2019 NFL Picks Week 4: You Can't Always Get What You Want

2019 NFL Picks Week 4: You Can't Always Get What You Want

Last Week: 9-7

YTD: 26-22

This Week:

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“You can’t always get what you want” is an important axiom to remember in 2019. Am I thrilled to be picking Andy Dalton, Gardner Minshew II, and Marcus Mariota? Absolutely not. But sometimes the lines lead you to strange places, and you have to follow them like Sandra Bullock’s children in Birdbox. You forgot about that movie too? Cool, let’s get to the action!

Green Bay Packers -4.5 vs. Philadelphia Eagles

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Green Bay is atop the NFC North at 3-0, but they haven’t looked dominant in any of their games so far. Whether it’s acclimating to Matt LaFleur’s offense or the small drop-offs you’d expect from a quarterback over the age of 35 (Tom Brady got skipped), Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been brilliant as consistently as he once was. He still connects on deep shots in big moments and draws you offsides before throwing for easy touchdowns, but those moments are interspersed with strange droughts; the Packers have failed to break 30 points in any game so far, even after dropping 21 on the Vikings in the first half. The Eagles have similarly struggled to find a rhythm, but they’ve been in the mix until the end of every game and should get Alshon Jeffery back this week. I’m not sure if they can steal a win, but this spread feels 1.5 points too high. Eagles +4.5

Atlanta Falcons -4 vs. Tennessee Titans

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There is no joy to be found in picking a Titans game this year. Expect the Browns to put up points at home? Nope, Tennessee’s defense strangles them for four quarters. Think they can top the Andrew Luck-less Colts? The wheels fall off the offense entirely and they lose 19-17. Surely their defense should be able to hold Gardner Minshew II in check! Of course not, and don’t call me Shirley. The Falcons haven’t been any easier to peg, with a seemingly solid win over the Eagles offset by ugly losses to the Colts and Vikings. Once again I just don’t trust the home team to cover more than the standard 3 points in what promises to be a low-scoring game. Titans +4

New York Giants -3 vs. Washington

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If there’s one thing the NFL loves to do, it’s subverting expectations. Whether they’re issuing nonsensical punishments for various offenses or adding language to the catch rule until even Rick C-137 can’t figure interpret it, professional football fans always need to be on your toes. Case in point: Daniel Jones gets drafted way too early, gets booed in his new city, and then leads the Giants to their first 30+ point performance since last season’s finale in a win over the Buccaneers. Washington has mostly met expectations unless you somehow thought they’d field a watchable product, which puts these teams on even footing. I think both teams will put up points on seriously suspect secondaries, but I’ll take the young QB who can run over the old QB with the bum foot. Giants -3

Miami Dolphins -16.5 vs. Los Angeles Chargers

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So far the Dolphins have been 5-, 18-, and 21.5-point underdogs. They have not yet covered a spread. On one hand, they’ve played three teams we certainly expect to see in the playoffs. On the other, they’re actively trying to lose games, which makes covering any spread rather difficult. The Chargers are better than anyone at playing to the level of their competition, but they desperately need a win this week. Phil Rivers and co. will waste no time racing out to a lead, and they won’t let up enough to let Miami get their first cover. Chargers -16.5

Indianapolis Colts -6.5 vs. Oakland Raiders

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I’m nervous about the health of the Colts’ defense (Darius Leonard and Malik Hooker are both on the injury report) coming into this game, but if Jacoby Brissett can get them on the board early, I’m salivating at the idea of Derek Carr closing the gap with three-yard checkdowns. The Raiders’ Week 1 win over the Broncos seems less impressive every time Denver takes the field, and they’re at a severe coaching disadvantage with Gruden going up against Frank Reich. This line would make more sense to me if the game was taking place in Oakland, and even then I’d hesitate to take the Raiders. Colts -6.5

Houston Texans -4 vs. Carolina Panthers

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Kyle Allen ruined my pick last week by throwing for four touchdowns and no interceptions on the road. The degree of difficulty is about to take a considerable jump, with J.J. Watt leading a more imposing defense into this week’s game in Houston. I’d happily trade Mitchell Trubisky for Allen straight-up, but I’m not sure enough about him to put him and Christian McCaffrey on even footing with Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. Texans -4

Detroit Lions +7 vs. Kansas City Chiefs

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Ah, the Lions. Only Detroit could manage to be the most annoying undefeated team in the lead by forcing every talking head to include them with the caveat that it includes a Week 1 tie in Arizona. Luckily for all of us, the technicality won’t linger. Patrick Mahomes is coming to town, and Matt Patricia isn’t the mastermind who will finally stymie the league’s most talented quarterback in Andy Reid’s offense. I might get burned by a backdoor cover here, but I’m willing to take my chances with the guy who casually throws 4 TD passes in a quarter. Chiefs -7

