NFL Picks Week #4 (2021 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #4)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Wednesday September 29nd, 2021 at 1 PM Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
I have never seen anything like it! The NFL picks are off to a jaw-dropping 10-2-1 record, an 83% winning percentage!
If you add the bets on totals and the prop bets I have sent out to my paid members on Patreon, we have generated 20 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie so far in the 2021 NFL season. Click here to join the numerous other smart sports bettors!
That being said, I am seeing less value in the Week #4 betting lines.
So far I have provided you with either four or five official picks per week, while I only have three this week. As you can see, I am not forcing picks just for the sake of it.
If you are the type of sports bettor that likes following popular picks because it makes you feel comfortable with your bets, then you won’t be happy with my recommended wagers.
Many people may bash me for this week’s selections. I have looked at picks made by other sports handicappers or reporters from major media outlets, and the vast majority disagree with me. I’m fine going against the grain and sticking to my own beliefs.
PICK #1 (4 STARS): NEW YORK JETS +7.5 VS TENNESSEE TITANS
Nobody likes betting on a crappy team. But I’ll do it this week.
If you have watched the Jets offense this year, then your eyes probably started bleeding since the show was so horrible. That being said, let’s take a look at the defenses they faced: Carolina, New England and Denver. All three of them are above average units in the NFL. Two of those games came on the road.
Now, I’m not claiming Zach Wilson will magically toss four TD passes since he is facing a much weaker defense this week. All I’m saying is New York will, in my opinion, find a way to move the ball enough to keep this contest close. The Jets’ rushing attack has the 17th-best yards per carry average, which isn’t bad.
Meanwhile, the Titans offense may be without their top two targets: A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. The former is definitely out for this game with a hamstring injury, while Jones seems to have a 50-50 shot of suiting up this Sunday. Even if he plays, he is clearly bothered by a leg injury and the team’s talent level drops off significantly after Brown and Jones. That will make life much more difficult for Ryan Tannehill, who has just 4 TD passes versus 3 interceptions this year.
Obviously, the Titans have a beast at running back with Derrick Henry. I’m not sure things will be super easy for him, considering the Jets rank 11th in terms of yards allowed per rush this season. And they may stack the line of scrimmage a bit more if both starting wide receivers are indeed out for this matchup.
Over the past 10 meetings between these two squads, the Jets own an 8-2 record against the spread (ATS). New York has also beaten the spread in four of the past five games in which they were established as home underdogs.
Would you like to know how Tennessee has fared as the visiting team when facing a team with a losing record? Their ATS record under such circumstances is a disappointing 6-20. In other words, they have trouble crushing teams on the road.
Some people will truly believe I’m crazy, but I’m going to take it a notch further by claiming the Jets have a reasonable chance of winning this game outright. I see this game getting into a slugfest, in which case a turnover going New York’s way could make the difference. Maybe the Titans will end up crushing the Jets 45-to-7 to make me look like a fool, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.
So, going against popular belief, I’m taking the J-E-T-S as 7.5-point underdogs against Tennessee.
PICK #2 (3 STARS): UNDER 49 POINTS BUCCANEERS-PATRIOTS
My reasoning here is quite simple: the strength of each offense does not match up very well against the strength of the opposing defense.
Let’s start by focusing on the situation where Tampa will have the ball. We all know how the Bucs offense relies much more on its passing game since Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones don’t scare many people, as opposed to Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski.
However, New England’s strength on defense happens to be its pass defense! They currently rank second in the NFL in terms of passer rating allowed. Granted, they have not faced an elite quarterback yet, but they still got the job done, right?
On the other side, let’s consider the case where the Pats hold the ball. They are more efficient on the ground with Damien Harris, rather than using Mac Jones’ arm. Unfortunately for them, Tampa’s run defense is like a wall. I clearly don’t see New England scoring points at will.
Bill Belichick’s plan is likely to be to make the game shorter by running the clock as much as possible, which is great when betting the under. The running game will probably struggle, so he will likely ask Mac Jones to make short throws against a depleted Bucs secondary.
In a highly anticipated game, the show may not be as great as advertised with fewer offensive fireworks than people expect. In my opinion, a total of 49 points is too high, so I’m putting my money on the under.
PICK #3 (1 STAR): WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM -1.5 AT ATLANTA FALCONS
Before the season began, Washington’s defense was projected to finish among the league’s top 10, maybe even top five. Allowing 20 points against the Chargers in the season opener was okay, but surrendering 29 and 43 points to the Giants and the Bills turned out to be a big disappointment.
With the extra motivation to finally display a good performance, they will turn the tide this Sunday. Washington has a strong defensive line that will put pressure on Matt Ryan. I expect them to rack up numerous sacks in this meeting since Ryan is very bad under pressure.
There is no debate that Washington has a better defense than Atlanta’s. The same comment could be made about each team’s offensive lines.
As for the offenses, I view them as being of comparable talent. They both have a very good go-to receiver with Terry McLaurin and Calvin Ridley. At QB, Matt Ryan is a better passer, but Heinicke brings the possibility of picking up first downs with his legs.
I am not necessarily overexcited about this bet, though (as evidenced by my one-star rating). Atlanta shows a 12-5 record ATS the last 17 times they were home underdogs. As for Washington, they have beaten the spread just once the last eight times they were established as favorites.
Those numbers worry me, but my analysis of the game still leads me to go with Washington here. I’m going to proceed with caution, though.
For entertainment purposes, here are some leans:
- Panthers +4.5 at Cowboys (This pick almost made the cut as an official one. The rest factor clearly favors Carolina since they played last Thursday, while Dallas played Monday! Did you know that the Cowboys are 1-6 ATS when playing Sunday after a Monday game? Also, Carolina has beaten the spread in each of their last six road games as underdogs.);
- Bengals -7.5 vs Jaguars (Jacksonville’s offense has been putrid this year, despite facing below average defenses like Houston and Arizona. The Bengals happen to have a good passing offense, which turns out to be the Jags’ weakness on defense. I like it!);
- Colts +2 at Dolphins (This will be another unpopular pick, but I’m going with Indy anyway. The Colts D has not played up to its own standards so far, but I’m expecting a strong performance against their former QB, Jacoby Brissett. The Colts have a great offensive line that should be able to open up holes for Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines against Miami’s run D that ranks 19th in terms of yards per carry average. I’m also going to bring up the famous “Bet a road underdog following a road loss” betting angle that I have discussed and used successfully in previous weeks.);
- Seahawks +3 at 49ers (Another opportunity to bet a road underdog coming off a loss as the visiting team. San Francisco is 5-21-1 as home favorites, which is abysmal! Meanwhile, Seattle shows a 13-5-1 record ATS over the last 19 meetings with the Niners. I’ll go with Russell Wilson in his battle against Jimmy G.).
Let’s hope our incredible 2021 success continues this week! A big thank for being such a faithful reader of my weekly NFL write up!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)