Week 4 early lookahead: Here are the 3 most fragile favorites

·Betting analyst
·4-min read

If you bet every underdog in every NFL game this year, you would have profited all three weeks of this season. Entering Monday's matchup, favorites are only covering the spread at a 36% rate. We embrace the parity that the NFL brings, as it provides each franchise some level of hope entering the season. Fans buckle up every September fully prepared to experience a four-month rollercoaster filled with the most unpredictable drops and turns. Shocking results each week are inevitable, while we as sports bettors scramble to find rhyme or reason in what we just watched.

Identifying which teams are likely to overperform and underperform is a continuous game of cat and mouse. We try not to put too much stock in our previous biases while not overreacting to what we just saw on Sunday. Finding teams whose underlying statistics show their performance doesn't warrant being favorited is a betting angle popularized by Audacy Sports' Ken Barkley. Turnovers, officiating variance and other factors can contribute to a team winning despite an otherwise shaky performance. Winning quiets conversations on a team's problems, but the key is to uncover which teams aren't built to cover the spread this week. Here are three fragile favorites for Week 4 that deserve to be faded.

Chicago -3.5 vs. Detroit 

The Bears entered Week 3 with the worst net yards per play differential in the NFL (-2). It only got worse on Sunday at Cleveland. Justin Fields completed only 30% of his passes for 68 total yards. The Bears allowed nine sacks and averaged an abysmal 1.1 yards per play. This Chicago team is now a favorite in Week 4? Even considering the Lions are most likely a bottom-three team in the NFL, they were still one bounce away from a huge upset versus Baltimore.

Dan Campbell's team is going to compete with the mindset that this is a winnable game. That's enough for me to warrant taking the points against Nagy's embarrassing offense. The Bears are the most fragile favorite imaginable.

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) leaves the field after a loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 26, 2021. (Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) leaves the field after a loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 26, 2021. (Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Kansas City -6 at Philadelphia

Nothing signals fragility louder than a 1-12-1 ATS run. The Chiefs remained the worst bet in the NFL after losing outright to the Chargers as 7-point home favorites. Bet against Patrick Mahomes after a loss? I understand it sounds crazy on the surface, but there is nothing Mahomes can do to help the Chiefs; problem — it's the defense. The Chargers entered Sunday ranked 30th in red-zone conversion percentage and scored on 80% of their red-zone trips in the Chiefs' own backyard. The Kansas City defense has now allowed TDs in 12 of 13 red-zone drives this season. Their league-worst 7 yards per play allowed reveals they aren't any better between the 20's either.

The Eagles coming home after an emotional Monday night rivalry game isn't ideal, but I can't lay points with a team that allows their opponents to score at will. After a sloppy four-turnover performance, it's fair to wonder if the constant scoreboard pressure is impacting the offense. This isn't the get-right game for the Chiefs.

Tennessee -7.5 at NY Jets

Close your eyes and don't look at the opponent. The Titans are laying 7.5 points on the road in a year where favorites are losing 50% of the games outright and 64% ATS. The Titans are -6 on turnover margin this season and have lost the turnover battle in all three games. Yes, the Jets lost 26-0 as 11-point underdogs to Denver. Zach Wilson has thrown zero touchdowns and six interceptions in the last two weeks. He was also sacked nine times. The Titans' pass rush is nothing to write home about and if offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur can keep Zach Wilson protected, I can see him having some success.

This is one of those bets where you have to just bite down hard on your mouthpiece and take a swing. Struggling teams usually become competitive when a team opens the door for them. I think the Titans' turnover issues could be just what Robert Saleh needs to spark his team. These two teams are also ranked 23rd and 28th in net yards per play, so the gap may not be as wide as the spread indicates. I can't justify the Titans being a road favorite of more than the key number of seven. This screams fade material so the Jets with the points is the play.

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