Welcome to the Week 4 edition of our NFL Bets of the Week column. Here, I’ll strive to identify a handful of games per week that I feel have profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook. We’ll always only reference lines and odds from legal, regulated sportsbooks.
Depending on circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spread, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics for one game. We’ll strive for quality over quantity here as well — the focus will only be on spots that seem to truly be advantageous. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
We focused on three games in Week 3 and came out alive, despite it being a rough week for many. Follow that up with a leap into a trio of interesting scenarios for Week 4.
Recapping Week 3
Week 3 winners:
- Panthers -2.5 / Panthers moneyline -162
- Giants +6
- Rams -7 / Rams moneyline -280
Week 3 losers: None
Season record to date
NFL Week 4 Sports Betting Picks
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
The division rivals meet up for the first time in 2018, with the Texans still looking for their first victory and the Colts coming off a close 20-16 loss to the world-champion Eagles. Indianapolis has played respectably in all three of their games. They’ve demonstrated a better defense than many would have assumed coming into the season. However, they’ve been less than spectacular on offense despite Andrew Luck’s return. The former Pro Bowler is averaging a career-low 5.3 yards per attempt and has barely thrown downfield. He’s averaging an NFL-low 3.4 average completed air yards this season.
Meanwhile, the Texans have gotten some nice numbers from their top trio of Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller. They’ve also lost their three games by a combined total of a modest 15 points. While their defense hasn’t always been up to par, they’ve shown the ability to stop the run—3.7 yards per carry thus far. They’ve been a bit more vulnerable through the air, but they still rank in the top half of the league with 238 passing yards allowed per contest.
The Colts are being afforded half of the minimum default home-team spread of three points in this game, and with good reason. They don’t have the personnel to dominate any team at present. Luck is not back to his previous form, which also limits the upside of T.Y. Hilton. Indianapolis also continues to struggle with important injuries on offense. Running back Marlon Mack (hamstring) and tight end Jack Doyle (hip) could well miss this game.
Outside of Hilton, the Colts don’t really have a proven player to threaten defenses. Rookies Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines have impressive speed, but they both have averaged less than 4.0 yards per touch thus far. Coupled with Luck’s potential limitations and almost exclusive focus on the short passing game, the Texans defense should be able to compress the field and hone in on stopping Indy’s non-descript running and passing attacks.
Conversely, Houston brings plenty of explosive components on offense. They have the ability to put a defense on its heels. Fuller was quiet in both games against Indianapolis last season, but Hopkins turned in a solid six catches for 86 yards in his one game versus the Colts. Lamar Miller saw limited touches over his two 2017 encounters with Indy, but he totaled a solid 94 yards on just 18 carries (5.2 YPC). Most important, the Hopkins-Fuller duo has looked in sync with Watson through the first three games. They’ve totaled 33 catches and three touchdowns. For their part, the Colts are allowing the fifth-highest completion percentage (71.2) thus far this season.
By the Numbers: The Colts were only 5-7 against the spread as home favorites over Andrew Luck’s last two full seasons (’15 and ’16). Indianapolis was also 2-4 against the spread in division games in 2017 with Jacoby Brissett at the helm.
The Final Word: The Colts managed a rather surprising 12-point win in Washington for their only victory thus far. But this Texans team has significantly more offensive upside and can’t be defended in anywhere near the same manner without disaster striking. Houston has been a handful of plays away from an appreciably better record and has more than enough firepower to cover the thin number with a balanced attack and the significant threat that Watson’s rushing ability poses.
The Pick: Texans +1.5
Philadelphia Eagles at Tennessee Titans
The Titans might be 2-1, but it might be one of the more uninspired 2-1 records you’ll see. The offense never looks truly smooth. Marcus Mariota continues to nurse a key injury. And the Titans still can’t seem to figure out who they want their lead back to be. They redefined “winning ugly” against the Jaguars in Week 3, squeaking out a 9-6 victory in which they managed 83 net passing yards.
That score hints at a shutdown defense, but the unit was far from elite over the first two games. Tennessee allowed big days through the air to both Kenny Stills and Will Fuller over the first pair of contests this season. Also, they’ve yielded the sixth-highest average yards per rush (4.8) and 10th-highest rushing yards per game (118.3).
