Tag Archives: week 4

2017 Season: Week 4 Preview

After a wild and thrilling Week 3, we are ready for some more fun as the NFL season forges into October.  Who will be the big winners this week?  Here are my picks.

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 30-17

Locks: 1-2

Upsets: 1-2

Thursday, September 28th, 8:25 e.t.

Chicago Bears (1-2) @ Green Bay Packers (2-1)

Both of these teams are coming off of an overtime victory at home versus an AFC North opponent.  The week is short and that always favors the home team.  While the Packers did not look dominant against the Bengals, I do like them to win this game easily.  I feel that Chicago is going to be one of those teams that does not travel well, but plays solid ball at home.

Green Bay 31, Chicago 14

Sunday, October 1st, 9:30 am e.t.

New Orleans Saints (1-2) vs. Miami Dolphins (1-1) (In London)

The Saints may have temporarily saved their season with a win in Charlotte last week while the Dolphins looked pitiful on the road against the Jets.  This is one of the hardest games to pick this week, but I do like the Dolphins to reel in a big win.  I think Jay Cutler and company can attack New Orleans vertically and create some splash plays in the passing game.  That will help them get out of London with a W.

Miami 28, New Orleans 22

Sunday, October 1st, 1:00 e.t.

Detroit Lions (2-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (2-1)

In one of the best games of the week, the NFC North lead is up for grabs and this should be a great game.  The Lions nearly beat the Falcons at home last week while the Vikes blew out the Bucs in Minnesota.  Given that this game is being played Minnesota that should give Mike Zimmer’s squad the advantage here.  I like their defense to turn up the heat and make life uncomfortable for Matthew Stafford.

Minnesota 26, Detroit 19

Carolina Panthers (2-1) @ New England Patriots (2-1)

Tom Brady pulled off a heart-pounding come from behind win last week versus Houston but the Patriots have been played tough twice at home this year.  However, I think that the Panthers 2-1 record may be a bit of smoke and mirrors to this point and I say the Pats flex their muscles at home for the first time all season.

New England 38, Carolina 21

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) @ New York Jets (1-2)

Okay, this is a weird one.  One of these teams is going to have a surprising record after this week either the Jets at 2-2 or the Jags at 3-1.  The Jets looked impressive at home last week but I think their offense will struggle mightily against a Jacksonville defense that has looked great in all but the second half of their game against the Titans.

Jacksonville 23, New York 12

Buffalo Bills (2-1) @ Atlanta Falcons (3-0)

The Falcons could be 1-2 if a couple of plays didn’t break their way this year, but alas they are undefeated and will be hosting the first ever day game at their sparkling new stadium.  I don’t see Buffalo hanging in with the Falcons in a shootout and thus I am going with the home team in this battle.

Atlanta 32, Buffalo 22

Tennessee Titans (2-1) @ Houston Texans (1-2)

Here’s another sneaky good game.  Deshaun Watson looked good on the road against the Patriots last week while the Titans finally got a statement win over (what should be) a quality team this year.  Of course, most people would take the Titans here, but I think I’m gonna roll with Houston and their defense.  Tennessee is still getting it together on “D” this year and the Texan rookie QB should be able to make some plays Sunday.

Houston 21, Tennessee 20

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) @ Baltimore Ravens (2-1)

I feel like I’ve been a bit hard on the Ravens this year, but I really am not a big fan of their offense, and that unit looked horrible in London against the Jags last week.  The Steelers run defense was not good against the Bears, but their pass defense was just fine.  That should not prove to be an issue on the road in Baltimore this week.  I see Pittsburgh pounding the rock on the ground and shortening this game en route to a nice division win.

Pittsburgh 20, Baltimore 9

Los Angeles Rams (2-1) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-1)

Both teams got some big plays out of both of their passing and rushing game last week on the road and the Rams will be coming in off a mini-BYE.  However, the Cowboys proved that they can outlast their opponents by pounding the run and being scrappy on defense against the Cardinals on Monday night and I can see them doing the same thing at home against a Ram team that has looked good in their two wins, albeit against poor teams.

Dallas 27, Los Angeles 17 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Cincinnati Bengals (0-3) @ Cleveland Browns (0-3)

Ahh, the good ole battle of Ohio is taking place for the first of two times this weekend.  It is also a battle of two out of five winless teams in the league this year.  The Bengals looked good running the ball with Joe Mixon in Lambeau last week, but Andy Dalton needs to get things right as he is missing some open receivers this year.  I can see them taking a win away from the Browns who are still trying to find that identity on both sides of the ball in Cleveland.

Cincinnati 21, Cleveland 14

Sunday, October 1st, 4:05 e.t.

