I never thought we would live in a world where the Cleveland Browns have a winning record after three weeks of an NFL season, but ladies and gentlemen, here we are. It's a world I don't understand, much like the Falcons don't seem to understand how to play football once they have a lead.
That's right, I'm starting this week's picks by complaining about the Falcons. At this point, any smart coach playing Atlanta will let them get the lead and then just sit back and wait for them to completely implode. There is no risk with this strategy.
If the Falcons were a human being, they would be someone who goes to Las Vegas, gets up $25,000 and then somehow ends up going home $400,000 in the hole. If you're ever being chased by a bear, the Falcons are the friend you want to have around, because they will definitely be eaten first. Speaking of being eaten by a bear, that would almost certainly be less painful than being a Falcons fan.
The Falcons have now blown two fourth quarter leads of 15 points or more in consecutive weeks, which is something no other team has done OVER THE COURSE OF AN ENTIRE SEASON, let alone two consecutive weeks.
Not only are the Falcons going down, but they're taking me with them. I'm 0-3 picking their games this season and obviously, the only way to rectify that is to never pick them again.
Am I actually going to never pick the Falcons again? Let's get to the picks and find out.
Actually, before we get to the picks, here's a quick reminder that you can check out the weekly picks from every CBSSports.com NFL expert by clicking here, but you were probably already well aware of that since I mention it every week. You should click over just to see if any of my co-workers are picking the Falcons this week and then if they are, we can laugh at them together.
One other thing that I mention every week is that you can now hear my dreamy voice on the Pick Six Podcast, which is our daily NFL podcast here at CBSSports.com. For the rest of the 2020 season, I'll be joining host Will Brinson three days per week (Monday, Tuesday and Friday). Even though I'm only on three days per week, there's a new episode every single day from Monday thru Friday and you should try to listen as often as possible (You can listen to Tuesday's episode below and make sure to click here to check it out and subscribe). On Tuesday's episode, we spent way more time than we probably should have trying to figure out who the second best team in the NFL is behind the Chiefs (Spoiler alert: It's not the Falcons).
Alright, if I haven't convinced you to listen to the podcast by now, it's probably because you either hate me or podcasts or both, so let's get to the Week 4 picks.
NFL Week 4 picks
If I've learned one thing since adding a baby to the family this year, it's that sometimes life throws a diaper in your face, and when that happens, you have to do your best to make diaper lemonade out of it. At least, I think that's how the saying goes.
Anyway, the NFL is basically giving us the equivalent of a dirty diaper this week with TWO GAMES that will feature winless teams playing against each other. Sure, I would rather change a diaper than watch either of these games, but I made a vow in March that if the NFL had a season this year I would watch EVERY SINGLE GAME and not complain. So, not only am I not going to complain, but I'm also going to give these two games their own section.
Do they deserve it? No.
Will I whiff on both picks? Probably.
I hate winless teams, but here we go anyway.
Which teams will cover the spread in Week 4? Pete Prisco, R.J. White and SportsLine's Kenny White join host Will Brinson to break down their best bets and size up every game; listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.
Week 4 picks where winless teams face each other
Denver (0-3) at N.Y. Jets (0-3)
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET
Point spread: Broncos, -2.5
If I've noticed one thing about the Jets this season, it's that they basically show up every Sunday with no game plan and then make it up as they go along. Not surprisingly, this hasn't been working out well for them so far. Not only have they scored the fewest points in the NFL this season, but they've also given up the second-most points in the AFC. That's not a good combination.
The thing about Thursday games though is that there's not really enough time to implement a detailed game plan, and amazingly, that actually might work out in the Jets' favor. Instead of coming up with a game plan that's not going to work, Adam Gase is just going to have to throw something together and based on what I've seen so far this year from the Jets, giving Gase less time to plan might actually be in their best interest. Also, the fact that this game is being played on a Thursday means fewer practices for the Jets. For a normal team, this would be a bad thing, but for the Jets, I think it might actually help. I mean, if you haven't been following the Jets closely this season, here'a quick update on how their practices have gone: They've apparently been a disaster.
Bradley McDougald and Avery Williamson delivered a stinging indictment on Adam Gase and his staff amid the Jets' nightmarish start to the season.— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) September 23, 2020
The veterans made it clear that Gang Green’s issues stem from lackluster practices, @MMehtaNYDN writes.https://t.co/JMMP9wrzG1
Basically, the Jets are going to have fewer practices this week, which should theoretically make them better since this is apparently the one team in the NFL that gets worse every time they practice.
The crazy thing here is that I think I have somehow talked myself into picking the Jets. The game is in New York/Jersey, it's in prime time and I feel like Gase will be coaching for his job, which I'm not even convinced he wants to keep, but I'm picking the Jets anyway.
The pick: Jets 19-16 over Broncos
What picks can you make with confidence in Week 4, and which Super Bowl contender goes down hard? Visit SportsLine now to see which NFL teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from the model that is up over $7,500 on its top-rated picks.
