Sports | October 1, 2021 7:51 am

Expert NFL Picks for Week 4, Including Seahawks-49ers, Cardinals-Rams and Bucs-Pats on “Sunday Night Football”

Kevin Rogers of VegasInsider, Borgata sportsbook director Tom Gable and VSiN sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum offer their insights

DeAndre Hopkins makes a reception while being defended by Jalen Ramsey at SoFi Stadium
DeAndre Hopkins makes a reception while being defended by Jalen Ramsey at SoFi Stadium.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty

This is NFL Best Bets, a recurring series in which professional sports handicappers lend us their insights and picks for the most intriguing matchups for each week of the football season.

For this edition of Best Bets, Kevin Rogers, a veteran handicapper for VegasInsider.com, Thomas Gable, the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, and sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum of VSiN share their opinions on five Week 4 games, including a pair of divisional matchups in the NFC West featuring the Seahawks at the 49ers and Cardinals at the Rams as well as the Brady Bowl in Foxboro on Sunday night.

You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get to it.

Indianapolis Colts (+2, O/U 42.5) at Miami Dolphins


A compelling matchup because … the Colts have scored more and given up fewer points than their Week 4 opponents, yet they’ve lost all three of their games while the Dolphins have won one game and been competitive in their two losses. In danger of falling out of the playoff picture with another defeat, Indianapolis has no choice but to rely on a gimpy Carson Wentz and hope his lingering ankle issues don’t prevent him from playing well. Jacoby Brissett has yet to throw a touchdown pass this season for Miami.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: Both of these non-division foes are looking to snap two-game losing streaks. The Colts (0-3 SU, 1-2 against the spread) just fell to the Titans 25-16, failing to cover as 4.5-point road dogs. Meanwhile, the Dolphins (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) just fell to the Raiders 31-28, although Miami covered as a 3.5-point road dog. This line opened with the Dolphins listed as a 1.5-point home favorite. The public is relatively split, yet Miami has moved from -1.5 to -2, signaling some sneaky sharp Miami money. The lead referee, Alex Kemp, is 18-10 (64.3%) to home teams historically. Miami is 2-0 ATS at home and the Colts are 0-1 ATS on the road. I don’t trust a hobbled Wentz. I’ll back the short home favorite and take Miami on the money line.

Gable’s Guess: For the first time in a decade, the Colts are 0-3 to start the season. And they’re a team that many believe could challenge for the division title before the season started. This team has looked very lost at times. They won the turnover battle 3-0 last weekend against the Titans but still lost and didn’t even cover. They’ve had one of the toughest schedules in the league to start the year and it doesn’t really get any easier this week. Miami has been another confusing team this year and this is essentially a must-win spot for both teams. Miami’s offense is averaging under four yards per play, which is way below the league average. And on defense, third-down is killing them and they’re not able to get off the field. They’re allowing a 61% conversion rate, which is 31st in the league. Maybe some things will turn around here against Indianapolis. Miami is humid during the month of September and it is a tough spot to play. I’m going to lay the two with Miami at home here.

Rogers’ Recommendation: The Dolphins are 3-0 as a home favorite under head coach Brian Flores and Miami is favored for the first time this season on Sunday against winless Indianapolis. The Colts have hung around in each of the last two games but lost to the Rams and Titans. Indianapolis has covered only once, in Week 2 against the Rams. The Colts have played solid competition so far. Brissett will get the start for Miami on Sunday in his first action against the Colts since leaving Indianapolis after last season. Wentz is dealing with two sprained ankles and is hobbling around for the Colts. Best Bet: Miami -2.

Our Pick: Believe in Brissett having a revenge game more than Wentz staying upright. Lay the points.

Seattle Seahawks (+3, O/U 52.5) at San Francisco 49ers


A compelling matchup because … losers of two in a row following an impressive win in Week 1, the Seahawks head to San Fran for a divisional matchup with a 49ers team that lost a heartbreaker in Week 3 to the Packers on Sunday Night Football. With the other two teams (Cardinals and Rams) in the ultra-competitive NFC West also playing in Week 4, the winner of this game will take an early lead on divisional tiebreakers. It’s early, but it’s important.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: This clash features a pair of rivals looking to bounce back from losses. The Seahawks (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) won their opener against the Colts but have since lost two straight, most recently falling to the Vikings 30-17 as 2-point road favorites. Similarly, the 49ers (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) just lost at home to the Packers 30-28 as 3-point home favorites. This line opened with San Francisco listed as a 3.5-point home favorite. This line has dipped to 3 and even flirted with a fall to 2.5. This signals steady Seahawks action, who are likely to play desperate after losing two straight. Russell Wilson is 23-10 ATS (70%) as a dog. Give me the Seahawks +3 in a classic road divisional dog spot.

