Welcome to the Friday edition of the Pick Six newsletter!
We're going to start today with some big news: The Detroit Lions are now in SOLE possession of first place in the NFC North. Sure, it sounds like I'm making that up, but I promise, I am not. The last time the Lions were alone in first place came back in WEEK 2 of the 2017 season, so it's been a long time coming for fans in Detroit.
Thanks to their 34-20 win over Green Bay on Thursday night, the Lions also now have a four-game winning streak against the Packers, which is tied for the second-longest in franchise history.
Anyway, we've got a busy day today: We'll be recapping Detroit's win, plus we have a lot of picks for Week 4 and we'll be taking a look at the five teams facing the most pressure heading into the weekend.
As always, here's your daily reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. It's the perfect gift to get for your favorite football-loving friend at the start of the season. To get them signed up, all you have to do is click here. Alright, let's get to the rundown.
1. Today's show: Best bets for Week 4
If you're a regular listener of the Pick Six Podcast or a regular reader of this newsletter, then you know what we do on Fridays: We make picks. And then just when you think we're done making picks, we make more picks.
For today's show, Katie Mox was joined by Will Brinson along with R.J. White and Alex "PropStarz" Selelnick -- two of our gambling gurus over at SportsLine -- and the four of them offered some of their best bets for Week 3.
The crew spent an entire hour handing out picks and we're going to go over a few of their best bets here:
Katie Mox (2-1 in picks we shared here last week, 5-4 on the season)
Browns (-2.5) to cover against Ravens
Vikings team total over 25.5 points (vs. Panthers)
49ers team total OVER 29.5 points (vs. Cardinals)
As for PropStarz, he handed out a few of his favorite props for the weekend, because when your nickname is PropStarz, that's what the people expect.
- Dolphins at Bills: Gabriel Davis OVER 42.5 receiving yards (-115)
- Vikings at Panthers: Jordan Addison OVER 39.5 receiving yards (-117)
- Broncos at Bears: Jerry Jeudy OVER 52.5 receiving yard (-115)
PropStarz went 0-3 last week and is now 3-6 on the season.
To hear what the rest of the best bets are for Week 4 -- and there are quite a few -- be sure to click here so you can listen to the entire episode of the podcast. You can also watch the episode on YouTube here.
2. Thursday night grades after Lions' 34-20 win over Packers
Here's something I never thought I'd type: The Detroit Lions are actually living up to the hype. Going into the 2023 season, the Lions were the favorites to win the NFC North and they played like the favorites in a dominating 34-20 win over the Packers on Thursday night.
Here are our grades from the game:
LIONS GRADE: A
This game got off to a rocky start for the Lions after Jared Goff threw an interception on Detroit's third play from scrimmage, but it turned into a blowout because the Lions played nearly perfect football after that. The Lions were especially good in the trenches where their offensive line beat up on the Packers defense, which helped pave the way for David Montgomery to rush for 121 yards and three touchdowns. The Lions defensive line was equally good: The unit put constant pressure on Jordan Love, who was sacked five times with 1.5 of those coming from Aidan Hutchinson. It's only been four weeks, but right now, the 3-1 Lions look like one of the most well-rounded teams in the NFL.
- Running wild. It's not often you see a Lions running back rush for more than 100 yards with three touchdowns, which is exactly what David Montgomery did. He became the first player to hit those numbers for the Lions since 2000. He also became just the fourth player in the history of Lambeau Field to go for at least 100 yards with three touchdowns. Montgomery now has three career 100-yard games at Lambeau, which is the fourth most in NFL history, trailing only Walter Payton (6), Adrian Peterson (4) and Barry Sanders (4).
- Sack masters. With five sacks against the Packers, the Lions have now recorded at least five sacks in consecutive games for the first time since 1988. In Week 3, the Lions racked up seven sacks against Falcons QB Desmond Ridder, which gives them 12 over the past two weeks. The has been the month of Sacktember for them and the ringleader has been Aidan Hutchinson, who tallied 3.5 of those 12 sacks.
PACKERS GRADE: D-
If you only gain 21 yards in the first half of an NFL game, you're almost always going to lose, and that's what Green Bay did against Detroit. The Packers absolutely imploded in the first half. On their first five possessions, they went three-and-out four times and the only drive that didn't end with a three-and-out ended with an interception. Jordan Love has struggled in the first half all season and Thursday was no different: He went just 6 of 13 for 50 yards during the game's first two quarters. Love got no help from his offensive line (he was sacked five times) and the Packers had no rushing game to speak of, which was partially Matt LaFleur's fault. For some reason, the Packers didn't even attempt to run the ball on their first two possessions. They actually finished the game with just 27 yards on the ground, which was their lowest rushing output since 2013. The defense was also bad, but it's hard to be good when you're on the field for 38 minutes like Green Bay's defense was in this game.
