We’ve reached the fourth week of preseason action in the NFL, and historically it’s always been the toughest week to handicap. We’re going to see very little action from most starters, which means it’s important to see which teams have the best depth and the most competitive battles at the end of their rosters.
Looking to coaching records, the teams you’ll want to back are the Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams and Oakland Raiders.
Marvin Lewis is an impressive 10-3 in Week 4 of the preseason. That’s in stark contrast to how the Bengals play in other weeks under him; they’re a combined 19-24 in the other three preseason weeks. That’s part of why they’re a 3.5-point favorite at home to the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday. Both teams are 1-2 so far this preseason.
As for Jeff Fisher’s teams, they are 12-6 in Week 4 of the preseason. That’s a notable difference from the 25-32 record they’ve compiled in the other three weeks of exhibition action. This week, the Los Angeles Rams will visit the Minnesota Vikings, who are undefeated in preseason action so far. The Vikings are a four-point favorite for the contest.
The last team to focus in on because of a positive coaching record is the Raiders. Head coach Jack Del Rio is 7-3 in Week 4 of the preseason compared to a record of 15-18 in the other three weeks combined. The Raiders will host the Seahawks and are a 1.5-point favorite for that contest.
In terms of the coaches that have awful Week 4 records, there are a few to keep an eye on as well. The Saints clearly put no effort into Week 4 as they are 1-9 in the final week of preseason action under head coach Sean Payton. They have lost all three of their preseason games so far but are a 3.5-point favorite over the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday. We’ll have to see what type of effort the Ravens put forth after their head coach, John Harbaugh, was so outspoken about the preseason games this week.
Another coach to avoid would be Andy Reid, who has the second-worst winning percentage in Week 4 of the preseason. His teams are just 6-11 in the final week of action. The Chiefs are just 1-2 this preseason and will host the undefeated Green Bay Packers on Thursday. The Chiefs are laying 3.5 points.
One thing we should see more of is quarterback play from the first-round rookies. Jared Goff of the Rams and Paxton Lynch of the Denver Broncos have both looked raw when they have played and need the snaps. Neither is expected to be in the starting lineup anytime soon. Philadelphia Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz is banged up, and is not expected to play this week.
Don’t expect either the Denver Broncos or the Carolina Panthers to go particularly hard in Week 4. Remember that they start their season before everyone else as they kick off the 2016 campaign on Thursday, September 8, while everyone else starts on Sunday, September 11 or Monday, September 12.