NFL Week 4 Scoring Situations and Division Duals to Watch
Week 3 saw NFL scoring increase to 50 points per game (49.9), which was up significantly from 40 PPG in Week 2 and 40 PPG in Week 1. Sports books took a hit from 'over' the total bettors, as the high-side produced 11 over the total winners last week. How will that play out in Week 4 in which no game has a posted total of 50 points or more? A week-high seven division games are on the 'to watch' list, including the headliner Oakland at Denver, with the Raiders off back-to-back road games.
Both the Oakland Raiders and New York Giants suffered road losses last week, and now they continue on the road in Week 4. The Raiders were flat and shut down at Washington with just 7 first downs and 128 yards total offense in a 27-10 defeat. The silver and black hit the road again for an AFC West divisional showdown with the Denver Broncos. The Giants travel to Tampa Bay off their division loss at Philadelphia 27-24 in which the G-men allowed 193 rushing yards. Both the Raiders and Giants are 3-point underdogs this week, and both games are being played on grass.
While that may seem fairly insignificant, we dug up some additional surface, stats and scoring situations of note.
Playing in competitively lined games from +3 to -3 obviously suggests this is a 'toss up' and an expected close contest. The playing surface can often level the playing field, as high-scoring teams like the Saints and Falcons with QB's Brees and Ryan very often explode in scoring while playing on their home artificial turf where their speed is more pronounced, and then not as efficient or productive on the road when going outdoors and to grass.
The second-straight road game off a loss shows these away teams bring a strong effort, and it's more often a game with less scoring than expected. But it's also one in which these road teams have excelled against the spread.
These competitively-priced second of back-to-back road games on grass have seen the road teams cover better than 71% ATS with a sample size of more than 100 games. Teams off a bye week are excluded. If you like to play 6-point teasers, these road 'Dogs cover the teaser line at better than an 82% rate.
The weather in Denver looks fine for Sunday's division showdown with mostly sunny skies and mid-70's temperatures. Both the Broncos and Raiders are 2-1 looking up in the standings at the Kansas City Chiefs (3-0). Scoring stats are nearly identical through 3 games with Denver scoring 82 points and allowing 64, while Oakland has scored 81 and allowed 63. The problem for 'under the total' bettors is that the Raiders will be throwing the ball often Sunday, as Denver's dominant defense is even stronger at home and shut down both the Chargers running game (64 yards/22 carries) and the vaunted Cowboys rush attack (40/14) in two home games this season before slowing the Bills rush attack (75/33) in last week's road loss. The issue for supporting the side of Oakland is that the Broncos project to hold at least a 30-yard rushing edge in this contest, which historically results in nearly a 75% chance to cover the point spread.
The Broncos and Raiders showdown figures to have the most bets and biggest handle of the weekend at the sports books.
Meanwhile, the first-place Los Angeles Rams are surprising many fans and pundits with their 2-1 start, and LA is leading the league in scoring offense through 3 games averaging more than 35 points per game. The Rams are also a league-best in offensive yards-per-point (10.6), points-per-play and No. 6 in total offense (378/game). But at 6.6 yards-per-play, the Rams rank No. 2 in the league in offense behind the Chiefs. Quarterback Jared Goff has clearly shown significant improvement in his second season while ranking No. 3 in QB rating (113) and No. 1 in yards-per-pass attempt (10.1). The sample is small with just three games, and the Rams have played both the lowly Colts and 49ers. But what about that 6.7 yards-per-play performance for the Rams offense against Washington, who just completely shut down QB Carr and the Raiders offense last week?
Why are these stats significant?
Well, teams playing off a Thursday night game (Rams at 49ers), have seen their next game go over the total at nearly a 57% rate. That's a simple and significant situation and proven profile to consider as you break down the match-ups themselves. And know that this total situation has a significant sample size of more than 400 games. However, one must also consider that scoring has increased in most recent seasons, and totals have been posted higher. Still, the Rams offense is producing, its defense is not so much yet as they learn the schemes under new, noted coordinator Wade Phillips. The Rams defense has allowed 25 points-per-game and 343 yards-per-game to rank in the bottom third of the league early this season. But again, facing the Colts and 49ers offense must be considered when evaluating the stats.
I'll still be looking over the total in the Cowboys and Rams game at Dallas in Week 4 with both teams also featuring strong special teams and the Rams in a much better situational spot as 'Dog off a Thursday night game and extra rest and prep while the Cowboys return home off a Monday night win at Arizona. Fewer fans and bettors will take interest in the Cardinals and 49ers division game at Arizona, but note too that San Francisco surged on offense in Week 3 and showed efficiency with more than 421 yards offense vs. the Rams after a pair of dreadful performances the opening two weeks.
FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay