It’s been the season of the first-year quarterback. Through three weeks, Carson Wentz and Trevor Siemian are both 3-0 and Dak Prescott is 2-1. Who could’ve predicted that?
Wentz definitely will be undefeated after Week 4 — the Eagles are on a bye. Siemian’s Broncos and Prescott’s Cowboys are favored on the road.
It also has been the year of the underdogs against the spread (ATS). They went 10-5-1 last week and are 29-18-1 for the season. The Vikings, Broncos and Patriots are all 3-0 overall and 3-0 ATS. All three have a strong chance to go to 4-0 in both categories. The other 3-0 team, the Ravens, are 2-1 ATS.
There are some intriguing matchups this weekend. Don’t forget to set the alarm early for Sunday’s 9:30 a.m. start in London.
SEAHAWKS (2-1) AT JETS (1-2), 1 p.m.
TV: Ch. 5; Radio: ESPN (98.7)
Seahawks by 2.5; O/U: 40
This is as close as a must-win game can get in Week 4 for the Jets. With road games against the Steelers and Cardinals on deck, the Jets need to even their record Sunday. But wait, they’re playing the big, bad Seahawks, who former Jets coach Pete Carroll has turned into one of the NFL’s powerhouses. But wait, are the Seahawks as great as they’ve been in recent years? They needed a last-second touchdown at home in Week 1 to hold off the Dolphins, then lost, 9-3, to the Rams in L.A. Russell Wilson is playing on an injured knee, and they’re also missing their No. 1 running back. How will they move the ball against the Jets’ dominant defensive line? The Rams’ strength is also their defensive line, and the Jets should have similar success stopping Seattle. If Darrelle Revis can limit big plays to Doug Baldwin down the field — and that’s a big if these days — the Jets will win a low-scoring game.
The pick: Jets
GIANTS (2-1) AT VIKINGS (3-0), 8:30 p.m.
TV: Ch. 11, ESPN; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9)
Vikings by 5; O/U: 43
No Teddy Bridgewater? No Adrian Peterson? No problem for the Vikings, who have won their first three games with just enough offense and a lot of defense. Mike Zimmer’s squad is relentless, and after three weeks are looking like a serious contender in the NFC. Minnesota last week sacked Cam Newton eight times, including a safety, and intercepted him three times in an impressive win at Carolina. Three of those sacks were by Everson Griffen (new nickname alert: EG3). The Vikes’ defense, which also held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 14 points in Week 2, will make it a long night for Eli Manning. The Giants have no running game and will have trouble moving the ball. Big Blue’s three games have been decided by one, two and three points, but this one looks as if it will be in the seven-to-10 range with Minnesota winning a low-scoring contest.
The pick: Vikings
COLTS (1-2) VS. JAGUARS (0-3), 9:30 a.m.
At Wembley Stadium
TV: Ch. 2; Radio: WFAN (660, 101.9)
Colts by 2.5; O/U: 49
For the second straight year, it could be “Lon-done” for an NFL coach. The Jaguars’ Gus Bradley (12-39) may join the Dolphins’ Joe Philbin. Jacksonville led the league in preseason hype, but they’re 0-3. The Colts aren’t much better, and were a late-catch/missed-tackle touchdown away from also being 0-3. The Jags are playing in London for a fourth straight season, so that’s got to give them an advantage, right?
The pick: Jaguars
1 P.M. GAMES
BROWNS (0-3) AT REDSKINS (1-2)
Redskins by 7; O/U: 46.5
The “letdown theory” is in full effect for this game. After Josh Norman and the Redskins got the best of Odell Beckham Jr. and the Giants last week, the cornerback sounded as if they just won the Super Bowl: “Gosh, man, I’m gonna be on this high for a while.” Will they be pumped up to play the winless Browns? This spread is way too high. Hue Jackson’s Browns were in posititon to beat the Ravens and Dolphins the last two weeks. The Redskins will win, but you should take the points.
The pick: Browns
TITANS (1-2) AT TEXANS (2-1)
Texans by 4.5; O/U: 41
Even though the Bears and Chiefs hung around in Houston’s first two home games, it’s hard to take Tennessee in this spot. The Texans will be playing with a huge chip on their shoulder after one of the worst Thursday night performances in recent history. Not having J.J. Watt will hurt, but the Texans have enough playmakers on defense to stop Tennessee. The Titans have yet to eclipse 16 points this season, and they’ll need 24-plus to win this game.
The pick: Texans
BILLS (1-2) AT PATRIOTS (3-0)
Patriots by 6; O/U: OFF (Pats QB)
Does it really matter who the Patriots start at quarterback? Seriously, they’d probably still have a shot to win with the equipment manager, just as long as Bill Belichick and his masterful coaching staff were on the sideline. Buffalo got a much-needed win last week, but don’t overreact. Rex Ryan is 3-11 vs. Belichick head-to-head, and the Pats have had nine days to prepare for this one. Maybe at the postgame news conference Rex the Reporter can ask Belichick for a few coaching tips.
