Week 4 NFL: Best bets on every game

By VSiN Staff  (VSiN.com) 

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The fourth weekend of the 2020 NFL season is here. 

With 12 games on Sunday's slate, there are plenty of betting opportunities. Our experts Drew Dinsick, Dave Tuley and Matt Youmans combine to give their opinions on every game.

Eds. note: Patriots-Chiefs is now off the board due to Cam Newton's positive COVID-19 test.

Here are our Week 4 best bets:

Indianapolis Colts (-2.5, 43) at Chicago Bears

Dinsick: The Bears’ surprising 3-0 start hasn’t come without drama, as the Week 1 starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky has already lost the confidence of coach Matt Nagy and was benched last week. Nick Foles replaced him and then led a furious comeback victory for Chicago in Week 3 in Atlanta. The handicap for this game largely revolves around deciding if Foles is truly an upgrade over Trubisky, but either way the Bears are facing a greatly improved Colts team that boasts the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL based on EPA/play and success rate on drop backs.

In terms of game state, the Colts have the offensive line that can neutralize the strength of the Bears defense -- the pass rush -- setting up the Colts to gain a lead with their efficient passing and put away the game with their robust rushing attack (similar to their Week 2 contest against Minnesota). Fair price in this contest is Colts -4, making -2.5 a solid look under the key number of 3.

Pick: Colts -2.5

New Orleans Saints (-4, 54) at Detroit Lions

Tuley: The Saints have gone from being regarded as perhaps the best team in the NFC to a 1-2 team with the same record as the Lions. Both teams have lost to the Packers, with the Lions holding an early lead and then getting run over 42-21 in Week 2 while the Saints lost 37-30 on Sunday night. Those two scores and several power ratings tell me this line should be higher, so I can’t pull the trigger. 

Pick: Pass 

Arizona Cardinals (-3.5, 51.5) at Carolina Panthers

Tuley: I usually love home underdogs, so I’ll be kicking myself if these ‘dogs at the top of the betting rotation fare better than the ones I like later on the card. But here’s another one I can’t back, even though the Panthers upset the Chargers on Sunday. The Cardinals, on whom I have several future-book tickets, looked like a team that was believing its press clippings in letting Sunday’s game against the Lions slip away. I’m trusting that loss has the team refocused, and I’m not fading them here. 

Pick: Pass 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals (-3, 49)

Youmans: Three games into his rookie season, Joe Burrow has made a convincing case he was worthy of the No. 1 overall pick. That’s not easy to do -- the Browns’ Baker Mayfield is still trying to prove it three games into his third year. Burrow is displaying poise and toughness in the pocket to go with passing accuracy. He needs the toughness because the Cincinnati offensive line is a major weakness, and Burrow has been sacked a league-high 14 times. Burrow went 31-for-44 for 312 yards and two touchdowns (both to rookie receiver Tee Higgins) with no interceptions at Philadelphia in Week 3. He has thrown one interception in 141 pass attempts. It’s actually surprising Burrow looks so good considering there was no preseason. If Joe Mixon can find a way to spark a lifeless running attack, the Bengals will be in business. The other big problem for Cincinnati is its run defense, which ranks 31st in the league.

I’m not going to pretend there’s a lot of value in this number because I would not lay more than a field goal. I have Cincinnati rated 1.5 points higher than Jacksonville on a neutral field. Still, Burrow played Carson Wentz to a tie and should outplay Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew by enough of a margin for Cincinnati (0-2-1 SU, -8 point differential) to get the win. The arrow is pointing up for Burrow and the Bengals.

Pick: Bengals -3

Cleveland Browns at Dallas Cowboys (-4.5, 56)

Dinsick: After a disappointing season opener, the Browns have rebounded with two decisive victories in their race to keep pace with the Steelers and Ravens in the AFC North. The Cowboys, on the other hand, sit at 1-2 having won a game that looked to be a sure defeat in Atlanta and letting two winnable games slip through their fingers against difficult opponents (Rams, Seahawks). Both teams are managing significant cluster injuries in the defensive backfield; in addition, the Cowboys offensive line is depleted which sets up a solid advantage for Cleveland’s pass rush. This game promises plenty of offense as noted by the high total, but with the Browns potential for game-changing sacks combined with the No. 10 rush offense by DVOA, they have the slight edge in a coin-flip game and are worth backing on the spread at + 4.5.