Gable’s Guess: The 49ers are dealing with depth issues at running back and, outside of George Kittle, their offense looks very horse-and-buggy. Against Green Bay they threw a lot of short passes that didn’t really go anywhere. Nobody was getting any sort of run after the catch. Despite that, they still had the chance to beat Green Bay. The weakness of the 49ers’ defense is their corners and I’d expect Wilson to exploit them this week. Seattle has lost two straight and their defense is playing much the way they did early last year, which is not good at all. They’ve allowed over 900 yards in the last two games and they can’t get stops on third down. They’ve allowed 352 rushing yards in the past two weeks. What that has done is allow their opponents to chew up large portions of the clock and limit the number of possessions that Wilson gets. I have this essentially as a pick’em game, but I’ll take the three points with the Seahawks right now.

Rogers’ Recommendation: Seattle is listed in the underdog role for the first time this season as the Seahawks are playing their third road game in four weeks. The 49ers rallied past the Packers in the final minute last week, but Green Bay kicked a long field goal to stun San Francisco and hand them their first loss of the season. The Seahawks have won three of the past four meetings with the 49ers, including each of the last two at Levi’s Stadium. It’s going to be a dogfight with all four teams in the NFC West whenever they hook up, but it’s hard to pass on Seattle in the rare underdog role. Best Bet: Seattle +3.

Our Pick: Seattle is getting points in a game they could, and should, win outright. Take the ‘Hawks and the points.

Arizona Cardinals (+4.5, O/U 55) at LA Rams


A compelling matchup because … following the aforementioned matchup, either the Cardinals or Rams will be undefeated and in first place in the NFC West (barring a tie). Tied with the Bucs for the NFL lead in scoring with 103 points through three games, Arizona will have to deal with an LA defense that is surrendering an average of just over 20 points per game. The Cardinals have scored more than 30 points in all three of their wins this season, so something is clearly going to give.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Cardinals (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) are coming off a 31-19 win over the Jags, covering as 8-point road favorites. Meanwhile, the Rams (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) just dominated the Bucs 34-24, winning as 1-point home dogs. This line opened with Los Angeles listed as a 6-point home favorite. The public is happy to ride the high-flying Rams at home laying a short number, especially after their big win over the Bucs. However, we’ve seen Los Angeles fall from -6 to -4.5. This signals some wiseguy action buying low on the undefeated Cardinals plus the points. Short road dogs +6 or less are 14-3 ATS this season and 119-73 ATS (62%) over the last two seasons. Arizona also has value as a divisional dog (56% ATS over the past two seasons) and a dog with a line move in their favor (59% ATS over the past two seasons). I’ll follow these betting systems and take Cardinals +4.5. 

Gable’s Guess: The Rams were laying 5.5 points when we opened this game. I think the huge concern for Arizona in this game is their offensive line depth. Justin Murray and Justin Pugh are uncertain to play as they both suffered back injuries against Jacksonville. Kelvin Beachum, who missed the game against the Jags, also could remain out because of a rib injury. Against the Rams, they have to face one of the best pass rushes in the league. Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury is 0-4 against Sean McVay in his career. Arizona’s defense looked great in Week 1 against Tennessee, but they haven’t played as well since and will need to get some pressure on Matthew Stafford. Chandler Jones is the NFL sack leader and he’ll have to get through that tough Rams’ offensive line. The injuries on the Arizona offensive line really worry me. Kyler Murray is elusive, but it may be too tall of a task against one of the best defenses in the league. I’m going to lay the points with the Rams.

Rogers’ Recommendation: McVay has had Arizona’s number during his tenure with Los Angeles as the Rams are 8-0 in eight meetings with the Cardinals. The Cardinals are 8-2-2 ATS since 2019 as a road underdog, including an outright win in Week 1 at Tennessee. Arizona may be catching Los Angeles in a letdown spot after the big win over Tampa Bay. Best Bet: Arizona +4.5.

