NFL Week 4 Betting Plays and Predictions by TJ Calkins
03 October 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
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.
Betting Play: Bears +2.5
New Orleans Saints at Detroit Lions
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.
Betting Play: Lions +4
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers
Opening Line: Cardinals -3.5 and 51
Current Line: Cardinals -3.5 and 51
As I look at this game and more importantly the line, I can only think “recency bias is a helluva drug.” Last week we saw the Panthers win on the road and we saw the Cardinals lose at home. The hapless Panther defense allowed just 16 points on the road and the high powered Cardinal offense scored just 23 points at home. Seemingly forgotten with these events is that the Cardinals scored 54 points the first two weeks against two of the league’s better defenses. Also forgotten is the Panthers allowed 65 points the first two weeks against two middling offenses. Of course, identifying outliers versus trends is always going to be one of the greatest strengths a sports gambler can have, and I feel quite certain the results from week 3 for each of these teams will be outliers as we look back.
We’ve discussed the Panthers here before, and even without Christian McCaffrey, I still expect them to score in the high teens to mid 20s every week. We are likely looking at a score in the 20s this week as the Cardinals have allowed a score in the 20s to both competent offenses they’ve played this season, leaving out the Dwayne Haskins lead Washington Football Team. There has been chatter of how “good” the Cardinals have been against wide receivers this year, and I am simply not sold on that. They have played the 49ers sans Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, the aforementioned WFT and a Lions team whose top receiver was just being reassimilated and did not have to throw to catch up, as they were winning. I think we get a spot where those figures level out as the Panthers try to keep pace in this one.
On the Cardinals side, we have seen a beautiful connection between Kyler Murray and Deandre Hopkins, and a fun passing game overall. What has been somewhat missing on the offensive side of the ball is an explosive running game. Kenyan Drake has been quite adequate as the lead back, but has not had that explosion and difference making game as of yet this season. Well, this is the week it’s going to happen. Brace yourself for the numbers allowed to running backs through three weeks for the Panthers. 69 carries for 347 yards and seven (!!) touchdowns. Wait, there’s more. On the receiving side, running backs have caught 32 of 37 targets (!!) for 220 yards and no scores. Yes that is right. Yes they have allowed 567 yards to backs through three games. Yes they have allowed seven touchdowns to backs through three games, and those numbers are going to increase this week. The Cardinals, with the running game unlocking the offense to do as it pleases, will score at will and will show why both the line and the total in this game are set far too low. We have two plays to make in this game as the scoring pace I project for the Cardinals in this one should smash both the line and the total.
Minnesota Vikings at Houston Texans
Opening Line: Texans -4 and 49.5
Current Line: Texans -4 and 53.5
It is a rare occurrence when we call a Week 4 game a must win game, but with these 0-3 teams, a loss this week effectively ends the season and playoff hopes for the loser of this game. Neither team has played an easy schedule to this point, but the 0-3 record is easier to put on the schedule for one of these teams than the other. The Vikings have lost to the Packers, Colts and Titans. While this is a formidable enough trio, I see it as paling in comparison to the Texans trio of losses in the Chiefs, Ravens and Steelers. This is a rough year to be matched up with the AFC North and the Texans are already feeling the pain of that scheduling.
Now, I don’t want to mislead, neither of these teams are a good football team by any means. There is just a less bad team in this matchup, and it is the Texans. After facing the Ravens and Steelers defense in the past two weeks, the Vikings, specifically their secondary, is going to feel like a scrimmage against a high school team for them. The Vikings have already allowed a pair of 300+ yard passers this season, and the only reason it was not three is the Colts having such a comfortable lead and not needing to throw more than 25 times. This will be the game where Deshaun Watson truly meshes with the WR corps he has in the absence of Deandre Hopkins. We have seen inconsistent effectiveness and usage from their trio of receivers so far this season, but they are set up to have a field day in this matchup. Will Fuller could pop off one of his signature massive games, but even if not, we have seen Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb get much closer to being on the same page with Watson. This Vikings secondary is a mess and one that will be exploited.
