Avoiding the Red Zone: Week 4 NFL Wagers

By Dan Urda

Drew Brees and the Saints are riding high once again. Our NFL handicapper likes them to cover against Miami Monday night.

Don’t call it a comeback, but I’m back for a full column this week, folks.  While Sean did an admirable job posting my picks with his own thoughts (Ryan Tannehill’s hot wife is definitely always considered when playing the Dolphins), I fully blame the fact that they only went 2-2 on my lack of a writeup, so I will try not to let it happen again.  Actually, I blame it on the Lions and the Redskins.  I have no problem losing games; I am going to lose many over the course of the year, but that one I truly feel I was on the right side when I took the over of 48.5. I feel like there should have been at least three more touchdowns scored.  Curse you Aldrick Robinson.  And RG3 not knowing the elementary NFL rule that if you don’t slide, you are prone to fumbles because diving is not considered giving yourself up.  So what I really feel should have been a 3-1 week ended up at 2-2, which while not tragic, is not in the green either.

There is going to be one change in my posting process.  If you are interested in my plays, follow me on Twitter @DanUrda.  Starting next week, if I see a line on Sunday night or Monday for the following week, I will post it as a play on Twitter, and use that line when my column runs.  Getting the best lines is a huge factor in NFL betting, and while sometimes I wait and see where a line goes before firing away, I often like to get on the ones that I think will move as early as possible.  Up until and including this week, my policy has been that I’ll use whatever the line is at the time I post this column, but that takes away a key skill that is necessary when wagering.  So follow me on Twitter, and that way when I post something like Team A -6.5 and you say “No, no they are -7 at my book!” I’ll say, you should have checked Twitter when I posted that bet, because they were -6.5 until yesterday.

I have no problem betting on one, two, or even zero games in a week if I don’t see any value.  In Week Four, there is no such issue.  In fact, I love this card so much that I had to trim a few plays off of my list that I didn’t necessarily want to, but I don’t like to go more than six sides in a week.  Also, I do add halftime plays and player props on Twitter for ¼ or ½ of a unit, so keep an eye out for those too.  But for straight sides and totals for this coming weekend, here’s what I got for you:

Week 4 Picks

Bills +3.5 vs. Ravens

I think I get this Bills team.  I can tell when they are going to do well and when they are going to struggle.  It’s amazing how much better the 2-1 teams are perceived than the 1-2 teams after three games, but the Bills are a late-game collapse in New England away from being 2-1.  If the Bills held on to win that game, and were 2-1 coming home to face the Ravens, who also benefitted from a punt return TD and a pick-six last Sunday to make their win look more impressive than it really was, this line would be pk.

And that is where I think it belongs.  I will almost never bet against the Ravens at home, but on the road, this is a vulnerable team.  I think the Bills win this game outright, especially if the Ravens keep having their players injured by strippers (Editor’s Note: I’m really upset that Jacoby Jones already had an MCL injury. Otherwise, what would the injury report have read? Champagne bottle? Stripper aggression? Complete missed opportunity there).  I’ll call the straight-up win for style points, but my money takes the FG and change.

Bengals -4.5 @ Browns

Cincinnati is 2-1 and has yet to put together a solid four-quarter game this season.  They play the Browns who, one week ago, everyone was penciling in as a 2-14 team.  I feel like that was more a result of them playing the right opponent, and rallying behind the “everyone thinks we’re gonna lose so let’s go show them” attitude (see the Joe Webb Tuesday Night game from a few years ago for another example of this) (Editor’s Note: I believe this is classified as the Shane Falco mentality).  This Sunday, it’s back down to Earth for them.  Bengals in a rout.

Texans +3 vs. Seahawks

I love this play.  This is a let-down spot for Seattle who have to finally go on the road and away from the insane noise levels of their field (for which the architects get way too little credit for, and the fans way too much credit for, by the way).  The Seahawks are good and will be fine, and are as good of a bet as anyone to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.  However, every team has a bad spot or two in their schedule, and this is one for them.  I’m willing to bet that they come out flat, and Houston is able to make this a sloppy, run-filled field goal fest. (Editor’s Note: Fishy line. You know the public is going to be all over Seattle).

Eagles/Broncos Over 57

I said last week I’d take this total at anything below 60, so I will stick to my word.  The Broncos score at will and the Eagles defense can’t stop anybody.  I see one of two things happening: 1) the Eagles struggle and Denver gets off to a 27-10 lead at halftime, tack on a few more with the Eagles getting a few field goals and garbage-time TDs in the later quarters; OR, 2) and I know I’m being optimistic here, the Eagles, coming off a week where they could actually finally rest (they played the opening Monday night, the next Sunday, and the next Thursday…which is a crime against humanity by the NFL) shock the Broncos who will be coming off a short week, get off to a fast start, which will force Manning to continue to pile on points to keep up, and the game becomes an all-out slug-fest.  Either way, it gets to 60.

3-team Teaser: Colts +3/Chargers +12/Cardinals +13

Another reason why I am instituting the rule that plays I post on Twitter count is because I started four open teasers with the Bronco’s -4.5 on Monday and left the other 2 spots in each open, but I can’t do that in the column.  Going forward, I will, but I’m still fine with going with Arizona as my last leg, as I think they win the game outright, but I definitely don’t see Tampa winning a game by double digits.  Indy plays Jacksonville, and San Diego should at least keep Dallas close, if not win outright.  I gotta say, my biggest fear in this one is the Cardinals down 6 with one drive left and Palmer throwing a duck that Revis runs back instead of downing the ball. No, no, gotta thing positive…

Saints -6.5 vs. Dolphins

I buy the Dolphins as a legitimately good playoff caliber team, as I mentioned last week.  But beating a banged up, already overrated Falcons team at home and playing the Saints on the road are very different things.  The Dolphins have looked great, but they have beaten the Browns, who ended up being so bad their front office quit on the season after Week 2, and a Colts team that has been very shaky all season, while all advanced metrics say that they played out of their minds in 2012 (Editor’s Note: I have to disagree here. Indianapolis going on the road and handling San Francisco says a lot about the quality of their team, and by extension, Miami’s win over them).  Now they go on the road to face the Saints, who do look like they could go to the Super Bowl.  We expect the offense out of this team, but the D has been great too, and with the home crowd going nuts on Monday Night, the youngsters Tannehill and Lamar Miller could get a little flustered.  I don’t think these role players like Charles Clay and Dion Sims are going to be able to step up like they have so far.  Saints roll. (Editor’s Note: The biggest reason why the Saints could cover is the Cameron Wake injury. He makes their defense go and they’re going to really struggle to hold Brees in check without his pass rush in the line-up).

Those are the big 6 for this week.  Be sure to check in Sunday in the 12 o clock hour when I post props and anything else.  I really like this week in terms of spots, and I think some of the public darlings are going down.  One thing I always preach is to play spots as much as you play teams.  This is a week with some very good teams in some very bad spots.  Bet accordingly.  Good luck, and may it be a profitable weekend.

NFL Record Year-to-Date: 7-4 (63.6%)

In addition to his work as a handicapper, Dan Urda also writes the occasional movie review for afterthecut.com. You can follow him on twitter @DanUrda.

Philly Fast Break would also like to send out a reminder to get your #PhillyFastBreakSurvivor picks in prior to the Thursday night game. Just 9 teams remain! Also, send us any questions you have related to the NFL or NBA and we’ll answer them on the 2-on-1 Fast Break podcast, being recorded this Thursday.

Survivor_Post Week 3


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