Welcome to another exciting weekend in the NFL.
With 14 games on Sunday's slate, there are plenty of betting opportunities. Our VSiN experts -- Adam Burke, Wes Reynolds, Dave Tuley, Will Hill, Scott Seidenberg and Matt Youmans, along with Ben Brown from Pro Football Focus -- combine to give their opinions on every game.
Season record: 16-21-3
Note: Lines are from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Thursday night.
Here are our Week 4 best bets:
Washington Football Team (-1.5, 48) at Atlanta Falcons
Tuley: The Falcons beat the Giants 17-14 in an ugly game for us in Week 3. Atlanta’s offense hasn’t been as explosive as I was expecting this season, but the much-hyped Washington defense is allowing 432 yards per game (31st in the league). That might not cure all of Atlanta’s ills, but Matt Ryan should be able to outduel Taylor Heinicke. If you’re not quite willing to go all-in on the Falcons, they should be good to use in six-point teasers at + 7.5 with other games that cross the key numbers of 3 and 7. I’m looking to use them with the Titans -1 at the Jets, Vikings + 8 vs. the Browns, Saints -1 vs. the Giants, Chiefs -1 at the Eagles and Ravens + 7 at the Broncos. Mix and match as you see fit.
Pick: Falcons + 1.5
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (-3, 42.5)
Youmans: Offensive genius Matt Nagy was up to his old tricks in Week 3, when he started Justin Fields and put together the worst possible game plan for the rookie quarterback. As a result, the Bears totaled 47 net yards, six first downs and averaged 1.1 yards per play. Fields completed 6 of 20 passes for 68 yards and was dropped for nine sacks. We all know those numbers, but I wanted to repeat them because they are absolutely hilarious. (When everyone ripped Mitchell Trubisky and made the struggling QB the butt of jokes, I said Nagy was the bigger problem.)
The Lions have faced one of the league’s toughest schedules -- 49ers, Packers, Ravens -- and actually outplayed the Packers for a half and the Ravens for long stretches. Detroit’s defense held the Baltimore offense to 1 of 10 on third downs, and the Lions had advantages in first downs (22-15) and time of possession (32.5 minutes). Jared Goff (69.9 percent completions, 288 yards per game, five TDs, two INTs) is playing better than the Arlington Park Bears’ two quarterbacks.
Pick: Lions + 3
Tuley: On “A Numbers Game” on Monday morning, Gill Alexander was all over the Lions if he could get + 3.5. I think we all felt that way, but that’s long gone. If the Bears’ awful performance in their 26-6 loss to the Browns — with Fields running for his life and netting just 1 passing yard — wasn’t enough, Fields is banged up and coach Matt Nagy said all three QBs (Fields, Andy Dalton and Nick Foles) are under consideration to start this game.
Everyone is looking to fade the Bears. Meanwhile, the Lions have been competitive in all three games and should have beaten the Ravens, so I’ll take them to break through here as they’re also a solid moneyline play.
Pick: Lions + 3
Tennessee Titans (-7, 44.5) at New York Jets
Hill: First off, I apologize: Getting over a touchdown has lured me into backing the New York Jets. The market seems to agree, as 7 is the more commonly available line. Julio Jones mysteriously left last week’s game vs. the Colts, and AJ Brown was injured early on as well; neither have practiced all week. The Titans already have a 2.5-game lead over the struggling Colts for what should be a cakewalk to another AFC South title, and will likely not push either player in a game they certainly feel they can win without them.
While it’s perhaps a flat spot for the Titans, the Jets will be hungry as their rookie head coach and rookie quarterback will be out to prove that this regime is not “the same old Jets” in front of the home crowd. It’s been ugly so far for Zach Wilson, but it has been ugly against the Panthers, Patriots, and Broncos -- three of the league’s better defenses. The Titans struggle to rush the passer and have a poor secondary, so Wilson may be more comfortable this week and able to turn in his first solid performance. A banged-up Titans team will not be looking for style points here -- a workmanlike 24-20 victory will suit them just fine, as it will for any of us grabbing the points. Jets get their first cover of the season, but maybe close your eyes and plug your nose while you watch, because I do not expect it to be pretty.
