Bleacher Report's Expert Week 4 NFL Picks
With September wrapping up, road underdogs continue to pay out in the NFL betting realm. Teams getting points away from home are 19-10 against the spread in 2021.
Bleacher Report national NFL writers Gary Davenport, Brad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski, B/R Gridiron editors Ian Kenyon and Wes O'Donnell and B/R Betting host Connor Rogers are catching on. They're backing six of 10 road dogs with their consensus selections in Week 4.
Here are their ATS picks for every game on the Week 4 slate.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)
Editor's Note: The Bengals defeated the Jaguars 24-21 on Thursday night.
DraftKings Line: Cincinnati -7.5
The Jacksonville Jaguars have lost seven consecutive games by double digits. Since they'll be on the road on short rest against the improved and increasingly confident Cincinnati Bengals, the vast majority of our crew isn't willing to back the Jags with only 7.5 points.
"Another spread north of a touchdown for a Thursday night game," Davenport joked. "Still, you have to lay the points. These teams are barreling in opposite directions. The Bengals look decent, thanks in no small part to a surprisingly stout defense. The Jaguars, on the other hand, refuse to get out of their own way. In this battle of the last two No. 1 picks, Joe Burrow and the Bengals should roll."
That Cincinnati defense ranks fourth in the league in defense-adjusted value over average at Football Outsiders. And while the Bengals remain untrustworthy because they're still arguably in rebuild mode, a convincing Week 3 win over the division-rival Pittsburgh Steelers looked like a potential turning point.
It's also just damn hard to justify backing the Jags right now, so either hit the Bengals or consider sitting this one out.
Score Prediction: Bengals 27, Jaguars 17
Washington Football Team (1-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
DraftKings Line: Washington -1.5
The Washington Football Team has yet to cover a spread in what's been a disappointing season, but the majority of our pickers feel the oddsmakers are pushing it with Washington laying only 1.5 points Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
"Washington's talented defense obviously hasn't been itself this season," Gagnon said, "but there's no way that unit will remain off its game for long, and a trip to Atlanta could be just what the doctor ordered. The lifeless Falcons barely got past the New York Giants last week, and they were hammered by the lowly Philadelphia Eagles in their home opener. Matt Ryan is averaging a measly 2.4 air yards per attempt, so that D should finally have a field day in an easy victory."
Washington showed a lot of fight in its playoff run last season and has a lot more talent than the Falcons, who are ranked as the worst team in the league when it comes to DVOA.
The Falcons are always a tricky team to wager on because they've historically been unpredictable, which might explain why Kenyon and Sobleski diverged. But the rest of the gang doesn't trust Atlanta enough to take only 1.5 points.
Score Prediction: Washington 26, Falcons 20
Houston Texans (1-2) at Buffalo Bills (2-1)
DraftKings Line: Buffalo -16
We have our first balloon spread of the year in Sunday's matchup between the struggling, depleted Houston Texans and the seemingly rejuvenated Buffalo Bills. And while a 16-point line is terrifying in almost any case, the crew will lay the points.
"Maybe a 16-point spread can be construed as a sucker's bet," Sobleski said, "but it's one everyone here at B/R is willing to take because the Texans are that bad with Davis Mills behind center. However, the Bills are on track after an inexplicable loss in Week 1 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Over the last two weeks, Buffalo won its games by a combined score of 78-21. Houston, meanwhile, ranks among the league's bottom 10 defenses."
That Houston D still hasn't been horrendous, but it helps to have faced the Jaguars and Carolina Panthers. Now, the Texans are on the road (where they surrendered 31 points against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2), and they're dealing with the league's reigning MVP runner-up in Josh Allen.
This feels like a game in which Allen and Co. will put it together for a squad that likes to win big. In fact, each of Buffalo's last five regular-season victories have come by 22 or more points.
Score Prediction: Bills 34, Texans 13
Detroit Lions (0-3) at Chicago Bears (1-2)
DraftKings Line: Chicago -3
The Chicago Bears were a mess in Justin Fields' debut as an NFL starter, while the Detroit Lions continue to scrap despite a lack of talent. With that in mind, nearly all our predictors took the three points in Sunday afternoon's divisional matchup at Soldier Field.
"I know it's the Lions," Kenyon said, "but should the Bears be favored against anyone right now? Chicago just had the worst offensive performance by any team in the NFL this year, accumulating 47 total yards in 42 plays at Cleveland while surrendering nine sacks with Fields. The Lions have at least shown some fight by battling hard against three difficult opponents. I'll take the points in a game that should be closer to a pick'em."
That 47-yard performance last week was, in fact, the worst in the NFL since 2004. And a Lions team that looked a lot less inspired than this one beat the Bears in Chicago last season. This has the look of a field goal game either way, but the underdog is the more sensible pick considering those trends.
