Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Week 4 NFL Picks
Early in this strange and unpredictable NFL season, bettors have been getting sweet revenge on the house.
Jeff Stoneback, the director of trading for MGM resorts, told Frank Schwab of Yahoo Sports this week that Sunday's action represented "our first win in three weeks." Of course, that was only until they "gave it all back" when the public cashed in on the Kansas City Chiefs and the over on Monday Night Football.
Here's where they stand with their weekly picks against the spread:
1. Davenport: 30-17-1 (9-7 last week)
2. Kahler: 29-18-1 (10-6 last week)
T-3. Gagnon: 28-19-1 (11-5 last week)
T-3. Miller: 28-19-1 (7-9 last week)
5. Sobleski: 27-20-1 (8-8 last week)
6. Tesfatsion: 23-24-1 (7-9 last week)
Consensus picks: 28-16 (8-7 last week)
And here's their attempt to keep the good times rolling into October.
Note: The Pittsburgh Steelers-Tennessee Titans game originally scheduled for Sunday has been postponed due to several cases of COVID-19 within the Titans organization.
Note: The NFL announced the Week 4 game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs has been postponed from Sunday. Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, the game will be played on Monday at 7:05p ET.
Denver Broncos (0-3) at New York Jets (0-3)
DraftKings Line: New York -1
Two winless, completely decimated teams meet to kick off the week Thursday night. Few will get excited about either the Denver Broncos or the New York Jets, but that doesn't mean money can't be made. The Jets haven't covered a spread this season and would have to suddenly win outright with a limited home-field advantage in order to push or cover Thursday.
But it's probably fitting that our panel is split. Neither team is trustworthy, especially with Denver starting an undrafted sophomore with no pro experience at quarterback.
"Good God, another terrible Thursday night football game that I will absolutely spend live-tweeting," Tesfatsion said. "These are currently the two worst teams in total DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average). Despite the fact the Broncos are starting their third different quarterback in four weeks in Brett Rypien, there's absolutely no reason to bet on the Jets. Adam Gase has lost this team, and this loss could be his last one as the Jets head coach."
Indeed, there's plenty of buzz that Gase could be coaching for his job in this spot. But it's also possible that could motivate him and his players in a matchup with his former team.
In other words, it's complicated—and probably not worth your time, attention or money.
Davenport: New York
Gagnon: New York
Sobleski: New York
Score Prediction: Jets 21, Broncos 20
Seattle Seahawks (3-0) at Miami Dolphins (1-2)
DraftKings Line: Seattle -6.5
The public is hammering the high-profile, red-hot Seattle Seahawks minus 6.5 points on the road against a better-rested Miami Dolphins squad Sunday, but five of our six experts aren't tempted enough to fade that trend.
"Seattle may feature the worst pass defense the NFL has ever seen through three weeks of play," Sobleski said, "but the Seahawks have the early favorite for this year's MVP, Russell Wilson, setting a historic pace on the opposite side of the ball. Plus, the Dolphins' group of targets aren't exactly in the same category as the Atlanta Falcons' top two wide receivers, Julian Edelman or the Dallas Cowboys' trio of game-breakers."
That's what the Seahawks had to deal with in the first three weeks of the season. Now, it's a good-not-great receiving corps and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has always been hot-and-cold and might be on the verge of a cooldown after a long break coming off a Thursday night victory.
And let's not forget the Dolphins pass defense has also been a problem. Miami ranks 25th in DVOA in that field, and injured top cornerback Byron Jones continues to miss practice time. That could make it tough for the Dolphins to slow down Wilson, whose team only needs to win by a one-touchdown margin to cover.
Consensus: Seattle -6.5
Score Prediction: Seahawks 31, Dolphins 21
Cleveland Browns (2-1) at Dallas Cowboys (1-2)
DraftKings Line: Dallas -4.5
The Dallas Cowboys are another heavy public favorite receiving love from all our writers except Gagnon, who is fading his colleagues and nearly 80 percent of public bettors by backing the Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon in Arlington.
