2021 Week 4 NFL Picks

Pick of the Week

DAL -4.5 vs. CAR

High Confidence Picks

LV +3 @ LAC


Medium Confidence Picks

ARZ +4 @ LAR

GB -6.5 vs. PIT

NE +7 vs. TB

NYG +7 @ NO

CIN -7.5 vs. JAX

Low Confidence Picks

ATL +2 vs. WAS

SF -2.5 vs. SEA

CHI -3 vs. DET

MIA -2 vs. IND

PHI +7 vs. KC

No Confidence Picks

BUF -17 vs. HOU

TEN -6 @ NYJ

BAL +1 @ DEN

Upset Picks

ATL +110 vs. WAS

LV +145 @ LAC

Washington Football Team at Atlanta Falcons: 2021 Week 4 NFL Pick

Washington Football Team (1-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2)

Washington is 1-2 with their only win coming by just 1 point over the Giants at home, but they are still a little overrated, favored by 2 points on the road in Atlanta, against a Falcons team that I have just a half point worse than Washington in my roster rankings. Both teams are mediocre, but the public hasn’t caught on to the fact that Washington’s defense isn’t as good as a year ago. They still have their dominant defensive line, but their back seven isn’t nearly as good as a year ago. Overall, this defense isn’t good enough to carry an offense that is starting a backup quarterback and that has a noticeably worse offensive line than a year ago. There isn’t quite enough here for the Falcons to be worth betting against the spread, but the money line at +110 is a good value because the Falcons should be no worse than 50/50 to win this game at home.

Atlanta Falcons 24 Washington Football Team 23 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Atlanta +2

Confidence: Low

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers: 2021 Week 4 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (1-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-1)

I expected the 49ers to win the NFC West and be one of the top teams in the NFC coming into the season, but that was primarily dependent on them staying significantly healthier than a year ago. The 49ers were much better than their 6-10 record suggested last season and they are still not as injury plagued as a year ago, but the injuries are piling up, as they are missing starting linebacker Dre Greenlaw, their top two cornerbacks Jason Verrett and K’Waun Williams, starting running back Raheem Mostert, and possibly their stud tight end George Kittle, who barely practiced this week.

I still have the 49ers a little bit better than the Seahawks, a solid team in their own right, so this line, which only favors them by 2.5 points at home, is too low, but I can’t bet on the 49ers confidently given the uncertainty around Kittle’s status and how much he will play. I also don’t like going against Russell Wilson after back-to-back losses, as he is 30-13-3 ATS in his career off of a loss and 9-1 ATS off of back-to-back losses. This is a low confidence pick on the 49ers right now, but I would probably drop all confidence if Kittle is ruled out or significantly limited.

San Francisco 49ers 28 Seattle Seahawks 24

Pick against the spread: San Francisco -2.5

Confidence: Low

Tennessee Titans at New York Jets: 2021 Week 4 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (2-1) at New York Jets (0-3)

This is a pretty unappealing game to bet on. I have thought the Titans are overrated since before the season began. They won 11 games a year ago, but they faced an easy schedule and went 7-2 in one score games, while leading the league with a +11 turnover margin, which are both unsustainable long-term. They drew a lot of attention in the off-season for their addition of Julio Jones, but he is on the decline and might not be an upgrade on free agent departure Corey Davis, while the loss of offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and an aging offensive line also affect this offense in a negative fashion. They are 2-1, but their point differential is still negative at -13, as a result of an embarrassing week one loss to the Cardinals.

The Jets, however, are one of the worst teams in the league, with the league’s worst point differential (-50), and are the type of team the Titans could beat by multiple scores. The Titans are missing their top-2 wide receivers with both Julio Jones and AJ Brown out, while their defense will be missing edge defender Bud Dupree and cornerback Caleb Farley, two key off-season additions, but the Jets will be missing their top defensive player Marcus Maye from a roster that was already very thin on above average players. My calculated line is right at where the odds makers have it, Tennessee -6, and I don’t see a real edge for either side, but I’m taking the Titans purely because it’s hard to expect anything positive from the Jets right now.

Tennessee Titans 24 New York Jets 17

Pick against the spread: Tennessee -6

Confidence: None

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears: 2021 Week 4 NFL Pick

Detroit Lions (0-3) at Chicago Bears (1-2)

The big question for the Bears this week is who is going to start at quarterback. Veteran Andy Dalton began the season as the starter, much to the chagrin of fans who wanted to see rookie first round pick Justin Fields get a shot from the start of the season, and even when Dalton struggled through two games and then injured his knee, Dalton remained the starter on the depth chart, with Fields only coming into the lineup as an injury replacement. 