Pick: Jets + 7
Reynolds: Going on the road did not do the winless Jets any good as they were shut out 26-0 in Denver. Wilson, who has been sacked 15 times, threw two more interceptions to add to his total of seven thus far this season. The Jets have now lost a dozen consecutive games in the month of September, only the third team in NFL history to do that (1994-97 Saints and 2007-10 Rams). But this is October now, right?
Tennessee is the only team in the AFC South with a winning record, but the Titans come in with their own share of issues. For starters, neither Brown or Jones have practiced all week. Furthermore, the Titans defense is banged up and that is not good news for a unit with six new starters that has not had much time in which to jell.
Defense is about the only thing that’s been respectable on the Jets roster in 2021 as the unit ranks in the Top 10 in both passing defense and total defense. Derrick Henry has run for 295 yards (86 receiving) for his last two combined games, but one would expect the Jets to stack the box and force Ryan Tannehill to beat them with backup receivers.
Nevertheless, the Jets must find at least something on offense … and Tennessee could provide them the opportunity to do that. Wilson and Co. have had to face three of the league’s top five defenses (No. 1 Carolina, No. 2 Denver, No. 5 New England) in the first three weeks.
Tennessee, 2-7 ATS in its last nine games as an away favorite, is in the middle of an AFC South sandwich and this looks to be a likely spot for a letdown.
Pick: Jets + 7
Cleveland Browns (-1.5, 53) at Minnesota Vikings
Youmans: I’m expecting a lot of resistance with this pick, but that’s fine. I’m sticking with a Minnesota team that has cashed for me two weeks in a row. The betting public underrated the Vikings last week and, in my humble opinion, has not learned from that mistake. The numbers look impressive for the Browns, yet they did most of that work at home against the Bears and Texans the last two weeks. Cleveland was struggling with Houston until starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor left the game with an injury and was replaced by rookie Davis Mills.
Who’s better than Kirk Cousins? Maybe only Tom Brady so far. Pro Football Focus has graded only two quarterbacks with an 80+ rating in each of the first three games -- Brady and Cousins. I know the argument will be Cousins has faced three weak pass defenses, and that’s true, but I’ll argue Cleveland just faced two of the league’s worst pass offenses. Cousins is completing 74 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and no picks. The Vikings have a balanced offense and an improved line to help him. When top running back Dalvin Cook was out with an ankle injury last week, Alexander Mattison stepped in and rushed for 112 yards. The defense limited Russell Wilson and the Seahawks to 17 points. Minnesota is so close to being 3-0, so don’t let the 1-2 record fool you.
Pick: Vikings + 2
Tuley: The Vikings got off the schneid with a 30-17 home win over the Seahawks and are now home underdogs again against the Browns. Cleveland’s 26-6 rout of the Bears was more about Chicago’s ineptitude on offense and they face a much tougher test against Cousins (30-for-38, 323 yards, 3 TDs vs. Seahawks), whether Cook returns or they turn again to Mattison (112 rushing yards, 59 receiving). If the Minnesota defense plays half
as well as it did in containing Seattle, the Vikings should get back to .500.
Pick: Vikings + 2
Burke: The biggest homecoming in Week 3 is Tom Brady going back to New England, but a close second is the return of Kevin Stefanski to Minnesota. The Browns are laying a short number against the Vikings and that number is growing in the betting markets.
The calling card for Minnesota’s defense over the last few seasons has been third-down success. That has been the case again this year, as opponents are only 9-for-31 on third down against the Vikes. What that stat fails to illustrate is that Minnesota has allowed 6.8 yards per play overall, and that the opposition has gained 7.5 YPP on first down and 6.5 YPP on second down.
One of the reasons why the Browns have found offensive success this season is because of their gains on first and second down. Cleveland has averaged 6.7 YPP on first down and 7.0 YPP on second down. Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson have combined to complete 33-of-38 first-down passes and 23-of-31 second-down passes against this Minnesota defense.
In the first half this season, the Vikings defense has allowed an 84 percent completion rate and 5.2 yards per carry. The Browns are always well-prepared under Stefanski. He should also know how to attack this Mike Zimmer defense.
