The volatility of the NFL lends itself to a certain unpredictability, with very few games that are sure bets as to who will cover the spread.
Week 4 offers several virtual guarantees with regard to which teams will prove the betting experts to be correct, though. Using the lines from Topbet, two teams who steamrolled through last week's action are mortal locks to win handily enough to cover the difference projected by oddsmakers.
Here is a look at the safest bets for Sunday's slate—all of them on the road—along with a complete list of league-wide picks against the spread.
Indianapolis Colts (-9) over Jacksonville Jaguars
Coming off of one of the biggest wins in Chuck Pagano's tenure on the road against the 49ers, the Colts are in for a classic "trap game" against what is widely considered the NFL's worst team.
Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star reports that Pagano put fake mouse traps in front of players' lockers to remind them not to get complacent and have a potential letdown after Week 3's monumental win.
Richardson has a long run of just 10 this season so far, but the numbers say he is among the more elusive backs in football:
They'll be facing Trent Richardson this week. The #Colts RB has forced 16 missed tackles on 43 carries, or 37% of his carries.— Jake L (@Jake_NFL) September 26, 2013
The #Jaguars have missed a tackle one out of every 4.4 attempts on rushing plays. Said differently, Jags miss 23% of rushing tackles.— Jake L (@Jake_NFL) September 26, 2013
Colts play-caller Pep Hamilton should be able to wear Jacksonville down with a power running game, while the Jags offense should struggle even at home and with the return of QB Blaine Gabbert.
Prediction: Colts 34, Jaguars 17
Seattle Seahawks (-3) over Houston Texans
Limited by a sore shin, Johnson and the Texans offense could be in serious trouble against the best secondary in the league, which has helped the Seahawks allow just 27 points through three games:
The @Seahawks have allowed an NFL-low 27 points this season, the fewest by any team through 3 games since the 2009 Broncos.— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 26, 2013
That means more will be expected of promising Houston rookie DeAndre Hopkins, as he'll likely be the go-to target. Hopkins has the promise to be that someday, but not on this occasion in facing either Richard Sherman or Brandon Browner and possessing limited experience.
The Seahawks have the No. 1 pass defense even though they've only generated seven sacks as a team, which shows how effective the coverage is on the back end.
Houston's defense is strong in its own right, but the mobility of Seattle QB Russell Wilson is the X-factor here, and it will help push the Seahawks to 4-0 and remain alone atop the NFC.
Prediction: Seahawks 21, Texans 13
Arizona Cardinals (+2.5) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs thought they had their franchise quarterback in Josh Freeman not long ago, but now that he's lost seven of eight starts, is the subject of trade rumors and had an apparent spat with head coach Greg Schiano, it's Mike Glennon's turn to take the reins under center.
Bucs have made the move: Benching Josh Freeman for Mike Glennon, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 25, 2013
Can Josh Freeman be traded now? Sure. Bucs are open to it. But won't give their No. 2 QB away. Traded deadline isn't until Oct. 29— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 25, 2013
Which team will have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft?
Bad news for the home team, who will have to win this game with defense against Carson Palmer and the multitude of weapons Arizona's passing game has.
Between Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts, the Cardinals are stacked in the receiving corps.
In spite of that, Tampa is still somehow 2.5-point favorites at home with Glennon, a third-round rookie, making his NFL debut.
Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell and Sam Acho can all put pressure on Glennon, who will have to rely heavily on running back Doug Martin to shoulder the load.
The difference here will be the Cardinals' playmakers in the secondary in Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson, who can also impact the game on offense and special teams. This is a must-win for the Cardinals to get to 2-2 and keep pace in the NFC West, and they'll get head coach Bruce Arians his first road win in his Arizona tenure.
Prediction: Cardinals 24, Buccaneers 10
|Away Team||Home Team||Pick (Spread)|
|San Francisco 49ers||St. Louis Rams||Rams (+3.5)|
|Baltimore Ravens||Buffalo Bills||Ravens (-3)|
|Indianapolis Colts||Jacksonville Jaguars||Colts (-9)|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Cleveland Browns||Browns (+5)|
|New York Giants||Kansas City Chiefs||Chiefs (-4.5)|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Minnesota Vikings||Steelers (-3)|
|Chicago Bears||Detroit Lions||Lions (-3)|
|Arizona Cardinals||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Cardinals (+2.5)|
|Seattle Seahawks||Houston Texans||Seahawks (-3)|
|New York Jets||Tennessee Titans||Jets (+4)|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Denver Broncos||Eagles (+11)|
|Washington Redskins||Oakland Raiders||Redskins (-3.5)|
|Dallas Cowboys||San Diego Chargers||Chargers (+2)|
|New England Patriots||Atlanta Falcons||Patriots (-1)|
|Miami Dolphins||New Orleans Saints||Dolphins (+6.5)|
Odds courtesy of Topbet