What could be worse than just a mess of a secondary? A secondary that is incredibly young and lost their game planning and practice time the week of a road game. We touched on the COVID related issues for the Vikings in the intro, and I think there are just too many hurdles to expect a team that has shown little competence to be competitive in this spot.
On the Vikings side, if they are to have any chance in this spot, Dalvin Cook will have to take over with the running game at the onset and keep that ball rolling throughout. Any lead for the Texans is likely a death knell for the Vikings in this spot. The same does not hold true for the Texans, as even if they do fall behind, the Vikings secondary is one that will give liberally and allow anyone back into a game with them.
I would lean the Texans in any event, but having theVikings removed from practive and their facility for the majority of the week in a road game will be too much to overcome. Take the Texans here.
Betting Play: Texans -3.5
Buffalo Bills at Las Vegas Raiders
Opening Line: Bills -2.5 and 49.5
Current Line: Bills -3 and 52.5
We saw the Raiders topple back down to Earth last week, losing 36-20 in New England after a 2-0 start against the Panthers and Saints. We know the Panthers are quite beatable and we think the Saints are too, but there is a trend in the wins versus the loss. The first high end defense faced by the Raiders rendered them essentially non competitive. Leading into the season, we thought the Bills were going to fall into the category of high end defense, but that has not been the case so far. They have allowed 28 points to the Dolphins and 32 points to the Rams in consecutive weeks, and have played a point differential of just +7 in those two wins. They won by 10 at home in week 1 against the Jets, but that has proved to be a fairly ugly win in retrospect, given the nature of the Jets. They now travel to the death star, where the Raiders are 1-0 with an impressive win over the Saints, and may actually be in a spot where injuries improve their chances of winning. They look to be without both rookie wide outs in Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs for this game. So how is that a good thing? Well, these underdeveloped players are taking away looks from the trio of skill position players who have easily been the most effective for the Raiders. Those players are Darren Waller, Josh Jacobs and Hunter Renfrow. We will see a steady dose of this trio, who truly bring drive sustainability to the table, no matter how badly Gruden wants explosive passing plays.
On the Bills side, Josh Allen has made steps forward in his development so far this season, but I have to take that with a grain of salt. Each time I’ve thought he was taking a step in the past, we saw an implosion game, and that is very much in the range of outcomes here. Even if he is at the same level he’s been so far this season, we should see a highly competitive game here. I don’t believe the Bills are as good as their 3-0 record suggests, and their defense has suddenly become the larger concern. With the Raiders looking so sharp in their home debut, I am expecting a repeat and another upset win, but getting three points could also be the difference in this one. Take another home dog in the Raiders.
Betting Play: Raiders +3
Other Game Predictions
🏈 Cincinnati wins and covers against Jacksonville 🏈
🏈 Cleveland wins as an underdog in Dallas 🏈
🏈 Seattle wins but doesn’t cover in Miami 🏈
🏈 Tampa Bay wins and covers against Los Angeles Chargers 🏈
🏈 Baltimore wins and covers against Washington 🏈
🏈 Rams win and cover against the Giants 🏈
🏈 Chiefs win and cover against the Patriots 🏈
🏈 Philadelphia wins as an underdog in San Francisco 🏈
🏈 Green Bay wins and covers against Atalanta 🏈
NFL Week 4 – 2019
Welcome back for week 4. Last week we saw what the Panther offense does with simple competence at the quarterback position and what we should expect the new but temporary normal to be. We saw the Chiefs make a massive statement in a dominant win over Baltimore and we saw some fails from the schedule makers in two egregiously bad prime time games.
NFL Picks Week 4
We are now at the point where we have enough information to have true expectations from each team and not just the teams at the polar ends of good and bad. This goes for the oddsmakers as well and some of the lines will be sharper, creating more games to sit out from. We have a quarterback situation to monitor that will determine along with some strong plays on the league’s top teams and some very sound underdogs.
