Exceedingly Average: NFL Week 4 Picks

NFL Picks

We are not gamblers. That doesn’t mean we can’t pretend. Some of these choices have actual thought put into them. More of these choices were made with gut, intuition, and a little thing called grit.

Employ these recommendations at your own peril. Gambling is ungentlemanly.

[Home team in caps. All lines per VegasInsider.com consensus. Bye: New England, Tennessee]

New York Jets (-1.5) vs. Miami (in London)

dolphins jets

Brad Barr/USA TODAY Sports

Derek: The Dolphins have been one of the most disappointing teams in the league. They barely beat Washington, lost to Jacksonville, and got blown out at home by Buffalo. The Jets, on the other hand, seem to actually have a pulse. They didn’t do so well last week, but there’s some evidence that they’re pretty good. The same can’t be said for Miami. I’ll take the Jets.

Will: The Jets! Who knew that they’d be competent this year? They’ve given up the fewest points in the league through three games, surrendering 41 total to the Browns, Colts, and Eagles. The Jets gave up 24 to Philly in their one loss, but one of those scores came on a punt return. That defense could be for real, and that’s enough reason for me to take New York in London.

INDIANAPOLIS (-9) vs. Jacksonville

Derek: This one’s tough to pick since we don’t know the status of Andrew Luck. Chuck Pagano says he’s “confident” Luck will play, but he’s listed as questionable, he hasn’t thrown in practice this week, and the Colts just signed Josh Johnson as an emergency quarterback. If Luck were to be at full strength, I’d like the Colts quite a bit here. Not sure my main man Matt Hasselbeck can lead Indy to a double-digit win, especially behind that abysmal offensive line. I’ll say Luck plays and pick the Colts, but I may update this pick before Sunday.

Will: My reflex is to assume that the Jags suck. They’ve given up 91 points (51 to the Patriots), which is somehow only fourth-worst in the league. That said, the Colts might also suck. They should have their way with Jacksonville at home, but I like Jacksonville to cover.

ATLANTA (-6.5) vs. Houston

Derek: The Texans have been involved in close games, but they haven’t played an offense this good yet. Unless J.J. Watt can cover Julio Jones (maybe he can) I say the Falcons cover.

Will: This could be Atlanta’s year. Houston? Not so much, their thrilling 19-9 win over Tampa notwithstanding. Falcons win big.

Carolina (-3) vs. TAMPA BAY

J. Meric/Getty Images

J. Meric/Getty Images

Derek: I really dislike picking NFC South games. I feel like I’d pick against both of these teams most of the time. Tampa Bay somehow seems to play worse at home, and I think the Panthers D can handle the Bucs. I’ll take Carolina.

Will: I also dislike picking NFC South games. Carolina is 3-0, with those victories coming over the powerhouse Jags, Texans, and Saints. Let’s say I’m less than convinced. I’ll take a flyer on the Bucs.

BUFFALO (-5) vs. New York Giants

Derek: Fine, maybe Tyrod Taylor is better than I’ve given him credit for. The Bills are without Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy, but they weren’t really using Watkins anyway and Karlos Williams has been playing better than the hobbled McCoy. I almost talked myself into taking the Giants, but the thought of backing Eli Manning against this defense terrifies me. Bills cover.

Will: The Bills can score! I liked them a bit this year based on their defense, but they’ve scored at least 27 in every game this season. How bout that Tyrod Taylor?!

…That said, I have an inexplicable gut feeling on this one, and it’s telling me to take the Giants.

Oakland (-3) vs. CHICAGO

Derek: Alshon Jeffery has already been ruled out, and the chances of Jimmy Clausen starting are still entirely too high. The Bears have the look of a team that wants the number one pick, while the Raiders seem to think they can win the AFC West. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ll take the road favorite Raiders.

Will: This game is a disaster. I half-believe the Bears will get their first win of the season, but maybe the Raiders are finally over their longstanding road woes. Raiders it is.

Philadelphia (-3) vs. WASHINGTON

Derek: The entire Eagle offense has been a massive disappointment, but they picked up their first win last week and get to play against noted turnover machine Kirk Cousins. I think he’ll be the difference as the Eagles move to .500.

Will: These teams have fared similarly through three weeks. Both are 1-2. Washington has a -4 point differential, and the Eagles -5. Both have a win over a team that might be good — Philly beat the Jets on the road (and hung tough with the Falcons), while Washington solidly beat the Rams at home. I’ll take Washington and the points.

CINCINNATI (-4) vs. Kansas City

Derek: Tough spot for the Bengals, as they’re coming off a big divisional game against Baltimore and host the Seahawks next week. The Bengals could overlook the Chiefs, and we’re way overdue for a Dalton Game. The Bengals usually win at home, but four points is just a bit too much. I like Kansas City to cover.

