By John Kaufman – NFL Betting Analyst
Golly. It’s week four in the NFL already. That’s nuts! It feels like it takes soooooo long to get the NFL season started and before you know it, you’re a quarter of the way through the season. Crazy.
We have 14 more games of NFL action ahead of us this weekend. (Green Bay already lost at home to Philadelphia on Thursday Night Football, and San Francisco and the New York Jets have byes this week.) Let’s mine for value, isolate it, and cash some tickets!
Week Three Postmortem – Results: 4-0 (2019 Record: 5-2-1)
Like always, we need to quickly recap week three and see how I did, where I was right, and where I can improve. Again, I don’t care what my record is in any given week. You’ll always get this recap. I will never run from a bad week. Nor will I get too big an ego because of a good week. It’s always about the process yielding good results. I was a perfect 4-0 last week, but let’s see how my process went to make sure I didn’t just get lucky.
DET +4.5 (-110) at PHI – Result: WIN (DET 27-PHI 24)
This is an example of a good result for perhaps the wrong reasons. The Lions didn’t throw all over Philly’s depleted defense as I expected they would. Stafford only had 201 passing yards, half of which went to Marvin Jones (6-101 and 1 TD) who, predictably, did eat vs that banged-up Eagles secondary. The Lions were not able to run the ball with much success either, but that was expected as well. But Detroit got up by double digits early in the game doing unconventional things like returning a kickoff for a TD, the first in the NFL for this young 2019 season. At halftime I felt great about having Detroit plus the 4.5 points. Honestly though, I did not expect them to win this game outright on the road. But since we took the points the outright win doesn’t matter for us.
NYG +6 (-120) at TB – Result: WIN (NYG 32-TB 31)
Another road underdog that we took who won the game outright. This one, however, was not lucky. This one was all about great process. The look-ahead line for this game was NYG +4, and we got it at +6. Now, this game was 28-10 at the half with the Buccaneers leading, so it’s not like the Giants were in control the entire game. But 15 third-quarter points put us right where we needed to be with the six points that we took. And just like the Detroit-Philly game, it doesn’t matter that the Giants ended up winning this game (especially since they really should have lost the game considering that TB’s kicker, Matt Gay, missed a 34-yard game-winning kick as time expired). We got the cover and the win.
1st Half: NO +3 (-115) at SEA – Result: WIN (NO 20-SEA 7)
Drew Brees out, Teddy Bridgewater in. Doesn’t matter. Our ticket cashed just the same.
Look, this one came down to one important factor – Sean Payton. Obviously, Bridgewater isn’t even close to the same QB that Brees is. But with Payton as your head coach, he can help offset some of what you axiomatically miss without Brees. And that is exactly what he did. Additionally, there was some luck involved because we did see a punt return and a fumble return for a touchdown in the first half of this game. So, this win is a little bit good process and a little bit luck. We’ll take it.
Six Point Teaser of The Week – Result: WIN
ATL +7 at IND – Result: WIN (IND 27-ATL 24)
CLE +9.5 vs LAR – Result: WIN (LAR 20-CLE 13)
Essentially, this is a perfect teaser. These are two bets that, had we simply bet them by themselves, we’d have lost both. Atlanta was only getting a point and they lost by three. The Browns were getting 3.5 and they lost by seven. But we added points via the teaser and nailed them both. Good stuff.
NFL Week Four – Best Bets
Two quick points to make before we unlock the week four best bets:
1. We bet numbers, not teams. This is really important to keep in mind. Most people’s focus is team-centered; Kansas City is very good, Miami is very bad, stuff like that. And while those points are accurate, it doesn’t matter for betting purposes. If you have to lay 21 points with KC versus some random opponent, suddenly it doesn’t matter that KC is a great team. Suddenly, taking the 21 points against them is pretty much the correct play almost every time. We bet numbers, not teams.
2. It was purely coincidental that I had four best bets in both week two and week three. I’m not purposely picking three bets and a teaser every week. That’s silly. I just happened to find four bets each week that I really loved. If there is only one best bet of the week, that’s what I’ll post. If there are six, then you’ll get six recommendations from me. I just wanted to be clear on that.
Anyway, let’s get to what you came here for – week four best bets:
CLE +6.5 at BAL – 1:00 PM
The look-ahead line for this game was Baltimore -3.5. Now it’s BAL -6.5. And why is that? Because we just watched Cleveland look inept at home vs the LA Rams in a primetime spot on Sunday Night Football. The public tends to overreact the following week when a team that plays in a primetime game either looks fantastic or awful. Such is this case here. A week ago, if you wanted to bet Cleveland in this game, you’d only be getting a field goal and the hook. Now, you’ve been gifted an extra field goal. In a division game, I’ll take that all day.
