2016 NFL Week 4 Bettor’s Guide
We had some wild swings in several games, affecting both winners and the spreads. We were on track for double digit hits both on the straight ups and against the spread, but alas, this is Roger Goodell’s NFL; where leads vanish in the blink of an eye, and where officials have far too much influence on the outcomes of games. Some strange occurrences in a few games, where officials pretty much let the players play for three quarters and then suddenly interject themselves into the center of the action in the pivotal 4th quarter. It’s a recipe for bad beats, and we are sure that there were quite a number of them out there.
Miami Dolphins vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Brown Stadium
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: MIA +7.5
Over/Under: Under 46.5
Some of the talking heads give the Fins no chance in this game, and while they are not great, the Bengals haven’t exactly lit it up, either. Part of the reason for this has been the absence of Tyler Eifert while he recovers from an assortment of injuries suffered at the end of last season and in the
useless Pro Bowl. The Bengals get Vontaze Burfict back from the three-game suspension that was levied against him as a result of the cheap shot hit on Antonio Brown in the playoff game last season. This will further solidify a Bengals defense that has been good, but not great thus far.
The Fins are underachieving. Their defense may be worse this year than the middling unit that they fielded in 2015. Everything goes as Ryan Tannehill goes. He will have Laremy Tunsil protecting his blind side for the first time out of the gate this week. Because Tannehill hasn’t proven himself to be consistent outside of a three-game stretch in 2015, wager at your own risk. Tough to bet on the Fins in a loud stadium.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
NFL INTERNATIONAL SERIES SPECIAL
9:30 AM EDT
My Call: JAX +2.5
Over/Under: Over 48.5
This will be the last time we take the Jags to either cover or win outright if they come up small yet again in this game. Both teams are unpredictable such that you can’t get a good feel on this match up. Avoid this one.
Cleveland Browns vs. Washington Redskins
My Call: CLE +7.5
Over/Under: Over 46
Neither one of these teams is good at all, and both are ravaged by injuries. This has one of those games that ends 10 minutes after the 4:25 game begins and some wild, back and forth plays down the stretch, with whoever has the ball last winning. That’s precisely how you should approach it if you are wagering.
Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots
My Call: BUF +6
Over/Under: No Line
We assume that Jacoby Brissett (thumb) will be the starter for New England, with an expanded role — beyond merely blocking — for Rob Gronkowski this week. Buffalo is still on high alert, although Rex Ryan seems to think that one win got him off the hot seat. The Bills do not match up well with the Patriots when the Bills are on offense, but likewise, with the way the Bills played defensively before Week 3, the Bills defense does not match up well with the Patriots’ offense, either. Rex has had the most experience of any current coach in facing the Patriots since 2009, however, and that familiarity not only breeds contempt, but a knowledge of what to do against the Patriots’ system.
Not enough to win, though, and back to the hot seat Rex goes.
New England 23
Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Jets
East Rutherford, New Jersey
My Call: SEA -2.5
Over/Under: Under 40
Russell Wilson will play.
That’s really the only impact on this game for wagering purposes. Ryan Fitzpatrick likely won’t throw 6 interceptions again, but he’s not going to have much fun against the Seahawks defense, either.
NY Jets 10
Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons
My Call: ATL +3
Over/Under: Over 50
The Falcons are rolling offensively, but they do not have a pass rush to speak of. Matt Ryan usually has one good game and one bad game against the Panthers each year. Cam Newton’s success has been more of a constant arc upward (with the lone exception being the Panthers’ single regular season loss last season against these Falcons).
Carolina still does not have Jonathan Stewart for this game, and they will look to get Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess more integrally involved in the offense after both were shut down against the Vikings in Week 3. The Falcons can win without Julio Jones having much of a individual impact statistically, but the Panthers stand little to no chance when none of their receivers can gain separation downfield.
We are not as high on the Panthers as many (this group who thinks 2015 carried over to 2016), and they need to have a truly dominant performance on both sides of the ball for the first time this season before we give them the benefit of the doubt with these calls.
Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears
My Call: DET -3
Over/Under: Under 47
The Lions can’t blow this one…
… can they?
Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans
My Call: HOU -4.5
Over/Under: Under 40.5
Contrary to what the media may lead you to believe, the Texans’ defense is not all about JJ Watt. He is important, and allows other pass rushers to avoid double teams — which now forces Jadeveon Clowney to step up his game in Watt’s stead — but the Texans’ defensive scheme is such that their front seven can dictate matters up front. We’ll see whether or not Brian Cushing plays in this one. The Titans do not have enough weapons for it to really matter, unless Brock Osweiler & Co. turn it over multiple times.
