NFL Picks: Cowboys vs. Chargers in Week 4

Jason Lake

Thursday, September 26, 2013 4:10 PM GMT

Betting on football is always more fun when you’re making money. Too bad only one team can cover when the San Diego Chargers host the Dallas Cowboys.

Follow our continuing NFL odds coverage! Check out our NFL Week 4 Betting Odds Report!

Yes, sometimes betting on the NFL can be that easy. Both the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers struggled on offense last year, missing the playoffs and finishing a combined 13-19 ATS. Both teams improved their offensive lines during the offseason, and presto! They’re a combined 5-0-1 ATS heading into Week 4 of the 2013 campaign. Straight cash, homey.

Sadly, one of these teams will be dropping the cash this Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX) when they meet at Qualcomm Stadium. Unless they push, which the Chargers did in last week’s 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans (–3 at home). It could happen again depending on where you shop. At press time, most online sportsbooks had San Diego getting two points on the NFL betting lines, but you could also get the Chargers at +2.5, or +1.5, or +1 at various levels of juice.

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Butch Vig

Don’t worry too much if the football betting odds lines seem confused. As of Wednesday afternoon, not enough action had come in on this game to build a strong consensus, although our early reports show the Cowboys getting the lion’s share of support, moving the line from a 'Pick ‘em' (Dallas –125) at the open. These tiny NFL point spreads are sensitive to action, but really, there’s not that much difference between where we were at the open and where we were at press time.

Let’s turn once again to the fine folks at Wizard of Odds for an explanation. According to their numbers, the “fair price” for moving to a "Pick ‘em" from –1 would be just 4.5 cents. Buy your way down from –2 instead, and you should be willing to pay an extra 8.5 cents. That’s 13 cents total by my math, which means there’s virtually no difference in value between Dallas PK (–125) and Dallas –2 at the standard –110 vigorish.

Do Adjust Your Set

You’re starting to pique my interest at San Diego +2.5. Although the Cowboys have gotten off to the better start at 2-1 SU and 3-0 ATS, the Chargers (1-2 SU, 2-0-1 ATS) are a pair of late field goals from being undefeated. The efficiency stats at Football Outsiders have Dallas sitting at No. 14 in overall efficiency (No. 17 offense, No. 11 defense, No. 15 special teams), with San Diego close behind at No. 18 (No. 3 offense, No. 31 defense, No. 19 special teams).

And this is without adjustments for strength of schedule. The Cowboys picked up their two wins at home against the struggling New York Giants and St. Louis Rams, both as 3.5-point favorites. San Diego’s come-from-ahead losses were at home against the Houston Texans (–5) and on the road against the improved Tennessee Titans (–3). Then there was the gritty 33-30 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles (–7.5 at home) and their marvelous blur option offense. I imagine San Diego’s efficiency ratings will improve next week once the stats are adjusted.

Spencer: Not for Hire

The Cowboys also have to deal with the loss of Pro Bowl DE Anthony Spencer. He was the only player in the league last year with more than 10 sacks (11) and 90 tackles (95), but Spencer won’t be adding to his numbers in 2013 after going on injured reserve Wednesday. His left knee, which was scoped in July, will now apparently require microfracture surgery. Spencer’s career could be over.

WR Miles Austin (66 catches, six TDs last year) is also iffy for Sunday with yet another hamstring pull, so in a battle of small margins, I’ll be fading the team with the downside in my sports picks for this matchup.

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NFL Pick: Take the Chargers on the point spread, +2 (-110) at Wiliam Hill

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