"Dallas has been in some close shootouts so far this season, scoring 40 and 31 points in the last two weeks," Kahler said. "Cleveland has scored 30 points in back-to-back weeks for the first time since 2010. But those wins were against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Washington Football Team, so we still have no idea whether the Browns are any good, which gives the Cowboys the edge here."
Plus, the Cowboys will have fans at home, and covering 4.5 points isn't too tall a task considering they're likely to be desperate at 1-2 while the Browns remain quite difficult to trust despite those aforementioned victories over non-contenders.
Dallas might also get star left tackle Tyron Smith back from a neck injury, while key Browns players Joel Bitonio (back), Kareem Hunt (groin) and Denzel Ward (groin) have been out of practice after all three started in Week 3.
The depleted Dallas defense might be the most vulnerable unit in this game, but Bitonio and Hunt are critical pieces of the Browns offense, and it's fair to wonder if Cleveland can fully take advantage of that weakness.
Consensus: Dallas -4.5
Score Prediction: Cowboys 31, Browns 20
Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
DraftKings Line: Tampa Bay -7
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are unlikely to have Pro Bowl wide receiver Chris Godwin (hamstring) Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, but that might be counterbalanced by the absence of veteran corner Chris Harris Jr. (foot) from L.A.'s active roster.
With Joey Bosa (triceps/ankle), Bryan Bulaga (back), Mike Williams (hamstring) and Trai Turner (groin) all banged up for a Bolts team already without Harris, Mike Pouncey (hip), Derwin James (knee) and Melvin Ingram III (knee), our gang is having trouble backing Los Angeles on the road in Tampa, even with seven points on the Chargers' side.
"Really, the outcome of this contest and how capable the Buccaneers are of beating the Chargers comes down to one factor: How well will Justin Herbert play?" Sobleski said. "He had his team in a position to beat the reigning Super Bowl champs in his first appearance and then made a few more mistakes against the Carolina Panthers a week later. He's a very talented signal-caller. Whereas, Tampa Bay's defense ranks top-10 overall through three weeks in yards per pass play allowed, interceptions and sacks. It's a tough matchup for a rookie quarterback."
That Bucs D has six takeaways and 11 sacks the last two weeks, and now it should get to feast on a rookie quarterback who lacks support on both sides of the ball. That's trouble.
Davenport: Tampa Bay
Gagnon: Tampa Bay
Kahler: Tampa Bay
Miller: Tampa Bay
Sobleski: Tampa Bay
Tesfatsion: Los Angeles
Consensus: Tampa Bay -7
Score Prediction: Buccaneers 28, Chargers 14
Indianapolis Colts (2-1) at Chicago Bears (3-0)
DraftKings Line: Indianapolis -2.5
The 3-0 Chicago Bears might have a better record than the 2-1 Indianapolis Colts, but Indy is the top team in football in terms of DVOA while Chicago ranks 17th in that category.
Why? Gagnon provides an explanation while justifying his decision to take Indy to cover a 2.5-point spread Sunday in the Windy City.
"If not for a couple of miraculous Bears comebacks that required choke-jobs from the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons, along with the fact the New York Giants ran out of time late in their close Week 2 meeting, the Bears would be 0-3," he said. "And sure, wins are wins, and they were earned. But we're looking forward here. Chicago's model early this season isn't sustainable, whereas the Colts have been extremely balanced and productive on both sides of the ball for the last two weeks. Indianapolis stumbled in Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, which might explain why it's laying less than a field goal in an empty stadium."
But the Colts did lay that egg in Week 1, and you never know when the next one is coming from Philip Rivers.
Plus, Chicago's defense should present a much larger challenge than the Colts got from the Minnesota Vikings or New York Jets. Throw in the unpredictability factor associated with the dawn of the Nick Foles era for the Bears and this is one to avoid if possible.
