Week 4 Picks: Contenders or Pretenders

Back Again. Last week we lost games on the Chargers and Seahawks and this week’s card begins with going back to both those teams. This really is make or break for these teams in terms of can they live up to the preseason expectations contenders for the playoffs or will they continue to disappoint and bring us closer to us branding them as pretenders. For Seattle and the Chargers I think we see big week 4 wins.

2017: 10-4

Last Week: 3-2

Game 1: Phi @ SD -2

Bet% Phi 58% SD 42%

Back to the Chargers well again. I keep telling myself they could have, nah should have won the first 2 games but of course they didn’t and now find themselves 0-3 in what is probably the most talented division in the league. Through 3 weeks we have 4 losses on the ledger and 2 of them have been the Chargers, if we don’t get a win it is going to be hard to back them again.

As an Eagles fan thrilling late game wins over the Giants never get old, whether it’s a Brian Westbrook punt return TD, or Desean Jackson doing the same thing a few years later or last week with the improbable 61 yard FG from rookie Jake Elliot. But this week the question is how do they rebound after that game, travel across country to play a 0-3 out of conference opponent with major pieces of their defense missing including their best player Fletcher Cox. The secondary is especially weakened by injuries as they will be without Ronald Darby, Jaylen Watkins and Corey Graham all out. The combo of no Cox and a depleted secondary should give Philip Rivers every opportunity to have success this week

On defense I think the Bosa, Ingram duo will give the Eagles problems. On passing downs the Chargers have used them on the same side and the Eagles left side especially guard is going to be a place they attack. With no Darren Sproles, the Eagles will count on Wendell Smallwood to pick up the slack on passing downs and we don’t really know if that is a role he can carry.

Game 2: Ind @ Sea -13

Bet%: Ind 52% Sea 48%

In the 3 years of his blog I can’t think of many instances where I would have been laying double digit points but this is one spot where I think it is absolutely the right side. Seattle has definitely started slow again the year and after a tough loss last week in Tennessee we should get a big effort here at home on SNF.

The Colts are coming off of a win vs the Browns at home last week and played well enough to win against the Cardinals the week prior but both games were at home and in both games they really only managed 1 good half.

Seattle has started the year giving up 5.5 yards per play on defense and a league worst 5.3 yards per rush attempt, there is just no way that keeps up and this Colts offense is the perfect get right tonic for what ails the Seahawks. Seattle typically does very well vs mobile QB and I expect Jacoby Brisett to run into some trouble. The Colts are 30th in the league in sack percentage and giving up sacks on 11.83% of pass plays so the matchup couldn’t be any better for what should be one of the top 3 front 7’s in football.

Seattle was a double digit favourite in week 2 vs the 49ers and managed only a 12-10 win but ugly games inside the division are a Seattle tradition and I think as a result of that week 2 49ers game we are getting a little discount here as this line should be the full 2 TDs. I could see Seattle shutting the Colts out and winning by 30.

Game 3: Pit @ Bal 1st half under 21

Over 28% Under 72% (Full Game)

Going to use some first halfs for unders this year and I think this one is a really good example of where 1st half can be more attractive than full game.

The Ravens were embarrassed in London last week losing 44-3 to the Jaguars and now fly all the way back and have to play their biggest rivals. I expect the defense to come out and try to make a statement that last week was a fluke and that their performances in the first 2 weeks is the real Ravens defense.

The Steelers who have one of the best skill position groups on offense continue struggle on the road and it continues to be because Ben Rothlisberger is the ultimate home/road hero/zero. It’s hard to explain why the splits for Big Ben, home is in an outdoor stadium in a cold weather city, not the usual dome vs outside narrative we have seen with players like Drew Brees. But the numbers point to drastic splits. In 2016, at Home Ben had a passer rating of 116.7, passed for 20 TDs with 5 Ints. Away, the passer rating was 78.4 with 9 TDs and 8 Ints. Those splits have carried on through 3 games again this year.

The Ravens last year were a much better pass defense at home, opposing QBs had a passer rating of 74.8 in Baltimore and 100.4 in the Ravens road games. This total opened at 45 and was bet down to 42, if it goes over I think it will because of something in the 4th Q when a trailing team may have to speed up to try to come back. 1st half feels like it has a very good chance to play to form with a low scoring start.

Game 4: Det @ Min -2

Bet% Det 55% Min 45%

I’m not going to lie betting on Case Keenum a week after a his career best game but this game is really about betting on the Vikings home field advantage and a regression of the Lions defense for me.

The Vikings were 5-3 at home last year and 35 on the road. At home the average opponents’ passer rating was 13 points lower at home and their on passer rating was 12 points higher. So far this season at home they have blown out the Saints and Bucs. Minnesota is a very good home team with a full home field advantage.

If we give the Vikings the full 3 points for home field then the fact this line is under the FG means we are pricing the Lions as the better team and even with Case Keenum I’m not sure I buy that. The Lions were dead last in defensive DVOA last year, this year through 3 weeks they are 4th. They do have a health Ziggy Ensah but I’m not sure that the level of improvement we have seen so far is sustainable. The Lions played the Cardinals in the opener and Carson Palmer was terrible in that game, then the next game was against a Giants offense that had a less than 100% OBJ playing his first game after an ankle injury. Last week was their biggest test and Atlanta averaged a very impressive 6.6 yards per play and 5.3 yards per rush vs Detroit and despite 3 turnovers still managed to beat the Lions.

Added Sunday Morning

 

Game 5: Buf +8 @ Atl

Bet% Buf 26% Atl 74%

The Falcons are 3-0 to start the year and your record is your record but you can also make a very good case that they are 2 plays away from being 1-2 as the final plays in Chicago and Detroit both went their way to preserve wins that looked to be slipping away.

Sean McDermott has his team playing great defense to start the year, they are 3rd in defensive DVOA after a couple of disastrous years under Rex Ryan. The Bills match up pretty well against the vaunted Falcons defense and McDermott should have a good feel for Atlanta because he faced them twice a year as the Panther DC.

On the flip side Buffalo will need to get LeSean Mccoy going and so far the Falcons have been terrible vs the run. Atl ranks 13th vs the pass by DVOA but 31st vs the run, they are giving up 4.8 yards per rush which is tied for 3rd worst and have not faced any elite rushing attacks in the Bears, Packers and Lions.

Added Sunday Afternoon

Game 6: SF +6.5  @ Ari

Bet% SF 49% Ari 51%

*Was waiting for confirmation that Carlos Hyde would play, he is confirmed as active so adding SF to card now making it 6 plays for the week. Check twitter for timestamp

Waiting to get confirmation that Carlos Hyde will play in this game but if he does I think this is a very good spot for the 49ers to possibly steal a division win. Arizona has been very up and down and 6.5 points seems like too many for an offense that is basically pass only now, with injuries on the offensive line and a 38 year old QB.

This is also a great schedule spot for SF as they have extra rest coming off of the TNF game while Arizona played on MNF so we have 10 days rest and preparation vs 6. I would love to get 7 even at -120 and if that is possible I will take SF.

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