- Packers packed it in for the first half. The Packers trailed 27-3 at the end of the first half, which is notable, because it was tied for the third-largest halftime deficit ever at Lambeau Field. Over the past two weeks, the Packers have now been outscored 44-3 in the first half, which is something they clearly need to get figured out. The Packers 21-yard total in the first half was their lowest total in any half since at least 1991.
If you want to check out more of our takeaways from the game, be sure to click here.
3. Five NFL teams under the most pressure heading into Week 4
Some teams will definitely be feeling more pressure than others in Week 4 and that's because it feels like there are a few teams out there who are in must-win situations. Will their season be over if they lose? No, but it will probably feel like it.
With that in mind, here's a look at the five teams facing the most pressure this week:
- T-1. Broncos (0-3) and Vikings (0-3). We could have lumped all four 0-3 teams together here, but we decided not to do that and that's mostly because the Broncos and Vikings had much higher expectations entering the season than the Panthers and Bears. The Vikings are the defending NFC North champions and if they lose to the 0-3 Panthers on Sunday, it might be time to start a fire sale in Minnesota. ... "Hey Jets, do you want Kirk Cousins? Make us an offer." As for the Broncos, Sean Payton was supposed to fix everything in Denver, but instead, things have somehow gotten worse. If the Broncos lose to the 0-3 Bears one week after giving up 70 to the Dolphins, that could leave quite the stain on Payton's coaching reputation.
- 3. Giants (1-2). After making the playoff last year, the Giants have been a borderline disaster this year. They were outscored 70-12 in their two losses combined and their only win came in a game against the Cardinals where they trailed 28-7. The Giants have a chance to get their season back on track, but if that's going to happen, they have to beat the Seahawks on Monday night. The problem there is that Daniel Jones is 1-11 in his career in prime-time games. If Jones can't beat the Seahawks, he'll fall to 1-12 and a lot of people will starting wondering why the (if they're not wondering that already).
- 4. Chargers (1-2). When it comes to the Chargers, it seems like Brandon Staley is permanently on the hot seat and this team is always under pressure. That being said, the pressure is real this week. Although Staley staved off hot seat talk with a win over the Vikings, that conversation will start again if the Chargers lose to the 1-2 Raiders.
- 5. Bengals (1-2). With Joe Burrow hobbled, the Bengals need to make sure to win the games they're supposed to win and they're favored to beat the Titans on Sunday. The problem for the Bengals is that if they lose in Nashville, they'll be two games out of first place no matter what since the Browns are playing the Ravens and the winner of that game will be moving to 3-1. Two games out after four weeks with an injured quarterback would put the Bengals in a pretty ugly situation.
Now that we know who's under the most pressure in Week 4, let's get to our next batch of picks.
I hope you're not tired of reading our picks yet, because we have even more of them coming at you right now. This batch will be coming from NFL senior writer Pete Prisco, along with Will Brinson, Jordan Dajani, Tyler Sullivan and myself. The five of us combined to go 4-1 against the spread with our picks here last week, which was a nice recovery after going 1-4 last week. Overall, we're 9-5-1 with our picks that have been featured in the newsletter heading into Week 4.
Here's how things are going to work: I'm going to give you one pick from each guy and then direct you to the rest of their picks. That way, if you like their pick, you'll be able to read the rest of them, but if they pick against your favorite team, you can ignore the rest of their picks and move on.
- Pete Prisco: Browns (-2.5) 24-16 over Ravens. From Prisco: "The Ravens lost last week to the Colts at home and have been hit hard by injury. The Browns have won two of three behind a dominant defense. That defense will be the difference. Lamar Jackson and the passing game aren't clicking yet. Browns win it. " For the rest of Prisco's Week 4 picks, .
- Tyler Sullivan: Texans (+3) 23-20 over Steelers. From Sullivan: "How can you not be impressed by what we've seen from C.J. Stroud over the last few weeks? In my estimation, he's the best out of the rookie quarterbacks through three weeks and that includes an upset win last week against Jacksonville. ... Given the way Stroud has played and my questions still lingering about the Steelers offense, I'll gladly back the home dog with a field goal in my back pocket." For the rest of Sullivan's Week 4 picks, .
