NFL Betting Odds - Games Too Risky To Bet Either Way In Week 4

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, September 29, 2016 6:51 PM UTC

Thursday, Sep. 29, 2016 6:51 PM UTC

I recommended staying away from Arizona -4  & Cincinnati -3 in last week's action, and guess what, they both lost. This week, I've identified three spreads I deem too risky to wager in NFL Week 4.


Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans (-4.5 For NFL Betting Picks)
When I was looking at possible teams for my Survivor Pool competition this week, Houston was at the top of my list. After all, the Texans were on extra rest after admittedly playing terrible last Thursday night in New England. Plus Houston is 2-0 at home this season and played terrific defense in wins over the Bears and Chiefs there. Finally, the Texans had little trouble sweeping Tennessee last season, winning by a combined score of 54-12. I figured I had my team. Then I checked and learned that Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was going on injured reserve and that his season was likely over. 

I believe an argument could be made that Watt is the most valuable/difference-making player in the NFL who doesn't play quarterback. It's an utterly crushing loss for Houston, which was hoping to become the first team to ever play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium this February. Before Watt's arrival in 2011, the Texans never made the playoffs and had the fifth-worst record in the NFL. Since his arrival from the University of Wisconsin, the Texans have won three division titles and two playoff games. He has never missed a regular-season game but apparently against the Patriots reinjured the same disk in his back that required surgery this summer and kept him out of training camp and the preseason. I wouldn't touch this game under any circumstances because it's hard to know if the Texans rally around their leader or fall apart.

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Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers (+3 In NFL Bets)
I will always recommend staying away from spreads right on 3 or 7 points because, as I've said before, I think those should be outlawed due to push probabilities. Obviously, you can buy a half-point either way or bet an alternate line, but a lot of casual bettors don't know that. This game is difficult to handicap. For one thing, it's only the second road start for Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. The fourth-rounder from Mississippi State has been terrific, but playing on the road is a different animal. In addition, Prescott may not have Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant at his disposal. 

He has been diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his  knee. Coach Jason Garrett said he still holds out hope that Bryant could play this week, but that seems like a long shot. It's more likely he misses up to three games. So far this year, Bryant has 11 catches for 150 yards and one touchdown. That's a huge break for the 49ers' defense, which has been torched the past two weeks in Carolina and Seattle. Speaking of defenses, they usually play better at home, and the 49ers shut out the Rams in their lone home game thus far. Granted, the Rams' offense isn't great. San Francisco coach Chip Kelly says he's sticking with Blaine Gabbert as his starting QB this week. The 49ers rank 30th in passing yards (175.3 per game) but have faced two tremendous defenses in the Panthers and 49ers. The Cowboys are ranked 22nd in total defense.

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Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears (+3 On NFL Betting Odds)
Chicago looks like the NFL's worst team through three games, even worse than the Browns. Cleveland is a play or two against Baltimore and Miami from being 2-1 instead of 0-3. Chicago has lost every game by at least nine points and hasn't scored more than 17 in a game yet. The Bears aren't good offensively, they aren't good defensively and several starters are injured. That includes QB Jay Cutler, who missed Sunday night's loss in Dallas with a sprained thumb. He did practice on a limited basis Wednesday. It's not clear if he will play or if it will be backup Brian Hoyer again. Interestingly, Coach John Fox wouldn't guarantee Cutler's job back when healthy this week. 

Chicago won't have top running back Jeremy Langford as he's out 4-6 weeks with a high-ankle sprain. The Bears have won just one of their past of their past 12 at home. So with all that said, why would I be leery of backing the Lions here even though they have won six straight in the series? Because it's a very schizophrenic team. Detroit played great for a while Week 1 in Indy, blew a big lead and then rallied to win at the end. The Lions blew a 15-3 fourth-quarter home lead and lost to a bad Tennessee team in Week 2. And last week, the Lions nearly rallied from a 31-3 deficit in Green Bay.

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