N.F.L. Week 4 Predictions: Our Picks Against the Spread
There’s a lot of variance in the N.F.L. A short season, relative to other sports, means that factors such as turnovers, blown calls, injuries and even weather can have an outsize impact on outcomes. As the saying goes, “on any given Sunday. …”
In Week 3, nine favorites lost their games straight up, including the Buffalo Bills, who had looked unbeatable. Now there are only two undefeated teams left: the Dolphins and the Eagles. And there is only one 0-3 team: the Raiders.
Given the swings of this season so far, it’s unlikely that those teams’ records will hold up. Last week, variance caught up to us, as well, in our first losing week.
Last week’s record: 7-9
All times Eastern.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Thursday’s Game
- Sunday’s Best Games
- Sunday’s Other Games
- Monday’s Game
- How Betting Lines Work
Miami Dolphins (3-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-2), 8:15 p.m., Amazon Prime
Line: Bengals -4.5 | Total 46.5
This is a short week for Miami after a gutsy victory against the Bills on Sunday in extreme heat. There are concerns about Tua Tagovailoa, who wobbled back to the sideline after taking a hard hit but returned to finish that game. Dolphins Coach Mike McDaniel said Tagovailoa passed concussion tests and will play this week (though the players’ union is investigating the team’s handling).
Cincinnati has injury concerns, too. Nose tackle D.J. Reader, one of the Bengals’ best defensive players, was ruled out. The line opened at -2 and was -4.5 by Wednesday, so there’s been some one-way money on the Bengals, perhaps based on questions about Tagovailoa’s recovery. If he’s healthy and the team isn’t rinsed from the short turnaround, it would be hard to call Miami an underdog in any game. Pick: Dolphins +4.5
Sunday’s Best Games
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-0), 1 p.m., CBS
Line: Eagles -6.5 | Total: 48.5
Philadelphia’s offense has looked impressive, with Jalen Hurts averaging 9.3 yards per pass. They’ve managed to join the Miami Dolphins as the only undefeated teams in the league after three weeks. The Jaguars, however, are the only team in the N.F.L. ranked top-five in both offense and defense. They’ve let Trevor Lawrence get sacked only twice all season, and last week Jacksonville won its first road game in nearly three years.
Both have been the darlings of bettors so far this season, but this week the pros seem to be interested in taking a touchdown with the Jaguars. They’ve bet the line down from 7.5 to 6.5 through Wednesday. Pick: Jaguars +6.5
Buffalo Bills (2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1), 1 p.m., CBS
Line: Bills -4 | Total: 52.5
The Bills lost to Miami straight up as big favorites despite Josh Allen’s throwing for 400 yards. This week, they get put to the test all over again, taking on the N.F.L.’s highest scoring offense. Lamar Jackson has thrown three or more touchdown passes in each of his starts and last week ran for over 100 yards for the second straight game. These are two of the best teams in the league, and they should score a lot of points. Still, the outcome should be close, and giving the Ravens more than a field goal at home the way they are playing is disrespectful. Pick: Ravens +4
Minnesota Vikings (2-1) at New Orleans Saints (1-2) (in London) 9:30 a.m., NFL Network
Line: Vikings -3 | Total: 44
The Vikings stole a game against the Lions last week but lost running back Dalvin Cook, who dislocated his shoulder and is listed as day-to-day. Defenses are playing the Vikings’ star receiver Justin Jefferson tough, and he hasn’t scored a touchdown in Minnesota’s last two games. The Saints lost to a bad Panthers team last week, but New Orleans’s flop appeared to have had more to do with penalties, turnovers and poor quarterback protection by the offensive line than with Jameis Winston’s back injury. Pick: Saints +3
Tennessee Titans (1-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-1-1), 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Colts -3.5 | Total: 42.5
The Titans and Colts aren’t just A.F.C. South division rivals, the teams also feature two of the best running backs in the N.F.L. Derrick Henry was the league rushing champ in 2019 and 2020, then missed the back half of Tennessee’s 2021 season, when Indianapolis running back Jonathan Taylor claimed the title.
