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NFL Week 4 odds, picks: Browns upset Cowboys, Raiders hold off Bills, Falcons stun Packers

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Are we ever going to see a market correction and get some Unders in the NFL this year? There’s a fascinating article over on ESPN from Kevin Seifert about the NFL “manipulating” the game this year — holding calls are down an absurd 59 percent on the season. Vegas has mostly adjusted it feels like this week — there are roughly 25 totals over 50 points this week. 

At some point the NFL could pull the rug out and start calling more holding penalties, which would dramatically shrink scoring. Or this could be the new normal. Everything is weird and different in 2020, and it wouldn’t be surprising if ultimately the NFL shifted philosophy in terms of how penalties were called. Walt Anderson is apparently wielding a lot of power in the officiating office these days, and he also apparently likes the game with more scoring. 

It’s not a bad thing! Points are way more fun. Watching officials throw flags three times a drive for questionable holding calls is not fun. The lack of home-field advantage is also hurting defenses, as is the lack of preseason.

So the question for Week 4: will defenses catch up at all? We’ve seen a lot of good defensive teams cough up a ton of points so far. At some point there should be some regression or a market correction of some sort. It can’t continue with Overs hitting forever. Vegas is reticent to make totals north of 60, and with good reason. But there might not be a choice if the paradigm has legitimately shifted. 


This week could be quite telling for the future of NFL totals.

What picks can you make with confidence in Week 4, and which Super Bowl contender goes down hard? Visit SportsLine now to see which NFL teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from the model that is up over $7,500 on its top-rated picks. 

Denver (0-3) at N.Y. Jets (0-3)

Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NFL Network)
Point spread: Broncos -2.5

What’s the exact opposite of Patrick Mahomes vs. Lamar Jackson on Monday night? Brett Rypien vs. Sam Darold probably qualifies! It’s actually not that bad of a quarterback matchup in a vacuum. Rypien did enough at the college level to make him interesting here and Darnold was a top prospect. But when you add in Adam Gase for the Jets and a whole huge host of Broncos injuries — Courtland Sutton, Von Miller, Jurrell Casey are just a few — it becomes a lot less spicy. Thursday Night Football is at least always better than some, ahem, other programming you might land on this week. 😅 I think this game is extremely low scoring and while I do think the Jets have the upper hand because they have less injuries, I’m just not backing this Jets team at any point until they get some skill position guys back.

Pick: Broncos 16, Jets 10

Minnesota (0-3) at Houston (0-3)

1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Texans -4

This game should be good to go, with Minnesota clearing COVID-19 protocols so far this week. There is a shocking number on the total here (54 range) but you can’t bet the Under with Deshaun Watson potentially going off against a Minnesota defense that is somehow still garnering respect. We need to say this: the Vikings aren’t just not good, they’re the worst team in the NFC North. It hurts Minnesota fans to hear coming off the Twins’ 18th consecutive playoff loss, but the Vikings are not good. The Texans are substantial favorites here, but they’ve played the Ravens, Chiefs and Steelers en route to 0-3. They’ll get right, and it will come via Watson to Will Fuller for multiple scores.

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Pick: Texans 34, Vikings 28

1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Buccaneers -7.5

First of all, this Under is an excellent bet. We’ve seen a massive spike in terms of point totals this season, Vegas is overcorrecting and as a result, you can hit this Under 43 or so and look for it to stay low. Which leads into the pick — the Buccaneers defense is just good. They are elite in a year with very few elite defenses. Antoine Winfield, Jr., who might win Defensive Rookie of the Year if Chase Young misses much time, flies all over the place. Justin Herbert has surprised so far, but I don’t think he’ll do much against a Todd Bowles defense that loves to send pressure. The Bucs should snuff out the Bolts.

Pick: Buccaneers 28, Chargers 10

1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Cowboys -4.5

I don’t want to alarm anyone, but the Browns are currently 2-1. They’re over .500 for the first time in like 10 years. They’ve gotten there by beating some bad football teams (Cincy, Washington) and by getting throttled by a good football team (Baltimore). What should we expect here? I think they can score a ton of points against Dallas. That’s not some kind of insider analysis, but people are expecting a slower-paced game from Cleveland in this spot. That ignores the fact that the Cowboys defense is abhorrent. This reeks of a multiple-touchdown game for Odell Beckham, who averages five catches, 68 yards and almost a score against Dallas for his career. Give me OBJ catching a one-handed touchdown score and slamming the ball on the star as the camera cuts to a maybe-masked Jerry Jones not high-fiving some relative in the owners’ box at AT&T Stadium. 

Pick: Browns 35, Cowboys 31

Baltimore (2-1) at Washington (1-2)

1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Ravens -13

Short week for the Baltimore football team, but there isn’t much travel involved and they should be getting a Washington squad missing Chase Young after the rookie standout injured his groin against Cleveland last week. Maybe he gives it a go, but trotting out an injured second-overall pick in a season that was lost to begin with makes no sense. Washington actually took the lead against Cleveland last week before Young went out and then Nick Chubb promptly ran wild against the Football Team. Baltimore will be angry after being embarrassed, and the Ravens will run up the score here via the ground game. Lamar Jackson smash spot in DFS. 

