Week 4 is when we start to see a few teams on a bye and have a few less options to exploit. Injuries are again going to have a big effect on the week and understanding recency bias in these lines is very important. Identifying which previous performances were “fluky” or not and why. Some lines are based on the perception of the team’s previous results and I think that is an exploitable edge.
Texans (+1) vs. Colts
This line is clearly based on previous results more than how these rosters lineup. Last week, the Colts lost by 4 to the Eagles, who are very overrated in my opinion. This close loss has bumped up the Colts in most minds and I think this is a mistake. Andrew Luck has looked bad throwing the ball downfield. The Texans biggest defensive weakness is their secondary and I really don’t think they can truly exploit that. The Texans also lost credibility when they lost to the Giants. I really don’t think the Giants are THAT bad. The O-line is bad, but the skill players are actually really talented. That is a bad loss, but they should not be underdogs to a bad Colts team, even on the road.
Dolphins vs. Patriots (-6.5)
Listen, the Patriots looked bad last week in the public eye and the Dolphins have been one of the surprises of the year with their 3-0 start. The line isn’t big enough. This is a massive bounce-back spot for the Patriots who know that now is the time where they have to step on the gas. The play calling last week was insanely conservative and I really think we see that flip this week. The Dolphins have beat the Titans, Jets, and Raiders. A terrifying trio of teams if you ask me. A 4-12 team could have 3 of their 4 wins against those 3 teams and you wouldn’t consider it an upset. This Dolphins record is an anomaly and I think it shows up this week.
Browns (+3) vs. Raiders
Um, this line is a joke. It’s a joke with Tyrod. It’s even more of a joke with Baker. This Raiders team is not good defensively at all and the Browns have been great defensively all year long. I think the Browns offense has woken up with Baker’s arrival and will score on the Raiders at a high level. The Raiders will not be able to move the ball nearly as easily as it will be for the Browns to do so. This is probably my favorite line of the year so far and it’s not particularly close.
Saints (-3.5) vs. Giants
The Saints offense has been very concentrated this year and it has worked out really well for them. This week, the Giants will try to match up with Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas and they have no answer at all. The Saints haven’t been able to get pressure on the quarterback in the first 3 weeks. I think this changes this week and the Saints defense shows up again to a degree. This lack of pressure has really hurt players ability to cover in the secondary. Marshon Lattimore was a shutdown corner in his rookie season and assuming that he got worse just makes no sense. This Giants line may let them show their previous prowess. If this does happen, the game could get ugly fast for the Giants.
Chiefs (-4.5) vs. Broncos
The Chiefs offense is so good that I will continue to pick them until I see reasons to believe otherwise. If you haven’t watched this offense, do yourself a favor and do so before you say another word about them. This playcalling is probably the best I have seen in the NFL from a creativity standpoint. They ran a play last week where there were basically three different screen play options to three different styles of players (Hill, Kelce, and Hunt), in different spots of the field. They have thrown TD passes to 9 players in 3 games.
The highest number of players to catch a TD in a season is 12 by the Falcons 2 years ago, who had the most efficient offense in NFL history. Unless this playcalling stops or teams nail down this offensive scheme, which I don’t think is really a viable strategy, this team will continue to put up points at an elite rate. The Broncos offensive playcalling is horrible on the other hand. Emmanuel Sanders has clearly been their best option and he has gone 2 straight games seeing 1 combined target in the first half. Then they trail and get him involved late. I just have to take the team that has been much more impressive this year, but I do expect a lot of points in this game.
Enjoy Week 4!