On the offensive side, neither Derrick Henry (3.0 yards per carry) nor Dion Lewis (3.7 yards per carry) has been able to get anything going on the ground. This makes an injured Mariota even less effective. The fourth-year quarterback’s elbow is still reportedly far from 100 percent, which is affecting his ability to throw downfield if Week 3 is any indication (5.6 YPA). The key loss of Delanie Walker to an ankle injury in the opener certainly hasn’t helped Mariota’s cause either. Neither Jonnu Smith nor Luke Stocker has offered much in his stead. Moreover, Mariota is tied with Luck for lowest average completed air yards (3.4).
On the other side, Carson Wentz made his season debut in Week 3 against the Colts. Last year’s MVP candidate shook off plenty of rust with 37 pass attempts. Wentz looked good-but-not-great, but considering he was playing with a depleted unit, he certainly delivered with 255 passing yards. With Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) finally back to a full practice as of Wednesday, it appears Wentz will have one of his most trusted targets at his disposal Sunday.
Meanwhile, the talented tight-end duo of Zach Ertz and rookie Dallas Goedert gives Wentz more potent weapons. The pair combined for 12 receptions, 146 yards, and a touchdown in the quarterback’s Week 3 debut. The Titans are also allowing a healthy completion percentage of 67. That’s good for 12th worst in the league, another potential point in Wentz’s favor.
That will help make up for what could be another week without Jay Ajayi (back) and Darren Sproles (hamstring). However, Philly is equipped to handle those absences. The reserve tandem of Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood has proven more than serviceable and could exploit the Titans’ vulnerability to the run.
By the Numbers: Eagles were 3-2 against the spread in non-conference games in 2017 and 10-5 against the spread after a win in 2017.
The Final Word: The Eagles figure to be able to fire up the Wentz-Jeffery connection again this week. They have plenty of other options with which to attack the Titans’ defense even if Ajayi and Sproles both sit. Meanwhile, an aggressive Eagles front that already has eight sacks and also shuts down the run (NFL-low 61.7 rushing yards allowed per game) should be able to put the clamps down on an already lackluster Titans offense. Ultimately, Philadelphia should comfortably cover an overly modest spread.
The Pick: Eagles -3.5, Eagles moneyline -175
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears
The final line still looked good, but we may have begun to see the first hints of cracks in the “FitzMagic” foundation Monday night against the Steelers. An ugly, three-interception quarter served as a reminder of Bad Fitz, and that trend could certainly continue this week against a tough Khalil Mack-led Bears defense playing at home. Chicago is allowing the fifth-fewest yards per game (289.0), along with a stingy 18.3 points per contest. They also have the most sacks (14), second-most interceptions (five), and third-lowest yards per carry (3.4).
None of those numbers bode well for the Bucs’ chances of establishing any type of offensive continuity in this game. That’s especially considering their rushing attack already struggled to begin with (NFL-low 3.0 yards per carry). While they’ve done a reasonably good job of protecting the quarterback, three of the five sacks they’ve allowed came Monday night against an aggressive Steelers attack. The Bears certainly have the personnel to emulate it.
On the flip side of the ball, however, the Bears offense isn’t truly in a position to fully exploit the Buccaneers’ defensive deficiencies. Tampa’s secondary has been springing leaks again in the early going this season after allowing the most yards per game in 2017. They’re tied with the Chiefs for most passing yards allowed per contest thus far (363.0) while also allowing the highest completion percentage (77.9).
Those numbers would be enticing to target in most cases, but not so much when Mitchell Trubisky is under center. The second-year signal caller is ahead of only Luck and Mariota in average completed air yards (3.7) and is averaging just 5.7 yards per attempt. He has a scant two touchdowns on the season against three interceptions as well. A Chicago offensive line that’s already allowed nine sacks through three games could also have trouble keeping the heat off Trubisky. Jason Pierre-Paul and Gerald McCoy will be bearing down.
And while Jordan Howard is arguably the Bears’ most complete and effective offensive player, he could be significantly neutralized by the Bucs defense. They’ve been stingy against the run (3.6 yards per rush, 70.7 rushing yards per game allowed).
By the Numbers: The Bears went under the total in two of three games as home favorites last season. The Bears also went under the total in nine of 12 conference games in 2017, as well as in four of five games after a win in 2017. The Bucs were under the total in six of 11 games after a loss last season.
The Final Word: This shapes up as much more of a grind-it-out affair than the Bucs have played yet. Neither team should have extraordinary success moving the ball against the other due to a combination of the opposing defense and their own offensive inefficiencies in certain areas. Hence, this feels like a nice spot to go with the under on a slightly elevated total.
The Pick: Under 46.5