Let’s get to the slate and the NFL predictions of week 4.
Plays of The Week
My early week choices for plays of the week were two very strong underdogs in Carolina +4.5 and Jacksonville +3, and I remain heavily on them. There is some competition for the top choices this week, as the Rams have dipped under double digits and are an extremely attractive favorite there. The Patriots and Chiefs are also very strong favorite plays with their respective overs. Cincinnati is an extremely strong underdog, but they play Monday night and will be a next day play after all of the above.Get $20 in Free Bets at Unibet!
Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans
- Opening Line: Houston -4 and 46
- Current Line: Houston -4.5 and 47
The Panthers offense showed what it was capable of with competent quarterback play last week, dropping 38 points on the road in Kyle Allen’s first start in relief of Cam Newton. That was quite the easy matchup, but this offense has elite skill position players and will continue to score on anyone so long as the quarterback simply gets it into the hands of the playmakers. Last week saw Greg Olsen lead the charge, catching six balls for 75 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This week will see the wide receivers have the favorable matchup and they will do the damage alongside all world running back Christian McCaffrey. This offense as a whole is still not viewed properly and the Panthers +4.5 is an elite play. They likely score enough to make the over hit easily as well.
The Texans are a middle of the pack to above average team with exciting playmakers on offense but are a team that often plays to the level of their opponents, as evidenced by the combined point differential of their first three games being just 10 points. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is a high-end option, but appears to be playing injured and they allow far too many drive ending sacks. Through three games, they’ve allowed three 100+ yard games to specific wide receivers, in addition to three more 45+ yard games to three other specific wide receivers. That trend will continue in this one as the Carolina wide receivers are the difference.
- Panthers +4.5
- Over 46
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
- Opening Line: Baltimore -5 and 46.5
- Current Line: Baltimore -7 and 45.5
The Browns have been a let down from expectations and have started just 1-2. The offensive line worries have become quite a reality and surprisingly, Baker Mayfield has been subpar through three games. Coach Freddie Kitchens has been woeful with play calling to this point, but media questioning on the subject this week will at minimum make him aware of the issue this week in the case he didn’t see a problem after two games. The skill position players on the Browns remain high end and the offense will go as far as the offensive line allows it to. We can’t assume we know which week will see the passing game issues sorted out and for that reason the Browns are currently a team to avoid from a betting perspective.
We have seen quarterback Lamar Jackson is capable of big passing plays with a clean pocket and receivers running uncovered against two extremely soft matchups in weeks 1 and 2. Last week showed us that some adversity and a negative game script alters the expectations considerably. The Browns front has been stout against the run this far and the outcome of this game is likely left in the hands of Lamar Jackson and his ability to make plays through the air and not just with his legs. This is somewhat of a coin flip scenario, further making this game a fade from a betting perspective.
Washington Redskins at New York Giants
- Opening Line: New York -2.5 and 46
- Current Line: New York -3 and 49.5
This is a fairly fascinating game as who the Redskins end up starting at quarterback will dictate what the correct bet is. Incumbent Case Keenum was in a walking boot mid week coming off his five turnover performance on national television. The team is optimistic he plays, and if that’s the case, even Keenum and company have enough juice to outscore the Giants inept passing defense. If Keenum isn’t ready and raw and green rookie Dwayne Haskins is under center, the wager completely flips and the Giants would become the play. The Redskins remain an unsexy team that lack star power, but are certainly not among the league’s worst and offer sneaky value.
The Giants saw rookie Daniel Jones lead a comeback win against Tampa in his first career start last week. He was able to throw a couple touchdowns and also ran in a pair. While he has mobility, the pair of rushing scores is unlikely to repeat itself. The Giants offense took a significant hit last week with elite running back Saquon Barkley suffering a high ankle sprain that will sideline him at least a month. Wayne Gallman replaces him, and he has a complete, but not end skill set. It’s reasonable to expect some growing pains from Jones in his second game, and a loss for the Giants if Keenum is under center for the Redskins.
