As longtime readers of MTS will tell you, we like to do things early around here. When it comes to the NFL, each week we preview all the game action about ten days in advance. Why? Because, like any organism, we’re trying to carve out a niche! And yes, we know that this week’s action hasn’t even started yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t jump start your betting analysis for the following week with some helpful insights and tips. After the intervening week of games, we’ll update our preview and insert the most recent betting lines, just as we’ve done below for Week 4.
As the calendar turns to October, Week 4 NFL action will begin in the Steel City where bitter rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore square off on Thursday Night Football. On Sunday, the Jets and Dolphins play at 9:30 am (Eastern) from London, the Chiefs and Bengals highlight the 1:00 pm starts, and Dallas and New Orleans hook up in the evening. The Lions, meanwhile, will face a stiff test on the Monday nighter as they travel to Seattle.
Baltimore (0-3) at Pittsburgh (2-1) – Spread: Ravens -2
For the third time in four weeks, the Ravens are on the road. The first two did not go well. Baltimore fell at Denver 19-13 in Week 1 then lost at Oakland 37-33 in Week 2. While starting 0-3 after a heartbreaking home loss to the Bengals is not what John Harbaugh had in mind, Baltimore catches a break meeting the Steelers minus injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Ravens have won three of their last four battles with Pittsburgh, including a 30-17 playoff victory last season. Last year, Baltimore went 4-4 on the road and 3-4-1 against the spread.
The Steelers are playing their second home game of the year. In Week 2, they smashed San Francisco 43-18. Pittsburgh was 6-2 at Heinz Field last year and 5-3 ATS. But Michael Vick did not inspire much confidence in relief of Roethlisberger during the Steelers’ 12-6 victory at St. Louis on Sunday.
New York Jets (2-1) vs. Miami (1-2) (London, England) – Spread: Jets -2
The Jets and Dolphins will meet for the 100th time, but this will be the first outside of either New York or Florida. New York has a narrow 51-47-1 edge all-time and the teams have split their last four. New York won their only road game this season, 20-7 over the Colts on Monday night in Week 2, but are coming off a home loss to Philadelphia.
The Fins began the year with back-to-back road contests, winning at Washington and falling in Jacksonville. The Dolphins offensive line couldn’t keep Ryan Tannehill upright in a blowout loss against the Bills on Sunday. Both squads have a bye next week.
Jacksonville (1-2) at Indianapolis (1-2) – Spread: Colts -8.5
After splitting home games against the Panthers and Dolphins to kick off the campaign, this is the second of three straight challenging road games for the Jags. Last season, Jacksonville went 0-8 away from home and 3-4-1 against the spread. They were not competitive at New England on Sunday. The Jaguars have lost five straight against the Colts by an average of nearly 24 points.
Indianapolis played poorly in their only home game to date, a 20-7 loss to the Jets in Week 2. Andrew Luck accounted for four turnovers in the setback, and was only a little bit better in a narrow win at Tennessee on Sunday. Indy was 6-2 at home and 5-2-1 against the number in 2015.
New York Giants (1-2) at Buffalo (2-1) – Spread: Bills -5.5
Buffalo split home games against two AFC preseason favorites to open the year (beating the Colts and losing to the Patriots). With a lot of home games early (four in the first six weeks), the Bills need to compile wins. Last year, Buffalo went 5-3 at home and 4-4 ATS. They won impressively at Miami on Sunday.
The Giants are playing outside of the Meadowlands for the first time since falling 27-26 against the Cowboys in Week 1. New York went 3-5 on the road last season straight up and against the number. The Giants have won two straight and three of four in this series. New York is coming off their first win of the year, 32-21 over Washington on Thursday in Week 3.
Carolina (3-0) at Tampa Bay (1-2) – Spread: Panthers -3
The Panthers began the season with a road win over Jacksonville (20-9), and now visit Tampa before a Week 5 trip to Seattle. Carolina was 3-4-1 away from Charlotte last year and 4-4 against the spread. Ron Rivera’s team handled the Texans and Saints at home the last two Sunday’s.
The Bucs got throttled in their only home game so far this year, 42-14 in Week 1 against Tennessee, continuing the 0-for-8 performance they put up last season (2-6 ATS). They responded with a road win over New Orleans in Week 2 and now have a reasonable slate coming up with a home game against Jacksonville and a road test at Washington the next two weeks. The Bucs fell 19-9 in Houston on Sunday.
Philadelphia (1-2) at Washington (1-2) – Spread: Eagles -3
The Eagles need victories after a rough 0-2 start to the season and have a winnable division game against Washington in what is their third road game in the first four weeks of the year. Philadelphia lost at Atlanta, 26-24, in Week 1, and beat the Jets in New York despite poor quarterback play from Sam Bradford on Sunday. Philly went 4-4 SU and ATS on the road in 2014, but you can probably throw everything that happened last year out the window given all the personnel changes Chip Kelly made in the offseason.
The Skins split home games against the Dolphins (17-10 L) and Rams (24-10 W) to begin the year. This is their lone game in Landover during a four week span. They are coming off of a 32-21 loss to the Giants on Thursday night in Week 3. The Redskins were 3-5 at home last year and 2-6 against the number.
Oakland (2-1) at Chicago (0-3) – Spread: Raiders -3
The Raiders are on the road for a second straight week after splitting home games against the Bengals (33-13 L) and Ravens (37-33 W) in Weeks 1 and 2. Oakland won at Cleveland, 27-20, on Sunday. Chicago will be Oakland’s first non-AFC North opponent and they begin their divisional schedule next week, hosting Denver. The Raiders went winless on the road last year but were 4-4 ATS.
