The Weekly Blitz: 3 NFL Picks Against the Spread for Week 4

Kevin HansonAnalyst IIIOctober 1, 2011

NEW YORK - APRIL 28:  Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns participates in a photo shoot for the cover of EA Sports Madden NFL 12 on April 28, 2011 in Time Square, New York City  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for EA Sports)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With everything, good timing and a little bit of luck can go a long way. Last week, I had a little of both.

Every week, I (and the other members of The Weekly Blitz team) pick three NFL games against the spread.

Last Saturday, the Dolphins were two-point underdogs against the Browns since running back Peyton Hillis was expected to play despite dealing with strep throat. Last Saturday, the Dolphins were one of my three picks against the spread. Despite losing the game by one point, the Dolphins covered the spread.

When Hillis was ruled out Sunday morning, however, the roles were reversed and the Dolphins became the favorites by two points. So, in other words, if you made the selection on Sunday and gave two points, you would have lost.

In either case, I am 8-0 with one push in my nine picks against the spread this season.

Here are my three picks for Week 4:

Atlanta Falcons (-4.5) over Seattle Seahawks

In their first win of the season last week, the Seahawks offense got a boost from receiver Sidney Rice, who had eight receptions for 109 yards in his season debut.

That said, neither the win nor Rice's performance change what this team is, one of the league's worst (see our power rankings). It also does not change the fact that Tarvaris Jackson, who was booed at home, is one of the league's worst starting quarterbacks.

Seattle, one of three NFL teams to average 10 points or less per game, ranks second-to-last in total offense (214.7 yards per game).

For both of these teams, one of the keys will be keeping their quarterback upright. Jackson is tied with Chicago's Jay Cutler for most times being sacked (14) and Atlanta's Matt Ryan (13) is right behind them. That said, neither team has yet to get their pass rush going this season.

Although they have had a disappointing start, there is no doubt that the Falcons, who lost only three games in 2010, are a much more talented team the Seahawks. With their backs against the proverbial wall, I expect them to come out swinging and take care of business in the Emerald City and win this game big. When these two teams met last December, the Falcons won the game by a score of 34-18.

That sounds about right.

New England Patriots (-5.5) over Oakland Raiders

Raiders running back Darren McFadden has become one of the NFL's elite running backs. Over his past 16 games played, McFadden has 2,141 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns.

While the Patriots pass (and overall) defense has not done much to inspire confidence, they have been much better at stopping the run. Certainly, they will be keying on slowing down Run DMC as much as possible this week.

Despite last week's four interceptions, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been airing it out in record-setting fashion. No quarterback has thrown for more yards than Brady (1,327) during a three-game span in NFL history.

Since 2003, Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady has lost back-to-back regular-season games only twice: Weeks 8 and 9 in 2006 and Weeks 11 and 12 in 2009. It was the sixth time in Brady's career that he threw four interceptions, his total for all of 2010, in a regular-season game. In the immediate game after the previous five times he has thrown that many picks, however, Brady has thrown a total of nine touchdowns and only one interception.

I expect the Patriots to bounce back big as they typically do after a defeat.

New Orleans Saints (-7) over Jacksonville Jaguars

Through three games, only the Chiefs have scored fewer points than the Jaguars, who are averaging less than 10 points per game. Rookie Blaine Gabbert replaced Luke McCown, who replaced David Garrard, as the starting quarterback last week. While Gabbert will have a solid career, look for the Gregg Williams' coached defense to throw the kitchen sink at Gabbert.

Meanwhile the Saints, who are averaging nearly 35 points per game, have one of the league's most high-powered offenses and they get one of their best playmakers, Marques Colston, back from a broken collarbone this week.

While I don't expect Colston to be a huge factor in his first game back from the injury, he has said he could play the full game, if necessary. Drew Brees, who has thrown for three touchdowns in three-straight games, simply finds the open man, whether that's Colston, Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, etc.

If there is one thing that scares me about this pick (and the others), it's that I'm taking three road favorites.

For more picks, check out the picks by our other two "handicappers."

If you are looking for fantasy football rankings, here are my Week 4 rankings. In addition, here is our free fantasy football contest for Week 4.