Cleveland should play from in front in this game. At a minimum, the Browns should take a lead into halftime. Most sportsbooks list Cleveland -0.5 as the first half line, and that looks to have some value this week.
Pick: Cleveland Browns 1st Half -0.5
Brown: Cousins failed to register a rush attempt or scramble for the Vikings in Week 1, before putting together a 35-yard performance in Week 2 on only two carries. In Week 3, Cousins’ rushing came back to reality when he had one attempt for 2 yards. The key to Cousins’ rushing success is his need to scramble, as he only has two on the season but registered massive yards per carry when doing so.
This should occur frequently against a Cleveland defense that has the second-best pressure rate in the NFL to start the season. The Browns’ blitz at just the 23rd-highest rate, so rush lanes on scrambles could be more difficult. Cousins only needs to break one decent run to get over this number, making it the perfect bet to target on Sunday.
Pick: Kirk Cousins Over 6.5 Rushing Yards (-116)
Brown: Mayfield hasn’t been perfect so far this year, with three turnover-worthy plays to his name. However, as written about here at PFF, one turnover-worthy play a game is a rate that makes this bet a + EV one.
Furthermore, the Vikings defense is one of the worst in the NFL, and aside from Danielle Hunter, they don’t have a plus pass rush that could put the Browns quarterback in a position to make desperate throws. That this is even money is still an indicator that the market has not caught up to Mayfield’s improved discipline after a 21-interception season in 2019, his final one without Stefanski.
Pick: Baker Mayfield no interception (+ 100)
Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins (-2, 43)
Burke: Maybe the Colts haven’t done enough to deserve my interest this week, but the Dolphins certainly haven’t been impressive thus far. This is a short line that implies that the game would be around a pick ‘em on a neutral field, which seems like a telling sign from the books about a 0-3 team with an injured quarterback and an ugly statistical profile.
The Colts have played two teams from the best division in football, with losses to the Seahawks and Rams, and then a divisional loss that came down to a lack of red zone efficiency. Indianapolis settled for two short field goals in the second half against Tennessee and that wound up being the difference in the game.
As bad as the Colts offense has been, the Dolphins have been worse. Miami has scored on a much lower number of its possessions (21.9 percent) than the Colts (36.7 percent) and ranks 31st in the NFL in YPP with 4.0. The only team worse is the Bears.
There has to be an overwhelming sense of urgency for Indianapolis this week at 0-3. Miami really wasn’t as competitive as the final score suggests against the Raiders and got outplayed in the box score in Week 1 against the Patriots as well.
The Dolphins don’t deserve to be laying points here.
If nothing else, teasing the Colts up to + 8 with the low total here (42.5) makes a lot of sense.
Pick: Colts + 2, Colts + 8 (as part of teaser with Saints -2)
Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys (-4.5, 50.5)
Tuley: Last week’s advance line on this game was Cowboys -3.5. After the Panthers improved to 3-0 with a 24-9 win over the Texans on “Thursday Night Football,” I was surprised that the line went to Cowboys -5 on Sunday (though Christian McCaffrey’s injury probably had something to do with that). Early money came in on the Panthers to drive the line back down to 4 on Monday, but then the Cowboys routed the Eagles 41-21 on “Monday Night Football” and it’s back up to 5. We get to see which is stronger, Dallas’ high-flying offense (No. 1 in the NFL at 416.7 yards per game) or Carolina’s defense (No. 1 in the league, allowing 191 yards per game). The Panthers lost CB Jaycee Horn with broken bones in his right foot but replaced him with C.J. Henderson thanks to a trade with the Jaguars. And even without McCaffrey, QB Sam Darnold still has plenty of weapons to keep up with the Cowboys.
Pick: Panthers + 5
New York Giants at New Orleans Saints (-8, 43.5)
Burke: Saints players took to social media on Sunday night to display how excited they were to be home. It had been about four weeks since the Saints were at home, as Hurricane Ida and alterations to the schedule forced them out of New Orleans for a while. They return home here as a big favorite against the Giants.
Offensively, the Saints have put up some points, but don’t really have the numbers to support their gaudy game totals. New Orleans has been potent in the red zone, going 8-for-9, but has struggled on third down and have only managed 4.3 YPP.
Defensively, though, the Saints have been excellent and they draw a watered-down version of the Giants in this one. Even if Sterling Shepard and/or Darius Slayton can play, both guys will be less than 100 percent. The Giants have a pretty limited offense as it is, and those two players have combined for 25 catches on 36 targets from Daniel Jones.
Kenny Golladay hasn’t really fit in well and he’ll draw a lot more attention given the injury situation for the Giants.
This is a big number for the Saints with an offense that doesn’t exactly instill confidence about winning by margin, which is why I like teasing it down to -2 -- a much more manageable number that crosses the key numbers of 3 and 7. With the Saints back at home in front of a packed house, it seems highly unlikely that a loss is in the works.
That is less of a worry with -2 to round out the teaser with the Colts at + 8.
Pick: New Orleans Saints -2 (as part of teaser with Colts + 8)
Reynolds: The G-Men find themselves in the cellar of the NFC East. While the Giants are 0-3 and certainly not setting the world on fire, they are probably a little better than the record indicates (I know, I know, Bill Parcells quote yada yada). The boys in blue have lost consecutive games on last-second field goals. Now, they have to go on the road and play against one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL with New Orleans.
Nevertheless, New Orleans is playing its home opener in Week 4 due to Hurricane Ida. This will be the first capacity crowd in the newly-named Caesars Superdome since Jan. 5, 2020. An electric atmosphere is certainly expected, but that is also typically priced in the number with Saints home games. In fact, New Orleans is just 1-6 ATS in its last seven home openers.
The Saints are still keeping Jameis Winston protected in bubble wrap with safe passes and play calls to the tune of just 341 passing yards in three games for the offense (31st in NFL).
Believe it or not, the Giants have actually had the more dynamic offense despite averaging just 18.3 PPG in the first three games. However, receivers Shepard and Slayton have yet to practice this week due to hamstring injuries. Plus, we know Jones has had fumble issues for his entire career.
Yet, even with the injuries, the winless record, the raucous Superdome crowd, etc, etc, the Giants have seen market support and most of the market is now at 7? These are things that make you wonder.
Pick: Giants + 7
Kansas City Chiefs (-7, 54.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
Seidenberg: First, let me acknowledge the elephant in the room: The Chiefs have failed to cover the spread in 13 of their last 14 games. Now that that’s out of the way, let me explain why they will flip the script Sunday against the Eagles.
The Chiefs are coming off back-to-back losses for the first time since 2019; the following game that year, they blew out Denver on the road 30-6. Now they head to Philly to take on an Eagles team coming in on a short week of preparation that got whooped by the Cowboys to the tune of 41 points, 27 first downs and 71 total plays.
Despite their flaws this season, the Chiefs are still a juggernaut on offense. They average nearly 31 PPG and 420 yards of offense. I can’t see how this banged-up Eagles defense will be up for the task of stopping Mahomes and Co. The lookahead line for this game was Chiefs -8, and not much has changed about these teams from their preseason expectations.
Throw in the fact that this game is a source of pride for Andy Reid, going up against his former team, and I think this is the week the Chiefs get back on track and even up their record at 2-2 with a convincing double-digit win in Philadelphia.
The Pick: Chiefs -7
Houston Texans at Buffalo Bills (-16.5, 48)
Youmans: I'm not a big believer in lookahead spots in the NFL — those situations apply more often with college teams — but this could be one for the Bills, who face a trip to Kansas City in Week 5. The line is so high in this game for a few reasons:
1. Tyrod Taylor remains out with an injury, so rookie quarterback Davis Mills is set to start again for Houston
2. Bills quarterback Josh Allen got back on track last week
3. Buffalo outscored its last two opponents 78-21
The Texans hung tough in a 10-point loss at Cleveland in Week 2 and can hang inside this inflated number if the Bills are looking ahead to the Chiefs. With the line moving to 17.5, this could be worth a small bet.
Pick: Texans + 17.5
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-4.5, 54.5)
Tuley: With the Cardinals and Rams both 3-0, this is for first place in the NFL’s best division from top to bottom (though the AFC West is making a play for that title with the Chiefs in last place). The Rams have moved to No. 1 in a lot of rankings after their win over the previously undefeated Buccaneers, but the Cardinals have the offense (No. 2 in the league at 423.3 YPG) with Kyler Murray and Co. to keep up with the Rams and a defense (No. 11 in league, allowing 342.7 yards per game) that can contain Matthew Stafford and the Rams.
Pick: Cardinals + 4.5
Brown: DeAndre Hopkins’ target figures have been seven, four and five, respectively in three games this year. Some of that is that the superstar wide receiver has been banged up, but also some of it is due to the emergence of other players in that offense. Christian Kirk has turned 17 targets into 239 yards, while rookie Rondale Moore has turned 15 targets into 184 yards.
Despite the veteran not being that productive, former Bengals wide receiver AJ Green is leading the Cardinals in targets with 18. While a more rational approach to offense could lead to more of his targets going to Hopkins, against a Rams team that could always shadow Hopkins with superstar cornerback Jalen Ramsey, taking the under on Hopkins’ receiving yards seems prudent.
Pick: DeAndre Hopkins under 70.5 receiving yards (-114)
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-3, 52.5)
Reynolds: Being in the bottom of the league’s best division is a highly tenuous position, but that’s where Seattle finds itself through three weeks. In each of their last two defeats, the Seahawks have blown double-digit leads. Their backs are against the wall, but the good news is that Russell Wilson has never lost three straight games in his career. In fact, he is 9-0 SU and 7-1-1 ATS when coming off consecutive losses, plus posting an 8-2 ATS mark as a road dog in division games.
San Francisco is 4-14 ATS in its last 18 as home favorites, including a loss last week to Green Bay. The 49ers came back from a 17-0 deficit and scored with :37 to play to take the lead, but only to see Aaron Rodgers and the Packers get into winning field goal range with little time on the clock and no timeouts to grab the victory away from them.
Sometimes a team loses two games in one after a tough loss. We saw that last week with Seattle losing a 14-point fourth quarter lead and then losing the following week at Minnesota. This very well could happen to the 49ers here.
Pick: Seahawks + 9 with Vikings + 8.5 in two-team, six-point teaser
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos (-1.5, 44)
Burke: It may be unfair to hold the Broncos’ schedule against the team with a 3-0 start. Denver has beaten three of the worst teams in the NFL in the Giants, Jaguars and Jets. They have exceeded expectations in each one of those games by covering the spread. The Broncos are + 50 in point differential through three games, which is about all that you can ask.
The 3-0 start against a collection of bad teams isn’t enough to make this game against the Ravens a coin flip. Baltimore went through a brutal situational spot with a shorthanded roster last week. The line for this game over the summer was Baltimore -3.5. Have we seen enough of these two teams to create a 4.5-point adjustment to the line?
Not only have the Broncos faced a remarkably soft schedule, but they have faced two first-year head coaches and a second-year head coach. John Harbaugh is far more experienced and widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the NFL.
Baltimore is getting a little bit healthier this week with Rashod Bateman and Miles Boykin to help the offense. The defense also looks stronger this week with Brandon Williams and Justin Houston back. Denver may be missing two starting linemen in Graham Glasnow and Dalton Risner. The Broncos also lost a big-play threat in KJ Hamler last week.
Denver may be a really good team, but I’ll pay the price of admission to see it. That means betting on the Ravens, a much more established team that represents a big step up in class both on the field and off the field for the Broncos.
Pick: Baltimore Ravens + 1
Tuley: The Ravens are 2-1 but could very easily be 0-3 if not for a narrow win over the Chiefs and the miracle win over the Lions. They’ve obviously had a much tougher schedule than the Broncos, who are 3-0 thanks to schedule-makers giving them the Giants, Jaguars and Jets right out of the gate. This line has flipped from Ravens -1 to the Broncos now being favored at several shops, so the Ravens are going to be a very popular public dog. I agree that’s probably the right side — though I hesitate to fade Denver QB Teddy Bridgewater, who is 34-18 ATS as a starter but keeps changing teams — but will be betting the Ravens more in teasers in case they do lose a close game.
