As many of you know, I’m a Colts fan. I’m often quite overly negative and pessimistic about the team. I’m not happy that Andrew Luck will miss this marquee game against the Seahawks on Sunday Night Football. Russell Wilson and Luck has only faced each other one other time and it may be a few more years until they play each other again.
When Luck had his shoulder surgery, I never heard a single word that the recovery would eat into the regular season. It wasn’t until the Summer and we heard that hey may not be ready for the start of the season and now it looks like he may be out another few weeks. It just blows that we have to see Jacoby Brissett in Luck’s spot in what I expect to be a blowout.
Can Cam Newton break out of his slump and upset the reigning Super Bowl champions?
We pick ever NFL game against the spread and throw out a few upsets in Week 4 of the 2017 NFL season.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-7) – My pick is Chicago Bears
This is probably an unpopular pick, but I’m taking the points in this game. People are sleeping on the Bears, but I’m not on Thursday night. Weird stuff happens on Thursday night football. You get bizarro performances from teams, so why not the Bears? They have been able to run the ball this year with RBs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. As long as they limit the mistakes from QB Mike Glennon, they’ll be in games. The Packers are a bit one-dimensional right now. They haven’t been able to get a ground game going with RB Ty Montgomery. He’s only averaging 3.0 ypc, but he has been able to add to those yards with 18 receptions on the year. The Bears defense is underrated this year. This could be a close game.
[LONDON GAME] New Orleans Saints at Miami Dolphins (+3) – My pick is Miami Dolphins
It sucks that Miami hasn’t technically had a home game yet this season (they were hurricane’d out of a Week 1 game). They now go to London only to come back next week without a week off. On paper, New Orleans Saints 43-13 win over the Carolina Panthers is impressive. If you actually watched the game, you would see a pouty Cam Newton tuned out of the game after his first interception (he threw three interceptions). Are the Saints that good are are we overrating the Panthers? I think we are all off on Carolina. If Miami can run the ball with RB Jay Ajayi to allow QB Jay Cutler some protection, they could leave London with a win. Ajayi is dealing with a knee issue, but says he will be ready to go on Sunday. I’m not sold on the Saints in back-to-back games. They have had trouble following up a win, with another win. I have to take the points here.
Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys (-6) – My pick is Dallas Cowboys
As much as I want to dive in head-first on the Rams bandwagon, let’s look back at the Rams two wins…the Andrew Luck-less Colts and the 49ers. Not exactly facing the same weight class. Their loss was to the Redskins by a touchdown. Washington ran the ball all over the their front-seven, which was surprising. The Cowboys righted the ship last week by beating the Cardinals 28-17 on Monday Night Football. Dallas got back to what worked last year, QB Dak Prescott managing the game and feeding the ball to RB Ezekiel Elliott. They got away from the winning formula in their 42-17 loss to Denver. The Rams probably should be a -7.5 underdog in this game, but people still remember the Colts blowout and the TNF game was fun to watch. I’m taking Dallas to cover at home.
Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets (+3) – My pick is New York Jets
I know what you’re thinking, you’d rather give your money to a diseased ferret than to lay any money on the Jets this season. It’s not that they are an absolutely horrible pick every week, but there’s no one on the team that gives me hope that my money will come back to me. I guess QB Josh McCown does have an underdog feel to him. He’s been on so many teams and he seems to never have a shot to start an entire season. The Jags are coming off a 44-7 win against the Ravens in London. They aren’t getting a bye week like most teams do when they play in London, so this could affect the game. The Jets defense has shown the ability to fool quarterbacks a few times a game. It doesn’t take much to fool Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles. A turnover could make or break this game. I’m taking the points.
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) – My pick is Detroit Lions
As much as Vikings QB Case Keenum looked like a boss last week, I’m not sold that this will be the norm. He has had complete disasters as a starting quarterback as well, so it’s a possibility. I’m much more confident in the Lions ability to defend and put up points. I have to take the points here.
