NFL Week 4 odds, picks: Baker Mayfield wins in first start for Browns, Titans beat Eagles, Lions destroy Cowboys
Mayfield is one of four rookie quarterbacks who will start this week
Just like last week, quarterbacks were the story in Week 3 and the names are familiar ones: Patrick Mahomes, he of four career starts, continues to play at a pace that could land him in the Hall of Fame by December. And Drew Brees, who at 39 is 16 years older than Mahomes, is a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer who leads the league in completion percentage (80.6) and interception percentage (0.0).
So which teams should you back in Week 4 of the NFL season? And which team with postseason aspirations gets absolutely stunned on the road by an underdog? Visit SportsLine now to see which teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from the model that has outperformed 98 percent of experts tracked by NFLPickWatch.com the past two seasons.
We'll talk about all 16 games in our picks below.
LAST WEEK: 6-10
OVERALL RECORD: 24-22-2
Buffalo at Green Bay
Is there a chance the Bills can turn this thing around? A week ago, there's no way they're going into Lambeau and doing anything other than taking a beating. Now, after what they perpetrated against the Vikings, maybe there's a method to coach Sean McDermott's madness. Then again again, maybe the Bills just got the Vikes on a bad day. There's also the matter of a suspect offensive line and the lack of playmakers around rookie quarterback Josh Allen. But the Packers are coming off an uninspiring loss to the Redskins, and apparently the officials have been instructed to flag Clay Matthews every time he makes a tackle, so that's clearly a disadvantage as well. Still, Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers, even with the bum knee and here's a fun fact: Since 1997, these two teams have played six times. The Bills won all three games in Buffalo; the Packers won all three games in Green Bay.
Pick: Packers 21, Bills 18
Cincinnati at Atlanta
A week ago at this time the Bengals were atop the AFC North and looked very much like the 2015 team that went 12-4 when Andy Dalton completed a career-best 66 percent of his throws with 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was also sacked a career-low 20 times. On Sunday in Carolina, Dalton was harassed most of the afternoon, sacked twice and threw four interceptions and looked more like the out-of-sorts quarterback we saw last season. And now the Bengals travel to Atlanta to face a Falcons team that lost in overtime to the Saints but had no trouble lighting up the scoreboard. Matt Ryan threw for 374 yards and five touchdowns and rookie first-rounder Calvin Ridley hauled in three of those touchdowns. Atlanta has been hit by the injury bug, however; starters Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen and Andy Levitre are done for the season; Deion James is out indefinitely and Devonta Freeman remains sidelined with a knee injury.
Pick: Falcons 28, Bengals 27
Detroit at Dallas
A week ago, the Lions looked more likely to win the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft than win a football game. And then they went out and embarrassed the Patriots on national television. Detroit may have finally found a running game with rookie Kerryon Johnson and veteran LeGarrette Blount, and Kenny Golladay may be the best wide receiver no one is talking about. The Cowboys, meanwhile, have limped through the first three weeks of the season, beating a bad Giants team in Week 2 before looking completely lost against the Seahawks last Sunday. The offense is in shambles. Dak Prescott more resembles a replacement-level backup than franchise talent in line for a huge payday; the offensive line hasn't been good, and viable receiving options have yet to reveal themselves. So yeah.
Pick: Lions 35, Cowboys 14
Houston at Indianapolis
We'll continue to own this in the hopes a turnaround is looming: Before the season we picked the Texans to win the division. As it stands, the Texans are 0-3 and are losing by an average of 5 points a game, which second-worst in the conference behind only the hapless Raiders. Making matters worse, Deshaun Watson has been mostly disappointing although there's reason to think he'll get better as he continues to knock the rust off his 10-month layoff. Also: J.J. WATT IS BACK.
The Colts' Andrew Luck is also in the process of knocking off the rust; he went more than 600 days between starts and he's still not 100 percent. He hasn't said that but that's the conclusion we've drawn based on the team's decision to replace him with backup Jacoby Brissett for a late-game Hail Mary attempt. Luck has been Commander Checkdown through three games and if he's unable to throw the ball more than 25 yards down the field, that's a huge advantage for the opposing defense. Maybe this is the week the Texans finally get into the win column.
Pick: Texans 17, Colts 14
Miami at New England
Oh man, this game would be so much more interesting if it were in Miami, where the Dolphins are 4-1 since 2013. Instead, it's in Gillette Stadium, where the Dolphins haven't won since 2008, back when Matt Cassel was the Pats' starter in for an injured Tom Brady. As it happened, Miami went on to win the division that year. Now they'll arrive in New England with a 3-0 record, again atop the division, and with Ryan Tannehill playing well. in fact, Tannehill and coach Adam Gase are 11-5 together, and they'll face Patriots team sitting at 1-2. And those two losses are noteworthy because they were both by more than 10 points. The last time that happened -- 2002 -- was also the last time a Brady-led Pats team missed the postseason.
But we're not yet ready to count out Belichick and Brady because, well, they're Belichick and Brady.
Pick: Patriots 38, Dolphins 31
N.Y. Jets at Jacksonville
Both teams are coming off indifferent performances; the Jets have the distinction of being the first team to lose to the Browns since the Chargers managed it in December 2016 -- that's 635 days, if you're counting -- while the Jaguars mustered just six points in their loss to the Titans. The difference is that the Jets blew a 14-0 point lead while the Jags always struggle against their division rival, and we expect them to rebound on Sunday, harassing rookie Sam Darnold to his third straight defeat.
