Points of Interest: NFL Week 4 Over/Under picks and predictions

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Yikes that was a rough Week 3. Missed all three picks (two by the dreaded half point) and the Saquon Barkley injury has my fantasy team in shambles. No use dwelling on it. Trust me, I’ve done enough of that already. Let’s move on and take a look at the state of the NFL entering Week 4.

Checking in on the top and bottom performers, we don’t see a lot of changes from Week 3. Indianapolis surprisingly joins the top offenses at No. 4. Meanwhile, Cleveland’s struggles continued and I’m not sure you need any advanced stats to know it if you watched Sunday night’s game. They sit 30th by offensive EPA and 29th in per play efficiency.

On the defensive side, we’ve got a few big surprises. The 49ers who couldn’t force a turnover to save their lives last year have seven takeaways through three games and sit second by EPA. The next two teams in the ranks also come as a surprise. Tampa Bay and the L.A. Rams were 28th and 17th respectively by EPA in 2018 but sit third and fourth while allowing just 5.1 and 4.7 yards per play

OK, time to get back on the horse with some Week 4 NFL Over/Under picks.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT LOS ANGELES RAMS (-0.5, 49.5)

Back to the well with the Bucs after their shootout in Week 3. Looking at that game, the Bucs had several deep completions on busted coverages by the Giants defense, which ranks 31st in both number of and yards allowed on 20-plus yard passes. The Rams meanwhile rank No. 1 in both categories, allowing just four passes of 20-plus yards for 110 total yards and zero touchdowns.

That Rams defense also ranks third in defensive EPA and has done a lot to overshadow the struggling offense. Jared Goff had a better game Week 3, but the Rams still sit middle of the pack in offensive EPA, per play efficiency, and yards per play. The Buccaneers’ stop unit predictably regressed in Week 3 but still sits among the better defenses by EPA and suffered mainly from a couple of big plays, something the Rams offense has struggled to produce so far this season.

PREDICTION: Under 49.5

 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT ARIZONA CARDINALS (+5, 48)

This is a tale of two struggling defenses in Arizona. The Cardinals were widely expected to suck and have lived up to that. They sit 26th by EPA and gave up 38 points to backup QB Kyle Allen and the Panthers. Seattle was less of a known quantity but haven’t looked a whole lot better. Their slow pace has hidden it somewhat, but they’ve still allowed the eighth most points against in what should have been a pretty easy opening schedule: Bengals, Steelers without Big Ben and the Saints without Drew Brees.

While the defenses have struggled, both offenses sit Top 10 in number of big plays. With Chris Carson struggling to hold onto the ball, we’re likely to see more Russel Wilson moving forward. Speed up the pace of play and that Seattle offense starts to look a lot more dangerous (see the second half of their game versus the Saints).

As a little bonus, we’ve seen both these teams fully embrace garbage time when behind, aggressively calling timeouts, passing the ball and generally trying to score points when the game is hopelessly out of reach (even when the clock reads 0:00.)

PREDICTION: Over 48

OAKLAND RAIDERS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (-7, 45)

If you’d told me the Jacoby Brissett-led Colts were 2-1 through three weeks, I’d have assumed that their defense was playing great and the offense was playing safe and doing just enough. Instead, we have almost exactly the opposite. The defense sits 29th by EPA while the offense, as mentioned at the top, sits fourth. Brissett hasn’t done anything spectacular but has played well enough and made big throws when necessary, while Marlon Mack doesn’t seem to be missing Andrew Luck at all.

The Raiders, meanwhile, after an impressive Week 1 have gone back to being the Raiders we all remember from 2018. The offense – particularly Darren Waller – has shown flashes, but sits middle of the pack while the defense has predictably struggled, ranking 27th. With two lower-tier defenses and one (and a half?) functional offenses, I’d have put this total at or above the 2019 NFL average of 46.

PREDICTION: Over 45

Week 4: 0-3
Season to date: 3-6