Minnesota (0-3) at Houston (0-3)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Texans, -4
I don't know if Deshaun Watson's new contract includes hazard pay, but if it doesn't, he might want to go back to the negotiation table. Sure, $150 million is nice, but it's not going to help you very much when you have to spend it all on painkillers during retirement because you got sacked 41 times per game during your NFL career.
A big reason the Texans are 0-3 is because -- and stop me if you've heard this before -- their offensive line can't protect Watson. Through four weeks, the Texans quarterback has already been sacked a total of 13 times, which is the second-most in the NFL. As a matter of fact, the Texans' offensive line has been so bad this season that Houston fans actually sound like they're afraid for his life.
Deshaun Watson is going to get killed playing behind that O Line in Houston. It’s unbelievable how bad they can be in front of such a stud quarterback. He’s running for his life every play— Cody Flavell (@Cody_625) September 20, 2020
The good news for Watson this week is that he might actually survive this game and that's because the Texans are playing a team that isn't really built to take advantage of Houston's weaknesses. Through three weeks, the Vikings have the second-fewest sacks in the NFL (3) and they've given up the third-most pass yards (292.3 per game). Watson is probably going to cry tears of joy when he watches the Vikings defense on film.
One thing about Houston is that I'm pretty sure any team in the NFL would be winless with their schedule. The Texans' 0-3 record has come against three teams who are currently a combined 8-1 (Chiefs, Ravens, Steelers), so they might actually be better than we think.
No matter what happens in this game, which is being played between two teams that made the playoffs last year, I think we can go ahead and safely assume that the loser definitely won't be returning to the playoffs. Sorry Vikings, but my guess here is that you're going to be the team that won't be returning to the postseason.
The pick: Texans 34-27 over Vikings
Week 4 picks involving teams that actually have wins
Pittsburgh (3-0) at Tennessee (3-0)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Steelers, -1
UPDATE: This pick is being put on hold because the Titans are dealing with a COVID outbreak this week that has caused the NFL to postpone the game. If you want to know who I would have picked, feel free to read below. Also, I live eight miles from the Titans practice facility so if there's no picks column next week, you know why.
ORIGINAL PICK BEFORE NEWS OF THE POSTPONEMENT: There are seven undefeated teams left in the NFL and somehow, this is the only game on the schedule this week that involves two unbeaten teams playing each other. If you would have asked me in August which Week 4 game I'm most excited about, this one wouldn't have even ranked in the top five, but now, it's the only one I want to watch, and I'm not just saying that because it's on CBS, although I very do much like the fact that it's on CBS.
As someone who lives in Nashville, I'm one of the 11 people alive who watched every game that the Titans played last season and let me just say, this team was one good kicker away from being one of the best teams in the NFL. Although they finished the year 9-7, they probably would have gone 12-4 if they had a competent kicker.
The good news for Tennessee is that they do have one this year and we know that, because if they didn't, they would be 0-3. Although Stephen Gostkowski started his career off in Tennessee this year by having a Britney Spears circa 2007 style meltdown on national television, he recovered to hit three straight game-winners over the past three weeks. Apparently, Gostkowski fixed all of his problems by getting rid of the sock on his kicking foot.
Gostkowski now kicking without a sock: I kicked without it all summer long. I don't know why I had them on (in opener)— Terry McCormick (@terrymc13) September 27, 2020
As someone who never wears socks, I respect that.
If you're wondering why I just spent 250 words talking about a kicker while not mentioning anything else about this game, it's because I think the Titans are going to win by a field goal. Also, I never get to talk about kickers, so I have to take the chance whenever I can.
The pick: Titans 27-24 over Steelers
Buffalo (3-0) at Las Vegas (2-1)
4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Bills, -3
I'm actually terrified that these two teams are playing this week and that's because they have the two most vocal fan bases on the internet. When you pick against either one of these teams, the fan base will definitely let you know, and I found that out the fun way last week when I said that the Raiders would get destroyed by the Patriots in my "Lock of the Week."
Raiders fans clearly hate when you pick their team to lose, because after making that prediction, they hunted down every social media page I've ever made in my life -- I think they even found my MySpace page -- to let me know how wrong I was going to be. Some guy named "Raider Joey" even wrote me a 1,500 word email explaining to me why I was wrong and why the Raiders were going to win. The email was mostly shocking because I didn't even know Raiders fans could write. Boom. Roasted. But seriously, I'm just kidding Raiders fans, I don't actually think that about you, don't send me any death threats. I love you guys. I was born in Oakland.
The one thing about the actual game here is that the Raiders offense has been way better than I thought it was going to be and the Bills defense has been a lot worse. What this means is that, for the second week in a row, I think we're going to see the Bills involved in a shootout.
The one thing I like about the Raiders is that they now play in Las Vegas, which I've decided is the greatest home-field advantage in the NFL this year. It also might be the only home-field advantage in the NFL this year.
