NFL Best Bets: Experts Pick Week 4 Games Including Dolphins-Bills, Ravens-Browns and Patriots-Cowboys

A trio of sharps look at five of this week's games

September 29, 2023 6:04 am
The Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wild Card playoff game.
The Dolphins and Bills are the matchup of the week.
Bryan M. Bennett/Getty

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

In this Week 4 edition of NFL Best Bets, Thomas Gable, the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum of VSiN and Mike Golic Jr. of DraftKings share their opinions on five games, including the Falcons going across the pond for a football match with the Jaguars in London on Sunday morning.

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

Ravens (+3, O/U 40.5) at Browns

Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Ravens listed as a short 2-point road favorite. Almost immediately, it flipped to Browns as a short favorite and has since grown to Browns -3. This signals sharp “dog to favorite” line movement on Cleveland. The Browns are only receiving 45% of bets but 54% of the money, a notable sharp contrarian bet split. Baltimore is dealing with a plethora of injuries. Meanwhile, Cleveland boasts one of the best passing and rushing defenses in the NFL. The lead ref, Brad Allen, has historically favored home teams (55% against the spread). I’ll follow the sharp action and take Cleveland on the moneyline -145.

Gable’s Guess: The Ravens suffered one of the more surprising losses on Sunday when they went down in overtime to the Colts. Now they’re going on the road to face one of the best defenses in the NFL in Cleveland. The Browns have only allowed one touchdown on defense in the first three weeks of the season. They allowed just three points in total to the Titans on Sunday and their opponents are averaging only 6.67 points through three games. Their defense will get tested a little more this week with Lamar Jackson. The Ravens were without four injured starters on offense in Week 3 and they just couldn’t make key plays when it counted. Continue to monitor the injury situation with the Ravens. I’m going to lay the points with Cleveland.

Golic’s Gamble: The Ravens are coming off a stunning loss while the Browns just got Deshaun Watson’s best performance since they signed him. That may be just as much about the Titans team they faced as it is their own improvement. With questions still surrounding Cleveland’s QB, and injuries making the onboarding of Todd Monken’s offense a bit tougher than expected, I trust both defenses to keep this a low-scoring affair. Give me the under.

IH Best Bet: Will have to see it to believe it with Watson. Taking the points with Baltimore.

Dolphins (+2.5, O/U 54) Bills

Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Bills listed as a 3-point home favorite. We’ve seen the Bills fall from -3 to -2.5, signaling sharp money grabbing the Dolphins at the key number of +3. Divisional dogs are 10-5 ATS (67%) this season and 172-129 ATS (57%) since 2020. Tua Tagovailoa is 11-5 ATS (69%) as a dog in his career. The lead ref, Adrian Hill, has historically favored road teams (57% ATS). When betting on a dog, I look for dogs who can score, which allows them to keep pace or backdoor cover. Miami leads the NFL in scoring (43 points per game). Shop around and give me Dolphins +3.

Gable’s Guess: What more can you say that hasn’t already been said about the start Miami is off to this season? They had a near-historic rout of Denver on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Bills had their own dominant win against the Commanders. They forced five turnovers in that game and had nine sacks. The Bills’ defense will need to continue to be strong. They’ve allowed 16, 10, and three points in their first three games and held all their opponents under 300 yards. Of course, none of those offenses are close to what Miami puts on the field. I’d expect to see a lot of public money on Miami this week, but as long as I can lay less than three, I’m laying it with Buffalo.

Golic’s Gamble: Simply put, I just don’t know how you stop this Miami offense right now. They won’t score 70 every week, but they’ve become a deadly weapon thanks to the combination of speed and execution McDaniel & Co. have acquired and developed. They keep rolling and continue to make an old group of champagne-popping Dolphins very nervous. I want Miami with the points.

IH Best Bet: Don’t really know on a side here. Both teams can score so will side with the over.

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Bengals (-2.5, O/U 40.5) at Titans

Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Bengals listed as a 1.5-point road favorite. The public is all over Cincinnati with 81% of bets backing Joe Burrow and company. This lopsided support has driven the Bengals up from -1.5 to -2.5. At this point, Tennessee is offering buy-low contrarian value as an inflated home dog, only receiving 19% of bets. Mike Vrabel is 25-16 ATS (61%) in his career as a dog. Dogs off a blowout of 20 points or more are 93-57 ATS (62%) since 2018. (The Titans lost to the Browns 27-3 last week.) I’ll bank on Tennessee keeping it close. Give me the Titans in a teaser (+2.5 to +8.5), which passes through multiple key numbers. I’ll pair that with the Eagles -8 to -2 against the Commanders.

