Predictions and underdog picks for NFL Week 4
The NFL Week 4 schedule includes seven division games and follows a week of some significant blowouts and embarrassments including the Denver Broncos and two of our picks. But we dig in the trenches and adjust, just as the leading online sportsbooks do when sending out last week's lookahead lines.
Week 3 Recap and Stats
Our Week 3 underdog picks went 1-2 with two terrible picks even after pointing out Denver's clueless defensive coordinator ahead of the 70-20 blowout loss at Miami. Move on from that embarrassment, but Vance Joseph the Joker has far more to worry about as he and Denver (0-3) try to beat another bad bunch in the Bears (0-3) at Chicago this week. A survey of oddmakers has the Bears ranked as the worst team, and "the Bears entire scheme needs to be blown up."
Mistake last week forcing a few picks to add to our early week Chargers (+1) pick, which won and graded as a 'Dog for much of the late week. But you'll see year-long stats potentially have them at PK or even -1. Herbert passed for more than 400 yards in victory, but another questionable coaching call in the closing 2 minutes (4th and 1 at own 24, stopped) allowed the Vikings a final chance but Minnesota couldn't get the TD with 1st and goal in the closing seconds. Minnesota is now 0-3 after winning the division last season. We missed the 'over' 52' (dropped at kickoff), but do bet other games and cashed a few favorites in Detroit and Cleveland.
Know that we only have half the betting card to work from for side selections with no favorites and only Underdog picks, which did best in 2021 when we were even more selective during a 70% season (28-12 ATS). And we're not here to pad records with teasers or prop bets, or even live betting. Those are separate betting opportunities and time permitting we'll chip-in more separately periodically or mention as we have along with other opinions.
For the rushing stats and updates, teams that ran the ball at least 30 times last week went 10-0 SU/ATS (2 games had both teams run 30+ times, not included), and for the season, those 30+/game rushers are 28-3 SU and 25-4-1 ATS. While you often need a quality quarterback that can make the passes and move the chains and especially if playing from behind, it's worth noting that without some balance, it's often a trouble spot as both Minnesota and Carolina passed the ball at least 50 times in defeat (no covers). Teams that ran the ball less than 23 times last week went 1-11 SU and 2-9-1 ATS, and are now 3-28 SU and 7-22-2 ATS this season.
And for teams that outrush their opponent by at least 30 yards in a game, we see those teams are 27-8 SU and 25-9-1 ATS.
Here are the team rushing leaders this early season in yards and attempts, and the teams that are struggling the most to run the ball effectively or more often.
- Miami 188 YPG (31.0)
- Philadelphia 186 (37.3)
- San Francisco 162 (33.7)
- Cleveland 160 (35.3)
- Baltimore 158 (35.3)
- Arizona 156 (28.0)
- Buffalo 149 (30.0)
- Dallas 147 (35.7)
Detroit (30.7) and Atlanta (30.3) are also averaging at least 30 rushes per game.
The worst rushing attacks include:
- Las Vegas 61 YPG (21.0)
- Minnesota 66 (16.7)
- Pittsburgh 67 (20.7)
- Cincinnati 69 (19.3)
- Houston 70 (25.0)
Washington, Carolina, Denver, NY Giants and Jets all average less than 23 rushing attempts per game.
Looking at Week 4, The Eagles (48 YPG, 16.0 attempts), Browns (52, 18.7), 49ers (53, 14.3) and Lions (72, 22.7) have the strongest run defenses thus far, statistically.
Dig into the matchups, evaluate opponents faced, who stops the run and has more success running the ball, and of course evaluate the quarterback's value and play as too many clueless quarterbacks who still can't be productive in the passing game (Fields, Zach Wilson!), but are starting partly because of other poor backups and the teams bad decisions to draft them high in Round 1 and trying to get their money's worth. Plenty of backups that are better are currently starting ahead of higher-paid and drafted QB's in Carolina and Indianapolis.
Top 10 #NFL QBs based on their impact to oddsmaking:— MLFootball (@_MLFootball) September 28, 2023
1) #Chiefs Patrick Mahomes, 7.5 POINTS PER GAME 🤯🤯🤯
2) #Eagles Jalen Hurts, 6.5
3) #Bills Josh Allen, 6.5
4) #Bengals Joe Burrow, 6.5
5) #Jets Aaron Rodgers, 6.5
6) #Chargers Justin Herbert, 5.5
7) #Jaguars Trevor… pic.twitter.com/nda6rqNdT1
Week 4 Underdog Opinions and Considerations
Atlanta (+3) vs Jacksonville (London)
Miami (+3) at Buffalo
Houston (+3) vs Pittsburgh
LA Rams (+1) at Indianapolis
New York Jets (+9.5) vs Kansas City
A number of leading online sportsbooks now have Miami +3 (-115), with BetOnline and BetAnySports holding Buffalo -2.5 with heavy juice (-125).
