- After an upset-filled slate last week, the MMQB staff is going with several underdogs again in their best bets for Week 4's games.
Last week's NFL slate was one of the crazier ones in recent memory, highlighted by the Bills stunning the Vikings as 17-point underdogs, the largest underdog to win outright since 1995. The MMQB staff is thinking this week could have some upsets as well, as four of our seven best bets involve taking the points.
New Orleans Saints at New York Giants: OVER 50 Points
The Giants offense is coming off its best performance of the season (thanks, Chad Wheeler), a 27-22 win against Houston. The Saints have the worst scoring defense in the league and the second-best scoring offense. Plus, both teams are dealing with some injuries on defense: Saints CB Patrick Robinson was put on IR this week with a broken ankle, and Giants CB Eli Apple (groin) and pass rusher Olivier Vernon (ankle) missed last week’s game and are working their way back. Week 3 reminded us that you never know what will happen on Sundays, but all signs point to a high-scoring game. — Jenny Vrentas
Miami Dolphins (+7) at New England Patriots
I'm not saying the undefeated Dolphins will win outright, but they're a high-functioning team facing a club that's hamstrung by its limited wide receivers and lack of healthy, fast defenders in the front seven. Plus, the Dolphins under Adam Gase have always played the Patriots tough. — Andy Benoit
Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (-3)
As the world's No. 1 Lions believer, I am writing this through tears. But in short: Both these teams played on a national stage last week, and folks are getting carried away with the results. A three-point spread suggests the public views these teams as equals, which just isn't the case. The Cowboys have enough in the run game to pile up yards against a Lions defense that's still very much a work in progress in the front seven—Detroit took advantage of its natural intel against the Patriots last week. And there are a couple of team trends working against the Lions: Since 1992 they are 23-45 against the spread on the road coming off a home victory, and 30-51 ATS coming off a game in which they allowed 14 points or fewer. — Gary Gramling
New Orleans Saints at New York Giants (+3.5)
The Saints are likely the better team here, but I really like this situation for New York. The Saints are on the road for a second straight week, coming off three one-score games and an overtime divisional battle last Sunday. New Orleans is always beatable on the road, as Drew Brees's passer rating is nearly 13 points worse when playing outdoors. On the defensive side, the Saints are 28th in Football Outsiders' DVOA. Even if Marshon Lattimore can contain Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants' other weapons should be dangerous in the passing game, as New Orleans is 32nd in yards allowed per attempt. The visitors could go up early, but a better-rested, still-hungry home team will have the firepower to at least shrink the gap. — Jacob Feldman
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)
The Steelers are at home in this one, so a line of three suggests that these are evenly matched teams. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that for a second. The Steelers gave away what should have been a win over the Browns in Week 1, and still managed a tie despite five turnovers and a missed field goal in overtime. They got boat-raced by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, which is standard operating procedure for Mahomes and the Chiefs, and then knocked off the previously undefeated Buccaneers.
The Ravens, meanwhile, trounced the Bills (who cares?), lost at Cincinnati and beat a likely mediocre Denver team at home. The Steelers are second in the league in yards and sixth in yards per play, while the Ravens are 13th and 22nd, respectively. The Ravens have scored more points than the Steelers, but 47 of their 97 points came in the win over the Bills. The Steelers, on the other hand, are one of six teams with at least two 30-point games this year. The other five are the Chiefs, Rams, Saints, Falcons and Bengals. These are evenly matched teams? Hardly. The Steelers should be laying nearly a touchdown in this game, which, again, is in Pittsburgh, not just a field goal. I’m backing the Steelers with a ton of confidence in this one. — Michael Beller
Buffalo Bills (+10) at Green Bay Packers
Consider this my official admission that I was wrong last week, although the scoreboard already did plenty to show it for me. I hope I’m not overreacting thanks to my own incorrect pick last week (Green Bay -3 at Washington), but I was surprised to see the Packers favored by 10 against the Bills.
We all saw the Bills stun the Vikings last week, closing as 16.5-point underdogs and winning outright 27-6. I won’t quite guarantee another win that would pull the NFL’s consensus worst team after Week 2 back up to .500 after Week 4. But I don’t see how these Packers can be favored by 10 against anybody. Last week, I assumed that if Aaron Rodgers was on the field he’d be good enough to do his usual thing. But there were parts of the Redskins game where he clearly didn’t look 100%.
Last week was a great reminder that nobody knows anything about the NFL (thanks for reading, anyway). It’s possible that we come to the end of the season and look back on the Bills’ Week 3 win as the biggest fluke of the year, and it’s possible we look at it as a natural regression back to the mean for a team that was more likely to go 6-10 than 2-14. But the Bills defense reminded us how the team reached the playoffs last season, Josh Allen was out there hurdling people and has another week under his belt, and 10 points is an awful lot.
I’ll need to wait and see a much better version of Aaron Rodgers before I take the Packers by more than a touchdown—especially in a league where the Any Given Sunday mantra often proves itself true. — Mitch Goldich
Minnesota Vikings (+7) at Los Angeles Rams
Why in the world would you want to bet on the Vikings coming off an embarrassing loss to the Bills, traveling to play in Los Angeles on a short week and facing one of the best teams in the NFL in the Rams?
The Rams will be without cornerback Aqib Talib following his ankle surgery, and fellow star cover man Marcus Peters (calf) will be a “game-day decision.” If Peters is also out on Thursday night, Vikings wideouts Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have a big advantage going up against backup outside corners Sam Shields and Troy Hill. Tight end Kyle Rudolph also should exploit a below-average Rams linebacking group that will likely be without Mark Barron again. Los Angeles was torched by the best tight end it’s faced this season, with the Raiders’ Jared Cook going off for 180 yards on nine catches in Week 1.
Dalvin Cook has practiced this week after missing the game against the Bills. Assuming he plays, he’ll go up against a Rams rush defense that has allowed 5.0 yards per carry (27th in the NFL), and which has especially struggled with outside runs (6.6 YPC). That hasn’t come back to haunt the Rams yet since they’ve had big leads late in games, but don’t underestimate that weakness in a close game like this one projects to be.
There has been talk all week that this Rams offense seemed primed to be a historic unit and Jared Goff has made major strides as a franchise QB. He’s looked great so far, but it’s come against pass defenses that rank 18th (Cardinals), 26th (Chargers) and 31st (Raiders) in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. The Vikings rank ninth, and their stingy secondary will easily be Goff’s biggest test so far, though they will be without top pass rusher Everson Griffen.
Finally, taking the Vikings off a loss has been profitable over Mike Zimmer’s tenure, and losses don’t come much worse than that 24-7 debacle to Buffalo. Minnesota is 17-6 against the spread in games coming off a loss under Zimmer. The team has also been sharp as an underdog with Zimmer at the helm, going 20-9 ATS. I will gladly take advantage of another classic NFL overreaction and grab a pissed-off Vikings team that many thought had the league’s best roster as a touchdown underdog. — Max Meyer