Five potential upsets in NFL Week 4

Wild Card Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers

There are a few underdogs worth a look when making your picks for Week 4 of the 2016 NFL season.

The upsets could start bright and early because Sunday’s NFL action begins with a game in London that kicks off at 9:30 a.m. EST.

( was used for point spreads.)

Indianapolis at Jacksonville (+2.5)

The Jaguars (0-3) are playing in London for the fourth straight year and know the lay of the land out there. That could give them an advantage over the Colts (1-2), who are playing there for the first time.

It’s hard to imagine Andrew Luck not playing this game, but he’s been dealing with a shoulder injury. It’s pretty much become a given over the past year or so that Luck will be playing through some kind of injury.


The Jaguars’ trio of Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns was supposed to power their offense and help make the franchise respectable this year. They have a chance to take a step in that direction against a defense that allows 8.4 yards per passing play, the seventh-most in the league.

Road games in the division are difficult to win. They’re even harder when that road trip involves flying across the Atlantic Ocean.

Carolina at Atlanta (+3)

The Falcons (2-1) come into this game with two straight wins while the Panthers (1-2) suffered their first home loss since 2014 on Sunday.

Atlanta’s wins came at Oakland and New Orleans. They’re 32nd and 31st, respectively, in yards allowed per play this season. The Panthers’ two losses are excusable. They lost at Denver and at home against the Vikings, who lead the NFL with 15 sacks and have allowed a league-low 4.4 yards per play.

The Falcons will face a tougher defense Sunday, but the Panthers will go up against a better quarterback than Trevor Siemian, Blaine Gabbert and Sam Bradford.

Matt Ryan and Jimmy Garoppolo share the league lead with a passer rating of 119.0, but Ryan has thrown 103 passes and Garoppolo only 59. He’s thrown seven touchdown passes and one interception and he and Peyton Manning are the only quarterbacks who beat the Panthers last year.

Detroit at Chicago (+3)

There’s a chance the Bears will have Jay Cutler back for this game, and that could affect the line. But even if Cutler’s thumb injury keeps him sidelined for another week, the Bears have a shot at “upsetting” the Lions (1-2).

Brian Hoyer is 15-12 in his career as a starter. Whoever starts for the Bears (0-3) Sunday will go up against the team that has allowed the highest passer rating (120.2) in the NFL this season. That’s almost 10 points higher than the Falcons, the second-worst team in that category. Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers are two of the quarterbacks the Lions have faced, but Marcus Mariota is the other.

This will be the Bears’ second home game this season. They lost 29-14 to the Eagles two weeks ago. That doesn’t seem like such a terrible loss now. The Bears might be winless, but the Lions’ only victory came at Indianapolis in Week 1 on Matt Prater’s field goal in the final seconds. So the Lions are four seconds away from being winless themselves.


Seattle at New York Jets (+2.5)

It looks like Russell Wilson will play, but he’s battling a sprained MCL and an ankle injury. It will be hard for him to escape pressure against an offensive line that hasn’t been protecting him very well. That line has allowed seven sacks and a league-high 23 quarterback hits.

The Jets (1-2) are stinging from a 24-3 loss at Kansas City in which Ryan Fitzpatrick threw six interceptions. The Jets turned the ball over eight times. If that loss wasn’t a wake-up call, then Todd Bowles’ fiery speech on Monday sure was.

The Seahawks (2-1) have beaten the Dolphins and 49ers at home and lost to the Rams on the road. Their soft schedule gets a little tougher Sunday. The Jets’ losses have come against teams that made the playoffs last year. They sacked Andy Dalton seven times in the season opener, but sacked Tyrod Taylor and Alex Smith one time each. Taylor and Smith are more mobile than Dalton and they’re probably more mobile than Wilson right now.

Kansas City (+4.5) at Pittsburgh

It would be easy to label the Steelers as potential upset victims because of their 34-3 stinker in Philadelphia last Sunday, but this isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to that game.

The Steelers (2-1) get Le’Veon Bell back on Sunday. However, they could be without two key defensive pieces in Ryan Shazier (knee) and Robert Golden (hamstring) according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Shazier is the Steelers’ leading tackler and showed his ability to dominate a game in the wild-card win over the Bengals last year. Golden emerged from the special teams ranks to become a surprise contributor at safety.

Left guard Ramon Foster, wide receiver Eli Rogers and rookie defensive back Sean Davis also could be out Sunday night.

The injuries in the defensive backfield could press into duty rookie Artie Burns, reclamation project Justin Gilbert and Jordan Dangerfield, who hasn’t played a snap on defense. The Steelers already are allowing the second-most passing yards in the NFL.

The Steelers also have had trouble with pass-catching running backs. Darren Sproles schooled them with six receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. The Bengals’ Giovani Bernard scored a receiving touchdown at Pittsburgh in Week 2. Spencer Ware has caught 10 passes and leads the Chiefs (2-1) with 18.5 yards per reception. If the Steelers don’t get this problem fixed, they could start 2-2 for the third year in a row.

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