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NFL Week 4 picks: Saints beat Giants in shootout, Jags stifle Jets; Bengals a lock as underdogs rule again

Underdogs are 26-19-1 against the spread on the season with a whopping 17 of them winning outright. 

Michael Thomas is off to a record-setting start,

Michael Thomas is off to a record-setting start, and the Saints receiver should have a big day against the Giants in Week 4.  Photo Credit: Getty Images/Sean Gardner

As is usually the case in betting on NFL games in the first month of the season, underdogs have had the most bite out of the gate. They're 26-19-1 against the spread after going 8-8 in Week 3. Six underdogs won outright, bringing the total to a whopping 17 for the season. 

This could be another big week for underdogs, as teams such as the Bengals, Titans, Lions and Dolphins are primed for upsets. Those four are my most confident picks ATS. Two games to be avoided: Bucs-Bears and Saints-Giants. Remember, I pick every game so that you don't have to.

JETS (1-2) AT JAGUARS (2-1)

Jaguars by 7.5; O/U: 38.5

TV: Ch. 5, 1 p.m.

The Jets will be rested and ready after the Thursday night loss in Cleveland. The Jaguars, playing their third straight home game, are coming off a 9-6 letdown loss to the Titans after dominating the Patriots. There doesn't figure to be much scoring in this matchup, so it's tempting to take the points. But I keep going back to Sam Darnold vs. the Jaguars' stingy defense. Calais Campbell and that pass rush should dominate, and the secondary has a big advantage, too. This feels like a 17-6 or 20-10 type of game.

The pick: Jaguars

SAINTS (2-1) AT GIANTS (1-2)

Saints by 3; O/U: 50.5

TV: Ch. 2, 4:25 p.m.

WIll the real Giants and Saints please stand up?  Both teams are coming off impressive road wins after a slow first two weeks, and this game should be competitive. The Giants lead the series, 16-13, which just so happens to be the score when Big Blue beat New Orleans at MetLife Stadium two seasons ago. The year before, the teams played a 52-49 thriller won by the host Saints.  Don't expect 100 points again, but the over is still a good play. This is a shaky Saints defense and the Giants may score 30 for the first time in 36 games, but will it be enough? It is rare to find a better 1-2 offensive punch than Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley, but you can make a case for Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Thomas has 38 catches for 389 yards and three touchdowns. It's the most catches through three games in NFL history. Drew Brees (5-2 vs. the Giants with 20 TDs to just four INTs) has New Orleans averaging 34.7 points and 428 yards. Their thrilling 43-37 overtime win in Atlanta carries over as New Orleans wins a shootout: 34-30.

The pick: Saints

1 P.M. GAMES

DOLPHINS (3-0) AT PATRIOTS (1-2)

Patriots by 6.5; O/U: 48

It's time to start taking these Dolphins seriously. Ryan Tannehill is 10-1 in his last 11 starts and is surrounded by speedy playmakers on offense. The Patriots haven't lost three games in a row since 2002. Miami hasn't won at New England since 2007. Imagine  Miami at 4-0 and New England 1-3. Take the points here, as Miami's speed at wide receiver should give a Pats defense that looked slow in bad losses at Jacksonville and Detroit fits. Tom Brady clearly misses Julian Edelman, and old pal Danny Amendola could have a big game for Miami in his return to New England. It just feels like Miami can do no wrong right now. Ride the Dolphins' recent wave of success against a Pats team that doesn't look like its usual dominant self.

The pick: Dolphins

BILLS (1-2) AT PACKERS (1-1-1)

Packers by 10; O/U: 45.5

It's never a good thing when your survivor pool chances are over before the season premiere of "Survivor." That was the case for many as the 16.5-point underdog Bills outplayed the Vikings in Minnesota last week. It's unlikely the Bills will make it back-to-back road wins against the NFC North, but they can cover this big number with their defense (three takeaways last week). Aaron Rodgers is not himself right now.

The pick: Bills

LOCK OF THE WEEK

BENGALS (2-1) AT FALCONS (1-2)

Falcons by 4; O/U: 52

The Falcons started the season with one of the league's fastest defenses. Now, they've been slowed by injuries. Ricardo Allen was lost for the season, joining fellow safety Keanu Neal and linebacker Deion Jones. As talented as Atlanta's offense is, that's just too much defensive firepower to lose. The Bengals may get Joe Mixon back and are hopeful A.J. Green can play. Andy Dalton will find holes in that Falcons defense. Speedy receiver John Ross could have a big game. The Bengals lost at Carolina last week but are being undervalued here. Scoop up the extra points in what should be a down-to-the-wire shootout.

The pick: Bengals

EAGLES (2-1) AT TITANS (2-1)

Eagles by 3; O/U: 41

Carson Wentz looked rusty in his return, but that was expected. Teams can get fired up when the defending champs come to town, and expect Mike Vrabel's guys to play with an added edge. Tennessee has pulled off back-to-back resourceful wins against the Texans and Jaguars using two quarterbacks. This feels like a low-scoring game decided by a field goal, so play the under. Give me the Titans to upset the champs.

