Week 4 in the NFL is here, which means teams are starting to get their bye weeks; how did we get here so fast?
You know who doesn’t get a bye, though? The NESN.com trio of Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian, as they’re back once again to give you against-the-spread picks for every single game on the NFL schedule.
But first, here’s how they fared last week.
Mike Cole: 7-9 (23-23-1 overall)
Ricky Doyle: 7-9 (23-23-1)
Andre Khatchaturian: 5-11 (23-23-1)
Here are their Week 4 picks with lines courtesy of OddsShark.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 27
Minnesota Vikings at (-6.5) Los Angeles Rams
Mike: Vikings. Minnesota got a wake-up call in the biggest way thanks to the Bills last week. They’ll be looking to get back on track, and while it’s a short week on the road, the Rams have all kinds of injury issues in the secondary with Aqib Talib possibly out a month and Marcus Peters in jeopardy for this one. That’s good news for Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
Ricky: Vikings. Sure, there’s the whole flying west on a short week problem — no team flying two time zones or more to the west has won a Thursday night game in 12 years (0-10 SU and ATS) — but the Vikings are 20-9 ATS as an underdog since Mike Zimmer took over as head coach in 2014. This spread is inflated based on the Vikings’ debacle against the Bills and the Rams’ impressive start, and I like Minnesota to keep it within the number thanks to its defense and Los Angeles’ injury concerns.
Andre: Rams. The Rams’ secondary is banged up, but they have three backup corners with 88 games of NFL experience in Nickell Robey-Coleyman, Sam Shields and Troy Hill. Even with Dalvin Cook in the lineup, the Vikings haven’t been successful running the ball and I don’t expect them to be able to against the Rams’ run defense. Kirk Cousins, who leads the league in pass attempts, might be forced to throw the ball a ton again and that’s not a recipe for success.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 30
Buffalo Bills at (-10) Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m. ET
Mike: Bills. Think the Packers win this one, but there’s too much uncertainty with Aaron Rodgers’ knee and Mike McCarthy’s general level of competence to lay 10 points, even at home, even against the Bills.
Ricky: Packers. Hope the Bills Mafia enjoyed last week’s shocking win over the Vikings, because the party ends this Sunday at Lambeau Field, where Buffalo hasn’t won since 1991.
Andre: Packers. Even after their big win, the Bills still have the second-worst yards per play differential. Rodgers isn’t going to make the same turnover mistakes Kirk Cousins did last week and the Bills’ offensive line is still garbage. Josh Allen has been pressured on nearly 40 percent of dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus.
Cincinnati Bengals at (-6) Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bengals. Tough spot for the Falcons, who looked to figure out their offensive issues last week, only to have the defense torched by New Orleans. The Bengals don’t have as much firepower, obviously, but with the Falcons seemingly losing an impact player on defense every week, I expect Cincy to keep pace in a shootout.
Ricky: Bengals. The Falcons have problems with the AFC — 1-5 SU and 0-6 ATS in their last six games vs. AFC opponents — and the injuries keep piling up, with safety Ricardo Allen tearing his Achilles in Week 3. The Bengals will have success through the air against the Falcons’ depleted secondary, allowing Cincinnati to keep pace with an Atlanta offense that’s finally turning a corner.
Andre: Bengals. The Bengals’ offensive line has only allowed four sacks this year and Atlanta has struggled getting to the quarterback. Andy Dalton is going to have plenty of time to throw to his elite weapons against a banged-up defense that has allowed the second-most first downs in the NFL.
Detroit Lions at (-3) Dallas Cowboys, 1 p.m.
Mike: Cowboys. The Lions gave up 180 rushing yards per games through the first two weeks, and the Patriots were still able to rack up 89 yards on the ground in defeat last week. This should be a big afternoon for Ezekiel Elliott in a classic letdown game for Detroit.
Ricky: Cowboys. Letdown special! It happened to the Jaguars in Week 3 after they beat the Patriots in Week 2, and it’ll happen to the Lions in Week 4 following their stunning win over New England on Sunday night. Expect a big game from Zeke, who really needs to save Dallas’ sputtering offense.
