After a strong 3-1 start in Week 1, my picks went 1-3 in Week 2, 1-2 in Week 3, and 1-3 in Week 4, bringing my record to 6-9 on the year. We have a good shot to rally this week, though, as the board is set up nicely for us to dominate Week 5.
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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I know some at PFF talk often about the value of betting early in the NFL. This game would be a perfect example of that. I checked this line at the end of Week 4, and the Browns were actually favored by a point and a half. Needless to say, I am upset I missed out on those free points.
We hear it day in and day out — this is a QB-driven league. The Chargers have a clear advantage at the QB position. Justin Herbert is one of the best young QBs in this league, which is evidenced by the fact that he ranks fourth in PFF passing grade (87.0) through four weeks. I’m as bullish as anyone on this kid, and I love his matchups on the outside against Cleveland. As long as the Chargers can remain balanced on offense, I think they can have their way with this defense.
The Chargers do have one of the worst run defenses in the league and are facing one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL this week. With Baker Mayfield‘s recent struggles the last couple of weeks combined with Jarvis Landry‘s absence, the Browns should lean on their elite rushing duo — Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, who both rank top 20 in terms of rushing grade among RBs.
Browns RB Rushing Production In 2021 (Rank among RBs min. 20 carries)
|Player||Rushing Grades||Total Rushing Yards||Yards After Contact Per Attempt||Missed Tackles Forced|
|Nick Chubb||75.5 (17th)||362 (2nd)||3.49 (2nd)||18 (1st)|
|Kareem Hunt||82.1 (4th)||234 (17th)||3.84 (5th)||13 (9th)|
I think Brandon Staley will force Mayfield to win the game with his arm, but I don't think he will be up to the task.
The Saints usually play well after coming off a disappointing loss. Therefore, they should bounce back and get a win against a Washington Football Team that was able to pull off a late-game comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons last week.
I expect to see plenty of Alvin Kamara again this Sunday. Coming off of his best game on the ground last week, where he notched a season-best 70.5 rushing grade, he should see 25+ touches again vs. Washington's defense.
Alvin Kamara's Rushing Production By Game in 2021
|Rushing Grade||Yards After Contact Per Attempt||Missed Tackles Forced||Yards Per Attempt|
|Week 1 vs. GB||64.3||2.80||0||4.2|
|Week 2 vs. CAR||50.0||1.25||1||0.6|
|Week 3 vs. NE||70.5||2.50||6||3.7|
|Week 4 vs. NYG||70.5||3.31||8||4.6|
Coming off of their worst performance of the season last week, I think this Saints defense will round back into form against Taylor Heinicke and the Washington offense.
Dog of the day: Chicago Bears +5 @ Las Vegas Raiders
I am excited about the Justin Fields era. If I had to bet on one QB from the 2021 NFL Draft class to have long-term success in the NFL, it would be Fields. Last week, I prayed to the Football gods that Matt Nagy fired himself from calling plays, and it was answered.
Justin Fields' Passing Production vs. Lions
|Overall Grade||Passing Yards||Adjusted Completion %||Big-Time Throws||Turnover-Worthy Plays|
I know last week’s game and performance came against the Detroit Lions, but I saw some things that I loved, so I fully expect Bill Lazor and Fields to build on the things that worked last week, as Fields recorded the first 75+ overall grade of his NFL career.
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.