Buffalo Bills at Atlanta Falcons (-8) – My pick is Buffalo Bills
Let’s look back at Atlanta’s season so far. They opened the season with a close win over the Bears that they almost lost in the final seconds. They followed that win with a solid win over Green Bay at their new retractable roof’d stadium. The Falcons third game ended with a controversial call, thus overturning a Detroit touchdown call and the refs ran down the clock to end the game. The Falcons could easily be 1-2 heading into this game. I still think they get spooked when they have the lead late in a game and the other team has the ball. The Bills are coming off a really nice 26-16 win over the Broncos. The Bills have leaned on their defense this season. They’ve made a few turnovers to sway games in their favor. Their lone loss to Carolina wasn’t the defense’s fault. They held them to nine points, so that’s on the offense for not scoring more than three points. The Bills are underrated and are 3-0 ATS. They still aren’t getting any love from Vegas, so I’m taking the points.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (+3) – My pick is Cincinnati Bengals
‘Battle of Ohio’ games are usually interesting. Some really bad Cleveland Browns teams have given some really good Cincinnati Bengals teams a hell of a game. Cincinnati come into this game the winners of the last five meetings (5-0 ATS). The Bengals were beaten by Green Bay 27-24 in overtime last week, but they looked like the Bengals we are accustomed to seeing under head coach Marvin Lewis. QB Andy Dalton wasn’t taking dumb chances and they cemented rookie RB Joe Mixon in the backfield, instead of subbing RBs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard in and out all game. The Browns had a good game against the Colts last week. Rookie QB DeShone Kizer can’t afford to throw interceptions and he was picked off three times against Indy. The Bengals defense is better and it will be another rough day for the rookie. I’m taking the Bengals to cover in Cleveland.
Carolina Panthers at New England Patriots (-9) – My pick is New England Patriots
I’ve officially written-off the Carolina Panthers. I now see their NFC Championship season as almost a fluke. Carolina hasn’t had a season anywhere near that one. We all still remember how good QB Cam Newton was that season and we want to bet on THAT GUY. Well, that guy is nowhere to be found. You know which guy I’ll be betting on? Tom Brady.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (+3) – My pick is Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh/Baltimore rivalry has been one of the best in the NFL over the last decade. The games are close and heated. The favorite hasn’t covered in the last five meetings (underdog is 4-0-1 ATS). Also, the home team has been the outright winner in seven of the last ten matchups. As I said about the Jags, I worry about the Ravens playing after playing in London the previous week. Baltimore didn’t look very good in their 44-7 loss. Pittsburgh hasn’t been dominant this season either. Le’Veon Bell’s holdout did not do him any favors. He doesn’t have the explosiveness in his cuts. This is his fourth games back, so I hope he looks more like himself. The Steelers will need him if they hope to cover at Baltimore. Even though the Ravens are a home ‘dog, I think the travel situation will a hindrance. I’m taking the Steelers to cover…because the trend has to end at some point, right?
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (+1.5) – My pick is Tennessee Titans
After taking the first two games off, Houston’s offense showed up against New England last week. They nearly beat the reigning championship, but lost 36-33. Rookie QB Deshaun Watson had 300+ yards in the air, but threw two costly interceptions. Houston hopes to pair a running game with Watson this week. There are rumors that RB D’Onta Foreman could see more carries this week. RB Lamar Miller could soon see himself dropped down the depth chart, but Freeman has at least played his way into a carry-split either way. The Titans have their own two-headed running back tandem of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Let’s not forget about QB Marcus Mariota who can also get it done on the ground. I can’t wait to watch this game. As a Colts fan, I’m interested in seeing the future of the AFC South. I think the Titans are a step above the Texans right now, so I’m taking a Titans cover.
Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Chargers (-1) – My pick is Philadelphia Eagles
The Chargers haven’t been able to win close games this season because they are one-dimensional. Chargers RB Melvin Gordon is a shell of himself and is only averaging 3.3 ypc. He has helped his numbers a bit with some short passes, but they need way more out of him. It doesn’t help that he is nursing a knee contusion. The Eagles have a lot of guys in the backfield, but they will be without an important one, RB Darren Sproles. He injured his knee and broke his arm in the same play, so he’s done for the year. QB Carson Wentz will need to find a new short yardage receiver out of the backfield (maybe Corey Clement). The Eagles offense is well-rounded. I don’t see the fractured Chargers offense being able to put up enough points in this game. I’m taking the points.
New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) – My pick is New York Giants
The Bucs played great in their first game in Week 2 at home against the Bears. They were then dominated by the Vikings 34-17 and were even outgained by over 150 yards. Which Bucs team is their truth? I have to go with last week’s outcome. They don’t really have a running game with RB Doug Martin suspended and it leaves QB Jameis Winston vulnerable. He threw three interceptions trying to make something happen against the Vikings. The Giants are slowly looking better and better every week, but they are still 0-3. They have been vulnerable against the run, but since the Bucs have little threat of taking advantage of that, I have to take the Giants and the points.
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (-7) – My pick is San Francisco 49ers
The Cardinals miss the hell out of RB David Johnson. QB Carson Palmer has aged ten years over the offseason. There isn’t the same zip on his passes and the accuracy is all over the place. He will miss three out of his last five passes, but then connect on a beautiful pass like this one to J.J. Nelson against the Colts. I can’t say that the Cardinals are an automatic 20+ point-scoring team every week. The most they’ve put up so far is 23, followed by 16 and 17 points. The Niners have a gunslinger at quarterback (Brian Hoyer), with nothing to lose. It took him two games to get comfortable, but once they scored their first TD against the Rams, he looked relaxed. He was finding WR Pierre Garcon all over the place. Will he have the same success against Arizona? No, not at all, but can he keep it close? Absolutely. I’m taking the points.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-2.5) – My pick is Denver Broncos
Did Washington author a new strategy to handcuff Oakland? The Redskins were able to get out to a 14-0 lead at halftime. The Raiders didn’t look comfortable after they fell behind. They have the kind of offense that works best when they aren’t in a hurry. They can mess around with the running game with RB Marshawn Lynch and wait until they see something perfect for QB Derek Carr. He tried to force a few passes to WR Amani Cooper and turned the ball over. Denver’s defense is one of the best in the league, so Carr will struggle again if Denver can get out to an early lead. The Redskins had success with short passes to running backs and tight ends against the Raiders. If they can get the ball in the hands of RB Jamaal Charles in the flat, magic could happen. I’m taking the Broncos to cover at home.
Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks (-13) – My pick is Seattle Seahawks
The Colts looked like an NFL team against the Browns, but we may want to temper out expectations of them against the Seahawks IN Seattle. The Colts may have a hard time spying QB Russell Wilson. Chuck Pagano-led Colts teams have had a difficult time against athletic quarterbacks. The last time Wilson faced the Colts, he threw for 210 yards and ran for another 102 yards on the ground. The Seahawks may not light up the scoreboard, but their defense is suited to stop a team like the Colts. You need a quarterback like Andrew Luck to kead a team like the Colts to a close game…but he’s on the sideline with an injury. I hate taking large point spreads like this, but I see no other outcome.
Washington Redskins at Kansas City Chiefs (-7) – My pick is Kansas City Chiefs
This is usually when you want to jump off the bandwagon, cause it’s really hard for any NFL team to win four-straight games against the spread. The lines will start to become ridiculous. This is right on the border of ridiculous and sane. The reason I see this line as doable is the fact that I hate the receivers Redskins QB Kirk Cousins has lining up on his side of the ball. He has to hope RB Chris Thompson breaks a huge swing pass, ’cause WR Terrelle Pryor is overpaid and not up to the challenge. He should be a team’s #2 or #3 receiver. The Chiefs offense has been near-perfect this year and I see them putting up the same numbers on Monday night. I’m taking the Chiefs to cover.
*These picks are for entertainment purposes
Sweetbob’s NFL picks against the spread record in previous seasons:
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob