My Week 3 picks went 11-4, a 73.3 percent win rate that ranked tied for sixth highest in that week. For the season, my picks are 36-11, or a 76.6 percent win rate that ranks tied for sixth highest among the 100+ analysts tracked by Pickwatch.com.
Here are my Week 4 picks. Each section details which team is predicted to win and provides a quick summary of why that selection was made. The picks also contain a confidence value for each selection, based on a 1-10 scale with “10” being the most confident and “1” being the least confident. Check out my podcast, covering all of the games in more detail here
The Pittsburgh-Tennessee and Minnesota-Houston selections will be delayed until later this week due to the COVID-19 situation currently impacting those clubs.
Now on to the picks!
Thursday, October 1
Denver at New York Jets
KC’s pick: New York
Confidence level: 2
This is a matchup of two dreadful teams, but the Jets are actually putting up solid numbers on the defensive side of the ball. Gang Green’s defense ranks tied for 17th in yards per play, tied for 15th in first downs allowed, and 12th in pass pressure rate. Combine those metrics with Denver’s slew of injuries, a cross country short week road trip, and starting a third-string quarterback and it leads to this pick landing in the Jets column.
Sunday, October 4
Arizona at Carolina
KC’s pick: Arizona
Confidence level: 6
These two teams are trending in opposite directions, as the Panthers played their best game of the season in defeating the Chargers last week, while the Cardinals had their worst game of the year in allowing the mediocre Lions to notch a road win. Having noted this, the Cardinals have nearly across the board matchup advantages and should put up a high point total against a Carolina defense that rates near the bottom of the league in pass pressure rate. Those elements put this contest into the Cardinals column with a fairly solid confidence level.
Indianapolis at Chicago
KC’s pick: Indianapolis
Confidence level: 7
The Colts offensive line might be the best in the league right now, as they are blocking at midseason form in the ground game and have the fourth lowest pass pressure rate allowed. Chicago’s defense has one of the worst pass pressure marks in the league and their rush defense has been run of the mill, so the Colts offensive line should be able to dominate this contest. Indianapolis also has an overpowering defense that leads the league in yards per play and points allowed. The Bears have been finding ways to win despite not playing well, but that streak is very likely to end in this contest, so Indianapolis is the selection.
Jacksonville at Cincinnati
KC’s pick: Cincinnati
Confidence level: 2
The Jacksonville offense seems to be taking the brunt of the blame for the dismal loss to the Dolphins in Week 3, yet the reality is the Jaguars pass defense is equally culpable for the team’s 1-2 mark. Jacksonville ranks tied for 30th in net yards allowed per pass attempt in part because opposing teams have racked up the third highest air yards per attempt against the Jaguars (per pro-football-reference.com). Cincinnati’s pass offense has the second highest intended air yards total this season and thus will target this weakness early and often. James Robinson should get some big plays against the Bengals abysmal rush defense, so this game will be close, but the Bengals pass game advantage makes them the pick here by a slight margin.
Cleveland at Dallas
KC’s pick: Dallas
Confidence level: 5
The Browns have one of the best rushing attacks in the league, as Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have led Cleveland to place tied for third in rush yards and fourth in rush yards per attempt. That provides a path to victory for the Browns, but Dallas leads the league in offensive yards, is sixth in offensive yards per play, and tied for second in rushing touchdowns. Since both of these defenses rank in the bottom ten of the league in points allowed, it means Dallas has more paths to victory and earns this pick with a solid confidence level.
New Orleans at Detroit
KC’s pick: New Orleans
Confidence level: 4
The Saints have scored 24+ points per game in each contest and posted 30+ in two games, but don’t let that trend obscure the fact that the New Orleans pass offense is in a bad way. The Saints have averaged only 4.8 air yards per attempt this year, a pace that is easily in last place and 1.2 yards behind the next lowest team in that category (per pro-football-reference.com). The Lions pass defense might afford some chances to fix that, but the Saints will want to lean on their ground game to take advantage of Detroit allowing an abysmal 5.7 yards per carry. That factor will likely be too much for the Silver and Blue to overcome, so give this one to the Saints by a reasonable margin.
