Week 4 was a strange week. Road teams and underdogs did not just cover the spread, but they won left, right and center. Road teams were 11-5 straight up in Week 4, including 7-1 in the 1 pm window and 3-1 in the 4 pm window. Scoring was also somewhat crazy last week and it manifested in the second week of struggles for us. Another 1-4 week when it comes to NFL picks has left me at 9-11 on the season. However, once again, some valuable lessons were learned from last week’s losses that we can take forward into the rest of the season.
The biggest lesson was that injuries can be killers when it comes to totals. The Colts offense without T.Y. Hilton was always going to have struggles, and that manifested itself in them failing to get over 26 points against the Raiders. However, saying that, they still scored 24 and missed a field goal, which would have seen the over hit. Yes, we were on the wrong side of this, but it was a tough beat. The lesson? Beware the Colts offense without Hilton, and Adam Vinatieri‘s struggles are a nightmare for the Colts and betters alike.
Another injury that killed us was the loss of Terry McLaurin for the Redskins. McLaurin has added another dimension to their offense, and when he went down the over in the Redskins game was in trouble. Unfortunately, McLaurin suffered the injury after this article was published and there was not a lot we could do but hope he was able to suit up on the day. He could not, and sadly the Redskins offense flopped no matter who was at quarterback.
The other two losses were simply miss-reads on my part. The Ravens defense has demonstrated it can be vulnerable to the run a couple of times this season, and the Browns exploited that to score big on them, despite their early offensive struggles. As for the Cardinals game, that offense is a nightmare to judge week-to-week. Unfortunately, the Seahawks are the wrong team to rely on running up the score, as they prefer to grind teams down with long drives when leading. I should have known better than playing the over on a Seahawks game, their offense is sneakily good in multiple facets and can lean on whichever element they need depending on the situation.
In Week 4, we saw a swing back to the under with nine of the 15 games going under. After a week with ten overs in Week 3, we were right back to that average of six in Week 4. Was Week 3 a fluke or did sportsbooks and bettors overreact to the drop in offensive holding penalties from Week 3 with the Week 4 lines?Through 14 weeks of the NFL season (minus MNF on 12/9), the PFN betting group has over 25 units of profit (~625$). With your All-Access Pass, you have an exclusive look at our running record of best bets, not to mention 24/7 availability of the betting group should you have an individualized question. Sign up for the All-Access Pass that'll pay for itself and more.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
The Buccaneers offense was so impressive Sunday in Los Angeles. The last time we saw a game as crazy as that in Los Angeles it was the Kansas City Chiefs offense taking them for 50 points. The Buccaneers offense is a brutal matchup for any team, with two super talented wide receivers on the outside. You essentially have to pick your poison as a defense, because if you double one of them, the other is going to run riot on you. Additionally, they have enough other weapons, both receiving and rushing the ball, that if you choose to double both of them, they can hit you elsewhere.
The only realistic way to stop that duo of receivers is with a lock-down corner on one of them and a double-team on the other. Unfortunately for the Saints, while their corners are talented, they are not the lock-down type. However, that is good news for us, because it means we can look to the over in this game.
The Saint shutting down the Cowboys last week will have pushed this total down below 50. However, the Cowboys offense is lacking that second receiving threat that the Buccaneers have with Michael Gallup on the shelf. The Saints were able to double-up on Amari Cooper and then focus the rest of their attention on shutting down Ezekiel Elliott. They will not have that luxury this week.
The Buccaneers are averaging over 40 points the last two weeks, and one of those came against a defense of similar quality to the Saints. Additionally, the Giants proved last week that against poor offensive play their defense is not a complete joke. The Buccaneers walking points in against them for fun should not be too far from reality.
However, you need two teams to make a total and the Saints offense hardly excited you last week. The Cowboys may be one of the top-ten defenses in the NFL this season. The Buccaneers are absolutely not that. Yes, they have the defensive player of the year candidate Shaquil Barrett terrorizing offenses, but they can be picked apart at will by opponents. We have seen it now two weeks running with Jared Goff and Daniel Jones. If those two can do it, then Teddy Bridgewater combined with the offensive mind of Sean Payton can definitely do it.
