NFL

NFL Week 4: Part 1

The NFL Week 3 slate was another step closer to getting us enough data by which to start using more statistics to reinforce our choices. Following this week, we will be utilizing more advanced metrics to evaluate matchups, starting in Week 5.

Last week, we ended the week with a 7-9 record. The Panthers, Titans, Lions, Cardinals, Bears, Vikings, and Rams all secured us wins. As the weekend drew to a close, we really wanted to switch from the Eagles to Cowboys, but it was too late to make a switch, had people potentially locked-in parlays.

Our best win percentage for a division on the season are in the NFC West, NFC South, and AFC South (all 8-4), while our worst is clearly the NFC East (3-9).

This week, we’ll cover the first eight games of the week in this article and the last eight in part two.

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Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

 

Jaguars at Bengals -7

I laid out the rule last week and I’m standing by it, until the Jaguars give us reason not to. I will consider taking the Jaguars until they cover one game. A few lessons were learned this week by the Jaguars.

One big lesson was that James Robinson may be the best player on the team right now and should be touching the ball 20 times a game. Another lesson is, they aren’t likely to win many coaching duels.

I like the way the Bengals put the heat on the Steelers last week. With such a terrible line and a noticeably washed Big Ben, the Steelers were sitting ducks last week for the onslaught of the pressure applied by the Bengals up front.

This week, the only hope the Jaguars have is short passing and going run-heavy. I don’t expect an absolute blowout, but a score line similar to last week for the Bengals shouldn’t be a surprise.

Bengals 31 Jaguars 17

 

WFT -1.5 at Falcons

The WFT has had a rocky road thus far. A win against the Giants in Week 2 could’ve very easily been a loss, while their Week 1 loss might have gone another way without Fitzpatrick’s injury.

As Week 4 nears, there are plenty of questions for the WFT and even more for the Falcons. Both these teams struggled to beat the Giants but at least the WFT has the clear best unit on the field (defensive line).

Though the units of note may be the WFT defense and the Atlanta offense, they aren’t quite the same as they were in 2020. The key here will be whether the Falcons defense can step up and make plays against this WFT offense.

Despite their vastly different Week 3 performances, I like the WFT here. This is a week-to-week league, and I expect the WFT will realize the ramifications of this game. When in doubt, go with the better defense.

WFT 23 Falcons 20

 

Texans at Bills -13.5 (adjusted line at -165)

The Texans were an absolute mess last week on offense. After struggling to move the ball at all, the Texans were able to put some drives together as the game progressed. Buffalo’s pass rush has finally come alive. After struggling to get pressure on Big Ben in Week 1, the Bills have tee’d off on QBs the last two weeks (7 sacks and 13 QB hits over Weeks 2 & 3).

Traditionally, spreads this high are rarely ever covered by the favored team. However, we are going Bills at the adjusted line of 13.5 because we think this game is either going to be a two touchdown game, or an absolute blowout.

We’ll adjust a line in another game to level it out, but for this one, we have zero faith in the Texans’ passing game. This game should be close early-on, with the Texans running the ball heavily. However, I expect one or two mistakes through the air to snowball.

Bills 30 Texans 14

 

Lions ML (+120) at Bears

I love the effort this season from the Lions. Even though they’re 0-3, they could just as easily be 2-1. The Lions looked substantially better last week against the Ravens, as it took an NFL record-setting field goal to beat them.

The Bears, conversely, looked like absolute crap last week. Remember, despite how bad they were, this is a true week-to-week league. Just a week prior, the Bears beat up the Bengals. Knowing this, I still like the Lions here. I think their run game, paired with the short passing game will offset the Bears’ pass rush. There’s also little reason to believe the Bears will make the proper adjustments, after seeing them last week.

The Bears have the weapons on offense, but feature an abysmal offensive line. I like the way the Lions have played and feel good they’ll notch their first win this week.

Lions 24 Bears 23

 

Panthers at Cowboys -4

The Panthers are 3-0 and playing incredibly sound defense. The issue I see for them this week is slowing this explosive Cowboys offense.

The Cowboys have also been impressive defensively this season. They held the Chargers to 17 points and embarrassed the Eagles a week ago. The balance, combined with the schemes, have turned the Cowboys into an efficient offensive machine.

Had McCaffrey and Jaycee Horn not gotten hurt last week, I think I may have gone the other way here, but the Cowboys defense shouldn’t have nearly the same issues as they could have with McCaffrey out there.The Panthers have the top-rated defense in the NFL right now, so don’t expect this to be a totally lopsided Cowboys win. Running the ball against this defense will be a massive challenge.

Expect the Cowboys to go right at the Panthers through the air. With the loss of Jaycee Horn last week, the Panthers will be starting AJ Bouye at corner, likely to be facing Ceedee Lamb on Sunday. Bouye is not the same player he was four years ago, so it could be a long day for both Bouye and the Panthers defense.

Cowboys 25 Panthers 20

 

Colts at Dolphins -2

The Dolphins nearly came back last week against the Raiders. It was an encouraging performance with Brissett behind center, but that offense doesn’t appear to do one thing particularly well.

The Colts have had a challenging start to the season. They’re 0-3, following losses to the Rams, Seahawks, and Titans. It was a rough schedule to open, but things get much better this week against a Dolphins team who is also just floating along.

Offensively, the Colts are balanced, as they intended to be, but their efficiency is killing them each week. The Colts running game has had all kinds issues, but the banged-up defense hasn’t helped them like in 2020.

The Dolphins may have the edge from overall health and personnel, but if the six or seven banged-up Colts are able to play Sunday, I like the Colts to pull off this all important first win. As it stands, I’m currently a little too skeptical on the Colts’ health outlook.

Dolphins 23 Colts 13

 

Browns -2.5 at Vikings

This game may be an obvious choice. The Vikings have a suspect run defense (19th in the NFL). They’ve played Seattle, Arizona, and Cincinnati. Only one of those teams is run-heavy. With Cleveland coming into town, it presents a massive challenge for their defense.

Unlike the Seahawks a week ago, the Browns will hammer the ground throughout the course of the game. Defensively, the Browns’ ability to pressure opposing QBs will put a lot of pressure on the Vikings to execute successfully on the ground to setup their play action.

I like for the Browns to control this game from wire to wire. If the deficit is decent late, I worry the Browns could extend it with all the heavy pressure they could apply to Cousins.

Browns 30 Vikings 20

 

Giants at Saints -8

The Giants are 0-3 and in desperate need to win this week. The Saints are 2-1 with huge wins over Green Bay and New England. Their only loss was to the surprisingly stout Panthers. The Giants looked pretty good against the WFT but terrible against the Broncos and the lowly Falcons.

I would like to believe this is a bit of a trap game for the Saints, but the big issue I have with this game is the Giants’ offense. The line has been bad this season, but the play of the QB has been highly inconsistent. The Saints have one of the best overall defenses in football, which is bad news for the turnover-happy Daniel Jones.

This is a big game for Jameis Winston as far as demonstrating the growth Sean Payton expects from him. I anticipate this game will be very similar to the Giants’ Week 1 performance against the Broncos.

Saints 23 Giants 13

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