Underdogs went 7-9 straight up in Week 4, narrowly missing matching last week’s 8-win mark. The victories this past Sunday were more impressive as a group with favorites laying -4.4 points on average. We judge the Panthers' upset over the Patriots as the top dog victory.
Underdogs went 7-9 straight up in Week 4 despite laying -4.4 points on average. Bettors have to go back to Week 17 of the 2015 season to uncover the last time seven underdogs won outright while catching more than 4 points as a group.
Which win was the most impressive of all Sunday? The top dog of the week award goes to either the Rams, Bills or Panthers. Those teams were the only winners catching more than a field goal on the NFL oddsboard. Our pick goes to Carolina, and not because it was spotted the most points of the three. Let’s look at each victory and deliver a judgment.
Rams 35, Cowboys 30
Line: Dallas -5
Nearly everyone found value in the Rams entering this matchup: wise guys, Joe Public and even my little sister took the points here. The line opened at -8.5 in favor of the Cowboys and was bet down to -5 by kickoff. It’s clear Dallas has some holes this season after a 13-3 record last year. The defense is shoddy, the offensive line dismantled and the passing game yet to spark fire.
But there is an ugly history here, too. Head coach Jason Garrett is 12-25 ATS as home chalk at Jerryworld all-time. The ‘Boys are often overvalued in Dallas and tally up a slew of miscues and errors many times over. Two huge special teams gaffs hurt badly in the Rams loss. Kudos to L.A. for the big win, but this matchup was closer on paper and everyone sniffed it out; not top dog worthy.
Bills 23, Falcons 17
Line: Atlanta -8
The Bills were the best-kept secret among sharps headed into the Falcons matchup. Buffalo could very easily be 4-0 on the season, as it was one play from beating the Panthers in their only loss (9-3) in Week 2.
New head coach Sean McDermott has the defense playing elite. Its 0.21 points per play allowed is tops in the NFL. Couple this with the fact McDermott faced the Falcons and the rest of the NFC South five years in a row during his stint as defensive coordinator for the Panthers, and the ingredients were there to slow down Matt Ryan and the high-flying Falcons offense. It did not come as a surprise for those ahead of the curve. Buffalo held the unit to 17 points, 11 points below market projections. The Falcons entered the meeting having scored 30 points or more in eight of its their 10 home games. This was a top dog win most weeks, but McDermott’s old team slightly outdid the Bills this week.
Panthers 33, Patriots 30
Line: New England -9.5
Carolina earns the top dog award for Week 4, and not just because it was the longest on the oddsboard. The Patriots defense is the pits, surrendering a league-high 7.2 yards per play (456.8 yards per game). Some will point to the unit and argue it lost the game as much as Carolina earned the win. The Panthers, however, looked equally as bad on offense entering Gillette Stadium. They averaged 15.0 points per game prior to the win, which included contests against the leaky Saints and 49ers.
Let’s cut to the chase: These are the Patriots at home and expected to win. Hello? They are 110-18 SU (72-52-4) all-time with quarterback Tom Brady under center in this spot. 110-18! When lying greater than a touchdown, their record is 62-9 in this situation. Teams don’t beat Brady as chalk in New England; heavy chalk at that. End of discussion. Carolina gets the honors.