea yet. Denver had three of the easiest wins, covers, and unders of the season, but they did it against the Giants, Jaguars, and Jets so we haven’t learned much. Denver’s defense has been terrific, as expected, but what’s shocking is how good Teddy Bridgewater and the passing game have been — maybe even good enough to put a dent in this leaky Ravens secondary.
Baltimore looks like a trap. The Ravens just might not have “it” this season, and Denver is healthy and firing on every cylinder. I’m intrigued to see where this line ends up, because money is pushing the line Baltimore’s direction and Denver might even be a home underdog by kickoff. That would make them a seventh short underdog, and it could mean big value on Teddy Covers.
THE PICK: Lean Broncos -1, but wait to see if the line flips
Sunday Night Football
Buccaneers (-6.5) at Patriots
This is definitely one of those games where we’ll actually be waiting all day for Sunday night. Tom Brady. Rob Gronkowski. Bill Belichick. Opposite sides of the field — likely for the first and final time. And if that’s not enough for you, Brady will break the NFL career passing yardage record in this one too.
So what does Belichick have schemed up against his old protege? You know he’s waited his entire career for this moment. This has all the makings of a slow, cagey, run-the-clock-keep-it-close-give-my-guys-a-shot game like we’ve seen from Belichick in rare underdog spots in the past.
He’s 27-13-1 ATS as a dog, covering a whopping 67.5% of the time and by 6.4 points on average. He absolutely loves this spot. Brady got to put the feather in his cap winning a title without Belichick last year. This is Bill’s chance to return the favor.
New England’s secondary is terrific and up to the task against Brady, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Antonio Brown, as much as any secondary can be. The Patriots rank fourth in Passing Defensive DVOA but 28th in Rushing, and you know Brady will be passing in this one.
Can New England scrape together enough offense to have a shot? They’re a run-first team against an awesome rushing defense, and as leaky as Tampa’s secondary has looked, Mac Jones does not look ready to punish them yet.
Maybe I’m buying into too much myth-making and Belichick lore, but can’t you just see this one tight late, with the rookie New England QB driving the ball late and a chance to take down the GOAT as he watches on the sidelines?
I like New England to find a way to keep this close and cover the spread, and call me crazy, but I’m giving Belichick a chance to conjure a win too. He’s 23-18 straight up as an underdog, a 41.9% ROI.
I’m riding with the GOAT — the one wearing the hoodie.
THE PICK: Lean Patriots +6.5, but wait for the hook
Monday Night Football
Raiders at Chargers (-3.5)
I loved the Chargers in Week 3 and called that Upset Special over the Chiefs, and I love them again here for similar reasons against the 3-0 Raiders.
Brandon Staley’s defense is all the rage, with his two-deep safeties taking away the deep ball and forcing opponents to check it down and go to the run game. Derek Carr was Captain Checkdown in the past, but the Raiders have been winning because Carr is spraying the ball all over the field, not checking it down. Las Vegas can’t run the ball at all this year with a decrepit offensive line, so they might struggle to score if Carr can’t pass it down the field.
The Raiders’ defense may not be ready for this challenge either. They’ve looked great so far, but haven’t faced a good offense yet, and Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams are another level. Vegas has been getting its pass rushers home, but if Rashawn Slater and an improved Chargers line can give Herbert some time, he could shred this poor secondary that hasn’t really been tested yet.
I loved this at -3 and picked it on our Week 4 Hot Read on Sunday night, but the line is moving and the value is starting to slip away. We don’t get a ton of division rivalry games on Monday night, and Vegas is a live dog. Short road dogs (four points or less) are 20-11-1 ATS (64.5%) in Monday night division games, and 16 of the 32 have won outright.
I really like the matchup for the Chargers but these games are usually close, and all three of LA’s games could’ve gone either way this season. Then again, the Chargers have been the much better team in all three games but seen a litany of penalties and mistakes hold them back from pulling away. There still might be a great team hiding in there, and the numbers don’t know it yet.
Let’s see how the line moves. I’ll bet Chargers -3 if it drops but might have to switch to the Raiders if the line keeps rising.
THE PICK: Lean Chargers -3.5, but bet Chargers -3 if it drops
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