Darnell's Docket - NFL Week 4 Breakdown
Good morning, afternoon, and evening. I want to go over these games from multiple points of view. There are so many ways to look at a game. You can look at the fundamentals of a team, the analytics and stats, the eye test, your gut, or even your knowledge of public perception and how it affects lines and movement.I am available for questions, thoughts, deeper dives, betting tips, bankroll management tips, or anything else you may need to help make the best decisions possible.
Read on for my betting tip of the week. Enjoy!
Denver Broncos (+2) @ New York Jets (40)
Many people will look at this game and hold their noses. We have two winless teams. One of these teams is featuring a third-string quarterback. The other looks like one of the worst in the league. Denver, after playing at home must travel to New York on a shortened week for this game. This game has the two worst overall rated teams in the NFL and they both are in the bottom three offensively. Denver, however, has a top 10 defense in the NFL. There isn’t much to speak about Brett Rypien due to a limited sample size. Sam Darnold has shown the ability to look like an all-pro quarterback, such as the first drive of the Colts game. He has also shown the ability to look like a deer in the headlights, as we saw in the rest of that game. With everything combined, this will be the most exciting NFL game on Thursday.
Los Angeles Chargers (+7) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (44)
The new-look Buccaneers appear to be rounding into form after losing to the Saints. Tom Brady seems to be enjoying what is arguably the best receiving duo in his career. Although Godwin is ruled out for Sunday, the Buccaneers are still high powered. What seems to be overlooked with the shiny new toys is how good the defense has been. They hold a top five pass rush and can brag about being top five in coverage as well. This combination usually makes it very difficult for opposing quarterbacks to find their targets. Justin Herbert has looked decent in his first two starts, throwing for 300+ yards in each game. We will see if the young rookie can have success and keep up with the Buccaneers. The Chargers grade out as a middle of the road team. They have a middle of the pack offense and a middle of the pack defense. They play at one of the slowest paces in the NFL. I am looking forward to this game because Justin Herbert has impressed so far.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tennessee Titans
Here we have the lone battle of unbeaten teams in week 4. These teams have amassed their victories and have looked very different doing it. The Titans seem to want to keep everyone at the edge of their seats until the final whistle. They have won their games by an average of two points. The Steelers are just playing good overall football. The Steelers boast the number one rated pass rush and are number one against the run. This game shapes up to be interesting, and it is a game I am strongly looking forward to. They say a win is a win, and Tennessee has seemingly been skating by. Update!!!!!! THIS GAME HAS BEEN POSTPONED. THE WAY THESE TEAMS SHAPE UP AGAINST ONE ANOTHER STILL STANDS, BUT THIS GAME WILL NOT BE PLAYED ON SUNDAY.
Minnesota Vikings (+3.5) @ Houston Texans (54.5)
We will go to the other side of the spectrum and look at a battle of winless teams. One of these teams must get their first win in this one. Let's look at these teams outside of the win-loss record. We try to figure out what is causing these teams to fail this season and the answer is simple, defense. We are looking at two bottom five defenses in the NFL. These teams don't appear to be able to stop opposing offenses. The Texans seem to have the slightly worse defense, due to the lack of pressure that they put on opposing quarterbacks. Both teams are middle of the road in offensive effectiveness, so it doesn't appear to be a major offense/defense mismatch either way. It looks like it will come down to which defense plays better. We shall see which team decides to stop the other first.
Baltimore Ravens (-13) @ Washington Football Team (45.5)
This game is what we in the Maryland/ DC area call the battle of the beltway. This game appears to be the biggest mismatch of the week. The Ravens appear to be one of the best teams in the NFL, but in my honest opinion, they are BARELY a top five team in the AFC. They are coming off a big prime time loss at home, so they should be motivated to get right against the worst first place team in the NFL. The Ravens are better via the eye test than on paper in my opinion. They have the twentieth ranked defense in the NFL. Their first two opponents did a really good job of beating themselves, which made the margin of victory larger than the margin of skill. The Ravens' pass block rating is pretty good and ranks in the top ten. With everything combined, the Ravens are a good team, but they are not worthy of the hype that they came into the season with. Washington's defense ranks eighth in the NFL. This is after playing the Cardinals prolific offense, and the Browns' weapon-filled offense. We shall see how long Rivera continues to trust Haskins. My guess is not much longer if he continues to stare down receivers and then throw into coverage.
Seattle Seahawks (-6.5) @ Miami Dolphins (53)
This is a top-three offensive unit in the NFL squaring off against a leaky Dolphins defense. This Dolphins team is the second worst in the NFL in coverage. The game against the Jaguars has made them look better than they grade out, but I still feel like this defense is atrocious. One thing to look at with this matchup is scheduling. The Dolphins are coming into this game on 10 days rest. The Seahawks are coming in after playing a late afternoon game on the west coast and traveling literally across the country. History shows that west coast teams traveling east have a tendency to come out sluggish early on. We will see how much scheduling affects this game, which otherwise appears to be another offensive explosion by Seattle.
