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NFL Week 4 Picks

Deshaun Watson Texans

NFL Week 4 Picks

After a season where I won the Gridiron Experts Staff Pick ‘Em contest, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. Last year, I went 64.5% straight up, and 55.4% against the spread… so I’m hoping to replicate that success this year. Each week, I’ll give you my picks for the game, and a short write-up centered around the key reason why I’m making the pick that I am.

In Week 3, we had a rather mediocre week. My picks were 9-7 straight up and  8-8  against the spread. My lock of the did come through though (3-0 for the season). We’ll look to rebound this week.

You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with the staff.

Philadelphia @ Green Bay (-4.5)

The Packers come into this Thursday Night affair undefeated and are the favorite to win by 4.5 points. Philadelphia, on the other hand, took a tough loss to the Lions at home last week. The Eagles’ early record is deceiving, though, as they’ve lost both of their games by 4 points or less. Green Bay’s winning ways have been paced by the defense, as Aaron Rodgers & Co. simply haven’t hit their stride yet. Rodgers has only thrown for 647 yards through 3 games, but he’s thrown 4 TDs to no interceptions. Football without mistakes usually leads to wins, especially when you have a strong defense to back it up. Aaron Jones has instead paced the offense with 174 yards rushing and 3 TDs. If Jones gets more carries, he might produce more, but he’s been in a timeshare with Jamaal Williams so far this year. Davante Adams has posted 198 yards on 15 grabs so far this year– numbers that are mediocre for one of the game’s best pass catchers. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has also produced, reeling in 13 balls for 170 yards. Carson Wentz has been pretty solid so far for Philly, throwing for 803 yards, 6 TD and only 2 INT through 3 games. He’s also added a TD on the ground and 41 yards rushing.

Zach ErtzThe Eagles look like they’ll be without DeSean Jackson for the 2nd week in a row due to a groin injury. Alshon Jeffery will return to action after missing last week. Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and Mack Hollins will need to produce for Wentz in this one. TE Zach Ertz is the Eagles’ most prolific pass catcher and leads the team with 190 yards. Agholor has 3 TD to lead the team, and Jeffery has one himself. In the backfield, Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard have split carries for Philly. Neither has been particularly effective, as they’ve combined to take 59 carries for a measly 205 yards. One of the backs must emerge and take control of the backfield if the Eagles want to find a balance on the offensive side of the ball. I see this as a close game. Look for Rodgers to step up his performance, and for Davante Adams to rise with him. In the end, I feel that the Lambeau edge and Mike Pettine’s defense will put Green Bay over the top here to win and cover at home. Packers 27-21.

Tennessee @ Atlanta (-3.5)

Tennessee is coming off one of their worst performances in recent memory. Jacksonville dismantled the Titans last Thursday night and kept Marcus Mariota on the run constantly. The Falcons didn’t fare much better, falling by a field goal to the Colts. These 1-2 teams will now do battle in Atlanta where the Titans’ offensive line will need to be much better if they want to be competitive. I do believe they’ll find their way and that Arthur Smith will construct more plays that fit QB Marcus Mariota’s skill set. Make no mistake, though… this team really misses LT Taylor Lewan. Mariota has been average so far this year, averaging just under 250 yards per game passing. He’s thrown 4 TD without being intercepted and was able to make some real solid throws in Week 1 against Cleveland. However, once protection breaks down, he’s had trouble. The Titans’ pass-catchers haven’t been fantastic thus far. Mariota’s favorite target has been the reliable Delanie Walker, who has grabbed 2 TDs already so far this year. Derrick Henry is the undisputed best player on this offense, though. Henry has rushed for 210 yards on 51 attempts, adding 3 TDs in the process. Henry has also caught a TD this year on a huge 75-yard screen pass in Week 1. Defensively, the Titans feature a stout secondary between DBs Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler, and S Kevin Byard who is one of the game’s best defenders. With LB Jayon Brown and DE Jurrell Casey leading their front, there are certainly tons of weapons Atlanta will need to contain.

