Week 4 of the NFL season is upon us, and the overreactions are loud on the streets. Narratives are built early to sell but aren’t the most substantive.
We only have somewhat of an idea as to who is genuinely good or bad and team records are lying to us daily.
The small sample we have to work with, while flawed, can be dug through and sprinkled with context to become useful.
Team-adjusted stats like DVOA (via FootballOutsiders) have some value while the most important thing early on is to note is who is active and who is not to get an idea as to why a team may have struggled.
Also, it’s not a huge shock when rookies or new teammates aren’t clicking immediately. As the season goes on, we should expect more cohesion.
All NFL gameday odds are current as of Friday, October 1, at 3 p.m. ET.
NFL Week 4 Upset Predictions
New York Jets vs Tennessee Titans
The Titans are down both their starting alpha receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, who have both been ruled out for Week 4.
While Tennessee also possesses arguably the best running back in the world, Derrick Henry, they will be hard-pressed to create chunk yardage if New York is game-planning for the run. Henry can only grind out so many first downs before the team is forced into passing situations via penalty or poor execution.
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Tennessee’s biggest issue coming into this season was depth at the skill positions and they are likely to be exposed this week with no wide receivers or tight ends to target.
On the other side, New York has former Titans’ first-rounder Corey Davis, who may be seeking revenge after his 5th-year option was declined a year ago, along with the return of reliable slot man Jamison Crowder returning.
Upset Prediction: Jets 28, Titans 17
Titans vs Jets Upset Picks
Upset Pick: Jets Moneyline (+250) at BetMGM
The Jets’ defense is not elite, but they are capable and more-so against the run than pass which the Titans will rely on. Tannehill’s mobility may come into play more than usual to create distractions at the line-of-scrimmage but that will not be enough as they are running play-action at a much lower rate than year’s past with Arthur Smith.
Tennessee’s offense is vanilla and will be stymied until at least one of their star receivers returns.
Upset Pick: Over 44.5 (-110) at BetRivers
The assumption may be that with New York’s offense and Tennessee without both receivers, this matchup will go under, but the Jets do have some receiving talent, and Zach Wilson should fare better against a Titans’ defense that ranks 28th in defensive DVOA (22nd vs Pass).
Tennessee will find the end zone a few times by grinding out Derrick Henry and maybe one big play which should be enough to hold their end of the Over bargain.
Detroit Lions vs Chicago Bears
Neither of these teams is good and the only reason Chicago is favored has to be their presence at home.
Yes, Justin Fields should be significantly better than last week against the Browns’ recently improved defense, but can he and the offense click in his 2nd start after not practicing together all offseason? Doubtful.
The Bears also are possibly going to play without star EDGE Khalil Mack which would absolutely decimate their pass rush vs Detroit’s stellar OL. Jared Goff is not a major threat but with time to throw, he can get the job done.
The Lions have two high-end skill players on offense in T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift, which has not translated to wins just yet, but in this matchup there’s a reason for hope.
Upset Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 20
Lions vs Bears Upset Picks
Upset Pick: Over 42 (-110) at BetMGM
The Lions’ offense has not been as stagnant as expected to start this season and as stated above, Fields should be better facing a bottom-2 defense rather than top-10.
The Over is the bet to roll with, especially if Khalil Mack is out and Detroit can roll with little pressure through ground and air.
Upset Pick: Lions Moneyline (+125) at BetMGM
Not a massive upset but the Lions probably take it home after a close loss to Baltimore last week. Chicago will likely run inefficient plays on the ground to keep the ball out of Justin Fields’ hands (assuming he starts) which should result in a more predictable offense that Detroit can occasionally stop.
They were successful in stopping Baltimore’s RBs last week and just released ILB Jamie Collins, who was holding the team back.
Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams
The Cardinals and Rams are two NFC powerhouses both located in the West getting sent into a cage match that should be explosive. Neither team has lost yet, and the Rams are rightfully favored given their better track record of dominance.
There are still questions as to whether a “home-field advantage" is present in the newly built SoFi Stadium but given its indoor setting, we can be guaranteed that weather isn’t getting in the way of this grudge match.
Some good news for Arizona is that star WR DeAndre Hopkins is likely healed from his aching rib injury.
This WR room as a whole is much more daunting than in the past with PFF’s #2 WR Christian Kirk breaking out and rookie second-round pick Rondale Moore flashing with the ball in his hands.
Also, former alpha A.J. Green showed signs of life in Week 3 and cannot just be left uncovered. The Rams will be tasked with stopping all 4 of these receivers along with keeping an eye on the emerging Kyler Murray and talented scat-back Chase Edmonds.
LA’s defense is still strong but after losing a chunk of pieces from last year while not adding, this may not be the matchup they want to see.
Upset Prediction: Cardinals 30, Rams 24
Cardinals vs Rams Upset Picks
Upset Pick: Under 54.5 (-110) at BetMGM
There will be plenty of scoring in this game but the Rams and Cardinals both rank as above-average defenses and should be able to make stops every so often. Arizona’s much weaker vs the rush than pass and LA does not have the manpower on the ground to take advantage of that, especially if Darrell Henderson remains limited with his rib injury.
After beating up on Tampa’s notoriously strong defense last week sans Jason Pierre-Paul along with the Colts/Bears earlier, the idea may be had that this LA passing offense is unstoppable, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Arizona shut them down occasionally with a more predictable O. Arizona will get theirs but it’s doubtful the Rams keep up.
Upset Pick: Cardinals MoneyLine (+165) at BetMGM
It is hard to envision the Cardinals losing this game. Their secondary might be weak but if strictly playing the pass and not worrying about the busted Sony Michel taking snaps, they can hold off the Rams from remaining undefeated.
LA’s only hope would be for Henderson to be fully recovered and DeSean Jackson to take on a larger role to have as much explosive potential as possible from all facets.
They did get Tyler Higbee more involved last week on creative screens but as each week passes, opposing teams get a better read on the new Matthew Stafford/Sean McVay offense.