Pick: Browns + 4.5

Tuley: The Browns have bounced back from their season-opening loss to the Ravens to enter this game at 2-1 and are brimming with confidence and a strong running game to back it up. Granted, they only beat the Bengals and the Washington Football Team, but a win is a win in the NFL. The Cowboys, on the other hand, can’t help being involved in close games no matter who they play. This should come down to the final gun and those 4.5 points could come in handy for the point-spread win. 

Pick: Browns + 4.5

Seattle Seahawks (-6.5, 53.5) at Miami Dolphins

Tuley: I’ve passed on prior home dogs on the Sunday card, but I’m jumping in the pool with the Dolphins. They’ve continued to be competitive with Ryan Fitzpatrick and put together their best game in beating the Jaguars last Thursday night, so they also have extra rest and time to prepare. The 3-0 Seahawks have been impressive so far, but this could be a letdown spot. I’m also hoping for it to be rainy and/or humid in South Florida. Seattle certainly is no stranger to wet conditions, but sloppy conditions tend to slow down the faster team and level the playing field. 

Pick: Dolphins + 6.5

Los Angeles Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7, 43.5)

Tuley: I’ve lost the past two weeks going against Tompa Bay, but the Bucs stop here (at least against the spread). I have to trust my handicapping that the Buccaneers aren’t this good and shouldn’t be laying a full TD against this Chargers team. Granted, L.A. lost to the same Panthers team that the Bucs beat the week prior, but I prefer to focus on the way the Chargers’ defense stepped up in nearly beating the Chiefs in Week 2 and I believe we’ll see rookie QB Justin Herbert continue to improve. The TD head-start is too much to pass up.

Pick: Chargers + 7

Dinsick: There is an amazing juxtaposition between the offseason coverage of Tampa Bay which focused on the acquisition of Tom Brady, and the winning characteristics of the 2-1 Buccaneers which has been fueled by their stalwart defense. 

Over the last two seasons, the Tampa Bay has had one of the most outstanding rush defenses in the NFL -- now complemented by a young, dynamic pass defense -- sending the Buccaneers to No. 2 in the NFL in defensive DVOA. This will test Herbert, making just his third start with a limited preseason. The Brady-led Bucs will face a difficult test of their own, matching up against the No. 11 defense in the NFL by DVOA, which is a huge step up from the weaker defenses they have faced to this point in the season. To make matters more dire for each offense, the Bucs will be without superstar wide receiver Chris Godwin while the Chargers are likely to miss Mike Williams along with several key injuries on their offensive line. 

From all aspects this matchup sets up to be a field position battle with red zone execution and turnovers likely deciding the spread; the total however is still a few points too high at 43.5 (fair total 41 by my numbers) making this among the few unders worth considering on the Week 4 card.

Pick: Under 43.5

Baltimore Ravens (-13, 45.5) at Washington Football Team

Dinsick: The Monday Night Football contest between the Chiefs and the Ravens did not entirely live up to expectations as the Ravens got away from what they do best on offense and also could not find the right adjustments on defense to stop Kansas City. No better opportunity exists to bounce back than taking on the Junior Varsity Washington Football Team who matches ups up poorly in every phase of the game against the Ravens. Washington lacks athleticism in its linebacking corps that will make it difficult to match the power and speed presented by the Baltimore rushing attack. The pass protection will likely be exposed by the aggressive Baltimore pass rush and the turnover-prone Dwayne Haskins faces his most difficult pass defense of the season which is a recipe for disaster (Washington is currently the second-worst passing offense in the NFL by DVOA at -43.5%). Given the myriad of mismatches in favor of the Ravens it is confusing why this spread sits under two touchdowns. Fair price in this game is 17 by my numbers making laying 13 points on the road defensible.

