Some teams will feel very confident in how they have started, while some may already be thinking about next season even if no one will openly admit that after four games (Detroit Lions spring to mind considering they have the Green Bay Packers in their Division and already four games behind them).
Others will have reached Week 5 in some middle ground and will be 'desperate' to right the season as time is beginning to run out for the 2015 season.
The Week 4 Recap has been put up since Wednesday evening. I have wrote a few thoughts about the departure of Joe Philbin in Miami, how far the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos can go and Colin Kaepernick's regression as a Quarter Back. The usual Power Ranking and Week 4 Picks Recap can also up and those can all be read here.
The Colts did win here on a Thursday Night Football game last year, but I expect the Texans to get the better of them this time around and will back them for a unit to cover the small spread.
I wrote this yesterday and would have picked the Houston Texans until it was made official Andrew Luck is out and the spread has moved up two points... Becomes a zero unit pick for me now.
Chicago Bears @ Kansas City Chiefs Pick: Both the Kansas City Chiefs and the Chicago Bears are 1-3 after four weeks of the season and this is almost a 'must win' game for the teams if they have genuine post-season ambitions.
The Kansas City Chiefs have been unfortunate with the scheduling and you can't really ignore that fact as they have lost to the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals (combined 12-0 this season) while their single win was at the Houston Texans. The Chicago Bears haven't had an easy schedule themselves, but at least they ended a run of three blowouts with a win over Oakland last week.
The money has come in on the Bears through the week which has moved this spread a couple of points in favour of Kansas City, but they are still heavy favourites to win the game. It isn't a surprise considering Kansas City were expected to be one of the better teams in the NFL and they do have a good record under Andy Reid.
With a bit more luck on their side, Kansas City might actually be as good as 3-1 going into this weekend, but they need to be better in a couple of areas if they are going to start winning games. Alex Smith will at least get a respite behind an Offensive Line that hasn't protected him at all as Jamaal Charles should have his way running the ball against the Bears.
Keeping the Chiefs in third and manageable is so key for this entire Offense and I expect Charles has a big game in doing that this week. That will allow Smith to make the plays to get Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin uncorked, while it also has to be pointed out that Chicago's pass rush isn't in line with the Denver and Cincinnati one that the Chiefs have had to deal with.
Even the Packers have been strong there so Smith should have a bit more time than in the last three weeks to hit a Chicago Secondary that isn't as good as the numbers have shown. That is also because the Defensive Line hasn't been able to stop the run so look for the Chiefs to have success moving the chains and perhaps not get so bogged down in the red zone.
The good news for the Chicago Bears is Jay Cutler is still likely to play at Quarter Back despite a hamstring concern and they have won their first game of the season. However, Cutler is going to be under pressure from Tamba Hali and Justin Houston and the Chicago Receivers are simply not very good without Alshon Jeffery who continues to sit out. There were some reports he would return this week, but that looks unlikely now and the Bears might not be too far from the mistakes that usually blights Cutler.
Like Alex Smith, Cutler will hope Matt Forte can rip off some yards on the ground to keep the team in third and manageable spots on the field. Forte will have some success, but I think the Kansas City Chiefs will be able to turn the ball over a couple of times and also force Chicago to settle for Field Goals rather than Touchdowns.
The Chiefs look better on both sides of the ball and it has to be noted that Chicago are just 8-15-1 against the spread as the road underdog in recent games. Kansas City are the better team as far as I am concerned and I think they will have more success turning drives into Touchdowns than they did against a very good Cincinnati Bengals Defense last week and the Chiefs take this by ten plus.
Seattle Seahawks @ Cincinnati Bengals Pick: I am a big fan of Russell Wilson since his days with the NC State Wolfpack through his time with the Wisconsin Badgers, although some of that has dissipated with the Seattle Seahawks. That might be because I am not that high on the Seattle franchise (just where did all their fans come from in the UK in particular?) but I respect this team and how well they have played under Pete Carroll.
In reality this should be a team coming into the season as the twice defending Super Bowl Champions, but we all know what happened back in Super Bowl 49. Salary cap issues meant changes, but the departure of Max Unger as the Center has sparked some huge Offensive Line issues with Russell Wilson having to scramble for his life.
Wilson has still been effective at times, but he is also being sacked a lot and that has led to mistakes that not many would associate with the Quarter Back. It was a strip sack that cost Seattle six points on Monday Night Football against the Detroit Lions and only a great play from Kam Chancellor and a blown call from the referees has prevented Seattle slipping to 1-3 to open the season.