Gable’s Guess: The Bengals got a must-win against the Rams in Week 3 to avoid falling to 0-3 to start the season with a less than 100% Joe Burrow. He did just enough and their defense really carried the day. Burrow didn’t move around too much and he looked to get the ball out quicker than usual. You probably won’t see him extending plays anytime soon with the way his calf is. This Titans offense with Ryan Tannehill looks terrible. I’m not sure how long we have until they go to Malik Willis or Will Levis. If Tannehill continues to play the way he has, they’re going to make a change. They’ve scored 20 points only once in their last 10 regular-season games. Ultimately, this team needs to play better on both sides of the ball. I believe the defense for Tennessee will step up before the offense gets their act together. I’m going to take the under in this one.

Golic’s Gamble: Looking back at the Titans’ loss to Cleveland, one of the things that stuck out was Deshaun Watson’s ability to absorb and evade pressure. In Joe Burrow’s current state, that’s hard to count on against a stout Titans defensive line. I’ll side with the under.

IH Best Bet: Maybe the win on Monday night got Cincy on track. Laying the points with the Bengals.

Falcons (+3, O/U 43) at Jaguars

Appelbaum’s Assessment: This early London showdown opened with the Jags listed as a 3-point neutral site favorite. This line has briefly fallen to 2.5 or risen to 3.5 throughout the week at several shops, before settling back at 3. Currently, 74% of bets and 78% of money is laying the points with Jacksonville. I’ll focus on the total instead. It opened at 45 and has dipped to 43. As it stands, 48% of bets and 69% of money are on the under, a sharp contrarian bet discrepancy. Unders that fall at least a half point are 21-13 (62%) this season. I’ll bank on a sleepy, low-scoring game. Give me the under.

Gable’s Guess: Both of these teams are coming off disappointing losses. The Jaguars are playing in their home away from home in London. Things are not good on offense for the Jaguars and the bottom line is they’re 1-2 on the season. They rank 16th in total yards, 21st in points and they’ve committed at least one turnover in each game. Trevor Lawrence’s receivers have dropped a league-high nine passes. The only guy who seems to be performing at an acceptable level is Travis Etienne. The Falcons are in a three-way tie at the top of the NFC South. In my opinion, they’re fortunate to be there. Atlanta’s offense continues to not live up to the hype that surrounds it. They were completely ineffective in moving the ball with consistency against Detroit on Sunday. The Jags will need to take a page out of the Lions’ playbook and shut down the run. That seems to really bottle up the Falcon. I’m going to lay the points with the Jags.

Golic’s Gamble: Maybe part of this is wishful thinking or holding on to preseason predictions, but I just can’t believe the Jags will continue to underperform like this. London feels like a home game for them, and I think criticisms of Trevor Lawrence have gone too far. This Falcons team allowed seven sacks a week ago vs. Detroit and this could be a spot where this Jacksonville pass rush can finally come alive. Laying the points.

IH Best Bet: The Jaguars are at “home” and their quarterback is better than Desmond Ridder. Laying the points.

Patriots (+6.5, O/U 43) at Cowboys

Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Cowboys listed as a 7.5-point home favorite. The public is leaning toward Dallas, with 56% of bets laying the points. However, despite this public support, we’ve seen the Cowboys fall from -7.5 to -6.5. This signals sharp reverse line movement on the Patriots, with pros grabbing the points with the road dog. Road dogs are 17-12 ATS (59%) this season and 442-353 ATS since 2018. Scott Novak, the lead ref, has historically favored road teams (61% ATS). I’ll sweat the Pats +6.5.

Gable’s Guess: The Patriots took care of the Jets once again and now they’re traveling to Dallas to face an angry Cowboys team that lost to Arizona after looking very impressive in the first two weeks of the season. The Patriots did just enough to win against the Jets, but offensively they still lack firepower. The Cowboy offense has a big edge between the two teams. New England’s offense hasn’t scored more than 20 points yet and the Cowboys are a top defensive team. I expect the Cowboys to bounce back and that the defenses will be battling it out all day. I’m going to take the under.

Golic’s Gamble: The Cowboys’ cavalry seems to be returning as their starting OL should all be back and healthy. We get to watch two of the best defenses in the NFL that play two completely different styles. I think the Pats will try to exploit some of the run defense issues for Dallas that showed up vs. Arizona and help keep Mac Jones from seeing Micah Parsons too much on third downs. The Patriots will fall short and points will be hard to come by. Taking the under here.

IH Best Bet: If the Patriots are going to win, they’re going to have to score. Crossing fingers and going over.

Last Week: 2-3; This Season: 7-7-1

Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate based on injuries, the weather and other factors. Double-check the odds before betting.

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