NFL Week 4 injury reports
Fairway's Forecast - NFL Week 4 Underdog Picks
Miami (+3) at Buffalo - Dolphins Moneyline +135
Houston (+3) vs Pittsburgh - Texans Moneyline +125
New York (+9) vs Kansas City - Jets Moneyline +330
Pittsburgh at Houston - This is a bad spot for the Steelers, who are one of six teams that have been out-yarded in each game this season (PIT, IND, CHI, TEN, NYJ). Pittsburgh's defense has bailed them out creating 3 TO's last week at Las Vegas in a Sunday Night Football victory, and 4 TO's in a phony Monday Night Football win the previous week over division rival Cleveland, when the Steelers had just nine first downs, 55 rushing yards and 255 total yards (CLE 405). Houston is getting the best rookie QB play from CJ Stroud, who has passed for more than 900 yards with 4 TD passes and ZERO interceptions. He's completing 77% of his passes and been very solid vs man coverage while facing the third-highest pressure rate with a unsettled offensive line. Playbook notes that Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin is 12-21-1 ATS as a non-division road favorite coming off a win, including 1-11 ATS during the first six games of the season.
Miami at Buffalo - You can read more of my MIA/BUF game analysis in Forbes, along with Dr. Bob's support of less scoring than projected with the total down from 54 to 53.5. The Dolphins offense has been the most potent through 3 weeks with MVP favorite QB Tua Tagovailoa leading the offense averaging a league-best 8.4 yards per play and unsustainable 43 points per game. I like the run game setup as well with Dolphins rookie RB De’Von Achane off an AFC Offensive Player of the Week performance with 4 total TD's and 203 rushing yards. The Dolphins defense is legit with top DC Vic Fangio able to scheme to the opponent and limit explosive plays. The Bills are tough and QB Josh Allen and the offense will also turn towards more running, misdirection and short passing as they face more Dolphins defensive pressure. This matchup was a shootout in last seasons playoffs won the by Bills 34-31. But Tua didn't play in that game, and he's a difference maker with his lethal WR's Hill and now Waddle returning this week.
Kansas City at New York Jets - I'm adding the Jets despite the line dip to +9 and even +8.5 in spots. My yardage projections and yardage are closer in this contest, less than 80 yards difference with the Jets stronger defense and a lower total (41.5). These plays and bets are more difficult to make for most bettors and recreational players, who get caught up in the recent results and hype like that surrounding KC TE Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift. But we've cashed in more often than not over 6 years of 58% ATS underdog winners including during our 70% season in 2021. Some of the ugliest 'Dogs that year in the Lions, Texans and Jaguars (+14) won outright when the quarterback play was questioned as it is here with the Jets and Zach Wilson. The Chiefs blowout of the Bears last week and the Jets 15-10 home loss to the Patriots with just 171 yards offense (2.8 YPPL) makes it look easy for the Chiefs this week. But that's not how the NFL works most the time, and especially when wagering. We could get embarrassed again like last week's blowout losses by the Broncos and Commanders, but we'll stick with it and count on better play and the Jets running game to get untracked with an under the total bet also in order along with a first half bet on the Jets (+6.5). Contrary call knowing too that the Chiefs are the most bet team with the most spread money bet at greater than 90% at one leading online sportsbook (BetMGM). For what it's worth, the Chiefs are 0-7 ATS when coming off a double-digit win, which also shows how recency bias plays a part. The Chiefs went 8-2 SU but just 1-8-1 ATS during a stretch last season starting about this time with six of those as 8-point favorite or greater. We'll take the 'On any given Sunday' approach.
Check back Friday and again over weekend for any added Week 4 underdog picks (likely), game analysis, stats and information you can bet on, and take an advance peek at the NFL Week 5 lookahead lines.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper with unparalleled success in NFL pointspread prognosis. Fairway is recognized as one of the sports industry's insightful analysts, and he chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Follow FairwayJay here at OSGA.com and on X (Twitter) @FairwayJay for more sports betting insights.