Score Prediction: Colts 23, Bears 20
New Orleans Saints (1-2) at Detroit Lions (1-2)
DraftKings Line: New Orleans -4
The New Orleans Saints are notorious slow-starters, but they often begin to put it together right around now. Quarterback Drew Brees at least bounced back from a tough opening fortnight in Week 3, and it's hard to imagine the rest of his extremely talented team not picking it up as well in the near future.
In fact, the Saints have won and covered in five consecutive Week 4 games, and now they're facing an untrustworthy opponent that could be an easy target coming off a surprise road victory.
"The Lions finally put it together last week to beat the Arizona Cardinals, but under Matt Patricia, they haven't shown they can win consistently," Kahler said. "New Orleans is struggling, but receiver Michael Thomas returned to practice this week, and the Saints offense will rebound if he can go Sunday."
The Lions certainly have not been consistent under Patricia. They haven't won back-to-back games since last September and haven't covered consecutive spreads since last October.
This is a tough spot for the Detroit defense in particular, which might have to deal with Thomas despite being less than 100 percent in the secondary and could have its hands full with Alvin Kamara considering how much it struggled with Aaron Jones two weeks ago.
Put it all together and it's no wonder five of our panelists are willing to lay four points with New Orleans.
Gagnon: New Orleans
Kahler: New Orleans
Miller: New Orleans
Sobleski: New Orleans
Tesfatsion: New Orleans
Consensus: New Orleans -4
Score Prediction: Saints 30, Lions 21
Arizona Cardinals (2-1) at Carolina Panthers (1-2)
DraftKings Line: Arizona -3.5
Our gang's first unanimous consensus pick of Week 4 aligns with the nation. The vast majority of the betting public is willing to spot the Carolina Panthers a field goal and a hook at home against the Arizona Cardinals, and all six of our correspondents are in the same boat.
"An inability to create pressure will almost certainly prove to be the death knell for the Panthers against the Cardinals' high-flying offense," Sobleski said. "If quarterback Kyler Murray is comfortable standing in the pocket, the odds of him playing poorly again—let alone repeating his three-interception performance from Arizona's loss to the Detroit Lions—are slim to none. Expect the Cardinals to light up the scoreboard after last weekend's disappointment."
The Detroit pass defense hung in against Murray last week, but the Lions still barely beat Arizona despite those three picks in an off game from Murray.
Carolina's pass defense is much worse than Detroit's in terms of DVOA. By that metric, the only thing this rebuilding Panthers team does well is run the ball, and that might not mean much considering the running game hasn't been strong since losing superstar back Christian McCaffrey to an ankle injury.
Add left tackle Russell Okung's groin injury to the equation and it's hard to envision Carolina keeping up here.
Consensus: Arizona -3.5
Score Prediction: Cardinals 28, Panthers 17
Baltimore Ravens (2-1) at Washington Football Team (1-2)
DraftKings Line: Baltimore -13
Practically all of the betting public and exactly all of our experts are siding with the Baltimore Ravens despite the fact they're on short rest, coming off a tough loss and laying 13 points on the road Sunday against the Washington Football Team.
Why's that? Well, a Ravens team that had previously won 14 consecutive regular-season games has the talent and experience to get back on track emphatically after falling to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night. Plus, this might simply be a good matchup for Baltimore.
"The Ravens struggled with Kansas City's pass rush last week," Gagnon said, "but they might have caught a break considering the state of Washington's stout defensive front. Matt Ioannidis has been placed on injured reserve with a torn biceps, while rookie sensation Chase Young is expected to miss this game due to a groin injury. That'll take a lot of pressure off Lamar Jackson, who is too damn good not to bounce back from an ugly Monday Night Football performance against a hurting defense.
