Fri, Sep 29, 1:40pm by Head Editor
Last Monday saw 10 of 13 underdogs cover the spread or win outright, a shocking turn of events that led to sportsbooks tallying one of their best weeks in recent memory.
Among the more surprising results were the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) embarrassing the Baltimore Ravens (2-1) in a 44-7 romp in London, the Buffalo Bills (2-1) shutting down the Denver Broncos (2-1) in a 26-16 grind, and the Chicago Bears (1-2) outlasting the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) with a 23-17 overtime win.
On the year, underdogs have gone 27-19-1 against the spread, proving once again that the NFL’s perpetual parity makes it unpredictable even for seasoned punters.
As for the Best Bets from last week, a third straight 2-1 run put us at 6-3 for the season – good for an overall profit of $24.80 when wagering $10 units.
That’s all well and good, but we’re still looking for the first 3-0 week – which we’ll shoot for this week by searching for underdogs offering decent value.
We’ll tackle the Best Bets down below, but before we do, let’s run through a few highlights from the Week 4 schedule.
The NFL returns to London once again – with an early kickoff time of 9:30 a.m. AEST – as the Miami Dolphins (1-1) look to rebound against the suddenly spry New Orleans Saints (1-2).
Miami was maimed last week, losing to the New York Jets (1-2) as 6-point road favorites while getting shutout until the final play of the game. New Orleans entered its Week 3 matchup against the Carolina Panthers (2-1) as 5.5-point road underdogs, but wound up dominating a divisional rival to avoid the dreaded 0-3 hole.
In a tale of two teams heading in different directions, the Saints are slight (1.65) favorites and hold a 2.5-point edge.
Another team hoping to rebound after a disastrous loss is Baltimore, which was thoroughly outplayed by Jacksonville in every phase of the game. The Ravens get a shot at redemption when the Steelers come to town, in a game that will put the winner on the inside track to an AFC North title.
Even on the road, the Steelers are favored (1.64 favorites) by 3 points, with last week’s close loss to the Bears not producing the same line movement as the Ravens’ drubbing.
Two underdogs to watch for are the Bills and the Los Angeles Rams (2-1), who take on the Atlanta Falcons (3-0) and Dallas Cowboys (2-1), respectively.
The Bills’ defense has flashed signs of dominance through three games, but Buffalo is still a big dog (4.25) getting 8 points on the road. The Rams have topped the 40-point plateau on two occasions, but will head to Dallas getting 6 points and little respect (3.25).
Here’s our best bets for the fourth week of the NFL:
Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) @ Los Angeles Chargers (0-3)
StubHub Center, Carson, CA – 4:05 p.m. AEST on Sunday, October 1
This pick is a matter of trendlines, plain and simple.
The Chargers may have moved from San Diego to L.A., but it’s still the same team that trademarked close losses last year. With the relocation behind them, the Chargers have stumbled out of the gate, scoring just 21, 19, and 10 points in three consecutive losses. The first two were competitive at least, but last week’s listless 24-10 home loss to the Chiefs showed no signs that the Chargers have a pulse.
It’s a different story in Philadelphia, where second-year quarterback Carson Wentz is consistently guiding the offense to success. The Eagles have scored 30, 20, and 27 while sandwiching two wins with a loss, with Wentz leading the way.
The Eagles are also feeling fresh after last week’s thrilling 27-24 win over the hated Giants. In that game, New York stormed back from an early hole to tie things up with 24 points in the fourth quarter, only to see Philadelphia’s rookie kicker Jake Elliott nail a 61-yard bomb on the final play of regulation.
We’ll take the team with something to play for over one with its playoff hopes already in tatters.
Throw in the StubHub Center’s clear lack of home field advantage, and the Eagles are our pick to cover as 1-point road underdogs.
The only reason we didn’t fire them to win outright is Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers, who always seems to have a last-minute drive in him when the game is within striking distance. On the chance Rivers does lead one of his patented game-winning drives, that 1-point cushion may just be the difference between a loss and a push.
BEST BET: Eagles to cover 1-point spread: $2.01
San Francisco 49ers (0-3) @ Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ – 4:05 p.m. AEST on Sunday, October 1
I used a Best Bet against Arizona last week, backing Dallas to cover a 3-point spread as road favorites.
And after watching the Cardinals storm out to a game-opening touchdown drive, going 82 yards to the promised land with ease, that pick looked like it might be a loser. But Arizona fell flat on its face after that encouraging start, mustering just 10 points afterward in a 28-17 loss.
Other than legendary wideout Larry Fitzgerald, who put on a stellar show for his hometown fans, the Cardinals looked inferior in every phase of the game.
Right tackle Jared Veldheer struggled mightily for the second straight week, surrendering three sacks to Dallas defensive end Demarcus Lawrence. With fantasy favorite David Johnson out indefinitely, Arizona’s rushing corps put up a paltry 49 yards on 21 carries. And quarterback Carson Palmer had trouble completing balls to anybody but Fitzgerald, continuing this season’s slide into mediocrity.
We don’t have the same depth of knowledge on the 49ers, but we don’t need it – this is a pick against Arizona more than anything else. This version of the Cardinals shouldn’t be favored by 7 points, home or away, winless or opponent or not.
After scoring just 12 points combined in its first two losses, San Francisco did erupt for 39 points last week against the Rams. That wasn’t enough in a 41-39 shootout, and moral victories in the NFL don’t mean much, but in an NFC West rivalry game we expect the Niners to keep things close and cover.
BEST BET: 49ers to cover 7-point spread: $1.90
Indianapolis Colts (1-2) @ Seattle Seahawks (1-2)
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA – 5:30 p.m. AEST on Sunday, October 1
Even with last week’s 27-point outburst against the Titans added in, the Seahawks once vaunted offense is scoring just 15 points per game. This isn’t a fluke either, as Seattle put up dismal scores of 3, 6, 5, and 10 last season.
By now, the narrative is well-established. Seattle’s front office invested heavily on a Super Bowl winning defense, leaving quarterback Russell Wilson to work with an underpaid, and underperforming, offensive line.
Nothing has changed in 2017, and the Seahawks can look downright inept for long stretches of the game when it comes to moving the ball. To wit, they entered halftime last week with only 7 points on the board, making it five consecutive halves with a touchdown or less.
And yet, Seattle is expected to cover a massive 13-point spread against the Colts?
Given the team’s prolonged period of offensive malaise, we’re just not buying it – not with the new-look Colts coming to town with confidence to spare.
Indianapolis notched its first win of the year last week with a 31-28 defeat of the Browns, powered by the surprisingly effective play of quarterback Jacoby Brissett. He only landed on the Colts in the last week of the preseason, and Brissett has already claimed the starting job and stabilized the offense while star Andrew Luck is on the mend.
The Seahawks probably win this one with the “12th Man” on hand, but we don’t see them jumping out to a large enough lead to cover the curiously wide spread.
BEST BET: Colts to cover 13-point spread: $1.94
Odds supplied by Sportsbet and were correct at the time of publishing*
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