NFL

NFL Lines Week 4: Analyzing Top Last-Minute Picks Against the Spread

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 09:  Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins throws a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half at FedExField on September 9, 2013 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2013

After an exciting Saturday of college football, sports fans now turn their attention to what should be an equally intriguing day around the NFL. By the end of Week 4, the season will be at the quarter pole, and it should be easier to get a read on every team.

In other words, it's time for teams that have been struggling in the early going to start turning things around. At the same time, surprise squads around the league must continue to prove their hot starts aren't simply flukes.

So it should be an interesting Sunday of action. Knowing that, let's examine some of the top spread picks on the board for the remaining portion of Week 4. All lines used are courtesy of Vegas Insider.

 

 

Washington Redskins (-3.5 at Oakland Raiders)

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 23:  Quarterback Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Oakland Raiders walks off the field against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 37-21.  (Pho
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Slowly but surely Robert Griffin III is starting to look more like the dynamic playmaker who took the league by storm last season. After rushing for just 25 yards through two weeks, he gained 37 on the ground in Week 3, including a 21-yard burst.

Getting him back to full strength was always going to be the season's biggest key for Washington. Luckily for the Redskins, he's getting closer to that point before all hope is lost after an 0-3 start. Getting to face the Raiders' 17th-ranked defense should help him take another step.

As for Oakland's offense, questions remain as to what the team's plan is under center. Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reports Matt Flynn will draw the start despite Terrelle Pryor getting cleared after a concussion. If true, that doesn't bode well for the Raiders.

With the Redskins quarterback trending in the right direction, the Washington defense finally getting to face an offense without a myriad of weapons and uncertainty for Oakland, Griffin and Co. should finally get in the win column.

Prediction: Redskins by 10

 

Arizona Cardinals (+2.5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 22:   Carson Palmer and  Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrate after a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 22, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Cardinals have too many weapons in the passing game to rank in the bottom half of the league. The biggest issue in the early going has been a lack of chemistry between Carson Palmer and his trio of talented wide receivers.

Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts have tallied 38 catches. But 27 more passes have been thrown in their direction and didn't connect. That's not a good ratio, and those missed opportunities are a major reason why Arizona is 1-2.

The good news is that the season is now a month old, so they should all be getting on the same page. And once they do, it should open more running lanes for Rashard Mendenhall, leading to a more well-rounded offensive attack.

One other key working to Arizona's advantage is Tampa Bay's change under center. Mike Glennon, who's still a very raw talent, will get the call instead of Josh Freeman. It should lessen the pressure on the Cardinals secondary and allow Arizona to win the game outright.

Prediction: Cardinals by four

 

Tennessee Titans (-3.5 vs. New York Jets)

The Titans can't match the talent level of the AFC's top teams, but they are doing exactly what they need to win games. They're leaning heavily on the defense and the rushing attack, allowing Jake Locker to manage the game instead of pushing him to make big plays.

Tennessee's defense has done its job, ranking eighth in yards allowed while averaging three sacks per week. The ground game hasn't been overly efficient with Chris Johnson picking up less than four yards per carry, but that's due to the high volume more than anything else.

Locker has responded to the support by completing nearly 60 percent of his passes and throwing no interceptions in the first three games. It's not always pretty, but the formula has been working for the Titans so far.

On the flip side, the Jets could easily be 0-3 if not for a late penalty by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1 and dreadful play by the Buffalo Bills last week. They have taken advantage of a weak schedule, but playing the Titans on the road is a tougher test.

Prediction: Titans by eight

 

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