"Washington's run defense was gutted by the Cleveland Browns last week and couldn't stop Kyler Murray as a rusher in Week 2. Jackson presents a whole new challenge, and that veteran Baltimore defense should pick on a bad offensive line to further rattle Dwayne Haskins Jr. It's just not a good spot for the WFT."
And while that's a mighty large spread (it's the largest in the league thus far in 2020), only three of the last 10 double-digit-point underdogs have covered.
Consensus: Baltimore -13
Score Prediction: Ravens 34, Washington 13
Minnesota Vikings (0-3) at Houston Texans (0-3)
DraftKings Line: Houston -4.5
Several members of the Tennessee Titans organization have tested positive for COVID-19, causing their Week 3 opponent, the Minnesota Vikings, to halt in-house operations. As a result, most sportsbooks—including DraftKings—removed Minnesota's Week 4 matchup with the Houston Texans from their boards for several days.
We can tell you that before that development, the Vikes were getting 3.5 points in Houston and that the majority of our writers were backing the Texans. Now, Houston is laying an extra point and five of the six are sticking with the Texans.
"Houston isn't as bad as its record indicates," Sobleski said. "Yes, an 0-3 start places the Texans in a nearly insurmountable hole when it comes to the postseason, but that isn't applicable to week-by-week matchups. Houston's opponents are a combined 8-1 so far. The Texans may not be counted among the AFC's elite at the moment, but they're certainly better than the Vikings, who have endured a brutal stretch as well. The difference? Minnesota ranks among the bottom five teams in both pass offense and defense."
That line could be viewed as daunting when you consider the way the Texans have performed this season, but the Vikings truly have been a different level of bad. The pass defense has often been embarrassing, and quarterback Kirk Cousins has seemingly regressed without Stefon Diggs.
It's a lot easier to believe in Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt and a slightly healthier Texans team right now.
Consensus: Houston -4.5
Score Prediction: Texans 30, Vikings 21
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-2-1)
DraftKings Line: Cincinnati -3
If the Cincinnati Bengals are going to earn their first victory under rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, is it really going to come by more than a field goal? So why lay more than that with a team that has won just two of its last 19 games and is playing an oft-feisty opponent that has had extra time to prepare?
That might be the logic behind the majority of our panel taking the Jacksonville Jaguars and the points in one of Sunday's least intriguing matchups.
"Gardner Minshew II had arguably the worst performance of his career last Thursday against the Miami Dolphins," Tesfatsion said, "but I expect him to bounce back this week. He should get some help with DJ Chark Jr. (chest) getting some extra rest time and returning to practice. While the Jaguars defense is in fact terrible (29th in defensive DVOA), this Bengals offensive line is dreadful. No matter how well Joe Burrow plays, he will be limited this season because of that."
After missing Jacksonville's Week 2 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Chark has returned to practice on a limited basis. His return could be huge, especially with Bengals corner Mackensie Alexander battling injuries to his ribs and hamstring.
Plus, on the other side of the ball, Jacksonville's top-10 DVOA against the run could force Burrow into some tough situations behind that porous line (he's already been sacked a league-high 14 times).
Burrow will eventually get that first W, but don't look for it to come in convincing fashion here.
Consensus: Jacksonville +3
Score Prediction: Jaguars 26, Bengals 24
New York Giants (0-3) at Los Angeles Rams (2-1)
DraftKings Line: Los Angeles -13
Following a spirited performance against the Buffalo Bills, the Los Angeles Rams are heavily favored—and backed heavily by public money—against the lowly New York Giants on Sunday. And because our predictors are all over the faves this week, they're on board with laying all 13 of 'em in this spot.
"Sean McVay and Jared Goff deserve a lot of credit," Gagnon said. "I thought the Rams were in trouble this year considering recent attrition, but their balanced offense ranks No. 1 in DVOA. Goff has been efficient on deep throws and nearly perfect in crunch time, the varied running game has been a hit, and although the defense isn't what it used to be, Aaron Donald remains a force.
