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NFL Week 4 picks: New England plays KC close, Rams rout Giants; Arizona lock of the week

Patriots quarterback Cam Newton celebrates after defeating the

Patriots quarterback Cam Newton celebrates after defeating the Raiders on Sunday in Foxborough, Mass. Credit: AP/Charles Krupa

As we approach the quarter-mark of the NFL season, you should start to have a feel for certain teams and matchups. Some will always be hard to figure out (we’re looking at you, Chargers), but for the most part, three to four games are a good enough sample size to develop a read . . . if there is such a thing in this unpredictable league.

Favorites went 8-8 against the spread (ATS) last week and are 23-23-1 for the season. Home teams went 6-9-1 straight up and 7-9 ATS, bringing their season totals to 25-22-1 and 24-23-1.

My three most confident picks this week are Arizona, the Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo. With Pittsburgh-Tennessee postponed because of the Titans’ positive tests, the game to stay away from is Minnesota-Houston for obvious reasons.

GAME OF THE WEEK

NEW ENGLAND (2-1) AT KANSAS CITY (3-0)

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

Kansas City by 7; O/U: 53

After Patrick Mahomes improved to 6-0-1 ATS as an underdog with a dominant win at Baltimore, he and the defending Super Bowl champs are back to familiar territory as favorites. Before the season, one of my thoughts was to just take Kansas City every week, no matter the spread. But the NFL is the ultimate week-to-week league (see: KC’s escape at the L.A. Chargers the week before blitzing Baltimore). You should approach every week, and every game, as its own entity. I don’t think New England has enough to win this game, but this is just too many points to pass up with a Bill Belichick-coached team. Cam Newton is off to a super start with the Patriots, and I expect a similar matchup to New England-Seattle in Week 2 when Newton almost pulled off the upset.

The pick: New England

1 P.M. GAMES

SEATTLE (3-0) AT MIAMI (1-2)

Seattle by 6.5; O/U: 54

On paper, Russell Wilson and his NFL-record 14 TD passes through the first three games are the easy pick. In between the lines, though, it’s always more complicated. Seattle is banged-up and could have a letdown after home wins over New England and Dallas. I’m 0-3 picking Miami games. As "Hootie & the Blowfish" sang, "The Dolphins make me cry." Seattle wins, but Ryan Fitzpatrick gets a late TD for the cover, just like in Week 2 vs. Buffalo.

The pick: Miami

L.A. CHARGERS (1-2) AT TAMPA BAY (2-1)

TV: Ch. 2

Tampa Bay by 7; O/U: 43.5

Tampa Bay is a mystery team to me. Double-digit wins over Carolina and Denver don’t mean much. The Bucs should win, but this feels like too many points against an inconsistent Chargers team that always seems to exceed expectations one week (see: Week 2 vs. Kansas City) and then underachieves the next (see: Week 3 vs. Carolina).

The pick: L.A. Chargers

BALTIMORE (2-1) AT WASHINGTON (1-2)

Baltimore by 13.5; O/U: 45

Lamar Jackson is 21-4 as a regular-season starter with three of those losses against Kansas City. Washington is not Kansas City. This spread could be nearly 20 and I’d take Baltimore in the ultimate bounce-back spot. This game has 38-10 written all over it.

The pick: Baltimore

INDIANAPOLIS (2-1) AT CHICAGO (3-0)

Indianapolis by 2.5; O/U: 43

The Bears are the first team in NFL history to win two games in a single season when trailing by at least 16 points in the fourth quarter, according to ESPN. Even more incredible, they needed only three games to do it! With Nick Foles now the starter, maybe they won’t need a big rally. This will be close, but Indy lost at Jacksonville and shouldn’t be overvalued after big home wins over a pair of 0-3 teams in the Vikings and Jets.

The pick: Chicago

NEW ORLEANS (1-2) AT DETROIT (1-2)

New Orleans by 4; O/U: 54

Drew Brees should be more productive if he gets top target Michael Thomas back. Still, this feels like a "last to have the ball wins" kind of game. Matthew Stafford showed last week in an upset win at Arizona how important it is to have your No. 1 WR (Kenny Golladay) on the field.

The pick: Detroit

MINNESOTA (0-3) AT HOUSTON (0-3)

Houston by 4; O/U: 53.5

After losses to Kansas City, Baltimore and Pittsburgh (combined 8-1), Houston welcomes a fellow 0-3 team. Both teams are desperate, and even though Minnesota is at a bigger disadvantage because of its facilities being shut down this week, Houston has just as many issues so anything over a field goal feels like too many points.

