NFL Week 4 best bets and expert picks for the Sunday slate. Find best bets for NFL Week 4 featuring Falcons vs. Jaguars, Vikings vs. Panthers, Bengals vs. Titans, Rams vs. Colts, Steelers vs. Texans, and Chiefs vs. Jets.
NFL Week 4 Best Bets (10/1/23)
Week 4 of the NFL season is upon us, and the slate of games on Sunday offers plenty of betting opportunities. In this article, our football staff covers our favorite bets from the Week 4 slate. Check out our YouTube channel where we provide game picks and player prop content for all of the primetime NFL games, as well. Let’s get to work.
Jacob Wayne’s Record: 6-5 (+0.5 units)
Kody Malstrom’s Record: 3-2 (+0.9 units)
Will Schwartz’s Record: 5-4 (+0.7 units)
Atlanta Falcons vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Let’s get some London action going to kick off our NFL Sundays. I broke down this game in depth in my matchup preview, which I’ll link here, but I’ll give you guys the quick bullet points on why I love the Jaguars to cover the 3-point spread in this game.
Jacksonville’s offense has surprisingly struggled to start this season – they rank just 29th in EPA. That’s not what we expected from a group boasting Trevor Lawrence, a rising star at quarterback, and plenty of elite skill talent. It’s not a Lawrence issue – he ranks second in PFF passing grade and third in big-time throw rate at 7.6%.
So what’s the problem? The Jaguars have lost the fourth-most expected points on turnovers, have the fifth-worst percentage on field goals in the NFL, and have the league’s fifth-worst success rate on third downs despite the shortest distance to gain on average. Those are all high-variance statistical categories, and I expect positive regression starting this week.
The Falcons are a team that wants to run the ball as much as possible with Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier. However, the Jaguars have an excellent run defense – they’re top three in rushing EPA and success rate allowed. Desmond Ridder will need to throw the ball some, and that’s a recipe for disaster.
Ridder has the highest turnover-worthy play rate in the NFL this season at 6.1% and the second-worst PFF passing grade. He also has the fourth-highest pressure to sack rate, meaning he’s letting pressures turn into sacks too often. The Jaguars haven’t rushed the passer very effectively this year, but Ridder invites pressure.
Ultimately, this is a great buy low spot for a Jaguars team that’s a lot better than they looked last week. Even in that home loss, Jacksonville outgained Houston by nearly 40 yards and had seven more first downs – they just couldn’t finish drives. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s offense is fade worthy as long as Ridder is under center.
Favorites in London games are 29-9-1 straight up and 25-14 ATS (64%). That’s a large enough sample to show that the long travel and time change tends to benefit the team that already has the on-field advantages. That’s the Jaguars here, and I’ll bet on them to get the win in London, a place they’ve played more than any other NFL team.
Best Bet: Jaguars -3 (play to -3)
Minnesota Vikings vs. Carolina Panthers
I gravitate towards playing underdogs more than favorites against the spread, and I especially don’t like backing heavy public favorites playing on the road. I’m willing to throw all of that out here and back the Vikings, who are a lot better than their 0-3 record indicates.
It’s funny how that works – last year they were one of the luckiest teams in the NFL as they went a historic 11-0 in one-score games. Now, they’re the most unlucky according to TeamRankings and the Action Network’s Luck Rankings. The Vikings have all seven of their fumbles – only one team has more than three lost fumbles – and their postgame win expectancy has them at 2-1 not 0-3.
Kirk Cousins has been excellent this season – he leads the league in passing yards and ranks top ten in adjusted EPA per play, adjusted completion percentage, and PFF passing grade. The Vikings added first round rookie Jordan Addison to an already strong passing game, and they have the upper hand against a struggling Panthers pass defense.
The Panthers are missing Jaycee Horn and Shaq Thompson, two of their three most important defensive players. While Brian Burns still headlines a stout defensive line, the secondary really misses Horn – C.J. Henderson (74th) and Donte Jackson (88th) are well below average in PFF coverage grades among 109 qualified corners.
