NFL Week 4 Betting Preview & Picks

Sep 28, 2018
NFL Week 4 Betting Preview & Picks

There was a lot to unpack from the Rams’ victory over the Vikings on Thursday night but here are some quick-hit thoughts following what turned out to be a thrilling game:

  1. Jared Goff has reached another level. I’ve been slow to come around on Goff but what he did on Thursday night from an accuracy and ball-placement standpoint to moving safeties with his eyes to create clear passing lanes, was highly impressive.

  2. If you’re a team with a quarterback on a rookie deal and you’re not doing what the Rams and Eagles have done the past two years, then you’re missing out on the biggest advantage the NFL offers right now.

  3. Mike Zimmer’s defense is officially a problem. In fact, they haven’t looked right since the second half against the Saints in that Divisional round playoff game last season. Granted, Everson Griffen (personal) is out but I didn’t even recognize Zimmer’s defensive unit on Thursday night.

  4. No disrespect to the Chiefs or defending champion Eagles, but the Rams are the best team in football.

Following a push on Thursday night (Vikings +7), I am now 12-3-1 on the year with my NFL picks for 4for4.com. Here’s what I like on Sunday…

255 Cincinnati Bengals at 256 Atlanta Falcons

  • Point Spread: Falcons -3.5
  • O/U: 53.5
  • Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

Line Movement

The Falcons opened as 5-point home favorites but the line has dropped to 3.5 at the majority of sportsbooks. As for the total, it hit the board at 48 but has climbed to 53.5.

Public Betting

Public bettors are backing the underdog, as 58 percent of the betting tickets are on the Bengals and so is 76% percent of the money wagered at online sportsbooks. The betting tickets (81 percent) and money (94 percent) are also on the over.

Key Injuries

As I noted a week ago when I took the Saints, the Falcons are one of the most banged-up defenses in football. Keanu Neal (knee), Deion Jones (foot), and Ricardo Allen (Achilles) are all on injured reserve. Takkarist McKinley (groin), Derrick Shelby (groin), Brian Poole (thumb/toe), Foyesade Oluokun (ankle) and Damontae Kazee (groin) are all banged-up as well, although are not necessarily ruled out. Julio Jones (calf) should play but Devonta Freeman (knee) is likely out again.

For the Bengals, A.J. Green (groin) and Gio Bernard (thigh) are expected to play, but their offensive line is injured. Cordy Glenn (knee) and center Billy Price (ankle) might not play, while Joe Mixon (knee) is out. Defensively, Ryan Glasgow (knee, IR) is out for the season and linebacker Vontaze Burfict is suspended for one more week.

Trends

The favorite is 4-1 against the spread in the last five meetings between these two teams.

Prediction

Due to the injuries detailed above, the Falcons will be forced to outscore their own defense on a weekly basis. Fortunately, they have Jones, Matt Ryan, Tevin Coleman and Calvin Ridley to lean on and after a dud performance in Week 1, Atlanta’s offense has fired on all cylinders the past two weeks. With the Bengals down a key pass-rusher in Glasgow, I don’t expect Cincinnati’s defense to stand in the way of a good over play.

Of course, the Bengals are no pushovers offensively. They left yards and points on the field last week in Carolina but still managed to score 21 on the road. This week, Green and Andy Dalton will face an Atlanta defense that has already lost both of its safeties, its All-Pro linebacker, and has had zero pass rush the first three weeks of the season.

Dalton will pick this defense apart and with Ryan rolling (he has nine total touchdowns the last two weeks), I’m not intimidated by this high total. I wouldn’t be surprised if both teams scored in the 30s on Sunday.

Pick: Over 53.5

263 Tampa Bay Bucs at 264 Chicago Bears

  • Spread: Bears -3
  • O/U: 46.5
  • Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

Line Movement

The Bears opened as 2.5-point home favorites but the line was bet up to the key number of 3. As for the total, it opened at 47 but was bet down to 46.5.

Public Betting

The Bucs are receiving 53 percent of the betting tickets as of this writing but 68 percent of the money wagered is on the Bears. Meanwhile, 56 percent of the betting tickets and 94 percent of the money is on the under.

Key Injuries

The Bucs should have defensive tackle Beau Allen (foot) but the jury is still out on the availability of Gerald McCoy (biceps) and right tackle Demar Dotson (knee). Otherwise, Tampa is relatively healthy heading into Week 4.

For the Bears, cornerbacks Prince Amukamara (hamstring) and Marcus Cooper (hamstring) missed practice time this week. Offensively, Anthony Miller (shoulder) is considered week-to-week and will not play on Sunday.

Trends

The Bucs are 5-1 against the spread in their last five games overall, while the Bears are 10-3-1 against the number in their last 14 home games.