Andre: Lions. Dallas’ defense allows the fewest yards per play, but they don’t force turnovers and rely a lot on their elite pass rush. However, the Lions have only allowed three sacks this year. Matt Stafford should feast on a Cowboys defense that’s struggled. If Stafford gets on top early, the Cowboys will have to get away from the run game and rely on Dak Prescott against a Lions pass rush that is second in sack rate.
Houston Texans at (-1) Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Mike: Colts. I’m done believing in the Texans, my preseason pick to win the AFC South. Bill O’Brien isn’t getting the job done, and Deshaun Watson still doesn’t look like the same player after his ACL injury.
Ricky: Colts. My only question is whether the Texans will fire O’Brien after the game.
Andre: Colts. Indy’s pass rush has been great so far, as they’ve logged 10 sacks. Watson hasn’t received any help from his offensive line this year. He’s been pressured on nearly half of his dropbacks, according to PFF.
Miami Dolphins at (-7) New England Patriots, 1 p.m.
Mike: Dolphins. Miami has a ton of team speed, especially on offense, which could be a major issue for a Patriots defense that’s looked slow. Don’t sleep on the Dolphins’ secondary, either: Minkah Fitzpatrick last week showed what made him a first-round pick, while Xavien Howard is the best corner you haven’t heard of. Could be a tough matchup against the Patriots’ dearth of offensive weapons.
Ricky: Dolphins. The Patriots’ defense has looked slow and tackling has been a major issue. Expect Dolphins coach Adam Gase to exploit those problems by creatively using speedy receivers Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant. New England wins, but Miami covers.
Andre: Patriots. New England has defeated Miami in their last nine meetings at Gillette Stadium by an average margin of 18.2 points. Four of Miami’s 10 touchdowns this year have been 50 yards or longer. One has to think Bill Belichick isn’t going to let the Dolphins get any explosive plays following back-to-back losses.
New York Jets at (-7.5) Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jaguars. Sam Darnold, like many rookie quarterbacks, has been a mess when he faces pressure (36.7 passer rating, per PFF), and Jacksonville can bring the pressure. Questions about the Jags’ offense are legitimate, but this feels like a game where the defense contributes to the point total, too.
Ricky: Jaguars. The Jets won’t be able to dink and dunk their way down the field against Jacksonville’s defense, and it’s hard to imagine Darnold fitting the ball into tight windows with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye locking down New York’s receivers.
Andre: Jaguars. Darnold has one touchdown and four picks in his last two games. Now, he goes up against a Jacksonville defense that allows just 4.7 yards per play. The Jags only have four sacks, but they have the third-highest graded pass rush according to PFF.
(-3.5) Philadelphia Eagles at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Titans. Get your bets in now on Mike Vrabel for Coach of the Year while you still can. Nothing about Tennessee looks overly impressive, but they find ways to win. I’m not saying they’ll win this game, but that extra half-point is too much to pass up for a team that’s last three games have been decided by a combined 13 points.
Ricky: Eagles. Consider last week a tune-up for Carson Wentz in his first game since December. He’ll also have a much deeper backfield this week, with both Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles expected back after missing Week 3. The Titans’ wounded offense won’t keep pace.
Andre: Eagles. Philly allows 3.4 yards per carry and the Titans have run the ball 98 times this season — second-most in the league. If the Titans can’t get the run going and have to rely on their struggling passing game, this could get ugly.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at (-3) Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bears. Ryan Fitzpatrick showed Monday night why he’s never established himself as a starter. He’s turnover-prone and very unpredictable, and after three picks against a seemingly hapless Steelers defense at home, there could be issues on the road against Da Bears.
Ricky: Bears. The Bucs are one-dimensional. Their rushing attack stinks. That’ll be problematic going up against a Bears defense that can bring the heat and fluster opposing quarterbacks.
Andre: Bears. Chicago’s ferocious pass rush should lead Fitzpatrick to revert back to his old ways and make some mistakes. The Bears’ offense is pitiful, but if they get good field position because of forced turnovers, they should be able to put some points on the board. The Bears could also eat a lot of clock in this game because of their advantage in the running game. Tampa has the fewest rushing yards per attempt this year.
Cleveland Browns at (-2.5) Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Raiders. Oakland has to have some professional pride, right? … Right?
