NFL Lines Week 4: Slow-Starting Teams to Take Against the Spread

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor ISeptember 24, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: Darrelle Revis #24 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers strtetches prior to their game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Three games do not make a season. 

At least that's what I keep telling myself when I look at my fantasy team. 

But in all seriousness, take a look at last season. After three weeks, the Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers (although many might argue the validity of this one. As a Seattle Seahawks fan, I certainly do not), New England Patriots and Denver Broncos were all 1-2. 

And they all made the playoffs. 

Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals were 3-0—with wins over the Patriots and Seahawks(!)—and the Buffalo Bills were 2-1. 

They finished with five and six victories, respectively. 

So, yeah, although many might feel like they have a good grasp of where every team stands right now, things are going to change—and change drastically. 

With that being said, let's take a look at some slow-starting teams that will turn things around—at least enough to prove Vegas wrong—in Week 4. 

St. Louis Rams (+3 vs. San Francisco 49ers)

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 22:  Quarterback Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams passes during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The St. Louis Rams played extremely well against the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers last season, taking them to overtime both times and going undefeatedkind of like a soccer team goes undefeated (one win, one tie). 

Circumstances this time around are even better.

Sam Bradford, with more weapons around him, is playing the best football of his career. He is currently setting career bests in completion percentage (62.4), touchdown percentage (4.3), interception percentage (1.4), yards per game (297.0) and QB rating (88.7). 

His counterpart, Colin Kaepernick, who was so vital to San Francisco's success late last year, has been dreadful the past two weeks as his receivers have looked incapable of getting open and Vernon Davis was out against the Indianapolis Colts. 

Aldon Smith, meanwhile, has checked into rehab, per's Ian Rapoport, and is expected to miss about a month. 

Jeff Fisher's 1-2 team has fallen short of preseason expectations so far. The running game has been pretty much nonexistent, and the defense, more surprisingly, has been torched.

Nevertheless, the Rams are still talented and have a slew of playmakers on both sides of the ball. At home and on a short week against a 49ers team that has looked terrible and is quickly losing important pieces, the Rams getting points is just too good to pass up. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3 vs. Arizona Cardinals)

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reacts after an incomplete pass in the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Im
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Most will probably see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers giving up points to any team that is not the Jacksonville Jaguars and run far away. 

It's hard to blame them. 

The Bucs are 0-3. Josh Freeman has completed 45.7 percent of his throws. Head coach Greg Schiano is undergoing a heavy amount of scrutiny. Things have been quite dreary in the Sunshine State.

Let's not overreact, though. Two of their three lossesboth of which came on the last play of the gamewere by a combined three points, Doug Martin is averaging nearly 100 yards per game on the ground and this defense is very good all over the field. 

Just about everyone outside of Tampa Bay has jumped off the Bucs' bandwagon, but this is an average Arizona Cardinals team making the dreaded trip across the country for a 1 p.m. ET game against a fired-up team that is better than people think. 

That's a recipe for a tasty cover. 

San Diego Chargers (+2 vs. Dallas Cowboys)

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers points out something to the officials during a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on September 22, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  The Titans defeated the Chargers 20-17.
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The San Diego Chargers' record reads "1-2," but they haven't been nearly that bad. 

In Week 1, they handled the Houston Texans for about three quarters before collapsing and losing by three. In Week 2, they went into Philadelphia and earned an impressive road victory against the fast-paced Philadelphia Eagles. In Week 3, a two-minute drive from Jake Locker gave the Tennessee Titans a dramatic three-point win at home. 

Despite some pass-defense ineptness, Philip Rivers has been nearly unstoppable (seriously) and the Chargers could easily be 3-0.

Of course, the Dallas Cowboys have also looked quite good offensively, so this one has the look of a shootout that will come down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter. 

In that case, you've got to take the home team getting points. 


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