After the confounding choice not to feed Taylor in a shutout loss to the Jaguars in Week 2, the Colts returned to what works, handing him 21 carries in a shocking win over Kansas City. In that game, the rookie tight end Jelani Woods emerged for two touchdown catches. Henry had to be not only the Titans’ best rusher but, catching five passes for 58 yards last week, also the team’s second-best receiver. Pick: Titans +3.5
Kansas City (2-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1), 8:20 p.m., NBC
Line: Kansas City -2.5 | Total: 45
The Sunday night prime time game is a rematch of the 2020 season’s Super Bowl, which was the last time these two teams faced each other. Kansas City and Tampa Bay are both coming off losses, but Tom Brady looks to get a boost from the return of receiver Mike Evans and, potentially, Julio Jones’s first start of the season. Brady had just three touchdown passes in as many games playing without his top three receivers. The Buccaneers treaded water behind one of the best defenses in the N.F.L. and now the offense might finally find its spark. Pick: Buccaneers +2.5
Sunday’s Other Games
Cleveland Browns (2-1) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2), 1 p.m., CBS
Line: Browns -2 | Total: 50
This total is second highest on the board, so bookmakers appear to be counting on the combination of the Falcons’ high-octane offense and the Falcons’ dreadful passing defense for a lot of scoring. Atlanta’s secondary has allowed the highest completion rate (72 percent) in the league. Whoever scores last wins. Pick: Falcons +2
Washington Commanders (1-2) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1), 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Cowboys -3.5 | Total: 42
This very well might be Cooper Rush’s last game as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback now that Dak Prescott has indicated that he plans to be back on the field by Week 5. Winning his two starts, Rush proved he can manage the offensive game plan. Washington looked terrible last week, giving up nine sacks of Carson Wentz and face the N.F.L.’s sack leaders. But the Commanders still rank higher than Dallas in nearly every offensive statistical category. Pick: Commanders +3.5
Seattle Seahawks (1-2) at Detroit Lions (1-2), 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Lions -5 | Total: 50
The Lions open as favorites for the second time this season. If they close as favorites at game time, it will be the first time they’ve been favored to win since November 2020. Last week, Detroit lost to the Vikings but continued its winning streak against the spread and is 14-6 against the spread since last season. But the Lions face some key injuries to starters, including those of receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, running back D’Andre Swift and safety Tracy Walker. Walker’s absence in the secondary will matter: Last week, Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith put up 325 yards of offense against a battered Falcons defense. Pick: Seahawks +5
Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) at Houston Texans (0-2-1), 1 p.m., CBS
Line: Chargers -5.5 | Total: 44.5
There were concerns last week about Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert’s rib injury; now, there are concerns about the whole team. Los Angeles added eight players to the injury report after Sunday’s blowout loss to the Jaguars, including tackle Rashawn Slater (out for the season with a torn biceps) and linebacker Joey Bosa (out for surgery to repair a groin injury). The line has moved from 6.5 to 5.5, a good sign for Texans fans. Pick: Texans +5.5
Chicago Bears (2-1) at Giants (2-1), 1 p.m., Fox
Line: Giants -3.5 | Total: 38.5
The Giants’ two-game win streak came to an abrupt halt, met by the Cowboys’ defense that pressured Daniel Jones a record 23 times and collected five sacks. Adding injury to insult, Giants receiver Sterling Shepard tore his anterior cruciate ligament on the offense’s last play of the game. The Bears are coming off a win despite a poor Week 3 performance from quarterback Justin Fields, who threw two interceptions against the Texans and has not thrown a touchdown pass since the season opener. He should be able to hand the ball off with ease to Khalil Herbert or David Montgomery against the Giants, who give up 5.3 rushing yards per attempt, fifth-most in the league. Pick: Bears +3.5
Jets (1-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2), 1 p.m., CBS
Line: Steelers -3.5 | Total: 40
The Jets put left tackle George Fant on injured reserve, where he joined two of the team’s other offensive lineman. The timing couldn’t be worse as quarterback Zach Wilson is expected to return to the lineup this week after getting knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in training camp.
Pittsburgh struggled against the Browns last week, and fans’ calls have grown louder for Coach Mike Tomlin to bench quarterback Mitch Trubisky in favor of the rookie (and Pitt alum) Kenny Pickett. Tomlin is benching the veteran nose tackle Tyson Alualu for Montravius Adams, probably a reaction to Nick Chubb’s running for 113 yards on the Steelers last Thursday night. Adams will line up against an offensive line of Jets bench-warmers. Pick: Steelers -3.5
Arizona Cardinals (1-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-2), 4:05 p.m., Fox
Line: Panthers -2.5 | Total: 43
The Cardinals’ best weapon is their quarterback, who is one of the best rushing quarterbacks in the N.F.L. For some reason, the team hasn’t been letting him scramble and run. His rush attempts are down from 6.3 per game to 4. Carolina is coming off its first win of the season, but its defense still let a banged-up Jameis Winston throw for 353 yards. Pick: Cardinals +2.5
New England Patriots (1-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-1), 4:25 p.m., CBS
Line: Packers -10.5 | Total: 40.5
Mac Jones looked tough last week in New England’s loss to the Ravens, but he sprained his ankle sprain in the fourth quarter after the game was all but lost. Brian Hoyer, a 14-year N.F.L. veteran, will replace him. The markets have shown little confidence in Hoyer, who is 1-12 as a starter since the 2016 season, as the line moved from 8.5 to as high as 11 after Jones’s injury on Sunday. It sat at 10.5 as of Wednesday. The Patriots have yet to cover a spread this season, but this week get the biggest spread on the board. Pick: Patriots +10.5
Denver Broncos (2-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (0-3), 4:25 p.m., CBS
Line: Raiders -2 | Total: 45.5
The Raiders sneaked into the playoffs last season but, after spending to add Davante Adams and Chandler Jones before this season, are the only 0-3 team in the league. This may be a good week to get their first win. Las Vegas hosts the Broncos, who got a second win last week by beating the 49ers by 1 point in an unimpressive effort in which Denver punted 10 times. The Broncos might be the worst 2-1 team in the N.F.L. Pick: Raiders -2
Los Angeles Rams (2-1) at San Francisco 49ers (1-2), 8:15 p.m., ESPN
Line: 49ers -2.5 | Total: 42.5
The Rams defense held the Cardinals to four field goals last week. The 49ers, coming off a loss to a Broncos team that was booed by their own fans, are somehow the 2.5-point favorites. The early action in the markets has seen the Rams take more of the betsbut the 49ers take more of the money. Pick: Rams +2.5
How Betting Lines Work
A quick primer for those who are not familiar with betting lines: Favorites are listed next to a negative number that represents how many points they must win by to cover the spread. Raiders -5.5, for example, means that Las Vegas must beat Chicago by at least 6 points for its backers to win their bet. Gamblers can also bet on the total score or whether the teams’ combined score in the game is over or under a preselected number of points.
Betting-market data is taken from Action Network’s Public Betting data, and lines are taken from Unabated’s real-time-odds tracker.