We know nothing (Jon Snow). Week 3 was the prime example of why this picks column, formerly known back in the day as the Primer, is “for entertainment purposes only.”
We took so many baths that we’ll be zestfully clean for rest of the 2017 NFL season. So let’s laugh, shake it off and get back on the donkey descending down into the depths. They also didn’t use to call his the fearless forecast for nothing.
Points spreads and odds are courtesy of Bovada. Check back for updated lines throughout the week.
Week 4 NFL picks against the spread
(All times ET)
Games of the Week
Steelers (-3) at Ravens, Sunday 1 p.m.
You can’t blame John Harbaugh for never wanting his team to play in London again after the Jaguars debacle. The offense, however, won’t suddenly break out a slump in the usual physical, hard-hitting game between these rivals. Pittsburgh has more firepower and balance to break through for key plays in this one to take early control of the AFC North.
PICK: Steelers win 23-16 and cover the spread.
Raiders at Broncos (-2 1/2), Sunday 4:25 p.m.
The Raiders’ offense is hitting some familiar snags against better defenses after it ripped apart the Titans and Jets early. After Marshawn Lynch is slowed, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree will be caught in the Mile High No-Fly Zone. The Raiders’ defensive back seven will have a lot more trouble, especially with the Broncos’ backs and receivers after the catch.
PICK: Broncos win 27-20 and cover the spread.
Game of Midweek
Bears at Packers (-7 1/2), Thursday 8:25 p.m.
The Packers rallied to overcome what would have been a devastating loss to the desperate Bengals, while the Bears are riding the high of knocking off Big Ben and the Steelers. Aaron Rodgers won’t let that happen in his house, and Green Bay can get away with its weak secondary against Chicago’s wideouts — and eventually force Mike Glennon into a big mistake.
PICK: Packers win 27-14 and cover the spread.
NFC Game of the Week
Rams at Cowboys (-7 1/2), Sunday 1 p.m.
Wait, isn’t this just a convenient preseason game between L.A. and Oxnard? Nope. Now it’s the NFC West-leading upstarts against the NFC East reigning champions. Welcome Jared Goff to the realm of viable starting quarterbacks. He will get more help from Todd Gurley, but he’s still not a better second-year passer than Dak Prescott. The Rams also will get battered by Ezekiel Elliott in the power running game and ripped by Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley in coverage. Long week vs. short week makes it close, but not enough for the Rams.
PICK: Cowboys win 31-24 but fail to cover the spread.
Lock of the Week
Bills at Falcons (-8), Sunday 1 p.m.
Atlanta is close to being 1-2 instead of 3-0, having survived the last play in both Chicago and Detroit. But it between, it thrashed a better team than both, Green Bay, in its fancy new home. It’s hard to know the real Buffalo team, but it’s easy to know it doesn’t have the defensive personnel to handle the Falcons’ multiple weapons. Matt Ryan has his best game of season, and Devonta Freeman carries it home as the closer.
PICK: Falcons win 34-17 and cover the spread.
Upset of the Week
Giants over Buccaneers (-3), Sunday 4:05 p.m.
The Bucs’ secondary is struggling, and now the overall defense will be without its glue on the second level, Lavonte David. It’s a perfect spot for New York’s quick-release passing game with Eli Manning to stay hot. On the other side, Janoris Jenkins will keep Mike Evans in check, and Jameis Winston will face plenty of pressure inside and out.
PICK: Giants win 20-17.
Rest of the Week
Saints (-3) at Dolphins, Sunday 9:30 a.m.
Here we go again for more foggy fun in London. Running back Jay Ajayi returns to his birthplace trying to help wake up Miami’s offense after Jay Cutler laid that egg against the Jets. The Saints’ defense would seem like a good opportunity for a big rebound rushing game, but they are coming off an overachieving win in Carolina. In a game with some shootout potential with plenty gunslinging, it’s hard to trust taking Cutler over Drew Brees.
PICK: Saints win 27-24 in a push.
Lions at Vikings (off board), Sunday 1 p.m.
