Football

Greg Cote’s Week 4 NFL picks

Washington Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland (26) lands on the turf as Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Mon., Sept. 12, 2016.
Washington Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland (26) lands on the turf as Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Mon., Sept. 12, 2016. AP

Never going to feel good about 9-7 overall. Nope. But always going to be fine with 11-5 against the spread — a third consecutive nice week for us vs. betting line. Last week, we nailed another Upset of the Week pick with Bills over Cardinals (“Aawwk!”), bull’s-eyed two other smaller outright upsets with Pats over Texans and Raiders over Titans, and additionally had five other ’dogs-with-points in Broncos, Lions, Vikings, Redskins and Rams. Highly unusual for an ATS record after three weeks to be better than a straight-up mark, but I’ll take that. People, there’s always an unseen fist waiting for me around the blind corner (and Week 4 looks tough), so I’m gonna brag while I can, dammit! [Note: Thursday night pick was Bengals ( -7 1/2 ) over Dolphins, 27-23].

COTE’S RECORD

Overall

Pct.

Vs. spread

Pct.

Last week

9-7

.563

11-5

.688

Season

31-17

.646

32-16

.667

GAME OF THE WEEK

CHIEFS (2-1)

AT STEELERS (2-1)

Line: PIT by  4 1/2.

Cote’s pick: PIT 27-21.

TV: 8:30 p.m., NBC (airing in South Florida).

No clear-cut GOTW stood out for NFL Week 4, but this is one of only three matchups in which both teams have winning records, it is one I’d watch and it should live up to the primetime stage. Steelers coming off their worst defeat in 27 years (34-3 in Philly), while Chiefs oppositely looked terrific in smothering Jets, 24-3. KC’s turnover-causing defense vs. Ben Roethlisberger’s (usually) powerful offense should be riveting — especially Chiefs CB Marcus Peters vs. Antonio Brown. Big Ben has tossed at least three TD passes in four consecutive home games and now gets back RB Le’Veon Bell from suspension. That’s big. Especially with Injuns bringing an average-at-best run defense. See a spark from return of Bell and a big bounceback effort by Pitt.

UPSET OF THE WEEK

COWBOYS (2-1)

AT 49ERS (1-2)

Line: DAL by 2.

Cote’s pick: SF 23-20.

TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).

Aaawwwk!” trills the Upset Bird. “San Franciscaaawwwk!” No one game really jumped up and sang the Upset Bird’s name this week, so I’ll admit this is more hunch than conviction — and a hunch that relies on Frans’ run-D finding a way to limit Ezekiel Elliott. Dak Prescott is due for a rookie moment or two, especially because I don’t expect Dez Bryant to play. And Carlos Hyde could run big vs. a ’Boys ground defense giving up 5 yards per carry. Aside to Chip Kelly: Shouldn’t Colin Kaepernick be warming up on the sideline? “Yes. Kaepernaawwk,” agrees U-Bird. “Although, with due respect, I believe we all should stand during the Star-Spangled Baaawwwk!”

DOG OF THE WEEK

LIONS (1-2)

AT BEARS (0-3)

Line: DET by 3.

Cote’s pick: CHI 27-24.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Looks like Brian Hoyer will pitch for Jay Cutler again. Either way, Lions’ struggling defense could be an antidote for Chitown’s struggling O. Trends favor Detroit. It has won six in a row in this series, while Bears have lost their Soldier Field mojo, dropping 11 of past 12 at home. Still, I sense a pretty strong upset shot for the home ’dogs here. The trend may be your friend, but it’s also true the trend eventually must end. Chicago is way due in this rivalry. Upset!

COLTS (1-2)

VS. JAGUARS (0-3), IN LONDON

Line: IND by  2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: IND 34-24.

TV: 9:30 a.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).

Breakfast at Wembley! Yes, whatever. Anybody else think these London games have run their course as a novelty or a good thing? This is the 15th there since Dolphins-Giants played the historic first in 2007. Jax’s edge is this is its fourth year in a row playing in London, while Indy is making trip for first time. Give Jags sizable upset shot, but I trust Andrew Luck (5-0 vs. J’ville) more than I trust Blake Bortles (seven turnovers, including six picks in three games).

TITANS (1-2)

AT TEXANS (2-1)

Line: HOU by 5.

Cote’s pick: HOU 21-14.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Houston loses defensive star J.J. Watt for the year to a back injury but still should have enough on both sides of ball to beat Tenners for eighth time in past nine meetings. Added prep time from having played last Thursday helps. Titans QB Marcus Mariota has a 104.9 rating in seven career road games, but his offense is really struggling. Bonus fact: Old Cane Andre Johnson, a 12-year Texan, faces his former team.

BROWNS (0-3)

AT REDSKINS (1-2)

Line: WAS by  7 1/2.

Cote’s pick: WAS 24-21.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Oh my should Cleveland have won in Miami last week! That’s what they get for signing me to kick field goals! I can’t say the Earthtones are better than their winless record, but I can say I’m not sure the ’Skins should be favored by this much over anybody. Clevers are down to their third-string QB, but Washington’s shaky defense can keep anybody in a game.