Pick: Ravens -13

Tuley: OK, get ready to plug our noses through our masks, but I’ll take the contrarian view. NFL double-digit home underdogs are my favorite bet in all of sports. The Ravens are obviously the better team -- and it takes that for a road team to be favored by this many points -- but I still believe parity exists in the NFL and any team can win on any given Sunday. Washington should benefit from having faced Kyler Murray and the Cardinals’ offense and the defense needs to find the pass rush that led the way to upsetting the Eagles in the opener. Besides, the Ravens could suffer a letdown after their Monday night loss to the Chiefs and their goal is to just get out of this game with a win, so I’ll take all the points I can get.

Pick: Washington + 13

New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams (-12.5, 48)

Dinsick: The 0-3 Giants head to Los Angeles on the heels of a truly embarrassing performance against a beleaguered San Francisco squad at home. The task gets no easier for this overmatched team as they face off against a Rams team that has elevated every aspect of their offensive approach this season and is coming off a frustrating loss in Buffalo. Los Angeles coach Sean McVay has adopted several aspects of the Kyle Shanahan system (Rams are running more passing routes that develop quickly and emphasize yards-after-the-catch potential), and this style of offense just moved the ball with impunity in Week 3 against a Giants defense that is lacking in both talent and depth. To make matters worse for New York, their quarterback of the future Daniel Jones has taken notable steps backwards in his development this season under Jason Garrett (currently 30th in EPA/play and 32nd in Completion Percentage Over Expectation) and will likely be under duress early and often against a pass rush lead by All-Pro Aaron Donald. 

There is relatively little positive to point out for the Giants this week as they hold on for dear life and hope the Rams don’t hang 40 or more points on them out of mercy. Fair price in this is 17 by my numbers, making this another long favorite to lay the points with this week.

Pick: Rams -13

 

Buffalo Bills (-3, 52.5) at Las Vegas Raiders

Youmans: The improved play of quarterback Josh Allen has been the most encouraging sign for the Bills. Allen ranks second in the NFL in passing yards (1,038), is tied for sixth in completion percentage (71.1) and has 10 touchdown passes with one interception. He’s a dangerous runner, too, and the Las Vegas defense is not stopping the run. When thinking about the reputation of the Buffalo defense, this seems to be a bad matchup for the Raiders. However, the reality is the Buffalo defense ranks a disappointing 27th against the pass by allowing 274.7 yards per game. The Bills’ 3-0 record means little because they beat the Jets, Dolphins and Rams -- and would have lost to the Rams in Week 3 if not for a dubious pass-interference call in the final minute that allowed Allen a gift-wrapped chance to pass for the winning score.

I have not upgraded the Bills’ power rating and have boosted the Raiders’ rating only one point from the preseason. Injuries are a problem for the Las Vegas defense and offensive line, so monitor those situations late in the week. I’ll take the points with the Raiders regardless of injuries. Derek Carr has been efficient and exceptional, ranking fourth in completion percentage (74.0) while passing for six touchdowns with no picks. Josh Jacobs gives Las Vegas the workhorse running back that Buffalo lacks. Jacobs has 68 carries for 252 yards to rank second in both categories. Due to Carr’s accuracy and Jacobs’ aggressive running, the Raiders have the ability to control the ball and clock and stay in it with a chance to win it late.

Pick: Raiders + 3

Tuley: The 3-0 Bills come to town, but the Raiders look like a live home ‘dog. Vegas’ lone home game so far was the Week 2 Monday night win over the Saints. In this pandemic era, we don’t expect the Raiders will benefit as much from the “Vegas Flu” that reportedly affected the Golden Knights’ opponents when that franchise first came to town, but there could be something there. Regardless, the Raiders’ best can stick with a Bills team that still looks to grind out wins.

Pick: Raiders + 3

Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers (-7, 45.5)

Tuley: This line has been hovering between -6.5 and 7 and hopefully the + 7s are here to stay. The 49ers have been impressive even when short-handed while the Eagles are off to a disappointing 0-2-1 start capped off by the tie against the Bengals this past Sunday. But I keep looking at the fact the advanced line last week for this matchup was 49ers -3.5 and feel it’s been adjusted too much. The Eagles are better than their record and can keep this close enough to cover.

Pick: Eagles + 7

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