Expert NFL Picks for Week 4, Including Titans-Colts, Bears-Giants and Bills-Ravens

A trio of handicappers offer their insights on five of this week's best games

September 30, 2022 6:54 am
The Baltimore Ravens line up against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park.
The Baltimore Ravens last met the Buffalo Bills in the playoffs in 2021.
Bryan M. Bennett/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 professional football season. Here are our Week 4 NFL picks.

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

Tennessee Titans (+3.5, O/U 43) at Indianapolis Colts

A compelling matchup because…the loser of this divisional game will fall to 1-3 on the season and face an uphill battle to get back in the playoff hunt. That’s an interesting place to be for two teams that were expected to contend for first place in the AFC South and a decent postseason seed. Neither team has gotten good quarterback play thus far and their respective running games, which are both supposed to be strong points, have yet to get going. This has all the makings of an old-fashioned rock fight.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: The Colts opened as a 3-point home favorite. Currently, 65% of bettors are taking the points with the road dog Titans. However, despite this lopsided support, we’ve seen the Colts move from -3 to -3.5. Some shops are even inching up to Indy -4. Why is the line moving toward the Colts if the public is all over Tennessee? Because pro bettors are fading the trendy dog and laying the points with the home team. I’ll side with this sharp move and take Indy -3.5.

Gable’s Guess: The Colts probably feel good after beating the Chiefs, but this team could be 0-3 right now. Their offensive line has a number of issues hat will continue to cause problems with Matt Ryan, a quarterback who isn’t exactly mobile anymore. He’s been hit 21 times over the past two games. The Titans have given up 300 passing yards in back-to-back weeks, but at least Derrick Henry finally got going with 143 total yards and a touchdown. Can the Titans keep the momentum going? Not sure, so I’m going to look at the total and take the over.

Rathmanner’s Reckoning: Both the Titans and Colts picked up their first wins of the season last week. The Colts beat the better opponent in the Chiefs, but neither team looked impressive offensively last week or has all this season. The Colts have scored just 40 points through three weeks, worst in the league. The Titans are not far behind them with just 51 points through three games. Both teams have been trending to the under recently with eight of the last 10 Colts games going under and six of the last 10 Titans games also hitting the under.  Sunday should be a low-scoring affair, so I’m grabbing the under in this one.

Our Pick: These offenses aren’t as bad as they’ve played thus far. Going to roll with the over.

Chicago Bears (-3, O/U 39.5) at New York Giants

A compelling matchup because…both teams enter this game at 2-1. Prior to the season, it would not have been surprising to see them both projected to be 0-3 at this point. With just 297 passing yards heading into Week 4, Fields now owns the record for the least amount of passing yards for a quarterback who started each of the first three games of the season. It’s also the fewest amount of passing yards for any quarterback who, at any point in a season, started three straight games since 1975. Not great coming into a game that could potentially see some rain. With both teams better at running the ball than passing it, expect lots of ground-and-pound football.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Giants listed as a 3-point home favorite. The public is split down the middle and line hasn’t budged off of 3. This is a classic layoff situation for me, without any sign of contrarian value or sharp action either way. Instead, I’ll look toward the total. It opened at 39.5 and looks to be trending down to 39 based on the under being juiced up. The forecast calls for 15-20 mph winds. When the wind blows 10 mph or more the under is roughly 55% over the past decade. Both teams are 2-1 to the under. Both teams have respectable defenses and not much on offense. I’ll root for a low-scoring game and take the under 39.5.

Gable’s Guess: An amazing part about this is one of these teams is going to be 3-1 after the game. The Bears, have been able to run the ball effectively and they’ve also gotten some timely turnovers. Justin Fields has not looked good at all and the Bears really need to see some signs of progress soon from him. The Giants had major issues protecting Daniel Jones against the Cowboys as he was sacked five times and pressured 23 times in Week 3. New York’s run defense is ranked 25th in the NFL and allowed 176 yards on the ground to Dallas. Now they have the Bears, who rank second in the league in rushing. Being at home, the Giants should be able to pull this out. I’m going to lay the points with the Giants.

Rathmanner’s Reckoning: The Bears have two wins but they beat a bad Texans team at home last week 23-20 and knocked off the 49ers in a bad weather game to open the year. In between they went to Green Bay and looked as bad people expected them to look this season. The Giants are coming off a tough loss to Dallas on Monday Night Football, but the good news is that Saquon Barkley is healthy and continues to look dominant. He has over 400 yards of offense and two touchdowns in the first three games of the season. His success should continue against a Bears team allowing 157 yards against the rush per game this season, tied for second worst in the league. Laying a field goal or less, I’m taking the Giants at home.

Our Pick: The Giants aren’t great, but the Bears are worse. Laying the points with the home team.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+6.5, O/U 46) at Philadelphia Eagles

A compelling matchup because…fresh off an upset blowout of the Chargers in LA, the Jaguars and coach Doug Pederson head to Philadelphia for a matchup against the team he led to a win in the Super Bowl. A mess last season under Urban Meyer, second-year Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence has looked like a different player under Pederson. He’ll have to put up points for the Jags to stand a chance as the Eagles are one of two teams (Buffalo is the other) to record at least 400 total yards of offense in each of their first three games of the season.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Eagles listed as a 7-point home favorite. The public is happy to lay the points with undefeated Philadelphia. However, we’ve seen this line fall from 7 to 6.5. Dogs who missed the playoffs the previous season like the Jags are 23-8 ATS (74%) this season. Road dogs are 15-9 ATS (62%). Dogs that see the line stay the same or move in their favor are 12-5 ATS (71%). With all these system matches and the Eagles being overvalued by the public due to their impressive performance thus far, I’ll be taking the points with Jacksonville +6.5.

