NFL Week 4 Picks: 5 Early Slate Predictions for Bills vs Ravens, Jets vs Steelers, More

NFL Week 4 Picks: 5 Early Slate Predictions for Bills vs Ravens, Jets vs Steelers, More article feature image

Patrick Smith/Getty Images. Pictured: Lamar Jackson.

  • Chris Raybon is riding a three-week heater to start the NFL season.
  • With nine games to pick from at 1 p.m. ET, he has a pick for five.
  • Check out Raybon's best bets for the early slate on Sunday below.

Follow Chris Raybon in the Action App to get all his betting picks.

NFL Odds & Picks

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Bills vs. Ravens
Bears vs. Giants
Jets vs. Steelers
Titans vs. Colts
Seahawks vs. Lions

For the latest NFL odds, click here.

Ravens +3 (to +1)
Best Book
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

This line suggests the Bills are five or six points better than the Ravens on a neutral field, but these two teams are a lot closer than that.

The Bills rank first in overall DVOA through three weeks while the Ravens rank third. But it’s the Ravens who have the edge on offense, ranking first while the Bills are sixth.

On defense, the Bills are better on paper — they rank second to Baltimore’s 18th. But injuries are the equalizer, as the Bills will be without safety Micah Hyde and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. Baltimore also has a decisive edge in special teams, ranking first in DVOA to Buffalo’s 27th.

To address the elephant in the room: Baltimore’s secondary should be much improved from Week 2, when it gave up six TDs to Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins. With Marcus Peters in his first game back and Brandon Stephens out, Baltimore played rookie cornerbacks Damarion Williams and Jalyn Armour-Davis for a combined 56 coverage snaps in that game. They were targeted 16 times and surrendered 11 catches and three TDs.

Last week, Williams and Armour-Davis played only 21 combined snaps in coverage as Baltimore went with more three-safety looks with rookie Kyle Hamilton.

The Ravens have five players in the secondary who rank in the 70th percentile or better in PFF coverage grade: Peters (89th) and Marlon Humphrey (78th) at cornerback, Marcus Williams (92nd), Hamilton (82nd) and Chuck Clark (70th) at safety.

Bet Ravens +3 at FanDuel

On offense, Lamar Jackson and company should be able to handle whatever Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier throw at them.

If the Bills want to blitz, as they did 33% of the time in their last meeting back in the 2020 Divisional Round, they’ll have to deal with Jackson’s NFL-leading 154.2 passer rating against the blitz. Jackson has thrown for six TDs with no interceptions and averaged 11.8 yards per attempt while getting sacked just once on 35 dropbacks while blitzed, per data from PFF.

And if the Bills want to sit back in zone, as they’ve done over 90% of the time this season, Baltimore boasts the NFL’s leading TE in yards per route versus zone (Mark Andrews, 2.51) and its second-leading WR in yards per route versus zone (Rashod Bateman, 3.93).

Inclement weather should also benefit the Ravens. Their running game ranks 19th in DVOA and is on the upswing with the return of J.K Dobbins. The Bills, meanwhile, rank last in rushing DVOA.

According to our Action Labs data, John Harbaugh is 7-1 (88%) ATS in his last eight games as a home dog, including a perfect 5-0 since 2019 in which the Ravens have covered by an average of 11.8 points per game.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Ravens win this game. Home dogs with a moneyline in the +125 to +155 range have gone 23-11 (68%) straight up since 2005.

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Under 39.5 (to 38)
Best Book
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

The primary way to score points in the NFL is the forward pass: 67% of yardage and 64% of TDs this year have come via passing plays.

To put it mildly, passing is not a strength of either of these teams. Here are where they rank in key metrics:

  • Net Passing Yards Per Attempt: NYG 31st (4.6), CHI 32nd (4.3)
  • Net Passing Yards Per Game: NYG 30th (162.3), CHI 32nd (78.3)
  • Sack Rate: NYG 31st (12.4%), CHI 32nd (18.2%)
  • Offensive Passing DVOA: NYG 25th (-8.3%), CHI 32nd (-47.4%)

Facing a Bears defense that ranks 10th in DVOA against the pass, the Giants' passing game could be in even worse shape than it was over the first three weeks. Notably, they lost leading receiver Sterling Shepard to a torn ACL on Monday.

The Giants' two most explosive receivers, Kadarius Toney (hamstring) and Wan’Dale Robinson (knee) were both ruled out Friday. The Bears defense is ranked fourth in pressure rate (33.3%) despite blitzing 7.3% of the time, the second-lowest rate in the NFL.

