NFL betting, week 4: One Best Bet, five other excellent bets

Saturday, 02 October 2021 19:12 EST

NFLbets has no reason to be cocky this far into the season, although we can’t help thinking a lot of great picks are available in NFL betting this week. We promise we’re not chasing losses (NFLbets is still done for the year, full disclosure, yada yada) but rather because there’s just too much out there. So for week 4, we’re giving out one best bet and four picks – all the better to fill out one of those “Pick Five Poin. Let’s make this a profitable one, eh…?

Best bet: Cleveland Browns -1 at Minnesota Vikings

As the opening line as high as Cleveland -2½ continues to erode, NFLbets is more and more baffled. Does the action believe that betting against a home underdog is a yes-or-no proposition, as in “If you take the Browns -2, you must think the Vikings are a subpar team”?

Those backing the Browns are hardly anti-Vikings, however. Despite going 1-2 SU (and 2-1 ATS), Minnesota clearly has enough offense to be competitive in the NFC. Call the Cardinals game a fluke loss, and you’re talking about the Vikes competing with Green Bay for the NFC North title. The truth is that they’re averaging an impressive 29.0 points per game, Dalvin Cook’s fumble in the week 1 loss is the offense’s only turnover, and Kirk Cousins is throwing with 73.9% accuracy to go with his 8 TD passes.

Fine. It’s just that … these Cleveland Browns are really, really good: by any measure a top-5 team. Sure, the Chiefs ate away at the Browns’ second-half lead in week 1, and Cleveland couldn’t cover 13½ against Houston in week 2. Since that ATS loss, though, they’ve added Odell Beckham to make one of six viable pass catchers (counting Jarvis Landry) for Baker Mayfield to choose from.

On the other side of the ball, the Browns defense has somehow not lived up to public expectcations, despite going top-10 in most statistical categories other than turnovers generated – and this despite getting 33 points rung up on ’em by the Chiefs. So what if Cousins & Co. don’t turn the ball over? These Browns ranked just 18th in turnovers in 2020 and still intimidated offenses.

So who even needs turnovers? Since 2020 when Kevin Stefanski became head coach for Cleveland, the Browns are just 10-11 ATS – but 14-7 SU, which a point spread of -1 essentially is. And factor in Stefanski’s prior experience with the Vikings, i.e. holding the position of offensive coordinator in 2019, and everything adds up to a Cleveland Browns win. So take the Cleveland Browns -1 at Minnesota.

Additionally, we’d also advise covering on…

• Dallas Cowboys -4 vs Carolina Panthers
Sure, the 2021 Panthers are good, perhaps even strong playoff contenders if fantasy football darling Christian McCaffrey can stay on the field. But just as with Cleveland at Minnesota, the favorites are just better right now. It’s another TD-sized win for the Cowboys on the way to breaking the Hard Knocks curse.

• Green Bay Packers -6 vs Pittsburgh Steelers
From the Sentiment Has No Business In Betting Department: While all but the diehardest of Roethlisberger apologists have admitted that the Steelers QB is done, the general public still appears to believe that the Mike Tomlin will work enough magic to keep the Steelers in this game against the Packers in Green Bay. But NFLbets believes that the losing by a touchdown could well represent a magical return on Tomlin’s part…

• Kansas City Chiefs -6½ at Philadelphia Eagles
NFLbets can’t decide how much of this line is an overreaction á la “O my godz, Kansas City is 1-2 SU (0-3 ATS) and in last place in the AFC West!” and how much is continued overrating of Philadelphia, who for a week had folks fooled into thinking maybe they were the above-.500 team in the NFC East. No matter: The former suggests the trends turn to a Chiefs win SU/ATS, the latter a way to exploit faulty belief.

• Baltimore Ravens -1 at Denver Broncos, under 44 points
So the Broncos are an early surprise of the 2021 season at 3-0 SU/ATS – until you consider the schedule of Giants, Jets and Jaguars, three teams against which the Broncos are now 4-1 SU/ATS since 2018; they’re a pretty bad 11-19 SU/17-13 ATS versus all others. This latter statistic might be swaying if not for the scanty 1 on offer. The Ravens have the advantage in talent in a battle of defenses first, but it probably won’t be pretty.

Further, since 2019, the under is 20-15 in all Broncos games, 20-18 in all Ravens games and 11-9 when the Ravens are playing away. NFLbets says they can’t make this line low enough…

–written by Os Davis

Os Davis has been covering sports for longer than he’d care to admit. For personality, check his Twitter feed; for professional acumen, here’s his Linkedin profile.