The Saints offense has not looked pretty this season, but they are not going to have the luxury of running the ball in this game, against a Buccaneers defense which shut down Todd Gurley last week. The Saints are going to need to go to the air, which makes the over absolutely the right play here.
1u – Over 47 Total Points | -110
New England Patriots at Washington Redskins
The New England Patriots defense is simply incredible. They have allowed one offensive touchdown all season, and just 13 points in total to opposing offenses. Their special teams and their offense have given up more points combined (14) this season than their defense. That is a pretty spectacular statistic and is one that might still hold true after this week.
The Redskins offense is a mess. They do not know which quarterback to turn to, their best receiver and running back are both injured, and their offense just cannot get anything going the last two weeks. The Patriots have already shut one team out this season, and they would have perhaps done it twice had their offense and special teams not messed it up against the Jets. Look for Washington to struggle again in this one, with double-digits on the scoreboard feeling like it would be a surprise result.
As for the Patriots offense, well they have not been that amazing this season. They scored 33 against the Steelers on the opening week, got to 43 with the help of 14 from the defense in Week 2, managed just 30 in Week 3, before being held to just 16 points in Week 4. Could they score 40 points or more against this Redskins defense? Absolutely. Will they? Right now it seems unlikely. The under is 3-1 in Patriots games this season and the one time the over hit was because of those offensive and special teams errors. The under in Patriots games is going to be a solid bet until their defense falls off a touch, or their offense proves it is more cohesive than we have seen so far.
1u – Under 43 Total Points | -110
Chicago Bears at Oakland Raiders (London)
This game should have been easy to call, and then the Raiders went and exploded all over the Colts for 31 points. However, the Colts are banged up right now and are probably in the bottom half when it comes to defenses in the NFL right now. In contrast, the Bears are right up there with the Patriots competing for the number one spot. They have shut down every offense they have faced, allowing an average of just 11.25 points per game this season.
On the flip side, we have a poor Bears offense, which is averaging just 16.5 points per game and will likely not be able to take advantage of the Raiders’ questionable defense. With Chase Daniels under center, the unit looks better, but the trip to London is not going to help. The Bears are not arriving in London until Friday, which has not always worked well for teams, including the Raiders last season.
In contrast, the Raiders flew in on Monday, straight from Indianapolis. They will be fresh and raring to go. Combine this with a rainy forecast and this game could be an ugly showing on the international stage. I will be at this game, and I might be one of the only people in the stadium hoping for an ugly, defense dominated game of football!
1u – Under 40 Total Points | -110
Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans
Speaking of ugly games of football, this one has all of the makings of being just that. The Buffalo Bills are likely to be without Josh Allen, leaving Matt Barkley under center. The good news there is that Barkley is not as much of a turnover machine as former-Bills backup Nathan Peterman, because turnovers can quickly sink an under. Barkley will be competent, but the Titans defense is solid enough that he will struggle to move the ball with consistency, and may struggle to get his team much above 10-14 points in this one.
The same can be said for a Titans offense, which only managed 24 points last week despite facing one of the worst defenses around in the Atlanta Falcons. The Titans were able to run the ball at will and dominate the game. They will not have that luxury this week. The Bills defense is incredibly talented, and just shut down the Patriots, who despite their issues are a better offensive unit than what the Titans can offer. Expect this game to be a tight, hard-fought affair, where the over is only really in play if we see defensive scoring.
1u – Under 38 Total Points | -105
Atlanta Falcons at Houston Texans
The Falcons are in real trouble right now. Dan Quinn took over the defensive coordinator duties this past offseason and things have not gone well. They have just five sacks on the season, and arguably lost their best defensive player in Keanu Neal. The Texans’ big Achilles heel this season has been their offensive line, but the lack of pass-rush for the Falcons should give Deshaun Watson plenty of time. The Falcons defense has allowed over 26 points in their two road games so far this season, and with the Texans offense on the other side of the field, there is an excellent chance it happens once again this week.
1u – Houston Texans Over 26.5 Total Points | -110
Ben Rolfe is a gambling writer and editor for the NFC South and North at PFN. You can follow him @benrolfe15 on twitter. For more gambling information and bets, make sure to get our All-Access Pass! Follow us on Twitter for more great content @PFN365.