Minnesota’s defense has improved under Brian Flores, and the Vikings lead the NFL with a 63% blitz rate. That spells trouble for rookie Bryce Young whose 5.7% turnover-worthy play rate is the second-highest in the NFL. Carolina hasn’t supported him with much skill position talent or consistent blocking, so it’s hard to fully blame him.
It’s scary to back a big road favorite over a field goal, especially one that’s 0-3, but I believe it’s the right call here. Let’s bet on positive regression for Justin Jefferson and friends while fading Bryce Young as he returns to the lineup.
Best Bet: Vikings -3.5 (play to -4.5)
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Tennessee Titans
The Bengals finally got off the schneid with a much needed win on Monday Night Football to avoid an 0-3 start, but I believe this is a great spot to fade them here. Joe Burrow still doesn’t look right as he’s recovering from a calf injury – his 4.7 yards per attempt rate is second-worst in the NFL among qualified quarterbacks.
Burrow is also dead last in completion percentage over expectation, a metric that effectively measures accuracy, despite an average of 6.5 air yards, the third-lowest in the NFL. He has completed just one of nine 20+ yard passes this season. In other words, he isn’t throwing the ball deep and he still hasn’t been accurate.
The Titans are coming off an ugly loss to the Browns, but the market still isn’t properly accounting for just how dominant that Cleveland defense is – they lead the NFL with a 25.8% defensive success rate, and the next-closest team is at 38.6%. Things get much easier for Tennessee this week against a Bengals defense ranked 24th in the same category.
Ryan Tannehill hasn’t been playing his best football lately, but a 12.5% drop rate from his receivers ranks first in the NFL. I expect positive regression in that regard as we move through the season. More importantly, Derrick Henry is due for a big bounceback game against a Cincinnati run defense ranked bottom ten in run defense EPA and success rate.
Mike Vrabel is absolutely electric as an underdog – he’s 27-18-1 ATS as a dog, good for a stellar 60% hit rate. He’s the better coach in this game by a significant margin, and the Bengals shouldn’t be catching nearly a field goal on the road. The Titans win this game outright and push the Bengals to 1-3.
Best Bet: Titans +2.5 (play to ML)
Los Angeles Rams vs. Indianapolis Colts
On the other side of that Rams Bengals game comes a Rams team that is undervalued after a primetime loss to the Bengals. Matthew Stafford is playing excellent football this season – he ranks sixth in PFF passing grade and is tied with Tua Tagovailoa with a 7.7% big-time throw rate, the highest in the NFL.
That has only translated to two touchdowns and four interceptions, but that’s not a reflective rate of how good Stafford has been this season. Against the Bengals, he had two passing touchdowns called back by the officials, and he’s due for some positive regression in the scoring department.
Sean McVay arguably called a bad game on Monday night, but it also didn’t help that starting left tackle Alaric Jackson got hurt early in the game. With a full week to prepare, the Rams should have a game plan for how to handle their blocking scheme even if Jackson can’t play (he’s currently listed as questionable).
The Colts counter with Anthony Richardson, a rookie quarterback who I’m buying long term but not in the immediate future. Richardson didn’t have a pass of over 20+ yards through his first two games before missing last week, and the Colts are clearly protecting him with a limited offensive scheme. He doesn’t have a single big-time throw on 47 pass attempts per PFF.
The Rams are on a short week after playing on Monday Night Football, but Sean McVay has performed very well in these spots – he’s on a 7-1 ATS run on short rest. The Rams have the better coach and the better quarterback, and that’s enough for me to bet them as short road underdogs in a spread that’s moving towards being a pick ‘em.
Best Bet: Rams +1.5 (play to -1.5)
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Houston Texans
Even in a win it was an underwhelming performance from the Pittsburgh Steelers. They ended the game with a lower Success Rate and Win Expectancy while the play calling was still head scratching throughout the contest.
The Steelers offensive line woes are still apparent, struggling to hold their own against one of the worst defenses in football. Maxx Crosby is practically on an island for the Raiders pass rush and still made Pickett uncomfortable by disrupting their backfield.
Speaking of the backfield, Najee Harris has become practically unusable. It was an oddity last season after a successful debut, but now it’s apparent that his issues are still persisting with him. Granted some of the blame can be put on their poor offensive line but Najee has developed a tendency to go east and west at the line which drastically halts his down field progression.
They now have to hit the road and take on a Texans squad who has drastically improved on both sides of the ball. Especially on defense where the Texans are more than capable of abusing this weak offensive line.
Especially with the Texans secondary dealing with injuries, potentially seeing a heavier dose of the blitz in an effort to get the ball out of Pickett’s hands faster to negate the time the receivers need to create separation.
On the other end, CJ Stroud has pushed aside all the negative factors he had going for him in the draft process and has been a serviceable quarterback thus far into the season. He looked poised in the pocket and makes the right reads while hitting his weapons in stride.
The emergence of Tank Dell has been massive for their pass attack, perfectly complimenting go-to target Nico Collins as a respectable receiving duo. Expect a heavier usage for Dell as the Texans will counter the Steelers pass rush with more quick outs to their playmaker streaking across the middle.
I was genuinely shocked that this spread opened at the key number of +3, making the Texans a sizable play and would even sprinkle some on their moneyline.
Best Bet: Texans +3
Washington Commanders vs Philadelphia Eagles / Kansas City Chiefs vs New York Jets
After slow starts to the season, it’s finally looking like last year’s Super Bowl teams are rounding back into championship form. The Eagles offense sputtered while going through an identity change while the Chiefs started with a home opening loss to the Detroit Lions. Now both have bounced back, giving value in a unique way for our betting pleasure.
Starting with the Eagles, they have once again backed their success on their defense and are in a position to dominate once again against the Washington offense. Sam Howell has regressed back to rookie expectations, struggling to take care of the ball while throwing to a cast of receivers who struggle to create separation.
Worse yet for the Commanders, rush success will be practically non-existent as this Eagles defensive line is as ferocious as it gets. They are more than capable of rushing four and dropping back seven, daring Howell to beat them with his arm in crowded coverage.
On the other end, Philly has used the run to set up the pass with their cast of weapons in the backfield. Fielding three starting caliber running backs, they can relentlessly run it down the Commanders throats before getting an opportunity to throw over the top.
The Washington defensive line is one of the better units in the league but that force may be negated against the best offensive line in football. It makes for an intriguing battle, yet Philly has more than enough weapons spread throughout the field to burn the defense in multiple ways.
As for the Chiefs, they face their first true defense as the Jets secondary will look to give the trigger happy Mahomes fits. While Mahomes has done a masterful job by increasing his efficiency, he’s still prone to taking ill-advised deep shots which can hurt their offense.
They still have the major edge to pull out the win, especially with an improved defense that is top five in Def EPA and now gets to face Zach Wilson. Even with an increase in potential stalled out Chiefs drives, their defense is more than capable of keeping the Jets out of upset territory as Chris Jones wrecks the middle of the line and forces Wilson into scrambling situations.
With both teams residing at -8.5, they make for Wong Teaser targets by being able to tease them down through the key numbers of -7 and -3. This puts both of them at -2.5, making it my favorite bet of the weekend.
Best Bet: PHI -2.5 / KC -2.5 Teaser
New England Patriots vs. Dallas Cowboys
This matchup is between two of the best defenses in the NFL this season, going up against offenses that have been solid at times, but have also raised a good amount of question marks. It’s hard to imagine how we’ve been gifted this number, but it’s out there for you to play; take advantage of whatever you’re able to get, because this is going to be an old-school defensive showdown.
