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Here we are again this year, back for more NFL picks. It is with great pleasure that I begin my third season writing this column. As someone who has won and lost their fair share of money on the NFL (and many other sports), this is bound to be a fun and unpredictable ride. Join me, won’t you?
As with the format in previous years, this article will help those of you who compete in confidence pools and in ranking selections, which may come in handy on those Las Vegas trips. Games are rated based on preference for both the point spread and other angles (such as totals or over/unders) with 1-3 “Stars”, which basically highlight the best bets for the week. Those games which have zero stars are not preferred one way or the other, but will still be covered, discussed and a winner will be predicted for those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools.
A wild Week 3 has set us up for an intriguing Week 4, and there are plenty of great games to sink our teeth into. Let’s begin!
Note that the over/unders are taken from VegasInsider.com
(Thursday Night) JACKSONVILLE at CINCINNATI (-7.5) (Over/Under 46)
The script seemed to be turning in Jacksonville’s direction against the Cardinals. After a thrilling missed field goal return for a touchdown to end the half, the momentum was all with Urban Meyer’s team. Then, in the second half, the rug was pulled from under Trevor Lawrence after a poor decision let to a pick-six, breaking hearts and sending them to an 0-3 start. The No 1 overall pick has not had his way so far, making uncharacteristic errors and, frankly, looking like a rookie. He will face a stiff test against a Cincinnati defense that is quietly one of the most solid units in the league.
Having been a first-year starter last season, Joe Burrow will sympathize with Lawrence’s problems, but the Bengals quarterback will have little time to ponder his opponent’s mindset. A road victory in Pittsburgh will have the Bengals faithful on a high under the lights, but this is the type of game where complacency can set in. Zac Taylor’s men will need to remain focused, but the talent gap here should see them record a comfortable win. Thursday night games tend to produce one-sided affairs, historically speaking.
WASHINGTON (-1) at ATLANTA (Over/Under 48)
The Taylor Heinicke Show rolls on this week as he and the Football Team take their talents to Atlanta. Ron Rivera’s neutral expression gave away little against the Bills, but behind the stoic demeanor, he was probably fuming inside. In truth, the Football Team had only a glimmer of a chance against a superior outfit like Buffalo. Atlanta, however, represents an opponent more on their level. The major worry for Rivera will be the lackluster play of a defense that was supposed to be the foundation of this team’s success.
Vegas has essentially thrown their hands up by making Washington a one-point road favorite, an admission of their lack of conviction about both teams. A win over the hapless Giants will not do much to move the needle for the Falcons, after all. Matt Ryan and the offense sputtered frequently and even a mediocre showing from the Football Team might be enough to shut them down. Getting points at home is appealing, however, so a slight lean to Atlanta here is the play.
DETROIT at CHICAGO (-3) (Over/Under 42.5)
The doink heard around the world left Detroit players, fans and coaches open-mouthed and utterly shocked on Sunday. The effort from Dan Campbell’s team continues to be admirable; the results, however, have not followed suit. Jared Goff is giving the young Lions squad a fighting chance, along with a defense that is greater than the sum of its parts. A plucky team, they will need to shake off the cobwebs of Justin Tucker’s kick and reset for a road test against their old rivals.
Chicago managed to keep things close in the early exchanges against Cleveland but ultimately succumbed as Justin Fields struggled mightily in his first career start. It was a tough draw for Fields to face a Browns defense that has been upgraded, but Matt Nagy will not be encouraged. Could we see a conservative game plan to get Fields comfortable? Highly likely – and that opens an opportunity for Detroit to play spoiler. The Lions, it should be noted, are 4-9 ATS in their past 13 road games.
TENNESSEE (-7.5) at NY JETS (Over/Under 46)
Tennessee did what they had to do to take down division rival Indianapolis, something of a ho-hum performance in the grand scheme of things. Nevertheless, it appears as though Mike Vrabel’s team has found its mojo and they are parlaying that into a winning formula. Going to 3-1 seems a near-certainty given the ongoing struggles of this week’s opponents. Could Tennessee get an early start on printing the division champion t-shirts and hats?
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