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DraftKings is offering up a new free-to-enter pool for the 2022 NFL season. It runs for the first 17 weeks of the season, and users are allowed to pick their five favorite spreads each week. You’re also allowed one self-appointed bye week, meaning each player will pick 80 games by the end of Week 17. The players who do the best will have a chance to take home part of a $100,000 prize pool, plus millions in bonus prizes.
Let’s take a look at my five favorite picks for NFL Week 4.
The Pick: Giants -3.5
For my money, there’s no worse team in football than the Bears. That may not be reflected in their record – they’re currently 2-1 – but their resume is about as unimpressive as it gets. They managed to beat the 49ers in Week 1, but that game was marred by ugly field conditions in Chicago, and they were still outgained by more than 100 yards of total offense. They followed that up by getting demolished at the hands of the Packers before squeaking out a three-point home win over the Texans.
The Bears' biggest problems are on offense. They rank dead last in yards per game, thanks mostly to quarterback Justin Fields. He has shown no signs of progress in his second NFL season, so Chicago has been forced to run the ball on more than 65% of their offensive plays. That’s simply not going to work in the modern NFL.
The Giants are also 2-1, and they’ve fared much better than the Bears in terms of yards per game. Their defense is going to be tested by Chicago’s running game, but I like the Giants to cover the number in this spot.
The Pick: Falcons +1.5
The Falcons are shaping up to be a preferred target for the sharps this week. Atlanta has garnered 41% of the spread bets this season, but those bets have accounted for 55% of the dollars.
The Falcons are coming off a road win over the Seahawks last week, and they’ve been frisky to start the year. They led by 16 points at home vs. the Saints in Week 1 before ultimately collapsing, and they came storming back to cover the spread in Week 2 vs. the Rams. Their offense has been particularly effective, scoring at least 26 points in all three games while ranking eight in Football Outsiders' offensive DVOA.
Meanwhile, the Browns are dealing with some crucial injuries on defense. Myles Garret and Jadeveon Clowney are both listed as questionable, but neither player was able to practice on any day this week. That makes it unlikely that either player will be in the lineup.
Without those two players, the Browns’ defense will struggle to slow down the Falcons’ offense. The Browns should have some success running the football, but I’ll take my chances with the Falcons as home dogs.
The Pick: Ravens +3.5
The Bills got off to an incredible start this season, outscoring the Rams and Titans by a combined score of 72-17. They hit a speed bump last week vs. the Dolphins, but they still managed to outgain Miami by more than 275 yards. Their 497 yards of total offense was their top mark of the year, so the fact that they lost that game is pretty mindboggling.
However, the Bills have some clear issues with the health of their defense. They were missing their entire starting secondary last week, and things could be just as bad vs. the Ravens. Micah Hyde and Tre’Davious White are both on Injured Reserve, while Jordan Poyer and Dane Jackson are questionable. The team has also already ruled out defensive tackle Jordan Phillips and cornerback Christian Benford, while Ed Oliver is also questionable.
It goes without saying that a defense with that many issues is going to struggle against Lamar Jackson. While Josh Allen has gotten most of the MVP shine to start the year, Jackson has arguably been even better. He leads the league in passing touchdowns and adjusted net yards per attempt, and he’s also leading the league in yards per carry.
Jackson has historically crushed for bettors when getting points, posting a record of 8-2 against the spread. I’m happy to side with him against a banged-up defense.
The Pick: Cardinals +2.5
Maybe this spread is a trap, but I don’t get it at all. If the Bears aren’t the worst team in the league, then it might be the Panthers. Their defense has been ok, but their offense has been horrendous. Baker Mayfield is ranking 32nd among 33 qualified quarterbacks per Pro Football Focus. His presence has tarnished the rest of the offense, with guys like Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore pacing for career-worst seasons.
The Panthers were able to get a win last week, but that was against an extremely banged-up Saints squad. Jameis Winston and Alvin Kamara are clearly not at full strength, so the Panthers didn’t need to do much on offense to secure a win.
That likely won’t be the case this week. The Cardinals’ offense hasn’t been firing on all cylinders to start the year, but they still have a healthy Kyler Murray at quarterback. That should be enough for them to secure the win. He’s capable of taking games over, just like he did in the fourth quarter vs. the Raiders two weeks ago. The Cards struggled last week vs. the Rams’ outstanding defense, but this is the perfect spot for them to get their season back on track.
The Pick: Patriots +9.5
This spread was initially listed as Patriots +5 before the injury to Mac Jones. While that’s obviously a big deal, I’m not sure Jones warrants that large of a spread move. The oddsmakers are essentially telling us that Jones is worth 4.5 points of spread value, which is simply not true. The best quarterbacks in the league are only worth around a touchdown, and Jones is clearly not in that territory. He ranks just 25th at the position in terms of PFF grade, so I don’t think the downgrade to Brian Hoyer will be nearly that large.
Additionally, the Patriots should need very little from their quarterback in this spot. The Packers have had the worst run defense in football to start the year, and the Patriots have an excellent 1-2 punch in Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris. If they can control the clock with their ground game, I think they can keep this score reasonable. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have also taken a clear step back offensively without Davante Adams, so they no longer seem like the type of team to hang a 40-spot on a subpar opponent.
Year-to-Date Results: 13-2 (4-1 last week)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.