NFL Week 4 Picks: Predictions for Vikings vs Saints, Cardinals vs Panthers, Packers vs Patriots, More
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images. Pictured: Kirk Cousins.
- Every week, Brandon Anderson is ahead of the game, telling you whether to pass, wait or bet now on every NFL game.
- This week, he has four games that he suggests acting on and many more to keep your eyes on.
- Check out Anderson's full Week 4 breakdown below.
It's only Week 4 and already the NFL standings are a mess.
We're down to just two undefeated teams and two winless squads. The Eagles and Dolphins are 3-0, the Raiders are 0-3, and the Texans are 0-2-1. Everyone else is jumbled up somewhere in the middle with one or two wins.
The NFL has increasingly become a league of parity, but this is parity like we've never seen before. And now we have to untangle it all in Week 4.
Week 3 was Kitchen Sink Week, and what a week it was! Winless Kitchen Sink teams went 4-0-1 against the spread (ATS) and 4-1 straight-up (SU), and we smashed our picks and best bets with almost +8 units this weekend if you followed on the app.
Now, it's time to Prove It.
I'm dubbing Week 4 as "Prove It Week" around the NFL. We're starting to get some real DVOA and EPA data now, but not all of it is as expected. It's time for teams to prove it's real. The aforementioned 2-1 Giants, Cowboys, and Browns are favorites in Week 4 — prove it. Heck, our picks record is right back at 0-0 for the new week. Looks like we need to prove it too.
Like usual, we'll make picks for every game, but you don't have to bet them all — you're allowed to make teams prove it too. Picks are sorted by confidence level: Bet, Lean, Pass, or Wait. Let's make some picks.
The Chargers were one of our Lookahead picks, but that was before the team was besieged by injuries. It's not just Justin Herbert — LT Rashawn Slater is out for the year and we need to wait for injury news on Corey Linsley, J.C. Jackson, Joey Bosa, Keenan Allen, and of course Herbert.
We dare not play Chargers futures until this team's stars get healthy. I bought out of the Lookahead spot and will wait on the injury report for a pick.
THE PICK: Wait for Chargers injury news
This is a huge game that should give us an MVP front runner going forward, but both of these teams need injury updates. Buffalo was short five defensive starters Sunday, four in the secondary, and Baltimore is still sorting through its own secondary and offensive injury issues.
THE PICK: Wait for the injury report on both sides
Sunday night should be a good one… if the Bucs have enough guys to field an offense. Tampa's attack is mostly just Tom Brady and a laundry list of injured linemen and receivers. This could turn into a neutral-site game if the hurricane gets in the way, which would nullify home-field advantage and swing the line. Let's see who suits up — and where — before we make a call.
THE PICK: Wait for Tampa injury news and a weather report
Zach Wilson returns, but is he even an upgrade on Joe Flacco? Wilson was abysmal as a rookie and missed most of the preseason. New York has played extremely pass-heavy, which plays right into Pittsburgh's biggest strength, especially if Wilson is bad.
The Steelers are 0-6 SU without T.J. Watt, but Wilson was 2-5 ATS away from home as a rookie, and Pittsburgh is no easy road trip. Wilson won only one of those games and failed to cover this number in all the rest.
THE PICK: Steelers -3 (Pass)
I fully expected to back the Raiders here. I wrote about why the Raiders are undervalued at 0-3, and a number of trends love this situational spot for a winless team playing for its season. It's essentially Las Vegas's Kitchen Sink spot, and the home team had won nine straight in this rivalry before the road team won two of the last three.
What I did not expect was for Vegas to be favored by a field goal. Denver has the better QB and by far the better defense. I like the spot for the Raiders but can't lay the points. Denver ranks top-three fewest in both points and points allowed, with Broncos games averaging just 26.3 points per game. I'll take the under.
THE PICK: Broncos +2.5 (Pass, and play the under 46)
I knew watching these teams play Sunday afternoon that I'd love this spot for the Bengals on Thursday night.
Cincinnati finally looked itself in Week 3, passing on 17 of its first 21 plays and scoring on four of its first five drives. The Bengals exploded late last season when they went away from a run-heavy offense and let Joe Burrow cook, and we saw a version of that in Week 3 after a bad first two weeks.
The Dolphins are 3-0 but I fear Thursday night is the price Miami will pay for its win over the Bills. The Dolphins defense was on the field for 90 plays in the scorching Miami heat, giving up almost 500 yards of offense in nearly 41 minutes of Buffalo possession. This defense looked exhausted and couldn't get off the field the previous week against Baltimore either, and now they have a short turn-around and a flight before facing Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and a QB that's elite against Miami's beloved blitz packages.
I smashed Bengals -1.5 in the app when it reopened, but the line was quickly bet up to -3 before my Hot Read pick even posted, then went to -3.5 overnight and continues to rise. Perhaps there's more to Tua Tagovailoa's injury than is being let on? Unfortunately, most of the value is gone now.
THE PICK: Lean Bengals -4 (bet if it gets back to -3 or lower)
Who could have guessed a few weeks ago that this would be a marquee Week 4 game? On one side, a young MVP-caliber QB that's top-five in EPA and a shockingly good No. 4 DVOA defense with a great pass rush and terrific front seven, and on the other side we've got… the Eagles.
Is that crazy? I'm not sure it is. Everyone's rightfully hyped the Eagles because they're 3-0, but it's partly because we hyped this team all offseason and it's fun to see it pay off. The Jaguars were slept on by most but have looked almost as good and are a late collapse away from 3-0 against a tougher schedule.
Jacksonville is the only team in the league to rank top-five in both offensive and defensive DVOA. Trevor Lawrence, not Jalen Hurts, ranks top five in EPA + CPOE. The Jaguars rank second in passing DVOA and have the league's No. 1 run defense, which should come in pretty handy against an offense built entirely around doing just that.
Look, the Eagles are really good. The Jaguars just might be too, and I'm not sure we have enough data yet to know conclusively which of these teams is better. That means this line is simply too high. Jacksonville can win this game outright.
THE PICK: Lean Jaguars +6.5
These are two of the league's pleasant surprises, with both offenses surprisingly good. Atlanta's offense ranks 8th in DVOA and is top 10 both passing and rushing as Arthur Smith makes his mark. And Cleveland is even better! The Browns rank 3rd and are top-six running and passing.
The lack of defense could hold these teams back from being true sleepers, and it also leads me to look for the over 49.5 here. Cleveland leads the league in rushing EPA per play while the Falcons are dead last in that stat defensively, and that spells big trouble to me. But the Browns' pass defense has been bad too, and Atlanta will score.
I like the Browns' run game advantage and like the over even more.
THE PICK: Lean Browns -1.5 and over 49.5
You could've told me either one of these teams had two wins heading into December and I wouldn't have batted an eye. Instead they're both 2-1, which means one will soon be 3-1 and in great position for the NFC playoffs.
This matchup screamed pass until I dug in more and found two major edges in Chicago's favor. The Bears defense has been surprisingly sound under Matt Eberflus. They're the one good unit in this game and should pressure Daniel Jones all game. Chicago has also been outstanding running the ball, and the Giants rank 29th in EPA per play against the run.
I think the wrong team is favored here, but I'll tread lightly on two teams I still don't think are all that good.
THE PICK: Lean Bears +3
Many expected the Lions offense to take a big step forward, but few thought Detroit would be this good this quickly. The Lions offensive line has dominated and opened up huge holes in the run game, and the passing game has been quite effective.
The Lions rank 7th in offensive DVOA, but what's shocking is that Seattle is 12th too! Who would have thought that Jared Goff and Geno Smith would both lead top-12 passing offenses in the Year of our Lord 2022? Credit Pete Carroll and his staff for getting the most out of a bad roster — at least on one side. The defense has been dreadful, and Detroit's D hasn't been much better.
Lions overs are 3-0 at almost 63 points per game, and Dan Campbell has covered 10 of his last 12. But Campbell has never been an NFL favorite, and it's a new experience being the one with the target on your back — especially with a surprisingly high line that's leapt more than a field goal from the lookahead.
