Week 4 NFL Picks & My Gambling Rock Bottom

steelers-eagles

Over the course of an entire NFL season, even us professional bettors are due for a horrible week. There’s just no getting around the fact that in a 21 week sample size where just 267 games are played, there are bound to be some random, unexpected results.

But just like a 1-loss college football team can be either helped or hurt by when that loss takes place, so too does the timing of the rock bottom week for the professional gambler have a major effect on the overall success of the season.

Last year my gambling partner & I didn’t have our “week from hell” until late December. That meant not only did we have a bankroll to bounce back from such a shitty week, but we already had a successful formula in place for knowing which teams and matchups would likely produce the most profit for us. It was extremely easy to put that awful week behind us and continue on.

Unfortunately we just endured our 2016 rock bottom last weekend. At least I hope it was our rock bottom. I can’t imagine continuing to live if we have an even worse week on the horizon.

Since this huge letdown happened in week 3–while we were still figuring out how good & bad the various NFL teams are this year, along with their styles of play–it’s a little bit of a problem knowing if our preseason thoughts are still valid, how much stock we should put into these first few weeks, and if we were just plain lucky in 2015.

Thanks to the Steelers & Cardinals, the Teasy Money crew has been shaken to its core.

But then I take a step back and notice I’m still in first place in one of my Pick ‘Em leagues. And my against the spread record for the year is a decent 26-22. And even the bet recommendations I’ve given you in this space for the past three weeks have had more hits than misses. So it’s not all gloom & doom. I don’t think we just got lucky last year. I think week 3 will go down as one of the toughest weeks for gamblers in 2016 and we just gotta roll with the punch.

So as I keep saying in writing and on our Teasy Money podcast, I remain undeterred. Trust the process and the rest will work out.

It’s onto the week 4 picks.

Miami at Cincinnati -8 | over/under 46.5

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Cincinnati 23, Miami 18

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

I highly recommend you stay away from this game. First of all, it’s a Thursday night game. Usually that’s a good enough reason to hang onto your money until Sunday.

But it’s also very tough to get a read on either of these teams. While both could easily be 0-3 (Cincy’s one win was by 1 point against the Jets in week 1. Miami’s win was in overtime against Cleveland last weekend), they’ve each had to face a brutal opening schedule. The Bengals were at the Jets and at Pittsburgh before the week 3 home game against Denver. Miami started the year at Seattle and at New England.

Until Tyler Eifert returns and we see what this fully healthy Bengals offense looks like, I won’t be picking them to cover a full touchdown or more, regardless of who they’re playing. And be careful betting against Miami this year. They seem like the team that loses 11 games but never by more than a touchdown.

Indianapolis (-3) vs Jacksonville | over/under 49 (IN LONDON)

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Jacksonville 29, Indianapolis 23

The Bets: Over (43) in a 2-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Jacksonville (+3)

If only the Colts had managed to lose in week 3 against San Diego, we’d be able to call this the “loser leaves its newly-fired coach in London” game. Initially I wanted to predict that the Colts would extinguish what little hope Jacksonville has left for the season, and Gus Bradley would indeed get fired during the team’s bye week. But the numbers just aren’t there to back up such a claim. Indy’s defense is so bad that I feel like this is the game that gets the Jags back on track, offensively speaking.

Buffalo at New England (-6) | No current over/under

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 33, Buffalo 17

The Bets: New England (PICK) in a 2-way tease

Supercontest: No

There really is a first time for everything, huh? Never in my five years of doing this have I been unable to find a game total this late into the week. But it’s also understandable because there’s a gigantic gap between what we should expect out of New England’s offense if Jimmy Garoppolo starts at QB compared to another start by Jacoby Brissett.

What I love about the Patriots here is that they don’t play into any of the ways Buffalo has had success this season. All three of Buffalo’s offensive touchdowns last week against Arizona came on drives where they got to start around midfield. The Patriots almost never give a team the ball in such good position. Two weeks ago against the Jets, two of Buffalo’s three offensive touchdowns came on ridiculous 70+ yard touchdown passes. The Patriots almost never get burned by the long plays. And in those two games, the Bills’ defense scored a couple times on fumble recoveries or interceptions. Guess what? The Patriots don’t turn the ball over.

So good luck to sophomoric prankster Rex Ryan and his crew of shitty football players in trying to keep up with the Patriots on Sunday. My score prediction is based on Garoppolo playing. If Brissett plays instead, maybe the Patriots score three less points.