Ricky: Raiders. Interesting nugget, courtesy of CBS Sports: Over the past 15 years, there have been 10 quarterbacks taken with the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, and those QBs have combined to go 0-10 SU and ATS in their first career starts. In other words, Baker Mayfield might have a nice career, but betting on him this week is crazier than, say, betting on the Raiders.
Andre: Browns. The Browns could easily be 3-0 if it weren’t for some kicking issues. They have the best turnover differential in the NFL and Oakland is tied for the worst. The Raiders have also been outscored, 64-17, in the second half.
(-3) Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Seahawks. Feels like a trap, but whatever. I’m not taking Arizona’s offense against any Seattle defense, past or present. Heck, call up the 1986 Seahawks, get them to the desert, and I’ll probably still lay the points.
Ricky: Seahawks. Earl Thomas could sleep until 4:04 p.m. this Sunday and still probably pick off Josh Rosen twice.
Andre: Seahawks. Seattle has forced eight turnovers this season and it’ll be going up against an offense that has scored a grand total of 20 points. No other team in the NFL has scored fewer than 40.
(-3.5) New Orleans Saints at New York Giants, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Giants. I’ve got no reason to believe New Orleans has fixed its defense (allowing a league-high 6.9 yards per play). I also don’t love New Orleans playing its second consecutive road game after going to overtime against a divisional foe last week.
Ricky: Giants. New York’s offense had success through the air last week against the Texans, and that’ll continue this week at home against a Saints defense that’ll have a hard time containing the Giants’ playmakers, namely Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr.
Andre: Saints. As bad as the Saints defense has been this year, they only allow three yards per rush attempt (best in NFL). The Giants’ biggest offensive strength is Barkley. He’ll be taken out of the game and Eli Manning might be forced to throw a ton.
San Francisco 49ers at (-10.5) Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. It’s not just that C.J. Beathard is now the Niners’ starting quarterback. It’s that C.J. Beathard is the starting quarterback for a team that ranks 30th in pass protection, according to Football Outsiders. Not great when Melvin Ingram is waiting.
Ricky: Chargers. I wanted to find a reason to take San Francisco. I really did. But not only does Beathard inspire no confidence. The Niners also have injuries on the defensive side, particularly in the secondary, that’ll make it nearly impossible to slow down the Chargers’ deep receiving corps.
Andre: Chargers. A reminder that San Francisco was 1-10 and averaged 4.9 yards per play in their first 11 games last season without Jimmy Garoppolo as their starter. That’s a full yard per play less than what they’re averaging this year.
Baltimore Ravens at (-3) Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Ravens. With or without Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers’ run game has been “meh” at best the last two seasons. That makes it difficult to put away teams, as we saw Monday night, and they should have similar issues against a feisty Ravens squad. Also, consider this: Pittsburgh is 2-6-1 ATS in last nine Sunday games following a Monday nighter.
Ricky: Ravens. Baltimore’s pass defense — No. 1 in the NFL in opponent yards per attempt (4.7) — will force Pittsburgh to run the ball, and that’s been a problem for the Steelers with Bell probably partying on a yacht somewhere and All-Pro guard David DeCastro nursing a hand injury. AFC North football!
Andre: Steelers. The Ravens have six rushing touchdowns so far this year, but only average 3.1 yards per carry. Joe Flacco might be throwing the ball a ton in this game. He is 3-14 in his career when he has 49 or more pass attempts in a game.
MONDAY, OCT. 1
(-4.5) Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: Broncos. Home dogs have been extremely profitable this season, going 9-4 ATS, and Denver catching points at Mile High is usually a pretty good proposition, too: The Broncos are 20-10 ATS as home dogs since 1991.
Ricky: Broncos. The Chiefs have been dominant against AFC West opponents — 17-1 SU in their last 18 divisional matchups — but playing on the road in Denver can be a nightmare, even for Kansas City’s seemingly unstoppable offense. This is the week Patrick Mahomes finally looks human thanks to the Broncos’ vaunted pass rush.
Andre: Broncos. The Chiefs are second-to-last in terms of rush yards allowed per attempt and the Broncos strength is their rushing attack with Phillip Lindsay. As long as Lindsay isn’t getting ejected for throwing punches, I can see the Broncos controlling the clock and keeping the ball away from Mahomes’ hands.
Thumbnail photo via Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports Images
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