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) @ Los Angeles Chargers (0-3)

For the second straight week, Philly takes on a winless team desperate for a win.  This time around I do not see them winning.  The Chargers will be desperate and at home on the west coast versus an Eagle team that is not healthy right now.  Philip Rivers needs to have a bounceback game and I think he can do that at home on Sunday.

Los Angeles 23, Philadelphia 21

New York Giants (0-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)

This is another tough game to choose because I think that the Bucs are slightly better than the Giants at this point in the season, but New York is very hungry for a win.  A healthy Odell Beckham Jr. made the New York offense look worlds better in the fourth quarter last week and the Giants need to mimic what they did against Philly again because if that formula works they can win plenty of games this year.  The Bucs will make it tough, but Jameis Winston will ultimately make one too many mistakes at home.  Side note: Tampa Bay is not a great home team.

New York 24, Tampa Bay 20 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

San Francisco (0-3) @ Arizona Cardinals (1-2)

The Cardinals have looked like a mess on the O-line so far and that does not bode well for them in this game with the pass rush probably being one of the Niners strengths on the season.  If San Fran can stuff the run game and Brian Hoyer can play nearly as well this week as he did last, I like Kyle Shanahan to pick up his first win as a head coach this week on the road.

San Francisco 16, Arizona 10

Sunday, October 1st, 4:25 e.t.

The Raiders were embarrassed in prime time against the Redskins and will be really ticked off this week.  Meanwhile, the Broncos were humbled on the road against Buffalo.  Obviously Denver is a much better team at home and they should play well against the Raiders but I feel obligated to pick Oakland seeing as how they were my Super Bowl pick.  Also, barring a tie of course, one of these previously 2-0 teams will be dropping to 2-2 and I say that will be the Broncos, but slightly begrudgingly.

Oakland 26, Denver 17

Sunday, October 1st, 8:30 e.t.

Indianapolis Colts (1-2) @ Seattle Seahawks (1-2)

This is probably the least appetizing Sunday Night Football game in recent history but it will feature two teams that really need a win to keep pace in their divisions.  Seattle finally got something going on offense last week and it came all via Russell Wilson.  He shouldn’t have any trouble carving up a poor Indy defense at home Sunday night.

Seattle 34, Indianapolis 10

Monday, October 2nd, 8:30 e.t.

Washington Redskins (2-1) @ Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)

Its Week 4, and no other team has looked better than the Kansas City Chiefs.  The Redskins will have their hands full on the road in front of a raucous crowd at Arrowhead.  The only thing Washington has going for it is that their defense has looked very good this season.  Offensively they are sound, but they won’t have the horses to hang with an AFC superpower on the road.

Kansas City 30, Washington 21

Week 4: Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots Recap

Tyrod Taylor
Tyrod Taylor in action from Sunday, October 2nd.

Final: Buffalo 16, New England 0

A gloomy Sunday in Foxboro turned even uglier for Patriots fans as the team suffered its first shutout loss at Gillette Stadium ever falling to the Bills at home.  Buffalo came in with a solid game plan and executed it very well while New England could not get out of their own way or find any kind of identity or continuity on offense.  Overall, it was a dominant effort by the road team.

The offensive game plan was excellent, installed by newly appointed coordinator Anthony Lynn.  The former running backs coach in Buffalo had the team clicking dialing up a plethora of different plays.  The entire plan predicated on protecting Tyrod Taylor from himself as there were a lot of short, safe throws for him.  He was accurate on them, for the most part, connecting on 27 out of his 39 passes.  Tyrod only attempted passes of 15+ yards five times (officially) in the game and was able to find his outlet receivers quickly behind some very admirable blocking from his offensive line.  He escaped pressure on a couple of different occasions and found his men down field to convert some key third down situations.  As far as the rest of the offense went, there was a lot of outside runs.  LeSean McCoy was dancing around tacklers in this game making a handful of defenders miss.  Buffalo broke out the wildcat for the second straight week and once again saw some success using it.  The run blocking was fair by the Bills O-line but the 134 yards rushing was more due to a combination of shifty moves by the backs and poor tackling from the Pats.

Robert Woods
Robert Woods getting tackled by Logan Ryan.

