There are 7 division games in Week 4, as many as Weeks 2 & 3 had combined. Week 1 had 7 division games as well and it’s worth diving into the history of these divisional matchups to see if there is any valuable information we can take from them:
- Steelers at Ravens +3 (42.5)
- Ravens have won 4 of the last 5 games outright vs the Steelers in Baltimore
- Ravens win margins: 7, 3, 20, and 2 points
- Steelers only win in the last 5 seasons came by 3 points
- Totals in those 5 games were: 35, 37, 32, 42, and 43 points (an average of 37.25 ppg)
Early thoughts: The Steelers have been historically worse on the road than they are at home and that trend has continued this season – the Steelers are 1-1 SU on the road and 0-2 ATS, pulling out a 21-18 win/non-cover in Cleveland in Week 1 and then losing outright in overtime in Chicago last weekend. Despite the firepower the Steelers have on offense they haven’t put it to good use this season as Le’Veon Bell isn’t in rhythm yet and no receiver aside from Antonio Brown has been consistently good . The Steelers’ identity right now has been more about the defensive side of the ball as they’ve done an incredible job in pass defense, limiting teams to just 136.7 passing yards per game on just 4.6 passing yards per attempt. It looks like this matchup could be low-scoring once again with conservative game plans from both coaches.
The Ravens shutout the Bengals in Week 1 and blew out the Browns at home in Week 2 before a complete no-show in London last week vs the Jaguars (44-7 loss). With both the Ravens and Steelers losing last week you could make the argument that both teams were looking ahead to this game given how big of a rivalry it is each year. This is a rematch from the 2016 Christmas game where the Steelers stole a win from Baltimore and ended their playoff hopes. The Ravens suffered a big blow losing LG Marshal Yanda for the season so this game will largely depend on how well the Ravens’ interior line performs but aside from that 3 points at home in this low-scoring rivalry is a lot for the Ravens.
2. Bears at Packers -7 (45.5) – Thursday Night Football
- Packers have won 3 of the last 5 games vs the Bears in Lambeau
- Bears won most recently in 2015 on Thanksgiving night with Jay Cutler, 17-13
- Packers win margins in those three games: 16, 41, and 13 points
- Bears win margins in those two games: 4 and 7 points
- Totals in those five games: 36, 30, 69, 47, and 33 points
Early thoughts: These two teams played a Thursday Night game last season in a similar situation – the Packers were hurt on the offensive line and the Bears came into the game with a relatively strong defense but were limited on offense. The Packers won that game 26-10. The Bears are coming off an upset win at home over the Steelers but have had just one road game so far where they were blown out by the Bucs. Mike Glennon has only been able to muster 183.3 passing yards per game for the Bears so expect the Bears to keep feeding Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen vs a run defense giving up 4.5 yards per attempt. Chicago’s running game has generated an impressive 121.7 rush yards per game. The Packers have been awful in the run game themselves as they’ve rushed for just 69 yards per game with Ty Montgomery in the backfield. Green Bay still has both their starting RT and LT out with injuries so Rodgers will be forced again to get rid of the ball quickly. The Bears will try to compete in this game by running the ball and pressuring Rodgers from the outside. The Packers would love to get ahead early, force the Bears out of the gameplan, and make Mike Glennon play catch up.
3. Titans at Texans +1.5
- Texans have won the last 5 matchups vs the Titans at home (note: Mariota has played in just 2)
- Texans have won by 7 & 14 points vs Mariota (24,6, and 24 the other three games)
- Totals in those 5 games: 47 & 26 (vs Mariota) and 66, 54, and 52 the other 3 games
Early thoughts: Houston is coming off an impressive game in Foxborough where Deshaun Watson threw for 301 yards and 2 TDs in a 3 point loss. The Texans should feel very confident coming into this game after coming that close to New England and pulling out a tough road win in primetime vs the Bengals the week prior. The Texans allowed Leonard Fournette to run all over them in Week 1 so stopping Henry and Murray won’t be easy. The Titans looked really sharp on offense last week vs Seattle but their passing defense gave up a chunk of yards to Russell Wilson last week so the Titans will have to tighten up vs Watson. The Titans rank 26th in the NFL in pass defense right now as they’ve given up 275 yards per game. Deshaun Watson looks like he could be this year’s Dak Prescott and getting 1.5 at home here could have some value.
We are at the point of the season where injuries start to pile up. Friday afternoons are one of the most important days for NFL handicapping because that’s when final injury reports come out and you get a clearer indication of which players are playing and which will be sitting out. Keep an eye out late Friday/early Saturday as I’ll lay out key injuries for Week 4 and how they affect matchups. Also keep an eye out this week for a breakdown on the rest of the division games.