Cleveland Browns (+4.5) @ Dallas Cowboys (56)
We have a Cleveland team riding a two-game winning streak traveling to face a Dallas team that has given up 38+ points in two out of their last three games. Their main problem defensively is their secondary, as they have the fifth worst ranked coverage in the NFL. The Browns are hitting all of the metrics. They have the best offensive line in football. They are the best run-blocking team and the third best pass-blocking team. The Browns are quietly rated in the top ten offensively and rank sixth defensively. This is shaping up to be a battle that I am looking forward to. Granted, Cleveland’s wins were against Washington and Cincinnati, but they have looked good in both matchups. The Cowboys have an immense amount of talent on the offensive side of the ball, and Prescott is not shy about throwing it around the yard. I think OBJ is licking his chops for a pseudo revenge matchup against a team he is very familiar with.
New Orleans Saints (-4) @ Detroit Lions (54)
The Saints do not look very sharp to start the year. They lost to a Las Vegas Raiders team that really isn’t that good. They followed that performance by failing to bounce back at home in a prime time game against the Packers. The Lions are coming off a win against Arizona that surprised a great deal of people. Both teams are bottom five in the NFL in coverage, and are both in the bottom half of teams when it comes to offense. It seems like these lackluster offenses will have some help by poor secondary play in this game. Part of the Lions’ issue offensively is that despite being the eighth best run blocking team in the league, they rank second to last in rushing the ball. They have been unable to capitalize on the superior matchups their offensive line has drawn. Drew Brees appears very off with his accuracy, and has lacked the willingness to push the ball down the field. The absence of Michael Thomas is becoming an issue for them. Will the Saints start off the season 1-3? We shall see on Sunday.
Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) @ Chicago Bears (43)
These two teams have impressed early on this season. The Bears had a wild comeback win versus the Falcons last week, and the Colts put on a football clinic against the Jets. These teams are both in the top three defensively. The Colts defensive success strongly stems from being the top rated team in coverage. The Bears have had their success by having a top five pass rush and a top five run defense. On the offensive side of the ball, they are both top ten in the NFL. This is shaping up to be a very competitive game. The Bears have the edge in the special teams department, as they rank number one in the league. Nick Foles has been named the starter, and if the fourth quarter last week is any indication of the future, the Bears are going to ride Foles for the majority of the season.
Arizona Cardinals (-3.5) @ Carolina Panthers (51.5)
This matchup has the Cardinals, who rank sixth in the NFL in running the ball, against the absolute worst rushing defense this year. Carolina has been getting destroyed on the ground, and that is a big reason for their struggles. Kyler Murray is enjoying his newest weapon, (Hopkins) as you can see by the massive number of balls he throws to him. Hopkins seems to be enjoying the new-found usage, as his catch rate has increased massively from last year. Carolina is coming off a shocking win, so we will see if they can keep the momentum going into this matchup. Arizona is traveling to the east coast for this game, so that is something to keep an eye on.
New York Giants (+13) @ Los Angeles Rams (47.5)
The Giants looked very bad against a beat-up 49ers team. They looked helpless on defense and hapless on offense. The Rams appear to be rounding into offensive form this year, despite losing the back-and-forth affair against the Bills. They have put up 32+ points in the last two games, and now face a Giants team that offers no resistance to anything. The Rams are the number one offensive team in the league, with a top tier offensive line. This line is top ten in pass blocking, and number two in run blocking. Couple this with their receivers ranking second in route running and you have a high-powered machine. The Giants' defense is not as bad on paper as they looked against the 49ers, so we will have to see how they do. The Giants are bottom ten in pass rush and in coverage, but they are not at the bottom of the league. Can the Giants move the ball without their best player? That will determine if they can compete here.
New England Patriots (-7) @ Kansas City Chiefs (52.5)
Here we have two of the top five teams in the AFC. They are both top three in my opinion. The new-look Patriots were dominant against the Raiders, bolstered by Burkhead's career game. The Chiefs looked like the offensive juggernaut we know them to be Monday versus the Ravens. Both teams come in with top-ten offenses, although they do it very differently. The Patriots uses their top-tier offensive line to pound the ball with a multitude of running weapons. The Chiefs like to air it out with the reigning Superbowl MVP. Neither team excels on the defensive side of the ball, although New England does rank higher on defense than the Chiefs. This is a potential AFC Championship preview,so I will be very interested in this early season matchup. We know how, coach Belichick eliminates his opponents' top weapon, but what does he do when there are multiple top weapons?
Buffalo Bills (-3) @ Las Vegas Raiders (52.5)
The Bills are coming off a wild win versus the Rams. They went up by four scores only to give up the lead, and then came back to win at the end. The Raiders enjoyed that huge home victory against the Saints, but then were dominated by the Patriots. I feel like the travel from west to east, and the letdown from the first home victory in Vegas, contributed to the Raiders coming out so flat and getting dominated. The Bills have the sixth-rated passing attack, and the Raiders struggle mightily in coverage and pass rush. It appears the Raiders won't be able to apply pressure on Josh Allen, which will enable him to find his receivers. The Raiders lack of coverage skills and injuries in the secondary are a scary combination to have in this matchup. Josh Allen is playing like a top-three AFC quarterback right now. I look forward to seeing if the Raiders can remain undefeated at home, or if Buffalo will remain undefeated on the season.
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Betting tip of the week:
Try to remove emotion out of making wagers.
It is not wise to bet on a team simply because you are a fan of them.
You should not bet against a team just because they ''burned'' you last time.
Use the same strategy and reasoning for your bets.
Understand that whatever is going to happen is going to happen so your emotions do not enhance the quality of a bet.
Emotions will cost you more money than they will make you in the betting world.