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Pick: Ravens 35, Washington 10

Arizona (2-1) at Carolina (1-2)

1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Cardinals -3.5

This game feels like it should go way over, but the Cardinals defense is sneaky good and the Panthers aren’t quite as explosive on offense as they might seem to be. The personnel is there, but Carolina doesn’t throw downfield because, well, Teddy Bridgewater. That’s fine — it’s just not his game. They need to use D.J. Moore more in the short-yardage game than they have, but this sets up as a good spot for him. I think Carolina keeps it close against the Cards and maaaaaybe wins.

Pick: Cardinals 24, Panthers 21

1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Colts -2.5

Huh. A 3-0 team with a fanbase that won’t stop complaining about the lack of respect for the team that just managed to complete a second 15-point, fourth-quarter comeback of the season (three games in) after benching its starting quarterback is an underdog at home? That’s so weird. Colts are gonna win by 20-plus points. See you in my mentions, Bears fans.

Pick: Colts 24, Bears 3

1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Saints -4.5

This is going to sound like a hot take/insane person talking but the Lions could legitimately be 3-0 at this point of the season. No, really! They should have beaten the Bears, they were leading against the Packers 14-3 and they actually beat the Cardinals. It’s just a different team with Kenny Golladay back on the field and Matthew Stafford is starting to get things going in the pass game. Without Michael Thomas (TBD for this game but I don’t see how/why he plays or why he’ll be effective if he does) the Saints offense is Drew Brees looking deep, deciding not to throw and then hitting Alvin Kamara on a dump-off pass. I don’t know if Matt Patricia can solve that, but I think Detroit will get enough points on their own to win this. 

Pick: Lions 21, Saints 17

1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Seahawks -6.5

Boy does this line stink out loud. The Seahawks are playing a Ryan Fitzpatrick-led team with 10 days rest as not-quite-a-touchdown favorite? This is Vegas begging you to take the Seahawks right? It feels that way and I’m still going to take the Seahawks! I’m nothing if not a sucker for Russell Wilson throwing deep balls.  

Pick: Seahawks 35, Dolphins 24

1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Bengals -3

Nothing entertains me quite like Bengals superfan John Breech getting very excited about his team and rookie quarterback Joe Burrow managing to squeak out a tie because Doug Pederson played scared. Breech treated it like it was a Super Bowl. Imagine how excited he’s going to be when Joe Mixon and Burrow go B-A-N-A-N-A-S against the porous Jaguars defense. I think Gardner Minshew will be better than he was on Thursday night, because, well, he has to be better. But it won’t be enough against a Bengals team that is frisky with Burrow under center. I think this is a shootout by the by.

Pick: Bengals 42, Jaguars 35

4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Rams -13

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This line is ridiculous but what do you do? Bet on the Giants? You can’t. You really, really can’t. They got blown out by Nick Mullens and the 49ers‘ third-string offense. Not beaten, blown out. Darrell Henderson is the truth — please don’t tell me that Cam Akers is the best running back on this team — and he’s going to go HAM on the terrible Giants defense. The best logic for betting the Giants is “they have to turn it around at some point.” Rams in a bloodbath.  

Pick: Rams 35, Giants 10

Patriots (2-1) at Chiefs (3-0)

4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Chiefs -7

Look, I’m going to make this simple. Bill Belichick is catching seven points. It’s as silly as Patrick Mahomes catching 3.5 on Monday night. So less than a week later you’re going to make Belichick and Cam Newton a touchdown ‘dog? Come on. Let’s go. 

Pick: Patriots 35, Chiefs 31

4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Bills -3

The Bills should destroy the Raiders here. Josh Allen is playing really good football, Devin Singletary ran well last week, Zack Moss will likely be back, Stefon Diggs is going off every week no matter who they play. But it kind of stinks, and when something stinks I want to bet on Jon Gruden and Derek Carr. Give me the cheese. Also, the Bills defense might not be as good as it was last year. It’s almost like defense is difficult to predict on a year-to-year basis! Josh Jacobs could end up having a monster game here.  

Pick: Raiders 24, Bills 21

Eagles (0-2-1) at 49ers (2-1)

1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Saints -4.5

What a fun Sunday night matchup this is between teams whose best wide receivers are — *checks notes* — Brandon Aiyuk and Greg Ward! Aiyuk is actually awesome, and you could see how Kyle Shanahan plans to deploy him the rest of the season via all the jet sweeps they ran against the Giants last week. Seven points is a ton against a theoretically good Eagles team, but what if the theory is wrong and the Eagles are actually awful? I’ll take the chalk here with the better coach and a rested 49ers team after San Francisco’s backups beat up on the G-Men last week.  

Pick: 49ers 28, Eagles 17

Falcons (0-3) at Packers (3-0)

8:15 p.m. ESPN
Point spread: Packers -7

I could not have been more wrong about the Packers this year and I have openly admitted it. Having said that … I will be betting against them here, because this game is going to be an insane shootout (58 total points and it’s going way over!), and if there’s a shootout happening, you want to be on the side of the team catching seven points because variance is a real thing in football. The Falcons should be 2-1 at worst. They’ve given up multiple 15-point fourth-quarter leads. That was impossible until this Week 3 of this season. They’ll hang here at home in a desperation game for Dan Quinn.  

Pick: Falcons 42, Packers 38

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