Week 4 NFL Odds: Lookahead Lines Report
Friends don't let friends bet NFL sides on game day. I understand the appeal of getting action down on a game about to kick off, but please, for the love of all things sacred, don't do it. I understand that most casual bettors out there don't have time to comb through every news blurb and injury report the moment it comes out. It's difficult for most bettors to feel informed early in the week, or even more, right when next week's line is posted on Sunday evening for the following week's games.
In my opinion, the only way to consistently put yourself in a position to gain positive expected value (+EV) while betting on NFL sides is to beat the closing line. Sportsbooks gradually increase the limits they let bettors get down as the week progresses, indicating that the book feels they've priced the game correctly. So unless you're waiting later in the week because you're betting five-to-six figures on a side, you're +EV increases if you can get down on a number before it's sharpened by the whales.
Each week of the season, I'll provide a first glance at the upcoming NFL slate through the lens of lookahead lines. This brief lookahead window offers a sneak peek at how teams are valued by bookmakers before the start of the week. It's also an opportunity to act before the games are posted and sharpened on Sunday evening—after the previous week's games are complete. These lines are a true indicator of how bookmakers value each team, without the influence of the recency bias that comes after watching eight hours of football earlier in the day. Depending on the bookmaker, and bettor for that matter, you may or may not be able to get the type of action down you'd like, depending on your unit sizing. The key is understanding where the value is on the board in any given week, and that is easier to do once you know what the opening number is.
When I take a position on a lookahead line, I believe the current number will beat the closing line. It's an effort to get ahead of the market movement to land the best number. Basically, I'm parlaying my handicap. In essence, if I'm right in my Week 3 evaluation of the team and market, I will have an advantage in predicting where the line movement will come first in Week 4.
For reference, I'll use the initial odds released by Westgate back in May to show you how the game opened. Then, I'll note the consensus for each current Week 4 lookahead line, with the spread listed based on the home team:
|Game||Current Line 9/22||Preseason Lookahead Line|
|Dolphins @ Bengals||-1.5||-4.5|
|Vikings @ Saints||+1||+1|
|Browns @ Falcons||+3||N/A|
|Commanders @ Cowboys||-2.5||-5|
|Seahawks @ Lions||-5.5||-1|
|Titans @ Colts||-3.5||-3|
|Bears @ Giants||-3||-2.5|
|Jaguars @ Eagles||-7||-6|
|Jets @ Steelers||-3.5||-3.5|
|Bills @ Ravens||+4||+1|
|Chargers @ Texans||+7||+7.5|
|Cardinals @ Panthers||+3||+2.5|
|Patriots @ Packers||-6.5||-5|
|Broncos @ Raiders||-1.5||PK|
|Chiefs @ Buccaneers||+1||-2.5|
|Rams @ 49ers||-1||+1|
Week 4 Lookahead Lines Takeaways
It matters less early in the season, but I'm always on the hunt for scheduling and travel advantages. For the most part, these things are already baked into the number, but I believe there are instances each week that aren't accurately accounted for in the market.
Dolphins @ Bengals (-1.5)
This is a nice spot to buy low on the Bengals. They've struggled out of the gates this season, unable to crack the code against Cover-2 looks. They've been forced to take what's given to them underneath, and Joe Burrow has been under siege, holding the ball, waiting for something to open deep.
Perhaps we'll see the Dolphins pivot off their typical single-high looks, but some defensive coordinators are stubborn and want to run their system regardless of the opponents. Miami blitzes a ton as well—the third-highest rate in the league through two weeks after leading the league in 2022—but they're dead last in pressure rate. The Dolphins have their hands full with Buffalo in Week 3, so if the Bengals bounce back against the Jets, this could reopen at Bengals -3.
Titans @ Colts (-3.5)
The Colts are down bad to start the season. No one looked at Indianapolis' opening schedule and thought they'd be winless heading home in Week 3 against Kansas City. The Titans have also struggled out of the gate, stumbling late in their home opener against the Giants and then getting curb-stomped publicly on Monday Night Football against the juggernaut Bills.
If the Colts come into this one healthy, presumably with both Shaq Leonard and Michael Pittman Jr. back in the lineup, I like them in this spot. With that said, there's no reason to act early here. If the Titans win at home against the Raiders and the Chiefs boat-race the Colts, this will fall under -3.
Bills @ Ravens (+4)
The Ravens are looking to threaten an ominous league record they set last season, which is not a good sign. In 2021, Baltimore recorded the most games lost due to injury from their starters, according to Football Outsiders, who've been tracking adjusted games lost since the mid-80s. Kyler Fuller is already out for the season with a torn ACL. Marlon Humphrey is active but clearly less than 100%, still dealing with a lingering groin strain. Marcus Peters is limited as he's recovering from last season's ACL tear.
The offensive line has yet to roll out the five starters they intended to start the season with, and now Lamar Jackson is dealing with an elbow strain that is hopefully nothing but coincided with Baltimore's stalled offense late in Week 2's collapse against Miami.
With the way the Bills are playing right now, I'm going to back them at less than 6 or 7 against almost anyone.
Patriots @ Packers (-6.5)
This could climb to 7 if the Packers win on the road in Tampa Bay in Week 3, and if so, I'll be eyeing the Patriots. They're a tough team to back right now because of the concerns on the offensive side of the ball, but I think they'll be able to run the football against this Packers front that's off to a slow start. No need to act on this ahead of time, but it's a spot to watch.
Chiefs @ Buccaneers (+1)
The Tampa Bay defense is off to a terrific start, but in order to win this one against Kansas City, the Buccaneers will need to show an offensive ceiling we've yet to see in 2022. The shift from a pass-heavy philosophy to one that's just 25th in pass rate over expectation and features Breshad Perriman, Scotty Miller, and Cole Beasley is certainly a pivot from years past.
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