NFL Underdogs: NFL Odds, Picks, and Predictions Week 4

The early season learning process is still going but Jason Logan's NFL Underdogs rides a 3-0 Week 3 into Week 4, with a fresh batch of underdog NFL betting picks — including Russell Wilson and the Broncos in an AFC West war.

Last Updated: Sep 29, 2022 11:08 AM ET Read Time: 4 min

Like a wise Chicago high schooler once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

These days, life is moving like Tyreek Hill riding a cheetah jacked up on Mountain Dew with rocket roller skates strapped on its paws. Can you believe we’re making Week 4 NFL picks and predictions already?

The calendar went from September to October in a blink, but as you already know, life seems to speed up the older you get. This phenomenon has everything to do with learning. 

When you’re young, you’re learning how to do pretty much everything for the first time. That keeps your brain active and storing memories like mad. But as you hone those life skills and things become easier, your brain can go on autopilot between the hours, days, and months in which you make lasting memories.

It seems the trick to a full and lengthy life is to keep learning and avoid those autopilot moments as much as you can.

Week 4 of the NFL season presents a similar challenge. We’ve been learning and learning about NFL teams since training camp, but after three weeks of real football, our brain can get lazy and lean into what we think we already know. And let me tell you something, anchored in years of experience: when it comes to beating the bookies in any week of the NFL season, we don’t know shit.

So, we keep our brains nimble, curious, and hopefully hot, after a perfect 3-0 ATS record for our NFL Underdogs picks last weekend. Let’s go make some memories… and money.

NFL picks against the spread for Week 4

Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.

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This is a bet I actually jumped on Sunday night when I saw Jacksonville as big as +7.5. But for the sake of the column, which comes out Wednesday, and those who missed that half-point hook on the touchdown, I’m still good grabbing the Jags at +6.5.

Stock is sky-high for the Eagles and their 3-0 start to 2022, however, the resume is a little soft around the middle. Philadelphia has beaten up downtrodden defenses in Detroit, Minnesota, and Washington — and looked great doing it. Jalen Hurts is soaring up the MVP odds board and all the sharp guys who snatched up Philly futures in the summer are sitting pretty.

The Jaguars stumbled out of the blocks with a Week 1 loss to Washington (please don’t do NFL math: Jags < Commanders < Eagles) but snapped necks and cashed checks with a shutout of the Colts at home in Week 2 and a win on the West Coast against the Chargers last Sunday.

Jacksonville feels very much like the AFC version of the Eagles — and it’s not just that Philadelphia’s former coach Doug Pederson is leading the Jaguars’ turnaround. You have two promising young QBs playing their best football, two stellar ground games anchoring the offense, and two solid stop units ranked out Top 10 in EPA allowed per play.

So, why the massive gap in handicap? 

Jacksonville looks like the type of team that could “Eagle” the Eagles, with a dynamic rushing game setting up easy second and third downs while chewing up the TOP (second overall, 34:35), and a passing attack that’s accurate underneath with plenty of short-yardage weapons — carving up a Philly zone that wants to protect against the long ball. 

The Eagles' defense has done well to disarm opposing air attacks but may not be as stout as you think on the ground. Football Outsiders ranks Philadelphia 25th in run defense DVOA and the team is allowing 5.4 yards per carry (30th) but hasn’t had to worry much about the run the past two weeks after jumping out to sizable leads and leaving foes to abandon the ground game.

Jacksonville’s defense won’t be as easy to crack. The Jaguars sit No. 3 in EPA allowed per play and own the top spot in those run defense DVOA metrics as well. Calling the shots for the Jags' stop unit is another former Eagle, DC Mike Caldwell, who was the linebackers coach at Tampa Bay last year when the Bucs schemed up the “Hurts Donut” defense and handed Philly’s QB one of his worst days as a pro in the opening round of the playoffs.

PICK: Jaguars +6.5 (-110 at bet365)

What is desperation worth to the spread? That’s about all Vegas has going for it in Week 4, feeling very desperate after a 0-3 start to the season.

The Raiders opened as 2-point home chalk for this divisional dance with Denver and have been bet up as high as -3 at online books as of this writing. That desperation angle, coupled with the poor public perception of the Broncos, has the wrong team favored in my opinion.

Say what you want about Russell Wilson and the offense — which looked alive on that game-winning drive Sunday night  but this Denver defense is no joke. 

The Broncos put the clamps on a very sound San Francisco attack and marches into this matchup No. 5 in defensive DVOA at Football Outsiders. Denver has been equally solid slowing the pass and stuffing the run while allowing foes to convert on third down at a mere 26.47% clip and slamming the door in the red zone at a league-best 25% rate.

Las Vegas was promising plenty of points before the season, what with all those weapons and the addition of Davante Adams, but the Silver and Black have put bettors in the red with an attack sitting No. 25 in offensive DVOA, 26th in red-zone success, and 21st in third down conversions (35.29%). That was against the likes of Arizona and Tennessee — two defenses near the bottom of the barrel.

The Broncos’ scoring success isn’t much better, but they have a higher ceiling in Week 4  especially against a Vegas stop unit hemorrhaging the 26th highest EPA allowed per play and an offensive success rate of 48.3% per snap to opponents.

The Raiders' secondary is shite and could potentially be down both starting corners for Sunday, with Nate Hobbs (concussion) and Rock Ya-Sin (knee) questionable, and starting safety Trevon Moehrig also up in the air after missing Week 3 with a hip injury. Add to that Pro-Bowl LB Denzel Perryman, who is still working his way back from a bum ankle.

The Vegas pass rush, headlined by Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones, isn’t getting enough pressure to bail out that shaky secondary. Las Vegas has only two total sacks and a pressure rate of 19% per dropback through three games. 

The lookahead line for this AFC West war was set at a pick’em in the summer. After the events of the past three weeks, books are saying the Raiders are as many as three points better than the Broncos? 

OK…

PICK: Broncos +2.5 (-110 at bet365)

If you read my NFL team previews heading into the season, you know I was expecting the market to be way down on Arizona after three weeks. 

The Cardinals kicked off 2022 with the hardest three-game slate in the league: Chiefs, Raiders, and Rams. And honestly, a 1-2 SU mark may be higher than my expectations at the time. 

The lookahead line for this game was Arizona -2.5 in summer, but after some bad defensive showings and injury issues, the oddsmakers have flipped this spread with Carolina giving almost a field goal at home. 

The Panthers have played pedestrian passing offenses so far, taking on rival QBs Jacoby Brissett, Daniel Jones, and broke-back Jameis. This run-in with Kyler Murray and the Cardinals is a step up in QB competition, especially if Rondale Moore can return for Arizona’s receiving corps. The Panthers also have injuries to CB Jaycee Horn and SS Xavier Woods in the secondary (both day-to-day).

Defensively, Arizona can be very disruptive. The Cardinals are bringing the heat with defensive coordinator Vance Joseph dialing up the blitz on an NFL-high 46.8% of dropbacks and generating a pressure rate of 32%. Arizona ranks No. 1 in pass rush win rate at ESPN but has faced some quality quarterbacks known to shred the blitz.

Carolina QB Baker Mayfield comes nowhere near the passing prowess of Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr, or Matthew Stafford  the last three QBs Arizona has faced  and doesn’t react well to that added pressure. This season, Mayfield is completing just 45.7% of passes for an average of 5.9 yards per attempt when blitzed, for a passer rating of just 62.6. These metrics are rough, even for Baker.

In terms of the betting markets, the Cardinals’ perception took a hit with a 44-21 wash in Week 1 against Kansas City, but this team has shown flashes of brilliance over the past two games. Arizona has been notably feisty in second halves, putting up 14 garbage time points against KC, rallying back to beat the Raiders in OT, and losing 7-6 to the Rams in the final 30 minutes last week. Second-half surges are the stuff underdog dreams are made out of.

This spread is all over the place as of Wednesday, with the Cardinals anywhere from +1 to +2.5 and potential rain hitting Charlotte on Sunday. It could go up by kickoff if the recent wave of Carolina cash shows up on Sunday, like it has in each of the past three weeks.

PICK: Cardinals +2.5 (-118 at Circa)

Last week: 3-0 ATS +2.73 units (Risking 1 unit per play)
Season: 4-5 ATS -1.36 units (Risking 1 unit per play)

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