Bleacher Report's Expert Week 4 NFL Picks

NFL StaffSeptember 29, 2022

Bleacher Report's Expert Week 4 NFL Picks

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    Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) gives directions during the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
    Patrick Mahomes (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

    Bleacher Report’s NFL experts had a taste of what it’s like to finish above .500 last week. Now, they will look to build momentum with their Week 4 picks as we move into October.

    NFL analysts Gary Davenport, Brent Sobleski, Kris Knox and Maurice Moton; editors Ian Kenyon and Wes O'Donnell; and B/R Betting host of Winners Only Wednesdays Greg Ivory have three weeks of inventory, and they feel extra confident in their picks this week.

    While some of the lines seem like head-scratchers, our crew sorted everything out to make sure you don’t fall for any traps.

    Before we look ahead to our Week 4 picks, let’s take a look at the overall expert standings, with last week’s results in parentheses.

    1. Moton: 24-23-1 (8-7-1)

    2. Davenport: 23-24-1 (9-6-1)

    3. O’Donnell: 21-26-1 (7-8-1)

    T-4. Ivory: 20-27-1 (6-9-1)

    T-4. Knox: 20-27-1 (7-8-1)

    6. Kenyon: 18-29-1 (4-11-1)

    7. Sobleski: 17-30-1 (6-9-1)

    Consensus picks: 22-25-1 (8-7-1)

    Lines are from DraftKings as of Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 4 p.m. ET. Check DraftKings for the latest odds info. Information on public betting trends is courtesy of the Action Network. ATS records are provided by TeamRankings.

Miami Dolphins (3-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-2)

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25:  Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) rolls out during the National Football League game between the New York Jets and the Cincinnati Bengals on September 25, 2022 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Joe Burrow (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Editor's Note: Bengals defeated the Dolphins 27-15 on Thursday night.

    DraftKings Line: Bengals -4

    In our Week 4 power rankings, we anointed the Miami Dolphins as the NFL’s No. 1 team after they beat the Buffalo Bills 21-19 last week. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals found their mojo Sunday in a convincing 27-12 win over the New York Jets.

    Did the Bengals shake off a short-term Super Bowl hangover? Did we crown the Dolphins a little too soon?

    O’Donnell had the pick that tilted our consensus in the Bengals’ favor. He didn’t dismiss Miami’s early success, but he pinpointed deficiencies in the Dolphins’ productivity that will make it difficult for them to cover the spread.

    “Even if we weren't dealing with a Tua Tagovailoa injury, I'd still be picking the reigning AFC champion Bengals at home on a short week," he said. "The upstart Dolphins are one of the best stories of the season's first month, with two of their three wins coming against genuine title contenders (the Baltimore Ravens and the Bills). But the recipe for beating a Bengals team that can score in bunches starts by pressuring the quarterback, and the Dolphins have generated only six sacks in their first three games.

    “While the Bengals defense has tallied only six sacks as well, a one-dimensional Dolphins offense averaging a paltry 64 yards per game on the ground should make things easier for Cincy to game-plan defensively. The Dolphins will battle, but Joe Burrow and Co. returning to their home confines for the first time since Week 1 will have enough to cover.”

    As O’Donnell mentioned, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has to push through back and ankle injuries to play Thursday. He briefly exited last week’s game against the Bills but returned to finish 13-of-18 for 186 yards and a touchdown. Teddy Bridgewater has served as a solid backup in his career, though one has to wonder if wideouts Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle would be as effective with a different signal-caller under center.

    Regardless of whether Tagovailoa plays or not, Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel must figure out a way to inject life into his 31st-ranked ground attack as his squad faces the Bengals’ eighth-ranked run defense. With questions at quarterback, Miami’s offensive imbalance could lead to its downfall.


    Davenport: Bengals

    Ivory: Bengals

    Kenyon: Bengals

    Knox: Dolphins

    Moton: Dolphins

    O’Donnell: Bengals

    Sobleski: Dolphins

    Consensus: Bengals -4

    Score Prediction: Bengals 28, Dolphins 23

Minnesota Vikings (2-1) at New Orleans Saints (1-2) in London

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - SEPTEMBER 25: Wide receiver Justin Jefferson #18 of the Minnesota Vikings warms up before the game against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
    Justin Jefferson (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

    DK Line: Vikings -3

    The Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints will take a trip to London for a 9:30 a.m. ET kickoff, though this counts as a Saints “home game.”