Plus, as we mentioned, road dogs have been killing it this year.
Score Prediction: Lions 21, Bears 20
Carolina Panthers (3-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
DraftKings Line: Dallas -4
Something has to give when the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys meet Sunday in Texas, because Carolina and Dallas are a combined 6-0 against the spread. And while it's fair to distrust both teams this early, five of our six experts aren't down with the Cowboys laying more than a field goal on short rest.
"Carolina has made the most of its early-season opportunities," O'Donnell said, "and its defense looks legit. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys present the toughest test to date. While I expect Dallas to win, I'll take the points, as the Panthers D does enough to keep this close. And if it really rises to the occasion, well, that's covered too."
The Panthers continue to be without star running back Christian McCaffrey, but they have the league's top defense in terms of DVOA, and it's a little easier to buy in to that unit than the Dallas D, which has also played surprisingly well thus far. The Panthers have invested heavily in their defense in recent years, while the Cowboys are depleted on that side of the ball.
It's hard to imagine that either team will run away with this one, but laying more than a field goal with a team due for a dud is risky.
Score Prediction: Panthers 24, Cowboys 23
Indianapolis Colts (0-3) at Miami Dolphins (1-2)
DraftKings Line: Miami -2
We came pretty close to a deadlock-free week, but it's appropriate that a matchup between an Indianapolis Colts team in disarray and a Miami Dolphins squad riding an early-season roller coaster brought about a split.
Neither team's starting quarterback is healthy, though Indy's is at least expected to play. Still, it's fair to wonder what the winless Colts will have in them on the road, and they're only getting two points from a quality, well-coached opponent.
Rogers on the matchup: "Both teams are desperate for a win. With Carson Wentz playing banged up, the Colts offense is struggling. This should be a bounce-back performance for the Dolphins defense under Brian Flores."
Davenport on Indy: The Dolphins gave the undefeated Raiders all they could handle in Las Vegas last week, while the reeling Colts fell to 0-3 in Tennessee and are on (or over) the precipice of their season spiraling out of control. But that desperation is one reason the Colts could find a way to pull out a close one on the road against a team that is limited offensively with Jacoby Brissett at the helm.
Score Prediction: Dolphins 23, Colts 21
Cleveland Browns (2-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-2)
DraftKings Line: Cleveland -2
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said his team's offensive performance last week against the Seattle Seahawks was its best in his eight-year tenure. But the Vikes have rarely been consistent offensively during that period, and quarterback Kirk Cousins is a Jekyll-and-Hyde player.
That being the case, the majority of the gang is surprised the Super Bowl-contender Cleveland Browns are laying just two points Sunday in Minnesota.
"Cousins has yet to throw an interception," Rogers said, "but he gets his biggest test so far against the Browns. With an unblockable Myles Garrett leading the defense and a two-headed rushing attack, Cleveland should control this game."
Garrett had 4.5 sacks against the Bears last week, and the Minnesota offensive line is far from legendary. The Vikes were desperate to save their season last week, but it's tough to keep that flowing two weeks in a row against high-quality opponents. A team with the league's 27th-ranked run defense in terms of DVOA could be in trouble.
Score Prediction: Browns 27, Vikings 23
New York Giants (0-3) at New Orleans Saints (2-1)
DraftKings Line: New Orleans -7
The New Orleans Saints certainly should be favored to beat the winless New York Giants in their season debut at the Superdome on Sunday, but a seven-point spread? That's overkill, according to five of our six panelists.
"The Giants being a consensus favorite this week boils down to two factors," Sobleski said. "Which version of the Saints, particularly Jameis Winston, will show up? Furthermore, a full seven points is too tempting after New York lost its last two games by a combined four points."
Indeed, an argument could be made that the G-Men are due. Quarterback Daniel Jones has performed better than many expected, running back Saquon Barkely is getting more comfortable in his return from a torn ACL, and they played Washington and Atlanta in close games over the last two weeks.
Throw in that Winston and the Saints offense will be without standout veteran left tackle Terron Armstead, and it's hard to confidently predict a New Orleans blowout. That said, the Saints have already defeated two teams that are superior to the Giants by 15-plus points, so Davenport could be on to something.
Davenport: New Orleans
Gagnon: New York
Kenyon: New York
O'Donnell: New York
Rogers: New York
Sobleski: New York
Score Prediction: Saints 24, Giants 21
Tennessee Titans (2-1) at New York Jets (0-3)
DraftKings Line: Tennessee -7
The New York Jets haven't scored a touchdown since Week 1. Maybe these are growing pains for a rebuilding team that features a new coaching staff and rookie quarterback, but it's doubtful the pain stops against an experienced, highly accomplished Tennessee Titans team Sunday at MetLife.
