Favorites took it on the chin, as underdogs went 11-4 ATS in Week 4. A trio of vulnerable favorites are among our five picks this week.
With Chase Daniel taking over as the starter, Chicago has become even more one-dimensional. The Bears can’t afford turnovers, given the offense has scored 16 or fewer points in three of their four games, so anticipate a heavy dose of the running game and short passes. But the Bears have struggled to rush effectively since they traded away Jordan Howard (25th with only 90.2 rushing yards per game) and are reliant upon a Super Bowl-caliber defense.
We’re excited to grab more than a field goal with Oakland, which enters this game on the upswing. The Raiders scored 31 points in a road win at Indianapolis last week and are starting to find their groove after opening with a difficult schedule. Quarterback Derek Carr is utilizing weapons like Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller, and we love the dimension Josh Jacobs (the highest-graded rookie this season according to Pro Football Focus) provides as a rusher and receiver. Oakland’s young defense, which added speed and talent in offseason, is starting to make headway. Maxx Crosby has developed into a presence on the edge, so look for blitz-heavy packages against the pedestrian Chicago offense.
— A🕳ron Bloch (@PFF_Aaron) September 29, 2019
This has all the makings of a close game that could go either way.
Pick: Oakland +5.5
In this AFC West rivalry, the road team rewards bettors. Denver is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games at at the Chargers, and the Bolts are 12-2 ATS in their last 14 games in Denver. The Chargers have Melvin Gordon back and remain eligible to make a playoff push, but they are not firing on all cylinders presently (averaging only 20 points per game) and will be happy to grind out a close win over a desperate opponent.
Chargers coach says Melvin Gordon is ‘our starter’ when he returns pic.twitter.com/0d0qDgG0fb
— For The Win (@ForTheWin) September 28, 2019
Denver is unfortunate to be 0-4, and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Chicago and Jacksonville, but has been competitive in every game. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 303 yards against a stout Jacksonville defense last week and Denver’s playmakers (Emmanuel Sanders, Phillip Lindsay and Courtland Sutton) will have opportunities against a Chargers defense ravaged by injury.
Los Angeles had 14 starters or significant contributors sidelined last week, and it has taken a toll. In the two games before their win over Miami last week, the Chargers were penalized 16 times, with three touchdowns and an interception reversed by flags. Los Angeles is not playing well enough to lay this many points to any divisional foe.
Pick: Denver +6
Carolina has turned things around after two losses to start the season and has won road games the last two weeks.
Defense has been the key for the Panthers, who lead the NFL in sack percentage (11.32%) and are ranked fourth in total defense (287.5 yards per game). Jags quarterback Gardner Minshew has played well, but Carolina figures to slow down the rookie sensation this week.
The Jaguars are in a tough spot. With the second of back-to-back road games after they completed a dramatic comeback last week, an emotional hangover appears likely. Jacksonville is still reliant upon its ground game—Leonard Fournette rushed for 225 yards last week—but Carolina has the defense to slow him down and a dynamic offensive weapon of its own in Christian McCaffrey. Carolina quarterback Kyle Allen has been efficient the last two weeks, completing 71.6% of his passes, and just needs to avoid turnovers after three giveaways last week.
🚨#Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey has been named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Month for September. 🚨
— John Ellis (@OnePantherPlace) October 3, 2019
Carolina has returned home with a renewed sense of optimism, and Jacksonville is probably already looking ahead to a favorable stretch in the schedule. The Jags play three of their next four games at home, with a trip to Cincinnati in between
Pick: Carolina -3.5
Patrick Mahomes rallied the unbeaten Chiefs to a narrow win in Detroit last week, but his 14-game touchdown pass streak ended, as the Lions slowed down Kansas City’s mighty offense. Look for the Chiefs to rebound with offensive fireworks this week. The Chiefs love playing in prime-time games, most notably when they dropped 40 points on New England and 51 on the Rams last season, and the banged up Colts are not playing good defense. This one may get ugly quickly.
The Colts fell behind early and lost at home to Oakland as a 5.5-point favorite last week, when they surrendered 188 rushing yards. It has been a precipitous slide for a proud defense, and Indianapolis has allowed 5.5 yards per carry (31st in the NFL). While they may get linebacker Darius Leonard back from a concussion, Kansas City still figures to score a lot of points. Cornerback Pierre Desir is dealing with a hamstring issue and Colts also have big questions on the offensive side. T.Y. Hilton missed last week’s game with a quadriceps injury, and Marlon Mack left the game with an ankle injury.
Pick: Kansas City -11
San Francisco enters with an undefeated record, but the 49ers have played sloppy against easy competition and it’s tough to envision any benefit from the early season bye, especially with a battle-hardened Cleveland squad coming to town off an impressive win. The Browns have been road warriors of late, with an 5-1 ATS mark in away games, and I like their chances to win straight up.
Cleveland needed a few weeks to iron out some kinks but got things rolling in Baltimore last week. The Browns outgained their divisional rival by a 530-395 margin. Nick Chubb (8.3 yards per carry average last week) and a fierce pass rush (3.5 sacks per game) can take pressure off quarterback Baker Mayfield and his talented receivers, and Cleveland is far more polished than San Francisco, which leads the NFL with 2.7 turnovers per game.
— Fred Greetham (@FredGreetham) October 3, 2019
Niners gave the ball away five times to hapless Pittsburgh and were fortunate Tampa Bay threw a pair of interceptions for touchdowns in the opener. The 49ers have improved their run defense and are forcing more turnovers (seven takeaways this year), but the young offense lacks playmakers outside of tight end George Kittle, and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo does not appear to be all the way back from last year’s season-ending injury.