nfl week 4 upset picks best bets
PHOTO CREDIT: CRAIG DUDEK

Week 4 in the NFL is underway and through three weeks of the season favorites are just 18-30 ATS with the underdogs winning 21 of those games outright. Home teams are 21-27 ATS thus far and the under has cashed 27 times, compared to 21 for the over. This week’s slate of games sees just one team favored by double digits (Buffalo), as oddsmakers are seeing a narrower gap than expected between favorites and dogs.

Let’s take a look at our favorite NFL Week 4 upset picks along with some best bets and predictions.

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Week 4 NFL Upset Picks

Lions vs. Bears

You won’t find much in the head-to-head here to help our cause, but, for us, this game is about perception, timing, and trends. Your average fan sees a winless Detroit team, which found a way to lose on a last-second, NFL record-long field goal last Sunday, and thinks that these are just the same old Lions. And, heck, to some extent, they may be. But, as luck would have it, they happen to face an opponent in Chicago who may, at this very moment, actually be worse.

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The Bears and head coach Matt Nagy intended to ease into this season with Andy Dalton as a game manager, keeping the team afloat record-wise until rookie Justin Fields was ready to take over the offensive operations and hopefully lead Chicago to another playoff appearance. But, like so many best-laid plans, Dalton went down with an injury, forcing Fields into the starting role at Cleveland last weekend. And, as fate would have it, the Browns defense absolutely smothered this Bears offense, holding Chicago to just 47 total yards of offense, likely setting Fields’ confidence back a month or two from where it had been when he was simply asked to pop in for select plays or packages designed around his skill sets.

Now, with his self-belief surely rattled, Fields also faces an injury concern entering Week 4 and the team is tight-lipped (perhaps because it truly is not sure) about who will steer the ship come Sunday. Will it be Dalton, Fields, or even Nick Foles? It sure is difficult to prepare with that sort of ambiguity melding with what has already been a particularly poor offense this season. Keep in mind, Chicago is currently the league’s worst passing and total yardage offense and has scored the second least points in the league (13.3 ppg).

Even a typically stout Bears defense is unlikely to win you many games when your offense is that poor. Meanwhile, the Lions have been competitive thus far, despite opening with a brutal three game stretch. Yes, Aaron Rodgers had a perfect day to light Detroit up in Week 2, but the Lions fought back admirably against San Francisco in Week 1 and then would have beaten the Ravens last week had it not been for Justin Tucker’s heroics.

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Detroit’s offense has looked lively at points, with Jared Goff under center and D’Andre Swift carrying the rock. Goff entered this season 20-17 ATS away from home, 17-14 ATS versus an opponent with revenge, and 14-11 ATS in division games in his career.

The Lions, who beat Chicago 34-30 in their most recent meeting, have been excellent against revenge even without Goff’s help. They have covered seven straight spreads off a non-conference game when facing an opponent playing with revenge.

Lions vs. Bears Pick

Detroit, a team many think of as only ever competitive when at home, are a surprising 7-1 ATS in the team’s last eight games as road dogs against sub .333 opponents. The Lions have also been a sneaky good cover team in Week 4 games of late, covering six of their last eight.

Chicago seems to trend the other way, as the Bears have covered just five of their last 13 games after a SU loss. In fact, they have managed just three covers in their last 10 games after a SU loss of 15 points or more. They are also just 4-11 ATS in their last 15 games as favorites, including a 2-7 ATS record in their last nine attempts when laying points at home.

Look for Chicago to slide to just 3-9 ATS in its last 12 October games here, as Detroit is the better team on this day and will be hungry for its first win for head coach Dan Campbell.

Our Pick: Detroit +3 (Barstool Sportsbook -110)

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Colts vs. Dolphins

If you took a look at the current odds to win the AFC South and saw that Indianapolis was still only +375, you might think they were 2-1 or trailing the division leaders by just a game. The reality is, however, that the Colts are in last place in the division, two games and a tiebreaker behind Tennessee. So, if oddsmakers believe this team is still capable of making a run, you would have to think it absolutely must start this week.

Thankfully, for Colts fans and bettors alike, this Sunday’s game against Miami should prove a favorable matchup. For starters, the Colts are very familiar with Miami backup-turned-starter, Jacoby Brissett, who will be under center for the Dolphins, from his time in white and blue. Brissett will be asked to turn around a Miami offense that ranks in the bottom-10 in the league in total yards, passing yards, and rushing yards, and is averaging the third least points per game in the NFL.

Also, while Miami was shut out by the only team it has faced thus far that made the playoffs last season, Indianapolis has already faced three playoff teams from 2020, the toughest starting schedule in the league. The eternal scales should balance here a bit as the Colts face their first opponent not to make last season’s playoffs so far, while Miami’s regression looks to continue towards a league average in terms of quarterback fumbles, yards per play differential, and takeaways.