Matt RyanOn the other side of the ball, the Falcons have flashed their offensive prowess, but haven’t found consistency yet this year. Matt Ryan has thrown for just under 310 yards per game but has struggled with turnovers. Ryan sports an 8 TD to 6 INT ratio currently and has not performed at his best. Devonta Freeman has also got off to a painfully slow start, rushing for only 129 yards on 35 carries. Freeman is also usually spelled by Ito Smith, but Smith is currently in the league’s concussion protocol and might miss Sunday’s affair. Julio Jones is still one of the game’s best and has performed quite well. Both he and Austin Hooper have caught 19 balls, but Jones’ 265 yards and 4 TDs lead the team. Calvin Ridley has also contributed in flashes, adding 175 yards and 2 TDs, while Mohamed Sanu has pulled in 15 balls for 148 yards. The Falcons certainly have a balanced approach to their passing game, but will they be able to succeed without a running game to keep Tennessee on their toes? That’s the question. The Falcons also lost Kanu Neal for the season last week, which is a huge blow to their defensive unit. I see the Titans bottling up Freeman in this one. Julio Jones will rack up his stats, but I like the Titans defense to create some turnovers in the secondary, as Matt Ryan hasn’t protected the ball too well this year. I think that Derrick Henry will help Tennessee control the clock, and provide great pass/run balance to open up the play-action game, where Mariota is at his best… if he has time. Provided the offensive line gives Marcus Mariota some time to test the Falcons over the top where Neal used to reside, I could also see them breaking off a big play or two. Give me the Titans to pull this one out as a road underdog. Titans- 21-20. 

Cleveland @ Baltimore (-6.5)

After knocking off the Jets for their lone win of the season in Week 2, the Browns fell to the Rams this weekend and dropped to 1-2 on the year. The Ravens started out their season hot, knocking off the Dolphins and Cardinals before falling in Kansas City by less than a touchdown in Week 3. This game confirmed that the Ravens can play with the league’s best after some were left questioning the quality of their first two opponents. Let’s not forget, though… the Browns have some weapons… and while they haven’t quite caught their groove yet, they could certainly go off at any moment. Baker Mayfield has been far from stellar so far this year, only throwing 3 TDs compared to 5 INT. Some would argue that Tennessee, the Jets, and the Rams all have above-average defenses… but Baker simply needs to be better. On the encouraging side, Mayfield has WRs Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry to target in this offense. Beckham has turned 29 catches into 288 yards and a TD so far this year, while Landry’s 10 catches have gone for 161 yards. RB Nick Chubb has paced the backfield well, tallying 233 yards so far on 60 carries. Again, the Browns have weapons galore… but if their line keeps Baker on the run, we’ll never get to see them all at their best.

On the defensive side, they have the 6th most sacks in the NFL, paced by one of the league’s best in Myles Garrett who has 6 sacks already. With that said, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson is one of the league’s most evasive QBs… so they’ll have their work cut out to slow him down and rack up the sacks in this one. The aforementioned Jackson is experiencing a breakout so far this season. He’s averaged 287 yards per game and has thrown 7 TD to 0 INT so far this year. On the ground, Jackson has been stellar as well. He’s taken 27 rushes for 172 yards and a TD, making him a true dual threat. His favorite target has been Marquise Brown, who has made the most of his 14 catches. Brown has averaged 94 yards per game and tallied 2 TDs for Baltimore this season. TE Mark Andrews has also been quite active, reeling in 19 balls for 235 yards and 2 TDs for the Ravens. On the ground, Mark Ingram II has been running wild. The veteran back is averaging 6 yards per carry, and has 5 TDs through games. With Ingram and Jackson pacing the rushing attack, I think that the Ravens’ balanced offensive approach could cause fits for Cleveland. While both teams have a stout defense, I like the home field advantage and a more consistent, mistake-free offense to put Baltimore over the top. I’ll take them to win and cover at home. Ravens 27-20.

New England (-7.5) @ Buffalo

We have a battle of 3-0 teams in Western NY. Josh Allen and the Bills have surprised many by starting their campaign off undefeated, but they have a tall task ahead of them if they want to move to 4-0. Some would argue their quality of opponent hasn’t been the best so far, but when you look at New England’s victories, they’re not all that impressive either. The impressive factor here is what the Patriots have done defensively. Through 3 games, they have not allowed an offensive touchdown to their opponents. Combine that defense with a Brady-led offense and Bill Belichick as the puppeteer, and it’s a fearsome thought. Brady has performed well so far this year, averaging over 300 yards per game and throwing 7 TDs without an interception. His top target has been Julian Edelman who’s scored once and added just over 65 yards per game. There will be more targets available with the departure of Antonio Brown, and you can expect Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Phillip Dorsett to see increased workloads as a result. Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, and James White split work in the backfield for New England and all have the ability to take the reins at any moment and control a game. Needless to say, the Patriots have a lot of offensive weapons and Belichick can deploy any of them on any given Sunday.

