NFL Week 4 Betting Plays and Predictions by TJ Calkins

October 2, 2020

As we navigate through this unprecedented season, Week 4 has thrown a curve ball before the week even gets under way. We have our first rescheduled game of the season as members of the Titans organization had positive COVID tests. While the league was trying to hold out hope for playing this Titans vs Steelers game on Monday or Tuesday, they ultimately had to reschedule both the Titans and Steelers to have their bye week this week and play the game later in the season. The Titans were not the only team to be affected by this either. Their opponent last week, the Vikings, were forced to steer clear of their facility this week to be cautious and to administer proper COVID testing. The result of this was keeping one of the less cohesive teams we’ve seen through three weeks being banned from their own facility. They did not get to return or practice until Thursday of this week. That issue will pop up later in this piece.

This Week’s Bets

Indianapolis Colts at Chicago Bears

Betting Play: Bears +2.5

1PM EST
Opening Line: pick em and 45
Current Line: Colts -2.5 and 43

I have been waiting impatiently for Matt Nagy to come to his senses and super glue quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to the bench, and that moment finally came in the second half of last week’s game against the Falcons. He made the quarterback change in the third quarter with the Bears trailing 23-10, and was rewarded in a big way by Nick Foles. The offense got what it had been missing from the quarterback position, and that is best described as competence. Foles was a gun slinger in comeback mode, but was quite effective despite the defense knowing a pass heavy approach in comeback mode was the game plan. In under a half of play, Foles went 16.29 for 188 yards, three scores and one pick. Most importantly he brought the team all the way back to win the game. Also notable is Foles unlocked extremely high end wide receiver Allen Robinson, who truly produced for the first time this year and will no longer be held back by the Trubisky experience. With the Chicago defense remaining a higher end unit, the offense having a competent passing game will make them quite a formidable team each week. The passing game will also help the running game, which has trouble getting going with Trubisky, and should see more space with a quarterback that is at least a moderate threat.

The Colts have shifted to being a favorite in this game in Chicago, and I’m not entirely sure as to why. I illustrated how differently the Bears need to be viewed differently, but the Colts are being viewed through rose colored lenses at this point in the season. They are 2-1 against three very bad teams, and both wins have come in the comfort of home for them. Their only road game, at Jacksonville, a team that most projected to be the worst in the league, was a 27-20 Week 1 loss. This is now seemingly forgotten as they got gimmie home wins against the mess of the Vikings and the equally large mess of the Jets. Quarterback Philip Rivers will continue to have a limited skill set and I think his age and arm is going to have a hard time adapting to outdoor games as the season progresses. He had the comfort of the west coast for his entire career until this season and the arrow will be pointing downwards on him as the season progresses, particularly on the road. The Bears will be able to press the advantage of him being a poor or incapable deep ball passer at this point in his career, and I think we are in store for a multiple turnover game. He’s already thrown three interceptions this season and his only clean game was the one against the Jets in which he only had to throw 21 times against a team that just allowed a Brett Rypien lead Denver team drop 31 points on them on Thursday night.

I like the trend for the Bears on both sides of the ball in this spot and want to suck up every bit of this home underdog value.

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New Orleans Saints at Detroit Lions

Betting Play: Lions +4

1PM EST
Opening Line: Saints -4 and 56
Current Line: Saints -4 and 54

The 1-2 Saints go on the road to meet the 1-2 Lions. The Saints name value has them set as a four point favorite in this game, but this is a team that looks like it could be in for a fall from grace this season. First and foremost, Drew Brees (the criticisms are wholly on this season, have always been a huge fan of the player) looks like an extremely diminished version of himself. Brees isn’t a quarterback that will have his accuracy fall off a cliff, instead we are seeing the arm strength fall off a cliff. He looks completely incapable of throwing the deep ball and is instead fully reliant on short and intermediate passes and on Alvin Kamara, who has been the league’s best back this season. It is highly questionable whether top wide out Michael Thomas returns this week from a high ankle sprain, and I would guess the team will err on the side of caution and hold him out one more week. Tight end Jared Cook may miss this game as well and we could be heading for a spot where the Saints have difficulty scheming offensive success while still hiding Brees arm deficiencies.

On the other side of the ball, the Saints pass defense has the look of the dumpster fire that we have seen sporadically in previous seasons. They got a pass in Week 1 as it was fairly obvious Tom Brady was not yet in sync, but the last two games have painted a totally different picture. Derek Carr and Aaron Rodgers have combined to go 49 of 70 for six touchdowns and zero interceptions. Add in the fact that Rodgers was missing Davante Adams in that game and we have a five alarm fire for the Saints secondary. In previous years we have seen wide receivers essentially be the exclusive problem for the Saints secondary, but tight ends are gouging them this year as well. In week 1, Buccaneer tight ends combined for a 6/47/1 line on 10 targets. In week 2, Darren Waller went full hulk smash and dropped 12/105/1 on 16 targets. In week 3, the Packer trio of tight ends dropped a 8/104/2 line on 10 targets. Add it all up and the Saints have allowed 28 catches for 290 yards and four touchdowns on 38 targets. I am not one that is a true believer in Lion tight end TJ Hockenson’s skill set in the passing game, but he should absolutely be in for a day on Sunday. Also buoying the Detroit passing attack will be Kenny Golladay likely resuming his full time alpha role at wide out for the Lions. He played last week against the Cardinals and was quite effective, putting up a 6/57/1 line on the Cardinals despite not playing a full complement of snaps.

The writing on the wall in this game is that the Saints are likely going to be forced to keep pace as the defense continues to wilt, and that has been a losing recipe for them each of the last two weeks. I am unsure if they will be able to right this ship this season, but going on the road against a capable passing offense is likely not that spot. I lean the Lions win this game outright, but when also getting four points with the home dog, it is a spot to jump on.

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