Week 4 of the NFL season features the two Los Angeles teams as the biggest favorites of the week, especially since the Chargers draw the Dolphins. It also has several prominent games between surprise teams and title contenders, including the Lions hosting the Chiefs and the Bills against the Patriots.
As far as making Week 4 picks for your NFL pick’em contest, it’s also a good week to catch the public likely overreacting to a single recent result, and there are some examples we highlight below.
For more background on how to pick for value and maximize your edge in pick’em pools, see our two-part series on NFL office pool strategy. Otherwise, read on to find out about the NFL Week 4 picks that need to be on your radar screen.
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How Last Week’s Value Picks Did
Last week, we highlighted three pairs of matchups and a bonus toss-up game. The three teams we highlighted as “better values” (Vikings, Chargers, Panthers) went 2-1. Based on national public picking trends, the average pick’em player only netted 1.6 wins from those three games, giving our recommendations a nice boost over most pool opponents.
We also highlighted the Colts as a great value play vs. Atlanta and the Indianapolis win was one that only 27% of pick’em players nationwide picked. Another big win.
Good & Bad Week 4 Value Picks In NFL Office Pools
Keep in mind that we’re not saying you should pick against all the “worse value” teams we identify in each pair below, especially if they are favored to win. In season-long pick’em pools especially, you need to be careful not to get too risky with your picks.
But if you find yourself wanting to pick the “better value” team to get upset, then pump your mental brakes and reconsider. In comparison, picking the “worse value” team to lose would be a much better strategy. The risk is similar, but the reward will be greater if you get it right.
And if you’re only gunning for weekly prizes and could care less about an end of season prize in your pick’em contest, then picking one or more of the “worse value” teams to get upset might make a lot of sense.
Note: Win odds and estimated national pick popularity data below may change between publication time and kickoff time. If you want to see the latest numbers, our product updates multiple times per day.
Better Value: Baltimore Ravens (vs. Cleveland)
Worse Value: Seattle Seahawks (at Arizona)
Baltimore and Seattle are both being picked at roughly the same rate in Week 4, with 91% of the public selecting the Ravens and 90% going with the Seahawks.
But in comparison, Baltimore has significantly better win odds. Baltimore is a 7-point favorite at home against the Browns, with 78% win odds according to our models. Seattle, meanwhile, is only a 5-point favorite with 65% win odds.
Baltimore is coming off their first loss, but they were still impressive in defeat against Kansas City, playing aggressively and keeping it close on the road in a game where both teams combined for almost 1,000 yards. Seattle, meanwhile, has played to the level of its competition so far and been involved in close games all season, beating the Bengals by one point, beating the Steelers in the game they lost Roethlisberger and then losing to the Saints without Drew Brees.
If you want to take a long-shot gamble on a big upset, don’t make it Cleveland this week, as there are much better contrarian picks on the board.
Better Value: Denver Broncos (vs. Jacksonville)
Worse Value: Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Cincinnati)
Denver and Pittsburgh are both 0-3 but come into Week 4 as moderate favorites at home (Pittsburgh by 4.5 points, Denver by 3.5 points). Implied win odds from the betting markets give Pittsburgh a 65% chance of winning and Denver a 61% chance, while our models are more pessimistic about the Steelers, putting them closer to Denver at 61% odds.
But the big difference here is how popular each pick is. The Steelers are being picked by 80% of the public while the Broncos are only being picked to win 55% of the time. It’s easy to see why the public would be down on Denver. The Jaguars beat the Titans in primetime last Thursday, and Gardner Minshew Mania is sweeping the nation.
It’s worth noting that Denver has not forced a turnover or recorded a sack yet this year. So if you want to theorize why the Broncos could break their losing streak, they have outgained their opponents in yards this year, but their -4 turnover differential has hurt them. Turnover luck can be fickle, though, and if the Broncos are just average in that category going forward they could suddenly look like a better team.
Speaking of turnover luck, let’s talk about Pittsburgh. The Steelers are 30th in total yards on offense (ahead of only the Jets and Dolphins) and are 29th in yards allowed on defense. They now have a backup quarterback playing who was not particularly impressive in his first start, despite only losing by four points at San Francisco. Pittsburgh has now been out-gained by a remarkably bad 518 yards over the first three games of the year, and that could be even worse if it weren’t for a +3 turnover margin (tied for 5th best). In comparison, Cincinnati is at -4 in turnovers (tied for 3rd worst through three games).
In short, the public may be underestimating how poorly the season has started for Pittsburgh and may be too confident about a rebound this week. In weekly prize pools where you get rewarded for risk-taking, fading that confidence may be a smart move. Meanwhile, sticking with Denver as a favorite, when they are being picked less than their actual odds of winning, makes sense.
Better Value: Chicago Bears (vs. Minnesota)
Worse Value: New York Giants (vs. Washington)
The Giants are coming off an exhilarating debut for rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, in which they erased an 18-point halftime deficit to beat Tampa Bay. Washington, meanwhile, is 0-3 and coming off a primetime Monday night performance where they turned the ball over five times against the Bears. So it’s pretty easy to see why the public is all over the Giants in this one, picking them 77% of the time.
The Bears, meanwhile, get the Vikings, who have looked impressive in two home wins this year, beating the Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders by a combined 36 points. The public seems to be convinced by those win margins and is picking the Vikings to win almost half the time (48%) against Chicago.
The point spreads in the two games are virtually even, with the Giants favored by 3 points and the Bears by 2.5 points. The Giants do have the slightly higher win odds (59% versus 55%, according to our models), but that is offset by the Giants’ pick percentage being 25% higher.
If we assume for a minute that Daniel Jones may not actually be the second coming of Pat Mahomes, it’s worth noting that New York’s pass defense is still questionable. The Giants have given up a scoring drive on 75% of first-half possessions by opponents so far this year, and Washington QB Case Keenum will not face the same level of defensive pressure he just experienced when playing against the Chicago Bears’ tough pass rush.
Chicago, meanwhile, has historically had Minnesota’s number at Soldier Field. Over the last 20 years, the Bears are 15-5 straight up and against the spread when playing Minnesota at home.
Which Of These NFL Week 4 Picks Should You Make?
Once you know the best value picks of NFL Week 4, you can increase your odds to win your pool by making educated gambles on them. There are a lot of potential decisions to make, though, and not all of them will make sense for your specific pool.
Factors like your pool’s size, scoring system, prize structure, and even your current position in the pool standings should all weigh into your Week 4 pick strategy, and it takes a lot of data and math to get to the right answer.
Our Football Pick’em Picks product recommends the best weekly picks for your pool based on all these strategy factors. You answer a few quick questions about your pool, and it gives you the weekly pick sheet that will maximize your edge.
Some proof of the real-world results: last year 80% of our subscribers reporting winning a prize in football pick’em pool. We invite you to give the product a try for free for NFL Week 4:
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