    Both teams hit some offensive turbulence before this matchup.

    Vikings running back Dalvin Cook dislocated his shoulder in Sunday's win against the Detroit Lions, though he's expected to play through it with a brace, according to Pro Football Talk. After a strong Week 1 performance with nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns, Justin Jefferson has lost his sizzle over the last two outings, having hauled in only nine catches for 62 yards.

    Meanwhile, Saints quarterback Jameis Winston is playing through four fractures in his back, per Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, along with an ankle injury. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune's Jeff Duncan, the team changed up its preparation for Sunday’s game.

    Jeff Duncan @JeffDuncan_

    Looks like the Saints are preparing in case they have to make a change at quarterback. Jameis Winston was not at practice today. Andy Dalton took first team reps at QB, with Taysom Hill receiving reps as a reserve QB. This is different than past weeks.

    Over the last two weeks, Winston has struggled, though Kenyon isn’t going to doubt the signal-caller’s ability to bounce back if he suits up Sunday.

    “Minnesota is the better team here, but anything can happen with the variable of the game being played in London. Cook's shoulder injury could slow down the Vikings offense a smidge. Winston looked like he was ready to lead the Saints in Week 1 but has since thrown five interceptions in his last two games. By the law of averages, it seems unlikely that he'd have his third multi-interception game in a row. This game is a toss-up to me, which is why I'm taking the points.”

    The Saints' ability to cover the spread or outright win the game could come down to Winston’s status before kickoff. Whomever starts under center might have wideouts Michael Thomas (toe) and Jarvis Landry (foot). Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Saints don’t think the receivers suffered serious injuries last week.

    Nevertheless, bettors should lean toward the healthier squad in this matchup.


    Davenport: Vikings

    Ivory: Vikings

    Kenyon: Saints

    Knox: Vikings

    Moton: Vikings

    O’Donnell: Vikings

    Sobleski: Vikings

    Consensus: Vikings -3

    Score Prediction: Vikings 26, Saints 20

Cleveland Browns (2-1) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2)

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    Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper (2) walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Cleveland. The Browns won 29-17. (AP Photo/David Richard)
    Amari Cooper (AP Photo/David Richard)

    DK Line: Browns -1

    Don’t overlook this game on the Week 4 slate. It features two top-nine scoring offenses, and the Cleveland Browns sit alongside the Baltimore Ravens atop the AFC North.

    Davenport further highlighted what could become a close contest between evenly matched teams and why he took the home underdog to win outright.

    “The Browns are one late collapse against the New York Jets away from starting the season 3-0, and they should be able to move the ball on the ground against Atlanta's middle-of-the-pack run defense. But Marcus Mariota, Cordarrelle Patterson, Drake London and the Falcons have been surprisingly competitive in their own right, and Cleveland's front seven has been ravaged by injuries the past few weeks.

    “This has the makings of a hard-fought, closely contested affair, so give me the home underdog. Mariota will set up Younghoe Koo for a game-winning kick late, and the Falcons will get back to .500—and potentially into a tie for first place in the NFC South.”

    Speaking of injuries, the Browns may take the field without star edge-rusher Myles Garrett, who suffered shoulder, bicep and hand injuries in a car accident on Monday. Cornerback Denzel Ward (back/ribs), linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (groin) and edge-rusher Jadeveon Clowney (ankle) didn’t practice Wednesday, either. The Browns will need their key defenders to slow down the Falcons.

    With that said, Cleveland has the most rushing yards of any team heading into Week 4, and quarterback Jacoby Brissett has started to click with wideout Amari Cooper, who has back-to-back games with 101 receiving yards. Our B/R crew leaned toward the Browns for the consensus pick because they have the offensive firepower to pull out a big road win and cover despite their defensive injuries.


    Davenport: Falcons

    Ivory: Falcons

    Kenyon: Falcons

    Knox: Browns

    Moton: Browns

    O’Donnell: Browns

    Sobleski: Browns

    Consensus: Browns -1

    Score Prediction: Browns 27, Falcons 24

Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) at Houston Texans (0-2-1)

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    Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) during an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Inglewood, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
    Austin Ekeler (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    DK Line: Chargers -5.5

    In Week 3, the Los Angeles Chargers got blown out 38-10 by the Jacksonville Jaguars, and they lost some key players as well. For that reason, Sobleski took the points in this game.