Fields had a shot to flip the depth chart with a good performance in Dalton’s absence, but Fields struggled mightily last week in an embarrassing loss to the Browns. With Dalton at less than 100%, Fields’ performance last week prompted the Bears to make this a three quarterback battle, with veteran third stringer Nick Foles a possibility to start over Fields if Dalton can’t play. The Bears are calling their quarterback decision a gametime call, likely suggesting they are holding out hope Dalton can play through his injury, and there isn’t anything close to definitive on who the Bears are going to use this week.

Ultimately, who starts at quarterback might not matter that much because none of them are good enough to elevate a team with serious issues beyond the quarterback position, especially on the offensive line. Fortunately, the Bears do get a much easier matchup this week with the Lions, one of the worst teams in the league, coming to town and, on top of that, the Bears’ defense should at least be in somewhat better shape with nose tackle Eddie Goldman and possibly middle linebacker Danny Trevathan set to make their season debuts after missing the start of the year with injury.

The Bears are 1.5 points better than the Lions in my roster rankings, suggesting they should be favored by more than the field goal they are favored by, but these are the 4th worst and 5th worst teams in my roster rankings and it’s hard to get excited to bet on a team as mediocre as the Bears, especially given their uncertain quarterback situation. I’m still taking the Bears for pick ‘em purposes, but this is a low confidence pick and I might drop it to no confidence depending on what they do with their quarterback situation. The worst thing they could do in my opinion would be to try to play Dalton at less than 100%, as he is not an upgrade enough over Fields or Foles to justify playing him at less than full strength.

Chicago Bears 24 Detroit Lions 20

Pick against the spread: Chicago -3

Confidence: Low

Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles: 2021 Week 4 NFL Pick

Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)

The Chiefs have started the season 1-2, matching last season’s regular season loss total, but I am not too concerned about them going forward. They have faced a relatively tough schedule overall and both of their losses could have easily been wins, including a game last week against the Chargers in which they won the first down rate battle by 7.92%, but lost by six because of a -4 turnover margin, which is an relatively non-predictive metric and highly uncharacteristic for this team. Their offense still leads the league in first down rate, which is the most predictive offensive metric and offense is the more predictive side of the ball in general.

All of that being said, I still feel like the Chiefs are being overvalued. Now dating back to week 9 of last season, the Chiefs have failed to cover the spread in 11 straight regular season games and, including playoffs, they’ve covered just once in their past 14 games. This spread has the Chiefs favored by a touchdown, but their average margin of victory in their past 10 wins is just 5 points per game with just one win by more than 6 points. The odds makers know they can boost the spread on the Chiefs and still get bettors willing to take them and it doesn’t seem like that has stopped.

As good as Patrick Mahomes and his playmakers are, their new look offensive line hasn’t been as much of an upgrade as expected and their defense looks like a below average unit, so the Chiefs could easily continue playing a lot of close games. I’m not confident enough in the Eagles to bet on them, as they are missing their top edge rusher Brandon Graham and a trio of starting offensive linemen in left tackle Jordan Mailata, right guard Brandon Brooks, and left guard Isaac Seumalo with injury,, all of whom were badly missed in last week’s blowout loss to the Cowboys, but my calculated line has the Chiefs favored by just 6 points, so we’re at least getting some line value with the Eagles. This is a low confidence pick, but I would expect a relatively close game.

Update: The Eagles surprisingly will also be without right tackle Lane Johnson due to a personal matter, meaning they will be without four of their five week one starters on the offensive line. However, the Chiefs will be without top edge rusher Frank Clark and a pair of cornerbacks, Charvarius Ward and Rashad Fenton, so I am not changing anything on this pick.

Kansas City Chiefs 30 Philadelphia Eagles 24

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia +7

Confidence: Low

Cleveland Browns at Minnesota Vikings: 2021 Week 4 NFL Pick

Cleveland Browns (2-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-2)

The Browns lost week one, but they still are one of the top teams in the league, as their loss came in Kansas City in a game in which the Browns won both the first down rate (7.68%) and yards per play battle (1.65), while the Browns’ two wins came in blowout fashion. Their offense ranks 3rd in the NFL in first down rate, while their defense ranks 4th in yards per play allowed, which are the most predictive metrics on either side of the ball. This matches up with my roster rankings and overall I have the Browns 9.5 points above average.

Unfortunately, we’re not getting great line value with the Browns as 2 point favorites in Minnesota, as the Vikings have been an underrated team since the season began, with a strong offense and a defense that is much healthier and more talented than a year ago. The Vikings are just 1-2, but their two losses have come by a combined 4 points and their +9 point differential ranks 13th in the NFL. They could easily be 2-1 or 3-0, despite facing a tough schedule to start the season (Bengals, Cardinals, Seahawks) and they are getting healthier too, with left tackle Christian Darrisaw set to make his season debut, shoring up a big position of need. The Browns should be able to win this game, but an upset wouldn’t surprise me either, so I am going to keep this as a low confidence pick for now.