Baltimore Ravens -7 vs. Cleveland Browns

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I don’t want to start any controversies, but maybe promoting your one-time running backs coach to offensive coordinator and then head coach over the course of six months is unusual because it’s a considerable increase in responsibility. Freddie Kitchens called for a draw on 4th and 9 last week, really putting my mind at ease regarding my Rams -2.5 pick. His players have been called for XX penalties in 3 games, more than any other team. On the other side of the field, we have the Ravens, whose head coach John Harbaugh made me choke on my beer by openly acknowledging the use of analytics in attempting two-point conversions. Cleveland will need to catch a lot of breaks to win this game on the road, and the Ravens won’t be handing them over readily. Ravens -7

Buffalo Bills +7.5 vs. New England Patriots

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This game is getting a lot of hype because of how good Buffalo’s defense has been so far, and I admit I’m excited to see Tom Brady take on a real defense after facing the Steelers, Dolphins, and Jets. Unfortunately, one of the few defenses to look better than the Bills’ this year is New England’s, and they face a much easier task in shutting down Josh Allen. The Pats are going to come into this game pissed off about giving up two touchdowns to the Jets last week and they’ll remind everyone that the AFC East still isn’t actually competitive. Patriots -7.5

Los Angeles Rams -10 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Jameis Winston tried throwing the ball to Mike Evans last week, and it worked! I mean, it wasn’t enough to overcome a porous defense and a stunningly sad end-of-game sequence in which they threw away 7 yards before attempting a game-winning field goal, but it did work. I don’t think Wade Phillips will make things as easy for the Bucs this week, and Jared Goff has a history of looking better at home than on the road. I think people are sleeping on the more popular L.A. team because their wins have been close, but they’ll turn things around this week and more closely resemble the 2018 NFC Champions. Rams -10

Arizona Cardinals +5 vs. Seattle Seahawks

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This line presented some of the more challenging questions of the week. Does 5 points seem like too many given the recent history between these two teams? Should Seattle be favored by this much on the road against anyone? How concerned should we be about Arizona’s defense after getting lit up by Kyle Allen? I don’t know if I have a solid answer for any of those, but something about the Cardinals being significant home underdogs just feels a little wrong. The Seahawks have managed to squeak by the 0-3 Bengals at home and the 0-3 Steelers on the road to reach 2-1 while the Cardinals have looked competitive in losses to the Panthers and Ravens. Let’s take the home team and the points. Cardinals +5

Chicago Bears -2.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings

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The Vikings looked like an entirely different team in wins over the Falcons and Raiders than in their loss to the Packers. Their wins had two big things in common: they took place in Minnesota, and the Vikings jumped out to leads in both before leaning heavily on their run game and suffocating any attempts at a comeback. If they can jump on the Bears early, the game script would be much the same, but I’m not sure Chicago’s still-stellar defense will allow that to happen. I’m still not enthusiastic about Mitchell Trubisky (see above regarding Kyle Allen), but it was nice to see some signs of last year’s creativity in the plays and results against Washington last week. They should be able to do just enough again this week to win at home. Bears -2.5

Denver Broncos -3 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

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Gardner Minshew II is getting things done in very strange ways, and Jalen Ramsey’s absence hasn’t seemed to affect Jacksonville’s defense drastically. It certainly won’t make a huge impact going against Joe Flacco this week, and Denver’s puzzling lack of pass pressure doesn’t bode well for their defense. The Broncos are yet to record a sack in three games despite the presence of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, and it would take a strong showing from them this week to give their offense a chance. I don’t think they have enough to pull away. Jaguars +3

New Orleans Saints +2.5 vs. Dallas Cowboys

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Dallas has looked like a legitimate Super Bowl contender, but they’ve also played three of the worst teams in the league in the Giants, the Dolphins, and Washington. New Orleans had a strong showing on the road last week, and they’ll present a considerably tougher challenge than anyone the Cowboys have gone up against so far. I was very tempted to pick the Cowboys with how unspectacular Teddy Bridgewater has looked, but New Orleans seems to be rallying around the hope of keeping things on track for Drew Brees’s return. As long as they can scheme Alvin Kamara free for a couple of big plays (something he makes very easy), they’ll be in this one to the end. Saints +2.5

Pittsburgh Steelers -4 vs. Cincinnati Bengals

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Fittingly, I’m typing up this recap while someone on the plane next to me watches Bridesmaids. In the words of Melissa McCarthy, “LOOK AWAY!” No one should be forced to watch this game, but it somehow landed in a primetime slot. There isn’t anything to feel great about with the Bengals, but I can say they put up a fight on the road against the Seahawks and the Bills, two good teams. Pittsburgh looked miserable against the Niners last week, and I think the line should have been set at the usual -3. Here’s to watching Andy Dalton take on Mason Rudolph in 2019! Bengals +4.

That's all for this week! Kick back, grab a drink, and feel free to blame me if you put money on these picks and come out behind. I won't compensate you, but maybe your significant others will send their wrath in my direction instead of yours.

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