Will: I’m just waiting for Cincinnati to fuck this good thing up. I’ll probably pick against them every week until it happens. Chiefs on the road.

SAN DIEGO (-7.5) vs. Cleveland

Derek: I was ready to label this as Melvin Gordon’s breakout game, as the Browns have given up 475 rushing yards this season — worst in the league. They’re also giving up an 4.9 yards per carry, which is tied for 31st. Then I saw the injury report, which noted four of the Chargers’ five offensive lineman are injured and didn’t practice today. Well, that’s not good at all. I think the Chargers win, but the Browns cover.

Will: There are a bunch of reasons not to like the Browns here, and the run game (both ways) is definitely among them. I don’t care; I’ve talked myself into them winning outright. They beat the Titans comfortably when expectations were super low, and I’m hopeful that happens again this week. The Vikings gave San Diego fits by attacking the middle of the line, which happens to be where Danny Shelton resides. Browns by six touchdowns.

Green Bay (-8.5) vs. SAN FRANCISCO

Kelley L. Cox/USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L. Cox/USA TODAY Sports

Derek: The Patriots’ revenge tour has gotten a lot of attention, but what about Aaron Rodgers’ revenge tour? He beat the team he lost to in the NFC Championship, then beat the quarterback that was drafted ahead of him, and now he gets to face the team that eliminated him from the playoffs in 2012 and 2013. He’s also lost four straight games against them and, in case you missed it, the 49ers look terrible. Rodgers may channel his inner-Brady and throw deep well into the fourth quarter of a comfortable Packers win.

Will: 8.5 is a lot of points. Aaron Rodgers can put up a lot of points. I very much like the Brady/Pats analogy. Packers it is.

DENVER (-7) vs. Minnesota

Derek: The Broncos are 3-0, but they could easily be 1-2 against three teams that haven’t looked very good so far. Outside of their sleepwalking performance in Week 1, the Vikings have played pretty well, though they’ve faced pretty poor competition themselves. The Bronco defense has the advantage against Teddy Bridgewater, but Adrian Peterson looks to be returning to form. I don’t trust the Broncos enough to lay a touchdown with them. I’ll take the Vikings.

Will: What you said. If Brady and Rodgers are on a revenge tour, I’m not sure what Peyton Manning is on this year. Every time I hear about him not being able to feel his fingers, I get a little more worried about his general wellbeing, not to mention his ability to throw. Minnesota covers on the road.

ARIZONA (-7) vs. St. Louis

Derek: I picked St. Louis last week, thinking that was one of the games they would decide to take seriously. But the offense was so atrocious that they couldn’t beat the Steelers even after knocking Ben Roethlisberger out. I came to find, though, that a great deal of people ended up picking the Rams. Now I’m wondering if this is one of the big wins the Rams will get on their underachieving road to 7-9. The Cardinals have been getting too many pats on the back, and division games are often closer than we think. I like the Rams.

Will: The Cardinals have ruled ass so far. They dropped 48 and 47 in consecutive weeks, and their closest win was 31-19. That said, they’ve beaten the Saints, Bears, and Niners. They might make me/us look stupid, but I’ll go with St. Louis.

NEW ORLEANS (-4) vs. Dallas

Derek: I bet NBC wishes they could move up the flex schedule to this week. Chances are they weren’t counting on a Luke McCown vs. Brandon Weeden showdown. I’m almost more excited for the commentary than the game.

I’m going with Dallas, even if Drew Brees plays. The Saints’ vaunted homefield advantage has evaporated, as they’ve now lost six straight in the Superdome. The Saints allow 397 yards per game (29th in the league) and 28 points per game (27th). Even if Brandon Weeden does nothing but check down to Lance Dunbar, the Saints likely won’t have an answer for Joseph Randle and/or a possibly debuting Christine Michael.

Will: The Saints may also be in the midst of a season from hell. I’m pretty sure that losing to Brandon Weeden at home is exactly what hell is, so I’m picking the Cowboys.

SEATTLE (-10) vs. Detroit

Derek: Seattle didn’t get a home primetime game last year because they too often ended in blowouts. Enter the Lions, who have looked terrible so far. They continue to give the ball to Joique Bell for some reason, while Matthew Stafford has been injured and ineffective. Even Calvin Johnson has started to look human. The Seahawks may be without Marshawn Lynch, but Thomas Rawls looks to be a capable fill-in. Though I’m a little scared of a Golden Tate Revenge Game, the Seahawks should get another big home win.

Will: At risk of offending you and your beloved ‘Hawks, beating the Bears doesn’t quite make me a believer. Even if I’m picking them out of an outdated belief that Stafford and Calvin will score a bunch, I like the Lions to cover.

Last week

Derek: 9-7

Will: 8-8


Derek: 23-24-1

Will: 24-23-1

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