Man vs Machine: Pickswise expert vs the computer model NFL Week 4 best bets

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Andrew Ortenberg


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I'm an NFL handicapper here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up. For Andrew Ortenberg media enquiries, please email
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Man vs Machine

Welcome to the 2021 edition of Man vs Machine. This NFL season, I’ll be making my five best NFL bets each week. Our Pickswise supercomputer will make its best five bets, and then we’ll compare. May the best man (or machine) win.

Our computer model gives probabilities and projections for the main NFL betting markets (spread, total & money line), best bets for spread, total, money line, and same game parlays. It also features prop bet probabilities for first and anytime touchdown scorer, plus individual player projections for passing, rushing, receiving yards, and touchdowns for betting and fantasy use.

I went 4-1 last week, and I’m hoping to keep it going in Week 4.

For more information on how the supercomputer works and how it generates picks, scroll down to the bottom of this page. Now let’s look at the picks:

My 5 best bets

Washington -1.5 over Falcons

Both the computer and I were on the Falcons last week, and they came through for us. Now I’m fading them. Atlanta didn’t look particularly impressive in their win over the Giants, and the Falcons are dead-last in offensive efficiency this season per DVOA. Washington’s defensive front led by Chase Young should finally be able to get going against this poor Falcons O-line.

Bears -3 over Lions

Plug your nose and bet the Bears. Chicago’s market perception is at an all-time low, and there’s value here in a classic buy-low spot. Granted Andy Dalton was healthy, but in Week 2 the Bears were a three-point favorite over the Bengals. And they won that game. This line is an overreaction to one (extremely poor) effort from the Bears in Week 3.

Vikings +2 over Browns

I’m high on this Vikings team, and they would be 3-0 if not for a couple of bad breaks in their first two road games. They finally got a home game last week, and promptly smacked the Seahawks. There’s no reason for them to be a home underdog here. Cleveland is being overhyped, and their two wins this season have come against the Texans and Bears.

Giants +7 over Saints

Speaking of overreactions, getting a touchdown is just too good to pass up here. Jameis Winston has yet to top 148 yards through three games as the Saints’ quarterback. I couldn’t imagine laying a full touchdown with the current state of this New Orleans offense.

Cardinals +4.5 over Rams

Now is the time to sell high on the Rams coming off their big win over the Buccaneers. This is a bad spot for Los Angeles, and the Rams’ defense quietly hasn’t looked all that great this year. The Cardinals and all their weapons will be able to keep this one very close.

Computer picks

Panthers +4 over Cowboys, Titans -6 over Jets, Washington -1.5 over Falcons, Patriots +7 over Buccaneers, Raiders +3.5 (-120) over Chargers.

The computer and I agree on Washington. Our model is also going with the Panthers, Titans, Patriots, and Raiders. After going 4-1 last week, I’m now 9-6 on the year. The computer was nearly flawless through the first two weeks at 9-1, so they’re still at 11-4 even after a 2-3 Week 3. Let’s see if I can even things up on what should be another fun Sunday…

2021 Season Results

Pickswise Expert (9-6)
Pickswise Computer (11-4)

Don’t forget to check out our free picks on the side and total for every NFL game. You can also view all of our computer picks here.

How are the pre-game win probabilities calculated?
The Pickswise supercomputer creates pre-game probabilities using machine learning techniques as inputs to a Monte Carlo approach. This means we simulate a sporting event 10,000 times, catering for the deep range of outcomes and probabilities within a given event. We first predict the performance of each individual player based on hundreds of algorithmic variabilities, which we use to run our event simulations.

Why do the win probabilities and predictions change over time?
The probabilities are dynamic in nature and get updated as new information becomes available. This includes but is not limited to team news, weather conditions, and moves in the betting market.

What does a ‘value bet’ mean?
A value bet is where we’ve identified that the probability of the event occurring is more likely than the listed sportsbook odds. Taking these bets gives you an increased chance of being a successful gambler.

How is the change in win probability calculated during a live game?
Live win probability is a statistical metric that projects the team’s likelihood of winning at any given point by simulating the remainder of the game. Based on the performance of historical teams in the same situation and the current state of the game, the model updates in real-time following every major event during the game.

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