It’s Week 4 already in the NFL and we have just three unbeaten teams in the league; two of them are on BYE. The Bengals and Cardinals enjoy the off-week (along with the Browns, Broncos, Seahawks, and Rams) while the Philadelphia Eagles look to improve to 4-0 against the San Francisco 49ers at the new Levi’s Stadium. Elsewhere in the league we’ve got Steve Smith Sr. taking on his former team as the 2-1 Panthers square off against the 2-1 Ravens in Baltimore. The Packers and Bears renew the league’s oldest rivalry and the Saints and Cowboys figure to engage in a Texas-sized shootout down in Big “D”. Oh yeah, and we’ve got a game taking place over in London. All of that and more will go down in the fourth week of NFL action. Last week I went 11-5 with my picks. Hoping to best that with this week’s action.
Thursday, September 25th, 8:25 e.t.
New York Giants (1-2) @ Washington Redskins (1-2)
Kirk Cousins has taken over for the injured Robert Griffin III and looked solid while doing it. All Washington has done since Cousins has grabbed the reigns is put up 75 points and averaged over 500 yards of offense. Sheesh, if there isn’t a quarterback controversy yet in D.C., there will be soon if he can hold his water. Meanwhile, the Giants offense finally got things clicking in a 30-17 home win over the previously unbeaten Houston Texans. Victor Cruz exploded for 107 yards and a touchdown and Rashad Jennings rumbled for a buck 76 on the ground with a score as well. Big Blue looks to build on this momentum Thursday night in the Nation’s capital. This should be a good game, but in the end I expect a Washington win. They have looked like the more consistent team this year and almost knocked off one of the better teams in football last week. I think that says something about these guys. I like the ‘Skins to post a “W” at home here.
Washington 27, New York 19
Sunday, September 28th, 1:00 e.t.
Tennessee Titans (1-2) @ Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
The Colts finally picked up their first victory of the season last week (albeit against the Jaguars). That said, Andrew Luck looked like a beast throwing for 370 yards and four scores. This week the team hosts a Titans squad that has been outscored 59-17 over the past two weeks. Jake Locker has not looked as sharp over this stretch and the running game isn’t dominating like it is capable of doing. Defensively, Tennessee can be had in the secondary and that is exactly where I think Andrew Luck and friends will make their living in this contest. Pep Hamilton probably realized last week that Indy’s best shot at winning this year lies in the right arm of their young quarterback. So I look for him to dial up a bunch of pass plays early in hopes of putting Tennessee away.
Indianapolis 29, Tennessee 14
Carolina Panthers (2-1) @ Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Up until last week, the Panthers’ defense looked every bit as good as they did a year ago when the team won the NFC South. However, after the Pittsburgh Steelers ran through them like an insane driver would a red light I’m not completely sold that this team hasn’t taken a step back. The offense has looked decent with Cam Newton building chemistry with his new rookie wide-out, Kelvin Benjamin, but the ground game is suffering. Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, and Mike Tolbert all look to be banged up in this one and Newton can’t do it all himself. I think the Ravens are in a better position to win this game, especially given the fact that they are home. Simply put, John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco don’t lose to NFC teams at home (they have only dropped two such contests since the two have been together in Baltimore).
Baltimore 20, Carolina 16
Green Bay Packers (1-2) @ Chicago Bears (2-1)
The Packers offense was about as flat as they have ever been with Aaron Rodgers in control last week against Detroit. They have a chance to bounce back against a Chicago defense that has been susceptible to some big plays early on in games. With that being said, I doubt that Green Bay wants this game to be close in the second half. The Bears’ defense has shut opponents down in the final two frames of games this season and if it comes down to it I wouldn’t bet against them doing it again. However, I think the Packers establish a running game and stick to it through four quarters of play here and come out with a hard fought win. It is just tough for me to imagine Mike McCarthy and company slipping to 1-3 to start the year.
Green Bay 24, Chicago 21
Miami Dolphins (1-2) @ Oakland Raiders (0-3) (London)
Ever since stunning the New England Patriots at home, the Dolphins have looked borderline pathetic on offense and vulnerable on defense. Now they have to travel across the pond and play a Raiders team that has to feel a bit frustrated after nearly forcing overtime against those same Patriots a week ago on the road. There have been some rumors floating around that state Ryan Tannehill is on a short leash. Will Matt Moore make a surprise cameo in Week 4? I don’t think so, because I see Miami running the ball like it’s 1960 against an Oakland team that struggles to defend in that aspect. Although I do want to side with the ‘Phins here, I say Derek Carr gets the job done in this game. The Raiders gotta post a win at some point this year, and this seems like the perfect time to do it.
Oakland 20, Miami 13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)
Tampa Bay seems to be in shambles right now after the team lost to Atlanta last week by a whopping 42 points. Now they have to go on the road and take on a Steelers team that just got done manhandling a good Panther team in Carolina last Sunday night. LeGarrette Blount should be running with an edge given that he is taking on his former team, and Le’Veon Bell has been pretty spectacular this season. Also, if Antonio Brown records five catches in this game, he will set the record for consecutive games with at least that many receptions (with 20). I definitely like Pittsburgh at home here.