Josh Allen will need to be at his best to keep up with the defending Super Bowl champions. He’s thrown for 750 yards through 3 games, adding 3 TDs to 3 INTs. He’s also added 105 yards on the ground with two touchdowns, making him a true dual-threat that New England will have to account for. His weakness, however, is ball control, having lost 2 fumbles and thrown 3 INT so far in the young season. Turnovers can’t happen if Buffalo wants to hang in this one. With Devin Singletary still nursing an injury, Frank Gore will lead this backfield again. Last week, he ran for 76 yards on 14 carries and added a TD… not bad for the game’s oldest RB. In the receiving corps, John Brown leads the team with 246 yards through the air and a TD so far this year. Other options for Allen include Cole Beasley, Dawson Knox, and Zay Jones. Brown is easily the biggest deep ball threat the Bills have. Otherwise, they don’t have anyone else that’s incredibly fearsome. Given that lack of weapons, it’s going to be hard to beat the Patriots. In the end, I trust the Patriots defense to confuse the young Allen, cause some turnovers, and for Tom Brady to make enough clutch throws to propel the Patriots here. Give me the champs to win and cover in Buffalo. Patriots 28-20.

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Kansas City (-5.5) @ Detroit

We have yet another matchup of undefeated squads in Detroit where the 2-0-1 Lions will face off with phenom Patrick Mahomes and the KC Chiefs. Detroit’s two wins were quite impressive this year, first beating the Chargers in Week 2, and then knocking off the Eagles in Philadelphia last week. Kansas City has been strong as well and is coming off a win over an up-and-coming Ravens team. Patrick Mahomes remains amazing, as he’s thrown for 1195 yards through 3 games, averaging just under 400 ypg. Mahomes’ 10 TDs through 3 games are also unprecedented. He’s without stud WR Tyreek Hill, but has made the most of his weapons. Sammy Watkins has scored 3 touchdowns on 311 yards receiving to lead the team. The league’s best TE, Travis Kelce, has 284 yards and a score to his name as well. Demarcus Robinson and rookie Mecole Hardman have both contributed as well, combining for 5 TDs so far this year. Needless to say, Mahomes can make anyone look great, and can look anywhere on the field to produce.

In the backfield, the Chiefs might be without Damien Williams again as he nurses an injury. LeSean McCoy and Darrel Williams will shoulder the load if Damien misses this game as well. Last week, the tandem combined for 116 yards rushing and a TD on 17 carries– that’s an incredibly efficient 6.9 yards per carry. Defensively, the Chiefs are still a bit shaky, but their offense has overcome those woes by posting 33.7 points per game in the early part of the season. Detroit has exceeded expectations so far this year as well. QB Matt Stafford has posted 831 yards passing with 6 TD this season, while only throwing 2 INT. He’s favored the veteran Marvin Jones Jr. and young star Kenny Golladay. The two have combined for 376 yards and 3 TDs. Detroit also has the likes of Danny Amendola and rookie TJ Hockenson to provide Stafford with options. In the rushing game, Kerryon Johnson has underwhelmed, averaging 2.6 yards per carry and only 1 TD so far this season. He’ll need to produce more to spell the Detroit passing attack and provide balance to this offense. While the Lions have certainly impressed so far this year, and the Chiefs are a little banged up, I don’t see Matthew Stafford & Co. being able to keep pace with Mahomes and the speedy Chiefs. I could see it turning into a shootout on the turf of Ford Field, but will always side with the more explosive offense to win in those cases. I’ll take KC to pull off the win as road favorites and cover in the process. Chiefs 33-26.

