It wasn’t quite the 5-0 week I was hoping for, but 3-2 is 60% ATS and I will take that for the rest of my life. As predicted, my square play on the Titans was a loser, as the Titans won 31-30 at Minnesota as 2.5-point favorites. That makes three straight weeks betting on the Vikings game, and three straight losers. So what am I going to do? Bet on the Minnesota game again this week, of course. For that pick and four other NFL Week 4 picks against the spread, read on and feel free to fade.
Cleveland Browns +3.5 at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have yet to cover a game in 2020, so what better time to place a wager on Big D? Dallas was one of our two losing picks last week. I thought having the points in my pocket would be wise in a shootout, but this time, it was not. Now the Cowboys get to come home, play in front of some fans, and let off steam against Baker and the boys of the Cleveland Browns. Although, Baker has surprisingly nice numbers through three weeks, with a QBR of 75.8 ranking #9 in the NFL.
But let’s consider the context of those numbers. The Browns had their asses handed to them in week one by the Ravens and Baker had a QBR of 29.9. His next game came at home against the Bengals and the numbers were 16-23 for 219 with two touchdowns and one costly pick for Browns bettors, but enough for a 98.2 QBR. Last week hosting Washington Baker was again 16-23 for just 156, although still good for a 74.6 QBR. At first glance, these solid but unspectacular numbers look to have been produced against bad defenses. However, Washington currently ranks #2 and Cincinnati #8 in pass defense DVOA.
But forget the numbers. I am fading Baker and this Browns team because I do not think they can keep up with the Dallas offense for four quarters. Now that this number has ticked down below four, I have no choice but to fire on the Cowboys.
The Pick: Cowboys -3.5
Buffalo Bills -3 at Las Vegas Raiders
I think there is an argument to be made that the Bills are the third-best team in the league. The defense hasn’t played up to it’s preseason expectation of being one of the top three in the league, but that can be partially attributed to injuries. And whatever the defense has lacked, Josh Allen has more than made up for with an MVP-worthy first three weeks. Simply put, I believe this Bills team is at least a touchdown better than the Raiders on a neutral field, which means around 2.5 points of line value. The Bills should be able to score at will on this porous Raiders defense, which is ranked 31st per defensive DVOA. And the Raiders are unlikely to be able to keep pace.
The Pick: Bills -3
Indianapolis Colts -2.5 at Chicago Bears
Obviously, I’m betting on the Bears again. Chicago has two improbable covers so far in weeks one and three. Week two was an improbable loss ATS, as the Bears failed to cover a 5-point spread after building a 17-0 lead on the Giants. But that was the Mitch Trubisky Bears, and this is the BDN Bears. This spread suggests that a team that lost to the Jaguars would be favored by six or seven points if this game was being played at Indy. The Bears are without a doubt a fake 3-0 team, but the Colts three opponents have one combined win, and it was against the Colts.
Indianapolis does have an incredible offensive line and a talented defense. But these two teams seem much more evenly matched than this spread would suggest. Despite his pedigree, running back Jonathan Taylor is averaging just 3.8 yard per carry behind that O-line while playing sub-par opponents. The Bears have given up some ugly run plays but rank in the top 10 in most defensive rushing categories.
I was hoping this number would hit Bears +3, and it briefly did, but has been stuck at +2.5 all week. At the Action Network, 55% of the tickets are on the Colts, but 56% of the money is on the Bears. The sharp/square split is even more apparent at Pregame.com where the Bears are receiving 53% of the bets and 62% of the money.
The Pick: Bears +2.5
New Orleans Saints -3 at Detroit Lions
Not much on this game, other than I feel like fading the trendy Lions when everyone is doubting Drew Brees. At just the field goal, the Saints look like a nice value play at an indoor fake road game.
The Pick: Saints -3
LA Chargers +7.5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Chargers have a legit defense, just ask the Kansas City Chiefs. Seven points is a lot for old man Tom to lay in a game where he may be scratching and clawing for scoring drives.
The Pick: Chargers +7
As for the Vikings game, I wanted them at +4.5 but now that it’s down to +3.5, it’s not a play.