Another important point about backing the Browns here is that the Ravens are missing two starters in their defensive secondary, and that has been a huge problem for them. We can pretty much toss out their week one whitewashing of Miami. There’s nothing to learn from that game. But in weeks two and three vs the Cardinals and Chiefs, respectively, Baltimore was ripped through the air. Specifically, they are very poor defending an opponent’s offense when that offense runs plays out of 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, and three wide receivers). Oh, hey, guess what? Guess what team has run 91% of their offensive plays out of 11 personnel so far in 2019? The Cleveland Browns. I don’t know if Cleveland can go on the road and win this game. But if they do, it will be because the Ravens’ secondary just cannot match up with Beckham, Jr., Jarvis Landry, Demetrius Harris, etc. It will also be because Nick Chubb has a nice game on the ground. (The Ravens are also getting gashed when teams run out of 11 personnel.) This seems like a nice get-right spot for Cleveland and their offense. If they happen to win the game, great. But we’re taking the gifted 6.5 points here, so the outright win doesn’t matter.
CHI -1.5 vs MIN – 4:25 PM
Okay, so, this is a crazy stat:
Since 2004, when Minnesota is playing an outdoor road game against a team with a .500 or better record, they are 0-10-1.
Wow. That is…something.
(That stat comes from Warren Sharp. He mentioned it on this week’s Lefkoe Show podcast, hosted by Adam Lefkoe. You have to check out that pod – it is full of amazing and actionable info.)
Additionally, in his career Kirk Cousins is 5-24 against teams with a winning record.
Sometimes I’ll need to explain my picks in great detail because the reasoning behind them is not apparent. And then other times you just need to know that if you can take the Bears laying less than two points against Minnesota, who is on the road where they have been perpetually awful for a decade and a half, and with a quarterback that just doesn’t beat good teams, you do it.
Sometimes it really is just that easy.
Six Point Teaser of the Week:
DET +13 vs KC – 1:00 PM BUF +13 vs NE – 1:00 PM
(There is a teaser explanation below if you need it.)
I won’t blame you if your hand is shaking and your voice is cracking when you’re at the window placing this bet. But have courage, my good person, because you’re going to be on the right side of this teaser.
Detroit is one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL – they are 11th overall in rushing attempts. And while they are only 19th in total rushing yards this year, they faced the Chargers in week two and the Eagles in week three, who are two of the better rush defenses in the league. (The Chargers are 18th in rushing yards allowed; the Eagles are 7th, and that is including their week four game against Green Bay.) The Chiefs, on the other hand, are 7th-worst in the NFL at stopping the run. So, we’re gonna take extra points with a home team who not only wants to run the ball but will be able to against a suspect rush defense. It won’t be easy (or fun) to bet against Patrick Mahomes. But 13 points is a lot of points to cover, especially if he’s going to be on the sidelines a lot due to the game script.
Similarly, we’re going to take 13 points with the Bills at home here. Buffalo’s defense is 5th-best in the NFL in total yards given up. They are definitely better against the pass than the run, but that is sort of the focus for me in this game. This past week, New England had to put their fullback, James Develin, on IR. Few people realize how important he is to their rushing offense. Consider this: every single touchdown that Sony Michel scored in last season’s playoffs games came when James Develin was also on the field. (That stat was also pulled from The Lefkoe Show pod.) Develin has been vital to New England’s rushing offense, so his absence is important. If anyone can scheme around the fact that Develin is gone, it’s obviously Bill Belichick. But winning a division game by two-plus touchdowns on the road against a stout defense is a tough ask. And doing all that while you’re missing one of your most important players seems incredibly harder to accomplish. That’s why we’re taking the 13 with the Bills in this one.
Alright, y’all, that’s it for week four. Good luck to you this weekend!! I hope all your tickets cash!!
(TEASER BET EXPLANATION: In case you’re not familiar with a teaser, it’s a bet in which you get six points to manipulate the point spread and/or game total in a favorable direction. For example, Denver is +2 versus Chicago. In a teaser, you get to add six points to Denver’s line and increase it from +2 to +8. Or instead, if you like Chicago in that game you could take the six points and tease their line from -2 to +4. Teasers are great ways to manipulate lines so that they’re more favorable to you. Last, just like a parlay, teasers must include two bets or more, and you must win all the legs in the teaser to win the bet. If you lose one leg of the teaser your whole bet is busted.)
John Kaufman – Across the Board Sports