Bettor’s Edge: NFL picks for Week 4

Would you gamble on professional wrestling?

Sunday night and Monday night, I felt like I had. You had frenzied crowds, ready to erupt. You had competitors with no respect for authority. You had referees playing the part of buffoons. ESPN’s Mike Tirico, bellowing in the booth Monday night during the Seattle-Green Bay debacle, could have been Jim Ross.

Then there was Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, standing on the field and simultaneously thrusting up his hands with the referee to signal a touchdown after the match’s final, chaotic play, ably filling the role of a clownish wrestling manager. Think of Carroll as a modern-day Classy Freddie Blassie.

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I didn’t have the Packers in this space last week, but I had them in real life, and that cost me and anyone else who laid the 4½ points with Green Bay. According to pregame.com, bettors wagered $150 million more on the Packers than the Seahawks. Thus, a $300 million swing.

Tricky card this week; seems logical to handicap just a few games.

This week’s picks (home team in caps):

ARIZONA (-6½) over Miami: At 3-0, it’s probably time to take the Cardinals seriously. A feisty defense has led the way, and Arizona’s plus-2 turnover differential shows it hasn’t done itself in with mistakes. Miami presents a good matchup for the Cardinals; the Dolphins have played two decent games at home, but being on the road with a rookie quarterback who has one touchdown pass will allow Arizona to control the tempo and pull away. Risking $110 to win $100.

San Francisco (-4) over NEW YORK JETS: I don’t envision the Jets succeeding against a defense that does not allow many yards. The 49ers are coming off a convincing loss at Minnesota, and this is their second straight road game, but a comfortable win is likely. Frank Gore and the San Francisco backs are going to have a big day, provided quarterback Alex Smith continues to play mistake-free. Risking $110 to win $100.

DALLAS (-3½) over Chicago: In a matchup of teams that have weak offensive lines and are difficult to trust overall, I’ll bet against the one with the more unstable quarterback. Interesting note: Home teams are 3-1 against the spread on Monday night. Risking $110 to win $100.

Last week: 2-2, minus $20. Season: 4-8, minus $433.