Tennessee at Houston (-5.5) | over/under 41

The Pick: Houston

The Score: Houston 23, Tennessee 14

The Bets: Houston (-5.5) straight up, Houston (+0.5) in a 2-way tease

SuperContest: Yes with Houston (-5.5)

The Titans are averaging 14 points per game. Though they faced the Vikings in week 1 (one of the best defenses in football), their other two games were against Detroit (currently 31st in FootballOutsiders’ defensive DVOA rankings) and Oakland (29th in defensive DVOA).

They’re going into Houston and playing the 8th best defense this weekend. I feel like we’ll see an almost identical game as when Chicago traveled to Houston in week 1 so that’s why I’m predicting that exact same score.

And don’t worry about J.J. Watt being out. He was essentially invisible these first three weeks so if anything, the Texans might get a boost by having a healthy body take over his spot.

Oh, and the Texans are on extra rest. Bet this game confidently.

Cleveland at Washington (-8) | over/under 46

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Washington 31, Cleveland 26

The Bets: Over (46), Over (40) in a 2-way tease

SuperContest: No

I suspect lots of money has come in on the Browns earlier this week because this line opened at Washington -10. I would have LOVED to get Cleveland with that spread. I still think the line is too high. I guessed it would be Washington -6. I think I’ll stay away from the spread, but where I’m loving a bet here is on the over!

Certainly the Browns have been nothing to write home about offensively this year (averaging 15.7 points per game on offense), but all three of the Redskins’ games have gone over the point total. And their defense is bad enough to make me think Cleveland won’t pull a “Texans at Patriots” in this one. Washington’s defense has given up 11 touchdowns in three games, and only one of them was of the cheap variety (a short field that the Giants scored on to open the game last week).

Seattle (-2.5) at NY Jets | over/under 40.5

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: NY Jets 23, Seattle 17

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

Even though the Jets’ schedule is famously impossible this year, I think they actually get a little bit of a break by playing Seattle early in the season. If this was the Seahawks of weeks 10-17 from last year, I’d confidently be betting on them here. But this current installment is a lot more like their team from weeks 1-8 last year, where they either lost on the road (at St. Louis, at Green Bay, at Cincinnati) or won in unimpressive fashion (at Dallas).

So yeah, I feel like I have no choice but to pick the Jets at home, but I’m not confident enough to put money on it.

Carolina (-3) at Atlanta | over/under 50

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 27, Atlanta 23

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

On this week’s Teasy Money Podcast, I talked about my high level of interest in teasing the over in this game. But I’m backing away from that a little bit. Carolina’s still got a legit defense, even if it’s not as good as last year’s version, and it looks like the Atlanta receivers are pretty banged up. What I thought would be a track meet with lots of passing now looks like it could turn into two teams focused on running as much as possible.

And for as good as the Atlanta offense has been so far, they’ve gotten the luxury of facing the 21st (Tampa Bay), 29th (Oakland) and 30th (New Orleans) ranked defenses. Playing the Panthers will be a different story. No confidence on the pick or the score in this one, but I’m leaning towards Carolina.

Oakland at Baltimore (-3.5) | over/under 46.5

The Pick: Oakland

The Score: Baltimore 23, Oakland 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

Go ahead and try to make sense out of this game because I can’t. Baltimore has the 5th ranked defense but the 26th ranked offense. Oakland comes into week 4 with the #1 offense in the entire league but the 29th ranked defense.

No real idea how this plays out so I’m staying away from all bets. Since the Ravens are winning ugly these days, I’m thinking they’ll win by a field goal.

Detroit (-3) at Chicago | over/under 47.5

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Chicago 24, Detroit 19

The Bets: None

SuperContest: Yes with Chicago (+3)

Detroit feels like such an obvious pick here. So obvious, in fact, that something doesn’t smell right. The Bears haven’t put up more than 17 points in a game this year, and they happen to have a pretty bad defense. Meanwhile Detroit checks in with the 3rd best offense in the league (according to FootballOutsiders). And the Bears are missing Jay Cutler and plenty of other important players. So why is this line so low? Not sure, but not betting it.

Bonus stayaway reason: EVERYONE IN YOUR PICK ‘EM LEAGUE WILL BE BACKING DETROIT. That’s normally a recipe for disaster…you know what, as I type this and realize I’m low on the five SuperContest picks I need to make, fuck it, I’ll take Chicago.

Denver (-3.5) at Tampa Bay | over/under 43

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Tampa Bay 26, Denver 23

The Bets: Over (33) in a 3-way tease

SuperContest: No

The way I see it, the Bucs defense probably won’t play Denver much worse than Cincy did last week. And the Tampa Bay offense is dangerous enough to put up some points, especially with the Broncos on the back end of a two-game road trip. Tampa keeps this close-ish and either wins outright or covers when they’re down by 10 late and drives for a semi-meaningless touchdown.