I trust Detroit to score, but I think Seattle will score too, which means we have to trust the Lions defense for a cover. I'll play an over instead — either the over 50 or just Detroit's over 27.5.
THE PICK: Lean Seahawks +4 but play an over instead
I expected this line to rise after Dallas's relatively comfortable Monday night win but still like the Cowboys at -3.
Micah Parsons and the Dallas pass rush lived in New York's backfield, and Washington's protection has been almost as bad. Carson Wentz was sacked nine times Sunday, and he's an ugly 1-7 ATS as a division underdog. This game shapes up similarly to Monday night, and Dallas should find just enough offense while the Commanders may struggle to do the same.
This rivalry hasn't been close in recent years. None of the last seven games have finished closer than seven points, with an average margin of victory of almost 21. If you think the Cowboys are better, trust them to cover.
THE PICK: Lean Cowboys -3
Normally, this matchup is a no brainer. Kyle Shanahan has dominated Sean McVay at 8-3 ATS, including 7-2 as an underdog, and had beaten him six times in a row until that late NFC Championship Game collapse.
But this is not normal. Shanahan is the favorite this time, and he's an ugly 15-26-1 ATS (37%) as a favorite. These are not the normal 49ers either. San Francisco is short its best player in LT Trent Williams, and they're missing Trey Lance and Elijah Mitchell too. That cripples a rushing attack that's usually the key matchup advantage Shanahan has against McVay, and the Rams have been terrific against the run this season anyway.
Besides, Shanahan hasn't been as dominant as it seems in this rivalry. Four of the last six have come down to a field goal, and McVay is 68% ATS as a division underdog, with short road division underdogs covering 65% of the time in Monday night games. Normally the Rams are favored in this matchup. This time the roles are switched, and I still prefer the underdog.
If San Francisco does win this game, it'll have to be because DeMeco Ryans' incredible defense dominates and forces a few turnovers. This is yet another primetime game that leans under, with both defenses better than the offenses right now. If Matt Stafford takes care of the ball, the healthier Rams should win.
THE PICK: Lean Rams +1.5
Sunday morning brings the season's first London game, and Sunday mornings have been very kind to favorites. Excluding Jaguars games in their home away from home, favorites are unbeaten in those early London kickoffs. They're 9-0-1 SU and 7-3 ATS, and it makes sense — a rare neutral field tells bettors to take the better team in a marquee spot.
The Vikings are the better team. Minnesota has a pair of quality wins over Green Bay and Detroit, while New Orleans needed a big comeback late to beat Atlanta before falling to the Bucs and Panthers without much of a fight. New Orleans hasn't gotten anywhere near its usually elite pass rush, and the Saints offense has been tepid at best as Jameis Winston and Alvin Kamara struggle through injury behind an underperforming offensive line.
Minnesota's offense has run hot and cold but should be able to run and control the clock, especially if the Saints continue to turn it over and give the Vikings a short field. New Orleans is averaging three turnovers a game, and Jameis is 13-23-3 ATS (36%) in toss-up spreads of three or less, including 0-2 this year. Take the better team while the line is under the key number.
THE PICK: Bet Vikings -3 (play to 3)
This line is backwards, the product of the public misunderstanding Sunday's results for both teams. The Panthers got off the schneid with a win but were terrible offensively and outplayed by the Saints. The Cardinals played the Rams even after a slow start but turned 72 plays on their final five drives into just four field goals and a turnover on downs. Arizona was a 2.5-point favorite on Sunday morning but reopened that night as 1.5-point underdogs. Why?
The backward line gives us a rare opportunity we might never have again — one last chance to bet against Matt Rhule and Baker Mayfield as favorites.
Rhule is 3-10 ATS (23%) as an NFL favorite. He's failed to cover seven times in a row and lost every one of them. In fact, Rhule has lost every failed cover as a favorite, at 3-10 SU. If you blindly bet against Matt Rhule every time he was favored, you'd net a tidy 71% ROI. Mayfield is still new to Carolina, but he hasn't been much better. He's 11-22-1 ATS (33%), also failing to cover in seven straight and losing five of those games outright.
