The NFL can be a difficult league to figure out for sports betting purposes at times, and we saw that again in week three with some weird upsets. Things got started off on the wrong foot right away last Thursday night, when the favored Houston Texans fell flat in a 27-0 road defeat to the New England Patriots.
If that wasn’t weird enough, the Rams beat the Buccaneers in a shootout, the Cardinals got decimated by the Bills and the Eagles blew the Steelers out of the water.
Expect and embrace the weirdness, folks, and relish in the idea that no NFL bet is necessarily a crazy one. With Thursday already almost here, we want to keep that fresh and in the back of our minds as we look to week four and try to find some success with our NFL picks.
Join us as we take a look at the spreads and totals for each game and see which way you’ll want to conduct your NFL betting this week:
Bovada is giving the Bengals some serious points to start off the week, which could be a little dangerous considering these teams are playing on a short week and Cincy hasn’t looked amazing to start 2016.
The Dolphins have been a mixed bag, as their defense looked elite in week one and then last week they needed OT to beat the Browns. The Bengals should take care of business at home, but look for Miami to hang tight and beat the spread.
Pick: Bengals 24, Dolphins 20
Indianapolis Colts (-3) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (+3) Total: 49
This is a weird game for several reasons. For starters, it’s in London and will be an odd start time for both teams, it’s a game between two desperate teams and it’s also a bitter AFC South clash.
Jacksonville badly needs this win to avoid an 0-4 hole, but little they’ve done in 2016 suggests they’re a team that can overcome adversity. Indy isn’t much better, but they have Andrew Luck and can smell blood in the water with J.J. Watt’s recent injury. Look for the Colts to hang on in a wild shootout overseas.
Pick: Colts 34, Jaguars 27
Detroit Lions (-3) @ Chicago Bears (+3) Total: 47
Brian Hoyer figures to get his second straight start, which has to be bad news for a quickly regressing Bears team. Detroit’s defense is touch and go, but their offense has blown up twice in the season’s first three weeks. Chances are Matthew Stafford and co. light it up again in a nice divisional win to get back to 2-2.
Pick: Lions 27, Bears 17
Carolina Panthers (-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (+3) Total: 50.5
Atlanta has shown us very quickly that they are a very balanced and explosive offensive team. Their defense, unfortunately, has been awful and it’s tough to imagine them stifling a Panthers team that certainly will want to avoid dropping to 1-3.
We expect Cam Newton to storm out of the gates after an awful week three, while Carolina’s solid defense naturally gives the Panthers the edge they’ll need in a tough NFC South contest.
Oakland has shown to be a clutch and potent bunch so far in 2016, but one thing that has not been constant is their ability to defend. That could play right into Baltimore’s hands, who will host this week four battle with an underrated defense backing them.
It’s tough to bank fully on Joe Flacco lighting up the Raiders here, but the Ravens are balanced enough on both sides of the ball to stay perfect and drop Oakland to 2-2.
Pick: Ravens 26, Raiders 17
Cleveland Browns (+8) @ Washington Redskins (-8) Total: 46
For all of their issues, the Cleveland Browns are at least competitive, as they’ve been in each of their last two games and could be inching closer to their first win under head coach Hue Jackson. That, or they could simply start crumbling under a staggering amount of injuries.
Kirk Cousins is on the other side of things, where he did just enough to stave off a dreadful 0-3 start last week and will be at home this week, where he tends to thrive. If Cousins shows up as his 2015 self, Washington should make some noise by getting back to .500.
The Titans have scratched and clawed their way to three tight finishes in 2016, but they have just an ugly 1-2 start to show for it. Now they get to travel to Houston, where the Texans will want to make up for a disgusting shutout loss to the Patriots.
Losing J.J. Watt may have everyone off the Texans this week, but they’re still the better team and at home. A likely defensive battle could have this game close and Tennessee beating the spread, but Houston should still get the win and ascend to 3-1 on the year.
Pick: Texans 19, Titans 16
Denver Broncos (-3.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5) Total: 44.5
Denver is getting easier and easier to pick this year, as their defense continues to be elite and now Trevor Siemian is actually showing some serious upside. Once merely a pedestrian game manager, Siemian just got done shredding a good Bengals defense and now may be an asset for a suddenly very scary Broncos team.
