Pigskin A Blanket: NFL Week 4 Picks
Point spreads, pigskin, and the pursuit of a profit: weekly football wagers from a wannabe wiseguy
After biting off more than I could chew from last week's enticing board, the approach in Week 4 is to heed a time-tested truism and keep the season in the black: quality over quantity.
The number of quality options can vary from week to week based on the matchups and the market. Selectivity is arguably the greatest advantage a player has on the book, which must list lines for virtually everything. This week, that gets put back into practice.
Kansas City +4.5 at Cincinnati
Many thought Cincinnati was in a letdown spot last week - myself included - but this week's situation takes it to a whole new level. Now at 3-0, having put the Ravens in an 0-3 hole last Sunday, and sensing the Steelers' vulnerability without Ben Roethlisberger, the Bengals know they're sitting pretty in the AFC North. Coming off the rivalry game in Baltimore and with a Week 5 showdown against the Seahawks looming, it's not a stretch to see Cincinnati overlooking the Chiefs.
With Kansas City having lost back-to-back games on national TV, the Bengals would be far from alone in making some dangerous assumptions about this matchup. Playing their second road game this week may work against the Chiefs, but they should be able to overcome it considering the spot for Cincinnati and their ability to pound the rock with Jamaal Charles.
Teaser: Green Bay -2 at San Francisco, San Diego -1.5 vs. Cleveland
Teasers can be tricky, but this one became a fit for two primary reasons. First, it teases through key numbers 7 and 3, meaning straight-up wins by the Packers and Chargers most likely cash the ticket. Second, straight-up wins by the Packers and Chargers simply require Aaron Rodgers to defeat Colin Kaepernick and San Diego to beat the Browns at home. As Cleveland's backup would put it...
Pick of the Week: Washington +4 vs. Philadelphia
The Eagles are involved in the pick of the week for the second straight Sunday, albeit this time on the other side. While their comfortable road win over the suddenly revered Jets would seem to suggest all is back on track in Chip Kelly's nest, a deeper dive indicates that's not the case. The passing game led by Sam Bradford continued to struggle, with only one Philadelphia wide receiver hauling in a pass. The rushing attack looked as good as it has all season with Ryan Mathews performing well in place of DeMarco Murray, but in a ground-and-pound second half the Eagles failed to score. They gained the third-fewest yards per play in the NFL last week, coming in ahead of only the 49ers and Bears. That's not what getting back on track looks like for a team expected to light up the scoreboard and widely projected to contend for the NFC crown.
Washington, meanwhile, comes in in a great spot. After losing to the Giants last Thursday, they've had three extra days to recover and prepare for Kelly's schematics. With Hurricane Joaquin threatening to wreak havoc on the Eastern Seaboard, the game taking place as scheduled at FedEx Field would favor Washington. Rain and wind mean an increased emphasis on the running game, where Washington has been better than the Eagles on both sides of the ball. It may also mean fewer points, which adds to the relative value of catching 4.
One final factor going unnoticed is the vast discrepancy in the teams' yardage differentials - Washington ranks No. 1 in the NFL and Philadelphia ranks 30th. It might not stay under the radar for long after a wet Sunday in Washington. It's not sexy, but the stage is set to take the plunge on a team quarterbacked by Kirk Cousins.
Week 4 Record: 2-1
Season Record: 7-7
Picks of the Week: 2-0