SEAHAWKS (2-1)

AT JETS (1-2)

Line: SEA by  2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: SEA 19-16.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).

The Upset Bird kept circling this game, wanting it, begging me. I had to remind him that a very strong Seattle defense, including against the pass, is facing Ryan Fitzpatrick coming off a six-interception game. Six! The one concern: Russell Wilson (knee, ankle) is a banged-up dude. But he says he’ll play, and this pick is counting on that.

BILLS (1-2)

AT PATRIOTS (3-0)

Line: NE by  4 1/2.

Cote’s pick: NE 27-16.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).

Pats’ quarterback roulette continues. Tom Brady is suspended one more game, backup Jimmy Garoppolo and No. 3 Jacoby Brissett both are hurting and questionable, and emergency guy Julian Edelman, a receiver, is on call. No worries. It’s still Bill Belichick and a strong defense. It’s still the Patriots, at home, with extra rest after playing last Thursday, against a team it has beaten 23 of past 25 meetings.

PANTHERS (1-2)

AT FALCONS (2-1)

Line: CAR by 3.

Cote’s pick: CAR 30-23.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Carolina saw its perfect season end in Atlanta last year, but returns far from perfect to the ATL for the first time since. Cam Newton got sacked eight times last week. His offense is really struggling. And Matt Ryan has pitched four consecutive 300s against the Cats’ defense. For me, a pretty even game. But I’m counting on Falcons’ wobbly defense being the right tonic for Newton’s woes.

RAIDERS (2-1)

AT RAVENS (3-0)

Line: BAL by  3 1/2.

Cote’s pick: BAL 23-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Baltimore angles for its first 4-0 start since 2006, but the Ravens are far from great. Their three wins have been by a total of 13 points against teams currently a combined 1-8. In fact, Oakland, which already has won twice on the road, may pose the Crows’ toughest challenge yet. Derek Carr torched BAL last year, but this defense is better and now gets Elvis Dumervil back.

BRONCOS (3-0)

AT BUCCANEERS (1-2)

Line: DEN by 3.

Cote’s pick: DEN 24-20.

TV: 4:05 p.m., CBS.

Tampa Bay’s defense has been one of NFL’s early season disappointments, and Jameis Winston is all-or-nothing erratic, already with six interceptions. That makes it tough to like the Bucs, even at home, against defending league champions who arrive unbeaten and packed for the trip one of the league’s best pass defenses.

RAMS (2-1)

AT CARDINALS (1-2)

Line: ARI by 8.

Cote’s pick: ARI 23-20.

TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox.

The Leaving St. Louis Bowl? Cardinals played in St. Lou from 1960-87 and Rams from 1995 through last season. Wonder which team Missourians hate less? Anyway, the intermingling of a pretty stout L.A. defense and a sputtering ’Zona offense makes this betting line feel fat. Especially for what figures as a low-scoring game. Quick aside: Top 5 fantasy dreamboat Todd Gurley (2.9 average) needs to start rewarding his owners’ patience.

SAINTS (0-3)

AT CHARGERS (1-2)

Line: SD by 4.

Cote’s pick: SD 34-31.

TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox.

These two struggling, erratic teams should make for one exciting game — at least for those who like passing and lots of it. Easy to forget Drew Brees played five years with San Diego. He has 709 passing yards and seven TDs in two career meetings vs. Bolts. Philip Rivers counters with 695 yards and five TDs in two career starts vs. N’Awlins. Make it a venue pick, but hedge with Saints-plus-points.

GIANTS (2-1)

AT VIKINGS (3-0)

Line: MIN by 5.

Cote’s pick: MIN 27-17.

TV: 8:30 p.m. Monday, ESPN (airing in South Florida).

NYG seeks its 700th franchise victory; only Chicago and Green Bay have done that. But Biggies will have to wait. It won’t come Monday night. With a formidable defense, Vikings will be hard for anybody to beat as long as Sam Bradford keeps surprising and eschewing turnovers. Vikes unbeaten despite losing QB Teddy Bridgewater and RB Adrian Peterson gives Mike Zimmer the early rail on coach of the year honors. This game also figures for an extra big home edge as Minnesota shows off its new stadium in primetime.

OFF THIS WEEK

▪ Eagles (3-0; next at Lions) — Birds are one of five remaining unbeaten teams, coming off a 34-3 rout of Pittsburgh, and with QB Carson Wentz the early rookie of the year frontrunner. I mean, Philadelphians haven’t been this happy since Ben Franklin invented the lightning rod.

▪ Packers (2-1; next vs. Giants) — Aaron Rodgers, after a so-so (for him) 2015, showing signs of getting back to his old self. No better news for the Cheesehead crowd. Wouldn’t be surprised if Pack vs. Eli next week was NFL’s highest over/under.

Related stories from Miami Herald

  Comments