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Columns - Magazine

The Gambling Solution: Week 4

by Jeff Baldwin
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Both Jeremy and Jeff started with a 1,000 unit bankroll as they go head to head all season long.


Both Jeff and Jeremy had down weeks as each went 1-3.  Jeff lost with the Jets, Chargers and under Cowboys/Bears.  His lone win was with the Raiders.  Jeff finished the week down 80 units.  Jeremy fell short with the Cardinals, Buccaneers and under Bengals/Broncos.  The Cowboys did come through for him on Sunday night.  Jeremy finished the week down 60 units.  Jeff currently holds a 120 unit lead on Jeremy in the season-long contest.  Can Jeff extend his lead?  Let's get to the picks for Week 4.






Jeff Baldwin

Record: 6-5-1

Units: 1,060


Jeremy Wardwell

Record: 4-7-1

Units: 940


Panthers (-3) at Falcons - 40 units
The Panthers come off a very disappointing loss at home to the Vikings as this offense struggled to get anything going against an excellent Minnesota defense.  The Panthers managed only 10 points.  The Falcons destroyed the Saints on Monday night 45-32 as the Saints couldn't stop the Falcons’ offense.  The Panthers now sit at 1-2 and travel to Atlanta in what should be considered a must-win game.  The Panthers can ill afford to drop to 1-3.  I think this matchup is set up perfectly for the Panthers.  This is a great opportunity to get their offense back on track as they face a Falcons’ defense that struggles defensively in all facets.  This Falcons defense is giving up a whopping 30 points/game which ranks them toward the bottom of the league.  Look for QB Cam Newton to bounce back here in a big way as he'll have this offense clicking against a very vulnerable Falcons’ defensive unit.  WR Kelvin Benjamin didn't have a single reception versus the Vikings.  This will change very quickly on Sunday.  Expect Newton to make it a point to target Benjamin early and often.  Along with Benjamin, TE Greg Olsen will also be called upon to make big plays down the field.  The Panthers will also have success running the football with the tandem of RB Cameron Artis-Payne and RB Fozzy Whittaker.  The Falcons’ first three games have been against very soft defenses in the Buccaneers, Raiders and Saints.  The Falcons are going to find things a lot more difficult against this Panthers’ defense.  QB Matt Ryan has been putting up great numbers so far given the opponents he has faced, but that is all about to change.  The Panthers have covered three out of the last four games in this series.  The Falcons are 0-6 against the spread off a division win in their last six.  The Panthers will treat this as a must-win game and deliver. 
Pick: Carolina Panthers -3

Browns (+7.5) at Redskins - 30 units
The Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins face off at FedEx field. Last week, the Browns gave the Dolphins all they could handle, pushing the game to overtime before ultimately falling in overtime 30-24. Rookie QB Cody Kessler made his first career start in place of Josh McCown who was out with a collarbone injury and will miss this one as well. Kessler completed 21 of 33 passes for 244 yards and more importantly no picks. He was aided by a huge game from WR Terrelle Pryor who turned in easily the best game of his career hauling in eight receptions for 144 yards and rushing for a touchdown. With Corey Coleman likely to miss this game and Josh Gordon out, look for Pryor to play a key role in this week's game plan as well. In addition to deploying Pryor in different packages, Cleveland will try to establish the run early. The Redskins are giving up 123 rushing yards per game and nearly five yards per carry. Browns RB Isaiah Crowell has looked solid all year. He was limited in practice with an apparent knee injury this week but is expected to play and along with Duke Johnson will have success moving the ball on the ground and taking pressure off Kessler.  Washington grabbed their first win of the year with a 29-27 victory over the Giants. Unfortunately, the victory came at a cost as they lost a couple of key players for the season and have a couple more questionable for this game. The team will be without C Kory Lichtensteiger who is out with a calf injury and S DeAngelo Hall who tore his ACL. The loss of Lichtensteiger will only make matters worse for the Redskins’ running game which has been awful this year, averaging just 75 YPG. WR DeSean Jackson has been battling an ankle injury and missed practice Wednesday but is expected to play. He and TE Jordan Reed will be key targets for Kirk Cousins. The line for this one is high at 7.5. Cleveland has gotten better each game and has shown an ability to score which will keep them in the game even if their defense struggles. I like them getting the 7.5 against an inconsistent Redskins team.
Pick: Cleveland Browns +7.5