Unless something drastic has happened over the last six days, Wilson is going to be put under immense pressure from the Cincinnati pass rush that has been a sacking machine. Marshawn Lynch looks like he will sit again so it isn't like Seattle can run the ball effectively and hope that slows down the rush and instead it will be up to Wilson to scramble around and look to make plays either running the ball or when Receivers get free.
There have been holes in the Cincinnati Secondary, while the Seattle Defense gets their biggest test since Chancellor returned to the team ahead of Week 3 as they face Andy Dalton and an Offense averaging thirty points per game. This is when we find out if the Bengals are for real as Dalton won't be able to see Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard pound the ball as effectively as they have for much of the season which keeps the Offense in manageable down and distance.
Dalton has been well protected, but it has to be said the Seahawks have improved since Chancellor returned and that is a worry for the Bengals.
I do like the Bengals because this is a statement game for them, while it is a non-Conference tilt for the Seahawks off a short week and with the likes of Carolina, San Francisco and Dallas to come. They are also playing the early game on the East coast, but I am going to keep my pick on the Bengals to one unit because Seattle are 4-1 against the spread in Eastern coast road games over the last couple of years.
However, it means more to Cincinnati and I think they lay down the marker for their season here.
Washington Redskins @ Atlanta Falcons Pick: I picked the Houston Texans to cover at the Atlanta Falcons last week, but they were blown out in the first half of that game. Does that mean I've changed my opinion on the Atlanta Falcons and going the other way this week? No, I still think the Falcons are a team that are fortunate to be 4-0 and I like Washington to cover in this spot.
The Atlanta Falcons are playing the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football in Week 6 and there is absolutely no doubt that game could take some focus from them. While they are fighting the unbeaten Carolina Panthers in the NFC South, winning Divisional games are worth that much more that it is easy to understand the Falcons might look past the Redskins.
I mean they have already beaten the three best teams in the NFC East so why would they be concerned about beating a fourth? Well I think the Washington Redskins are capable of establishing the run in this one and that could see them control the clock like they did against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4 and help them keep this close.
I am not sold on Kirk Cousins at all, but he is better than Ryan Mallett in my opinion although losing Jordan Reed is a big blow to the passing game. DeSean Jackson is doubtful to to return so Pierre Garcon could be the main target, although it has to be said that Washington should be able to move the ball with Alfred Morris, Matt Jones and Chris Thompson all helping keep the Offense in third and manageable.
That should give Cousins the chance to use play-action to push the ball downfield, but he has to steer clear of the mistakes that have blighted him at times. Washington haven't backed up wins as the underdog, going 0-4 against the spread since 2013 but they've got enough Offense to keep the potent Atlanta one on the sidelines.
When Matt Ryan does have the ball he is going to be make some big plays through the air as we have seen both Sam Bradford and Eli Manning have success throwing the ball over the last two weeks. Neither of those have Julio Jones at their disposal either so the Falcons will have success, although Ryan might have more to do if Washington can maintain a decent response to the running game and bottle up Devonta Freeman.
The game with New Orleans on Thursday night is the big issue for Atlanta- they might not have a winning record, but this is a big rivalry for the Falcons who are just 1-3-1 against the spread in the game before a Thursday Night Football game. The Falcons are just 4-6 against the spread as the home favourite in recent games, but they are 2-5 when facing a non-Division opponent in that spot.
I just don't trust Washington to go higher than the one unit considering they are coming off two Divisional games, but I think they might be more focused and the public are hammering Atlanta yet this spread is coming down. I'll go against them in this spot and back the Redskins to cover.
New Orleans Saints @ Philadelphia Eagles Pick: I am backing one NFC East underdog to cover on the road at a NFC South team, but in this game I am going to take a unit on a NFC South underdog to cover on the road at a NFC East team.
The New Orleans Saints have a very big game against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football upcoming, but they can't afford to go into that one at 1-4 as they will almost be done in a Division where two teams are unbeaten going into Week 5. They dug deep to beat the Dallas Cowboys at home last week and Drew Brees was back in the line up, even if he is yet to look completely like himself.
A changing Offensive scheme means the Saints want to run the ball better than they ever have, but that has yet to bare fruit. Mark Ingram doesn't have a great match up against the Philadelphia Eagles who have played the run well, but the Secondary looks like one a healthy Brees would light up.
Even a 70% Brees should have success with CJ Spiller likely to get more touches out of the backfield and the likes of Willie Snead stepping up where Brandin Cooks hasn't. Both Josh Hill and Benjamin Watson can't really make up for the loss of Jimmy Graham, but there are weapons that can take advantage of the banged up Secondary the Eagles have to put on the field, especially as the Defense isn't being given a lot of time to rest thanks to the Offense.
