Scully’s Week 4 NFL picks: Taking advantage on the road

James Scully

September 26th, 2019

Twelve of the 15 home teams are favored this weekend, but bettors have been able to make money playing road teams this year, with a 32-15-1 ATS record through three weeks. Road teams went 10-6 ATS in Week 3, with five road dogs winning straight up (Carolina, Detroit, Houston, Giants and Houston), and home teams are only 23-24-1 straight up in 2019.

We like three road teams capable of rebounding as underdogs this weekend and will lean on heavyweights Dallas and New England, as well.

Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers (-4), Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX

Philadelphia’s offense finally got off to a good start, with 10 points in the first quarter last week, and the Eagles enjoyed a comfortable advantage in passing and rushing yards over Detroit. However, dropped passes, turnovers and special teams missteps ultimately doomed Philadelphia in a tough home loss.

The Eagles, who have played well in recent years on Thursday nights (4-0 ATS), are capable of bouncing back with an improved effort against a low-scoring Green Bay squad. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will find ways to pressure Aaron Rogers, who felt none against Denver’s punchless defense (Broncos have no sacks this season) after throwing for only 412 combined yards in the first two games, and Philadelphia is capable of slowing down Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams with the NFL’s second-ranked run defense.

Green Bay’s defense continues to shine under new coordinator Mike Pettine, and it forced three turnovers and constantly harassed the quarterback last week. But the Packers have been playing from ahead against the likes of Joe Flacco, Kirk Cousins and Mitch Trubisky this season. Carson Wentz is at a different level. It is make-or-break time, and expect Wentz to respond with top performance that keeps the Eagles in it throughout.

Pick: Philadelphia +4

New England Patriots (-7) at Buffalo Bills, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Tom Brady has won 15 games in Buffalo, and New England is 5-0 ATS in the last five trips to its divisional rival. We will fade Buffalo’s mistake-filled offense in a matchup between stout defenses.

Only four teams have coughed up the ball more than Buffalo, which overcame four giveaways in the opener and a near-disastrous fourth-quarter interception last week to remain unbeaten. The Bills were lucky to be playing the Jets and Bengals in those games, and Josh Allen already has three interceptions and two fumbles this season. He will take some lumps against a dominant New England defense that has not allowed an offensive touchdown this season.
If not for a special-teams touchdown and an interception for a TD from the backup quarterback, New England would have shutout the Jets last week. Points will be difficult to come by for Buffalo, and New England’s high-scoring attack (35.3 points per game) should guarantee a double-digit win.

Pick: New England -7

Tennessee Titans at Atlanta Falcons (-4), Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Atlanta exits an ugly performance, in which it struggled to block effectively or defend the pass (16 straight completions allowed). But Atlanta’s issues run deeper. Penalties are attributable to coaching, and the Falcons could not have been more undisciplined, with 16 enforced errors in Week 3. Injuries are once again exacting a heavy toll, as they recently lost Keanu Neal to a torn Achilles.

Tennessee enters on a two-game slide and must win to salvage its season. The Titans capitalized on an undisciplined opponent in their opener and took advantage of 18 penalties and three interceptions to win going away in Cleveland. We expect the formidable Titans defense to rise to the occasion again. After a sluggish display in rainy Jacksonville, Tennessee’s offense (which scored 60 combined points in the first two weeks) can get back on track against a declining foe.

Atlanta is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games as home favorites. This is a similar situation to last year, when Atlanta entered Week 4 with 1-2 record and had major questions across the board (the Falcons lost straight up to lowly Cincinnati as a home favorite). We won’t lay more than a field goal with disorganized Atlanta and give Tennessee a legit chance to come out on top.

Pick: Tennessee +4

Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) at New Orleans Saints, Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

Dak Prescott is on an incredible run for bettors, as the Cowboys have posted an 8-1-1 ATS record in their last 10 regular-season games. Dallas has so many weapons, and Prescott isin career-best form (920 yards, nine TDs and two interceptions) behind an elite offensive line. The Cowboys are on a Super Bowl mission, and this represents the first real test of the season.

New Orleans, which is 0-5 ATS in its last five home games, snapped an overall 0-7 ATS run with a road win over Seattle last week. The Saints capitalized on Seattle’s special-teams miscues and turnovers to build a 27-7 lead, then gave up 20 points in the fourth quarter and survived by six points. We were surprised to see Seattle fail to prepare for Alvin Kamara, who caught one short pass after another to wind up with nearly 100 yards receiving. Dallas will game plan for him.

Dallas will exploit a Saints defense that has not resembled last year’s accomplished unit. New Orleans surrendered more than 400 passing yards and 100 rushing yards last week, which dropped the unit to 28th in total defense (436.3 yards allowed per game). New Orleans utilizes an effective short passing game, but the rushing attack misses Mark Ingram and is averaging only 72.5 rushing yards and 3.3 yards per carry the last two weeks. The Saints rallied around the loss of Drew Brees last week, but Sunday night will be a different story.

Pick: Dallas -2.5

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5), Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

Seldom does Andy Dalton hold a significant edge over an opponent, but Pittsburgh enters with Mason Rudolph, who didn’t look game ready last week. San Francisco seemed to be trying to give the game away, with four first-half turnovers and five overall, but Pittsburgh’s inept offense failed to exploit gift after gift.

Pittsburgh is averaging more yards per game than the Dolphins and Jets, but could still wind up with the worst offense. The Steelers must use a limited playbook, heavy on short passes, because Rudolph can’t be trusted to throw downfield. Their inability to run is most surprising. Pittsburgh has averaged only 64 rushing yards per game and James Connor has failed to gain a 100 yards in three contests, with an average 2.9 yards per carry. Nobody saw that coming.

Cincinnati has plenty of deficiencies, but it was encouraging to see Joe Mixon and Tyler Boyd get back on track last week, and this offense has more versatility than Pittsburgh. The Bengals continue to try their best for their new coaching staff, but Pittsburgh’s players know the end is coming soon for Mike Tomlin, and it’s fair to question their mindset. The Bengals have played Seattle (21-20) and Buffalo (21-17) tough on the road, and the road team has covered five straight and seven of the last eight in this series. Look for the trend to continue Monday night.

Pick: Cincinnati +3.5

James Scully's 2019 NFL record ATS on BetAmerica heading into Week 4: 7-8 (1-4 last week)