- If Keenum, Redskins +3
- If Haskins, Giants -3
Los Angeles Chargers at Miami Dolphins
- Opening Line: -16 and 45
- Current Line: -16.5 and 44
The Chargers have started 1-2, with both losses coming by just one score, and needing this cushy spot to get back in the win column. They are a poorly coached team that is fairly long on talent. Traveling to the east coast for an early spot is not an ideal spot for them, but they are more playing against the spread here than they are to win the game outright. It’s not a spot to attack from a betting perspective.
The Dolphins remain the league’s worst team, and will be a doormat for the foreseeable future. They did however play competitively for nearly a half last week and showed their first signs of life. They won’t win this game, but the home spot can keep it close enough to fade the game.
Oakland Raiders at Indianapolis Colts
- Opening Line: Indianapolis -6.5 and 44
- Current Line: Indianapolis -7 and 45
The Raiders have certainly taken steps forward from last season and are a far more competitive team. They aren’t going to make any noise in the playoff picture, but they’re going to keep games competitive against teams that don’t crush them with the deep ball. This is one of those spots as Indianapolis wants to run the ball and the game will be slower and close. The passing offense is establishing a go to target in emerging tight end Darren Waller and have a rookie running back in Josh Jacobs who can help them play ball control in neutral game scripts. The line is too wide here and the Raiders are attractive.
The key for the Colts is both the availability and health of banged up top wide receiver TY Hilton. He is the lone player they have that can take the top off the Oakland defense and if he is limited or out, the offense will crawl. The play loses its strength if we see TY Hilton gets in a full practice on Friday, but that remains to be seen. Assuming he’s less than 100%, this will be a right game, inside a score either way.
- Raiders +7
Kansas City Chiefs at Detroit Lions
- Opening Line: Kansas City -6 and 53
- Current Line: Kansas City -6 and 54
The Chiefs and the league’s premier player Patrick Mahomes continue to steamroll the league and that will not change this week. Patrick Mahomes is one of the rare instances where a quarterback is more effective on the road than at home so far in his young career, and the outcome will be the same as it has the first three weeks of the season: The Chiefs with an easy win.
The Lions and coach Matt Patricia like to keep the pace of their games down and run more than is ideal, but they won’t have a choice in this one. Luckily for them they have a trio in place that can put some points on the Chiefs. Quarterback Matthew Stafford and his pair of underrated wide receivers, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay, are the types of players needed to attempt to keep scoring pace. This will succeed in getting the over to come in, but not for a cover.
- Chiefs -6
- Over 54
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
- Opening Line: New England -6 and 44
- Current Line: New England -7 and 42.5
It looks like the small injury scare that forced top Patriots offensive weapon Julian Edelman from the game on Sunday was just that, a scare, as he was present for Wednesday practice. This is a massive key in a matchup with the Buffalo as the Bills have a lockdown corner in Tre White, but can be exploited by players other than the pass-catcher White takes away. This can especially be done in the slot where Edelman plays and he could be in store for a massive game. Pass catching running back James White should return this week as well and the Bills have allowed a receiving score to a running back in two of three games so far this season. The Patriots offense will continue to hum, leading to a cover.
The Bills are off to a 3-0 start after a very soft opening schedule against three of the league’s worst teams. They put themselves in an unnecessary uncomfortable spot last week as the offense became egregiously conservative after jumping out to an early lead and the game came down to the last possession. They won’t have a choice but to keep aggression as they trail in this one. It won’t be enough to win or cover, but they will assist with the over hitting, much like Detroit against Kansas City. The over is an extremely strong play.
