NFL Week 4 betting lessons: The struggling rookie quarterbacks all covered for bettors

·4-min read

If you faded the first-round quarterbacks in Week 4, you had a rough week. 

It was logical to bet against them. Four of the five first-round quarterbacks were starting, and all four had struggled. They were turning it over too much and not doing a ton for their teams, who weren't winning much. 

Those rookie quarterbacks went 4-0 against the spread last week. Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars comfortably covered a 7.5-point spread on Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. Justin Fields looked a lot better, leading the Chicago Bears to a 24-14 win as 3-point favorites at BetMGM over the Detroit Lions. Zach Wilson led the New York Jets to a straight=up win in overtime over the Tennessee Titans, who were favored by 5.5. And then on Sunday night Mac Jones played well for the New England Patriots, as they comfortably covered as 6.5-point underdogs in a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Two other rookie quarterbacks played. Trey Lance came in at halftime for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo and couldn't lead the San Francisco 49ers to a win or cover. Houston Texans third-round rookie Davis Mills struggled badly in a 40-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills. But nobody bet on or against the 49ers with the idea Lance would play, and Mills is in a different category than the four regular first-round starters. 

Patience is necessary with any rookie starter, and it paid off in Week 4. They all made strides. 

The question is whether the rookie starters will continue an ascent after Week 4. Wilson got a favorable matchup against a Titans team whose meager pass rush couldn't take advantage of the Jets' line. Fields faced an 0-4 Lions team. Lawrence and the Jaguars might have benefited from seeing the Bengals on a short week. Jones got things going against a Buccaneers defense that hardly had any healthy cornerbacks to play. 

Still, it was a reminder that things change quickly in the NFL. If you think you have a trend, it likely won't continue long. And it shouldn't be automatic to bet against all the rookie quarterbacks anymore. 

Mac Jones was one of the rookie quarterbacks who played much better in Week 4.  (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
Mac Jones was one of the rookie quarterbacks who played much better in Week 4. (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Always beware the too-popular bet

The Buccaneers-Patriots game was the most-bet game of Week 4. And it was hard to find anyone who had a Patriots ticket. 

About 90% of the bets at BetMGM were on the Bucs -7. And Tampa Bay never really threatened to cover. The Patriots played a close game and almost won it at the end, missing a long field goal in the final seconds. 

It's not like there weren't good reasons to back the Bucs. But how many times do we see a side get all the bets and not win? The house rarely loses. 

If you bet the underdog, take the moneyline

Underdogs did pretty well again in Week 4, going 8-8 against the spread after the favored Los Angeles Chargers covered on Monday night. Once again, if the underdog covered, the spread didn't matter. 

Six of the eight underdogs that covered won straight up. That's usually how it goes in the NFL. There's security in taking the points — and it helped in the aforementioned Patriots game — but usually it will be a better bet to take that underdog you like with the better moneyline odds. 

No team's ATS streak lasts that long

We're just four games into the NFL season and only one team is either winless or undefeated against the spread. Take a bow, Dallas Cowboys. They're 4-0 against the spread, according to's standings

It's rare to see a team too much better or worse than .500 against the spread over a season. The Panthers and Broncos were 3-0 against the spread but both failed to cover in Week 4. The Jets, Jaguars, Washington Football team and Chiefs were the only winless teams against the spread and they all covered. If you have a team you are blindly betting on or against every week, you could end up turning a small profit. But whatever streak you experience won't last very long. Unless you've been betting on the 2021 Cowboys. 

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