Update: Darrisaw will be active for the Vikings, but apparently will not start in his debut. On top of that, the Vikings will be without one of their two questionable defensive starters, Anthony Barr, who has yet to play this season and will remain a significant absence. At the same time, this line has moved to even, so the Browns only have to win to cover now. They’re worth a big play, given these developments.

Cleveland Browns 30 Minnesota Vikings 24

Pick against the spread: Cleveland PK

Confidence: High

Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins: 2021 Week 4 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (0-3) at Miami Dolphins (1-2)

The Dolphins were on my overrated teams list going into the season. They won 10 games a year ago, but they faced a very easy schedule and they benefited from an unsustainably high turnover margin (+11), opponent’s field goal percentage (3rd lowest at 73.91%) and 3rd/4th down conversion rate allowed (33.02%), actually lower than the 34.07% conversion rate they allowed on 1st/2nd down (4th highest in the NFL).

The Dolphins are off to a 1-2 start, but it’s even worse than that suggests as their point differential (-37) is 4th worst in the NFL and they could easily be 0-3 if the Patriots didn’t fumble two likely scoring drives away in a 1-point Miami win, a game in which the Patriots had a better first down rate (+2.56%) and a higher yards per play attempt (+0.63). The Dolphins took the Raiders to overtime last week and could have won that game, but they needed a long return touchdown to keep it close and lost the first down rate battle by 6.50% and the yards per play battle by 1.91. Through three games, the Dolphins rank 30th in first down rate and their defense hasn’t been nearly good enough to compensate.

That being said, the Dolphins are getting a relatively easy matchup against an 0-3 Colts team. The Colts have faced a tough schedule thus far (Seahawks, Rams, Titans), could have beaten the Rams, and have a better point differential (-24) than the Dolphins, but their injury situation keeps getting worse. In total, they are missing their top-2 offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith, their top wide receiver TY Hilton, a pair of starters in the secondary in Rock Ya-Sin and Khari Willis, and talented first round pick defensive end Kwity Paye, while starting quarterback Carson Wentz is less than 100% playing through two bad ankles. 

The Colts might not be quite as bad as their 0-3 record, but given all they are missing due to injury, I have them ranked as my 6th worst team right now, 4.5 points below average and actually a half point behind the Dolphins. The Dolphins have some injury concerns, but their most notable injury, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, might not actually be hurting this team’s chances of winning games, as Tagovailoa has struggled thus far in his limited career, while backup Jacoby Brissett could possibly be an upgrade, or at least not a downgrade. The Dolphins are only getting 2 points at home, but being a slightly better team at home should have them favored by at least a field goal. There isn’t nearly enough here for the Dolphins to be worth betting, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Miami Dolphins 20 Indianapolis Colts 17

Pick against the spread: Miami -2

Confidence: Low

Houston Texans at Buffalo Bills: 2021 Week 4 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (1-2) at Buffalo Bills (2-1)

The Bills are favored by 17 points in this matchup, but it should be 21 according to my calculated line, as the Texans have the worst roster in the league around the quarterback and only had early success this season because of the strong play of now injured quarterback Tyrod Taylor. With the raw rookie Davis Mills under center, the Texans are by far the worst team in the league, 13.5 points below average in my roster rankings.

Meanwhile the Bills (5 points above average) are one of the top teams in the league overall, even without safety Jordan Poyer, who is expected to miss this game. I can’t take the Bills with any confidence though because it’s always hard to be confident in huge favorites, especially since the Bills could be caught in a look ahead spot with a trip to Kansas City on deck. The Bills are the pick for pick ‘em purposes, but this could just as easily be a 14-point win as it could be a 21-point win and the Bills could slack off with a big second half lead and allow a backdoor cover.

Buffalo Bills 28 Houston Texans 10

Pick against the spread: Buffalo -17

Confidence: None

Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos: 2021 Week 4 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (2-1) at Denver Broncos (3-0)

The Denver Broncos have gotten off to a 3-0 and, while they have faced bad teams in all three games (Giants, Jets, Jaguars), they have won all three in convincing fashion, by an average of 20 points per game. This home matchup against the Ravens is their first real test and, while they could easily win, I would have liked their chances more before all of the injuries started piling up, with the Broncos already down starting wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler, guard Graham Glasgow, edge defender Bradley Chubb, cornerback Ronald Darby, and inside linebacker Josey Jewell just since week one. My calculated line has them favored by a point rather than underdog of a point, as the actual line has, but that’s not nearly enough to bet on. The Broncos are the pick for pick ‘em purposes, but nothing more.

Sunday Update: The line has moved to favoring the Broncos by a point now instead of the Ravens. I’ve also rethought this game slightly and see it as no more than a 50/50 toss up, given the opposite direction these two teams are moving in injury wise. Given that, I’m now taking the Ravens since we are at least getting a point with them, but I’m dropping all confidence on this matchup because that one point isn’t worth much.

Baltimore Ravens 24 Denver Broncos 23

Pick against the spread: Baltimore +1

Confidence: None