Why do bookmakers keep making Rhule and Mayfield favorites?!
Kliff Kingsbury hasn't been good as a favorite either, but he's 19-9-2 ATS (68%) as an underdog, including a 6-0 ATS and SU last season. Kingsbury is an auto-fade against elite coaches, but he's been nearly unbeatable in underdog spots against mere mortals. Excluding games against Super Bowl-winning coaches, Kingsbury is a perfect 11-0-1 ATS as a dog, including 9-2-1 SU, a whopping 108% return on the moneyline.
The Cardinals offense is frustrating to watch but top 10 in EPA per play, and Vance Joseph's blitz-crazy defense is the perfect matchup against a QB that's been dreadful against the blitz in Baker Mayfield.
Carolina plays the 49ers, Rams, and Bucs next. Once they lose this one and fall quickly to 1-6, we won't be getting any more chances to bet against Rhule and Mayfield as favorites. Let's savor this one last time.
THE PICK: Bet Cardinals +1.5 (to -1) and play the plus-money moneyline
This is a pivotal game for the battle atop the AFC South. Both teams looked out of it a week ago before saving their season with wins that weren't exactly pretty and continue to have pretty underwhelming profiles.
Both teams are built old school around run games that haven't been as good this year with underwhelming offensive line play. Each ranks bottom 10 in rushing DVOA, and the Colts offense is a pathetic 31st in EPA per play and dead last in DVOA. Indy's line has been bad, and Matt Ryan has been worse. The Titans have actually passed the ball well, so Ryan Tannehill can be the difference maker if Tennessee unleashes its passing attack.
Tannehill had six TDs against the Colts last year, and the road team has won six of the last seven in this rivalry. Tannehill is 33-39 SU lifetime as an underdog, including 11-7 with Tennessee. Mike Vrabel has been even better at 18-7 ATS (72%) as an underdog of over three, going 17-8 SU in those games with a 102% ROI on the moneyline. Road division underdogs of between three and seven points have covered 56% of the time historically.
I smell an upset — or is that just the Colts' stank? Sprinkle the moneyline too.
THE PICK: Bet Titans +3.5 (to 3) and sprinkle the +165 moneyline
Mac Jones is out, and the sky is falling.
A line that started at Packers -6 on Sunday morning panic jumped to -8.5 by that night and -10.5 Monday in response to the Jones injury, and it feels like an overreaction. Jones hadn't been good this season anyway, and Brian Hoyer is a steady veteran backup.
This sets up for a classic Bill Belichick underdog spot.
You just know Belichick loves nothing more than seeing his team as a double-digit dog all week long, knowing the entire world has counted him out yet again. How have we not learned our lesson?
New England's offense has been better than you think, 13th in DVOA, and the Patriots lead the league in rushing DVOA. Green Bay's run defense ranks dead last in DVOA. That sets up a perfect underdog script, with Belichick having Hoyer hand the ball off over and over again, pounding the Packers defense with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson all game and keeping Aaron Rodgers on the sidelines. We've seen this movie before.
How about a few trends:
- Belichick as an underdog: 30-17-2 ATS (64%)
- Belichick as more than a 6-point dog: 6-2 ATS (75%) and 3-5 SU
- Belichick as an underdog after a loss: 11-1 ATS (92%) and 7-5 SU
- Hoyer as more than a 5-point dog: 8-3 ATS (73%)
- Underdogs with totals below 41 since 2018: 9-3-1 ATS (75%)
- Road double-digit dogs before Week 11 since 2003: 133-99-6 ATS (57%)
The Packers are not an explosive offense and won't have the chance to run away and hide in a game expected to be low scoring with both teams playing slow and running the ball all day.
This is what Bill Belichick does. It's who Belichick is, it's what he lives for. Run the ball, keep Rodgers on the sidelines, shorten the game, and give your underdog a shot. We've watched this game a hundred times.
THE PICK: Bet Patriots +10