"The Rams are beatable if you can control the game and set the tone against their weak run defense, but that's not something the Giants are likely to do without Saquon Barkley. Instead, Daniel Jones will probably be exposed to Donald far too often, and a Giants pass defense ranked 30th in DVOA will be schooled by McVay, Goff, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee."
The Giants have lost nine games by double-digit points since the start of last season, while the Rams are really good at piling on against weak opponents. Six of their last eight wins have come by 10-plus points.
This number is high, but it might be a "Rams or bail" situation.
Davenport: Los Angeles
Gagnon: Los Angeles
Kahler: Los Angeles
Miller: Los Angeles
Sobleski: Los Angeles
Tesfatsion: Los Angeles
Consensus: Los Angeles -13
Score Prediction: Rams 35, Giants 13
Buffalo Bills (3-0) at Las Vegas Raiders (2-1)
DraftKings Line: Buffalo -3
Some lines just scream "PUSH," and that's what our crew is essentially saying with a split vote on the Buffalo Bills laying a field goal against the Las Vegas Raiders in Nevada.
On one hand, the Bills are on fire following a 3-0 start. But on the other hand, their last two wins came by just three points each, a 10-point Week 1 win over the New York Jets is less mind-blowing by the week, and Buffalo's minus-one turnover differential could indicate a letdown is coming.
On the other hand (yes, there are more than two hands in this summary), the Raiders look as though they'll be without both Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs III in the receiving corps after a rough loss to the New England Patriots. It's possible their 2-0 start was a mirage, and they're extremely banged up on both sides of the ball.
"It's time everyone bought into Josh Allen as one of the league's best quarterbacks," Sobleski said in defense of his decision to back Buffalo. "The reason is twofold. First, Allen has shown tremendous growth from an individual perspective by taking advantage of the situation in which he has been placed with mostly accurate passes and the athleticism to extend plays. Second, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is doing a tremendous job scheming people open and creating opportunities. The Raiders are already one of the worst teams against the pass, and Damon Arnette's thumb injury doesn't help matters."
That's fair. But on the fourth hand, Buffalo could have trouble taking advantage of that pass D considering key offensive starters Dion Dawkins (shoulder) and John Brown (calf) have been sidelined this week.
Consider sitting this one out.
Davenport: Las Vegas
Kahler: Las Vegas
Tesfatsion: Las Vegas
Score Prediction: Bills 27, Raiders 24
Philadelphia Eagles (0-2-1) at San Francisco 49ers (2-1)
DraftKings Line: San Francisco -7
Did the San Francisco 49ers successfully weather the worst of an epic injury storm?
They're certainly not in the clear yet, but at least superstar tight end George Kittle (knee) was back on the practice field along with running back Jerick McKinnon (ribs) and corner Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring) when the 49ers got back to work Wednesday following consecutive surprisingly massive road blowout victories over both New York teams.
Now, they at least get to work with Kittle at home against an opponent that is almost as depleted as they are, which might explain why the majority of our experts are willing to sacrifice seven points in favor of Kyle Shanahan's squad Sunday night.
"I admittedly don't feel great about this pick—a touchdown is a lot to lay with a Niners team that has been blasted by injuries on both sides of the ball," Davenport cautioned. "But the Eagles have more than a few injury issues of their own and have looked mostly awful while starting the season 0-2-1. Nick Mullens having a better game in Week 3 than Carson Wentz has had all season long is the reason I'm begrudgingly laying the points—and reaching for the Pepto."
Mullens fared well in place of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 3. And while the Eagles defense presents a different challenge than the Jets, Philly still ranks in the bottom 10 in terms of DVOA against the pass.
Meanwhile, Wentz is the league's lowest-rated passer, and with Jalen Reagor (thumb) and Dallas Goedert (ankle) on injured reserve, DeSean Jackson (hamstring), J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (calf) and Alshon Jeffery (foot) all hurting and his offensive line in shambles, he could find it difficult to take advantage of a slew of injuries up front for the San Francisco defense.