Carolina @ Houston (-3.5)

Kyle AllenIt seems like Cam Newton has a pretty significant injury, and that it’ll be the Kyle Allen show until further notice. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Carolina, as Allen was fantastic in his debut. Albeit against a lowly Arizona defense, Allen threw for 261 yards and 4 TD compared to no INTs last week and gave fans in Charlotte hope for their season. RB Christian McCaffrey certainly helped the cause, rushing for 153 yards and averaging 7 yards per touch, and adding a TD. McCaffrey is one of the game’s best and provides fantastic balance, drawing attention from the defense on every play and opening up passing lanes for Allen. TE Greg Olsen was also fantastic last week, reeling in 6 of 7 targets for 2 TDs and 75 yards. He and Curtis Samuel were each targeted twice and combined for 3 TDs. DJ Moore wasn’t targeted much but took his lone catch for 52 yards and a TD. LB Luke Kuechly paces the Carolina defense, which ranks 2nd in the league in sacks and 7th in INTs. The Houston offensive line will have to be at their best to slow down the likes of Mario Addison and the rest of the Panthers’ front. The line has been a cause of concern for the Texans so far this year, so this will be a key battle. Deshaun Watson is the focal point of the Houston offense, and one of the game’s best players. Watson has thrown for 778 yards through 3 games, adding 6 TD while only throwing one INT. He has the game’s best receiver to throw to in DeAndre Hopkins, who leads the team with 19 catches for 218 yards and 2 TDs. Veteran Kenny Stills and the oft-injured Will Fuller are both speedster deep threats, who have combined for 324 yards and a TD so far this year. Watson is rich with options and can keep up with any other offense in the game if a shootout were to break out.

The Texans defense is anchored, as always, by JJ Watt. Watt’s 2 sacks are second on the team to LB Whitney Mercilus who has 4. Carolina’s line will also need to be at their best to contain two of the game’s best. All in all, despite Allen’s successful debut, I could see a different story playing out with JJ Watt bearing down on him in the pocket all afternoon. If the Texans defense can click, and their offensive line can contain the Panthers’ pass rushers, I like them to outscore Carolina in this one and cover at home. Texans 30-24.

Oakland @ Indianapolis (-6.5)

Oakland comes into Indianapolis with a 1-2 record, fresh off two straight losses. The Colts enter play with 2 consecutive wins over the Titans and Falcons. Their lone loss of the year was to the Chargers, a quality team by all measures. Jacoby Brissett has been one of the major reasons behind the Colts’ success, throwing for 646 yards, 7 TD and only 1 INT. Brissett’s best target, TY Hilton is a bit banged up, so his presence would certainly be helpful in this one. Marlon Mack comes into play just a yard shy of 300 yards for the season and has scored twice. He’ll dominate the backfield and should help the Colts control the clock. For Oakland, Derek Carr has been pedestrian, throwing for just under 700 yards, along with 4 TD to 3 INT. His favorite target has been TE Darren Waller, who has caught 26 passes for 267 yards, but Waller hasn’t found pay dirt yet. Look for him to buck that trend this week. Rookie RB Josh Jacobs has shown flashes of greatness but hasn’t quite broken out yet. Even without Andrew Luck, the Colts still pack a punch. Look for Jacoby Brissett to continue his winning ways and have an efficient game without mistakes. He and Mack will be the offensive difference here and the Colts will prevail at home and cover the spread in the process. Colts 30-21.

LA Chargers (-16.5) @ Miami

Until the Dolphins give me a reason not to, I’ll be picking against them every week. I’ll take the Chargers to cover on the road. Chargers 30-12. (LOCK OF THE WEEK)

Washington @ NY Giants (-2.5)

All eyes will be on Daniel Jones in East Rutherford on Sunday. Fans are hoping that his 4 TD performance last week was no fluke and that they have their new franchise QB. A game against Washington should give him another chance to put up some big numbers after the Redskins fell behind early on Monday Night Football and took a loss to Chicago in the process. The Giants will be without superstar Saquon Barkley in this one and will have to instead rely on the legs of Wayne Gallman. WR Sterling Shepard and TE Evan Engram will be Danny Dimes’ primary targets as he looks to replicate his success of last week. Engram is having a highly productive year thus far, as he’s logged an average of 92 yards per game and added 2 TDs. For Washington, Case Keenum has been pedestrian but has found a strong connection with rookie WR Terry McLaurin. Look for McLaurin to have a strong game against this incredibly porous NYG Secondary. Adrian Peterson will man the backfield but looks like a shell of his former self. I don’t think either of these teams is too talented defensively, and it could be a matter of which team makes fewer mistakes. The loss of Barkley will be tough to navigate, but I can see the legend of Jones growing in his second start. Emotions will undoubtedly be high at Metlife Stadium, and I think it’ll drive the Giants’ rookie savior. Give me the G-Men by a field goal. Giants 27-24.