Gable’s Guess:  The Eagles have pretty much emerged as the darlings of the NFL and the Jaguars are not that far behind them. There isn’t much that isn’t going right for Philly right now. The offense is humming and Jalen Hurts has emerged as an early MVP candidate. The offensive line is showing why they’re the best in football and the defense just had a phenomenal showing against Washington. They sacked Carson Wentz nine times in that game. The Jaguars seem to be heading in the right direction as a franchise and as a team, but they could be heading into a buzzsaw in Philly this week. I don’t think the Jags win this outright, but I’m buying the confidence in Jacksonville and am going to take them with the points.

Rathmanner’s Reckoning: This is a tough situational spot for the Jaguars. They are coming from across the country and have to play a second consecutive road game — in Philly of all places. In addition, the Eagles are a big step up in competition from games against the Colts, Commanders and a banged-up Chargers team. The Eagles have one of the top defenses in the league and will truly test how much Trevor Lawrence has developed. Meanwhile, on offense, Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts is an early season MVP candidate. The Jaguars have been the best defense in the league against the run, but have struggled against the pass. it is not an ideal matchup as the Eagles are happy to throw the ball to weapons like AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith. Give me the Eagles laying less than a touchdown.

Our Pick: Like the Jags to cover, but they’re still the Jags. Both teams score, so taking the over.

Buffalo Bills (-3, O/U 51) at Baltimore Ravens

A compelling matchup because…the Ravens have the league’s top offense through the first three weeks (33.0 points per game), but are only slightly ahead of the Bills (30.3 points per game). Ravens QB Lamar Jackson leads the NFL with 12 combined passing and rushing touchdowns while Buffalo’s Josh Allen ranks second with 10. Jackson vs. Allen projects to be one of the best quarterback matchups in the league for years to come and both are viable MVP candidates thus far. Expect fireworks — and maybe some extreme weather.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with Buffalo listed as a 3-point road favorite. The public can’t lay off the high-flying Bills at a short chalk price. But every time this line rises to 3.5, it gets scooped up by contrarian bettors taking Ravens plus the hook (+3.5). Lamar Jackson is 8-1 ATS in his career as a dog. John Harbaugh is 40-29 ATS (58%) as a dog. I’ll wait out this line and hope late Buffalo love drives the line back up to 3.5, at which point I’ll pounce on the Ravens +3.5 with the hook at home.

Gable’s Guess: Buffalo lost in Miami in Week 3, but I don’t take too much away from that. The Bills are still the best team in football and they actually thoroughly outplayed Miami. They just failed to convert some key possessions which ended up costing them the game. It won’t be easy for them to shut down Lamar Jackson, but the Ravens’ defense has pretty much been a sieve. I’d expect Josh Allen to carve them up. I think one or both of these offenses is going to put up 30 points, so I’m going to take the over.

Rathmanner’s Reckoning: This could be a preview of a playoff game.  Both teams have looked good early in the year and come into the game with identical 2-1 records. The Bills are clearly the better team defensively and are allowing only 12.7 points per game; the Ravens are allowing 25.7. The Ravens have the worst pass defense in the league, but the Bills’ high-flying passing offense could be slowed by rain and winds of up to 20 mph on Sunday in Baltimore. This seems like a spot where the Ravens will rise to the occasion and make things tough on the Bills, who are playing their second consecutive road game. Going to play the home dog Baltimore Ravens at +3.

Our Pick: Tough to tell what the weather will be like, but going to guess and take the under.

Denver Broncos (+2.5, O/U 45.5) at Las Vegas Raiders

A compelling matchup because…Sunday’s game in Las Vegas will be Russell Wilson’s first start against a divisional opponent as a member of the Broncos. It’s an important one as Denver could basically deliver a death blow to the Raiders’ season with a victory over winless Vegas. The Raiders should be desperate for a win and any early-season rust as a result of resting players during the preseason should be eliminated at this point. The Raiders have a better offense than any opponent Denver has faced yet.

Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened at roughly a pick’em. Respected money sided with the Raiders, steaming Las Vegas up to a 2.5-point home favorite. I lean with the move toward Vegas, but it’s hard to lay the points with winless Josh McDaniels in a divisional matchup. I’ll take the under here. It opened at 46.5 and has fallen to 45.5, signaling some sharp under money. Denver’s offense is horrid but their defense remains stout. The Broncos are 3-0 to the under. Divisional unders are 14-4 (78%) this season. Give me under 45.5.

Gable’s Guess: Russell Wilson has not lived up to his contract with Denver and I think they’re very fortunate to be where they are. The Raiders have lost all three of their games by six points or less. After having a big first game. Davante Adams has been MIA since having a big first game and their offensive line commits a ton of penalties. They haven’t really tried to run the ball and they currently have the fewest rushing attempts in the league. The bottom line is both of these teams have their issues. I think the Raiders are going to be desperate though so I’m going to lay the points with Vegas.

Rathmanner’s Reckoning: Neither team has looked good to start the season, but the Raiders look like the better team at this point despite being 0-3. They had a bad loss in Week 2 at home to Arizona, in a game they were leading by 16 points in the fourth quarter. They played the Chargers tough in a Week 1 road loss as well. The Broncos and Russell Wilson still can’t figure out how to score and have just 43 points. through three weeks. Las Vegas is averaging over 21 points per game; the Broncos have yet to score more than 16. Denver’s defense is good, but they’ve only played Seattle, Houston, and San Francisco. Taking the Raiders at -2.5 or less at home.

Our Pick: The Raiders can’t afford to lose. It’s a square bet, but laying the points with Vegas.

Last Week: 2-3-0; This Season: 5-10-0

Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate throughout the week based on injuries, the weather and other factors. Make sure to double-check the odds before making your own Week 4 NFL picks.

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