    “This matchup is simply a battle of attrition. The Chargers are supremely talented, but they're hurting at the moment. Left tackle Rashawn Slater ruptured his biceps tendon during the Week 3 loss to Jacksonville. Vertical threat Jalen Guyton is done for the season with a torn ACL. Quarterback Justin Herbert will continue to play with injured ribs.

    “The Chargers placed Joey Bosa on injured reserve because of a groin injury. It's unclear whether any of center Corey Linsley, wide receiver Keenan Allen, tight end Donald Parham and cornerback J.C. Jackson will be available, though all four practiced in a limited fashion Wednesday. These injuries are enough to make this contest competitive and help a bad Texans squad possibly cover the spread.”

    We’re about to find out if the Chargers’ Super Bowl buzz fizzles out early. If they lose to a winless Texans squad, they might not look like contenders until Herbert fully recovers from his rib injury. And with the league's worst-ranked rushing offense, the Chargers don’t have an effective alternative plan to attack opposing defenses.

    Yet the majority of our panel saw the encouraging news from ESPN’s Adam Schefter about Allen’s expected return to practice this week and gave the edge to the Chargers, who still have healthy key playmakers in wideout Mike Williams and running back Austin Ekeler.


    Davenport: Texans

    Ivory: Texans

    Kenyon: Chargers

    Knox: Chargers

    Moton: Chargers

    O’Donnell: Chargers

    Sobleski: Texans

    Consensus: Chargers -5.5

    Score Prediction: Chargers 28, Texans 20

New York Jets (1-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)

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    Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) signals for a first down during an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Pittsburgh, PA. (AP Photo/Matt Durisko)
    Diontae Johnson (AP Photo/Matt Durisko)

    DK Line: Steelers -3.5

    New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson appears poised to make his 2022 regular-season debut Sunday. Jets head coach Robert Saleh told reporters Wednesday that the second-year signal-caller has been medically cleared from his bone bruise and torn meniscus and will suit up barring any setbacks.

    The young signal-caller has a lot to prove after he threw only nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions with a 55.6 percent completion rate in his rookie campaign. In his lone preseason appearance, Wilson went 3-of-5 for 23 yards with an awful interception before he exited the game with his knee injury.

    Ivory has his doubts about Wilson’s supporting cast as well.

    “This game is going to come down to chemistry and which quarterback meshes better with their skill-position corps. Mitch Trubisky has proven that the Pittsburgh Steelers can compete with him behind center, whereas Wilson will be making his first start of the season behind an unproven rookie tackle (fourth-rounder Max Mitchell) and career backup tackle Conor McDermott (six starts).

    Wilson is coming back from a knee injury, and the Jets’ offensive line couldn’t protect Joe Flacco for the first three quarters of the last two weeks. I’m simply going with experience and healthy protection up front. Give me the Steelers!”

    Ivory voiced the concerns of our panel adequately. As Wilson shakes off some rust, he’s going to line up behind a shaky offensive line that’s without tackles Mekhi Becton and George Fant, both of whom are on injured reserve with knee injuries. He doesn’t have a complementary run game, either, as Gang Green ranks 26th in rushing yards.

    The Steelers won’t score a ton of points, but they should get a win against a young signal-caller who needs time to figure it out on the pro level. This is our only unanimous pick on the Week 4 slate.


    Davenport: Steelers

    Ivory: Steelers

    Kenyon: Steelers

    Knox: Steelers

    Moton: Steelers

    O’Donnell: Steelers

    Sobleski: Steelers

    Consensus: Steelers -3.5

    Score Prediction: Steelers 23, Jets 17

Seattle Seahawks (1-2) at Detroit Lions (1-2)

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    Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) carries the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022 in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
    Amon-Ra St. Brown (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

    DK Line: Lions -4.5

    The Seattle Seahawks have dropped consecutive games after their season-opening upset win over the Denver Broncos, though head coach Pete Carroll delivered on his intent to open up the offense.

    Before last week’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons, Carroll talked about giving quarterback Geno Smith “more opportunities” in the passing game. The Seahawks went on to score a season-high 23 points against the Falcons’ 26th-ranked scoring defense.

    Smith threw for 325 yards, two touchdowns and an interception against Atlanta. The offense came out hot through the first 30 minutes but then stalled and scored only three points in the second half.

    Nevertheless, Davenport thinks the Seahawks will have enough success against a Lions defense that has allowed the most points of any team through three weeks.

    “This feels like a game the network uses to punish announcing crews who keep stealing lunches out of the break room refrigerator. Seattle is 28th in total offense and 25th in total defense. The Lions have improved in 2022, although that has yet to translate to many wins.

    “That's the thing, though. The Lions may be better, but they are still doing a very Detroit job of finding ways to lose. They are also playing in close games. The Lions have lost by three, won by nine and lost by four.

    "Detroit may well get the win here, but either the Lions' 28th-ranked defense will let the Seahawks hang around, or Seattle will fall behind before making a late push in garbage time to waltz in the back door.”

    In addition to Davenport’s points, the Lions may play this game without running back D’Andre Swift. Head coach Dan Campbell said he could “possibly benefit by taking the next two weeks off” to heal from a shoulder injury that he suffered Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

    Through three weeks, Swift has averaged an eye-popping 8.6 yards per carry, which is leaps and bounds better than Jamaal Williams’ 3.9 yards-per-carry average. Swift’s absence would deal a big blow to the Lions’ third-ranked ground attack. Detroit’s lead wide receiver, Amon-Ra St. Brown, is also nursing an ankle injury.

    The majority of our crew doesn’t think much of the Seahawks’ 28th-ranked scoring offense, which is why the Lions get the nod for the consensus pick. But three of our panelists think Detroit’s porous defense will keep Seattle in the game.


    Davenport: Seahawks

    Ivory: Seahawks

    Kenyon: Lions

    Knox: Lions

    Moton: Seahawks

    O’Donnell: Lions

    Sobleski: Lions

    Consensus: Lions -4.5

    Score Prediction: Lions 27, Seahawks 21

Buffalo Bills (2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1)

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    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) throws a pass during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins on September 25, 2022 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fl. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Josh Allen (David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    DK Line: Bills -3

    The two most productive quarterbacks from the 2018 draft will square off in an intriguing matchup between two electric offenses.

    The Buffalo Bills can beat opponents over the top with wideouts Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, while Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson looks like he’s in MVP form again. He's thrown for a league-leading 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions along with 243 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

    Though Jackson put together an incredible run through September, Ivory made sure to remind everyone that Bills quarterback Josh Allen deserves praise for his September performances as well. Moreover, the B/R Betting host has concerns about the Ravens when they fall behind on the scoreboard.

    “In a matchup that features potential 2022 division leaders, Bills-Ravens should be the most-watched game of Week 4. Take your eyes off the screen for a second and you may miss greatness, but I must side with a hungrier, grittier team in the Bills.

    "What Allen has done for the Bills over the last three games is nothing short of MVP-caliber. The Bills have proved they can play from behind, whereas the Ravens continue to be successful when maintaining a lead—not necessarily playing from behind. I’m taking Buffalo with confidence!”

    The Ravens won both of their games against the New York Jets and New England Patriots with comfortable leads, which speaks to Ivory’s criticism. They lost a double-digit advantage in the fourth quarter of their Week 2 matchup with a high-powered Miami Dolphins offense.

    Our crew thinks the Bills’ explosive offensive attack can make big plays against the Ravens’ 32nd-ranked pass defense, which may allow Buffalo to beat Baltimore handily.


    Davenport: Bills

    Ivory: Bills

    Kenyon: Ravens

    Knox: Bills

    Moton: Bills

    O’Donnell: Ravens

    Sobleski: Ravens

    Consensus: Bills -3

    Score Prediction: Bills 37, Ravens 31

Chicago Bears (2-1) at New York Giants (2-1)

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 26: Saquon Barkley #26 of the New York Giants warms up before kickoff against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on September 26, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
    Saquon Barkley (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

    DK Line: Giants -3

    Following a low-scoring Monday Night Football matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants are now headed for another slugfest against a Chicago Bears defense that ranks 11th leaguewide in points allowed.

    The Giants won’t have wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who tore his ACL in Monday's loss to the Cowboys. Meanwhile, Bears running back David Montgomery is currently day-to-day with a lower leg (knee/ankle) injury, though head coach Matt Eberflus said he’s “good” right now.

    Moton knows both teams have offensive limitations, but he favors the club with the most productive playmaker in its backfield.

    “The Bears coaching staff doesn’t trust quarterback Justin Fields to throw the ball downfield with his group of pass-catchers. Through three games, he’s completed only 23 of 45 passes for 297 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions, which explains why lead wideout Darnell Mooney has only four catches for 27 yards. The Giants just need to stop Khalil Herbert and a banged-up Montgomery in the backfield.

    “Even though the Giants offense lacks fireworks, head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka have helped a healthy Saquon Barkley rediscover his Pro Bowl form.”

    Through three weeks, Barkley leads the league in yards from scrimmage (408). With the star running back ready to handle a massive workload, the Giants should be able to knock off the Bears, who have accumulated the fewest offensive yards of any team going into Week 4.


    Davenport: Giants

    Ivory: Bears

    Kenyon: Giants

    Knox: Giants

    Moton: Giants

    O’Donnell: Giants

    Sobleski: Giants

    Consensus: Giants -3

    Score Prediction: Giants 20, Bears 14

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-0)

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    Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) passes against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half of an NFL football game in Inglewood, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
    Trevor Lawrence (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

    DK Line: Eagles -6.5

    The Philadelphia Eagles have a legitimate argument for best team in the NFL, while the Jacksonville Jaguars look like the most improved squad after they finished with the NFL's worst record (3-14) last season.

    After a season-opening 28-22 loss to the Washington Commanders, the Jaguars topped two teams that many would consider playoff contenders in the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers. Not only that, but they thumped those squads by 24-plus points.

    Jacksonville has earned the respect of our panel, and the majority took the points. However, O’Donnell pumped the brakes on the buzz around the upstart AFC South squad.

    “I'll be blunt with this one: I don't truly believe in either of these teams, but I believe in the Jaguars far less than I do the Eagles. Doug Pederson obviously knows his former team well, and I expect many folks to take the points here. The new Jags coach has this team believing, and Trevor Lawrence is getting the ball out incredibly quickly and not taking sacks or turning the ball over. They'll need all of that and more against one of the NFL's best defenses, particularly the pass rush.

    “Containing Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is also a tall task, especially if Devonta Smith is truly finding his collegiate superstar form again. I'm not completely ignoring Jacksonville's win over a banged-up, overhyped Chargers team from a week ago, but I'm also not going to ignore a soaring home team that looks flat-out better.”

    We all agree that the Eagles have the better overall squad, with Hurts further along than Lawrence in his development and an aggressive defense that ranks second in sacks and is tied for seventh in pressure rate. However, the Jaguars field the seventh-ranked scoring offense and allow the fourth-fewest points. They should be able to cover in a matchup that will test them on both sides of the ball.


    Davenport: Eagles

    Ivory: Eagles

    Kenyon: Jaguars

    Knox: Jaguars

    Moton: Jaguars

    O’Donnell: Eagles

    Sobleski: Jaguars

    Consensus: Jaguars +6.5

    Score Prediction: Eagles 27, Jaguars 23

Washington Commanders (1-2) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1)

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 26: CeeDee Lamb #88 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter in the game at MetLife Stadium on September 26, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    CeeDee Lamb (Elsa/Getty Images)

    DK Line: Cowboys -3.5

    While the Dallas Cowboys shouldn’t entertain discussions about a quarterback controversy, Cooper Rush improved to 3-0 as the team’s starter (2-0 this season) in place of Dak Prescott. He’s the quintessential backup quarterback who manages the game and doesn’t lose it for his team.

    This season, Rush has thrown for 514 yards and two touchdowns without an interception or a fumble. He’s also built a connection with wideouts CeeDee Lamb and Noah Brown, having tossed touchdown passes to both receivers.

    Most of crew took the Cowboys against the spread, and Knox explained why this matchup will resemble Dallas’ Week 3 game with the New York Giants.

    “The Cowboys seem to have found an offensive spark, and no, it's not having Rush under center. A larger role for Tony Pollard and the emergence of Brown have given Dallas multiple ways to attack an opposing defense—along with CeeDee Lamb, Ezekiel Elliott and Dalton Schutlz (when healthy). Rush is playing well, though, and I expect him to make fewer mistakes than Carson Wentz in this game.

    “Wentz's history of inconsistency is the deciding factor for me. He avoided an interception against the Eagles last week, but he'll have a tough time against Micah Parsons and an aggressive Dan Quinn game plan. I expect one critical miscue to break open an otherwise tight divisional battle. Dallas pulled out a seven-point win against the Giants in Week 3, and I think we'll see a similar result here.”


    Davenport: Cowboys

    Ivory: Cowboys

    Kenyon: Commanders

    Knox: Cowboys

    Moton: Cowboys

    O’Donnell: Cowboys

    Sobleski: Commanders

    Consensus: Cowboys -3.5

    Score Prediction: Cowboys 24, Commanders 20

Tennessee Titans (1-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-1-1)

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    Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) carries the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/John Amis)
    Derrick Henry (AP Photo/John Amis)

    DK Line: Colts -3

    Though we’re only three weeks into the season, the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts are already looking up at the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South division.

    The Colts and Titans have both gotten off to a lackluster start to the 2022 campaign. In this game, Kenyon sided with the team that has the 2021 rushing champion.

    “It's been a weird start to the season for the Colts, who tied the Texans, got shut out by the Jaguars and then beat the Kansas City Chiefs. Matt Ryan has not been the upgrade over Carson Wentz that the Colts were looking for, but he seemed to find some rhythm last week against the Chiefs. This feels like a get-right home game against a Titans team who has not been impressive to start the year. I would expect this to be a huge game for Jonathan Taylor, who faces one of the league's worst run defenses."

    Indianapolis’ previous two opponents have limited Taylor to fewer than 72 rushing yards, but he’s likely to pick up some steam against the Titans' run defense, which has allowed a league-worst 5.8 yards per carry. On the flip side, the Colts have allowed the fewest yards per carry attempt (2.6), so they’re capable of slowing down running back Derrick Henry.

    Despite a good argument in favor of the Colts, five of our panelists think the Titans can build on last week’s 24-22 win over the Las Vegas Raiders and keep the score tight against a division opponent.


    Davenport: Titans

    Ivory: Titans

    Kenyon: Colts

    Knox: Titans

    Moton: Colts

    O’Donnell: Titans

    Sobleski: Titans

    Consensus: Titans +3

    Score Prediction: Colts 23, Titans 21

Arizona Cardinals (1-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-2)

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    Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
    Kyler Murray (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

    DK Line: Panthers -2

    After Sunday's 20-12 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray called out his teammates in the postgame press conference:

    I told guys you have to be awake when you play with me. No matter what the play is. I have free reign to do whatever, so when you sleep and you don’t think you’re getting the ball- you can’t play like that. Everybody has to be head up, in the game, locked in and we just have to be better. We will be, but it’s frustrating when you lose and you felt like you could have played better in the game.”

    While Murray’s public comments may cause a stir in some circles, Moton thinks the Cardinals quarterback needed to speak up after a 1 -2 start.

    “With a new deal and as the face the franchise, Murray must exercise his voice in a leadership position" he said. "Now, we’ll see how his teammates respond to him, though his public statements should put Cardinals pass-catchers on alert.

    “Murray is correct with his comments. In Week 2, facing a 20-0 deficit at halftime, he willed the Cardinals to a 29-23 comeback overtime victory over the Las Vegas Raiders with the ability to keep plays alive with his legs. The Carolina Panthers have the 12th-ranked scoring defense, but they will have their hands full with Murray, who connected with his former Oklahoma teammate Marquise Brown on 14 passes for 140 yards against the Rams last week.

    “While Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey needs solid blocking from his offensive line, Murray can take over a game by himself. Cardinals pull off the upset win on the road.”

    Only Kenyon pushed back on the consensus pick, though as we know from his Week 3 analysis, he’s skeptical of the partnership between Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury.


