Week 3 flashed several surprises. First, the Vikings overlooked the Bills and got steamrolled at home. Secondly, the Jaguars couldn’t survive a rock fight at home, and lastly, the Patriots showed signs of a significant decline. In addition, we also saw Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes make NFL history yet again – throwing 13 TDs in his first three games this season. With that being said, let me guide you in making the right picks for Week 4 by providing the key matchups, game to avoid, and the lock of the week.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Los Angeles Rams (-7): Both of these teams were big surprises last season and are now looking to solidify themselves as NFC heavyweights in 2018. So far, the Vikings have yet to show any form of consistency, tying with the Packers in Week 2, and then losing in embarrassing fashion to the lowly Buffalo Bills last week.
The Rams, on the other hand, have looked like the team to beat in the NFC, sporting an electric offense (34 points per game) and stout defense (allowing 12 points per game). One problem Los Angeles faces in the short term, however, is the health of pro bowl corner Marcus Peters, who is out 2-4 weeks with a calf strain. While this is a major blow to the Rams’ defense, it won’t affect the overall outcome in this one. Rams win 28-10.
Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots (-6.5): If you were to tell me the Dolphins would be unbeaten and hold a two-game division lead over the Patriots by Week 4, I would have put in you a mental hospital. Well, that’s the case, and this game is pivotal for New England as they stare at a potential 1-3 start to the season if they lose again. Likewise, Miami has a lot to prove and has the chance to show that their 3-0 start isn’t a fluke. When looking at this matchup, I don’t see the Patriots losing for a third consecutive week, especially at home. Patriots win 24-20.
New Orleans Saints (-3.5) vs. New York Giants: A matchup in the Big Apple awaits. The Saints are marching in (no pun intended) following an epic overtime victory over NFC South rival Atlanta a week ago. Meanwhile, the Giants are coming off their first win of the season against the Houston Texans. New Orleans’ offense has already registered two 40-point performances this season. New York’s defense isn’t talented enough to slow it down, so expect another shootout for Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and Alvin Kamara this week. Saints win 37-23.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-3): It’s always entertaining when these two teams collide. Baltimore enters this Week 4 contest at 2-1, behind steady play from QB Joe Flacco (63.6%, 889 yards, 6 TDs). Pittsburgh, in the meantime, despite dysfunction amongst Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, remains a half-game back from first-place in the AFC North. I’ll go with the Steelers here as it seems the offense has figured it out after posting back-to-back 30 point games. Steelers win 31-24
Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5) vs. Denver Broncos: The focus in this AFC West matchup will be the play of QB Patrick Mahomes, who has proven to be the best young quarterback in the NFL right now (62/93, 896 passing yards, 13 TDs). Denver will need to defend their home field in order to keep pace with the NFL’s best offense. However, that will not happen as the Chiefs feature too many weapons for the Broncos’ defense to handle, whether it be RB Kareem Hunt, TE Travis Kelce, or wideouts Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins. Chiefs win 35-24.
Game to Avoid
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Chicago Bears: This game is interesting on paper. Ryan Fitzpatrick will try and keep the magic going against a stingy Bears’ defense led by DE Khalil Mack. However, the problem with betting on this matchup is the anemic offense of Chicago, who has yet to take off since Mitch Trubisky took over under center. I fear that both teams will struggle.
Lock of the Week
Buffalo Bills vs. Green Bay Packers (-9.5): Buffalo is coming off a statement victory over a very good Vikings team, but their fortune runs out this week. Green Bay is hungry for a win, and Aaron Rodgers won’t struggle as much as Kirk Cousins did last week. Expect an easy win for the Packers.