Seattle at Miami
KC’s pick: Seattle
Confidence level: 2
This has trap game written all over it for the Seahawks. Per a Pro Football Talk/Pro Football Reference report, Seattle is the first team in NFL history to allow 1,200+ passing yards in the first three weeks of the season. Miami has racked up 59 points over the past two games and put up 311 passing yards against a strong Buffalo defense in Week 2. The Seahawks just got through with two highly emotional games against New England and Dallas and have the longest air miles total in Week 4. Even with all of those factors potentially leading to a trap, the pick here is going to be Seattle, but by a very small margin.
Los Angeles Chargers at Tampa Bay
KC’s pick: Tampa Bay
Confidence level: 5
Tampa Bay’s hit or miss passing game under Tom Brady has come under a lot of scrutiny, which is unfortunate because it masks how impactful the Buccaneers defense has been so far this year. Tampa Bay’s defense ranks tied for third in sacks, tied for second in interceptions, tied for fourth in touchdown pass percentage, and second in tackles for loss. The Chargers have a more than 2,000-mile road trip to face this defense and will do so either with a potentially rusty Tyrod Taylor or with risk taking rookie Justin Herbert. Either option isn’t a plus and it leads to Tampa Bay being the pick here.
Baltimore at Washington
KC’s pick: Baltimore
Confidence level: 10
There’s a classic Jim Croce song that warns about the dangers of pulling on Superman’s cape. That is the situation that Washington will unfortunately be in this week, as the powerhouse Ravens will be extraordinarily motivated to show the world that the Monday night debacle was an ugly bump in the road and not the true barometer of this team. Washington’s abysmal offense has the third lowest scoring drive rate in the league and will be no match for Baltimore’s dominant defense, while the Ravens offense should continue its 30+ point per game average. This is one of the most confident picks of the year, as it earns a rare “10” confidence level.
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New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams
KC’s pick: Los Angeles
Confidence level: 8
The Giants have by far the worst rushing attack in the league, as they rank last in rush attempts, rush yards, and rush yards per attempt. This is a major factor in New York scoring progressively fewer points each week, as they went from 16 in Week 1 to 13 in Week 2 to 9 in Week 3. The Rams don’t have an overpowering defense this year, but they are more than capable of holding the Giants in check in what is the third longest road trip of the week. Give this one to the Rams with a very strong confidence level.
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New England at Kansas City
KC’s pick: Kansas City
Confidence level: 4
The Patriots have now shown that, outside of exceptions like facing a bad Seattle secondary, they are going to be a power rushing team this season. Kansas City wants to lean on the ground game more as well as a way to keep from getting into shootout battles, but their Monday night contest against the Ravens shows that the Chiefs haven’t forgotten how to throw the deep pass. That factor will be key, as New England’s defense has the second highest touchdown pass percentage allowed this season. Bill Belichick’s game plan will keep it close, but the Chiefs still land the pick here by a reasonable margin.
Buffalo at Las Vegas
KC’s pick: Buffalo
Confidence level: 3
There is a temptation to go with the Raiders in an upset pick here. Buffalo’s high-powered offense is rightfully getting headlines, but the Bills defense ranks 27th in pass yards allowed, 20th in defensive expected points allowed, and 16th in points allowed. That is an after effect of the Bills going with the pass-heavy approach and it will eventually cost this team some games if they can’t find a better balance to protect their defense. The Raiders offense is powerful enough to challenge Buffalo and will make this game interesting, but Buffalo should win this game in a contest that could end up with 60+ scoreboard points.
Philadelphia at San Francisco
KC’s pick: San Francisco
Confidence level: 8
San Francisco showed how effective power football is last week when they dominated the New York Jets only a week after losing their starting quarterback and two of their best defensive players due to injury. Philadelphia’s myriad offensive line and receiver injuries are a major factor in Carson Wentz’s struggles this year and those issues are now compounded by the loss of Dallas Goedert to injury. Add in the second longest road trip of Week 4 and it equals a very confident selection for the 49ers.
Monday, October 5
Atlanta at Green Bay
KC’s pick: Green Bay
Confidence level: 9
The Falcons have arguably the worst defense in the NFL, as Atlanta ranks last in points allowed, tied for last in touchdown passes, and next to last in both overall yards and passing yards. The Falcons will have to try to correct these issues without two of their top cornerbacks this week and have to replace their kicker as well. Green Bay’s offensive line might be the best in the league, and they showcased their wide receiver depth last week. There are almost no factors that point towards a Falcons win in this contest, so the Packers earn one of the highest confidence point totals in Week 4.