Five of our six pickers are laying a touchdown with Tennessee.
"I don't relish laying this many points with a Titans team that doesn't play especially well defensively and might be down their top two receivers Sunday," Davenport said. "But the Jets are just so bad. Zach Wilson doesn't have a chance behind a miserable offensive line, and New York is averaging fewer than seven points a game. Tennessee could probably win this game by 10 points without ever attempting a forward pass."
Julio Jones' (hamstring) status is up in the air for the Titans, while A.J. Brown is considered week to week with a hamstring injury, but there's still little doubt that reigning Offensive Player of the Year Derrick Henry is Tennessee's bread and butter. He alone could carry the Titans to a double-digit-point victory against a team that simply cannot score points at this stage.
Gagnon: New York
Score Prediction: Titans 31, Jets 14
Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)
DraftKings Line: Kansas City -7
In their last 14 games, the Kansas City Chiefs are just 2-12 against the spread. And now they've lost back-to-back straight-up, which has them in an unfamiliar position (known as last place in their division) entering October.
The majority of the gang believes it's time for Patrick Mahomes and Co. to make a statement as a seven-point road favorite against a Philadelphia Eagles team that was just embarrassed by the Cowboys on Monday Night Football.
"Let's keep this simple," O'Donnell said. "Even with one of the league's worst defenses, the Chiefs are too talented to drop to 1-3. Andy Reid's team is going to play their butts off for him as he returns to Philly, and I'll gladly lay a touchdown on the road with Mahomes at the helm."
Reid wasn't feeling well Sunday and was taken to hospital by ambulance for precautionary reasons. O'Donnell could be on to something in suggesting that his guys will be extra fired up to get their season back on track in their respected coach's honor in—of all places—Reid's former home.
That said, it's understandable that two of our six pickers are apprehensive because the Chiefs have been quite flawed this season and that recent ATS record is terrifying.
Gagnon: Kansas City
O'Donnell: Kansas City
Rogers: Kansas City
Sobleski: Kansas City
Score Prediction: Chiefs 30, Eagles 21
Arizona Cardinals (3-0) at Los Angeles Rams (3-0)
DraftKings Line: Los Angeles -4
The public is nearly split down the middle with the Los Angeles Rams favored by just north of a field goal for a home matchup with the Arizona Cardinals in a battle of undefeated division rivals Sunday at SoFi Stadium, and our panel is nearly deadlocked as well.
Ultimately, that extra point might have been the difference as four predictors are backing the road 'dog again.
"The Rams look like the best team in the NFL right now," Rogers said, "but let's not forget the Cardinals haven't lost either. Four points is a lot for Kyler Murray to work with, especially in a division matchup."
Arizona hasn't been as convincing as Los Angeles early this season, but both teams rank in the top four in DVOA and the Rams might have trouble maintaining the intensity after a huge win over the defending champions last week.
The Rams have won eight straight matchups with Arizona, all by at least seven points. But consider that all trends are curbed eventually. This could be the Cards' time.
Kenyon: Los Angeles
O'Donnell: Los Angeles
Score Prediction: Rams 28, Cardinals 27
Seattle Seahawks (1-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-1)
DraftKings Line: San Francisco -3
In nine-plus NFL seasons, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has never lost three consecutive games. And yet, the odds favor that happening this week with Wilson and the Seahawks getting three points from a banged-up San Francisco 49ers squad that is coming off a brutal home loss to the Green Bay Packers.
The majority of our panelists are taking the field goal with Wilson and Co.
"I don't know what happened to Seattle in Minnesota," Gagnon said, "but I'm not betting against Wilson under these circumstances. No way he and Pete Carroll let this team fall to 1-3. Besides, the 49ers haven't convinced me they're a great team. They're dealing with some key injuries again, and that showed when they played down to the competition in Detroit and Philadelphia before falling to the Packers at home. Seattle wins outright."
Cornerback Josh Norman (chest) is the latest wounded member of the Niners, joining Raheem Mostert (knee) and Jason Verrett (knee). They aren't ravaged by injuries like they were in 2020, but Seattle beat them in both meetings last year and hasn't lost in regulation in San Francisco since 2013.
Kenyon: San Francisco
O'Donnell: San Francisco
Score Prediction: Seahawks 27, 49ers 26
Baltimore Ravens (2-1) at Denver Broncos (3-0)
DraftKings Line: Denver -1
The Denver Broncos are 3-0 straight-up and against the spread this season, while the Baltimore Ravens have tripped up in two of their first three outings against the Lions (despite hanging on to win) and Las Vegas Raiders. But that isn't enough to convince the majority of our group to back the Broncos as even a tiny favorite Sunday at home.