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The Dolphins’ quarterbacks lost just three total fumbles in 2019 and 2020 combined, a wildly low number. They also won ten games last season despite losing the yards per play battle ten times, an anomaly that won’t hold up over time. Further, they led the league in takeaways in 2020 (1.8 per game) and were the only team in the top-7 in takeaways not to make the playoffs, speaking to other failings.

Miami has been a great cover team under head coach Brian Flores. However, the Fins are just 3-13 ATS in their last 16 Week 4 games and have not covered any of their last nine efforts following a matchup with the Raiders, their opponent in Week 3. Of final note, they are just 1-8 ATS in their last nine tries against an opponent off a SU and ATS loss when the two meet in the first four games of a season.

Conversely, Indianapolis has covered five of its last seven away games and sports an impressive 15-5-1 ATS record in its last 21 road games versus teams with losing home records (Mia 0-1 at home).

The Colts have lost just three of their last 12 games ATS following an ATS loss. They have also gone 10-4 ATS coming off of three straight losses in their last 14 tries.

Colts vs Dolphins Pick

Indianapolis has covered three straight trips to Miami, while the road team in this head-to-head matchup has covered four straight games. Look for the underdog in this head-to-head to move to 13-2 ATS in the last 15 meetings, including what would be a current run of six straight.

Our Pick: Indianapolis +2 (DraftKings Sportsbook -110)

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Cardinals vs. Rams

This game seems to boil down to whether or not you believe the Cardinals can put up 25 points on the Rams. Arizona’s team total for this game currently sits at 24.5 (DraftKings), meaning oddsmakers encouragingly give them a coin flip chance of doing so against a Los Angeles defense that allows just 20.7 points per game thus far, ninth best in the league.

And, yes, there should be some confidence behind the belief that the Cardinals can crest that 25-point barrier, as they are the league’s highest scoring team in 2021, averaging 34.3 points per game and scoring at least 31 in all three outings.

Why is reaching 25 points so critical here for Arizona? Well, consider the fact that since Kliff Kingsbury took over as head coach, the Cardinals are 15-5-1 SU and 16-4-1 ATS when scoring 25 or more points. And when they don’t, they are just 1-13 SU and 2-12 ATS. Like we said, it all seems to boil down to that simple fact and Arizona has proven in three straight games this season that it is more than capable of dropping 30+ against anyone.

While the Rams are still settling in their third defensive coordinator in as many seasons, the Cardinals are busy running the league’s second best offense in terms of total yards and its third best in passing yardage per game. That’s bad news for the Rams, who were just shredded through the air by Tom Brady for 411 yards and currently sit just 25th in the NFL in passing yards allowed. Not helping matters any is the fact that this year’s defensive coordinator choice, Raheem Morris, just coached the Falcons’ pass defense to the worst mark in the league last season, allowing 293 yards per game through the air.

Arizona has an opportunistic defense that can get to the quarterback (4th in total sacks) and create turnovers at a high rate (3rd most takeaways). They will face off against quarterback Matthew Stafford who enters the 2021 campaign at just 8-68 SU and 19-56-1 ATS in his career against teams that end their seasons with above .500 records, including 0-6 SU and 1-5 ATS in 2020. With their 3-0 start, you would have to imagine the Cardinals are trending safely in that direction.

Stafford entered this season 24-34 ATS in divisional games, 36-45 ATS at home, 34-40 ATS as a favorite, 30-39 ATS after a win, and is now just 11-21 ATS after back-to-back victories. His new team, the Rams, are just 2-12 ATS in NFC West games against above .333 opposition when entering play off back-to-back SU wins.

On the other sideline, Arizona has never missed a cover as a dog against an above .500 opponent in six tries under Kingsbury. The team’s quarterback, Kyler Murray, who has already thrust himself firmly into early MVP discussions, is 11-4-1 ATS in his career as a road dog of three or more points.

The Cardinals have more solid trends supporting them here, as they have covered eight of their last 10 October games and have a 9-4-1 ATS record in their last 14 games on artificial turf, a surface they don’t have at State Farm Stadium in Glendale.

Arizona is 12-5-2 ATS in the team’s last 19 away games and has lost against the spread just three times in their last 14 tries when spotted points on the road.

Cardinals vs. Rams Pick

The Rams are on an insane eight game cover streak against the Cardinals and come in here riding high after their victory over the Super Bowl Champions last week. This could be a prime letdown spot against an Arizona team which is clearly feeling itself right now. Look for the road team to move to 10-3-1 ATS in its last 14 tries in this head-to-head rivalry as the Cardinals keep it close and maybe even hand the impressive Rams their first loss of the season.

Our Pick: Arizona +5 (Caesars -110)

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