After a strong 3-1 start in Week 1, my picks went 1-3 in Week 2 and 1-2 in Week 3, bringing my record to 5-6 on the year. However, a number of get-right spots exist in a tantalizing Week 4 slate headlined by Tom Brady's return to Foxboro.
Every week, I look at who has the edge in these five categories: quarterback, defense, offensive talent, play in the trenches and coaching.
Let’s get to my favorite bets.
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Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott looks to be in complete control of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s offense and enters this Week 4 clash as the 13th highest-graded passer in the league.
The best thing about this Cowboys offense right now is its balance. There are weapons everywhere, and Dak is keeping them all involved. Through four weeks, eight different Cowboys players have seen at least seven targets in the passing game, and six of those players have earned PFF receiving grades north of 65.0.
|Name||Rec. snaps||Targets||Rec.||Rec. grade|
I love what the Panthers' defense has been able to do so far this season, but starting this week, they will be missing one of their best defensive players in rookie Jaycee Horn. The first-year corner's skill set and versatility were a perfect fit in defensive coordinator Phil Snow’s defense, and it's a big reason why Horn earned top-five marks in both passer rating allowed (42.4) and snaps played per reception allowed (43.5) through the season's first three weeks.
The Cowboys' defense has also been playing well this season: Their -0.072 expected points added (EPA) allowed per pass play ranks seventh among defenses so far, while their 71.5 team coverage grade comes in at sixth.
I don’t have much faith in Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold facing this defense without workhorse running back Christian McCaffrey behind him. And I expect this Dallas defense to have a borderline dominant performance this Sunday.
One of the best home-field advantages in the NFL will undoubtedly show up this Sunday, as this will be the first home game with fans in the Superdome since 2019. And yes, I know the analytics crowd doesn’t give much credit to home-field advantage, but I’ll tell you from first-hand experience that it is real.
This Saints defense has put together some very impressive performances this season, racking up top-10 marks in team coverage grade, passer rating allowed and total forced incompletions.
|PFF stat||Rank among 32 defenses|
|PFF coverage grade||70.4||7th|
|EPA allowed per pass play||-0.157||6th|
|Passer rating allowed||75.2||3rd|
|Yards allowed per pass play||5.7||6th|
|Total forced incompletions||11||T-3rd|
There is no reason why New Orleans doesn't keep it going against a shorthanded Giants offense and a quarterback in Daniel Jones who has almost as many turnover-worthy plays (3) as big-time throws (4) so far.
Justin Fields‘ first game as a starter went so badly last week that I have to write it off as an anomaly.
I think the offense will do a better job moving the ball in Fields' second start, but it won’t be good enough to get the win. I have absolutely no faith in head coach Matt Nagy after his game plan and coaching last Sunday.
Bears' Week 3 offensive performance: Stats and rank among Chicago's 243 regular-season games since 2006
|Team offense grade||52.3||232nd|
|Team passing grade||49.3||209th|
|Team rushing grade||58.6||T-137th|
|EPA per play||-0.487||235th|
These Lions are playing hard for head coach Dan Campbell and have gotten closer to getting their first win. If it wasn’t for a 66-yard field goal as time expired against the Baltimore Ravens last week, they come into this game 1-2 and not 0-3.
Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn recently made it clear that they will get D'Andre Swift even more involved in the offense this week. Swift has averaged 17 touches a game coming into this Week 4 matchup, but I would expect him to touch the ball at least 20 times in this contest.
I was 1-1 in my player props last week, so I will give you another before Week 4 officially kicks off — D'Andre Swift OVER 36.5 receiving yards.
Darius Butler is a former NFL free safety. He was drafted by the New England Patriots in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He has also played for the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts.