Week 4 Pick Em: What an odd week 3, y’all. Lions beating the Patriots? Bills over Vikings? I definitely did not call those, but I think I’m due to bounce back in Week 4.
Please keep in mind that by the time you’re reading this, the line may have shifted depending on breaking news during the week, or money flowing through the market.
Thursday 8:20 PM EST
Minnesota at LA Rams, -6.5
Mike Zimmer’s Vikings are coming off of an embarrassing Week 3 loss to the Buffalo Bills, and will have to travel cross-country on a short week to face the undefeated Rams. While I don’t think that game is cause for too much concern for Minnesota, they may still be without star running back Dalvin Cook again and will have to deal with the Rams’ tough front seven, as well as an offense led by running back Todd Gurley. I am taking the Rams to win by a touchdown on this Thursday night showdown.
Sunday 1:00 PM EST
Cincinnati at Atlanta, -5.5
Atlanta has lost another key defensive player in free safety Ricardo Allen this past week in their overtime loss to the Saints. The Falcons were already without Keanu Neil and Deion Jones. They may also still be without star running back Devonta Freeman for this game, who is “getting closer” to a return, per head coach Dan Quinn, but is still day-to-day. On the Cincinnati side of the ball, they will hopefully have a recovered A.J. Green, who exited Sunday’s game early with a hip issue, and maybe even Joe Mixon, who was a non-participant in Wednesday’s practice recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. Keep a close eye on the injury report for both teams here, but at this point in the week, give me the Bengals to cover the 5.5 points on the road and possibly win this game outright.
NY Jets at Jacksonville, -7.5
The Jets have not shown much promise since their Week 1 game against the Lions and have dropped two straight, including an embarrassing Week 3 implosion against the Browns. Jacksonville, meanwhile, scored only six points without sophomore running back Leonard Fournette in their first loss of the season in Week 3 against the Titans. Fournette practiced on Wednesday, and if he plays, this is a no-brainer, but even if he sits, this feels like a major bounce back spot for Blake Bortles and Jacksonville. Lay it or don’t play it, give me the Jaguars to win this game handily and cover the 7.5 points at home.
Detroit at Dallas, -3.5
The 1-2 Cowboys will face the 1-2 Lions this week at home as 3.5 favorites. They are coming off of a bad loss to the Giants, while the Lions pulled off a surprising upset against the Patriots on Sunday for their first win of the season. However, their Week 1 loss has left a particularly sour taste and I will need to see more from Matt Patricia and the Lions before I can pick them to win on the road, which is why I lean toward the Cowboys in this spot to win and cover the points.
Philadelphia at Tennessee, +3.5
The Titans picked up a huge win against their AFC south division rivals, the Jacksonville Jaguars, in a surprising road upset on Sunday. They will face another touch matchup from Doug Pederson’s Eagles at home this week, who are at fuller strength with the return of quarterback Carson Wentz and possible addition of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, as he was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice. Titans coach Mike Vrabel has named Marcus Mariota as the starter for this game with backup Blaine Gabbert in the concussion protocol, but they will likely be without wide receiver Rishard Matthews, who asked for his release from the team on Wednesday, only shortly after signing a contract extension. Give me Wentz and the Eagles laying road chalk and covering the 3.5 points here.
Buffalo at Green Bay, -10.5
The Buffalo Bills may not know where Minnesota is on a map, but they did pick up their first win of the season against the Vikings, pulling off the largest NFL upset in 23 years. Former Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen looked surprisingly impressive in his first start against a strong Vikings defense, and sophomore cornerback Tre’Davious White taunted Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins on and off the field (you like that?!) Meanwhile, the Packers dropped to 1-1-1 in their Week 3 loss against the Redskins, and with quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ health still a concern, I don’t think I can lay the 10.5 points with them, even at home in Lambeau Field. I am taking the Packers to win the game, but hesitantly leaning towards the Bills to keep it within a touchdown.
Houston at Indianapolis, -1.5
I think I’ve finally learned my lesson on the Texans: they are not a good football team. Both quarterbacks in this matchup are coming off of serious injuries and have yet to demonstrate that they can play at their full potential. This line suggests that the Texans would be favored on a neutral field, and while I am optimistic there are better days to come for sophomore quarterback Deshaun Watson, the winless Texans haven’t shown us much to inspire that confidence. I think this AFC south matchup stays close with the Colts ultimately on top and covering the 1.5 points at home.
