Last week: 13-3. The season forecast is a much sunnier 31-17 through three weeks
All lines are from BetOnline as of 4:50 p.m. ET on 9/29
- Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5): It’s not the sexiest of matchups to kick off the week, but consider this might be your only chance to see Urban Meyer coach in the NFL. Based on how awful it’s started for the Jaguars coach and how poorly he handled losing in college, it might not last much longer. If he can’t stop Joe Burrow-to-JaMarr Chase, it might not last until Sunday.
Just a hunch here, but I really like Trevor Lawrence to find success with Marvin Jones and the Jaguars to somehow pull off the upset win. Jacksonville has lost 18 games in a row and it’s really hard to sustain that level of suck. Cincinnati is improving but not invulnerable.
Jaguars 26, Bengals 23
- Cleveland Browns at Minnesota Vikings (+1.5): Browns coach Kevin Stefanski returns to Minnesota, where he served as the Vikings’ OC before taking his talents to Cleveland. His well-rounded Browns have yet to fully put it all together in one game yet, despite what the 26-6 romp over the Bears last week might indicate. That was Baker Mayfield’s worst game in some time. The fact the Browns still destroyed a solid defense when the QB and the star RB, Nick Chubb, each only had their “B” games is a testament to how talented Cleveland is and how good of a coach Stefanski has emerged as in such a short time. The Vikings second-half stunner in Seattle in Week 3 cannot be ignored, but they’ll need to play the full 60 minutes better to pull this one off.
Browns 33, Vikings 27
- Washington Football Team at Atlanta Falcons (+1.5): I’m about as excited for the new Limp Bizkit song as I am for the football Xs and Os here. Washington has quietly been a disappointment through three weeks, almost as much as Fred Durst must be to actual singers. Matt Ryan gets Rollin’ in this one. Taylor Heinicke, Show Me What You Got!
Falcons 34, Football Team 30
- Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys (-5): Two first-place teams who got there with quite divergent paths always makes for a compelling matchup. Dallas brings Dak Prescott and a bevy of smartly-used weapons against Carolina’s speedy, disciplined defense in strength vs. strength. The Panthers are No. 1 in yards allowed and No. 2 in points allowed per game. They’re also the best in yards-per-carry (2.6) and at getting off the field on third downs. And it’s those two metrics where Carolina must thrive against Prescott, Zeke Elliott, CeeDee Lamb and the Dallas attack.
This is the first real challenge for the Panthers defense, which has feasted on creampuffs HOU and NYJ as well as New Orleans’ bizarre week of not really trying. And for Sam Darnold and the Carolina offense to try and keep up without having Christian McCaffrey, it just seems like the fantastic start for the unbeaten Panthers is due to run its course here.
Cowboys 22, Panthers 17
- Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-4.5): Two undefeated teams in the same division this late in the season (yes, Week 4 is extremely late for this circumstance) promises to be an intense matchup. And it features two of the three top scoring offenses in the league to boot.
Three reasons why I like the Rams to stay unbeaten:
--They have the better run defense
--Matthew Stafford is seeing the field so very well at QB for Los Angeles
--The Rams avoid penalties incredibly well
If you’ve got the ability to watch this one, do it. Should be one of the best games of the first month of the season and it comes with one-tenth the hype of the Sunday night game.
Rams 28, Cardinals 27
- Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-2.5): While the Cardinals and Rams play atop the division, this matchup of the “others” in the NFC West also features two teams that are legit playoff contenders. The loser here will fall to the bottom, at least two full games and a divisional tiebreaker behind the leader (three if it’s the Seahawks).
I’ll be honest--I don’t know what to make of the Seahawks. No team has given up more yards than Seattle, and their defense isn’t really good at anything. They don’t stuff the run, they don’t cover all that well, they don’t bring consistent pass rush and they don’t create takeaways or offensive mistakes. There are too many talented players on that defense for that to persist, but trying to get healthy against Kyle Shanahan’s offense in San Francisco is a tall order.
49ers 30, Seahawks 24
- Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos (-1.5): The Ravens should have both Rashod Bateman and Miles Boykin at wide receiver for this one. They could be exactly what Lamar Jackson needs to really get the Ravens rolling. His receiving corps has not played well enough, and they lack guys with size and strength. Against the smartly coached Broncos defense, they need whatever help they can get. Just a hunch, but I feel something of a get-right game for Baltimore here. Denver will not make it easy.