To put that into context, the Bears have generated a nearly identical amount of pressure as Dallas (34.1%) despite the Cowboys blitzing nearly four times as much (26.0%). The Cowboys, by the way, pressured Jones on an absurd 27-of-51 dropbacks on Monday.

The Giants rank 25th in pass-defense DVOA, but they still match up well with Chicago’s passing game (if you even want to call it that).

New defensive coordinator Wink Martindale loves to dial up blitzes, doing so at league’s second-highest rate (44.1%), while Justin Fields ranks dead last in a host of key metrics versus the blitz, not limited to but including: yards per attempt (2.0), completion percentage (11.1%), average time to throw (3.86 seconds), pressure-to-sack rate (40.0%) and PFF passing grade (28.4).

Both of these teams will enter this game looking to run the ball as much as possible, which will bleed clock. The NFL average for combined offensive plays per game is 126.4, but Bears games are averaging just 116.3 while Giants games are averaging 123.3.

Jones has started 21 games in MetLife Stadium. According to our Action Labs data, the under is 15-6 (71%) in those games, falling short of the closing total by an average of 5.3 points per game.

Fields, meanwhile, has started 13 games in his career, and only four, or 31%, have gone over the total.

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Steelers -3.5
Best Book
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Zach Wilson is the future (well, Jets fans hope he is), but I don’t have him rated above Joe Flacco – at least not yet.

We’ve seen time and time again that it’s tough for a quarterback to play well after a long layoff, and this is a brutal spot going on the road against a Mike Tomlin-coached Steelers team that had extra time to prepare.

Wilson has never completed a regular-season pass to the two players — Garrett Wilson and Tyler Conklin — with the most catches on the team this season. On top of that, Wilson and Elijah Moore have the opposite of what one would call chemistry: Moore averages a 45.2% catch rate, 4.8 yards per target and a 2.4% TD rate on throws from Wilson compared to a 64.3% catch rate, 8.5 yards per target and a 5.4% TD rate on throws from other QBs.

On the other side of the ball, the Jets defense is by far the worst the Steelers have faced. The Jets rank last in defensive DVOA while the Steelers' three previous opponents have an average rank of 15th entering Week 4.

The Steelers offense is obviously struggling, but they did make strides in Week 3, rushing for over 100 yards for the first time and posting an above-average mark in yards per play (5.6) for the first time.

According to our Action Labs data, the Steelers are 47-36 (57%) ATS after a loss under Tomlin, beating the spread by just over two points per game on average.

When Tomlin has extra time to prepare, that mark improves to 15-9 (63%) with an average cover margin of 3.6.

Meanwhile, despite Robert Saleh being known for his defensive acumen, the Jets have yet to live up to expectations with him as head coach, covering just 35% of their games since he took over and falling short of the spread by 3.9 points per game.

That includes a 2-5 (29%) ATS record in Wilson starts outside of East Rutherford.

I think it’s worth it to pay for the key number of -3 up to -120. That said, based on Wilson’s past history, the -3.5 should still be in play, as he is just 3-10 (23%) straight-up in his career, with all 10 losses coming by four points or more.

Bet Steelers -3.5 at FanDuel

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Ryan Tannehill Under 12.5 Rushing Yards (-110)
Best Book
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

For reference, Tannehill’s rushing lines this season:

  • Week 1: 2 carries, 7 yards
  • Week 2: 1 carry, 2 yards
  • Week 3: 4 carries, 2 yards

Tannehill has only scrambled once on 85 dropbacks this season. Of his six designed runs, three were kneel-downs and two were sneaks. That means in three games, he has only had two runs with potential to gain any type of substantial yardage.

Maybe it has to do with Tannehill’s age (34), or maybe it has to do with Todd Downing replacing Arthur Smith as the offensive coordinator, but this continues a trend that began early last season.

Since October of 2021, he has rushed for 9 yards or fewer in 12 of 18 games (67%). I have Tannehill projected for 2.8 carries and eight yards.

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Kenneth Walker Under 12.5 Receiving Yards (-110)
Best Book
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Walker is averaging 4.5 routes per game with a high of five. This line is where it is because he just so happened to be targeted on six of those nine routes, which is obviously unsustainable (league average is around 19%).

Even if Walker sees an uptick in playing time, he’s unlikely to see as many looks because targeting him has not only gotten predictable, it hasn’t worked.He’s averaging just 3.8 yards per reception with a long of six yards.

Instead, I expect Walker to see an uptick in rushing attempts against a Lions defense allowing 5.0 yards per carry (26th). I have Walker projected for 9.8 receiving yards.

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