LOS ANGELES, September 28, 2016 — With NFL 2016 Week 3 now in the books, numerous storylines abound for the last set of September games.
The Texans are reeling from losing megastar J.J. Watt while the Patriots are combing local Walmarts for a quarterback. The Jaguars are traveling thousands of miles to escape from their long-suffering fans. Rex Ryan faces his arch-enemies while Pete Carroll takes on the NFL team that never gave him a realistic chance. Rookie quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Trevor Siemian seek to keep up momentum, while the hated NFL bye weeks have red-hot Carson Wentz taking the week off. Aaron Rodgers joins him in not reporting for duty this week.
Thanks to the London Jaguars, Americans this Sunday are treated to four straight games and at least 12 straight hours of football rather than the traditional three games and nine hours.
With that, here is the NFL 2016 Week 4 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spread provided by FottballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, September 29, 2016, 8:30 p.m.
Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5) — Last year Adam Gase was a hotshot offensive coordinator. This year his offense is just offensive. The Bengals are the better team, but the spread is high given that Cincinnati has not put a ton of points on the board either. Bengals win but fail to cover.
Sunday, October 2, 9:30 a.m.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) in London — The Jaguars are winless and the Colts are lucky to not be winless. Games like this may cause Britains to demand a Brexit from American football. The Colts have Andrew Luck, which will be the difference. Colts cover.
Cleveland Browns at Washington Redskins (-8) — The Redskins won a big road game last week, which may make them lass bad than originally thought. The Brows are worse, and are down to their third string quarterback. The Redskins are up and down and do not blow anyone out. Redskins win but fail to cover.
Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-5.5) — Every time Rex Ryan is about to be fired, he wins a game he should lose. The Patriots may be down to their fourth string quarterback, which is wide receiver Julian Edelman. Yet the Patriots are on a mission, and they love humiliating Rexy. Patriots cover.
Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) at New York Jets — The Legion of Boom is still solid, and Ryan Fitzpatrick threw six interceptions last week. Russell Wilson is gimpy, but the defense will get Pete Carroll a win against the first team who fired him. Seahawks cover.
Carolina Panthers (-3) at Atlanta Falcons — The Panthers are not as good as they were last year while the Falcons offense is clicking like they were in Matt Ryan’s first few seasons. He and Julio Jones lead a pinball machine offense. The spread seems based on Carolina’s reputation rather than reality, and it is unwarranted. Upset special, Falcons win outright.
Detroit Lions (-3) at Chicago Bears — The Bears play badly with no talent while the Lions have talent but just never seem to get it together early in the season. If the Lions lose this game, it could get very ugly in Martha Ford’s office. Expect Matthew Stafford to get it done. Lions cover.
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (-5) — The Texans put J.J. Watt on injured reserve, a tremendous blow to their team. Even without Watt, the Texans have more than enough firepower to handle Tennessee’s anemic offense. Texans cover.
Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) — Last year Derek Carr led a courageous win at Baltimore. Both teams are improved from 2015. Neither team has a good defense, so Carr and Joe Flacco could top the 70 points they combined for last year. Oakland has the bette offense and Carr can be trusted when it counts. Upset special, Raiders win outright.
Denver Broncos (-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Jameis Winston has matured rapidly, while Trevor Siemian could be a phenom. Trust Von Miller and the modern Orange Crush to take down Pewter Power in the Big Sombrero 2.0. Broncos cover.
Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) at San Francisco — Forget the NFC Title Games of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The 49ers are a mess, while Dak Prescott is playing well. This could be a big mismatch. Cowboys cover.
New Orleans Saints at San Diego Chargers (-4) — Drew Brees faces the team that got rid of him, and neither he or Philip Rivers are getting much help form their defenses. The Saints are winless and hungry, and Philip Rivers is hungry to beat his predecessor. This could go down to who has the ball last. Upset special, saints win outright.
Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals (-8) — The Rams play division opponents tough at home but not on the road. The Cardinals are wildly inconsistent, but their two losses were on the road while their blowout win was at home. Jeff Fisher’s defense could keep this close. Cardinals win but fail to cover.
Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5) — The Steelers will be angry after getting lashed on the road last week. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have a dink and dunk Alex Smith offense that needs a solid defensive performance to have a chance. The Steelers will bounce back, but Kansas City could give them just enough of a fight. Despite this game being played on Rosh Hashanah, there is no religious violation. Ben Roethlisberger is not Jewish. Steelers win but fail to cover.
Monday, October 3, 2016, 8:30 p.m.
New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings (-5) — The Giants play to the level of their competition. They lost to an inferior team last week at home and now take on unbeaten Minnesota in their new stadium. Mike Zimmer’s defense is carrying this team, and should be able to disrupt Eli Manning’s rhythm. Minnesota’s offense is still too inconsistent to trust the spread, even with an emotional crowd. Vikings win but fail to cover.