We’re back with the fourth edition of MTS’ weekly NFL picks against the spread for the 2016 season. After a respectable 9-7 in his first crack at it, Perry followed that up with a 5-11 stinker in Week 3. Although some rookies get benched when they put the ball on the turf, we believe in second chances, and want to get him right back out there to show that we trust him – kind of. Perry is now 14-18 on the year, and his “Pledges of the Week” fell to 4-4. Here’s how Perry plans on redeeming himself in Week 4.
An asterisk denotes one of Perry’s “Pledges of the Week.” (Don’t call them “locks”; there’s no such thing!)
Week 4 Picks ATS
Thursday, September 29
Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals (-7)
In order for the Dolphins to stage their late-game heroics in Week 3, they first had to blow an 11-point lead to the Browns. Miami is becoming known as nothing more than a big-play offense that can’t sustain a drive – 4.72 plays per drive (32nd).
The Bengals got beat up in Week 3 by the Broncos, allowing Trevor Siemian to play his best game as a pro, and appearing scared to let Andy Dalton throw anything deep down the field.
However, Cincinnati did run the ball effectively last week, and the Dolphins can’t stop anyone on the ground. The Bengals will be hungry for a bounce-back performance – especially their defensive backs – and the Dolphins won’t be able to come up with enough big-plays to hang around.
Pick: Bengals (-7)*
Sunday, October 2
Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (London, England)
The Colts are proving to be what we expected: a good offense with no defense. Luck has eclipsed 300 yards through the air in two of their three games, while the defense has allowed two 300-yard passers.
Jacksonville has shown that they can’t win a shootout nor grind out a low-scoring affair. To be honest, I’m not sure any fans are that upset that they’re losing a home game this year.
Andrew Luck prevails in this shootout in London.
Pick: Colts (-2.5)
Cleveland Browns at Washington (-8)
Here’s a Browns stat that you’ll certainly believe: they rank 26th in points scored, and 25th in points allowed – how Cleveland. (Can we still use that?) Here’s one you won’t believe: the Browns are averaging 5.7 yards per carry, good for second in the league.
Guess who can’t stop the run. That’s right, Washington. They rank 24th in yards per carry and have given up the most rushing touchdowns in the league (seven).
Hue Jackson will have some new and exciting formations for Terrelle Pryor, while Cody Kessler will be asked to do the bare minimum. Washington wins, but only by a touchdown. That’s right, I’m rolling with the Browns, again.
Pick: Browns (+8)
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (-6.5)
Though it may appear “exotic smashmouth” is continuing to gain momentum, I have a feeling it’s only due to Tennessee’s opponents getting weaker since Week 1. That won’t be the case in Week 4. I’m still waiting to see which part of the offense Mike Mularkey has dubbed exotic.
The Texans were embarrassed Thursday night by Jacoby Brissett and the Patriots, 27-0. Brock Osweiler showed just about every flaw he has, and the defense got run over.
The Titans are averaging 5.1 yards per carry, but are still refusing to feed their horses. If they want to keep this close, DeMarco Murray will have to see more than 16 carries, as Houston is allowing 4.8 yards per rushing attempt. Although people are down on Houston right now, they have won four straight against Tennessee (54-12 combined score last year), and will continue to dominate their divisional foes.
Pick: Texans (-6.5)
Carolina Panthers (-3) at Atlanta Falcons
The Panthers have now lost two games this season, one more than they lost all of last year. Their offensive line is being exposed and Cam isn’t making those MVP-type plays.
Atlanta’s offense looked nearly unstoppable against the Saints on Monday night, but we do have to remember that was the Saints defense. The Falcon defense didn’t look much better and continued to show signs of regression.
Carolina is being beat by teams with a great pass-rush; Atlanta has one of the worst in the league. The Falcons defense ranks in the bottom third of the league in almost every major category, and their offense relies on establishing the ground game – something they won’t be able to do against the Panthers.
Cam and company get revenge on the Falcons, who ruined their perfect season last year.
Pick: Panthers (-3)*
Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)
Entering this game, the jury is still out on both the Ravens defense and the Raiders offense. Oakland torched New Orleans and Atlanta, while struggling to score against Tennessee. Baltimore shut down Buffalo and Jacksonville, while allowing Cleveland to put up 25.
Here’s my spoiler: neither unit is as good as advertised. On the other hand, Baltimore’s offense is unimpressive, while the Raider defense is downright awful.
Flacco won’t do enough to run away with this game and the Raven defense won’t keep the Raiders off the scoreboard. This is a field-goal game.
Pick: Raiders (+3.5)
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-4.5)
Rex Ryan doesn’t care who’s playing quarterback for the Patriots on Sunday, and neither do I. Whether it’s Garoppolo, Brissett, Edelman, or even Belichick himself, the Patriots will construct a game-plan to move the ball efficiently.
The Bills finally found a ground game in Week 3, rushing for more yards than they had the previous two weeks combined, and New England is giving up 4.4 yards per carry this season. Cause for concern in New England? Not really. Belichick is great at taking away opponent’s strengths; he’ll remove McCoy (their best player) from the game – as he does every week.
Betting against the Pats hasn’t done me well in the past, and I’m not ready to try it again.
