Week 4 Picks

Posted: 09/28/2014 by levcohen in Football

For the next few months, picking gets less time-consuming, if not easier. This week, six teams are on BYE. Don’t worry, viewing options won’t be this limited every week, as there are only two weeks with six teams on BYE and none with more. So this is as light as a week will be during the NFL regular season, especially considering that two of the three undefeated teams (Cincinnati and Arizona) are off, along with the consensus two best teams in football (Seattle and Denver). Not only is this week light on games, it’s light on marquee games. Sure, there are a couple of good games, from Green Bay-Chicago to Philadelphia-San Francisco to STEVE SMITH REDEMPTION GAME (aka Carolina-Baltimore), but this week has less intrigue than the one that preceded it and probably the ones that will follow it, too.
BYE teams: Denver, Seattle, Cincinnati, Arizona, St. Louis, Cleveland
*= upset pick

Carolina Panthers (2-1, 2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1, 1-1-1):
Spread: Ravens favored by 3.5
Over/under: 42.5
My prediction: Is there any way Steve Smith doesn’t burn the Carolina Panthers in this game? If you think otherwise, read this quote: “I want to make sure that whatever team I go to, they’re going to get the best, in-shape 35-year-old guy they can get. If that happens to run through Bank of America Stadium, put your goggles on cause there’s going to be blood and guts everywhere.” This was before he signed for the Ravens, and while this game is being played in Baltimore, I think Smith will still get pretty pumped up for it. After the Panthers got embarrassed by Pittsburgh last Sunday night, I wouldn’t feel too great about picking them anyway. I implore you to read other Steve Smith quotes here. They’re pretty good. Ravens win this one 23-16.
Ravens cover
Under

Detroit Lions (2-1, 2-1) at New York Jets (1-2, 0-2-1):*
Spread: Lions favored by 1
Over/under: 44
My prediction: Don’t really have a feel of this game. I feel like the team I pick to win is sure to lose, but when in doubt I like picking home underdogs. My short underdog picks last week didn’t go very well, so I hope I can start turning that around here. Jets win 26-21.
Jets cover
Over

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3, 0-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1, 1-2):
Spread: Steelers favored by 7.5
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: I don’t think the Steelers are very good, but the Buccaneers are really, really bad. That’s why I’m surprised this spread is only 7.5. If this were in double digits I’d be picking the Buccaneers, but I can’t pick them here after they got eviscerated by the Falcons. Steelers win this 27-17.
Steelers cover
Under

Miami Dolphins (1-2, 1-2) at Oakland Raiders (0-3, 2-1) in London:
Spread: Dolphins favored by 3.5
Over/under: 41
My prediction: Ok, the Dolphins are bad, but they are nowhere near as bad as the Raiders. Are the Dolphins really only 3.5 points better than the Raiders on a neutral field? No they aren’t. And while the Raiders played decently against the Patriots, I don’t think the Pats are a top five team right now and the Raiders did lose that game even after getting pretty lucky throughout the game. Both coaches (Miami’s Joe Philbin and Oakland’s Dennis Allen) are on the hot seat, so this is a pretty important game even if it doesn’t have playoff implications. Dolphins win 26-9 in an ugly game.
Dolphins cover
Under

Green Bay Packers (1-2, 0-2-1) at Chicago Bears (2-1, 2-1):
Spread: Packers favored by 1.5
Over/under: 50.5
My prediction: I think this is the game in which the Packers’ offense starts getting going. Aaron Rodgers is playing fine, and he’s going to get more help from Eddie Lacy and Co. this week against a soft Bears defense. The Packers need to win here, while the Bears are sitting pretty at 2-1 despite not necessarily playing great football in the first three weeks. Packers win this one 31-24.
Packers cover
Over

Buffalo Bills (2-1, 2-1) at Houston Texans (2-1, 2-1):
Spread: Texans favored by 3
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: Who’s better, the Bills or the Texans? Both of these teams are surprisingly above .500, although both records are pretty hollow as neither has had a tough schedule. These teams seem even, and Vegas agrees with me, as the three points are probably all (or almost all) for homefield advantage. This feels like a 23-20 game, and I guess I’ll pick the Texans to win. I don’t really have much confidence in this pick, though, so I’ll hedge my bets. Texans win 21-20.
Bills cover
Under

Tennessee Titans (1-2, 1-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-2, 2-1):
Spread: Colts favored by 7.5
Over/under: 45.5
My prediction: Charlie Whitehurst, who hasn’t played since 2011, is starting for the Titans in the injured (shocker) Jake Locker’s stead. The Colts are coming off a blowout win over the Jaguars, but I’m not going to be surprised if the Titans keep this close somehow. I’m still not going to pick the Whitehurst-led Titans, though. Colts win 30-14.
Colts cover
Under

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3, 0-3) at San Diego Chargers (2-1, 3-0):- Lock
Spread: Chargers favored by 13
Over/under: 45
My prediction: This is the obvious lock of the week pick, and I’m going to make it. There’s no way the Chargers lose this game. They’re favored by 13, which is a lot, and I’ve already picked the Jaguars to cover while losing each of their first three games, so why not do it for the fourth time? One of these times, the Jaguars are going to cover a bloated spread, and this might be it. Chargers win 30-20.
Jaguars cover
Over

Philadelphia Eagles (3-0, 2-1) at San Francisco 49ers (1-2, 1-2):
Spread: 49ers favored by 4
Over/under: 48.5
My prediction: I think this game spells trouble for the undefeated Eagles. This is must-win territory for the 49ers, especially since they still have two games against Seattle and one against Denver (among others) coming up. The Eagles are without three-fifths of their offensive line which has resulted in a worse running game and a banged-up Nick Foles, and their defense is still suspect. Think the 49ers win this in a blowout. 27-16.
49ers cover
Under

Atlanta Falcons (2-1, 2-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-2, 1-2):*
Spread: Falcons favored by 4
Over/under: 47.5
My prediction: I think the Falcons are getting overrated here after their incredible performance against Tampa Bay in primetime, so I was always going to pick the Vikings here. Also, Teddy Bridgewater is making his first career start, and I think he’s a pretty good quarterback already. The Vikings shouldn’t be more than a field goal underdog at home here. Vikings win 27-23.
Vikings cover
Over

New Orleans Saints (1-2, 1-2) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1, 2-1):
Spread: Saints favored by 3
Over/under: 54
My prediction: I still don’t think the Cowboys are a good team, and Drew Brees is normally good in primetime games while Tony Romo has had some issues. The Saints are bad on the road, but this game is in a dome, so it shouldn’t be too bad for the Brees. It should be a high-scoring game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cowboys go on a late, game-winning drive, but I’ll take the Saints 31-27.
Saints cover
Over

New England Patriots (2-1, 1-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-2, 2-1):
Spread: Patriots favored by 3
Over/under: 46.5
My prediction: Still can’t bring myself to pick against the Patriots, even though they have been playing poorly this season. I’ll take them to win 24-20, but I don’t feel great about it.
Patriots cover
Under

Upset picks:
Jets over Lions
Vikings over Falcons

Lock of the week:
Chargers over Jaguars

 

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