Davenport: San Francisco
Gagnon: San Francisco
Miller: San Francisco
Tesfatsion: San Francisco
Consensus: San Francisco -7
Score Prediction: 49ers 27, Eagles 17
New England Patriots (2-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
Editor's Note: The NFL announced the Week 4 game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs Sunday game was postponed. Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, the game will now be played on Monday night at 7:05p ET.
DraftKings Line: Kansas City -7
The final split vote of the split-vote-heavy week comes in Kansas City, where the Chiefs are favored to beat the Patriots by exactly a touchdown and are pretty damn likely to do exactly that.
That was the exact margin when Kansas City won in Foxborough last year. And while the Chiefs have seemingly only gained steam while the Patriots have suffered several significant player departures since then, it's been nearly 19 years since the Patriots last failed to cover as a seven-plus-point 'dog.
"Laying a touchdown against the Patriots is admittedly a bit unsettling," Davenport said, "even after all the changes the franchise has undergone in 2020. But the Chiefs looked fantastic on both sides of the ball Monday night against the Baltimore Ravens, and this isn't a matchup in which Kansas City might get caught napping, as it did against the Los Angeles Chargers a couple of weeks ago. The Patriots will no doubt try to run the ball, slow this game down and keep things close, but I just don't believe they can for 60 minutes."
But on the other side of the coin, Gagnon notes the Patriots have lost by more than seven points just once in their last 29 regular-season and playoff games. They're so well-coached and so defensively stout that they know how to hang regardless of the situation. And in this case, Bill Belichick has had one more day than Andy Reid to focus on a critical matchup.
It's easy to see the powerhouse Chiefs plowing through a no-longer-dominant New England team for a 13th consecutive win, but it's also not difficult to imagine the Pats keeping this within a touchdown.
Davenport: Kansas City
Gagnon: New England
Kahler: New England
Miller: Kansas City
Sobleski: Kansas City
Tesfatsion: New England
Score Prediction: Chiefs 31, Patriots 24
Atlanta Falcons (0-3) at Green Bay Packers (3-0)
DraftKings Line: Green Bay -7.5
The Green Bay Packers are 3-0 against the spread this season, and our correspondents are a combined 17-1 when picking Packers games. So it's no surprise the crew is again rolling with a seemingly unstoppable Green Bay team against the untrustworthy Atlanta Falcons, even if it means laying a hook on top of a touchdown.
"No way you're tricking me into trying to take advantage of potential line value for Atlanta," Gagnon said of a Falcons team that has blown double-digit leads in two of its first three games. "I realize Matt Ryan can keep his team competitive on any given Sunday (or Monday night), and his odds of doing that here will admittedly increase if he gets Julio Jones back from a hamstring injury. But Jones is unlikely to be 100 percent, and the Green Bay pass defense is solid.
"Where the Falcons are really in trouble is exactly where we'll all be looking. Aaron Rodgers is on fire, and now he might get top receiver Davante Adams (hamstring) back for a matchup with a pass D that was shredded even before losing A.J. Terrell to the COVID-19 list and Darqueze Dennard (hamstring) to injured reserve. Atlanta is running into the wrong team at the wrong time."
It's not a unanimous consensus, though, and the backdoor could be open for a high-octane Falcons offense. Sobleski might at least suggest you buy back half a point before rolling the dice on Green Bay, if possible.
Davenport: Green Bay
Gagnon: Green Bay
Kahler: Green Bay
Miller: Green Bay
Tesfatsion: Green Bay
Consensus: Green Bay -7.5
Score Prediction: Packers 34, Falcons 20
Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) at Tennessee Titans (3-0)
DraftKings Line: OFF THE BOARD
Editor's Note: The NFL has officially postponed the game to a later date this season. Per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, it will not be played during Week 4. An official game date is still to be announced.
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