Pick: Patriots (-4.5)
Detroit Lions (-3) at Chicago Bears
This game could be played on Brian Hoyer’s self-designed field, with his hand-picked team, in front of his biggest fans, and I still wouldn’t trust him to get the job done.
The Bears defense wasn’t good before a laundry list of injuries in the first three weeks. But hey, neither is the Lions’ defense, which is almost as banged up.
The difference here will be the quarterback play. Matthew Stafford continues to impress without Megatron, and he’ll enjoy another great performance this week against the beat-up Bears.
Pick: Lions (-3)*
Seattle Seahawks (-1.5) at New York Jets
Russell Wilson’s status for Week 4 is in jeopardy, and the line for this game will move based on whether he’s going to play through his sprained MCL.
In the long-term, the Seahawks would be better off resting Wilson, especially considering the Jets defensive line is one of the scariest units in the league. If Wilson’s mobility is hindered, he’ll get beat up and possibly be gone for longer than a week or two.
After turning the ball over eight times in one game, the Jets now face a defense that’s (uncharacteristically) only recorded one turnover. Fitzpatrick and the offense will bounce back, and the Jets defense will get after Trevone Boykin, since I can’t see Wilson being able to play on a sprained MCL.
Pick: Jets (+1.5)
Denver Broncos (-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Trevor Siemian made some great throws for the Broncos last Sunday against a pretty tough Bengals secondary. This Sunday, Siemian will face one of the worst secondaries in the league in Tampa Bay.
The Bucs are the only team in the league that’s allowed 100 points, and Jameis Winston can thank Ryan Fitzpatrick for making his six interceptions on the season look a little more tolerable. Having to face Aqib Talib and Chris Harris in Week 4 will likely see Winston add to that total, though.
Pick: Broncos (-3)*
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at San Francisco 49ers
The Cowboys are not as good as Chicago made them look, and the 49ers are not as bad as Seattle made them look in Week 3.
Dallas has only allowed 268 yards on the ground this season, but that’s not because they’re stuffing anyone – allowing 4.8 yards per rush – it’s because teams are choosing to do their damage through the air. San Francisco’s opponents are choosing to pound away on the ground, and are doing it with success.
Expect Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel Elliott to both go over 100 yards on the ground in this one, but only one has a quarterback that can take advantage of the big-play opportunities off of play-action.
Pick: Cowboys (-3)
Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals (-8.5)
So the Cardinals sit atop the NFC West, while the Rams are tied for last place, right? Huh, it’s the other way around, you say? How can that be? The Cardinals possess one of the most dangerous offenses in the league, and a star-filled defense; while the Rams are quarterbacked by Case Keenum, and can’t help but commit 7-9 bullsh!t.
Just like they did in Week 2, the Cardinals will come back focused and pissed off – especially Carson Palmer. The Rams may be building some confidence, but they’ll be brought back down to earth in Week 4.
If history has taught us anything, it’s that one of these two games will see the Cardinals win in blowout-fashion, while the other comes right down to the wire. I’ll take this one as the blowout.
Pick: Cardinals (-8)
New Orleans Saints at San Diego Chargers (-4)
Is there going to be any defense played in New Orleans this season? The Saints now rank second-last in both yards and points against. Management really needs to start fixing the lack of talent on that side of the ball. But there’s no need to rush here, their offense should be great for a long time. Oh, Drew Brees is 37-years old, you say? Hmm, that could be an issue.
The Chargers possess the third-best scoring offense, and Philip Rivers has yet to throw an interception this season. However, San Diego isn’t preventing anyone from putting the ball in the air, either – 30th in passing yards allowed.
In order for the Saints to win a game, Brees and the offense need to put together a near-flawless performance. This is something that may be attainable against a banged-up Chargers defense. Speaking of being marred by injury, the Chargers offense isn’t the same without both Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead. Brees keeps this one within three.
Pick: Saints (+4)
Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5)
It seems we are subjected to a Steelers stinker on the road every season. Was that what we saw in Week 3 or did Philadelphia expose all of Pittsburgh’s flaws?
The Chiefs had basically everything go right for them in Week 3 against the Jets. They basically had two quarterbacks playing for them: Alex Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who decided he’d rather play pitch-and-catch with the KC secondary.
But the Chiefs defense continues to give up yards on the ground and can’t get any pressure on the opposing passer. Pittsburgh gets Le’Veon Bell back, and he’ll prove his worth immediately.
Pick: Steelers (-5.5)
Monday, October 3
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings (-4)
In Week 3, the Giants couldn’t overcome their turnover troubles, losing to Washington, 29-27. This time, the perpetrator was Eli Manning, who threw two interceptions, one of which sealed the game on their last drive.
Thanks to the defense, Minnesota was able to remain unbeaten, handing the Panthers their second loss of the season, 22-10. Sam Bradford didn’t make any phenomenal plays, but (more importantly) he didn’t turn the ball over.
The Viking offense won’t be able to pull away from anyone this season, but their defense certainly can pad the score. After a disappointing second-half from Eli Manning in Week 3, though, the New York offense will improve upon its poor redzone efficiency and make a statement.
Pick: Giants (+4)
Photo Credit: FF Swami (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].