- Will Brinson: Buccaneers (+3.5) to cover against Saints. From Brinson: "Tampa's defense is capable of preying on mistake-prone quarterbacks and if Jameis Winston is starting, he definitely qualifies as mistake prone. Baker Mayfield will have more time against New Orleans, he's indoors, and the Bucs will keep this within a field goal." For the rest of Brinson's .
- Jordan Dajani: Jaguars (-3) 24-20 over Falcons. From Dajani: "Atlanta put up just six points vs. the Detroit Lions last week, and Desmond Ridder has been terrible on the road. He's 0-3 away from Atlanta in his young career, and the Falcons have averaged just 11.0 points per game in those contests. ... I think this could be a get-right spot for Jacksonville." For the rest of Dajani's Week 4 best bets, .
- John Breech: Broncos 20-17 over Bears (+3.5). This is a big game for both teams, but I have to think it's a bigger game for the Broncos because the only thing more embarrassing than giving up 70 points in an NFL game is losing to the Bears. If that happens to the Broncos in consecutive weeks, they might as well just forfeit the rest of the season. The good news for the Broncos is that I don't think they're going to need to forfeit the rest of the season. For the rest of my Week 4 picks, .
5. Bold predictions for Week 4: Jets upset Patriots
After giving you some bold predictions last Friday, we thought we'd do the same thing again this week. Garrett Podell came up with five bold predictions for Week 4 and he's got some pretty wild ones that just might hit. His best prediction last week was that Kenny Pickett would throw multiple touchdown passes against the Raiders, which ended up being correct. That was bold because Pickett had never thrown multiple touchdowns in a game before the game in Las Vegas.
Here's a look at three of Garrett's predictions for Week 4:
- 1. Bills hold the Dolphins under 30 points. "The Bills have a pass defense with the best touchdown-to-interception ratio allowed (two touchdowns to seven interceptions) and the lowest passer rating allowed (54.0) in 2023. Their nine takeaways, 30 points off turnovers and seven interceptions are also the best in the league. Head coach Sean McDermott's defense has also shown a propensity to make opposing quarterbacks' days miserable by constantly getting their face. The Bills win their eighth consecutive home game against Miami and send the Dolphins offense back to the world of mortals."
- 2. Texans upset Steelers thanks to C.J. Stroud. "No head coach has taken advantage of rookie quarterbacks like Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who is 23-4 against rookie quarterbacks. However, Stroud is going to buck that trend. ... His 906 passing yards are the third-most through three games in NFL history. Stroud is special, and he will do just enough to outduel Kenny Pickett and the Steelers maligned offense on Sunday."
- 3. Drake London scores two touchdowns in London. "London is riding the struggle bus in head coach Arthur Smith's offense with only one touchdown in his last nine games, but this week, he gets to go up against a Jaguars defense that's allowing 264.3 passing yards per game, which is the sixth-most in the league. London will be the main beneficiary of this, hauling in two scores in a bounce-back win for the Dirty Birds after their disappointing showing in Detroit against the Lions a week ago."
Garrett has five bold predictions for Week 4 and.
6. Extra points: Aaron Rodgers hoping to attend 'SNF'
It's been a busy 24 hours in the NFL, and since it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
- Aaron Rodgers looking to attend Chiefs-Jets. Taylor Swift might not be the only big name showing up on Sunday night and that's because Rodgers might be at the game. According to ESPN, Rodgers wants to attend the game, but he has to be medically cleared before he can fly. The Jets QB just underwent surgery on his torn Achilles two weeks ago. In related news, Rodgers was spotted on crutches this week for the first time since his surgery and you can see the photos here.
- David Bakhtiari likely out for the season. The news keeps going from bad to worse for the Packers offensive lineman. Bakhtiari , which means he'll definitely have to miss at least four games (The countdown started with Thursday's game against Detroit). However, it turns out his knee injury might actually sideline him for the rest of the season, according to NFL.com. If that's the case, it will mean that Bakhtiari will have missed 38 games over the past three seasons.
- Brian Belichick back with the Patriots. The Patriots safeties coach finally returned to the team this week. Belichick had been out since earlier this summer when he suffered a serious knee injury that required three surgeries. After several months of rehab, Belichick is still walking with a crutch, but he was able to attend New England's Week 3 win over the Jets.
- Bills safety ruled out for Week 4. Bills coach Sean McDermott announced on Friday that Jordan Poyer (knee) won't be playing on Sunday against the Dolphins. The loss of Poyer will definitely make things tougher for a Bills secondary that's getting set to go up against the NFL's best passing offense.