The pick: Patriots
PANTHERS (1-2) AT FALCONS (2-1)
Panthers by 3; O/U: 49.5
The 2016 Panthers have more regular-season losses through three weeks than the 2015 Panthers did all of last regular season. Carolina’s lone loss last year was at Atlanta in Week 16. The Falcons scored 45 and 35 points in their last two wins, but Carolina’s defense is a huge step up from Oakland’s and New Orleans’. The Panthers as a whole may be a bit overrated. This shapes up as a close game, and it’s worth taking a shot with the live underdog at home.
The pick: Falcons
LIONS (1-2) AT BEARS (0-3)
Lions by 3; O/U: 47.5
The Bears have dealt with injury after injury on both sides of the ball. The Lions have won six in a row against the Bears, and their offensive weapons should have success against a banged-up defense.
The pick: Lions
RAIDERS (2-1) AT RAVENS (3-0)
Ravens by 3; O/U: 46.5
This will be Oakland’s third long trip in four weeks. The Raiders won at New Orleans and Tennessee, and this is a toss-up game. The Ravens might be the least impressive 3-0 team in history, with close wins against the Bills, Browns and Jaguars. The back-and-forth travel should give you some pause, but not enough. Take the points in what could be the highest-scoring game of the week.
The pick: Raiders
4 P.M. GAMES
BRONCOS (3-0) AT BUCS (1-2)
TV: Ch. 2
Broncos by 3; O/U: 43
The later kickoff gives the AFC West leaders an advantage. Not that the Broncos needed any more. The Super Bowl champs haven’t missed a beat. They have the NFL’s best defense, and their rookie quarterback aced his first road test in Cincinnati last week with 300-plus yards and four touchdowns. He should build on that confidence against a Bucs team that allowed the Rams to score 37 last week.
The pick: Broncos
COWBOYS (2-1) AT 49ERS (1-2)
TV: Ch. 5
Cowboys by 2; O/U: 45.5
Who else misses the days of when Cowboys-49ers was the most anticipated matchup of the season? The chances of these two teams meeting in another epic NFC Championship Game are about as likely as Tony Romo playing an entire season injury-free. Speaking of Romo, if Dak Prescott continues his hot start, what will the Cowboys do? Fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott should have another big game on the ground. The 49ers have been a tough out as home underdogs, last season winning outright against the Vikings and Falcons and covering against the Cardinals. This will be closer than you think, but Dallas gets the edge behind its NFL-best offensive line.
The pick: Cowboys
LOCK OF THE WEEK
SAINTS (0-3) AT CHARGERS (1-2)
Chargers by 4.5; O/U: 53.5
It’s the Drew Brees Bowl. It feels like eons ago that Brees and Philip Rivers were at the center of a quarterback controversy in San Diego. Now, Brees’ Saints are winless while Rivers’ Chargers easily could be 3-0. New Orleans just allowed 45 points to the Falcons at home on Monday night, and now they have to make a long flight on short rest. Rivers’ receivers should run wild against an ailing Saints secondary.
The pick: Chargers
RAMS (2-1) AT CARDINALS (1-2)
Cardinals by 8; O/U: 42.5
We all saw what Arizona did in Week 2 at home after coming off a loss. The same scenario presents itself here, but this line feels too high. While the Cardinals should bounce back after last week’s letdown in Buffalo, it’s a division contest and the Rams won at Arizona last season. Los Angeles’ defense keeps this close enough for the cover.
The pick: Rams
CHIEFS (2-1) AT STEELERS (2-1)
TV: Ch. 4, 8:20 p.m.
Steelers by 4.5; O/U: 47
Pittsburgh got embarrassed in Philadelphia last week and Kansas City dominated the Jets at home. So why are the Steelers favored by more than a field goal? Because Vegas doesn’t overreact. The Steelers are still one of the NFL’s top teams, and should be fired up at home with a chance to show the football-watching world last week was just a fluke. The Steelers also get back Le’Veon Bell. The Chiefs’ defense may keep this close for a while, but their offense will have trouble playing catch-up at Heinz Field.
The pick: Steelers
Staff picks (best best in bold)
JOE MANNIELLO (Record: 18-29-1 overall, 2-1 best bets; Last week: 4-11-1): Jets, Vikings, Jaguars, Browns, Texans, Patriots Falcons, Lions, Raiders, Broncos, Cowboys, Chargers, Rams, Steelers
BOB GLAUBER(Record: 21-26-1 overall, 2-1 best bets; Last week: 6-9-1): Jets, Vikings, Colts, Redskins, Texans, Patriots, Panthers, Lions, Raiders, Broncos, Cowboys, Chargers, Cardinals, Chiefs
TOM ROCK (Record: 23-24-1, 2-1 best bets; Last week: 8-7-1): Jets, Giants, Colts, Redskins, Titans, Bills, Falcons, Lions, Raiders, Broncos, Cowboys, Saints, Cardinals, Chiefs
KIMBERLEY A. MARTIN (Record: 16-31-1 overall, 1-2 best bets; Last week: 5-10-1): Seahawks, Vikings, Colts, Redskins, Texans, Patriots, Panthers, Lions, Ravens, Broncos, Cowboys, Chargers, Cardinals, Steelers