Week 4 NFL Picks: Road Warriors Guaranteed to Cover the Spread
The NFL's slate of games in Week 4 is interesting, to say the least, as most of the contests feature road teams as favorites. While great teams need to be able to win games on the road, there is no question that home-field advantage can be a major factor. With that in mind, there are bound to be quite a few upsets this weekend.
At the same time, plenty of those road favorites will be able to hold up their end of the bargain as well. Although it's still early in the week, the preliminary lines have been released, and there are plenty of tantalizing road favorites worth betting on.
Here are three road favorites that have tough tests on the horizon, but will ultimately overcome them by winning the game and covering the spread.
*All spreads courtesy of Vegas Insider
Baltimore Ravens (-3 @ BUF)
After getting thrashed by the Denver Broncos in the season-opening game, many questioned whether or not the Baltimore Ravens were even capable of reaching the playoffs. It turns out that the Week 1 result was about Denver's dominance more than Baltimore's incompetence, though.
The Ravens bounced back with a win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 2, and they were extremely impressive in defeating the Houston Texans 30-9. Conventional wisdom suggests that Baltimore should have an even easier time against the Buffalo Bills in Week 4.
At 1-2, the Bills are off to yet another lackluster start, although they narrowly lost to the New England Patriots in Week 1, and nearly came back to beat the New York Jets last week. Even so, the Bills have some definite issues that Baltimore should be able to exploit.
The Bills are second-worst in the league against the run as they are allowing 155 yards per game on the ground, so even though running back Ray Rice's status is uncertain, according to Rotoworld, the Ravens should be able to pound the rock. Bernard Pierce has proven to be a capable backup, and the Bills will probably struggle to contain him.
Ray Rice (hip) not yet ruled out for Week 4 http://t.co/7hrjfLDo1R— Rotoworld Football (@Rotoworld_FB) September 23, 2013
Buffalo's secondary is an even bigger issue, though, as the Bills have suffered through a ton of injuries. Cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Ron Brooks will be out Sunday, according to Mark Belcher of BuffaloBills.com, while corner Leodis McKelvin and safety Jairus Byrd are very much questionable. The Jets and rookie quarterback Geno Smith had a field day against the Bills in Week 3, and the same should be true for Joe Flacco and the Ravens in Week 4.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-1 @ MIN)
It may seem quite risky to bet on a road favorite when they are sitting at 0-3, but there is reason to believe that the Pittsburgh Steelers are ready to turn the corner. Pittsburgh looked awful in losses to the Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals to open the season, and while the Steelers were defeated by the Chicago Bears on Sunday night, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense finally showed signs of life.
Pittsburgh's defense is still good enough to contend, and it will have to be good on Sunday against running back Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings. Luckily for the Steelers, though, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder can't do much to hurt them.
Assuming the Steelers can hold Minnesota in check defensively, the offense has a great chance to put some points on the board. In addition to Big Ben's resurgence, rookie running back Le'Veon Bell may be able to play in his first game of the season, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
#Steelers Tomlin: CB Cortez Allen will practice, as will Le'Veon Bell. Optimistic both will play Sunday. Big news on Bell.— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) September 24, 2013
It remains to be seen how effective Bell will be after missing so much time, but the Steelers' ground game can't get any worse. If Bell can keep the Vikings defense on its heels, Roethlisberger will take advantage of Minnesota's weak pass defense.
The Vikes are allowing more than 315 passing yards per game, and they were picked apart by Brian Hoyer and the Cleveland Browns last week. Roethlisberger is coming off a 400-yard effort, and he may approach that number once again in Week 4.
Dallas Cowboys (-1 @ SD)
Which Week 4 road favorite is most likely to cover the spread?
The Dallas Cowboys have been the biggest tease in football over the past several years as they always seem to have the talent necessary to make a Super Bowl run. More often than not, though, late-season collapses have kept them out of the playoffs. It's possible that the same will happen this year, but this Cowboys team seems different.
Dallas is currently 2-1, and it very nearly knocked off the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2. The Cowboys will play a better-than-expected San Diego Chargers squad in Week 4, but this is the type of game that Dallas needs to win if it is truly playoff material.
America's Team was banging on all cylinders in a Week 3 win over the St. Louis Rams, as Dallas raced out to an early lead and won 31-7. The offense is in excellent form as quarterback Tony Romo has thrown for six touchdowns and just one interception through three weeks. Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten are getting it done as receivers and running back DeMarco Murray ran for 175 yards in Week 3. Even the defense is holding up its end of the bargain, according to Gil Brandt of NFL.com.
San Diego could easily be 3-0 in its own right if not for late-game collapses against the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans, but the Bolts are 1-2 with room to improve. Mike McCoy's offense has been excellent, but defense has been a big problem for the Chargers. San Diego is allowing more than 470 yards and 27 points per game, which bodes well for Dallas' stacked offense. This one could be a shootout, but the gun-slinging Cowboys will emerge victorious.
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