    Davenport: Cardinals

    Ivory: Cardinals

    Kenyon: Panthers

    Knox: Cardinals

    Moton: Cardinals

    O’Donnell: Cardinals

    Sobleski: Cardinals

    Consensus: Cardinals +2

    Score Prediction: Cardinals 24, Panthers 23

Denver Broncos (2-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (0-3)

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    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - SEPTEMBER 25: Davante Adams #17 of the Las Vegas Raiders lines up for a play in the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
    Davante Adams (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

    DK Line: Raiders -2.5

    Despite being 0-3, the Las Vegas Raiders have the league's 10th-ranked scoring offense. For three weeks, the Silver and Black have teased their fans with halves of good football, but they continue to fall short because of their inability to perform at a high level in key areas and for 60-plus minutes.

    Moton thinks the Raiders can narrowly outscore the Broncos, but he isn't willing to lay the points with the home favorite against a top-tier defense.

    “The Raiders rank 26th and 30th in red-zone offense and defense, respectively," he said. "They’re not an efficient squad, and you can see it in the connection between quarterback Derek Carr and wideout Davante Adams. The star wide receiver has hauled in only 17 out of 34 targets for 189 yards and three touchdowns.

    “Furthermore, Vegas has the NFL's fewest rushing attempts. Head coach Josh McDaniels has ignored the run game in the red zone and when his team had a commanding 20-0 lead over the Arizona Cardinals. The Raiders have left a lot of yards and points on the field, leaving it to Daniel Carlson to kick a bunch of field goals (8-of-8).

    “Fortunately for the Raiders, the Broncos have scored the second-fewest points of any team. Quarterback Russell Wilson and head coach Nathaniel Hackett have a lot to work on. The winner of this game needs to eclipse 20 points, though the final score will likely come down to one or two points because of Denver’s second-ranked scoring defense.”

    Bettors should also keep an eye on the Raiders' injury report. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, starting cornerbacks Rock Ya-Sin (knee) and Nate Hobbs (concussion) are questionable to play Sunday. Broncos wideouts Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy could have a field day if they face backups.

    Four of our panelists backed the Raiders at home for the consensus pick, but Moton, Davenport and Ivory may be on to something. Vegas is 0-3 against the spread this season.


    Davenport: Broncos

    Ivory: Broncos

    Kenyon: Raiders

    Knox: Raiders

    Moton: Broncos

    O’Donnell: Raiders

    Sobleski: Raiders

    Consensus: Raiders -2.5

    Score Prediction: Raiders 23, Broncos 20

New England Patriots (1-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-1)

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    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 25: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots stands on the sideline with Senior Football Advisor Matt Patricia during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
    Bill Belichick (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    DK Line: Packers -9.5

    It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the public heavily favors the Green Bay Packers in this matchup (64 percent of bets).

    The New England Patriots likely won’t have starting quarterback Mac Jones for multiple games after he suffered a “severe high ankle sprain” in Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The 24-year-old signal-caller will get a second opinion on the injury with an ankle specialist, according to NFL Network’s Mike Giardi.

    Despite Jones’ expected absence, Knox isn’t comfortable with laying the points with Green Bay.

    “I don't think New England's offensive game plan changes much with Brian Hoyer under center instead of Jones," he said. "Regardless, Green Bay has the clear edge at quarterback. However, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense is still finding its rhythm, and I see this as a game dictated by defense and rushing attacks.

    “Last week, Lamar Jackson gashed New England for 107 yards on the ground, but otherwise, the Patriots have done a decent job against the run this season (156 yards allowed through the first two weeks). New England got burned by Jackson (who also had four passing touchdowns), committed four turnovers and still lost by only 11 to Baltimore.

    "I think this will be a lower-scoring and somewhat closer game. This is an awfully large line for a Packers team that has averaged 16 points per game this season.”

    Knox warned bettors who may want to put money on the Packers to proceed with caution for good reason. Green Bay has the NFL's 27th-ranked scoring offense, with only one touchdown in the second half of games this season.

    With that said, most of us see wideout Romeo Doubs’ Week 3 performance (eight receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown) as the start of good momentum for the Packers offense as it goes up against the Patriots’ 22nd-ranked scoring defense.