Cowboys (-3) at 49ers - 40 units
The Cowboys head out west after taking care of business on Sunday night as they defeated the Bears 31-17.  The 49ers were defeated by the Seahawks 37-18 as Seattle jumped out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter and never looked back.  Rookie QB Dak Prescott had an efficient game versus the Bears as he completed 19 passes out of 24 attempts for 248 yards and a touchdown.  The Cowboys also did damage on the ground as rookie RB Ezekiel Elliot carried the ball thirty times for 140 yards.  During the game, WR Dez Bryant injured his knee which has since been diagnosed as a hairline fracture.  Bryant isn't expected to play against the 49ers.  If he does suit up, he clearly won't be anywhere near 100%.  Look for the Cowboys to play it safe and let Bryant rest is injured knee.  The 49ers have lost back to back road games after opening the season with a home shutout victory against the Rams.  I can see a letdown here from the Cowboys.  Without their big play receiver, the 49ers’ defense won't have to account for any major threat in the passing game.  The 49ers will then focus on finding a way to slow down the Cowboys’ rushing attack.  As for the 49ers offensively, they can move the ball against this Cowboys’ defense.  They'll turn to RB Carlos Hyde to help move the chains on the ground.  The ability of Hyde to be productive on the ground will give QB Blaine Gabbert some opportunity in the passing game.  With the 49ers back home, I expect them to put together a better performance than what we have seen for the past two weeks.  The Cowboys are giving a field goal here and it will most likely come down even more before kickoff.  I think the 49ers play well here as I expect them to get the outright win as they'll even their record at 2-2.
Pick: San Francisco 49ers +3
Saints (+4) at Chargers - 40 units

The New Orleans Saints travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Both teams are coming off losses last week with the Saints dropping the Monday night game to Atlanta 45-32 and the Chargers losing at Indianapolis 26-22. San Diego will look to take advantage of New Orleans' porous defense. The Saints are giving up 26 PPG and were absolutely shredded by the Falcons’ running game. This bodes well for Melvin Gordon who has four rushing touchdowns on the year and should be in line for a big game here. Despite losing his top receiver in the first game of the season, Philip Rivers has posted solid numbers all year and is coming off a 326-yard performance. He has developed a nice rapport with receivers Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams. The Chargers will likely be without TE Antonio Gates who is dealing with a hamstring injury and hasn't practiced all week. Even with the absence of Gates and without RB Danny Woodhead, I still expect the Chargers to be able to move the ball well. Drew Brees returns to San Diego as the league's leading passer and he will look to pad his stats in this one. The Chargers’ secondary is banged up with CB Brandon Flowers questionable with a concussion and safety Jahleel Addae out with a broken collarbone. The Saints are expecting WR Willie Snead back after he missed last week with a toe injury. Snead is averaging 113 receiving yards/game and has two touchdowns on the year. His return gives Brees another weapon in his arsenal in an already high-powered passing attack. I'm expecting the Saints to have success running the ball as well. Mark Ingram is averaging 4.6 YDS/carry and is coming off his best game of the year. San Diego struggles against the run, allowing 4.4 YDS/carry to opposing backs. This game promises to be a high-scoring game. Brees and Rivers will both put up big numbers but the Saints’ defense will let them down in the end. Bad defense combined with having to play on a short week on the road is not a winning combination. I like the Chargers to cover at home. Take San Diego giving 4.  
Pick: San Diego Chargers -4

Raiders at Ravens (-3) - 20 units
The Raiders get back on the road after coming away with a 17-10 road win in Tennessee as they came up with a big stop at the end to preserve the victory.  The Ravens needed a late field goal from Justin Tucker to come away with a road win against the Jaguars 19-17.  The Ravens are now 3-0 in this young season as they'll look to make it four straight wins as they host the Raiders this weekend.  The Raiders make another long trip east as this will be a tough spot for them.  I think this game as potential letdown written all over it.  The Raiders got the first win in a tough back to back road stretch so I could see them being satisfied with the split here.  This Baltimore defense has played well so far as they are only giving up 254 yards/game while allowing only 14.7 points/game.  This Raiders’ offense will clearly give this Ravens’ defense its biggest test to date.  The Ravens will need to get pressure on QB Derek Carr in order to disrupt a very good Oakland passing attack.  The Ravens will also need to keep the Raiders’ rushing attack in check as this is a unit that averages 148 yards/game on the ground led by RBs Latavius Murray, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington.  The Ravens did receive good news this week on the defensive side of the ball as they'll get LB Elvis Dumervil back after he suffered a setback late in training camp on his surgically repaired foot.  Dumervil will be making his season debut versus the Raiders this weekend.  Offensively, QB Joe Flacco has a nice matchup here as he faces a Raiders’ secondary giving up 340 yards passing/game which ranks them last in the league.  Expect the Ravens to go pass-heavy in this matchup as they have struggled running the football in the first three weeks of the season.  Anything the Ravens get in the run game is a bonus at this point.  In what will be a close game throughout, look for the Ravens to come up with a big play late to put this game away as they'll win by a touchdown.  The Raiders are 5-16 against the spread in road games versus AFC North opponents.
Pick: Baltimore Ravens -3