Pittsburgh 35, Tampa Bay 21
Buffalo Bills (2-1) @ Houston Texans (2-1)
Each of these two teams are coming off of their first losses of the season, so it will be interesting to see how each one responds. I am still having a tough time getting a read on either one early on in the season. Are any of these teams for real this season? This game should go a long way in determining that. After seeing the Giants run wild on Houston a week ago, it isn’t far-fetched to think that the Bills can do the same thing. However, I think this game comes down to each of the quarterbacks and whether or not they can make plays against the opposing defense. Even though Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t look good against the G-Men last week, I think he has a nice bounce-back game here and leads his team on for the win. The Texans have more established play-makers on each side of the ball, and I think that will be the difference in an otherwise tough-to-predict game.
Houston 23, Buffalo 17
Detroit Lions (2-1) @ New York Jets (1-2)
Trying to predict how a Jets game is going to go is probably the hardest thing to do in the NFL. This is a team that always seems to play well when you think it won’t and then plays like garbage against teams that they should beat. This is one of those games where many may think that they will lie down, but I’m not so sure. Running the ball for either team is going to be tough since each front seven is stout in that area. Therefore the key to success will come down to how each quarterback plays against the opposing secondary. Geno Smith might have a nice game, but Matthew Stafford will probably have a nice game. I like those odds a bit better. I’m not sure why though, but I’m going to go with Gang Green here. You can call this my gut feeling of the week.
New York 28, Detroit 27
Sunday, September 28th, 4:05 e.t.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) @ San Diego Chargers (2-1)
The Blake Bortles era has begun in Jacksonville, and not a moment too soon. The Jaguars were looking over-matched against good offenses early on in the year and this looks to be the case again in San Diego. The Chargers have looked great ever since falling to Arizona in their first contest. The only thing that scares me about this team is the fact that their running backs are dropping like flies. Luckily that isn’t something that should bother them too much against an inferior team.
San Diego 38, Jacksonville 10
Sunday, September 28th, 4:25 e.t.
Atlanta Falcons (2-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (1-2)
Fresh off of a monster home win against the Buccaneers, the Falcons are rested and ready to rumble. However, Matt Ryan and company are a different team outside of the dome. Can they go on the road and defeat a Minnesota team that looks to feature 32nd overall pick Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback for the first time? I think they can. The Vikings backfield is pretty thin right now and the offense just doesn’t scare anybody the same way Atlanta’s does. I think I’ll take the Falcons on the road here.
Atlanta 27, Minnesota 17
Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) @ San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
The Eagles are off to their best start since 2003, and are winning on the strengths of huge second halves. The team has scored 74 points in the second half of their games this year which is more than 21 teams have scored on the entire season. At the same time, the Niners have struggled to score at all in the second halves of their games, totaling just one field goal all season! I think things go a bit differently in this game. The San Francisco defense has played well throughout the early season and with the Eagles down Lane Johnson (RT), Jason Kelce (C), and Evan Mathis (LG) it’s going to be a struggle protecting Nick Foles and blocking for Shady McCoy. I say the Niners rebound at home with a big win. Kaepernick has a nice game in the process as well.
San Francisco 31, Philadelphia 24
Sunday, September 28th, 8:30 e.t.
New Orleans Saints (1-2) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
Last season when these two hooked up, the Saints scored 49 points and set an NFL record with 40 first downs in the game. That game was in New Orleans, and this one is in Dallas. Everybody knows the Saints are a different team on the road. However, I think Drew Brees and company get the job done against an aching Cowboy defense. Brees is just due for a breakout game (it isn’t often that you see him go back-to-back games without throwing for 300 yards). Plus, the ‘Boys had a tough go of it against the offensively challenge Rams, giving up 31 points. This week could get ugly, but I’m betting they will find a way to make things interesting late. Tony Romo and crew always do.
New Orleans 41, Dallas 31
Monday, September 29th, 8:30 e.t.
New England Patriots (2-1) @ Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)
For me, this is the toughest game to predict. I’m not very confident that the Chiefs can get things done at home against the Pats, even though they have played great over their last two games. New England is struggling once again on offense. They barely managed enough to beat the Raiders at home last week, so on a short week on the road in front of a raucous KC crowd, things could get tight. With that being said, I think the Patriots rally together and come up with a big win. This one goes to Tom Brady and him alone. I see him carrying the team into Kansas City and then dragging them back out. I see him throwing for 360 and tossing three touchdowns. I’m thinking this will be one of those games for New England; one that reminds people that they are, indeed, a force to be reckoned with in the AFC.
New England 35, Kansas City 20
Week 4 Bonus Predictions
Upset of the Week: Oakland over Miami
Sure Bet of the Week: San Diego over Jacksonville
Rookie of the Week: Kelvin Benjamin
Offensive Player of the Week: Tom Brady
Defensive Player of the Week: Justin Smith
Best Overall Offense: New Orleans Saints
Best Overall Defense: San Diego Chargers
Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!