This is a key early battle to see who will be right there with Green Bay to vie for the NFC North title. Whoever is playing quarterback for Minnesota, Dalvin Cook will remain the lifeblood of the offense, and when he’s running well, it’s difficult to slow down both Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen downfield. The Vikings can render the Lions more one-dimensional and make Matthew Stafford uncomfortable with Mike Zimmer’s front seven in constant attack mode.
PICK: Vikings win 24-20.
Panthers at Patriots (-8.5), Sunday 1 p.m.
Cam Newton isn’t playing well behind shoddy pass protection and will be without at least one of his top targets. That gives New England’s lost pass defense a much-needed break. There are plenty of good matchups for Tom Brady, back to being a quarterback possessed, to exploit in the middle of the field and deep against Carolina’s defense.
PICK: Patriots win 34-23 and cover the spread.
Titans (-1 1/2) at Texans, Sunday 1 p.m.
Marcus Mariota and DeMarco Murray used Seattle’s defense of all things to get back on track, complementing each other at a high level. Deshaun Watson has provided more than just a spark for Houston’s offense — he’s downright carrying it by passing the ball around and running for big plays, too. Mariota has a lot more diverse help around him, and Murray and Derrick Henry’s pounding can wear down the Texans’ pass rush.
PICK: Titans win 20-17 and cover the spread.
Jaguars (-3 1/2) at Jets, Sunday 1 p.m.
Jacksonville seems a lot more at home while on the road with its basic winning formula: swarm and cover everything against the pass, create everything offensively through the power running game. That’s a perfect way to handle New York’s limited offense and wilting defense. And hey, Blake Bortles is playing well, too.
PICK: Jaguars win 21-10 and cover the spread.
Bengals (-3 1/2) at Browns, Sunday 1 p.m.
Cincinnati has made its offense simple by channeling almost everything through A.J. Green and Joe Mixon, and it saw immediate positive results in a losing effort. Andy Dalton will see Green run free against Cleveland’s secondary, while Mixon has breakout game as an all-purpose rookie back. DeShone Kizer will be forced into a few more key mistakes with the heat of Geno Atkins getting in his face.
PICK: Bengals win 24-14 and cover the spread.
Eagles at Chargers (pick ’em), Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Philip Rivers was terrible last week at home, and Los Angeles looks headed toward absolute free-fall. Everybody’s looking more at Carson Wentz and Philly as playoff sleepers, but winning on the road remains their hurdle. The Eagles’ pass-happy attack plays into the hands of Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa and Casey Hayward. On the other side, Rivers should refocus and find several matchups he likes getting the ball out quickly against the visitors’ deficient secondary.
PICK: Chargers win 27-24.
49ers at Cardinals (-7), Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Yet another matchup of the team that played Thursday vs. the team that played Monday. Arizona’s inability to run the ball well will keep things more interesting than they should be. Eventually, Carson Palmer will pick apart San Francisco’s secondary, but it will be a grind in the red zone. Former Cardinal Brian Hoyer makes a few plays late, but former 49er Phil Dawson ensures a quick home bounce-back.
PICK: Cardinals win 26-20 but fail to cover the spread.
Colts at Seahawks (-13), Sunday 8:30 p.m.
The Seahawks’ offense woke up in Nashville, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough after the defense continued to get gashed in the running game. The Colts don’t pose any such backfield threat, and the nature of Seattle’s zone coverage will limit T.Y. Hilton from getting free for his patented big plays. Russell Wilson and Chris Carson will be much too much for Indy’s D to handle on the road in prime time.
PICK: Seahawks win 33-17 and cover the spread.
Redskins at Chiefs (-7), Monday 8:30 p.m.
It seems like with Alex Smith playing well and Kareem Hunt playing awesome, the Chiefs’ offense can’t be stopped, even when either Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill has an off game. Washington will have trouble with Hunt and Kelce, so it will likely be on Kirk Cousins, Chris Thompson and Vernon Davis to keep its passing game hot in order to keep up. The Chiefs survive a second straight home game against an NFC East foe in familiar-but-closer fashion.
PICK: Chiefs win 27-24 but fail to cover the spread.
Stats of the Week:
Week 3 record straight up: 8-8
Week 3 record against the spread: 3-11
Season-to-date record straight up: 27-20
Season-to-date record against the spread: 16-29