Pick: Jaguars 24, Jets 12
Philadelphia at Tennessee
The Titans don't get enough credit. They've won with Blaine Gabbert and when he was knocked out of last week's game, Marcus Mariota, the franchise quarterback battling an elbow injury, found a way to get it done. It hasn't been pretty -- not even close -- but as Steelers coach Mike Tomlin likes to say: style points don't matter. Which is also good news for the Eagles, who haven't looked great in any game this season but are still 2-1. Last Sunday, Carson Wentz returned to the starting lineup for the first time since tearing his ACL last December. He'll get better with more reps but he'll face one of the league's most underrated teams this week.
Pick: Titans: 20, Eagles 17
Tampa Bay at Chicago
Ryan Fitzpatrick is one of the NFL's best quarterbacks so far this season, but he's just as likely to throw for 400 yard as he is to toss three ridiculous interceptions in 30 minutes. Both happened in Monday night's loss to the Steelers, the first loss of the year for the Bucs, but there's no question and Fitzpatrick gives Tampa Bay its best chance at victory, even with Jameis Winston now eligible to return to the lineup. But if Fitzpatrick was flustered at home by a terrible Steelers defense, what will Khalil Mack and the Bears do to him? Lost in Chicago's early season success has been the abysmal play of second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. He has to be better, and going up against a below-replacement-level Bucs defense could be just the thing to boost his confidence.
Pick: Bears 28, Buccaneers 24
Cleveland at Oakland
Here's the bad news:
Here's the good news: Baker Mayfield might be better than the 29 other quarterbacks combined. He also is surrounded by a ton of talent, from Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway and David Njoku, to Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson, to a young, physical turnover-happy defense. Mayfield's gonna be just fine. The Raiders, however, are another story. They're 0-3 and losing by an average of nine points a game despite leading at the half in each of those games. The defense can't rush the passer (apparently this is what happens when you trade Khalil Mack) and Jon Gruden admits it's hard to replace one of the NFL's best players. (You don't say.) Something to keep an eye on: There aren't a lot of wins on the Raiders' schedule. The Browns might be one of them. In Week 8, the Colts come to town. And three weeks after that, they'll play the Cardinals. From the perspective of late September, three wins might be the ceiling for this outfit. Yikes.
Pick: Browns 28, Raiders 26
Seattle at Arizona
Before the season, we pegged the Seahawks for the worst team in the NFC West. The thinking: The offensive line remained a disaster, the Legion of Boom was no more and key defensive stalwarts were either traded or retired. Simply put, Russell Wilson wasn't capable of doing it by himself. We also figured that the Cardinals, now with an above-average quarterback, would certainly do no worse than replicate last year's 8-8 mark when the quarterbacks were Carson Palmer, Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton. Turns out, Sam Bradford is more washed up than the previous trio and now it's up to Josh Rosen to save the season. Good luck, Josh, because Arizona is currently minus-54 in point differential. This is the worst in the league, a full 34 points worse than the Raiders.
Pick: Seahawks 21 Cardinals 9
New Orleans at N.Y. Giants
The Saints are coming off an overtime win in Atlanta in which they scored 43 points. Through three games, 39-year-old Drew Brees is setting career marks in completion percentage (80.6), interception rate (0.0) and passer rating 122.2. However, New Orleans' defense, which was one of the best in the league a year ago, continues to struggle, ranking 28th, via Football Outsiders. The Giants got their first win of the season on Sunday, beating a directionless Texans outfit. Still, they rank in the bottom third of the league in every phase -- offense, defense and special teams -- though the decision to bench offensive tackle Ereck Flowers proved to be the right one in Houston. And who knows, Eli Manning might be even be able to replicate his 297 yards/2 TDs/0 int performance against Houston this week, but until the defense finds its form it likely won't be enough to slow up Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara.
Pick: Saints 28, Giants 21
San Francisco at L.A. Chargers
This matchup looked a lot more exciting before the season, and even as recently four days ago. But Jimmy Garoppolo's season is over after he suffered a torn ACL against the Chiefs on Sunday and few people on the planet expect backup C.J. Beathard, who was 1-4 as a starters last season before Garoppolo arrived, to suddenly fix an offense that had sputtered in the first three weeks. And while the Chargers had their own issues against the Rams, they also have the ageless wonder, Philip Rivers leading one of the league's most efficient offenses.
Pick: Chargers 27, 49ers 13
Baltimore at Pittsburgh
The Ravens are tied atop the division with the Bengals while the Steelers are tied for last with the Browns. It's been an interesting few weeks to the season. But if history is any guide, point spreads and records will mean little on Sunday night. Since Week 1 of the 2011 season, the Ravens lead the series with nine wins in 15 games, including a four-game winning streak from Jan. 2015 to Nov. 2016. But the Steelers have won the last three meetings. Baltimore arrives in Pittsburgh with an improved offense, thanks largely to an improved passing game, while the Steelers finally got a win last Sunday night and could get above .500 with a victory over the Ravens. Pittsburgh's defense, which has been abused for much the early season, needs to find some answers or this game could get out of hand.
Pick: Ravens 21, Steelers 20
Kansas City at Denver
If you were to build an NFL quarterback in the lab it would be Patrick Mahomes. The man has no holes in his game, at least none that we've seen. Sure, at some point you'd think he'll have to play like a flawed human being, one who makes mistakes and feels pain. But when? Turns out, maybe on Monday night; the Broncos' offense remains a work in progress, even with Case Keenum under center, but its defense is still very good, especially at home. That said, Mahomes did win the first two games of the season on the road against the Chargers and Steelers. Which is why it will be incredibly difficult to pick against him until an opponent can prove they can force him into an interception, let alone enough mistakes to beat him and the Chiefs.
Pick: Chiefs 31, Broncos 23
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