If that was because the Offense is running their plays too fast and scoring plenty of points they might not be bothered, but Philadelphia have struggled for an identity and too many three and outs has seen the Defense worn out. Sam Bradford has looked skittish to say the least and his play has been so inconsistent, while the likes of Jordan Matthews (dropped/tipped passes) and DeMarco Murray haven't offered much support.
There has been no running room for Murray and the Offensive Line has been called out by the Defensive unit, while they haven't offered Bradford enough protection. Philadelphia could find more room against New Orleans, but there are a lot of young, active, speedy Defenders that the Saints will use to try and hit the backfield and force Bradford to feel pressure that isn't necessarily there.
I do think the Saints look to be getting too many points even if they have struggled outdoors during the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era. I don't know how anyone can trust Philadelphia to get going Offensively and the Defense to suddenly become stout with the injuries they have and this might easily be a game decided by the last possession.
Philadelphia are just 5-9 against the spread when favoured by more than three points under Chip Kelly, while they are 4-7 against the spread off a loss as the favourite. The Saints have that game against Atlanta just days later, but they need to keep winning after a 0-3 start so I don't think they overlook this opponent and certainly have the Offensive power to keep this within the number.
St Louis Rams @ Green Bay Packers Pick: When the St Louis Rams beat the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1, many of their fans must have been wondering if a perennial dark horse in the NFL were finally going to fulfil their potential. They laid a couple of duds after that win, but moved back to 0.500 for the season with another win over a big NFC West rival the Arizona Cardinals last week.
So I guess the St Louis Rams must have been over the moon to see their next game is going to be at the Green Bay Packers who are 4-0 and have beaten half of the NFC West already this season. The fact the game is at Lambeau Field where Aaron Rodgers hasn't thrown an Interception in a long, long time just makes that task a lot more difficult for St Louis.
However, it isn't all doom and gloom for St Louis as they would have seen the San Francisco pass rush manage to hit Rodgers last week and sack him a few more times than he has been all season. The Offensive Line will have their hands full with the likes of Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn and Chris Long all able to get to the Quarter Back.
Rodgers does get the ball out of his hands quickly though and he has the feet moving to scramble away from some of that pressure, while Eddie Lacy and James Starks might be surprised with the way they can establish the run. If Rodgers continues to play the mistake free football he has at home, the key for St Louis might be to try and sustain long drives and keep the Packers Offense on the sidelines.
It might be a game plan that can work if this game is close- Todd Gurley showed why he was a rare First Round Draft Pick at Running Back with his performance at Arizona last week. Gurley could have another very big day while the Rams have this game close as the Packers have struggled to prevent the run, although it wouldn't surprise if they loaded the box and forced Nick Foles to throw from third and long.
That is where the Packers own pass rush, which has been surprisingly effective to begin the season, can put some real pressure on Nick Foles. The Quarter Back has played well at times, but he isn't blessed with the Receiving corps he had in Philadelphia and the pressure Green Bay have gotten up front has helped the Secondary which is under-rated anyway. Expect some tricks from Jeff Fisher's team to extend drives, but this might be a tough spot for the Rams to pick themselves up as they found at Washington following their win over Seattle.
Green Bay have improved to 27-12-1 against the spread as the home favourite this season and St Louis have struggled to back up surprise wins, going 1-4 against the spread following a win as an underdog. While I think Todd Gurley has another strong outing as long as the game is close, Aaron Rodgers has been ruthless at home and I think he helps the Packers cover again as a home favourite.
Arizona Cardinals @ Detroit Lions Pick: The Arizona Cardinals might have wondered what kind of day it was going to be for them when they fumbled the opening kick off in their loss to the St Louis Rams. It was the turnovers that ended their unbeaten run as they have actually secured 119 more yards than St Louis on the day, but Bruce Arians wasn't happy and is looking for a response from his team.
Arians has told the Cardinals that a good team doesn't lose twice in a row and he will be looking for them to exploit any emotional letdown the Detroit Lions are feeling after falling to 0-4. They are off a short week having played Monday Night Football and the Lions might be feeling sorry for themselves as two plays cost them the victory in Seattle which is a notoriously difficult stadium to play.
Calvin Johnson had the ball knocked out of his hand on the one yard line in what would have been a lead securing score inside two minutes left to play. The fact the referees then missed KJ Wright knocking the ball out of the back of the end zone, which is a penalty and would have meant Lions ball on the one yard line, just exasperated the situation.