I mean, did you see the Saints play there back in Week 2? The entire team looked like they had taken part in a three-night bender at Caesar's Palace. If you put a bunch of young, rich guys in Vegas, there's a 1000% chance they will go out at night even if they're told not to go out at night. Because of this, I will be picking the Raiders to win every game they play at home, until they lose a game at home, at which point, I probably won't pick them to win again for the rest of the season.
Also, when it comes to pulling off inexplicable upsets at home, there's no one better than the Raiders. Since hiring Jon Gruden in 2018, the Raiders have won SIX home games as an underdog, which should scare the Bills because the Raiders will be the underdog on Sunday.
The pick: Raiders 33-30 over Bills
Lock of the Week
Cleveland (2-1) at Dallas (1-2)
1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Point spread: Cowboys, -4.5
Even though the Browns have a winning record for the first time since 2014, I still have no idea if they're any good. In Week 1, they get destroyed by one of the best teams in football, but then they followed that up with consecutive wins over the Bengals and Washington. If you watched the 2020 NFL Draft that was held in Roger Goodell's basement back in April, you may have noticed that the Bengals and Washington had the first two picks. I think what I'm trying to say here is that beating the two worst teams from last season doesn't really tell me much about your team.
Also, the fact that the Browns have won two games in a row actually somewhat frightens me. The thing about the Browns is that you have a better chance of winning the lottery 12 times in a row than Cleveland does of winning three straight games. I can't even remember the last time they've won three straight games. Have they ever won three straight games? Surprisingly, the answer to that question is yes.
My crack research team has advised me that the Browns have in fact won three straight games before, and they did it last year. However, all three of those wins were at home. The last time they had a three-game win streak where at least one of the wins came on the road was in 2012. Speaking of the road, the Browns have pretty much been a total disaster every time they've left Cleveland over the past few years. In their past 30 road games, they're 4-26. They've also lost 11 straight games on the road to NFC teams.
On the Cowboys end, remember that three-year span where Andy Dalton's nickname was "Daytime Dalton" because he almost never lost in any game that started at 1 p.m. ET? Well, his magic must have rubbed off on Dak Prescott, because Daytime Dak is a thing. Since his rookie year, "Daytime Dak" has played a total of 16 games at 1 p.m. ET and he's 13-3. I'm not picking against Daytime Dak, especially not when his backup quarterback is Daytime Dalton.
The pick: Cowboys 34-24 over Browns
Bonus lock of the week
Baltimore (2-1) at Washington (1-2)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Ravens, -13.5
The lock of the week is off to such a hot start this season that I've decided to get greedy this week and give you two locks. Actually, I was only going to do one lock this week, but then the Ravens lost on Monday and I decided to add them because there's no way Baltimore isn't going to roll in this game.
Washington is banged up on defense and if there's one game where you can't afford to be banged up on defense, it's when you play the Ravens. If you want a taste of what Lamar Jackson is going to do to this defense, just go hunt down some highlights from Washington's Week 2 loss to the Cardinals. In that 30-15 win for Arizona, Washington had no idea how to stop Kyler Murray. Lamar Jackson is like Kyler Murray, except better and with more experience. Those are both bad things for Washington.
The pick: Ravens 33-17 over Washington
Lock of the week record: 4-0 straight-up, 4-0 against the spread
NFL Week 4 picks: All the rest
Colts 23-20 over Bears
Bengals 26-23 over Jaguars
Saints 30-27 over Lions
Seahawks 31-24 over Dolphins
Buccaneers 34-20 over Chargers
Rams 30-16 over Giants
Cardinals 27-20 over Panthers
Chiefs 31-23 over Patriots
49ers 20-17 over Eagles
Packers 37-30 over Falcons
Best pick: Last week, I predicted that the Patriots would crush the Raiders and let me just say that this one was never in doubt. I knew there was no way I was losing the pick after Bill Belichick showed up at his first press conference of the week in a sleeveless shirt.
That is the look of a man who didn't eat or sleep for 17 straight hours so he could come up with a game plan that would absolutely shut the Raiders down and that's exactly what his team did. Note to everyone: If Belichick ever looks like that at a press conference ever again, bet everything you have on the Patriots.
Worst pick: Last week, I spent two paragraphs talking about how you should never pick the Falcons to win because it's like picking Charlie Brown to finally kick the football, but then I picked them anyway. Well, the joke was definitely on me, because guess what happened: The team that always collapses in the second half collapsed in the second half. I have no one to blame but myself.
This guy has done us all a favor and asked the Falcons to change their Twitter profile picture to Charlie Brown.
If they don't want to use that picture, they could also change their picture to this photo of their old stadium imploding, which would also be fitting because imploding is what the Falcons do every game.
And in case it's not clear, I'm never picking the Falcons again and I ACTUALLY MEAN IT THIS TIME.
Straight up in Week 3: 10-5-1
SU overall: 32-15-1
Against the spread in Week 3: 7-9
ATS overall: 24-23-1