- Patriots -7
- Over 42.5
Tennessee Titans at Atlanta Falcons
- Opening Line: Atlanta -3.5 and 46.5
- Current Line: Atlanta -4 and 45.5
The Titans will continue to go as far as the offense takes them. They are a very sound but not elite defensive team. They are truly at their best when they feed running back Derrick Henry, even if to the point of predictability. Quarterback Marcus Mariota and underwhelming pass catchers are more often a liability than not. Will the Titans feed Henry and win this game? That’s a great question, and we don’t know, making this a team to avoid until we see some commitment to what the offense does best.
The Falcons are a poorly coached team with a high end passing attack. The inconsistency and limitation of the running game makes them a team that’s not evenly predictive when facing teams that aren’t a sieve to the pass. This is an easy game to sit out this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Los Angeles Rams
4:05 PM EST
- Opening Line: Los Angeles -9 and 50
- Current Line: Los Angeles -9.5 and 49.5
The Bucs finally got Mike Evans involved last week, fairly obviously greasing what might have become a squeaky wheel in a good matchup, and jumping out to a 28-10 halftime lead. As we know, they eventually blew that lead and the passing defense was the fail that we saw coming since week 1. In week 1 we saw the 49ers have no need to pass as the defense scored twice. Their week 2 matchup saw them leave pass catchers run wide open throughout but luckily for them, Cam Newton was often incapable of hitting these open targets. Even with that being the case, Newton topped 300 yards passing. Then in week 3, first time starter Daniel Jones dropped over 300 yards and a pair of scores. Now they have to travel to the comfort zone of Jared Goff in Los Angeles, and this pass funnel defense is going to get smoked by the Rams trio of receivers. The offense will do what it can to keep up, and might get the total there, but there is an easy double digit loss incoming.
The Rams offense hasn’t quite been the juggernaut it was for most of 2018, but even with a 3-0 start, this is a get right spot for a big win with a ton of gaudy statistics for Goff and company. Aaron Donald will lead the defense in holding down Jameis Winston and the Bucs scoring pace.
- Rams -9.5
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
4:05 PM EST
- Opening Line: Seattle -3 and 46
- Current Line: Seattle -5 and 48
There’s definitely an identity crisis going on for the offense in Seattle. The overrated and awful coaching combination of Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer continue to want to be a running team, but lack both the defensive capability and the offensive line play to do so. Moreover this philosophy wastes elite quarterback Russell Wilson while they try to implement their ill conceived game plan and then turn to Wilson to bail them out after they fall behind. After falling behind to New Orleans last week, Wilson was unleashed and nearly rallied the team back from a 27-7 3rd quarter deficit. Moreover, Carroll’s pet running back Chris Carson has lost three fumbles through three weeks, and he may be forced to turn to the more talented option, 2018 first round pick Rashaad Penny. No matter how it shakes out, whoever is playing Arizona in any given week will be putting points on the board. On the Seattle side it simply remains to be seen if they try to run, fall behind and score the majority of their points late or if the let it fly early and score throughout.
The Cardinals defense will be one to exploit for the entirety of 2019. Their offense will be mostly effective with intermittent growing pains, but they will play with a fast pace no matter what. While this helps the offense, it’s brutal for the defense and they will continue to be scored upon. Overs in Cardinal games will be a profitable business throughout 2019.
- Over 48
Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
4:25 PM EST
- Opening Line: Chicago -3 and 39
- Current Line: Chicago -2.5 and 38
What a gross game. I hope for your viewing pleasure, this isn’t your only option in the 4 o’clock slot.
The Vikings continue to be content playing slow and with a ball control mindset. Unlike the Seahawks, they have a defense that can afford this strategy and a running back and offensive line that can make it effective. This matchup will see two teams whose strength is the defensive side of the ball, but the Vikings do have the better offense overall, and are the team with a capable quarterback should they fall behind. If feeling a need to fire at this game, the Vikings would be the side to opt for but this is one to stay away from.