Now the Lions are already four games behind the Green Bay Packers in the Division and face another really good NFC West team, albeit at home this time around. Injuries to the Linebacker and Secondary units has really not helped the Detroit Lions, while the Offensive Line hasn't really protected Matthew Stafford to the level expected.
Detroit haven't been able to establish an effective running game, although could find more room here, which has meant Stafford throwing from third and long. It has led to mistakes and the Quarter Back might be a little bit more banged up than he is admitting, but the Lions might have a little more joy Offensively than they have for much of the season.
Unfortunately they are facing an Arizona Offense that has been rolling with Carson Palmer at Quarter Back and the injuries to key Defensive positions doesn't help their cause in a short week. Palmer has been well protected and has plenty of weapons in the passing game and we all know Bruce Arians isn't afraid to take his shots downfield so this Secondary could give up some big numbers this week.
The Defensive Line is still pretty good against the run even without Ndamukong Suh, but Chris Johnson has been rejuvenated by the desert air and Arizona should have their way with an Offensive Line being able to open holes for the Running Back. They have also given Palmer enough time to throw the ball and it all adds up to a difficult day for the Lions.
Detroit haven't been a home underdog since the 2012 season so this is an unfamiliar position for them, but Arizona are 4-1 against the spread as the road underdog with Bruce Arians as Head Coach. Arians has demanded to see a response and I think he will get that as the Cardinals cover on the road to move to 4-1.
Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders Pick: This is a huge game for the Oakland Raiders as they look to pick themselves from blowing a chance to be playing for the AFC West lead. If they had held on in Chicago last week, the Oakland Raiders would be a 3-1 team hosting the 4-0 Denver Broncos, but I don't think they would have been worrying too much about their loss and focusing on beating a Divisional rival.
Seeing Peyton Manning struggle at Quarter Back has to encourage Oakland who have been blown out by the Broncos ever since the future Hall of Fame Quarter Back has arrived at Denver. This time the Defense might feel they can slow down Manning and perhaps even pick up an Interception or two, especially if they can rattle Manning early.
The pass rush has been there for the Raiders, but the Secondary has struggled in coverage although Manning hasn't looked capable of hitting the deep ball too often. He won't get too much support from the running game and Charles Woodson will be lurking to pick up his first Interception against the Number 1 Draft in the same year that Woodson came out.
It has been the Denver Defense that has kept the team alive and moved them to 4-0 to open the season and the Broncos may look to them again. However, Jack Del Rio was the Defensive Co-Ordinator in Denver last season so he must have some packages he knows the Broncos will not be happy to deal with and Derek Carr is very adept at exploiting those.
Carr will have a quick release to try and slow down the Denver pass rush, but Amari Cooper has a tough battle against Aqib Talib and I am concerned with the ball-hawking Secondary he will have to face. He won't get a lot of support from Latavius Murray at Running Back, but Del Rio might give Carr enough information to at least give the Raiders a chance to make this their most competitive outing against Denver since Manning joined the latter.
I like Oakland to do that with Del Rio guiding them, while teams coming off a game as a road favourite to a home underdog have covered almost two-thirds of the time. With Peyton Manning struggling for consistency, the Raiders can keep this close if Derek Carr avoids the big mistakes the Denver Defense has thrived upon in taking the team to 4-0.
San Francisco 49ers @ New York Giants Pick: In 2012 the San Francisco 49ers were a couple of plays away from winning the Super Bowl, but they look miles away now as they have opened the season with a 1-3 record. Jim Harbaugh has gone and Colin Kaepernick looks like a Quarter Back who has regressed under the pressure of becoming a pocket passer.
Three heavy losses have followed the opening week win over the Minnesota Vikings and now they have to travel the width of the United States to take on a flourishing New York Giants team. The Giants might not have been expected to challenge for the NFC East Division this season, but they have recovered from a 0-2 start and now must be considered the favourites to win their Division.
If Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin knew anything about clock management, the Giants could easily be heading into Week 5 with a 4-0 record, but otherwise Manning has to be given some credit for his play. He still isn't supported by the best running game, but Manning's Offensive Line has protected him well and that has given him time to find a decent Receiving corps even in the absence of Victor Cruz.
A San Francisco pass rush came to life again last week in the loss to the Green Bay Packers which suggests Manning could be under pressure, but his Receivers should win their match ups against this Secondary. It should all mean the Giants are able to move the chains and score points so can Colin Kaepernick rediscover something to help his team keep up?
It won't be easy for Kaepernick because Carlos Hyde might be bottled up by the Giants who have held teams to under 70 yards per game on the ground this season. With Hyde unable to rip off too many gains, Kaepernick will need to use his own legs and arm to move the chains and that hasn't proven to be an effective tool for the San Francisco 49ers so far this season.