But instead of betting on such uncertainty, I’d much rather roll with a teased over on this game. Two solid offenses, one bad defense, and one tired, road-weary defense. Get this over down to 33 and you won’t be sorry.

Los Angeles at Arizona (-8) | over/under 43

The Pick: Los Angeles

The Score: Arizona 24, Los Angeles 20

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

Despite the pressure I’m definitely going to get from my gambling & podcast partner to tease the Cardinals down to -2, I’m not willing to do it. The Rams get up for their division games like no other team, and Arizona is legitimately sketchy right now. I can’t imagine putting my hard-earned money on the Cardinals and having to live through three hours of their Jekyll & Hyde play. And after watching the Bills rush for 208 yards (6.5 yards per carry) on this “vaunted” Arizona defense last week, I just can’t pull the trigger on anything in this game.

I’ll gladly wait until the Cardinals get right and string together multiple games of looking good.

New Orleans at San Diego (-4) | over/under 53.5

The Pick: San Diego

The Score: San Diego 28, New Orleans 18

The Bets: Under (53.5), Under (59.5) in a 2-way tease

SuperContest: San Diego (-4)

The pick for San Diego and the under is simple if you know how the Saints perform on the road. It’s basically the exact opposite of how they play at home. Over their past nine road games, the Saints have averaged 18 points per game. If you take out road games within their division (where they generally play teams with terrible defenses), that number drops to 16 points per game. This is a large enough sample size for me. Betting the under straight up and in a teaser are must-do’s this week. And I don’t hate a bet on the Chargers at -4 (or teased to +6) either.

Dallas (-3) at San Francisco | over/under 45.5

The Pick: San Francisco

The Score: San Francisco 21, Dallas 15

The Bets: None

SuperContest: Yes with San Francisco (+3)

Similar to the Jaguars, Jets, Bears & Bucs this week, I’m taking the home underdog. Maybe I’m a sucker for thinking all five of these teams will keep it close or even win outright. In the case of the 49ers, we can’t be too down on them just yet. They dominated the Rams at home in week 1, then hit the road for impossible games at Carolina and Seattle. And they really haven’t looked as horrible as I expected.

Throw in the fact that Dez Bryant’s status is completely unknown, and that it wouldn’t be crazy for the Cowboys to overlook the 49ers as games against Cincinnati & Green Bay loom in weeks 5 & 6, and it just feels like we’re heading for an upset.

Kansas City at Pittsburgh (-5.5) | over/under 47.5

The Pick: Kansas City

The Score: Pittsburgh 17, Kansas City 13

The Bets: None

SuperContest: No

So I ran through this stat on this week’s podcast: Since Kansas City’s 1st half no-show against the Chargers in week 1, their defense has allowed only one touchdown in five halves of football…and that touchdown was in Houston on a 1-play, 27-yard pass by the Texans after Alex Smith fumbled and gave them the ball basically in the red zone.

That’s great for the Chiefs defense, but on the flip side, their offense has only scored one touchdown in the past two games. So what do we make of this game? Are we looking at a ridiculous defensive game where Pittsburgh wins 10-7? Actually yeah, I do expect a low scoring game with a ton of punting, running (Le’Veon Bell returns!) and sloppy play. While throwing the Steelers into a 2-way teaser looks appealing, I’m too nervous that these teams are in the same tier of the NFL contenders and either one could win.

NY Giants at Minnesota (-5.5) | over/under 43

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: Minnesota 19, NY Giants 16

The Bets: Under (43), Under (49) in a 2-way tease

SuperContest: No

The decent defense in this game (Giants) gets to face the decent offense, and the juggernaut defense (Vikings) gets to face the solid offense. I really can’t imagine a lot of scoring unless Eli Manning tries to one-up Ryan Fitzpatrick’s awesome interception count from week 3.

And in a game featuring two anemic offenses, it’s wise to pick the team getting a handful of points. This would be a minor shock of an upset if the Giants pull off the win, but they should be able to keep it relatively close. And if you’re seriously considering backing the Giants, I’d wait as long as possible to make the bet. It looks like the public money is already all over the Vikings, and when people are chasing their losses from Sunday, they’ll look to Minnesota to help them recoup some of it. My guess is this line goes to Minnesota -6 or 6.5 by Monday afternoon.

The under bet is one of my favorites of the week.

Here are the season-long stats I’ve been tracking:

  • Favorites are 18-29-1 against the spread (including an incredible 5-11 last week!)
  • The point total has landed on Over 25 times, Under 21 times and Pushed 2 times
  • I’m 26-22 against the spread

Enjoy week 4.

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