Mike Carlson selects his bets for week four and explains why he's backing Denver, even after they let him down last week, and selecting two outside bets, including one in the all-Ohio contest...
"The Broncos can take advantage of the Raiders' defense and, more importantly, the Broncos are at home, where the home field advantage, even early in the season, is probably worth more than three points itself."
Two big things to consider this week. One is recency bias, especially looking at quarterbacks who had unexpectedly good games.
Rookie DeShaun Watson overcame Houston's horrible O line to make plays against the Pats, and only a couple of rookie mistakes hurt him. The Jets' Josh McCown delivered one of the really fine games he produces every couple of years, but then usually reverts to journeyman status. The same was true of the Niners' Brian Hoyer. And moreso than either of those two, the Vikes' Case Keenum, who had some decent games for Jeff Fisher's Rams back when, but is still Case Keenum. Can Blake Bortles look good mixing things up again? Can Jacoby Brissett, essentially a rookie, carry the Colts in the cauldron that is Seattle? Is Carson Palmer back to being the old Carson Palmer?
You have to ask yourself if you expect those guys to carry their teams for a second week in a row, and the best way to do that is to compare the defenses they are going up against to the ones they played last week, which may have had something to do with their success.
The other big one, as with every week, is injury. Last night the Packers overcame the loss of their starting two tackles, and their top three backups, and still won. They also lost two of their three active running backs, including Ty Montgomery, during the game, and receiver Davante Adams to a vicious spear, helmet to helmet by Danny Trevathan.
But where some injury situations are straightforward: the Cards don't have David Johnson and haven't yet figured out ho the replace him, others are harder to figure. Is Joe Flacco's back hurt more than the Ravens are letting on? Is Cam Newton, listed as questionable, going to play against the Pats (I'd think so) and will he play as effectively as he usually does (I think not). Despite Mike Zimmer's poker face, we know Case Keenum starts and Sam Bradford isn't back for the Vikes, and despite Chuck Pagano's crazy zen status reports on Andrew Luck, we know Brissett will indeed play against the Seahawks. No good can come of that.
Home advantage gives Broncos edge over Raiders
Yes, I am going back to the well for a second week in a row, despite the Broncos making me look foolish last week. The difference this week is Washington exposed the Raiders' offense and defense, and the Broncos are positioned to be able to take advantage of that, and more importantly, the Broncos are at home, where the home field advantage, even early in the season is probably worth more than three points itself.
Chiefs will be sterner test for Skins
I think we may overrate the Skins' performance at home last week in shutting down Oakland, and I doubt they will be able to do the same to the Chiefs. I'd like this one better if it were anything below seven, so you might want to watch and see if the line drops even half a point.
Browns can run Bengals close
Especially if it goes above three. Again, recency bias says the Bengals have turned things around, and they get linebacker Vontaze Burfict back from suspension which will energise their defense, so although I think the Bengals will pull off a road win, it might be close enough to make the Browns attractive.
Otherwise, I like the Giants (+3 AT 20/21) at Tampa. I think their defense will be able to shut down the Bucs, and with Gerald McCoy not at full speed, they might be able to buy Eli Manning enough time to make plays to Odell Beckham, Sterling Shpeherd or Evan Engram.