Ravens 27, Broncos 20
- Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (-2.5): If the Lions from Week 3 and the Bears from Week 3 both show up in Chicago, the Lions not only pick up their first win of the Dan Campbell era, they blow out the Bears. The move to get speedier but also smarter on defense (almost) paid off for Detroit against Baltimore, and it will work well against a plodding Bears OL and an uncoordinated offense.
I’m not sure the Lions will do much against the Bears defense, which can still bring it up front and back it up with emerging talent behind them. I’m also not sure Jared Goff will need to do more than play his customary one decent half to lead the Lions to the win here.
Lions 20, Bears 13
- Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins (-1.5): Sometimes the forecast changes in the production process. When I first sat down and outlined this week’s meteorology, I had the Dolphins winning. But the clouds in my brain changed formation, and it led me to alter the forecast here to pick the Colts. I can’t explain why; Miami is the better team and playing at home in a time of year when the South Florida weather gives them a distinct advantage. Consider this the lowest confidence prediction of the entire forecast…
Colts 20, Dolphins 17
- Tennessee Titans at New York Jets (+7): Don’t overestimate the Titans here. Julio Jones and A.J. Brown are both iffy. Then again, the woeful Jets will be without both regular starting safeties--who happen to be the two best players on their defense. On second thought, roll with Tennessee as your survivor fantasy team of the week if you haven’t used the Titans already.
Titans 26, Jets 12
- Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles (+7.5): If you would have told Eagles fans that they would enter Week 4 with the same record as the visiting Chiefs, 99 out of 100 would have taken you up on that. Well, it happened. Both teams are 1-2, not something many expected from the two-time defending AFC champs from Kansas City. I have a hard time shaking just how easily the Cowboys defense shut down Philadelphia on Monday night. No offense to Dallas intended, but that defense shouldn’t ever look that good. The Chiefs have defensive woes of their own but if Dallas can do it, so can the Chiefs--especially with the Eagles on a short week. Expect more than three designed runs from the Philly offense. Don’t expect them to do much with them.
Chiefs 37, Eagles 22
- New York Giants at New Orleans Saints (-7.5): The Saints have been all over the map in their first three post-Brees weeks. The Giants appear stuck in the winless doldrums, south of heaven in another season from the abyss. Don’t expect them to slay the inconsistent Saints in New Orleans.
Saints 29, Giants 17
- Houston Texans at Buffalo Bills (-16.5): Man that’s a lot of points to give, even at home. That’s the only thing I can think of with this game. The Texans aren’t that bad and the Bills haven’t been that great, not consistently anyway through the first three weeks.
Bills 33, Texans 21
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Green Bay Packers (-7.5): Bad, bad time for the Steelers to head to Green Bay. The Packers just played a similar defensive scheme in San Francisco and did well against it. They won’t have to change up much to prep for Pittsburgh. I like the progress of the youngsters in the Green Bay secondary, too; they might have found something in Eric Stokes. If Ben Roethlisberger can even attempt to try to throw the ball more than 12 yards down the field, Stokes could very well make him pay.
Packers 28, Steelers 9
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots (+7): I refuse to feed the hype machine. If you ignore the beaten-to-death angle of Brady returning to face Belichick, this really isn’t a very compelling matchup. Tough to see New England finding much success against the Bucs defense without James White in the backfield. Enjoy the spectacle and the overkill about Brady, who will set the NFL’s all-time passing yardage mark sometime in the first quarter. The game probably won’t be much of a contest.
Buccaneers 31, Patriots 14
Raiders at Chargers (-3.5): One of the craziest statistical anomalies I can recall popped up for this game. This is the first time since 2002 these two AFC West rivals have met where both teams bring winning records into the game. Think about that for a second. That’s 20 seasons, 40 games! That alone is reason enough to stay up late on Monday to see how this one plays out. Brew an extra pot of coffee and deal with the grumpy Tuesday morning.
Chargers 24, Raiders 20
Georgia 28, Arkansas 24
Alabama 40, Ole Miss 31
Cincinnati 33, Notre Dame 31
Iowa 30, Maryland 16
Wisconsin 24, Michigan 20
Nevada 35, Boise State 28
Wake Forest 33, Louisville 30