If you’ve listened to any NFL talk this week, you’ve heard about two things: Taylor Swift and the Miami Dolphins offense.
Since there’s no real betting angle with Tay Tay (yet, anyway), let’s talk about the Dolphins offense.
Miami’s offense is very good. Anyone who has watched the Dolphins can see that. Tua Tagovailoa deserves to be the MVP favorite right now, even if that title is fairly meaningless in September. Mike McDaniel is creative and fun.
And here’s the thing: Everyone has to outdo each other praising the Dolphins. Suddenly some of the same people who weren’t so sure of Tagovailoa a week or two ago are casually saying the Dolphins might be one of the best offenses ever. After three games. Yes, they scored 70 points last week. And against the one good defense they faced, the New England Patriots in Week 2, they scored seven points on their last seven possessions.
It’s not to say the Dolphins aren’t good. They might end up as one of the best offenses ever by the end of the season. It’s that NFL coverage is often a prisoner of the moment. Bettors can do well fading recency bias.
The Buffalo Bills are very good. They were very good last season, when they finished first in DVOA. They were good the year before that too. And they’ve been very good this season as well. The world watched them lose to the New York Jets in Week 1, then have been about perfect since. It’s more fun to talk about a team scoring 70 points than it is to focus on a Bills defense that had nine sacks, forced five turnovers, scored on an interception return and had a shutout on the road until Washington decided on a meaningless field goal in the final minute.
I’ll fade the hype this week. It’s not being down on the Dolphins, but recognizing that the Bills are a lot better than they’re getting credit for. The Bills are -2.5 at BetMGM, and I’ll gladly take them giving less than a field goal at home. And if the Dolphins go on the road and light up the Bills defense, get ready for the hype to go completely out of control.
Here are the picks against the spread for Week 4, with odds from BetMGM:
Packers (+1) over Lions
I like the moneyline on Green Bay, as discussed in The Daily Sweat.
Jaguars (-3) over Falcons
I’m not quite ready to give up on the Jaguars. Or maybe it’s that last week reminded me the Falcons have a low ceiling because they are totally content with Desmond Ridder at quarterback and not getting their best skill-position players the ball. The Jaguars are also veterans at the London thing, which helps.
Bears (+3.5) over Broncos
Come on, it’s a little zany to make the Broncos more than a field-goal favorite on the road against anyone. Yes, the Bears stink. So do the Broncos. I can’t tell you that I like backing the 2023 Bears, but this line is forcing me to do it.
Browns (-3) over Ravens
This is a pick for the Browns defense. I don’t trust their offense much yet. But the defense has been unbelievable. The Ravens are still a bit beat up, though maybe they get some players back. Mostly it’s just wanting to back this Browns defense until I have a reason not to.
Bengals (-2.5) over Titans
When I did the initial power rankings countdown over the summer, I had the Titans 29th. I was told a few times that I was absolutely crazy because Mike Vrabel couldn’t have a team that bad. I heard how the Titans were contenders in the AFC South. I moved Tennessee up before the season as a result, and that’s what I get for listening to others. The Titans look like they might be the 29th best team in the NFL. This offense is broken. They clearly don’t trust Derrick Henry to carry the offense anymore. Vrabel is having a bad season. I don’t fully trust the Bengals yet, but I’m going to be fading the Titans for a while.
Rams (+1) over Colts
Are the Colts good? Could be. The win last week at Baltimore was impressive. The Colts get Anthony Richardson back this week, though I’m a little concerned about him getting through a game healthy. The Rams have been pretty good. They were in a bad spot last Monday night against a desperate Bengals team. This is a hard game to pick, but I’ll be a little contrarian and go with the Rams.
Buccaneers (+3.5) over Saints
Another tough game, but I also know this: Jameis Winston is probably going to give the Buccaneers a shot at some game-changing turnovers. Tampa Bay got blasted on Monday night, but that was against a very good Eagles team. This one should be closer.
Commanders (+8.5) over Eagles
I do worry about Sam Howell, who holds the ball way too long. He might take a dozen sacks in this game. But the Commanders were one of the few teams to beat the Eagles last season, and I think they can at least keep it relatively close. Washington isn’t a bad team. The Commanders will be a lot better when Howell learns how to avoid sacks.
Vikings (-3.5) over Panthers
I hate to be laying more than a field goal here. But I don’t think the Vikings are a bad team. They’ve just lost three close games after winning every single close game last season. The Panthers really haven’t given me any reason to believe they’re a good team, no matter who is playing quarterback.
Steelers (-3) over Texans
I did consider Houston here. C.J. Stroud looks like he can play. Houston looked good last week. And the Steelers, despite being 2-1, have not looked great. Their offense has a long way to go. I’m going to land on Pittsburgh here because I think the Steelers’ front seven is dominant and can disrupt Stroud, but it wouldn’t be an upset to me if Houston wins.
Chargers (-5.5) over Raiders
It’s always scary to back the Chargers. They’ll find some way we haven’t even thought of yet to make this an adventure. But maybe the Raiders’ Week 1 escape at Denver threw us off the scent of them being one of the NFL’s worst teams. They were favored on Sunday night against Pittsburgh, which is baffling. It’s a bad team that beat an even worse team by a point in the opener. This Raiders spread isn’t as egregious as last week, but I’ll still go Chargers.
Patriots (+6.5) over Cowboys
I can see the Patriots defense keeping this close. I don’t know what to make of what happened with the Cowboys in Arizona last week. It wasn’t some fluky turnover-fueled upset. The Cardinals outplayed them. Maybe Dallas just needed a wake-up call, but this spread seems inflated.
Cardinals (+14) over 49ers
The Cardinals are undefeated against the spread this season. That speaks to how much better they have been than expected. The 49ers are very good — I was wrong to doubt them before the season but I’m not going to keep losing on them because I’m stubborn — but two touchdowns is a lot in the NFL. And the Cardinals have shown they can cover spreads.
Jets (+9.5) over Chiefs
Jets games are going to be rough. More often than not, I’ll find myself talking myself into them as a big underdog. The defense is still elite. Then I’m going to spend three hours watching their offense, wondering how they can even get first downs. Anyone taking the Chiefs -9.5 knows they’re paying a tax. With the Chiefs and against the Jets. Nobody wants to take the Jets and suffer through that sweat on Sunday night. But half of NFL betting is taking sides that make your stomach turn a bit.
Seahawks (+1) over Giants
I’ll talk more about this in The Daily Sweat on Monday morning so I’ll keep it short here: The Giants might be pretty bad.
Last week: 7-8-1
Season to date: 25-21-2