If you only watched one football game this season, and it was Chicago playing Washington on Monday night, you could be fooled into thinking Mitchell Trubisky was a serviceable quarterback, Taylor Gabriel was a serviceable second wide receiver, the Bears passing offense was not in serious trouble, or all of the above. The fact is the Redskins just had every lapse in coverage imaginable against the same player throughout the first half of the game, and despite the massive lead they jumped to, the game was not decided until late in the fourth quarter. When playing effective pass defenses, this team will struggle. It remains to be seen if coach and play caller Matt Nagy will commit to using rookie running back David Montgomery as a hammer to hide the limitations of the passing offense. Until he does, there will be true and ugly clunkers from the offense as a whole, with this week being a prime candidate. The defense is one of the league’s best and will often continue to hide the warts on the other side of the ball.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Denver Broncos
4:25 PM EST
- Opening Line: Denver -3 and 38
- Current Line: Denver -3 and 39
The Jaguars have a lot of promise in rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew and second year wide receiver DJ Chark. They will need it too as bellcow running back Leonard Fournette is playing the worst football of his NFL career. The thought on him was that if healthy he would always be effective, but that’s not been the case this season. He’s had health but not effectiveness. This is a spot to change that as the defense should create turnovers and give the offense fantastic field position all day in a positive game script. The Jaguars do have some limitations on offense, but the defense will be smothering and even more limited unit on the other side of the ball.
The Broncos are yet to score more than 16 points in any game this season. There are just two other teams in that club. The Dolphins and the Jets, who were forced to play their third string non NFL caliber quarterback in two of those games. This offense will underwhelm all season long and they will be smothered by the Jaguars defense, front to back. The defense doesn’t help the offense much either. While they’ve been sound as a scoring defense, they have zero takeaways on the season and facing a quarterback who’s thrown just one interception in his three games. This team is an underrated level of bad, and one that offers value to attack.
- Jaguars +3
Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints
8:20 PM EST
- Opening Line: Dallas -1.5 and 45
- Current Line: Dallas -2.5 and 47
The Cowboys have played a cake schedule through three game, but have done what they are supposed to do in beating the three awful teams thrown their way. Even without Drew Brees, the Saints are by far their biggest test of the season, and in prime time in the dome. This is a spot to sit out and use the game as a measuring stick for the actual strength of the Cowboys.
The Saints are just trying to get by until Drew Brees returns. They will continue to lean on running back Alvin Kamara and hope the defense can keep the amount of splash plays allowed to a minimum. I don’t believe backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater brings much to the table, and we will get an idea where he’s at Sunday night. I reiterate, sit out.
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
8:15 PM EST – Monday Night
- Opening Line: Pittsburgh -4.5 and 43.5
- Current Line: Pittsburgh -4 and 43.5
The Bengals showed some resilience and effort this last week, nearly stealing a win at Buffalo in a game they were trailing 14-0 and that should have been a runaway. They took some lethargy in the play calling on the other side and nearly rallied for a 4th quarter win. They now travel to Pittsburgh for a divisional game against the Steelers and backup quarterback Mason Rudolph making his second career start. This is an exploitable spot for the defense, which isn’t a high end unit, but there will be opportunities available for turnovers. The offense should be able to exploit Pittsburgh via the pass, as all three of their opponents have done so far, relegating them to 0-3. The points are extremely attractive here and the Bengals are in play on the money line as well.
The Steelers are looking at a lost season. As mentioned they are 0-3 and the only AFC to have allowed more points than they are the lowly Dolphins. They still have an elite wide receiver in JuJu Smith-Schuster, and they’ll have to rely on him more than anyone to get points on the board as they find out what they have, or ultimately don’t have in Mason Rudolph. Despite the home prime time game, they are looking at an 0-4 start but will offer enough scoring to get the over home.
- Bengals +4.5
- Over 43.5
TJ Calkins –Expert
TJ Calkins was raised in a gambling loving household. He knew how to handicap horse races and follow line movements well before his tenth birthday. Follow@tjcalkins