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November 18, 2018

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Vegas pick’em: NFL Week 4 winners against the spread

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Ron Schwane / AP

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield celebrates after scoring a 2-point conversion during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, in Cleveland.

Week 4: Ravens at Steelers

Which side would you take in Ravens at Steelers? (Poll consensus year to date: 3-0)
Ravens plus-3 — 50.7%
Steelers minus-3 — 49.3%

This poll is closed, see Full Results »

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The two talks of the NFL heading out of Week 3 come from a pair of teams Tyrod Taylor formerly led — the Cleveland Browns and the Buffalo Bills.

Cleveland started the slate of games on Thursday Night Football by falling into a 14-0 hole against the New York Jets before top overall draft pick Baker Mayfield relieved a concussed Taylor and led a comeback 21-17 victory. It snapped a 19-game winless streak for the Browns, the second longest in NFL history, but was far from the most stunning moment of Week 3.

That belonged to the Bills, which pulled off the biggest NFL upset in 23 years. And it wasn’t even close.

Buffalo throttled Minnesota on the road 27-6 as 17-point underdogs. Bookmakers were surely celebrating, as the Bills’ unforeseen punch knocked out a glut of ever-popular moneyline parlays and was a big win for the house.

At William Hill sports books, two out of every three tickets and 80 percent of the money was on the Vikings with the splits reportedly similar all across town.

The Browns’ win, conversely, was a coup for bettors. Cleveland was the team that commanded two-thirds of the action as a closing 3-point favorite over New York on Thursday.

Talking Points picked the Bills against the number, but Mayfield bit into the overall profit as Jets plus-3.5 was the lone loser in the plays section of an otherwise successful week. The blog went 10-6 picking every game versus the number to bring the season total to 25-22-1.

Check below for picks and analysis of every Week 4 game on the board. Picks are separated into three confidence categories, with the lines the best currently available in Las Vegas on the chosen side.

Plays (6-4)

Houston Texans plus-1.5 at Indianapolis Colts Texans have now found a way to lose two straight games where they far outplayed their opponent on an efficiency basis, and that’s left them visibly undervalued. Houston was a 3-point favorite in this spot all summer, and even still at pick’em on the look-ahead line last week.

Dallas Cowboys minus-3 vs. Detroit Lions Beating up on the Patriots doesn’t mean the Lions suddenly inherit their powers. Detroit is still a deeply-flawed team with a paperweight run defense giving up an NFL-worst 5.4 yards per rush attempt. It’s a big plus-matchup for Ezekiel Elliott.

New Orleans Saints minus-3 at New York Giants It took one close win, 27-22 over the Texans as 6.5-point underdogs, for the Giants to revert to being priced like a middle-of-the-road team. The market shouldn’t fluctuate that much, and had it right last week: The Giants are one of the worst teams in the NFL. They’re also playing one of the best on Sunday.

Leans (8-5-1)

Denver Broncos plus-5 vs. Kansas City Chiefs At plus-6, this would be a play. There’s an off-chance the spread still gets there if no resistance is provided to the onslaught of public money bound to come on the Chiefs by the kickoff of Monday Night Football. Denver isn’t what it once was on defense, but still savvy enough to give Kansas City looks it hasn’t encountered yet.

New England Patriots minus-6.5 vs. Miami Dolphins Hate to go against numbers, and any analytics indicate this point spread is at least a couple points too high. But the Patriots have made a dynasty out of defying numbers under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and breaking out of funks in pivotal spots. This feels like one of those spots.

New York Jets plus-7.5 at Jacksonville Jaguars Would have loved to have gotten in on the opening number of plus-9, but anything more than a touchdown is too much for Jacksonville to lay. The perception is that the Jets are devoid of offense, but their 5.3 yards per play is barely worse than Jacksonville’s 5.4 yards per play.

Cleveland Browns plus-3 at Oakland Raiders Not Jimmy Garoppolo. Not Deshaun Watson. Heck, not even Pat Mahomes. It’s Mayfield who will emerge as the best of the current generation of young quarterbacks. That level of belief in a quarterback necessitates betting on him early in his career before the market catches up to his value.

Guesses (4-5)

Minnesota Vikings plus-7 at Los Angeles Rams Not in a hurry to bet against a Rams’ team that has looked every bit the juggernaut they are perceived to be early in the season, but their one drawback might be depth. That might start to come into play here with Rams dealing with several injuries — including to both cornerbacks, Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib — on a short week.

Pittsburgh Steelers minus-3 vs. Baltimore Ravens Steelers may very well be dysfunctional, but they’re still more talented than the Ravens at most positions. That makes laying a field goal at home the only real option, though it’s so close that even an extra half-point on the spread would probably switch the side to Baltimore.

Green Bay Packers minus-9.5 vs. Buffalo Bills Wackiness happens in one-game NFL samples, so not putting much stock in the Bills’ victory over the Vikings. Buffalo hasn’t proven it’s figured out anything sustainable, and remains the worst team in the league.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers plus-3 at Chicago Bears It might not be too early to declare this a game between a great offense — Tampa Bay is averaging an NFL-best 7.5 yards per play — and a great defense — Chicago leads the NFL in defensive DVOA. Contrary to clichés that say otherwise, a great offense is more valuable than a great defense.

Seattle Seahawks minus-3 at Arizona Cardinals Despite massive personnel turnover, Seattle has still been stingy on defense, ranking sixth in the league DVOA. It’s not an ideal unit for Josh Rosen to get his first start against. Number might also be headed to 3.5, so grab the value while it’s available.

Philadelphia Eagles minus-3.5 at Tennessee Titans Mike Vrabel might be the NFL Coach of the Year through three weeks for coaxing a 2-1 straight-up and against the spread start out of the wounded, and arguably weak, Titans. He could meet his match in Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson, however, as the Eagles are the best team the Titans have faced so far.

Los Angeles Chargers minus-10 vs. San Francisco 49ers Not thrilled about giving double digits with a poorly-coached, mistake-prone team like the Chargers, but there’s not a much better option with the 49ers starting C.J. Beathard at quarterback. Beathard was completely overmatched last year, with the 49ers going 1-5 straight-up and against the spread in games where he took the majority of the snaps.

Cincinnati Bengals plus-5.5 at Atlanta Falcons The Falcons’ offense alone will keep them in the upper half of the league, but it’s time to at least be a little concerned about their dwindling defense. At least concerned enough to not lay a big number against another decent team.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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