NFL Week 4 Picks: Favorites That Will Capitalize on Home-Field Advantage

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 28, 2013

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 5:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos walks off after going out on downs against the Baltimore Ravens during the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 5, 2013 in Denver Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Although it's difficult to say with 100 percent certainty which teams are for real and which aren't just three weeks into the NFL season, there is no doubt that some teams are starting to separate from the pack. Delivering at home is a big part of being a great team, and several strong squads will have the chance to do that this week.

While Week 4 definitely seems to favor the road teams, there are always going to be home teams that excel. That will be especially true during some of Week 4's most high-profile matchups.

Here are three home teams that will capitalize on home-field advantage by winning this week, and covering the spread in the process.


*All lines courtesy of Vegas Insider


Denver Broncos (-10.5 vs. PHI)

Through three weeks, it is very difficult to argue with the opinion that the Denver Broncos are the NFL's best team. Their defense certainly leaves something to be desired, but Denver's offense is on pace to be one of the best in NFL history. Few offenses have had as many weapons as the Broncos possess, but the play of quarterback Peyton Manning is what truly has Denver thinking Super Bowl. According to Eric Karabell, Manning is performing at a level exceeding all other signal-callers in the league right now.

Don't expect Manning's torrid pace to slow down much in Week 4 as the Broncos will host the 1-2 Philadelphia Eagles. While Philly has an exciting offense in its own right, it simply doesn't compare to what the Broncos bring to the table. Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Co. may be able to move the ball on Denver's average defense, but the Broncos will be able to essentially score as many points as they desire.

The Eagles are allowing 323 passing yards per game, and Denver leads the league with nearly 375 passing yards per contest and almost 487 total yards per week, which is obviously a recipe for disaster for Philadelphia. The 10.5-point line is certainly lofty considering the Eagles could have an offensive outburst, but no team appears capable of keeping pace with the Broncos. The Eagles and head coach Chip Kelly may feel like they have a fast-paced offense, but they'll receive a thorough schooling on Sunday.


New Orleans Saints (-5.5 vs. MIA)

One of the week's most-intriguing battles will pit two undefeated squads against each other on Monday night as the New Orleans Saints will host the Miami Dolphins. While the Saints missed the playoffs last season, there aren't many fans that are surprised by their early success as the return of head coach Sean Payton from suspension has worked wonders. Miami, on the other hand, has progressed much more quickly than anyone could have imagined with wins over the Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons to their credit.

Playing the Saints within the confines of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome is unquestionably Miami's biggest challenge yet, though. That is especially true for Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The second-year man has really come along this season, but it remains to be seen how he'll perform in what promises to be a hostile environment. On top of that, the Saints defense is much improved this season compared to last year, so Miami won't be able to drive at will.

The Saints, on the other hand, can rack up yardage against anyone. Quarterback Drew Brees is one 300-yard game from tying his own record of nine consecutive 300-yard performances. With Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Darren Sproles and a host of others at his disposal, it's difficult to imagine Brees falling short of that mark. Miami is a gritty team that can hang in there for a while, but the Saints should win by at least a touchdown by the time it's all said and done.


Atlanta Falcons (-1 vs. NE)

Despite their advanced billing as one of the NFC's best teams, the Atlanta Falcons have gotten off to a less-than-ideal start. The Falcons are 1-2, but they could easily be 3-0 if not for giving up late leads against the Saints and Dolphins respectively. A Sunday-night clash with the undefeated New England Patriots should say a lot about where the Falcons are right now. There is plenty of uncertainty surrounding the game, though, as injuries will play a role, according to The Boston Globe's Shalise Manza Young.

The loss of running back Steven Jackson is significant for Atlanta, but Jacquizz Rodgers ran well against the Dolphins in Week 3, so he should be able to pick up the slack. The bigger issue is on the other side as the Pats are really struggling on offense without wide receiver Danny Amendola and tight end Rob Gronkowski. If either or both of them are able to return, it would do wonders for quarterback Tom Brady as he has scuffled without the aid of reliable receivers.

Since the Pats are 3-0, however, there is a good chance that they'll take a cautious approach with Amendola and Gronk. They obviously want to win, but starting off well gives them the luxury of ensuring that their players are 100 percent before they return. The desperate team in this equation is Atlanta since the Saints are starting to pull away in the NFC South. Quarterback Matt Ryan is fully aware of that, so look for Matty Ice and wide receiver Julio Jones to come up with huge performances in a winning effort.


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