Week 4 NFL Best Bets: A number we like on each game

ESPN Illustration

Every Friday during the season, ESPN betting analysts Joe Fortenbaugh, Doug Kezirian and Preston Johnson, sports betting deputy editor David Bearman, Fantasy's Mike Clay and Matt Youmans of the Vegas Stats & Information Network will tell us what they like from Sunday's NFL slate:

Season ATS records:

Fortenbaugh 4-0 (7-4 on season)
Youmans 3-0 (9-2)
Kezirian 1-2 (6-4)
Bearman 0-1 (2-2-1)
Clay 1-1 (3-2)
Johnson 3-2 (6-11)

Note: Picks from Caesars Sportsbook lines as of Thursday night.

1 p.m. games

Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans (-4, 46.5)

Johnson: I know we don't want to get overly excited about Kyle Allen dropping 38 points on the Cardinals, but Norv Turner's offense looked refreshed. The ability to take shots down the field with a healthy quarterback opened everything up. Allen finished the game throwing for more than 10 yards per pass attempt (only Patrick Mahomes is better this season) and four touchdowns. Cam Newton didn't pass for a single touchdown through two games.

I think the Panthers -- even with Allen -- project to be nearly as good as the Texans overall. They have advantages over Houston in other positions and rank second in the NFL in opponent yards per play this season, behind only the Patriots (4.3). My projection for this matchup is Carolina +3.2 (with potentially more upside to Allen than currently projected), so at +4 it's a smaller edge than the +5 that was around earlier this week. If you have access to a +4.5 in the market at any point before kickoff, I would fill the remaining position there.