Bye weeks, and perhaps pride, come into play this week
It’s Week 4 of the NFL season and believe it or not, bye weeks also play a role when it comes to Vegas odds, lines, spreads and such. This week it’s Green Bay and Philadelphia getting a breather and the chance to relish their latest victories. For the Packers and Eagles, the early bye means next week starts a stretch of 13 straight games.
The best part about the bye weeks getting underway is that they represent very nice opportunities for spot plays. On the surface, not many people probably thought Buffalo was going to beat Arizona last week, but you've got to believe in the situation and it'll come through in the end.
Record: 5-4 (2-1 last week)
Detroit Lions (1-2) at Chicago Bears (0-3)
Sunday, Oct. 2 at 1 p.m. ET
The Bears are one of the worst teams in the league and now they host the Lions, which are playing their third road game in four weeks. Chicago's defense has been ravaged by injuries so this unit is currently made up of a lot of young and inexperienced players. The Bears were gashed on the ground by the Cowboys this past Sunday night, as the secondary was saved merely by the fact that Dallas only attempted 24 passes (completing 19). Detroit will throw it a lot more than that and could have just as much success. I don't mind Chicago’s offense with Jordan Howard at running back and either QB under center. As long as Brian Hoyer or Jay Cutler get Alshon Jeffery involved, they should find some success. The Lions’ secondary has already been torched by the Colts and Packers on the road. I think we see both teams score some points. SELECTION: Over 46
Oakland Raiders (2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (3-0)
Sunday, Oct. 2 at 1 p.m. ET
I tried to fade the Ravens last week and nearly got away with it, if not for the Jaguars being the Jaguars. Baltimore has both stopped the run on defense and failed to run on offense. Despite putting up only 324.3 yards per game, the Ravens enter this game 3-0. This week they get an Oakland team that is making another long trip for an atypical early kickoff. Oakland has won both of its road games at New Orleans and Tennessee, but eventually all that traveling has to get to the Raiders. Their defense put up good numbers last week against the Titans, but Tennessee’s offense is a work in progress. I'm not a believer in the Ravens in the least, but I think they are a good situational play here against a road-weary Raiders team. SELECTION: Baltimore -3
Los Angeles Rams (2-1) at Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
Sunday, Oct. 2 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Most people expected the records to be reversed for this matchup, but the Rams are indeed the team with a winning record after knocking off Tampa Bay last week. Pardon me if I'm not suddenly going to be a believer in the Rams after finding a defense they could score a touchdown on. Los Angeles figures to struggle to score in this one against an ornery Cardinals defense that was gashed by Buffalo on the ground. Arizona had a rough trip to the east coast and should get back to being the team everyone thought entering the season. Carson Palmer is coming off a terrible game and should be able to pick apart this Rams secondary. My only concern is Los Angeles’ pass rush, but if protection holds up and Palmer doesn’t get happy feet, he will put up big numbers. The Cardinals threw for nearly 700 yards in two games against the Rams last year. The Rams have failed to cover in 10 of their last 18 road games. I think this one's a blowout. SELECTION: Cardinals -8
— I came really close to making the under in the Carolina vs. Atlanta game an official pick. You wouldn't think these two have played low-scoring games, but the under has hit in four straight. Atlanta's defense is pretty bad, but Carolina isn't exactly coming in off a high at home against the Vikings. I worry about how he Panthers will cover Julio Jones now that Josh Norman is gone. The under in this game is a hunch for me.
— Money is coming in on the Titans and I'm not quite sure why. I know J.J. Watt's injury is big for the Texans’ defense, but I don't know if Tennessee can take advantage of it. Marcus Mariota has struggled terribly so far this season and doesn't really have the weapons other than Delanie Walker, who missed last week with a hamstring injury. I know that Brock Osweiler has been a wild card for the Texans, but if this number goes down more, I may have to consider the home team.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.