The Bears are 0-2 at home after starting the year with double-digit setbacks against Green Bay and Arizona. Backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen was ineffective in a shutout loss at Seattle on Sunday. The Bears will be on the road to face Kansas City and Detroit the next two weeks. Chicago finished 2014 with a 2-6 mark at home and 3-5 against the spread. The team could be without starting QB Jay Cutler for a second straight week.
Houston (1-2) at Atlanta (3-0) – Spread: Falcons -6.5
The Texans take to the road for the second time this year after falling to Carolina, 24-17, in Week 2. Last season, the Texans were 4-4 on the road and 5-2-1 ATS. Houston beat the Bucs 19-9 in Week 3. Atlanta is back home where they knocked off the Eagles, 26-24, to start the season. Since then Atlanta has topped the Giants and the Romo-less Cowboys. The Falcons stay in the Big A next week to take on Washington. Atlanta was 3-5 at home straight up and against the number last season.
Kansas City (1-2) at Cincinnati (3-0) – Spread: Bengals -3.5
The Bengals return to Cincy for their second home game of the year; they edged San Diego, 24-19, at home in Week 2, and are coming off of a quality win at Baltimore. The Bengals were 5-2-1 at home last season and 4-3-1 against the spread. But in 2013, they were 8-0 both SU and ATS in the Queen City. The Chiefs are playing a second straight road game following a Monday night loss at Green Bay. They beat the Texans in Houston, 27-20, in Week 1, dominating more than the final score would indicate. In 2013, the Chiefs finished 6-2 on the road and 7-1 ATS, but they fell to 3-5 SU and 4-4 against the number last season.
Cleveland (1-2) at San Diego (1-2) – Spread: Chargers -7.5
The Browns head to So. Cal. for their second road game of the year, having lost to the Jets 31-10 to begin the season. Last year, the Browns were 3-5 on the road but a remarkable 5-2-1 ATS. Cleveland fell at home to Oakland on Sunday. The Chargers are at home for the first time since beating Detroit, 33-28, to start the year. They did not play well in a loss at Minnesota on Sunday. San Diego remains in California to battle Pittsburgh next week and are starting a string of three home games in four weeks. Last year, the Chargers were 5-3 at home and 3-5 against the number.
Minnesota (2-1) at Denver (3-0) – Spread: Broncos -6.5
The Vikings are back on the road after home wins against the Lions and Chargers. Minnesota fell at San Francisco 20-3 on the first Monday of the regular season. The Vikes get their bye in Week 5 before a home game with Kansas City in Week 6. Last year, Minnesota went 2-6 on the road and 5-3 against the spread.
The Broncos beat Baltimore 19-13 at home to get the year started and have won tight road games at Kansas City and Detroit the last two weeks. This is the only home game for Peyton Manning and co. in a six-week span. Denver next plays at home – where they went 8-0 SU but just 4-4 ATS – on November 1 against Green Bay.
Green Bay (3-0) at San Francisco (1-2) – Spread: Packers -8.5
The Packers have their first road test since a 31-23 victory at Chicago to open the year, and it comes on a short week after they beat Kansas City 38-28 on Monday night. It might feel like a homecoming for Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, though, who played his college ball at nearby California, Berkeley. Last season, the Packers went 4-4 on the road and 3-5 ATS.
The Niners beat Minnesota in their home opener, 20-3, after going just 4-4 SU and 2-6 ATS last year. They’ll be relieved to be back in the Bay Area after getting pasted by the Steelers in Pittsburgh (43-18) in Week 2, and drubbed in Arizona (47-7) in Week 3.
St. Louis (1-2) at Arizona (3-0) – Spread: Cardinals -6.5
The Cardinals are at home for the third time in four weeks. They’ll play back-to-back road games at Detroit and Pittsburgh the next two weeks. The Cards beat New Orleans, 31-19, at home to begin the year and dominated the 49ers, 47-7, on Sunday. They were an impressive 7-1 at home and 6-2 against the number at home in 2014.
The Rams lost at Washington, 24-10, during their only road contest thus far. That follows a 3-5 road mark (4-4 ATS) last season. The Rams lost at home, 12-6, against the Steelers on Sunday. The Cardinals have won three straight in this divisional rivalry.
Dallas (2-1) at New Orleans (0-3) – Spread: Saints -4
Dallas plays their first road game without quarterback Tony Romo. The Cowboys signal caller was injured during a 20-10 win at Philadelphia in Week 2 (their only road game so far) and won’t be back until November. Dallas was the only team to go unbeaten on the road in 2014; they were also 7-1 ATS. Though the running game was effective in the first half, the Cowboys lost at home to Atlanta, 39-28, on Sunday.
The Saints lost their home opener in Week 2 when the Bucs handed them a stunning 26-19 setback. They could also be without their starting QB, as Drew Brees injured his rotator cuff in that game and did not play in a loss to the Panthers in Week 3. New Orleans went 8-0 at home and 7-0-1 against the spread in 2013, but regressed to 3-5 SU and 4-4 ATS last year (and have now lost six straight at the Superdome).
Detroit (0-3) at Seattle (1-2) – Spread: Seahawks -9.5
The Lions lost back-to-back road games at San Diego (33-28) and Minnesota (26-16) to start the year, and fell at home 24-12 against Denver in Week 3. They return to the road facing Seattle this week before three straight home games to close out October. Detroit went 4-4 on the road in 2014 including a 2-6 record against the number.
The Seahawks are home for a second straight week after dropping two straight road games (at St. Louis and Green Bay) to kick off the campaign. They rebounded by shutting out the Bears at CenturyLink Field in Week 3. Last season, the Seahawks were 7-1 at home and 6-2 ATS.
(Photo credit: Austin Kirk (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)