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Against the Spread: 2011 NFL Picks: Week 4

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- It feels good to finally win. My NFL picks against the spread notched a first winning week this season, so at least I know I have a chance at avoiding a complete collapse. Too bad we can't say the same about the Red Sox.

My picks against the spread went 3-2 last week, with tough losses on the Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons. I'm now 5-10 on the season, which is still a terrible record, but at least it's moving in the right direction. There are lots of positive signs out there, actually. For instance, Tom Brady finally cut off his ridiculous hair! He's like Samson in reverse. Now that he's getting down to business with football, so should I. Here's hoping I book another winning week.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady

The lesson through three weeks of the NFL season is to be wary of laying a lot of points on the road. Road favorites were 2-5-1 in Week 3 and are now 6-11-2 overall. For example, it was wise to select the Buffalo Bills last week as they were getting around nine points in their home game against the Patriots. The Indianapolis Colts nearly pulled off a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were 10-point favorites on the road. By my count, there are seven home underdogs this week, so there may be a lot of value at looking at some of those teams.

"The most difficult thing is figuring out what is real and not real. This is the week where we can start to stabilize our opinion," says Paul Bessire, the general manager and creator of the Web site PredictionMachine.com. His Prediction Machine is a quantitative way to break down NFL games as it simulates each contest 50,000 times to come up with a pick against the spread.

"There are a lot of fluke performances that throw off the numbers a little, but once you get four or five weeks under your belt, then things get well set," Bessire says. "This is an identifying weekend for nearly all NFL teams. A lot of teams could really go in any direction, and this is the weekend when people should start feeling more comfortable once we see the results."

With that, let's get on to the picks for Week 4 of the NFL season. As I'll remind you through the entire season, these are for entertainment purposes only. Once again, I have enlisted the help of PredictionMachine.com's Paul Bessire, who offers analysis of the data his model provides for the games I've picked this week.

I have also collected commentary from Bryan Leonard, a professional sports handicapper with Pregame.com, is part of the Tuesday Group, a collection of professional bettors in Las Vegas who get together to handicap the games each week.

Leonard's analysis focuses on the spread movement by Vegas oddsmakers to determine where the public and professional money is moving on each game. These trends prove to be critical for bettors who are on the hunt for inefficiencies and value.

Click on to read the first game preview, the Minnesota Vikings against the Kansas City Chiefs. And as always, I encourage you to leave comments below with your favorite picks against the spread this week.
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