NFL #4 Preview-Bettors: Brady v. Belichick, the NFL’s newest blood feud.
LOS ANGELES — Hard to believe, but we’re now entering the Wonderful World of NFL 2021 Week 4 football. This NFL week brings the greatest revenge game since Terrell Owens faced off against the many teams that tired of him. Former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady now leads the Buccaneers into New England. Evil Hoodie Bill Belichick has feuded with everyone from former bosses like Bill Parcells to assistants including Eric Mangini. Brady vs. Belichick is now the NFL’s newest blood feud.
Sports empires fall when those who built it fight over who gets the credit.
This happened to the 1990s Dallas Cowboys when Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones could no longer coexist. It destroyed the 1990s Chicago Bulls Dynasty when Phil Jackson and Jerry Krause refused to communicate.
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant tore up the league together but then tore the Lakers of the 2000s apart.
Winning is often not enough. Sometimes the desire to get the credit is too strong.
In the Shaq vs. Kobe debate, Shaq had the early advantage when he won a championship in Miami without Kobe. Yet Kobe had the last laugh by winning two more championships without Shaq. Tom Brady just won a Super Bowl without Bill Belichick.
Yet those giving Brady the credit for the Patriots dynasty may wish to hold off on declaring this matter settled.
Brady did win a Super Bowl without Belichick, but Belichick won two Super Bowls before anyone had ever heard of Tom Brady. Belichick was the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants when they won it all in 1986 and 1990.
Parcells deservedly gets the bulk of the credit, especially since several Parcells assistants have won Super Bowls. Tom Coughlin beat Brady and Belichick twice. Coughlin was a Parcells disciple, as was Sean Payton.
The 1990 Giants were 14-point Super Bowl underdogs to the Buffalo Bills.
They were heavy underdogs in the NFC Title Game to the two-time defending champion San Francisco 49ers. Belichick designed the defensive game plans that led to a pair of major upsets, including the biggest Super Bowl upset since Joe Namath guaranteed victory in Super Bowl III.
In the 2001 Super Bowl, the Patriots were 14 point underdogs to the St. Louis Rams and their Greatest Show on Turf. Belichick devised another master game plan that shut down the vaunted Rams offense for most of the game. Brady had only 75 yards passing until his final drive, finishing with 120 yards. That is not a terribly impressive performance. Belichick’s defense won that game.
In the 2018 Patriots Super Bowl win over the Rams, it was again Belichick’s defense that won the game. The Patriots only led 6-3 in the fourth quarter, winning 13-3. Brady was shut down most of the game.
Brady missed the entire 2008 season with a knee injury.
With Matt Cassel at the helm, Belichick led the Patriots to an 11-5 record. When Brady was suspended over the Deflategate scandal, Belichick won games with Jacoby Brissett. Belichick now has a rookie quarterback in Mac Jones who is raw.
Brady is a great offensive leader. Belichick is a defensive chess grandmaster. As the cliche says, defense wins championships. While it is true that the Patriots fell apart in 2020 after Brady left, that could turn out to be more coincidental than a direct cause and effect.
Due to the Covid pandemic, several of Belichick’s top defensive players opted out of the 2020 season. Brady meanwhile had the pleasure of playing with the best Buccaneers defense since Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, and Warren Sapp brought the Pewter Power in 2002.
Brady may turn out to be on the winning side of the credit debate against Belichick, but for now the debate is far from settled.
On a separate note, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid returns to face off against his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles. This gets less attention since the debate is completely settled. Andy Reid is a great coach. Jeffrey Lurie is an unimpressive owner who is on his fourth coach in the last decade.
With that, here is the NFL 2021 Week 4 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by SportingNews.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, September 30, 2021, 8:00 p.m.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5) —
The Bengals are now a real football team. Going on the road and smacking around Pittsburgh is a great way to get respect. The Jaguars are a mess. Forget the high spread. The Bengals still have a lot to prove and are eager to do so at home on national television. Bengals cover.
Sunday, October 3, 1:00 p.m.
Tennessee Titans (-7.5) at New York Jets —
The Jets look awful in every phase of the game. The Titans have rebounded after a humiliating opening season loss. Derrick Henry can run over the Jets defense. The spread is high for a road team. This is the last chance to give the Jets the benefit of the doubt that they are competent enough to get a garbage touchdown. Titans win but fail to cover.
Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5) at Philadelphia Eagles —
After recently being hospitalized with dehydration, Andy Reid knows this game is not life and death. Yet his players desperately want to get their beloved coach a win against his former team. The Eagles got destroyed at Dallas and now play on a short week. The Chiefs are a head-scratching 1-2, but it is way too early to hit the panic button. The Chiefs have far more talent. The spread is high, and Jalen Hurts can deliver a garbage touchdown. Chiefs win but fail to cover.
Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) —
The Cowboys are for real. They belted Philadelphia and are now at home for the second straight week. The Panthers can run the ball with Christian McCaffrey, but do not expect Sam Darnold to match Dak Prescott blow for blow. Ezekiel Elliott is back running well and Prescott is airing it out with confidence. Cowboys cover.
