NFL Week 4 Picks – Being Prepared for a Hurricane

I didn’t get a chance to really look at the opening lines this week until late Tuesday and in doing so I missed out on a few great opportunities. Week 4 saw some dramatic line moves especially in the totals due to the impending Hurricane Joaquin, the sharps bet heavily on the unders on games like Was – Phi and quickly drove the lines down.

Its a good lesson on the importance of checking out the opening lines and being prepared early to take advantage of opening lines either because of major factors like weather & injuries or simply knowing that certain numbers are going to be bet a certain way because of public perception.

Season ATS 12-7 Last Week 4-3

Game1 NYJ -1.5 vs MIA (In London England)

Bet% NYJ 67% Mia 33%

All week I kept thinking of reasons not to bet the Jets like the game is in London and there is definitely some unknowns that come with that, The Dolphins have underperformed all year and at some point are going to play up to their talent and the there are rumours that Philbins job is on the line so you never know how that impacts the team. In the end,this feels like it’s too good a matchup at a cheap price.

The Jets and Dolphins have played similar levels of competition but had very different results. The Jets are 2-1 with a point differential of +27 while Miami is 1-2 with a point differential of -23. The Jets have been helped in their wins with turnover margins that are not sustainable but what is sustainable is their dominant defense.

The Jets are #2 in defensive DVOA, against the pass they are #4 in avg opp passer rating, 66.5 which includes Andrew Luck, 3rd in opp passing yards per attempt and 7th vs the run giving up 3.5 yards per rush. Miami has not had much luck running the ball so far this season averaging only 4.0 yards per rush and the Jets just faced the Eagles last week who have very similar run schemes to the Dolphins and held them to 3.2 yards per rush.  That means the middling Dolphins pass game will have to carry the offense vs the dominant Jets pass defense.

On the flip side the Dolphins run defense has not got better even with the addition of Suh to the defensive line, they are 22nd in the league giving up 4.2 yards per att and the Jets get Chris Ivory back this week. Miami’s pass defense has been even worse giving up 7.9 yards per attempt (29th) which considering who they have played, Kirk Cousins, Blake Bortles and Tyrod Taylor aren’t exactly a murders row should provide the Jets plenty of opportunities to score.

Game 2: Oak @ Chi +3.5

Bet% Oak 72% Chi 28%

It’s an amazing time where the Raiders can be a FG plus favorite on the road but that is the case here as many see the Bears as the worst team in the league and with Jimmy Claussen it’s hard to find anyone that wants to back the Bears.

There really aren’t a lot of numbers that favour the Bears in this matchup, they grade near the bottom in almost all defensive categories, have been outscored by 59 points through 3 games and if the Raiders are for real they certainly could go in and beat the Bears by a TD plus. In backing the Bears I think there are a couple of things I am looking at, firstly while yes the they are 0-3 and the Raiders are 2-1 I am not sure anyone has played a tougher schedule through the first 3 weeks than the Bears. Chicago opened with the Packers who they played tough most of the game, then played the hottest team in the league the Arizona Cardinals and finally went on the road to play in Seattle. Oakland beat the Browns last week and beat Baltimore the week before, at this point those 2 teams are a combined 2-6 while, the team we know is good that Oakland played, the Bengals, blew them out at home.

This is also a very tough schedule spot for the Raiders, as this is the 2nd straight road game, the 2nd straight time flying east and playing 10 am start. The Raiders may very well be a better team but asking them to go on the road and win for the 2nd straight week but over a FG is a lot and not something I think they can pull off.

Game 3, 6 point Teaser Phi @ Wash +9 and Under 50.

Bet % Phi 74 Was 26, Over 43% Under 57%

This game is my biggest regret as it originally opened with a total of 47 but was quickly bet down mostly due to the hurricane warning early in the week. I like this game going under regardless of the weather because I do not think either team will have success running the ball and both teams rely on the run game to set their offense up. The Eagles have been dominant so far vs the run ranking #1 giving up a measly 3.1 yards per rush, while Washington has been very good as well giving up 3.7 yards per rush which is 11th. For Washington, they already played Miami in the opener who runs very similar run schemes to the Eagles and held them to 256 total yards.