The Patriots are only 11th in defensive EPA per play but it’s important to remember that this statistic is not opponent-adjusted, and the New England defense has quite the resume so far. They stifled the Eagles’ high-flying offense on opening day; the Eagles scored 25 points, but there was a defensive touchdown in the mix, and an offensive score from a drive that started on the Patriots’ 26 due to another turnover. Their second matchup was against the Dolphins, another loss, but one in which the Miami offense looked uncharacteristically mortal. Most recently, they held the Jets to 10 points which isn’t too much of an accomplishment, but the defense did register two points of their own with a safety. Highlighted by the addition of first-round rookie Christian Gonzalez, this defense looks like a totally different unit than last year’s group, which performed well but had some definite gaps.
The Cowboys defense, third in the league in EPA per play, looked like a genuinely elite unit through the first two games of the season- a shutout of the Giants in which the defense themselves scored two touchdowns, and a dominant showing against the Jets- before completely failing to show up against the Arizona Cardinals of all teams and allowing 28 points. To me, that performance signals a lapse in preparation and focus rather than a red flag about this defense’s talent level; even without Trevon Diggs, they are led by the transcendent edge talent Micah Parsons, and have every ability to shut down a team like Arizona, and they will be firing on all cylinders this week to prove that they’re still among the league’s best.
The offenses are fine, but definitely come short of being part of the NFL’s elite. Quarterback Mac Jones has looked like a new player under Bill O’Brien at offensive coordinator after the departure of Matt Patricia, but the productivity hasn’t been there as they’re averaging just 17.3 points per game. Yes, they’ve played some good defenses, but this one is potentially even better, and they failed to crack 20 points against the Dolphins. As for the Cowboys, the offense wasn’t asked to do any heavy lifting against the New York teams, and when they had to against the Cardinals, they failed; don’t expect them to take a sudden step up against a borderline-elite New England unit.
Best Bet: Under 43.5 Points (Play to 42.5)
Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills
We’ve all seen what the Miami Dolphins did to the Denver Broncos last weekend; 70 points, 10 touchdowns, 60 minutes of complete domination. It was an offensive clinic, one that has spectators and pundits asking if Mike McDaniel’s motion-heavy, warp-speed offense has revolutionized the way the sport needs to be played. That’s a little bit of a jump, and we’ll see how it pans out over the course of the full season and beyond, but this offense is absolutely loaded with talent and the chemistry is off the charts. It’s worth noting that Miami did what they did against Denver without speedy wideout Jaylen Waddle, who will be back from his concussion-based absence this week.
If you look at the EPA per play chart, it’s almost comical how far the Dolphins are in the top right; nobody even comes close. The passing offense led by MVP frontrunner Tua Tagovailoa and his top wideout Tyreek Hill is understandably the driving force behind this, but the run game has come a long way, and is third in per-snap EPA. Running back duo Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane combined for five ground scores against the Broncos, and Mostert even had a big day against the Patriots’ much more solid run defense.
But let’s talk about the other side of the ball; the Bills offense is third in EPA per play themselves, as they shook off a tough and frankly weird opening day against the Jets to rip off 37 and 38 points in their past two games. Josh Allen will definitely turn the ball over, probably to the point where he will cost his team the game in a matchup like this one that could and should be won on the margins, but he’ll also make the big plays at a rate that rivals anyone else in the league.
The Bills are right behind the Dolphins with the fourth-best rushing EPA on offense, and will be able to attack a Miami run defense that remains the definitive weak spot of this absolute juggernaut. In this day and age, it’s hard to win a game when you’re running the ball and the other team is running a quick-strike passing offense, and the Bills will eventually be forced to the air, where Allen will be challenged by Miami’s talented secondary as he’s working with pretty dismal receiving options beyond Stefon Diggs. Still, they’ll contribute plenty of points to this total even in a loss; get ready for an absolutely delightful shootout, ending with a big road win for the Dolphins to officially announce themselves as the team to beat in the AFC East.
Best Bet: Dolphins +120 (Play to +100), Over 54 Points (Play to 54.5)