Nearly half the games on the NFL slate in Week 4 feature teams favored by a touchdown or more against their opponents. How will a series of games with seemingly lopsided expectations factor into the projected line movements for the upcoming weekend?
Let’s get right into answering that question. All lines this week come to you courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
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Thursday, September 30 — 8:20 p.m. EDT
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals (-7)
Well, it’s another titillating edition of Thursday Night Football on tap this week. Urban Meyer should probably already be counting his days in Jacksonville. The Jaguars have underwhelmed in all facets of the game through three weeks of Meyer’s tenure, and they head to Cincinnati on a short week to take on a Bengals team that has pleasantly surprised. Cincy’s road win over the Steelers last week paints them in a solid light opposing the winless Jags.
Jacksonville has allowed north of 30 points per game on average this season. Its offense hasn’t been much better, as growing pains for No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence have led to a sluggish start in the scoring department. I can’t imagine anyone will be rushing to the window of their local sportsbook to put money on the Jaguars. This spread should only move further toward the Bengals, an actually decent team playing on their home field.
Sunday, October 3 — 1:00 p.m. EDT
Tennessee Titans (-7.5) at New York Jets
The Titans lost A.J. Brown in Week 3, but even under-manned, the Tennessee offense shouldn’t have much trouble with the mediocre Jets defense this week. Ryan Tannehill hasn’t yet hit his stride, but Derrick Henry looks like his typical dominating self. Gang Green should brace itself for the king.
Rookie QB Zach Wilson, meanwhile, has struggled mightily at the helm of the New York offense. The Jets have scored just 20 points in three games. None of those points came last week. The Titans’ defense is still pretty leaky. If ever there was a spot for them to get back on track, though, this is it. If the game script sees the Titans open up a lead in the first half, it’s conceivable they would lean heavily on Henry and play ball control football with their second-half possessions. Anticipating that the Jets may not carry their weight toward the total of 45.5, that number could fall ahead of Sunday.
Houston Texans at Buffalo Bills (-16)
Holy 16-point favorites, Batman. And it’s probably not unfounded, either. Josh Allen cruised in his dismantling of the talented Washington Football Team defense in Week 3. There’s no reason to suspect he won’t do similarly embarrassing things to a Houston squad that has permitted 92 total points through three games. Houston’s offense also looked completely inept with Davis Mills leading the charge last Thursday. With DeShaun Watson a weekly healthy scratch, the quarterback situation in Houston is dire. It seems impossible that an NFL point spread could balloon any higher, but that outcome seems more plausible than one that involves money pouring in on the Texans.
New York Giants at New Orleans Saints (-8)
Daniel Jones has been a solid playmaker for the Giants early in this season. None of it has translated to wins for the Giants, though, as New York enters this road tilt with the Saints at 0-3. New Orleans has been cleared for its return to the Superdome for this Sunday’s game; expect the Saints to be motivated to defend their home turf.
Which Jameis Winston will they get against the Giants? Between a pair of strong, efficient outings in Weeks 1 and 3, Winston sandwiched a clunker of a performance in Week 2. The identity of the Saints as a team isn’t yet clear, but Week 4 seems like a prime opportunity to establish it more firmly. The team’s inconsistency makes them a rickety favorite at such a high number, but the New Orleans defense could make life difficult on Jones, who due to recent injuries, could be short-handed with his receiving corps this week.
Cleveland Browns (-2.5) at Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins has been on a tear to open the 2021 season, posting 918 passing yards with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions through three games. This week, however, might be his most significant test. Though the Vikings get the Browns in their own house, the Cleveland defense is coming off a week in which it gained confidence by absolutely terrorizing Justin Fields for a full four quarters.
The total of 53.5 is lofty if the public decides Cleveland’s stalwart performance on defense was more a product of Fields’ inexperience in his first NFL start. In that case, expecting a shootout seems possible. Opposing offenses can move the ball on the ground or through the air with reasonable success against Minnesota, and the Browns are equipped to put points on the board. The Vikings as slight home underdogs feels right, so this spread may not move much to either side this week.
Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins (-2.5)
After looking entirely incapable as a fill-in for the injured Tua Tagovailoa in Week 2, Jacoby Brissett managed a more productive day for the Miami offense Sunday. The chance to practice as the starter throughout the week turned him into a competent game manager in an overtime loss to the Raiders. The Colts have their own quarterback concerns coming into this one, as Carson Wentz gritted through two sprained ankles to post a forgettable 194-yard effort in Week 3. The Colts’ offense struggled against a Titans defense that had previously been a laughingstock.
The good news is that the Dolphins’ defense has been exploited pretty consistently the last two weeks. Early bettors don’t seem to think much of the possibility that Wentz will keep that trend going this week, as they have quickly bet the Dolphins from -1.5 to -2.5. In a game with a rightfully low total of 43, don’t expect this line to increase beyond the field goal range for Miami.
Washington Football Team (-1.5) at Atlanta Falcons
Is Matt Ryan just cooked? Is that the reality of where things are at this point? The Falcons offense has averaged 16 points per game this season. Though Atlanta won a road game against the Giants in Week 3, it was an ugly 17-14 finish that doesn’t inspire much confidence in the competence of the Falcons offense moving forward. The early line on their game against the Football Team concurs as the Falcons open as home dogs to a backup quarterback. Though this feels like a game where the Falcons could just randomly decide to click on all cylinders offensively, Washington probably has the better team, top to bottom. That includes the battle between Ryan and Taylor Heinicke. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this spread float to -2.5 in favor of WFT.
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (-2.5)
The Justin Fields Experience got off to a rocky start in Week 3—and that’s being remarkably kind. Fields, and by extension, the entire Bears offense, looked worse than anyone could have imagined. Assuming he retains the starting role for another week, Fields should have a much easier time in a home game against the lesser Lions’ defense. Still, Detroit held the Ravens to just 19 points in last week’s loss. That upstart performance by a scrappy Lions bunch should keep the spread on the Bears from getting too out of hand. Given the disjointed state of the Bears offense, the total on this game dropping to 41 or 40 seems reasonable.
Kansas City Chiefs (-7) at Philadelphia Eagles
Patrick Mahomes looked very human in a Week 3 loss to the Chargers, throwing a pair of costly interceptions as the Chiefs fell to 1-2. Jalen Hurts struggled as well in Week 3, as his Eagles dropped the Monday Night Football contest to their NFC East rivals. The Cowboys aren’t exactly known for their defensive prowess, either, so Hurts’ lack of passing proficiency is a growing concern. Though he threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, much of that success came in garbage time, with the game out of reach.
Kansas City isn’t in an ideal place defensively, but its offense should have a get-right week against a Philly unit that was absolutely gashed on the ground by both Cowboys rushers on MNF. With questionable defenses on either side, the 54.5-point total could find another layer of helium. Even given the Chiefs’ struggles, they shouldn’t end up as anything less than a touchdown favorite to the Eagles.
Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys (-4.5)
Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard both looked incredible on Monday night against Philadelphia. The Cowboys’ offense, as a whole, thrived. They’ll have a tougher test this week against a Panthers’ defense that has been a bright spot through the early part of the season. Carolina has allowed a total of 30 points across three games, albeit against lesser opposition than the upcoming Dak Prescott-led unit.
Out of the shadow of Adam Gase, Sam Darnold has shown himself to be a competent quarterback thus far in Carolina. Cowboys Nation should be riding high after the team’s Monday night triumph over a hated rival, though, and will likely bet this line more closely to a touchdown spread than the -4.5 line at which it currently sits.
Sunday, October 3 — 4:05 p.m. EDT
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-5.5)
The first of two late-afternoon showdowns in the NFC West should be an absolute barn-burner. The prospect of Matthew Stafford and Kyler Murray trading punches for four quarters should lead to an already-high total of 54.5 only growing as the week moves along. Typically, you would expect the favored team to cover at a higher rate when a total goes over, but in this case, the Cardinals might need to keep it close in order for this massive total to reach its destination. After their dismantling of Bucs last week, the Rams could conceivably get to -6.5. But the touchdown margin represents a glass ceiling that won’t likely be broken.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-3)
Indecision by Russell Wilson seemed to cost the Seahawks down the stretch again last week. Wilson didn’t connect for enough big plays; Kirk Cousins and the Dalvin Cook-less Vikings rushing attack did against the Seattle defense. The big-play potential exists for the Seahawks, clearly, but sustaining drives with regularity has been more challenging late in games.
