Injuries continue to pile up in the NFL. One way to track injuries and practice reports is to make a list on X (formerly Twitter) following the beat writers for each team. If you were following on Sunday, the Deshaun Watson news was available about an hour before the Browns announced he was out and about 30 minutes before the line moved 4.5 points. Here’s a great, though far from comprehensive, resource listing the Twitter handles for beat writers of each team,
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Let’s look at the two biggest power rankings adjustments I made after the Week 4 games:
Move them up: Houston Texans
Well, I was dead wrong about C.J. Stroud. I did not expect him to be able to read and react to NFL defenses as fast or as well as he has through four games. He is getting through his reads quickly, releasing the ball on time and helping mask an offensive line that is decimated by injuries. His playmakers are actual playmakers as well! Tank Dell and Nico Collins have had back-to-back big weeks and are forcing defenses to play straight-up coverage instead of being able to simply take one weapon away.
Coach DeMeco Ryans has also been phenomenal in his first four games as a head coach. When he is facing a predictable offense, like last week against the Steelers, he can absolutely shut them down. Their next four games are all very winnable and the back half of the schedule includes the Cardinals, Jets and Broncos. He’s worth a flyer at 12-1 for Coach of the Year.
Move them down: New York Giants
What a mess of a “Monday Night Football” game for the G-Men. They had a massive advantage from a rest perspective and got absolutely boat-raced by the Seahawks defense. For the third time in four games, the offensive line has been offensive, but this time it gave up 11 sacks to an average pass rush. That is much worse than being dominated by the 49ers’ or Cowboys’ defensive lines.
The supposed upgrades at the skill positions are also non-existent for the Giants. Darren Waller has been a bust four games into the season and the wide receiver room is not much better than it was last season.
The path does not get any easier with road games against the Dolphins and Bills in the next two weeks. Their win total has rightly been adjusted all the way down to 5.5 and is heavily juiced to the Under.
Early Week 5 plays
Make sure you are tuning in to “The Handle” from 6-7 p.m. PST (9-10 p.m. EST) on Sundays. Matt Brown and I rip through the following week’s games and opening lines. This week we’ve already seen multiple-point line moves for Giants-Dolphins and Cardinals-Bengals that have gone in our favor.
We will head back to total land for Week 5 and go Under in the New Orleans vs. New England game. Both of these offenses are struggling at quarterback and in the red zone, which is a wonderful recipe for an Under to cash. Saints QB Derek Carr looked like a shell of his former self and was unable to push the football down the field against the Bucs in Week 4.
Defense is the better unit for both teams having defensive-minded head coaches who do not trust their offenses to make plays.
This opened at 40.5 and got bet to the Under immediately. There was a little buyback at 39.5, but I expect we will be below 39 by kickoff. The weather forecast is also favorable, with 15-mph winds and rain expected on Sunday.
The bet: Saints-Patriots Under 40
A week ago, I called out Josh Allen at +850 and now he is your current favorite at +380. The other big mover is Christian McCaffrey, who jumped all the way up to 20-1 in the market. While that’s a big number, the award has gone to a quarterback every year since 2012 (Adrian Peterson) and it would take a herculean effort for that to change this year.
The top five are all correctly priced at this point. If you can find Jalen Hurts at 10-1, that would be a playable number. With AFC QBs holding the top three spots, Hurts has a much easier path to secure the award because traditionally it has gone to a quarterback who leads his team to the top of a conference.
The Buccaneers at +165 are awfully temping with a one-game lead in the division and a road win over New Orleans in their pocket. They have home games against Detroit and Atlanta the next two weeks, which are both winnable as well. As unbelievable as it may be, Baker Mayfield is the best quarterback in the division and, outside of road games at Buffalo and San Francisco, every game is a coin flip or better for them the rest of the season.
Let’s lock in one bet this week: The Chargers to miss the playoffs -115. They are off to a 2-2 start but have the Cowboys and Chiefs in the next two games. This team has now played four one-score games in four weeks, and I don’t trust the coaching staff one bit if that continues. The Bolts also have injuries starting to pile up with receiver Mike Williams out for the year, defensive end Joey Bosa missing this week and running back Austin Ekeler out since Week 1.
The Bet: Chargers to miss the playoffs -115
Season Long Bets Recap
Titans Under 6.5 wins (bet after Week 1)
Jags +125 to win the AFC South (bet after Week 3)
Chargers to miss the playoffs -115 (bet after Week 4)