NFL Betting Predictions: Week 4 Opening Line Report and Picks
Wow, was Week 3 interesting around the NFL or what (I'm not getting into all this National Anthem nonsense)? The first two weeks left much to be desired with some ugly football - I think the lack of practices in the offseason makes the first two weeks or so glorified exhibition games - but Week 3 was chock full of interesting results with many underdogs winning outright. You knew we were in for some weekend fun last Thursday when the Rams and 49ers, two teams it was painful offensively to watch at times in 2016, had one of the most entertaining Thursday night shootouts in recent history. The Rams and 49ers!?!
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We also had a walkoff 61-yard field goal in Philadelphia by a rookie kicker only on the team due to injury, and a last-second game-winning touchdown in Detroit - which was overruled on appeal. The Lions got jobbed there. The New England Patriots, still +350 heavy favorites at Bovada to win Super Bowl LII, are very fortunate to not be 1-2 after a late rally to beat Houston. Sure, we all predicted teams like the Jaguars and the Rams to have the same record as the Patriots after three weeks. Or that the New York Jets would win a game before the New York Giants would.
As of this writing, the biggest injury from Week 3 likely was to Eagles running back Darren Sproles. Here's something I've never heard of previously: He broke his arm AND tore his ACL on the same play against the Giants. Sproles rushed for 61 yards this season on 15 carries. He also had seven receptions for 73 yards and is one of the best third-down backs in the NFL. Obviously his season is over.
Here are some Week 4 early lines that caught my eye. I won't touch on Thursday's game (Bears-Packers), my in-depth Sunday matchup (likely Raiders-Broncos) or the Monday night game (Redskins-Chiefs)as I will be previewing them here individually.
Bills at Falcons (-8, 48.5): Atlanta and Kansas City are the only two unbeatens left; the Falcons are now +425 favorites at BetOnline to repeat as NFC champions. What Super Bowl Loser's Curse? Atlanta was very fortunate to win Sunday in Detroit with that late Lions TD overturned and the game ending with them at the Atlanta 1-yard line on a 10 second runoff. Matt Ryan threw for 294 yards and two scores but wasn't overly sharp with three interceptions. The Falcons are just the fourth team to start 3-0 the year after losing the Super Bowl in the previous 25 seasons. The other three (2006 Seahawks, 1998 Packers and 1997 Patriots) all made the playoffs but wouldn't get as far as the conference title game. Buffalo was one of those underdogs to win Week 3, beating visiting Denver 26-16. The Bills won't win too often rushing for 75 yards on 33 carries, but Tyrod Taylor was an excellent 20-for-26 for 213 yards and two TDs a week (rating of 126.0) after he posted a QB rating of just 79.6. His 76.9 percent completion rate Sunday was his second best since joining the Bills. The Pick: Falcons.
Colts at Seahawks (-14, 41): The Indianapolis players likely saved Coach Chuck Pagano's job with a 31-28 home win over the winless Browns. With Andrew Luck still out following shoulder surgery (he won't play here, either), Jacoby Brissett had a strong game, throwing for 259 yards and a TD while rushing for two scores. TY Hilton caught seven passes for 153 yards and a score. It's the fourth straight season that Indianapolis has avoided falling to 0-3. Will Seattle have No. 1 receiver Doug Baldwin here? He left Sunday's loss in Tennessee with a groin injury and was to have an MRI on Monday even though the team doesn't think it's serious. Baldwin had 10 catches for 105 yards and a TD vs. the Titans. It's now clear that rookie Chris Carson is the primary back in Seattle after he had 11 carries and two catches in Nashville, while neither Eddie Lacy nor Thomas Rawls even had a touch. The Pick: Colts.
Bengals at Browns (+3, 40): The Battle of Ohio! Not much of a "battle" with each team at 0-3. The Bengals played much better Sunday than the first two weeks but blew a 21-7 third-quarter lead in Green Bay and lost 24-21 in overtime. I give Coach Marvin Lewis now zero chance of returning in 2018. The Bengals will welcome back one of their best defensive players this week in linebacker Vontaze Burfict, whose three-game suspension is over. It's not clear yet if tight end Tyler Eifert will play after sitting out Week 3 with back and knee injuries. Cleveland lost 31-28 at the Colts but at least made it interesting after trailing 31-14 midway through the fourth quarter. Hey, with this franchise you take all the little victories you can get. The pass-catchers had eight dropped passes and rookie DeShone Kizer was picked off three times. The Bengals have won five straight in this series, each by double-digits. The Pick: Bengals.
Panthers at Patriots (-8.5, 47.5): Carolina badly missed injured Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen in their Week 3 34-13 home loss to New Orleans, and now Cam Newton might be without No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin for a while. He left that game after suffering a knee injury in the first half. Early indications are that Benjamin, who missed all of the 2015 season with a torn ACL, avoided major injury but it is the same knee. Newton was terrible against the NFL's worst defense coming in, completing just 17 of 26 for 167 yards and three picks while being sacked four times. Defensively, the Panthers allowed the Saints to rushed for 149 yards, their most against Carolina since they ran for 163 on Sept. 16, 2012. Tom Brady rallied the Pats to a 36-33 home win over Houston. He hit Brandin Cooks for the winning 25-yard TD pass with 23 seconds to go. Brady finished with five TD throws. It was the 52 nd time he led a game-winning drive. The Pick: Panthers.
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