Last week there was a lot of talk about the Eagles getting back on track but it was really their defense ans special teams that carried them to the win. The defense generated 4 takeaways to keep the Eagles ahead after getting a  Darren Sproles punt return for a TD. On offense Sam Bradford was dreadful passing for only 3.4 yards per pass att even though the offensive line did a pretty good job in protecting him. I think there is a very good chance that Washington will win this game straight up but thought there was too much value in the teaser here to pass up and the extra points act as Kirk Cousins insurance.

Game 4: Min @ Den under 42.5

Bet% Over 67% Under 33%

This is another number I was late on, the game opened with a total of 45 and mid way through the week dropped to 43 and now even lower despite the majority of bets being on the over. Even though I have lost some value, outside of turnovers or some crazy play on special teams I just can’t see either of these struggling offenses getting much done on offense vs these dominant defenses.

The Vikings defense has made life hell for opposing QBs the last 2 weeks, they had 4 sacks and another 13 QB hits vs Rivers last week and in week 2 they had 3 sacks and 8 QB Hits vs Stafford and the Lions. The Broncos have had issues on their offensive line all season, they are dead last in rushing at 2.6 yards per att therefore I would expect a lot of short passes and screens by Manning to get he ball out and avoid the Vikings pass rush.  The Vikings pass defense has been very good 4th in opp passing yards per att so while I expect the Broncos to rely heavily on their pass game, I don;t think we will see a lot of success.

The Vikings have been heavily relying on their run game as Teddy Bridgewater and the pass game have struggled mightily. Vikings are averaging only 6.1 yards per pass att, 26th in the league and Bridgewater has a passer rating of only 80.1 while the return of Adrian Peterson has the Vikings 2nd in rush yards per att. The Broncos defense might be the best in the league, they are #1 in defensive DVOA, #1 in pass defense and #8 in run defense giving up 3.5 yards per rush. It’s hard to imagine the Vikings one-dimensional offense and struggling offensive line can have any real success against this defense, while I wish I had the early number, I do not think this total gets to 40.

Game 5: Dal +3.5 @ NO

Bet% Dal 58% 42%

This is a line that is hard to figure out, even with Romo and Bryant out its hard for me to believe that the Saints are a better team and then on top what is the Saints home field worth these days? There was a time where the Superdome was one of the most difficult places in the league but the Saints have lost there last 6 home games straight up including a 26-19 loss to TB in week 2 where they were 10 point favorites.

This game was off the board most of the week as it was unclear who would be the QB for the Saints but I believe this was the best case scenario for backing the Cowboys to get Drew Brees starting, who clearly isn’t 100% and hasn’t looked good all season yet the line is set as if this is the pro bowl Drew Brees from seasons past.

Brandon Weeden is no great shakes but against this terrible Saints defense (31st in DVOA) the Cowboys should have no problem moving the ball, they are still led by their dominant offensive line and the Saints are giving up 4.2 yards per att so Dallas should be able to control the ball on the ground. The Saints are also -14 in big play differential ( run plays +10yards, pass plays +20) which is last in the league, so again its hard to see how this team is favored by a FG

Edit: Adding Game 6 Jax +4.5 @ Ind

Again wish I ha bet this early because I like +9.5 vs Luck more than +4.5 vs Hasselback because I do not think Andrew Luck is worth that many points the way he has been playing this year but it is essentially the same bet.

The Jags are playing the 2nd of 3 straight road games and the last one is @NE next week. Normally I don’t like teams in playing back to back road games but in this case I think they will be up and trying to get this game because they know how tough it is to go road again next week. Colts have been a mess on offense, maybe things will simplify with Hasselback but it also takes a lot away from the passing game. The Jags have been very good vs the run #2 giving up 3.2 yards so they should be able to control Gore and the Indy offense

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