Seattle (-4.5) @ Arizona

Russell Wilson has led Seattle to a 2-1 record so far this season, while Rookie Kyler Murray is still looking for his first win as the Cardinals’ QB. Wilson hasn’t thrown an INT so far this year and has completed 71.4% of his passes. His 901 yards are among the league’s best, and he’s thrown 7 TD. Wilson has been honing in on Tyler Lockett, whose 22 catches and 277 yards lead the team. Rookie WR DK Metcalf has also contributed, adding 217 yards and a TD, while TE Will Dislly has chipped in 3 TD of his own. In the backfield, Chris Carson has lost 3 fumbles so far this year, and should be on a short leash, provided Rashaad Penny is healthy enough to play. For Arizona, Murray has averaged 277 yards per game and has thrown 4 TDs. The ageless Larry Fitzgerald hasn’t lost a step, pulling in 18 balls for 253 yards and 2 TD so far this year. RB David Johnson has all the talent in the world but needs to improve on his 3.7 yards per carry. He has contributed in the receiving game, though, logging 2 TD catches. WR Christian Kirk is also a name to watch, as he’s netted 205 yards so far this season without scoring. Although the Seahawks have underwhelmed, I don’t think Kyler & Co. are quite ready to compete with the game’s big dogs. While the Seahawks defense is a shell of its former self, I do give Seattle the edge on that side of the ball. When the dust settles, I think that Russell Wilson will provide some second-half heroics to put Seattle over the top in this one, as they cover on the road. Seahawks 28-22.

Tampa Bay @ LA Rams (-9.5)

I truly believe the 3-0 Rams are among the league’s best teams. Between Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Todd Gurley, they can attack you from so many angles. They also have a fearsome pass rush that includes the league’s best all-around player, Aaron Donald. The Bucs have Jameis Winston, and two high-quality WRs in Evans and Godwin, but I don’t think that will be enough. Furthermore, after their epic collapse last week, I can’t trust the Bucs to make a stop late. Aaron Donald and the defense should cause fits for Winston, and create multiple turnovers. With that said, I think that LA has too many weapons for Tampa Bay to keep within striking distance and that the Rams will pull away early. I’ll take them to win and cover at home. Rams 30-20.

Minnesota @ Chicago (-2.5)

While the Bears came out hot on MNF last week, they really faltered towards the end of the game, allowing the Redskins to creep closer. Although the Chicago defense is elite, I think the Vikings’ D is quite solid as well. Ultimately, I think that Cousins, Cook, Thielen, and Diggs will make more plays than Trubisky and the Bears skill players, and that will put Minnesota over the top. I’ll take the Vikings to upset the Bears in Chicago. Vikings 27-25.

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Jacksonville @ Denver (-2.5)

This game is an ugly one. However, I was impressed by the pressure Jacksonville generated last week and their ability to contain Derrick Henry. Accordingly, I think they should be able to replicate a strong effort against Joe Flacco and the backs of Denver. I like Jacksonville’s defense to put them over the top as they pull off this road upset. Jaguars 23-20.

Dallas (-2.5) @ New Orleans

I’m so excited to watch this game. I could honestly see it going either way. However, I think that Dak Prescott will make the big plays late to pull Dallas ahead. While Alvin Kamara can change the game on any touch, I’m worried that Teddy B can make all of the big throws he’ll need to late against this surprisingly stout Cowboys defense. I’ll take Dallas to win this game on the road, but only by the slimmest of margins. Cowboys 30-28.

Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh (-3.5)

AFC North battles can go either way on any given week. In the end, though, I don’t believe the Bengals’ defense is up to the task. While Mason Rudolph isn’t exactly the most imposing passing threat, Cincy has given up the 6th most points in the NFL, so I suspect the Steelers will be able to put up points at home. Look for James Conner to get back on track in this one and for Rudolph to make enough throws to get Pittsburgh the win (but not cover) in a close game. Steelers 26-23.

Enjoy the games! Until next week…

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