Prediction

I took the Steelers over the Bucs on Monday night and while Tampa Bay nearly ruined that play in the second half, one of the reasons I liked Pittsburgh is because we all know Ryan Fitzpatrick would eventually fall off. I’m doubling down on that thought this weekend.

The best defense Fitzpatrick has faced in the first three weeks was Philadelphia, which has issues at cornerback. The other two defenses he torched were New Orleans and Pittsburgh. No pun intended, but this Bears team is a different animal. Khalil Mack is a freak, Vic Fanigo is an underrated play-caller, and as a unit, the Bears have the top-rated defense in terms of Football Outsider’s DVOA. They’re banged up in their secondary, but I’m banking on Fitzpatrick folding against this nasty Chicago pass rush.

On the other side, the Bears haven’t looked great offensively under new coach Matt Nagy. But Mitchell Trubisky and this offense will continue to improve. While the Bears rank No. 1 in defensive DVOA, the Bucs are 29th. If McCoy can’t play, the Bears should be able to establish an early lead, let their defense take over, then run late to secure the win. I love the Bears at this small price.

Pick: Bears -3

251 Miami Dolphins at 252 New England Patriots

  • Spread: Patriots -6.5
  • O/U: 48
  • Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

Line Movement

The Patriots opened as 7.5-point home favorites but the line has dropped a full point down to 6.5 at most books. The total, meanwhile, hit the board at 48 and has not moved off that number.

Public Betting

While 54 percent of the betting tickets are on the Dolphins, 60 percent of the money is on the Patriots. Clearly, the heavy bettors still believe in New England despite the Pats’ 1-2 start. As for the over/under, 71 percent of the betting tickets and 80 percent of the money is on the over.

Key Injuries

The Dolphins should have defensive end Cameron Wake (knee) and safety Reshad Jones (shoulder) in uniform but Chase Allen (foot) and Andre Branch (knee) are unlikely to play. Offensively, A.J. Derby is likely to miss the game with a foot injury.

As for the Patriots, cornerback Eric Rowe (groin), defensive end Trey Flowers (concussion), defensive end Geneo Grissom (ankle), safety Patrick Chung (Concussion), defensive tackle Danny Shelton (elbow) and receiver Josh Gordon (hamstring) are all questionable.

Trends

The home team is 11-1 against the spread in the last 12 meetings between these two teams. The favorite is also 8-3 against the number in the last 11 meetings and if that wasn’t bad enough for the Dolphins, Miami is winless at the betting window in its last six trips to Foxborough.

Prediction

My gut says take the Patriots, who aren’t going to lose three straight games, right? My head and my eyes say this New England team has legit issues, which were evident last Sunday night in Detroit.

Let’s start with the offense. When was the last time we saw Tom Brady hold onto the ball for as long as he did against the Lions and take multiple sacks? It doesn’t happen much because he’s one of the best pre-snap QBs I’ve ever seen. He knows how to get the ball out fast and accurately but the problem right now is that nobody is open. Rob Gronkowski is being double-teamed and none of the Patriots receivers can get open on the outside. Perhaps Gordon can provide that spark but for now, this is not the same New England passing game that we’ve grown accustomed to watching.

Josh McDaniels, either because he’s forced to or he feels as though this is the best way to win, has been more concerned about establishing the run as opposed to establishing the lead. In the past, McDaniels has thrown to get a lead and then ran in the fourth quarter to melt clock. This year, it’s been the opposite. This New England rushing attack has not been successful and it’s now without Rex Burkhead (neck, IR).

Now, let’s get to this Pats defense. They were soft on the edges, which allowed the Lions to do whatever they wanted in the running game. With the second level biting on the play-action, Matthew Stafford started to attack the middle of the field. It was total domination from a Lions team that entered the game 0-2.

Now, am I a huge believer in the undefeated Dolphins? No, but that’s not to say their record is a mirage. Ryan Tannehill is completing 73 percent of his passes and owns a passer rating of 121.8. They have a couple of nice weapons on the outside in Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant, who have combined for seven touchdowns this season. Defensively, the Dolphins are also tied for the league lead with seven interceptions and rank sixth in points allowed at 17.6.

I understand why the line has been set at 6.5. It’s the Patriots, they’re desperate, and they’re at home. But I’m not going to overlook what I saw last Sunday in Detroit. They’ve got legitimate issues that could take them a few weeks to iron out. I’m taking advantage of what I feel to be an inflated line.

Pick: Dolphins +6.5

Season Records

  • Week 1: 5-0
  • Week 2: 3-2
  • Week 3: 4-1
  • Week 4: 0-0-1
  • Overall: 12-3-1

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images.

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