I know no one cares about my fantasy team(s), but I’m going to share this (short) story anyway . . .
I have 20 fantasy teams (down from 33 last year). Near the end of 18 of the 20 drafts, I selected Aaron Rodgers, even though I despise him, just so that I could start him in Week 5.
Yeah, that didn’t work out the way I wanted.
But let’s start the picks this week with the game that would have been at the top of my “must watch” list had the uniquely prickly one (aka Rodgers) not been hurt on the New York Jets’ 4th offensive play of the year.
Jets at Broncos, 1:25pm, CBS, O/U 43.5
This game isn’t about ex-Broncos head coach -slash- current Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett or what the always forthright and not-at-all-shady former broadcaster -slash- current Broncos head coach Sean Payton said about him during the offseason.
Ask anybody with the Denver Broncos or New York Jets and every last one of them will publicly state that there is no fuel being dumped on that fire. None!
Yeah . . . right.
Behind the scenes, I have no doubt that Robert Saleh’s team is determined to embarrass Payton’s Broncos on Sunday afternoon. I am equally sure that the Broncos are determined to prove that Payton spoke the truth when he said that Hackett did “one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL.”
I just wish Aaron Rodgers was playing because I don’t think Zach Wilson will be nearly as “demonstrative” as Rodgers would have been after each New York touchdown.
And there will be a lot of them.
The Pick: Jets to win, which means the Broncos won’t cover, Over 43.5
Question for Sean Payton: Hackett had the Broncos at 2-2 at this point last season, including a win against the Niners, so if he was historically awful, what does that say about your return to the sidelines?
Jaguars “at” Bills, 6:30am, NFL Network, O/U 48.5
This is the second of back-to-back games in London for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Last week they were the “home” team; this week, they’re the “visitors.”
Make no mistake though, the Jaguars are the ones that didn’t have to travel over 3,000 miles to play at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this week - which, in theory, should give them “the home field” advantage . . . even if they’re the “visiting team.”
The Pick: Bills to win and cover, Under 48.5
Texans at Falcons, 10:00am, FOX, O/U 41.5
The Atlanta Falcons are favored in this one which seems odd given how the two teams have played the last two weeks.
The Houston Texans went to Jacksonville in Week 3, as a 9-1/2-point underdog, and throttled the Jaguars, 37-17, then were 2-1/2-point home underdogs to the Steelers in Week 4, and won by 24 points (30-6).
Meanwhile, the Falcons spent Weeks 3 and 4 losing to the Lions (in Detroit) and the Jaguars (in London) by a combined score of 43-13.
Statistically, the Texans have two receivers in the top-20 for receiving yards (Nico Collins at No. 6; Tank Dell at No. 20) and their No. 3 wideout (Robert Woods, No. 50) has more yards than the Falcons top receiver (Jannu Smith, No. 54).
Atlanta’s first round pick, Bijan Robinson, is tied for No. 3 in rushing yards, but the Lions held him to 60 yards from scrimmage (33 rushing, 27 receiving) and the Panthers held him to 73 (56 rushing, 17 receiving), proving that it’s possible to keep him in check.
Then there’s the quarterback situation for each team . . .
While their completion percentages are virtually identical (62.3 for C.J. Stroud; 62.2 for Desmond Ridder), Houston’s rookie QB seems intent on using each game to prove that the Panthers made a mistake letting him “slide” to the second pick in the NFL Draft whereas Atlanta’s QB is playing like he knows the Falcons are selecting his replacement in next year’s draft.
The Pick: The Texans laugh at the spread and win outright, Over 41.5
Giants at Dolphins, 10am, FOX, O/U 47.5
This game is proof positive that the schedule makers hate the New York Giants.
A mere six days after being embarrassed by the Seahawks at home, the New York Giants travel to South Beach to face a team that hung 70 points on the Broncos in Week 3 and is still smarting from their loss to the Bills last Sunday.
Oh, and after this one, the Giants travel to Buffalo for a primetime game (hahahahaha).
THIS game is really simple:
The Miami Dolphins have the league’s top offense by alot (they’re averaging 113 yards more than the second-best offense), and they have the No. 1 scoring offense as well (37.5 per game).
New York counters with a defense that ranks in the bottom third yardage-wise and the bottom 5, points-wise.
Other than ATS, this is the easiest pick of the week.
The Pick: Miami to win and cover, Over 47.5
Bengals at Cardinals, 1:05pm, FOX, O/U 44.5
Both teams are 1-3 but that might be where the similarities end.