The pick: Minnesota

LOCK OF THE WEEK

ARIZONA (2-1) AT CAROLINA (1-2)

Arizona by 3.5; O/U: 51

Maybe Arizona’s last-second loss to Detroit was a good thing. A "check yourself" of sorts. After a 2-0 start that included a win at San Francisco, the young Cards lost as nearly a TD favorite. Yes, Arizona is improved but it still has a way to go before being considered a contender and a loss like that could help in the long run. Speaking of long runs, expect a lot of them from Kyler Murray. Carolina had no sacks through two games before getting two last week. The Panthers can’t get to the quarterback, which will make it a long day chasing Murray. DeAndre Hopkins also has a big day as Arizona gets back on track by scoring 30-plus.

The pick: Arizona

CLEVELAND (2-1) AT DALLAS (1-2)

Dallas by 4.5; O/U: 56

Dallas’ last two games: 40-39 and 38-31. Cleveland’s last two games: 35-30 and 34-20. Take the points and play the over.

The pick: Cleveland

JACKSONVILLE (1-2) AT CINCINNATI (0-2-1)

Cincinnati by 3; O/U: 49

Joe Burrow is undefeated ATS (2-0-1) but he needs to win a game before I’m willing to lay points. Jacksonville laid an egg against Miami, but it did beat Indianapolis and play Tennessee close.

The pick: Jacksonville

4 P.M. GAMES AND LATER

GIANTS (0-3) AT L.A. RAMS (2-1)

TV: Ch. 5, 4:05 p.m.

L.A. by 13; O/U: 48

Similar to last week’s Jets-Colts game, this number would have to be 17-plus for me to even consider taking the Giants. Jared Goff and the L.A. offense should easily put up 30 points for a third straight week against an overmatched defense. The Giants have scored 16, 13 and 9 points. The Rams beat the Giants, 51-17, in 2017, Sean McVay’s first season. Could it be that bad again?

The pick: Los Angeles

BUFFALO (3-0) AT LAS VEGAS (2-1)

Buffalo by 3; O/U: 52.5

Quick, where’s Frank Caliendo to do an impression of Jon Gruden watching tape of Josh Allen? The Bills’ third-year QB has really impressed, throwing 10 TDs to just one INT. Sean McDermott’s defense can stop Gruden’s offense, and Allen (7-2 in last nine regular-season road starts) can outplay Derek Carr.

The pick: Buffalo

SUNDAY NIGHT

PHILADELPHIA (0-2-1) AT SAN FRANCISCO (2-1)

TV: Ch. 4

San Fran by 7; O/U: 46

After 31-13 and 36-9 wins over the Jets and Giants at MetLife Stadium, a banged-up 49ers team gets another winless East Coast team. Only this game is on San Francisco’s preferred home turf. Carson Wentz (six INTs) and Philly can’t find their footing, and while it’s tempting to take them in a "backs against the wall" kind of spot, the 49ers have enough depth and smart coaching to win and cover.

The pick: San Francisco

MONDAY NIGHT

ATLANTA (0-3) AT GREEN BAY (3-0)

TV: ESPN

Green Bay by 7; O/U: 57

Good news, Falcons fans: Your team won’t blow a big lead this week. Bad news, Falcons fans: Your team won’t have a big lead, the Packers will. Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay have scored 43, 42 and 37 points, and could hit 40 again to get to 4-0.

The pick: Green Bay

STAFF STANDINGS AND PICKS

Best bets in bold

JOE MANNIELLO

21-26-1 overall, 2-1 best bets

Last week: 9-7

L.A. Rams Miami L.A. Chargers Baltimore

Chicago Detroit Minnesota Arizona

Cleveland Jacksonville New England

Buffalo San Francisco Green Bay

BOB GLAUBER

26-21-1, 2-1

Last week: 8-8

L.A. Rams Miami Tampa Bay Baltimore

Chicago New Orleans Minnesota Carolina

Dallas Cincinnati Kansas City

Las Vegas San Francisco Green Bay

TOM ROCK

25-22-1, 2-1

Last week: 7-9

LA Rams Seattle Tampa Bay Washington

Chicago New Orleans Houston Carolina

Cleveland Jacksonville New England

Buffalo San Francisco Green Bay

AL IANNAZZONE

25-22-1, 2-0

Last week: 9-7

Giants Seattle Tampa Bay Baltimore

Chicago New Orleans Houston Carolina

Dallas Jacksonville Kansas City

Buffalo Philadelphia Green Bay

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