It’s only Thursday after but I have two picks I really like in the NFL.
Lions +3.5 over Eagles
I was down on the Eagles before the season when they still had Sam Bradford. After they traded Bradford I was still down on them because I thought they would be in a rebuilding year with Carson Wentz under center. The Eagles have started 3-0 and I’ll admit that I was completely wrong about them. However, they are getting too much respect here and shouldn’t be a favorite by over a field goal on the road. They beat the Browns, Bears and caught the Steelers after they had a physical win against the Bengals. The bye week was the worst thing to happen Philly and Wentz got an extra week for people to tell him how good he has been playing. Detroit needs this game to save their season and maybe for Jim Caldwell to keep his job.
Bengals -1 over Cowboys
I’ll keep this one short because I simply think the Bengals are a better team and don’t think the Cowboys have much of a home field advantage. I like that the Bengals played last Thursday and have an extra time to prepare. The Cowboys have had a very soft schedule and Dez Bryant looks unlikely to play. Dallas was down 14-0 at one point to San Francisco last week and the Bengals aren’t a team you want to play while trailing. I’m not a fan of Cincinnati’s offense but they basically just have to win here.
I’m fading both rookie quarterbacks who have combined for zero turnovers in seven games this season. Think they both slow down this week and make some mistakes. I am mulling over a few other games and will tweet out additional picks that I add before Sunday afternoon. I will say that I’m leaning towards the Ravens, Titans, Jets, Bills and Chargers against the spread but don’t fell confident enough yet to make any official.
Rams (+1) over Steelers: I think the wrong team is the favorite in this game. The Steelers are coming off a blowout victory against the 49ers but the result is misleading. The 49ers were coming off a Monday night game and had to make the long trip to Pittsburgh on a short week. The Rams had a letdown against the Redskins after beating the Seahawks in Week 1. I think the Rams bounce back and we are getting some value after their poor performance against the Redskins. The Steelers play the Ravens on Thursday night in Week 4 so this is a lookahead game for them.
Eagles (+1.5) over Jets: Another game where we can take advantage of overreaction. The Eagles are 0-2 and their offense is struggling. The Jets are coming off a big Monday win at the Colts. Coming back on a short week is a tough spot for New York. The Eagles would the favorite in this game if they won one of their first two games and I think now is the perfect time to buy low on Chip Kelly’s team.
Ravens (-2.5) over Bengals: This game is the season for the Ravens. They started 0-2 after falling to two AFC West opponents. Despite the two road defeats I think Baltimore still has a great chance of making the playoffs but they have to win this game. The Bengals might be a little better than the Ravens but considering home field and the situation, I think the Ravens cover.
Bills (+3) over Dolphins: The Bills were getting too much respect last week and closed as a favorite against the Patriots. They got in a shootout with the Patriots, and this Bills team won’t win games playing high-scoring games. They need to run the ball and play well on defense, which is what they did against the Colts in Week 1. There was a lot of preseason hype surrounding the Dolphins this preseason but they have not been impressive in games over the Redskins and Jaguars. I see this being a low-scoring game and the Bills winning straight up.
Lions (+3) over Broncos: Another situation where I will back a 0-2 team that needs to win. The Lions are a much better team at home and the building will be rocking on a Sunday night. Despite winning and covering in the first two games, I have not been impressed with Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense. If Denver loses to Kansas City then this line is probably closer to a pick ’em. I’ll take my chances with the Lions.
Packers (-7.5) over Lions: I don’t think the Lions are a good team. They were on the right side of every close game and their only impressive win was back in Week 3 against the Packers. Since then Green Bay’s offense has clicked and they have become a force at Lambeau Field. They have scored 37 or more points in five of their last six homes games. The Lions strength is their defense but I still think the Packers can put up big numbers on Sunday. The Lions offense has struggled greatly with Matthew Stafford and center Dominic Raiola is suspended for the game. The NFC North and a first round is on the line, and Green Bay always seems to step up when some they need to. I think the Packers win in blowout fashion.
Under 48 in Raiders vs Broncos: The Raiders are coming off a win. The last two games following a win they scored a combined 13 points in the two contests. I don’t think they will score a lot in Denver, and the Broncos just want to win to clinch a first round bye. There isn’t an incentive for Denver to score a lot of points. They just need to take care of business and stay healthy.
Steelers (-3.5) over Bengals: Pittsburgh has won three straight games and clinched a playoff berth last week. Now they are playing in a primetime slot with the division on the line against Cincinnati. The Bengals also clinched a playoff berth last week after an hard fought win on Monday night against Denver. Now the Bengals have to come back on a short week to play the Steelers. I don’t think Cincinnati has much in them after defeating the Broncos. Andy Dalton had his best primetime game of his career and I wouldn’t count on him to have another strong national TV outing.
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.
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.