If that weren’t enough, Denver has a tasty matchup with human turnover machine Jameis Winston. If Winston can’t beat the Rams, we’re damn sure not betting on him to upset the Broncos.
Pick: Broncos 31, Buccaneers 17
Dallas Cowboys (-3) @ San Francisco 49ers (+3) Total: 46
Chip Kelly keeps riding Blaine Gabbert, which will inevitably bury the Niners and leave them with a shot at the top pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Perhaps that’s the goal. Dallas will surely try to oblige, as Dak Prescott hunts for his best game yet and Ezekiel Elliott seems to be getting more comfortable as a dominant leading rusher with each passing week.
While Dallas is improving on offense and this matchup looks awesome, the real key is the ‘Boys defense. They’ve been rather impressive through three weeks and should have a chance to thrive again in week four.
Pick: Cowboys 27, 49ers 13
Seattle Seahawks (n/a) @ New York Jets (n/a) Total: n/a
Bovada is playing this one close to the chest, as Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson (knee/ankle) is not 100% and some think he won’t suit up this week. That’d obviously put the Seahawks in a tough spot; on the road against a good defense with Trevone Boykin under center.
We figure Wilson plays, but if Ryan Fitzpatrick is half as bad as he was last week (six picks!), the Jets don’t stand a chance.
Pick: Seahawks 27, Jets 17
Buffalo Bills (n/a) @ New England Patriots (n/a) Total: n/a
Here’s another game we’ll have to slow play this week, as the Pats have big question marks with Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo both banged up and Rob Gronkowski likely questionable. The Bills showed serious life last week and regardless of how takes the field for the Pats, will be out for blood in an intense AFC East clash.
New England will undoubtedly be favored at home, but this could be a good spot for Rex Ryan and co. to enforce their defensive will. It should be a slugfest, but we’ll take the Bills by a hair.
Pick: Bills 20, Patriots 16
New Orleans Saints (+4) @ San Diego Chargers (-4) Total: 53.5
If there is a game to chase the Total on, it’s this one, as the Bolts and Saints have tons of offensive upside and neither defense is close to elite. San Diego makes sense as the favorite at home, but it’s tough to think their injuries aren’t going to catch up with them.
Both of these teams are desperate and severely flawed, but we tend to side with the Saints getting their first win of the year here. The Chargers simply aren’t an easy team to trust, is all.
Pick: Saints 34, Chargers 31
Los Angeles Rams (+8) @ Arizona Cardinals (-8) Total: 43
This could actually be a fun upset pick, but the best we can do is give the Rams a shot at beating the spread. Los Angeles has rebounded nicely after a horrifying week one effort and suddenly an elite defense and an gadgety offense has them looking interesting.
While the Rams should be taken seriously, this is still an impossible situation for them. Arizona was throttled last week and you know they’re going to be out for blood at home in a must-win game. We can’t see the Cardinals dropping to 1-3 here, but we do think the Rams make it a good fight.
Pick: Cardinals 24, Rams 19
Kansas City Chiefs (+6) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-6) Total: 47.5
This is one of the toughest games of the week to call, as Kansas City’s defense has looked fantastic over the last two weeks and we all know what the Steelers are capable of offensively.
While the Chiefs are tough to bet against right now, winning at Heinz Field in Le’Veon Bell’s 2016 debut just doesn’t make much sense.
Pick: Steelers 23, Chiefs 20
New York Giants (+4.5) @ Minnesota Vikings (-4.5) Total: 43.5
We’re straying from flat out upsets this week, largely because they don’t make a ton of sense. This is a crucial turning point for the Giants, however, as they lost a very winnable week three game and need to prove they’re for real here, otherwise risking an implosion.
Odell Beckham Jr. has also been too quiet in 2016 and something tells us the bright lights of Monday Night Football will catch him waking up. New York’s defense could get to Sam Bradford and all it may take is one or two ODB deep balls to get the Giants a huge win over a very tough Minnesota defense.
Pick: Giants 17, Vikings 16
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