On the other side, even as they continue to start their second-best quarterback, the 49ers moved the ball moderately well against the Packers in Week 3. Their defense was undone by Aaron Rodgers and Mason Crosby in the final moments, but San Francisco’s scoring potential should carry into Week 4. Seattle’s defense hasn’t been anything special, either. This total of 52.5 should float higher given the chance for a shootout among these NFC West rivals. Seattle hasn’t shown enough consistency on both sides of the ball to merit this spread being any closer than it is, but a half-point move in either direction seems possible.
Sunday, September 26 — 4:25 p.m. EDT
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos (-1.5)
Where would the Ravens be without Justin Tucker? The GOAT further cemented his status in Week 3 with an NFL-record 66-yard field goal to bring Baltimore back from the brink against the winless Lions. Baltimore’s regularly explosive rushing attack underwhelmed in that plus-match-up with Detroit. Lamar Jackson reminded everyone of his capabilities through the air with a season-high 287 passing yards to pace the Ravens. It would have been more if not for a brutal case of the drops for Marquise Brown. Baltimore will need to execute more effectively this week against a Broncos defense that has simply smothered its opponents through three games on the year.
It seems strange that a team whose offense wasn’t exactly clicking against a bad Lions team last week would enter the new week as road favorites against the undefeated Broncos. But Denver has had the fortune of an extremely soft schedule thus far. The Ravens should present more of a challenge. No game involving the Broncos this season has seen more than 40 total points, which should be this total low heading into Sunday.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Green Bay Packers (-7)
Ben Roethlisberger looks bad. Very bad. The Steelers’ offense was pitiful in a 24-10 loss to the Bengals last week. On the other side, the Packers’ offense is starting to resemble more closely the unit we expected to see for Aaron Rodgers’ supposed ‘Last Dance’ in Green Bay. Their Week 1 loss to the Saints was an aberration—A-Rod and the Packers are going to be just fine. With the benefit of the home crowd in Week 4, there’s an opportunity for Green Bay to re-assert themselves in a crowded NFC. No last-second desperation field goals this week. Favored by a touchdown on the early-week line, the Packers could see enough action for the number to bump up by a half-point or more if bettors come to a universal conclusion about the sorry state of the Pittsburgh offense. Along those lines, its current spot in the mid-40s feels like an appropriate total for this one.
Sunday, October 3 — 8:20 p.m. EDT
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7) at New England Patriots
Tom Brady is going to annihilate the Patriots. I just don’t see any other way this can go. The battle between Bill Belichick and his longtime quarterback and New England is a fascinating Week 4 storyline. The match-up will surely entice ample wagering action for Sunday Night Football. Given everything we know about the end to his time there, Brady will head back to New England looking to stick it to his former coach and team.
His current squad boasts one of the NFL’s most high-powered offenses. His former one has rookie Mac Jones learning on the job, with varying degrees of success in the early going. The Patriots handled the Jets 25-6 in Week 2, but outside of that game, their offense hasn’t been particularly impressive. A team that prefers to run first to limit the exposure for its young quarterback should have a difficult time keeping pace in this one. The Patriots’ preference for the ground game pairs miserably with the stout run defense of the Buccaneers. Already a touchdown favorite on the road, the line should continue to push toward Brady and the Bucs this week.
Monday, October 4 — 8:15 p.m. EDT
Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5)
Something to keep in mind for this total, set at 53, is that the Raiders seem to have a magnetic attraction to overtime games. Two of their three games this season have required extra time to settle, and both sailed over this current total. Though the Chargers defense had a big week against Patrick Mahomes Sunday, Derek Carr should represent another challenge for this unit following his hot start to the season. Also worth noting: Darren Waller turns from standard-good tight end to freak of nature target hog in primetime games. Look for this total to push toward the mid-50s but for the Chargers to remain greater than a field-goal favorite leading into Monday night.
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Brenden Schaeffer is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Brenden, check out his archive and follow him @bschaeffer12.