Kaepernick just isn't reading the game at all and some of the throws he has made have been horrific and it is no surprise that so many have been Intercepted. Either that or they are no where near any Receiver and the likes of Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin have found it tough to get loose.
The New York Secondary has taken a bend, don't break approach to the season so Kaepernick may have some success in this one, although he has to be aware that they have turned the ball over too. The Offensive Line has struggled so maybe the New York Giants can get something going in that regard too by bringing some kind of pass rush to get around Kaepernick, and it all points to another tough outing for the beleaguered Quarter Back.
Heavy defeats at Pittsburgh and Arizona have dropped San Francisco to 2-5 against the spread as the road underdog since 2013 and playing on the East coast is tough. San Francisco did win here last year, but they were a much better team on both sides of the ball at that point and the Giants should be focused on this game with their next game eight days away.
New York are 8-4 against the spread as the home favourite against non-Division opponents and I like them to cover here.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ San Diego Chargers Pick: The biggest issue surrounding the Monday Night Football game is that this is the time when many will chase their losses from the weekend by heavily backing the home favourite. It hasn't worked out so far with the underdog going 4-1 against the spread on Monday Night Football this season, but that doesn't deter me from taking the San Diego Chargers against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I am a little surprised by the spread considering the Steelers are still missing Ben Roethlisberger at Quarter Back because I was expecting a much bigger reaction in favour of the Chargers. The line doesn't seem to factor in the injury much at all because I am not sure the Steelers would have been favoured here with Big Ben behind Center.
The Steelers have had ten days to get Michael Vick ready to take the Offense on after the Quarter Back struggled to really do anything consistently in the home loss to the Baltimore Ravens. However that was a loss the Steelers didn't have to take if Josh Scobee could kick straight and it was no surprise that he has been cut ahead of this game.
Vick will be helped massively by Le'Veon Bell who should be able to rip off some big gains on the ground against a Chargers team that have allowed 4.9 yards per carry. If Bell can keep the team in third and manageable, perhaps Vick can make enough plays to keep the team rolling even if his accuracy and timing isn't what it once was.
The Offensive Line hasn't been at their best in pass protection, but I don't know if the Chargers have an effective enough pass rush to get to Vick consistently if he is in short yardage situations that Bell can put the team in.
Philip Rivers is the best Quarter Back on the field for this game and he looked very good in carving up the Cleveland Browns last week while he will also have Antonio Gates back. That is key considering Stevie Johnson and Malcom Floyd were both banged up last week, but Keenan Allen and Gates can give Rivers a chance to keep the team moving the chains.
I have been impressed with the pass rush Pittsburgh have been able to generate which has made the Secondary look better than in recent years, but Rivers gets the ball out of his hands early which can negate that. His Offensive Line has been banged up though and the pass rush is a challenge for this makeshift Line to deal with.
It has contributed to Melvin Gordon's struggles in his rookie season running the ball, but I like Rivers leading San Diego up and down the field with his accuracy and quick-fire throws. I also trust Rivers to make the right decision more than I trust Michael Vick at this stage of their careers, and I wouldn't be overly surprised if it is a turnover or two from Vick that changes the course of this game.
San Diego are not a great small favourite to back, but they are 11-6 against the spread as the home favourite against non-Division opponents. The Steelers are coming off an emotional loss against the Baltimore Ravens, a game they will feel they should not have lost, and I think Vick still needs more time to get his head around this Offense.
While Pittsburgh will have success when Le'Veon Bell has the ball, I like the Chargers to find a couple of turnovers to lead to the win and cover.
Kansas City Chiefs - 9 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Cincinnati Bengals - 3 Points @ 1.95 Coral (1 Unit)
Washington Redskins + 7 Points @ 2.00 Sporting Bet (1 Unit)
New Orleans Saints + 5 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Green Bay Packers - 8.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Arizona Cardinals - 2.5 Points @ 1.85 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Oakland Raiders + 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Coral (1 Unit)
New York Giants - 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (2 Units)
San Diego Chargers - 3 Points @ 1.83 William Hill (2 Units)
Week 4: 4-3-1, + 2.24 Units
Week 3: 8-2, + 9.03 Units
Week 2: 4-5, - 1.71 Units
Week 1: 5-2-1, + 6.46 Units
Season 2015: 21-12-2, + 16.02 Units
Season 2014: 77-80-2, - 8.47 Units
Season 2013: 86-70-2, + 22.27 Units
Season 2012: - 4.78 Units