    Davenport: Packers

    Ivory: Packers

    Kenyon: Packers

    Knox: Patriots

    Moton: Patriots

    O’Donnell: Packers

    Sobleski: Packers

    Consensus: Packers -9.5

    Score Prediction: Packers 24, Patriots 12

Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 25: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs is seen before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
    Patrick Mahomes (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

    DK Line: Chiefs -1

    The Super Bowl 55 teams meet again—both coming off close losses.

    As Sobleski broke down this Sunday Night Football matchup between a pair of NFL heavyweights, he asked himself one question with the pick that would break the tie for our consensus selection.

    “A choice that comes down to something as simple as: Who's the better team?" he said. "The spread isn't big enough to get anyone to bite one way or the other. Instead, the Chiefs won't make the same mistakes they did against the Indianapolis Colts last week. They're too well-coached to get another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (Chris Jones) to shift all of the momentum, and Patrick Mahomes almost certainly isn't going to throw another interception in crunch time during back-to-back weeks.

    “The Buccaneers do get wide receiver Mike Evans back this week after his one-game suspension. But Chris Jones could have a career day working over Tampa Bay's soft offensive interior, which will make life difficult for Brady and the Buccaneers offense.”

    Through September, the Buccaneers have struggled offensively with injuries at wideout, scoring 20 points or fewer in all three contests. Julio Jones has a partially torn PCL, and Chris Godwin’s status remains unclear because of a hamstring injury. Both receivers missed the last two games, but they practiced in a limited fashion Wednesday.

    Three of our panelists don’t see how Brady loses two close games, but Tampa Bay’s offense will likely need more than 20 points to beat the Chiefs, who field the NFL's fourth-ranked scoring offense.


    Davenport: Chiefs

    Ivory: Chiefs

    Kenyon: Chiefs

    Knox: Buccaneers

    Moton: Buccaneers

    O’Donnell: Buccaneers

    Sobleski: Chiefs

    Consensus: Chiefs -1

    Score Prediction: Chiefs 24, Buccaneers 21

Los Angeles Rams (2-1) at San Francisco 49ers (1-2)

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    INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 30: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams warms up prior to the NFC Championship NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium on January 30, 2022 in Inglewood, California. The Rams won 20-17 to advance to the Super Bowl. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
    Matthew Stafford (Michael Owens/Getty Images)

    DK Line: 49ers -2

    In last year's NFC Championship Game, the Los Angeles Rams snapped a six-game losing streak to the San Francisco 49ers en route to a Super Bowl victory. However, the reigning champions have lost since some shine.

    The Rams have a middling offense (15th in scoring) and a bottom-half scoring defense (20th in points allowed). Quarterback Matthew Stafford has taken nine sacks and thrown more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four) through three contests.

    With his pick, Moton focused on the 49ers defense and the Rams’ tendency to turn the ball over.

    “Don’t let the Rams' 2-1 record fool you," he said. "They beat a pair of 1-2 squads in the Atlanta Falcons and the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams have made plenty of mistakes, which will cost them in a division matchup against a Niners team with a top-three defense in both points and yards allowed.

    “Last year, the 49ers pummeled Stafford in the pocket and took away the ball. In three games against San Francisco, including the playoffs, the Rams signal-caller took nine sacks and threw for six touchdowns along with five interceptions. We could see his pattern of hardships continue because Los Angeles has committed seven turnovers this season, and Stafford lost two starting offensive linemen from last season in left tackle Andrew Whitworth (retired) and guard Austin Corbett (via free agency). Center Brian Allen hasn’t played since Week 1 as he recovers from a cleanout procedure on his knee.

    “Though Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald may ravage the 49ers’ new-look offensive line without star left tackle Trent Williams (high ankle sprain), 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan knows how to mask issues in the trenches with his ground attack, which ranks sixth in yards gained.”

    Most of our crew pushed back on Moton, though.

    In his analysis, he did mention the 49ers’ offensive line, which will feature Mike McGlinchey as the only holdover from last year’s starting unit. But after quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s subpar performance against the Denver Broncos, during which he stepped out bounds for a safety, we gave the consensus nod to the Rams.


    Davenport: 49ers

    Ivory: 49ers

    Kenyon: Rams

    Knox: Rams

    Moton: 49ers

    O’Donnell: Rams

    Sobleski: Rams

    Consensus: Rams +2

    Score Prediction: Rams 26, 49ers 23

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