The "over/under" results on BetOnline's NFL total line odds slightly favored the over through the first two weeks of the season, but that play had the clear advantage in Week 3 with 11 of the 16 games going over the closing line. My top picks on the total line for last Sunday once again came up well short in the win column with a second straight 0-3 slide.
Despite the rocky start I am confident I can quickly turn things around with a trio of winning plays for this Sunday's games. With three weeks of NFL action in the books, you can start to get a much better feel for each team's tendencies as well as where the opportunities in the betting lines can be found. The following are my top three picks for Week 4 of the 2015 NFL regular season based on betting odds by BetOnline.
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Sunday, Sept. 27
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (1 p.m. CBS)
The Jaguars are off to a somewhat predictable 1-2 start. And while their offense continues to struggle putting points on the board, the greater concern could be a defense that was torn apart last Sunday in a 51-17 loss to New England. Through three games, Jacksonville has allowed an average of 282.7 passing yards a game, which is ranked 25th in the league and it is 30th in points allowed (30.3).
It was only a matter of time before Indianapolis won a game, and now it is only a matter of time before Andrew Luck starts racking up the points through the air like he has in his first three seasons in the NFL. He showed some signs of returning to form in last week's 35-33 come-from-behind win against the Titans with 260 yards passing and two touchdown throws. If can eliminate most of the costly turnovers he has committed in the first three games, the Colts should return to being a dominant force in the AFC.
The total line in this matchup opened at 47, and some early money on the over has driven it up to 48. I still see this number being too low given the Colts' play last week. The recent betting trends in this AFC South matchup favor the under, but I think that both teams can score enough points to take the total over this time around.
Game Pick: OVER
New York Giants at Buffalo Bills (1 p.m. FOX)
Total Line: 46.5
The Giants are 1-2 this season, and the one constant has been the ability to put points on the board. The reason they are not 3-0 is a defense that has had its issues protecting a lead. Eli Manning has thrown the ball well while doing a pretty good job taking care of it, and the passing game as a whole should receive a boost this Sunday with wide receiver Victor Cruz listed as probable on the latest injury report.
Buffalo is another team that has done a good job finding the end zone so far, and through three games the Bills are ranked third in the NFL in scoring with an average of 33.3 points a game. Running back LeSean McCoy will likely miss another game due to a nagging hamstring injury, but rookie Karlos Williams has filled the void with a team-high 186 yards rushing and three touchdowns on just 24 carries.
When the total line was first released for this game it was set at 47, but since then it has dropped slightly to 46.5. That is the right direction in my view in what I see to be another high-scoring game. The total has gone over in two of the first three games for both the Giants and the Bills, and I fully expect it to go over again this Sunday in Buffalo.
Game Pick: OVER
Oakland Raiders at Chicago Bears (1 p.m. CBS)
Total Line: 44.5
The Raiders are off to a solid 2-1 start, and for the first time in 28 games they will be favored to win. I would still have some major concerns with an offense that is ranked dead last in the league in total yards per game and 30th in passing yards. I am also not a fan of Oakland playing on the road where it has just one win in its last 12 games. This could make it troublesome to hit its 25.7-point scoring average on the year.
Chicago would probably still bein trouble even if Jay Cutler was healthy enough to play, but with him out of the lineup the Bears' offense basically shut down in last week's 26-0 loss to Seattle. They have still done a fairly good job running the ball behind Matt Forte, but with the complete lack of a passing game with Jimmy Clausen under center, I can't see this offense putting up all that many points this week, even if it is against the Raiders.
The oddsmakers set the total line for this inter-conference clash at 44, and the early money has pushed it up slightly to 44.5. Once again, I like the direction of the line movement as it gives me just a bit more wiggle room for a play on the under. The total has stayed under in four of Chicago's last six games, and I have it staying under again this Sunday against Oakland.
Game Pick: UNDER
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