The pick: Titans

BUCS (2-1) AT BEARS (2-1)

Bears by 3; O/U: 46.5

ThIs first-place battle of surprising teams is a tough game to call. Chicago gets the edge (rusher) because it has Khalil Mack and the game is at Soldier Field, but it will be close. Will we see Jameis Winston if that Bears defense gets after Ryan Fitzpatrick? 

The pick: Bears

LIONS (1-2) AT COWBOYS (1-2)

Cowboys by 3; O/U: 43.5

Dallas is averaging the second-fewest points (13.7) and yards (277.7) in the NFL. Dak Prescott has no big-name receivers, and Matt Patricia will stack the box against Ezekiel Elliott. Matthew Stafford and the Lions (23.3 ppg) should be able to score in the mid-20s. A win over the Patriots in prime time could do wonders for a team. Expect that good energy to carry over in Dallas as Detroit wins outright.

The pick: Lions

TEXANS (0-3) AT COLTS (1-2)

Colts by 2; O/U: 47

Indy nearly won at Philly last week and easily could be 3-0. The Colts defense has played well. Deshaun Watson clearly isn't all the way back from last year's injury. The Colts have won 25 of the 32 meetings with the Texans, and Luck is 20-5 against the AFC South. (Note: I'm 0-3 picking Texans games this season, but this time I have Luck on my side).

The pick: Colts

4 P.M. GAMES

BROWNS (1-1-1) AT RAIDERS (0-3)

Raiders by 3; O/U: 45

If NFL games were three quarters long, the Raiders wouldn't be one of the league's three winless teams. Oakland has been outscored 37-3 in the fourth quarter, and making matters worse, defensive players have quit on plays. Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland offense should hit for some big plays. The Browns are rested and rejuvenated, so ride the Mayfield mojo.

The pick: Browns

49ERS (1-2) AT CHARGERS (1-2)

Chargers by 10; O/U: 46

If Jimmy Garoppolo were playing, this line would be under a touchdown. Without him, the 49ers don't stand a chance against the talented Chargers, whose two losses are to the top two teams in the NFL, the Chiefs and Rams. Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen do their best Steve Young and Jerry Rice impersonation as the Bolts, not the 49ers, win in similar fashion to the Super Bowl XXIX result.

The pick: Chargers

SEAHAWKS (1-2) AT CARDINALS (0-3)

Seahawks by 3; O/U: 38.5

Josh Rosen makes his first NFL start, and while he should be thankful it's not against the old Legion of Boom defense, he still has to deal with Earl Thomas. Advantage: Seattle. The 49ers are without Richard Sherman, and old teammate Russell Wilson should be able to earn the cover in a low-scoring game. 

The pick: Seahawks

SUNDAY NIGHT

RAVENS (2-1) AT STEELERS (1-1-1)

Steelers by 3; O/U: 51

TV: Ch. 4, 8:20 p.m.

Pittsburgh has won three in a row against Baltimore and leads the series, 27-21. The Ravens blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead in a 39-38 loss at Pittsburgh last season. This is one of the best rivalries in the NFL and should come down to the wire. Take the points.

The pick: Ravens

MONDAY NIGHT

CHIEFS (3-0) AT BRONCOS (2-1)

Chiefs by 4; O/U: 55.5

TV: ESPN, 8:15 p.m.

Kansas City is averaging an NFL-best 39.3 points and Denver (2-0 at home but only by a combined four points) won't be able to keep up. Patrick Mahomes made his first NFL start at Denver in a meaningless Week 17 game last season and played fairly well. This one means something and Mahomes (13 TDs, 0 INTs) will be ready under the bright lights of MNF. Keep riding the red-hot Chiefs (3-0 ATS).

The pick: Chiefs

STAFF STANDINGS AND PICKS

(best bets in bold)

JOE MANNIELLO

18-29-1 overall, 1-2 best bets

Last week: 3-13

Jaguars Saints Dolphins Bills 

Bengals Titans Bears Lions

Colts Browns Chargers

Seahawks Ravens Chiefs

BOB GLAUBER

19-28-1, 1-2

Last week: 7-9

Jaguars Saints Patriots Packers

Falcons Eagles Bears Cowboys

Colts Raiders Chargers

Seahawks Steelers Chiefs

TOM ROCK

22-25-1, 3-0

Last week: 7-9

Jaguars Saints Patriots Packers

Bengals Eagles Bears Cowboys

Texans Raiders Chargers

Cardinals Steelers Chiefs

AL IANNAZZONE

20-27-1, 2-1

Last week: 11-5

Jets Saints Patriots Packers

Falcons Eagles Bears Lions 

Texans Raiders 49ers

Seahawks Steelers Broncos

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