Started the week 0-1 after picking the Redskins on Thursday. I thought the dominance of home teams on Thursday nigh would continue. Instead the road team grabbed an early lead and the Redskins never threatened. Here are the rest of my Week 4 picks and contest picks:
Dolphins (-4) vs. Raiders in London
My line: Dolphins -4.5
Analysis: The Raiders have already taken cross-country trips to New York and New England. Now they are in a different continent after a great effort against the Patriots. I don’t think the Raiders will repeat their Week 3 performance and the Dolphins will bounce back after two straight losses.
Packers (-2) at Bears
My line: Bears -1
Analysis: The Bears should be the favorite at home. The Packers are desperate for a victory and the Bears are coming off two primetime wins so not a great scheduling situation.
Pick: Pass (Contest: Bears)
Bills at Texans (-3)
My line: Texans -3.5
Analysis: This will be a low-scoring game. E.J. Manuel will struggle against the Texans defense.
Started the week in college 1-0 with a winner on Texas Tech. As I said in the post for Thursday’s games, I won’t be writing individual articles for each game I pick this week. I do feel confident about several games this week so here are my picks for Saturday with analysis for a few:
Tennessee (+17) over Georgia: Too many points and a early afternoon game. Butch Jones will have the Volunteers prepared after a bye week.
Arkansas (+10) over Texas A&M: I think Texas A&M is one of the most overrated teams in the country. Other than South Carolina they haven’t played any good teams. Arkansas is still undervalued and could win this one straight up on a neutral field.
Duke (+7) over Miami: Another game where I see the underdog winning straight up. Miami is the more talented team but Duke is better coached.
Florida State (-18.5) over North Carolina State: Florida State comes out firing with Winston back in the lineup. This might be the best time to buy low on the Seminoles.
Memphis (+21) over Ole Miss: Ole Miss has something special going on in Oxford but they will be looking ahead to a home game against Alabama in Week 6. Memphis isn’t a pushover. They played at UCLA closely so they won’t be intimidated traveling to Ole Miss.
I picked the Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC North but I think they could be in for some trouble Sunday against Washington. The Eagles are coming off a comeback win on Monday night in Indianapolis. Now they have had a short week to prepare for the Redskins. Next Sunday they play the 49ers so there is also a bit of a look ahead even though this is a division game.
I think the Redskins will come out with new energy now that Kirk Cousins is the quarterback. Robert Griffin III has stolen all the headlines for more than a year regarding his injury. Cousins has been talked about in trade rumors and patiently waited for his turn to be the starter. Now that Griffin is hurt, I think Cousins will take advantage of the opportunity and his teammates will rally around him. My pick will be for the Redskins to cover the spread but don’t be surprised if they win straight up.
The NFC North looks like it will be competitive this season so a game like this can go along way in deciding the division winner. The Lions are a small favorite at home but I think they should be the underdog.
The Packers opened the season in Seattle and lost at a stadium where it’s almost impossible to win especially in primetime. Then they found themselves down 21-3 at home to the Jets before Aaron Rodgers found his rhythm and the Packers won by seven. I think Rodgers picks up where he left off. He has a great record against division teams and playing indoors.
It’s hard to tell if the Lions are good or not. They beat a terrible Giants team by three touchdowns, but even then they kept New York hanging around in the game until the fourth quarter. Then they got overmatched by Carolina having a short week to prepare. I think both defenses will struggle on Sunday and Rodgers will make one more play than Stafford to lead Green Bay to victory.
Super Bowl rematch early in the season. I picked Seattle as a three-point underdog in February, and I like them again this Sunday to beat the Broncos and cover the spread. The Seattle home field advantage is one of the two best in the NFL along with New Orleans. Getting them at home with a spread under a touchdown seems like a bargain at this point.
I think the loss for Seattle last week at San Diego will keep them focused for this game. An angry team and raucous crowd is a team I like to pick.
I haven’t been very impressed with Denver so far this season. They are 0-2 against the spread and don’t seem like they can score at will like the did in 2013. Some players are injured now so I think they will be fine going forward but don’t like them in this situation. Peyton Manning relies on audibles at the line and he might have trouble doing that in Seattle. There won’t be any revenge on Sunday. Take the Seahawks and the points.
The Chargers are the better team but I like the home favorite Buffalo Bills to win and cover the spread on Sunday. The scheduling situation is a big reason I like the Bills. The Chargers are traveling across the country for an early start time on Sunday. San Diego is also coming off a big win against the Super Bowl champions. Teams that play the Seahawks struggle the week after because Seattle is a physical team.
As I wrote about on my Thursday night preview, I’m reevaluating some of my preseason predictions. I was down on the Bills this season because of their quarterback play. I’m not sure E.J. Manuel is the solution in Buffalo but the rest of the roster has talent at almost every position especially running back and defensive line. It feels odd to think the Bills can be 3-0 by Sunday afternoon but I think that will happen.
I picked Kanas State (+9.5) as part of a pool play on Thursday. I wasn’t confident enough to make it an official pick. I thought both teams played sloppy. Auburn could’ve won by a lot more and Kansas State could’ve won straight up if they made their field goals or didn’t throw a goal line interception. Moving on the this weekend, I had trouble with these games so I have one pick that I am very confident about. The teams I have the strongest leans towards against the spread are North Carolina, Mississippi State, Northern Illinois and Miami. Here’s my one pick this Saturday along with the other pool plays:
My only college football pick of the week will also be the first over/under pick I have made this season. I like the Florida-Alabama game to go under the total of 51. The SEC has seen a lot of high scoring games this season involving Texas A&M, South Carolina and Georgia. However, Florida and Alabama are two on the best defensive teams in the conference and both teams have question marks on offense.
Florida may have been looking ahead to this game when they came out flat against Kentucky and need triple overtime to beat the Wildcats. Florida ran and threw the ball well but Jeff Driskel will need to play much better against Alabama than he did against Kentucky. Teams that can run a spread offense have given trouble to Alabama and Florida doesn’t have a spread offense where they open up the playbook.
Alabama quarterback Blake Sims hasn’t had to be spectacular this season. The senior has relied on wide receiver Amari Cooper who already has 33 receptions in three games. If there is one team that can neutralize Cooper, it’s Florida with star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. That will be the matchup to watch on Saturday and I think Hargreaves III can contain Cooper.
Florida and coach Will Muschamp know they need this game so I think they will bring their best defensive effort. I also think Alabama will be the dominant Alabama from the past with their defense. Driskel and Sims aren’t quarterbacks I expect to lead their teams on many scoring drives. That’s why I like the under in this SEC game.