NFL Betting Predictions: Week 4 Opening Line Report and Picks
Back when he was general manager for the Green Bay Packers, Ron Wolf would almost always draft a quarterback in the later rounds even though he had future Hall of Famers Brett Favre and then Aaron Rodgers on the roster. Shoot, the Packers didn't even need Rodgers in 2005 when they took him, but Wolf couldn't pass up the value when he slid to No. 24 overall. Rodgers of course sat behind Favre until 2008.
While Rodgers is a bit of an outlier as a first-round pick, Wolf's thinking of taking later-round QBs is that it was so clearly the most important position in football that if you even moderately hit on one of those guys that you could flip him for an asset.
"I learned very early in this game, if you don't have a quarterback, you don't have a chance," Wolf said in an interview a few years ago with SI.com. "We were very lucky that we had a unique quarterback (Favre) that never missed a game. But that didn't stop me from drafting in late rounds. It's the premiere position, and you better be able to cover yourself."
Indeed, Wolf selected the likes of Ty Detmer (1992 ninth round), Mark Brunell ('93 fifth round), Matt Hasselbeck ('98 sixth round) and Aaron Brooks ('99 fourth round). He was able to trade all those guys for draft picks, and they all became starters for other teams.
We bring this up because I don't understand why more teams don't do what the Jacksonville Jaguars or Pittsburgh Steelers have done of late. The Jags took Washington State's Gardner Minshew II in the sixth round in this year's draft even though they just signed Nick Foles to a huge contract. Now that looks brilliant because Minshew can play - for pennies on the dollar - and is a cult hero in that city. The Foles Era might only last half of one game in Jacksonville.
In 2017, the Steelers took Joshua Dobbs in the fourth round and liked what they say, but that didn't stop them from taking Mason Rudolph in the third round the next year. Now Rudolph looks like the potential long-term replacement for Ben Roethlisberger.
The Dallas Cowboys had Tony Romo entrenched as the starter but took Dak Prescott in the fourth round in 2016. Now Prescott is playing at an MVP level and about to get PAID. I won't even mention how the Patriots had Drew Bledsoe in his prime yet took a guy named Tom Brady in Round 6 of the 2000 draft (and then in 2014 took Jimmy Garoppolo in Round 2 and got a second-round pick for him).
Long story short: No excuse for a GM of any team to NOT take a quarterback every year in the draft.
Here are some Week 4 early lines that caught my eye. We won't touch on Thursday's game (Eagles at Packers) or Monday's (Bengals at Steelers - yuck) because we will be previewing them individually here at Doc's. The Jets and 49ers are on the bye.
Chargers at Dolphins (+16.5, 45): Seriously, will the atrocious Dolphins be single-digit underdogs the rest of the year? That said, I'm tempted to call the upset now: Miami knocks off the visiting Chargers. It just seems to set up poorly for the injury-ravaged and Melvin Gordon-less Bolts off a 27-20 home loss Sunday against Houston. They had both an interception and touchdown wiped out by penalty in that one, losing their second TD of the year via that route. Then again, we should have expected a losing record thus far because it's the fifth straight year the Bolts have one after three games. As for this one? Obviously, there's the long travel to south Florida, the heat and humidity down there and the 10 a.m. Pacific time start. Philip Rivers has a bit of history of losing on the road to bad teams. In Week 16 of the 2016 season, then-San Diego was upset 20-17 in Cleveland. The Browns entered at 0-14. Am I really going to bet Miami on the moneyline? Probably not, but I will 100 percent be taking the points. Pick: Dolphins.
Patriots at Bills (+7, 43): That New England would be 3-0 entering this game isn't a shock (even though supposed fantasy stud Sony Michel has not been good). The Patriots have yet to allow an offensive touchdown all year. Part of me was hoping the team wouldn't release Antonio Brown so he could implode that franchise. What an absolute clown. That the Bills are 3-0 is quite surprising, although they have played a pretty weak schedule thus far. Buffalo just can't beat Tom Brady, who is 30-3 in his career against the Bills. Those are the most wins by any quarterback in NFL history against a single team. Pick: Bills at -7.5.
Chiefs at Lions (+6.5, 53.5): This screams trap game to me. Kansas City is coming off a huge 33-28 win at home vs. Baltimore and now goes out of conference for the first time this season - not to mention a rare dome game. In fact, it's the only dome game scheduled for K.C. this regular season and will be Patrick Mahomes' first in a game that counts because the Chiefs didn't play indoors last year, either (they did in 2018 preseason in Atlanta). The Lions are schizophrenic enough to pull this upset. They upset the Eagles on Sunday, knocked off the visiting Chargers in Week 2 and knocked off the visiting Patriots last year at Ford Field. Pick: Lions.
Cowboys at Saints (+3, 46): Last year when these teams played on a Thursday night in Week 13, the Saints looked unstoppable on a 10-game winning streak, but Drew Brees & Co. were shut down in a 13-10 upset loss at AT&T Stadium. That was the highest-rated Thursday night game ever, and I believe the most-wagered regular-season game of 2018. The Cowboys tend to be involved in both of those every year. Obviously, this loses a ton of luster with Brees sidelined following thumb surgery. Teddy Bridgewater did play well in his absence in Sunday's win in Seattle, though. Pick: Saints.
Want free NFL picks? Doc's has you covered. New clients can take advantage of this great offer of $60 in free Doc's Sports members' picks for any handicapper on Doc's Expert Handicapper list. Just check out these guys' pages and see what great work they have done making money for themselves and their clients over the years. Get $60 worth of premium members' picks free . Also, get three handicappers for the price of one when you sign up for a full-season football package! Click Here for details . Get free NFL picks weekly on Doc's Sports free football picks page.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Get all of this Weeks NFL picks
Get all of this Weeks Guaranteed Expert NFL Picks