Miami at New England, -7.5
The Miami Dolphins will come into Foxboro undefeated to face the 1-2 New England Patriots in an AFC East showdown this Sunday. The Patriots are coming off of an embarrassing showing against the Lions and have placed running back Rex Burkhead and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley on injured reserve. They will, however, be getting wide receiver Julian Edelman back from suspension and if they’re lucky, may even see some Josh Gordon this week. Miami doesn’t have a good track record in New England, but I bet they keep this one within a touchdown, and with most books having this at 6.5/7, I am going with the Dolphins to keep it within a touchdown and cover the 7.5 point spread.
Tampa at Chicago, -2.5
Buccaneers Quarterback Ryan Fitzmagic avoided going full on “Fitztragic” in Monday night’s loss against the Steelers, throwing for an NFL-record 400 yards in three straight games. He has secured his spot as the Week 4 starter over Jameis Winston, who just returned from suspension on Tuesday. They will face a difficult pass rush led by Khalil Mack, and a Bears team that could easily be 3-0. I don’t think this is the week Fitzpatrick turns into a pumpkin just yet, but I think Matt Nagy’s Bears win this game at home and cover the 2.5 point spread.
Sunday 4:05 PM EST
Cleveland at Oakland, -2.5
The fridges are open, the Cleveland Browns have finally won a game, and former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has been named the Week 4 starter against Derek Carr and the Raiders. Meanwhile, the winless Raiders have played a tough schedule against teams with a collective 8-1 record, but have completely fallen apart in the second halves of games. Jon Gruden will have to get it together quickly to prove he’s worth the 100 million dollars the Raiders are paying him, but I think the Browns come out on top and cover the 2.5 point spread on the road.
Seattle at Arizona, +2.5
The Seahawks pulled off their first win of the season last week against the Cowboys at home, but they’ll be without their “12th man” on the road this week against the Cardinals. Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin has returned to practice, but with their continued offensive line issues and his bilateral knee injuries, I can’t see him making too much of an impact even if he returns. Meanwhile, the winless Cardinals have named former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen as their starter for Week 4 over the struggling Sam Bradford in hopes he can reignite running back David Johnson and their offense. I don’t love this game, but I would lean Cardinals in NFC west matchup as road underdogs to cover the spread and potentially win their first game of the year.
Sunday 4:25 PM EST
San Francisco at LA Chargers, -10.5
The 49ers have suffered an unfortunate loss of quarterback Jimmy Garappolo to a season-ending ACL tear, which means backup C.J. Beathard will be starting this Sunday against the Chargers. This is an obvious downgrade, but I also don’t think the Chargers deserve to be over a touchdown favorites, especially with the loss of defensive end Joey Bosa for at least until their Week 8 bye and one of the weaker home field advantages. I think the 49ers lose this game, but I like them to cover the 10.5 points in LA, where the 49ers fans probably outnumber Chargers fans.
New Orleans at NY Giants, +3.5
The Saints picked up a much needed divisional win against the Falcons in overtime, but this team could easily be 0-3 if the Browns had made just one kick in Week 2. In typical Saints fashion, their offense led by Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas has looked fantastic, and their defense has looked bad. Meanwhile, the Giants have finally benched Ereck Flowers and are maybe trending in the right direction with their Week 3 win against the Texans. They’ll be without tight end Evan Engram, but give me the Giants as home underdogs to keep this within a field goal and possibly even win this game straight up.
Sunday 8:20 PM EST
Baltimore at Pittsburgh, -3.5
The 1-1-1 Steelers finally picked up their first win of the season against the Buccaneers on Monday night, forcing 3 Fitzmagic turnovers. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a solid road game, completing 79% of his passes and spreading the ball around the field to JuJu Smith-Schuster, Vance McDonald, and Antonio Brown. Their defense still looked permeable, however, allowing Fitzpatrick to throw for 411 yards, most of which came in the second half. With no end in sight for Le’Veon Bell’s contract holdout, however, I think Baltimore comes into this game as the more complete team. I am taking the Ravens to keep it within a field goal and possibly even win this AFC north primetime showdown.
Monday 8:15 PM EST
Kansas City at Denver, +4.5
The Chiefs come into this game 3-0 and outscoring opponents 118-92. I think we can expect most of their games to be high scoring and I am personally all aboard the Patrick Mahomes train, who is on a monster pace to throw for 52 touchdowns this season. This line suggests Kansas City would only be favored by a touchdown if it were played on a neutral field and while I love home underdogs in primetime, I lean Chiefs in this spot to cover the 4.5 points.