Our Pick: If Arizona doesn’t put up 30 points, the Rams certainly will. It’s high, but we’ll take the over.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7, O/U 49) at New England Patriots


A compelling matchup because … nothing to see here except Tom Brady heading to New England with the opportunity to put the nails in the coffin of the football dynasty he helped to create two decades ago and send Bill Belichick to 1-3 on the season. The Patriots won’t be dead in the water with a loss, but they’ll be pretty damn close.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: This Sunday Night Football showdown will break records for ticket counts as it marks Brady’s highly anticipated return to Foxboro and his first game against Belichick since leaving the Pats. The Bucs (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) just suffered their first loss of the season last week as 1-point road favorites. Similarly, the Patriots (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) are coming off a disappointing loss in Week 3, losing to the Saints 28-13 as 3-point home favorites. This line opened with the Bucs listed as a 5.5-point road favorite. The ticket counts across the market show roughly 95% of bets backing Brady to stick it to Belichick and roll. This insanely lopsided betting has pushed the Bucs from -5.5 to -7. This is a classic buy-low spot on the Patriots, who are a contrarian bettor’s dream. Give me the Patriots at +7.

Gable’s Guess: We opened this with the Buccaneers laying 6, but the total hasn’t moved. When you look at this game, I think it is important to look at Tampa’s pass defense. It’s their Achilles’ heel. Stafford passed for 343 yards and four TDs against them in Week 3 and they’re allowing 338.3 yards of passing per game. They’ve also been dealing with injuries in the secondary. Their defensive line only has three sacks all season. Now they face Mac Jones who, along with all the other rookie quarterbacks this year, has struggled. He attempted 51 passes against the Saints last week and he struggled with his accuracy downfield. Looking at these two offenses, Tampa is averaging 34.4 points per game while the Patriots are averaging only 18. All the focus will be on Brady and Belichick here. I’m just not seeing Tom losing this one. I will lay the points with Tampa.

Rogers’ Recommendation: Tampa Bay is the most public play on the board this week in Brady’s return to New England. The Buccaneers took their first loss of the season last week, while the Patriots didn’t look good in a 15-point home defeat to the Saints. Mac Jones threw three interceptions against New Orleans and has defeated only one team through three games — the lowly Jets. Although New England is in a rare home underdog role on Sunday night, this is definitely a circled game for Brady to stick it to Belichick and the Patriots. Best Bet: Tampa Bay -7.

Our Pick: The Patriots covering here would be a win for them. Don’t see it. Lay the points with Tampa.

Las Vegas Raiders (+3.5, O/U 51.5) at LA Chargers


A compelling matchup because … prior to the season kicking off, no one would have picked the Raiders to lead the AFC West at 3-0 with the Kansas City Chiefs occupying the basement of the division at 1-2 on the year. But that’s where we are as the Raiders head to LA to take on a Chargers team that knocked off those very same Chiefs in Week 4. Vegas hasn’t won its games by much this season — two have gone to overtime — but the Raiders have made big plays at important times. The Chargers have two victories, but they have yet to win a game at home this season.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: This Monday Night Football features a pair of rivals who have both gotten off to a good start. The Raiders (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) just took down the Dolphins 31-28, although Vegas failed to cover as a 3.5-point home favorite. Meanwhile, the Chargers (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS) just went into Arrowhead and shocked the mighty Chiefs 30-24, winning outright as 7-point road dogs. This line opened with the Chargers listed as a 3-point home favorite. The line has touched +3.5 and pros have pounced on Vegas plus the hook. I’ll sell high on the Chargers after their big win and grab the points with Vegas. I love backing road divisional dogs in primetime who can score and put up points. Vegas is averaging 30 points per game, which is sixth best in the NFL.

Gable’s Guess: Derek Carr leads the league in deep passing attempts, completions and passing yards for the Raiders. Their run defense has been pretty solid to open the season, but they’re allowing 355.7 yards per game overall, which is pretty high. The defense will have their hands full in this one against Justin Herbert and the Chargers. Through three games, they have the best wide receiver duo in the league in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Those two have combined to catch 43 passes for 553 yards and five touchdowns in their three games. They aren’t the fastest guys in the league, but it appears Herbert can rely on them to win their matchups and target them in the red zone. I just expect this game to be a wild one and primetime games have been playing to the over so far this year. I’m going to take the over.

Rogers’ Recommendation: Las Vegas wasn’t a team that was predicted to start 3-0, but Jon Gruden’s team is among the unbeaten heading into Week 4. The Raiders are an underdog on Monday night against the rival Chargers. Los Angeles is coming off an impressive victory at Kansas City for the team’s second road win of the season. The Lightning Bolts are 6-1 SU/ATS in their last seven games since the end of last season, which includes a perfect 4-0 SU/ATS mark against the AFC West. Best Bet: L.A. Chargers -3.

Our Pick: High point totals in primetime appears to be an ongoing trend. We’ll ride it and take the over on Monday.

Last Week: 4-1; Season: 7-8

Editor’s note: Lines fluctuate throughout the week based on injuries, weather reports and other factors. Make sure to double-check odds before betting.