Lions (-3) at Bears - 30 units
After dropping their last two games, the Detroit Lions head to Chicago to take on the Bears in an NFC North matchup. Chicago is in a free fall and are battling injuries on both sides of the ball. The latest injury to RB Jeremy Langford opens the door for rookie Jordan Howard to be the primary back. Howard looked impressive last week when he took over for Langford, gaining 92 total yards with an impressive 5 yards/carry. He will have to be effective in this one for the Bears to have a chance. Detroit has been generous to opposing running backs as they have given up more than 5 yards/carry but they are one of only two teams who have yet to allow a rushing touchdown. It appears that Brian Hoyer will get the start again this week as Jay Cutler has yet to practice and is expected to miss his second straight game with a thumb injury. Hoyer looked shaky at times last week but ended up with over 300 yards and a couple touchdowns in 49 attempts. He will likely have a similar workload again this week as he will need to keep up with a Lions’ offense averaging 27 PPG. Lions QB Matthew Stafford has enjoyed a strong start to his season, picking up where he left off in the second half of last year. WR Marvin Jones has been outstanding and is coming off a game in which he had more than 200 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Jones was limited in practice on Thursday dealing with a hamstring injury but is expected to play. Look for Jones and Golden Tate to have plenty of time to get open. The Bears have virtually no pass rush and rank near the bottom of the league in sacks. The Bears come into this one as a three point underdog. Detroit is 5-2 against the spread in their last seven matchups with Chicago. I expect the Lions’ offense to put up big numbers in this one and while their defense is mediocre at best, I don't see the Bears having enough on offense to keep up. Take Detroit giving 3.
Pick: Detroit Lions -3

Jaguars vs. Colts (Total: 49.5 points) - 20 units
Week 4 marks the start of the games being played in London as the Colts square off against the Jaguars.  The Colts got their first win of the season as they needed a late touchdown pass from QB Andrew Luck to WR T.Y. Hilton.  The Jaguars are still looking for their first victory of the season.  With high expectations entering the season, this team has clearly been a disappointment.  The one area we didn't see them struggling in was on offense.  QB Blake Bortles has taken a step back this year after coming off a great season a year ago.  The Jaguars’ offense needs to regain their confidence back which sets up perfectly with the Colts on the schedule.  Bortles and the Jaguars’ offense should be able to move the ball with more effectiveness this week as WR Allen Robinson should have his way with the Colts’ secondary.  If the Jaguars have any hope of getting their first win of the season, they'll need to put points on the board in order to stay with QB Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense.  If Luck has time to throw the football, eventually he will pick the opposing defense apart.  I don't see the Jaguars’ defense getting enough pressure on him to slow down the Colts’ passing game.  WR T.Y. Hilton will be heavily targeted in this game as he is coming off an impressive eight catch, 174 yard receiving performance with a touchdown against the Chargers.  Expect this game to have plenty of big plays in the passing game as points will be at a premium.  Throw in a defensive or special teams touchdown and this game will soar over the posted total.
Pick: Over 49.5
Broncos at Buccaneers (Total: 44 points) - 20 units
The Denver Broncos take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a rare meeting between these two franchises. Denver is coming off a 29-17 victory over the Bengals while Tampa Bay fell to 1-2 with their 37-32 loss to the Rams. Denver is averaging 28 PPG behind QB Trevor Siemian who appears to be gaining confidence each week. In last week's win, he eclipsed the 300-yard mark while throwing four touchdown passes. I don't see him throwing four touchdowns this week but I expect he will be successful against the Bucs’ defense who are giving up 370 yards and more than 33 PPG. Offensively, Tampa Bay has been on a roller coaster, sandwiching 30+ point games around a seven point clunker against the Cardinals. Jameis Winston is tied for the league lead in touchdown passes with eight but also ranks second in interceptions with six. He will add to that turnover total this week against the Broncos’ aggressive defense. The Bucs will again be without RB Doug Martin who will be replaced by Charles Sims. The third-year back was effective catching passes out of the backfield last week against the Rams and should assume the same role this week as a safety valve for Winston. Denver is giving up 19 PPG. They will be without LB DeMarcus Ware who is recovering from arm surgery. The total for this game is posted at 44. This won't be a shootout by any stretch but I expect it to go over 44. The Bucs’ secondary is awful, which will allow for plenty of chances downfield for Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Offensively, Tampa Bay will get a couple touchdown passes from Winston but will struggle to move the ball consistently. Look for Denver to surpass the 30 point barrier in this one.
Pick: Over 44

Editor's note: Both Jeremy and Jeff started with 1,000 units as they go head to head all season long.

You can follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffBaldwin4 and Jeremy @jdwardwell5.

Jeff Baldwin
Jeff Baldwin has written Rotoworld's 'Gambling Solution' on Season Pass since 2011. He can be found on Twitter @JeffBaldwin4.