Could we be down to zero unbeatens by the end of the weekend? Possible but unlikely as all three unbeatens are favored this weekend. Two of the three are in great shape to make the playoffs as since the current playoff format was adopted in 1990, 64 of the previous 77 teams (83.1 percent) to start 4-0 have made the playoffs.
Denver (4-0) is a 4.5-point home favorite against Atlanta and the NFL's No. 1 offense. It does appear that it will be rookie Paxton Lynch under center for the Broncos. If he plays well, you may never see Trevor Siemian again barring a Lynch injury. Denver is the first team since the 2002 Chargers (Drew Brees) to begin a season 4-0 with every game started by a quarterback who had never started an NFL game before the season.
Free $60 in Member NFL Picks No Obligation Click Here
Bovada has some Lynch specials this week: "over/under" 235.5 passing yards, 1.5 touchdowns and 0.5 interceptions. I'd probably go under the first two and over the latter as the Broncos are going to run the ball a lot, or at least try to. The Falcons allowed 4.5 yards per attempt, which is near the bottom in the NFL. You can also bet a prop on the number of receiving yards for Atlanta's Julio Jones, at O/U 90.5 with the over a -130 favorite. Of course he's off that franchise-record 300-yard game vs. Carolina. He'll presumably be opposite one of the NFL's best cornerbacks in Aqib Talib all day Sunday. Wade Phillips is a terrific defensive coordinator who might be able to take Jones away. I'd go under there at -110.
Meanwhile, Minnesota (4-0) is a 6.5-point home favorite against Houston. The Vikings lead the league with 11 takeaways and a +10 turnover differential and are allowing 12.5 points per game, the second-best mark in the NFL. And Philadelphia (3-0) is a 3-point road favorite coming off its bye week at Detroit. I like the Lions there for some reason.
If your favorite club is 2-2 or 1-3, not all is lost. Since 1990, 117 teams of 312 (37.5 percent) teams have reached the postseason after starting the season 2-2 or worse. A whopping six did last year with three of them winning their division: the Texans, Vikings and Redskins.
Here are some line moves or potential game-changing injury notes for Week 5.
Bengals at Cowboys (+2, 45.5): This opened with Dallas at -1 and has the largest line move of Sunday's games. Bovada offers a prop on whether Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott will lead the NFL in rushing, with "no" at -1200 and "yes" at +600. Those long odds surprise me. He did lead the NFL with 412 yards rushing until Arizona's David Johnson had a big game Thursday night and passed him with 457 total yards. But obviously Johnson has played one more game. Elliott is likely to lead the league in carries behind that terrific offensive line (he did until the Niners' Carlos Hyde passed him on Thursday). I would roll the dice on yes on that prop. Maybe the Cowboys pass a bit more when Tony Romo returns, but I wouldn't bet on Romo's health at this point. With 32 pass attempts and no picks Sunday, Cowboys rookie QB Dak Prescott would pass Tom Brady (162) for the most pass attempts without an interception to start an NFL career. Dallas will be without two starting offensive linemen here, cornerback Orlando Scandrick as well as top receiver Dez Bryant for a second straight week. The team will get defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence off his four-game suspension. Cincinnati was hoping that Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert could make his season debut off ankle surgery. Apparently that's fine but now Eifert has a back injury. So he's likely out again.
Bears at Colts (-4.5, 47.5): No line movement here, but as expected the Bears have lost No. 2 receiver Kevin White to likely season-ending IR with a leg injury. The No. 7 overall pick in 2015 is starting to look like an injury bust as he will have played all of four games in two seasons because of injuries to the same leg. Last year it was a stress fracture in his left shin and this time it's a fractured left fibula. The team says the two aren't related, but color me skeptical. I'm no doctor but did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. In addition, fellow receiver Eddie Royal is questionable with a calf injury. So it might be Alshon Jeffery and a bunch of scrubs. The Bears again go with QB Brian Hoyer over the injured Jay Cutler, and if Hoyer plays well again I don't see Cutler getting that job back soon even if healthy. When you think of Colts running back Frank Gore, do you think Hall of Fame? I don't. Gore has had a very good career, no doubt. But consider that with 20 rushing yards vs. Chicago, he will pass Hall of Famer Jim Brown (12,312) for the ninth-most rushing yards in NFL history. That's just wrong. Up next is Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett (12,739). Bovada offers a prop on whether Indy makes the playoffs, with no at -400 and yes at +250. I might roll the dice on yes only because an 8-8 record could win the AFC South. An Indy win here and expected Texans loss gets the Colts within a game of the division lead.
Giants at Packers (-7, 48): New York quarterback Eli Manning hasn't had the start of the season that I expected, but he can become the eighth quarterback in league history with 300 career touchdown passes with two against Green Bay. With three, he would pass Hall of Famer John Elway, who is right on 300. A victory, which I don't see, would be Manning's 100th career in the regular season. All eyes will be on Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. as the team is getting fed up with his immature on-field behavior and drawing stupid penalties. There is talk the Giants could suspend him for a game if he does something silly in this one. New York might get back running back Rashad Jennings from a two-game absence due to a thumb injury in this Sunday night game. Green Bay puts a 10-game home October winning streak on the line. The Pack are also off their bye and have won five straight against NFC teams following their week off. I expect it will be six.
Bucs at Panthers (-4.5, 46): I previewed Monday's game here at Doc's on Thursday so won't go into detail here, but there was no line then because of the uncertain status of Cam Newton. Carolina would have been around a touchdown favorite if he played, but reports out of Charlotte as of Friday are that Newton won't play. There's a slight chance Monday's game could be affected by the hurricane and postponed, but that's not likely with the current forecasts. Sunday's Titans-Dolphins game in Miami will go on as scheduled as the Miami area was barely hit in a minor miracle.
Doc's Sports is offering new clients free NFL picks from any handicapper on our Advisory Board. This special offer does not require a credit card, and you will never have to deal with a salesman. Click here to get your free $60 NFL picks credit today. Also, get three handicappers for the price of one when you sign up for a full-season football package! Click Here for details.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent NFL Handicapping Articles
- 2019 NFL Season Win Totals Predictions
- Expert NFL Handicapping: Do Cleveland Browns Moves Make a Super Bowl Contender?
- Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. Betting Props with Expert Predictions
- Kyler Murray NFL Betting Props with Expert NFL Draft Predictions
- Potential NFL No. 1 Draft Pick: Props Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
- Gronk New England Patriots Betting Prop Odds with Expert Predictions
- Bet on Where the Oakland Raiders will Play Next Season: Odds and Predictions
- Which NFL Teams are in the Market for a New QB?
- Expert NFL Handicapping: What Does Future Hold for Patriots?
- NFL Betting and Handicapping: Can LA Rams Bounce Back?