Pick: Ravens in teasers
Pittsburgh Steelers at Green Bay Packers (-6.5, 45.5)
Youmans: This is when Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will probably come out swinging with their backs against the wall, and Pittsburgh can stay in this game with its defense. But there’s not much evidence on film or on the stat sheet to support a play on the underdog. The Steelers rank 28th in scoring offense (16.7 PPG) and last in rushing offense (53 YPG). Big Ben is incapable of trading shots with Aaron Rodgers. The Packers might not cover, but they are not going to lose this game at Lambeau Field unless they give it away with mistakes and several fluke plays determine a surprising result.
Pick: Packers -0.5 on a teaser with Buccaneers -0.5
Reynolds: During the middle of last week, the Packers opened -6.5 on lookahead lines. What has happened since then?
The market came against the Steelers and drove the line down from an opener of Pittsburgh -4.5 down to under the key number of -3 and the Bengals delivered the Steelers a second straight outright loss (24-10) as a home favorite. Roethlisberger had just 92 yards passing in the first half and looked old, tired, and slow. Diontae Johnson missed the game and JuJu Smith-Schuster left the game with a rib injury, so the Steelers were down to only three receivers.
Meanwhile, the Packers and Rodgers needed zero timeouts and only 37 seconds to rally for a game-winning field goal (30-28) in San Francisco in front of a national audience on Sunday Night Football. Rodgers looked pumped up the sideline and seemed to put to rest, at least temporarily, that he looks disinterested in football.
Now the Packers come back home off a national TV victory and all of a sudden they are being talked up as an NFC contender again after they were thrown in the garbage after their Week 1 loss. Yet, the line has not changed much, if at all, during the week. The market has been down on the Steelers since before the start of the season and here we are with little to no adjustment.
Perhaps the lack of movement has to do with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s long history of success as an underdog. Tomlin is 9-3-1 ATS as a 6+ point underdog. Moreover, Roethlisberger is 37-21-3 ATS as an underdog during his 18 seasons, including a win at the same number in Week 1 at Buffalo.
The offense clearly has its issues, but defense always seems to travel for Pittsburgh. There have been very few 7s pop in the market, but there are a couple of + 7 (-120) spots out at present time, so definitely shop around to find them where you can.
Pick: Pittsburgh + 6.5; 1H Under 23, Under 45.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.5, 49) at New England Patriots
Youmans: My preseason opinion on the Patriots appears to be off. The offensive line is not performing up to expectations, the tight ends are not producing and the defense has been surprisingly weak. But it’s a long season and New England still could rally for nine wins. I’m getting away from this team until Bill Belichick finds some answers. The Buccaneers have two significant weaknesses -- the league’s worst pass defense (338.3 YPG) and the 31st-ranked rushing offense (56.3 YPG) — but Tom Brady is unlikely to lose his homecoming game.
Pick: Buccaneers -0.5 on a teaser with Packers -0.5
Brown: Betting on Brady to do Brady-like things on Sunday night feels like a safe proposition. There are two competing storylines for how most people expect this game to play out.
Narrative one is that Brady plays a near flawless game as the Buccaneers blow out the Patriots in Foxboro. Brady extracts his final revenge on New England and leaves victorious after accounting for numerous touchdowns and passing yards. The other narrative is that no coach knows Brady like Bill Belichick. Belichick crafts the perfect game plan that gives Brady a headache all night and slows him down enough for the Patriots to keep this game close if not win outright.
The actual outcome probably fits somewhere in between the two, which is why Brady to go over 2.5 passing touchdowns at a plus price is one of the best bets on the weekend. The Patriots defense isn’t playing at the level most give them credit for, as they are 22nd in PFF’s opponent-adjusted grade. The only way New England is going to cover is by keeping pace with the Buccaneers offense, which could turn this game into a shootout. In this likely scenario, no matter what team covers, we should see Brady exceed 2.5 passing touchdowns.
Pick: Tom Brady Over 2.5 Passing Touchdowns (+ 116)