New York Giants at New Orleans Saints (-7.5) —
The Giants are awful. The Saints just went on the road and smacked around New England. This could get ugly by halftime. Saints cover.
Cleveland Browns (-2.5) at Minnesota Vikings —
The Vikings are one 37-yard missed field goal from having a winning record. The Browns are one fourth quarter collapse against Kansas City from being undefeated. Baker Mayfield is leading well, but the Vikings appear to have returned to the Mike Zimmer approach of running hard with Dalvin Cook and playing sound defense. The Browns are playing good football, but give the Vikings the benefit of the doubt at home. Upset special, Vikings win outright.
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (-3) —
The Lions find gut-wrenching ways to lose. Last week it was an NFL record 66 yard field goal at the gun. The Bears are a mess on offense, with Justin Fields’s debut going miserably. If the Bears lose this game, it might be enough to get Matt Nagy fired. The Bears have a defense, so at home they have just enough to save Nagy’s hide. Bears cover.
Houston Texans at Buffalo Bills (-16.5) —
The spread is insane, but the Texans are playing third string quarterback David Mills. After a surprise opening day loss, the Bills have been obliterating opponents. A 35 point road win was followed by a 22 point home win. Buffalo has a great defense. Mills will be a sitting duck. It’s tough to take the favorite to cover with such a monster spread, but the mismatch in this case justifies it. Bills cover.
Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins (-1.5) —
The Dolphins have a good defense, and will be angry after an overtime loss against the Raiders. Jacoby Brissett is underrated. The Colts are winless. It is way too early to write off Carson Wentz. Frank Reich has not forgotten how to coach. This one cold come down to the wire. Yet Wentz has a pair of bad ankles and is lacking his usual mobility. Miami’s defense will take advantage. Dolphins cover.
Washington Confusion (-1.5) at Atlanta Falcons —
The Falcons finally got a win against the even more hapless Giants. Washington lacks a team name and a team identity. After getting blasted at Buffalo, Ron Rivera will right the ship. Taylor Heinicke is not a superstar, but he is not a scrub either. The Falcons are lucky to not be winless after winning a game in a battle of who wanted it least. Washington Confusion cover.
Sunday, October 3, 4:00 p.m.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-3) —
The Seahawks are a surprising 1-2 while the 49ers lost a heartbreaker at home to Green Bay. Jimmy Garoppolo is playing well and spreading the ball around. Kyle Shanahan’s offense is functioning well while Pete Carroll’s defense is not. Seattle usually matches up well with San Francisco, but the 49ers are healthy and focused. 49ers cover.
Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams (-4.5) —
Both teams are 3-0 but not equal. The Cardinals are a good team. The Rams are a great team. The Cardinals needed a 37-yard missed field goal to win one game and struggled with Jacksonville before the Jags imploded in the fourth quarter. The Rams just beat the daylights out of defending champion Tampa Bay for the second straight year. Matthew Stafford is playing lights out football. He has so many weapons. Kliff Kingsbury is creative and Kyler Murray is exciting, but Sean McVay is an offensive mastermind. Rams cover..
Pittsburgh Steelers at Green Bay Packers (-7) —
Aaron Rodgers is as good as ever while Ben Roethlisberger is looking old and creaky. Rodgers won a game last week with 30 seconds and no timeouts. It would be a mistake to trust a high spread against a Mike Tomlin team. The Steelers will not go on the road and get a win against this Packers team, but do not expect a blowout. Packers win but fail to cover.
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos (-1) —
The Broncos are 3-0, but their wins have come against three teams that are a combined 0-9. Nevertheless, they are demolishing these teams, not scraping by. The defense is back to its dominant form. The Ravens needed an NFL history-making 66-yard field goal to have a winning record. John Harbaugh knows how to plug in backups and get them to perform at a high level. Lamar Jackson against Von Miller is a great matchup. Teddy Bridgewater is playing well. It is tough to go against the Broncos at home, but the Ravens are a resilient bunch. Upset special, Ravens win outright.
Sunday, October 3, 8:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7) at New England Patriots —
After getting throttled at the Rams, Tom Brady will be in an angry mood. Bill Belichick schemes as well as anyone, but the main match is not Brady vs. Belichick. The Buccaneers have too much talent on defense for Mac Jones to deal with. At home on national television, do not expect the Patriots to be humiliated. Buccaneers win but fail to cover.
Monday, October 4, 8:00 p.m.
Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5) —
The Raiders are 3-0, but two of those wins came in overtime. Derek Carr and Justin Herbert can both sling it. Gus Bradley has drastically improved the Raiders’ defense. Josh Jacobs is back, which is a major deal for the Raiders. Whether in San Diego or Los Angeles, the Raider Nation makes their game at the Chargers feel like a Raiders home game. If Jacobs is healthy, the Raiders will be able to run the ball. The Chargers’ defense is not as stingy as Miami’s is. Upset special, Raiders win outright.
By AlexanderJonesi – https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexanderjonesi/48862392521/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=105034697