"The Ravens can never be counted out for one reason: Lamar Jackson," Sobleski said. "The former league MVP will make plays and keep his team in the game. His 4th-and-19 throw to Sammy Watkins with the game on the line last weekend was something to behold. Denver might be the better team right now, but Baltimore will have the most dynamic player on the field, and he happens to play the game's most important position."
The Broncos may be bound to come back to earth soon. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is off to the best start of his career, but he's now down two receivers with KJ Hamler joining Jerry Jeudy in the medical room, and the absence of Bradley Chubb could catch up to them soon as well.
Oddsmakers have clearly begun to account for their early-season success against the spread, but most of our guys wonder if they've gone too far. It's not hard to get behind John Harbaugh's veteran squad here, but another Denver victory wouldn't be shocking either.
Score Prediction: Ravens 24, Broncos 21
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-1)
DraftKings Line: Green Bay -6.5
The Pittsburgh Steelers shocked the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, but it's been all downhill since. The Green Bay Packers were shocked by the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, but it's been all uphill since. With those trajectories in mind, our team is willing to lay a sub-touchdown spread with Green Bay back at Lambeau after a Sunday night victory in San Francisco.
"Green Bay has found its stride after its Week 1 collapse," Kenyon said, "and this is an Aaron Rodgers home game. The Packers defense can be beaten, but Ben Roethlisberger is looking like what most would expect a nearing-40-year-old quarterback with an injury history to look like. It has not been pretty. Bettors should feel confident in Green Bay covering 6.5 points this week."
The once-mighty Steelers offense ranks in the bottom 10 in DVOA. The offensive line just can't protect Roethlisberger, and the defense is no longer dominant enough to compensate for that.
Since the start of 2020, the Packers have failed to cover just twice on the eight occasions they've been favored by six-plus points. They know how to bury teams at Lambeau, and the depleted Steelers are extremely vulnerable. This should be a no-brainer.
Davenport: Green Bay
Gagnon: Green Bay
Kenyon: Green Bay
O'Donnell: Green Bay
Rogers: Green Bay
Sobleski: Green Bay
Score Prediction: Packers 28, Steelers 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) at New England Patriots (1-2)
DraftKings Line: Tampa Bay -7
Sunday night's matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots in Foxborough is so highly anticipated that it's sure to be one of the most wagered-on games of the season. The line is also intriguing with New England expected to fall to 0-3 at home and Tom Brady and Co. laying a full touchdown at Gillette Stadium.
With Brady and the Bucs coming off a loss and the Patriots struggling mightily with rookie quarterback Mac Jones, the majority of the panel is willing to spot the Bucs a touchdown in this spot.
"The Bucs were humbled by the Rams in Los Angeles last week," O'Donnell said. "The story of Brady's return to Foxborough has overshadowed these two teams and just about everything in the NFL this week. On the field, the Pats just aren't very good right now, and Brady will not only avoid back-to-back losses, but he'll do it in dominating fashion."
That said, Bill Belichick is still on the other sideline. The Patriots have never lost three consecutive home games under his tutelage, and they still have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. It's not surprising that Gagnon and Kenyon expect them to put up a fight.
Davenport: Tampa Bay
Gagnon: New England
Kenyon: New England
O'Donnell: Tampa Bay
Rogers: Tampa Bay
Sobleski: Tampa Bay
Score Prediction: Tampa Bay 31, New England 21
Las Vegas Raiders (3-0) at Los Angeles Chargers (2-1)
DraftKings Line: Los Angeles -3.5
We went pretty much the entire article without having to deal with a hook. That is until running into the Los Angeles Chargers laying 3.5 points at home against the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night. Sure enough, we also ran into our second split of the week.
Gagnon on the Raiders: "This pains me because I think the Chargers are a much better team than Las Vegas and I don't trust the Raiders yet. Still, the Raiders played the Bolts tough last year and both teams have improved. That hook is too daunting in a game that is likely to be decided by a field goal one way or another."
Kenyon on the Chargers: "There's some letdown game potential with this one with the Chargers coming off an important win at Kansas City. But I'm still not a believer in the Raiders as an elite AFC team despite their 3-0 record and Derek Carr playing the best football of his career. The Chargers were my pick to win the AFC and they've done nothing to suggest they can't reach that peak this year. Justin Herbert keeps it rolling by covering 3.5 at home."
To be safe, consider buying back half a point if you're riding with the home fave. It's been tough sledding for those guys this season.
Davenport: Las Vegas
Gagnon: Las Vegas
Kenyon: Los Angeles
O'Donnell: Los Angeles
Rogers: Los Angeles
Sobleski: Las Vegas
Score Prediction: Chargers 27, Raiders 24
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