Oakland Raiders vs. Baltimore Ravens
M&T Bank Stadium
My Call: OAK +3.5
Over/Under: Under 46
The Ravens aren’t good enough to be favored in this game.
Denver Broncos vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Raymond James Stadium
My Call: DEN -3
Over/Under: Over 43
Jameis Winston is capable of a lot of things, but when you have a gambling QB (Winston) and a gambling CB (Talib) the potential for big plays going both ways is high. Trevor Siemian has done a remarkable job in manning the Broncos’ offense. He will have chances to exploit the complete dearth of ability in the Bucs’ secondary (minus Vernon Hargreaves) if the Bucs’ tenacious front seven does not have their way with the B-men offensive line. This game will be closer than some may think, but with the way the Bucs have gone the past two games, it is difficult to put money on them in a match up like this.
Although we will say, never count out a team led by Jameis Winston.
Tampa Bay 20
Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers
Santa Clara, California
AMERICA’S GAME OF THE WEEK
My Call: SF +2
Over/Under: Under 45.5
No Dez Bryant for Dallas.
First team to 10 points wins?
San Francisco 17
New Orleans Saints vs. San Diego Chargers
San Diego, California
My Call: SD -4
Over/Under: Over 53.5
Drew Brees returns to San Diego, where his career began 15 years ago.
As for the game itself, the Saints are on the road “armed” with the worst defense in the NFL. You know the drill whenever the Saints are on the road, but particularly so with the deadly combination of Saints on the road PLUS the league’s worst defense, which has been the case for seemingly most of this decade. Not even the Bolts can invent yet another way of losing a game in this one.
New Orleans 27
San Diego 38
Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals
University of Phoenix Stadium
My Call: LA +7.5
Over/Under: Over 43
Can you imagine? As bad as the Rams showed in Week 1 before a national audience, that with a win in this game, they would be in first place in the NFC West (regardless of the outcome between Seattle and NY Jets, by virtue of the Rams’ head to head win vs. Seattle) through the quarter mark of the season?
With the way the Cards have played thus far this year, and how the Rams have seemingly developed something on offense, why are the Rams getting this many points? We aren’t QUITE ready to go bullish on the Rams, but they should cover.
Los Angeles 20
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: PIT -4.5
Over/Under: Over 47.5
This should be a good game. The Chiefs take good care of the football, while the Steelers have had issues of late in slowing down offenses, after their Week 1 manhandling of the Redskins. The Steelers will have Le’Veon Bell back from suspension for this game, looking to rebound from the aberration in Philadelphia in Week 3. Expect to see more in the name of fluidity from the Steelers’ offense, although the Chiefs D will give Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offensive line some problems at times.
Kansas City 23
New York Football Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings
U.S. Bank Stadium
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
My Call: NYG +5
Over/Under: Over 43
These are the types of games — with the Giants coming off a game that they should have won going away (once with a 21-9 lead in position to expand), losing in the process, and now being pegged as road dogs. Eli Manning thrives in these environments, and this is the most talent he has ever had at wide receiver in his career. The key point will be the Giants’ offensive line against the Vikes’ stupendous front seven featuring pass rushers like Everson Griffen and (occasionally) Anthony Barr and former Giant Linval Joseph.
Sam Bradford wasn’t able to do much against Carolina, and the Giants defense should have its way with the Vikings’ offensive line. Will Bradford have time to find Stefon Diggs and Charles Johnson? And at times, Kyle Rudolph? Will the Vikes be able to run the football at all against the Giants front, something no one has done thus far?
On the outside, the Giants are banged up on the back end at both cornerback and safety. The only player that we are almost certain will not play is Darian Thompson, free safety for the Giants. If there were a time for the Giants to have a couple of minor nicks and bumps, it was against at team with a mediocre passing attack.
For the Vikes, it is all about their front seven. They have plenty of superior athletes in the secondary, however. Xavier Rhodes should draw Odell Beckham quite a bit, albeit not exclusively; as Trae Waynes and Terence Newman will face Beckham at times, as well. The Vikes blitz pretty regularly, so there will be some man looks for the taking, as the Vikes have to contend with Victor Cruz, Sterling Shepard, and the two stiffs the Giants employ at tight end up the seams, if left alone to run in straight lines. Will the Giants have any success running the football? It will be tough. Who do you trust at QB, both facing good defensive fronts? A veteran of tough environments or a guy who has struggled to ever stay on the field for more than a season at a time?
NY Giants 24
BYE: Green Bay (2-1), Philadelphia (3-0).