The Arizona Cardinals have been much more competitive this year than anyone outside Arizona expected them to be. They should have beaten the Commanders (but didn’t); they were embarrassing the Giants before they choked; they handed the Cowboys their first (and only) loss; and they hung with the unbeaten Niners until the fourth quarter.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the Cincinnati Bengals who got spanked by Cleveland in Week 1 (24-3), lost a close one against Baltimore in Week 2 (27-24), needed to cover up an onside kick to secure a win against the Rams in Week 3 (19-16); and got thoroughly dominated by Tennessee in Week 4 (27-3).
Arizona is without Kyler Murray (PUP list) so this matchup will feature journeyman Josh Dobbs vs. golden boy Joe Burrow.
Here are their respective stats through 4 weeks:
- Completion percentage: Doubs 70.7 | Burrow 57.6
- Passing yards: Doubs 814 | Burrow 728
- Touchdown-to-INT ratio: Doubs 4:0 | Burrow 2:2
- QBR: Doubs 67.3 | Burrow 33.8
- Passer Rating: Doubs 99.4 | Burrow 69.1
Long story short, Burrow has been “playing hurt” and it’s hurting his team.
The Pick: Cardinals win, Bengals fail to cover, Under 44.5
Eagles at Rams, 1:05pm, FOX, O/U 50.5
The Los Angeles Rams were supposed to be a dumpster fire this year, but Sean McVay has them punching above their weight through the first four games of the season.
Rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua has been a big part of that.
I would call Nacua’s stat-line through four games “Madden-like” but even in Madden, what Nacua has done would turn some heads . . .
A league-leading 39 receptions on a league-leading 52 targets for 501 yards, which was No. 2 in the league (behind Justin Jefferson’s 543) through the first four weeks.
And now, the Rams get Cooper Kupp back.
The only downside for them is that they have to face the defending NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles this week.
Interestingly, the unbeaten Eagles have looked pretty vulnerable this year. They beat the (now 1-3) Patriots by 5 and the (now 1-3) Vikings by 6 in Weeks 1 and 2. Week 3 saw them thump the (now 3-1) Buccanneers, 25-11, but they needed overtime to hold off the (now 2-3) Commanders last week.
Don’t get me wrong, the Eagles are one of the best teams in the NFC . . . just don’t be surprised if this game is tighter than expected - especially when compared to what was expected at the start of the season.
The Pick: Eagles to win and (maybe) cover, Under 50.5
Cowboys at 49ers, 5:20pm, NBC, O/U 45
Dak Prescott doesn’t like being asked about the last game these two teams played, and why would he when the San Francisco 49ers knocked his Dallas Cowboys out of the playoffs (19-12) in last year’s division round?
I have bad news for Dak though; this game ain’t gonna end any differently.
Dallas is 3-1. Good for them.
I know it’s not their fault because they can only play who they’re scheduled to play, but those wins came against the hapless Giants, the at-the-time hapless Jets, and the jury-is-still-out-because-they-played-the-Eagles-and-Dolphins-tight-but-they-might-be-hapless Patriots.
Admittedly, their wins were all IMPRESSIVE wins (40-zip over Jersey’s NFC squad; 30-10 over Jersey’s AFC squad; and 38-3 over Belichick’s squad), but their Week 3 loss to the Cardinals (by two scores!!) undermines whatever benefit of the doubt I might have wanted to give them.
And I did want to give them the benefit of the doubt because I (and every other 12) have a vested interest in the Cowboys winning this week - and preferably by A LOT.
Unfortunately, it ain’t gonna happen.
The 49ers don’t have the benefit of Miami’s 726-yard, 70-point performance against the Broncos to boost their stats, but they still land at No. 2 for offensive yards per game (398.0) and No. 3 for points per game (31.3).
San Francisco’s defense ain’t bad either: No 5 in yards allowed, No. 3 in points.
For me though, it’s all about the QBs.
Discount it all you want, but Brock Purdy has started 12 games and is 11-0 in the ones he finished. He currently leads the league in both QBR (84.6) and passer rating (115.1), is third in completion percentage (72.3), and has a 5:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Dak Prescott is doing quite well also (No. 4 in completion percentage, No. 9 in QBR, No. 13 in passer rating), but Dallas is 8-4 in his last 12 starts, and he doesn’t have near the supporting cast (or offensive scheming) that Purdy has.
The Pick: San Francisco to win and cover, Over 45
Alright, there are my picks for more than half of Sunday’s games. Let’s see how the rest of the Field Gulls staff thinks the weekend will play out.