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Play 'em straight, parlay 'em together, whatever you fancy! Here's Ben Rolfe's top picks for this Sunday's slate

Week 4 was a wild week with underdogs and road teams causing multiple upsets. In the 1 pm window the road team was 7-of-8 SU, with another three road teams winning in the late window. Crazy weeks like that can be hard to judge, especially with some teams desperately fighting to salvage their season, and others starting to have to deal with injuries. Let’s take a look where we can find some value in a hopefully much calmer Week 5.

All statschecker stats are since the beginning of the 2018 season unless stated.

Here are this week’s NFL Picks:

Bet of the Week:

Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys | 4:25 pm EST

1u – Dallas Cowboys-3.5 @ +100

- Per statschecker, the Dallas Cowboys are 7-3-1 ATS at home, and 4-2-1 ATS coming off a loss

- Per statschecker, the Green Bay Packers are 3-5-1 ATS on the road and 2-4-1 as a road underdog

The performance of the Green Bay Packers against the run last Thursday has me somewhat terrified about their prospects. This season they have allowed an average of five yards per rush, which when you are about to face Ezekiel Elliott is bordering on a disaster. When you combine that defensive weakness with a lack of cohesion at times from their offense then the concerns begin to stack up. They have been reasonably impressive offensively in the first half of games but have struggled to make a dent on scoreboards in the second half. That problem is made al the worse by Davante Adams having yet to train this week, making him at best limited for this Sunday if not out.

Additionally, the Cowboys come into this game with a massive advantage when it comes to yards per play. The Cowboys are averaging a net of 7.2 yards per play (offensive YPP – defensive YPP), compared to a value of just 1.2 for the Packers.  Some of that discrepancy can be attributed to the differences in strengths of the respective schedules. However, with home field advantage, the Packers rush defense problems, and the YPP discrepancy, the Cowboys are my play in this one.

Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers | 1:00 pm EST

1u – Pittsburgh Steelers +3.5 @ -110

- Per statschecker, the Steelers are 6-1 ATS as underdogs

- Per statschecker, the Baltimore Ravens are 5-10 ATS as favorites and 7-11 ATS in day games

Prior to Monday night I did not see a way that I would be taking the Steelers in this game. However, the way their run game operated against the Bengals gave me hope in facing a Ravens team who struggled to contain Nick Chubb last week. The Ravens rank 27th in rush yards per attempt this season, and are actually worse against the pass, ranking 30th in net passing yards per attempt. The Steelers defense is not loaded with talent, but they have demonstrated an ability to take the ball away the last two weeks. Interestingly, the Steelers actually have a marginal advantage when it comes to YPP, which when combined with their home field advantage, means they are good value for me as the underdogs in this one.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints | 1:00 pm EST

1u – Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3 @ -111

- Tampa Bay averages four net yards per play more than the Saints this season

- Per statschecker, the Buccaneers are 8-4-2 ATS as underdogs, while the Saints are 3-7 ATS as home favorites

It took a couple of games for them to get it going, but the Buccaneers have fast become the most exciting team in football right now. Between their splash play offense and their struggles on defense they should be involved in plenty of interesting games this season. With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin lining up outside opponents have to pick their poison with who to focus their attentions on, and so far, this season we have seen the other one of the pair have a monster day. That does not even include the likes of OJ Howard and Cameron Brate, who provide solid additions to the offense, or the running backs, who have both stood up to be counted at times this season.

The Saints demonstrated last week what they can do to opposing offenses on the right day, but this Buccaneers offense is a different beast to what the Cowboys can offer. There is no way Bruce Arians allows his offense to be neutralised the way Kellen Moore and Jason Garrett allowed their offense to be last week. The Saints offense should be able to move the football against this Buccaneers team, but Teddy Bridgewater has been a major question mark this season. With the Buccaneers defense coming off a game in which they shut down Todd Gurley, I am expecting the pressure for winning this game to be on the shoulders of Bridgewater. That to me is a recipe for at least a close game, wit the potential for a Buccaneers win.

New England Patriots @ Washington Redskins | 1:00 pm EST

1u – Washington Redskins Under 13.5 Total Points @ -117

- The New England Patriots have allowed just one touchdown to opposing offenses this season

- The Washington Redskins managed to score just three points last week in New York

At the time of writing I do not know who is expected to be the quarterback for Washington this season, and I do not think it even matters. The Patriots defense has dominated opposing defenses allowing a total 13 points to opposing offenses this season. Yes, you read that right, a total of 13 points, not average. Their special teams and offense combined have allowed more points to opposition than their defense, which after Week 4 is a frankly incredible thing to be able to say. With Terry McLaurin likely to be limited at best, and that offensive line in major trouble, the Patriots should be able to put their foot on the throat of another mediocre team in this one.

Chicago Bears @ Oakland Raiders | 1:00 pm EST

1u – Chicago Bears -5.5 @ -102

- Per statschecker, the Chicago Bears are 11-6 ATS as favorites

- Per statschecker, the Oakland Raiders are 0-5 ATS coming off a win, while the Bears are 10-4 ATS coming off a win

I have gone backwards and forwards on this game all week. Wit the Oakland Raiders choosing to fly over early in the week my belief was that the extra time to acclimate would be beneficial. However, dealing with the extra media and disruption that comes with being in another country could be more of a hinderance than a help. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who do this frequently, tend to travel later in the week, suggesting they have found that to be the best method for coping with the travel.

However, the ultimate difference appears to be about the quality of the team. In the 24 games played in the UK, the favorite is 15-9 ATS. Pet statschecker, those numbers are even better since 2010, with the favorite going 15-6 (12-6 @ Wembley, 3-0 @ Twickenham) in that time. Favorites have also been blowing teams out in the recent meetings, with the favorites winning by an average of over 18 points in the last eight games. Included in that is two blowouts of the Oakland Raiders, by the Patriots and Seahawks. In those two games combined, the Raiders have scored just 11 points and allowed 60. In fact, West Coast teams have an ugly record ATS recently in London, with a 2-5 record when facing a team who usually plays their home game in the eastern or central time zones.

By Ben Rolfe

Article Author


Ben is a football guru with years of experience covering the NFL. You can always count on Ben to pick a winner on Sunday!


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