Week 4 NFL Betting Picks: Team and Game Totals
How we approach Week 4 shouldn't vary much from our Week 3 approach in terms of overreactions and small sample theatre. We should be cognizant that the bookmakers are expecting us to have heavy recency biases when placing bets, particularly when it comes to the spread. Though with scoring up nearly 5.5 points per game across the league, I'm not sure they're acting quick enough on the current trends with game totals.
Handicapping NFL sides and totals is not a perfect science, though it does get easier to navigate as the season moves along. The more we can contextualize the data we have and adjust it for the situation and opponent, the better. I feel better about using in-season data to make decisions once we get into Week 6 and beyond, but for now, we have to use what we have. Scoring is up 5.4 points per game compared to last season, with overs coming in at a 60% clip. I'm going to lean on that trend this week.
Let's dig into this week's picks.
Buffalo Bills - Over 27.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
I love this spot for Josh Allen and the Bills. I jumped on the Bills -1.5 in the look-ahead market, expecting it to climb to -3 after New England clobbered the Raiders on Sunday, and that's what happened.
Of all the crazy things that continue to transpire in 2020, perhaps Josh Allen becoming an efficient, and prolific passer tops the list. Ok, it doesn't top the list because, holy s%*^ 2020, but it's still wild to see. Allen has raised his completion percentage over expectation (CPOE) by 7.4% this season, and Buffalo is top-three in early-down passing rate. The Bills' offense ranks third in both yards-per-drive and points-per-drive so far, while Las Vegas' defense ranks 31st and 28th in the same corresponding metrics. The Raiders will be without rookie corner Damon Arnette for this one, and while he's had a difficult start to his career, his loss impacts the depth of an already questionable secondary unit for Las Vegas.
Baltimore Ravens - Over 29.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
The game total in this Baltimore versus Washington game plummeted like a stone this week. After opening at 50.5, it's down to 45 in most spots. If you're new to this, we don't see 4.5 point moves very often.
I love being able to buy-low on a team off of a disappointing showing in an island game. The Ravens are not built to come from behind, at least not against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, but that shouldn't be a concern here. I'm looking for the Ravens to bounce back in a big way, and they're an auto-click for me anytime their team total drops below 30 points.
The best way to be profitable over the long run when betting on NFL spreads or totals is to beat the closing line. That means having a play that's at a better price or number than what the book is posting at kick-off on game day. The easiest way to gain closing line value is to make a play on a game as soon as the game is posted, which is often on Sunday evening. I make the majority of my bets earlier in the week, and often times the price or number that I booked is long gone by the time Sunday rolls around. Though at times, the line moves back and it becomes available again. When applicable, I'm going to share those plays with you. This way, if the line moves back towards the play I made earlier, you'll be aware and can take action if possible.
- Seahawks @ Dolphins - Over 52 (DraftKings Sportsbook): This line has climbed to 54.5, which is a stay-away for me. The best way to approach this now is the Seahawks Over 29.5, which is down from 31.5 earlier in the week. If it gets to 56 there's probably value in the under, but I'm not taking unders against Russ right now.
- Falcons - Over 23.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook): The Falcons defense has all sorts of issues, but Matt Ryan is chucking it around with success so far this season, at least through the game's first three quarters. The Packers are allowing the 7th highest rate of explosive pass plays, and rank 28th in pressure rate so far this season, so Matt Ryan should have a clean pocket on Monday night. This has moved up to 24, which I'd still be interested in, but I think some of the injury questions move this back down.
- Cardinals @ Panthers - Over 51 (FanDuel Sportsbook): The questions surrounding Deandre Hopkins this week may drive this number back down after it reached 52.5 earlier this week. The Cardinals continue to play with pace, and the Panthers have shown a willingness to do so as well when playing from behind. Arizona played poorly last week, including three bad picks from Kyler Murray, yet still managed to score 23 points against the Lions, who tried to melt the clock. I'd stay away at 52.5, but at 51 or lower, I'm in.