With the 2019-20 NFL season underway, oddsmakers are constantly adjusting lines to account for the performance of players and teams in Weeks 1-3.
Injuries to key players such as Ben Roethlisberger (elbow), Drew Brees (thumb) and Saquon Barkley (ankle) will play into the point spreads listed by US sportsbooks like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook for Week 3 of the NFL season.
At PlayPicks, we feel confident with the information that we have to start making our picks against the spread.
In this weekly column, we will list three of our best bets against the spread with data to support our picks. Then, we will list the following games on the NFL slate in order of our confidence in analyzing the matchup. Keep in mind that lines can often shift due to weather or other unforeseen issues. Of course, injury news plays a huge role throughout the NFL season, and the status of specific players often bears monitoring until a couple of hours before kickoff.
NFL Week 4 Best Bets
Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5) at Denver Broncos
The Jaguars seem like they can continue to surge upwards despite the ongoing disgruntled behavior of star CB Jalen Ramsey. Since Ramsey may sit this Sunday, the number grew past the “hook” of 3 points. His absence might not be a huge detriment since the Jags’ biggest challenge will be containing slot WR Emmanuel Sanders. Jacksonville dominated Tennessee’s run-heavy offense last Thursday and has had 10 days to prep for a Broncos team that ranks 25th in DVOA pass offense, 26th in TDs per drive (.143) and 28th in red zone offense per Football Outsiders. Joe Flacco could be a sitting duck in the face of Jacksonville’s elite pass rush.
On the other side of the ball, Denver is 30th in red zone defense and has yet to tally a turnover. The Broncos struggling secondary will be without CB Bryce Callahan (foot) for a month and the Jags receiving corps is quite athletic with D.J. Chark, Chris Conley, and Dede Westbrook breaking out. Those receivers have been helped by excellent play from Gardner Minshew, who trails only Dak Prescott in completion rate (73.9%) this season. Denver is just 1-6-2 ATS as home favorites since 2017 and Jacksonville is 6-4-1 ATS as road dogs during that span.
Chicago Bears (-2) vs Minnesota Vikings
The Bears got on track Monday night in Washington with Mitch Trubisky leading the way. The second-year QB was 10-for-11 for 133 yards and a TD on third downs, finishing with an 80.6% completion rate overall thanks to improved scheming by Matt Nagy and his staff. He’ll face a stiffer challenge this week against a Vikings defense that ranks sixth in third-down conversion rate (29%) this season. Minnesota has been surprisingly vulnerable against interior route combinations and Taylor Gabriel could create some matchup problems on the inside.
More important is the Bears defense matching up against Kirk Cousins and what is now a one-dimensional Vikings offense. Dalvin Cook has handled 66 touches through three games and Minnesota leads the NFL in run-play percentage (61.3%) by a healthy margin. But Chicago is third in DVOA rush defense and yielding just 3.1 YPC this year. Since 2017, the Bears are a league-best 12-5-1 ATS in home games. The Vikings have lost consecutive games against Chicago’s revamped defense and Cousins has managed just 197 passing YPG with 3 TDs, 2 INT, and a weak 77.4 passer rating in those meetings.
Washington Redskins (+3) at New York Giants
Sticking with our successful trend of taking road underdogs that are superior teams, we’ll roll with Washington against a shorthanded Giants squad. Daniel Jones grabbed headlines with a late comeback against the dysfunctional Bucs, but he might not be a star as the Giants fan base would be hope. That superstar (Saquon Barkley) is out over a month and will be replaced by career plodder Wayne Gallman Jr.
While Washington has allowed the fourth-most rushing YPG (142) in three games against tough competition, but the Giants are not a tough matchup without Saquon. Defensively, the Giants have allowed a league-high 332.1 passing YPG despite facing the lackluster Bills and Bucs in recent weeks. Case Keenum is playing for his job after committing five turnovers Monday night against the fearsome Bears, and this is a perfect get-right matchup within the division.
NFL Week 4 Picks Against The Spread
Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) at New Orleans Saints
This is a statement spot for the Cowboys on SNF against a diminished Saints team. Dak Prescott is playing out of his mind and the Saints rush defense is suddenly quite vulnerable, opening the door for Ezekiel Elliott to dominate.
Cleveland Browns (+7) vs Baltimore Ravens
Confidence: 8.5/10. Baker Mayfield has struggled so far this season, but he liked the matchup against Baltimore’s funnelling defense, throwing for 376 yards in a 26-24 loss at Baltimore last year. The Browns should be able to cover this number in a division tilt.
Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) at Detroit Lions
While the Lions have done well to win close games against the Chargers and Eagles, the Chiefs offense probably won’t allow this game to stay close. Detroit’s struggling run defense should get shredded by Kansas City’s new-look ground attack.
Atlanta Falcons (-4) vs Tennessee Titans
The Falcons are a much better team when playing at home, but have failed to cover spreads consistently and are 0-5 ATS against AFC foes since last season. That being said, their secondary is playing well and Marcus Mariota is not, so the Falcons should pull away after making the Titans offense one dimensional.
Houston Texans (-4.5) vs Carolina Panthers
This is another homecoming game for former Houston QB Kyle Allen, who is an upgrade over hobbled Cam Newton (foot) for Carolina. But the Texans are a tougher matchup than Arizona, as they can shut down the running game and key in on Allen’s limited weapons. Expect Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins to roast Carolina’s middling defense and cover.
Arizona Cardinals (+6) vs Seattle Seahawks
Arizona’s defense is putrid without starting DBs Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford, but Seattle’s secondary has also been awful. The Seahawks pass rush should struggle to get to Kyler Murray and we like the Cardinals to cover now that the spread has moved from 4 to 6 on DraftKings Sportsbook.
New England Patriots (-7) at Buffalo Bills
This is no lay-up for a Patriots team that is far easier to back when playing at home. Still, the Pats are 5-3 ATS in division games since last season and Josh Allen could let this game get away due to his lack of ball security.
Los Angeles Rams (-10) vs Tampa Bay Bucs
This number has grown to an uncomfortable 10 points with heavy action coming in on the Rams. The Bucs rush defense has been good lately, but they should get shredded on the back end. The Rams’ secondary matches up well against plus-sized receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, so they could pull out a double-digit win if Jameis Winston remains turnover prone.
Cincinnati Bengals (+4) at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Bengals have covered this number in both of their road losses and this is an easier matchup given the injury-depleted state of the Steelers offense. Pittsburgh has struggled in pass defense and Andy Dalton is playing well despite the absence of A.J. Green.
Miami Dolphins (+15) vs Los Angeles Chargers
Obviously we don’t have tremendous confidence in the Dolphins covering this number, but neither do we have confidence in the Chargers ability to roll past anyone. As a West Coast team playing a 1 p.m. EST game, the Bolts might lay an egg and shockingly give Miami a chance to win.
Oakland Raiders (+6.5) vs Indianapolis Colts
We feel extremely confident in the Colts winning this game, so feel free to ride them on the moneyline. But this number is a bit too large for a conservative team that has won two games by a combined five points. T.Y. Hilton (quad) is questionable and the Raiders run defense has been good enough to contain Marlon Mack.