Defensively for Buffalo there was some decent coverage by the secondary to go along with one of the most impressive single-game efforts seen this season.  Zach Brown was everywhere in this contest showcasing his elite speed at linebacker, racking up 18 total tackles (13 solo).  He sacked Jacoby Brissett once and forced two fumbles, one of which was recovered by the Bills.  Showing great sideline prowess, he was able to knock Patriots players out of bounds on a couple of separate occasions without drawing an unnecessary penalty flag.  Kyle Williams continued his good start to the year with some excellent line play as well as providing big help, as usual, in stopping the run.  Jerry Hughes picked up his fourth sack in as many games this year when he dumped Jacoby Brissett for a 14 yard loss at the end of the first half.  Aaron Williams, safety, flashed in coverage and was able to make some plays around the line of scrimmage as well.  One interesting thing here is that Buffalo did not rush the passer with one down lineman hardly at all in this game like they did last week against Arizona.  The defensive game plan was much simpler given their opponent was a rookie quarterback in his second start.  The Bills manned up across the line and played physical with the wide receivers.  The only gaff to speak of in this game was erased by a holding penalty on the very first play of the game when Julian Edelman broke loose for what would have been a 90 yard reception.  Otherwise, Buffalo was very sound and tackled well.  Their only trouble came in defending Martellus Bennett, one of the better tight ends in the league.  He was strong at the point of attack and at one point out-maneuvered Zach Brown for an impressive 58 yard catch and run.

On the defensive side for New England, there was not a ton to rave about.  The team only gave up 16 points, which in today’s NFL should be good enough to win a game.  This would lead someone who did not watch this game to believe that the D played well while the offense was a no-show.  While the ladder part of that statement is true, the former is not.  The Patriots missed a ton of tackles in this contest.  LeSean McCoy dodged Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower on a couple of different occasions.  Tyrod Taylor juked Hightower out as well.  The defensive line from New England was pushed around when Buffalo dropped back to pass.  Chris Long did not generate much pressure and Jabaal Sheard over-pursued on quite a few plays.  The secondary for the Pats was not atrocious by any means but they were unable to hang with Buffalo’s receiver on the very few times that a play broke down and Taylor had to scramble.  Logan Ryan’s stats look pretty as he finished the game with a whopping 14 solo tackles, along with three assists but he was often too soft in his coverage.  New England as a team played a ton of zone which is uncharacteristic of them for the most part.  This is likely because the Bills were without Sammy Watkins, one of the only dynamic playmakers that they have.  The Patriots’ conservative play was something that would have worked better had they not missed so many tackles in the open field.  This was combined with the fact that they had a couple of boneheaded penalties that extended drives for Buffalo.

Jacoby Brissett
Jacoby Brissett threw just three passes in the first half of this game.

Jacoby Brissett did not look awful in this game, but much of that is due to the equally conservative offensive game plan cooked up by Josh McDaniels.  Brissett, like Tyrod Taylor, kept most of his throws around the line of scrimmage.  The Patriots ran a lot of shallow crossing routes and drags in front of the NC State product.  These throws were easy to complete and he did not make any bad decisions throwing the ball.  His big error came in the second quarter when his team was down by 13 and were moving the ball deep into Buffalo territory.  On a 3rd and 11 he had chose to scramble and got popped by Zach Brown, fumbling the ball.  This play was a perfect example of a rookie quarterback trying to do too much.  There were three Bills defenders in front of him and he had about four yards to go before picking up a first down.  The smart play would have been to get down, protect the ball and himself, and pick up three points but instead he took an unnecessary shot and turned the ball back over to Buffalo.  The Patriots only had three official pass plays in the first half and were unsuccessful when trying to get the running game going.  The Bills controlled the clock and did not let the Pats get a rhythm established.  The offensive line was not all that bad, however.  They were firing off their blocks and giving Brissett a clean pocket to throw from for a majority of the afternoon.  Rob Gronkowski saw very limited action again this week, but was able to pick up his first catch of the year on the Patriots lone third down conversion in this game.  They were a dreadful 1/12 in that category while the Bills were 7/15 on the day, largely contributing to the 36:11/23:19 gap in time of possession.

Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski made his first catch of the year on Sunday versus Buffalo.

To be frank, this was a lousy effort by the Patriots on the first Sunday in October.  They know they get Tom Brady back next week, so there was not a whole lot for them to lose in this game.  On top of an uninspired outing by the team, they made a ton of mistakes along the way.  Lots of sloppy penalties hampered New England on the afternoon and everybody witnessed what they thought they were going to see for a lot of the first four games this year.  Buffalo outplayed them on this day and that will reflect well for them perhaps later down the road.  The Bills defense played exceptionally for the second straight week and the offense has actually managed to look better ever since Anthony Lynn took over as offensive coordinator before Week 3.  The Bills will hit the road to take on the surprising 3-1 Rams while the Patriots head to Cleveland to face the 0-4 Browns with Tom Brady returning under center.  It was an ugly loss for New England, but not an alarming one.  This team is still in good shape, it was simply a frustrating afternoon with a lack of execution and a boatload of uncharacteristic mistakes.

LeSean McCoy
LeSean McCoy getting tackled on Sunday.

The Skinny:

  • The Bills converted 7/15 times in third down situations while the Patriots were only 1/12 leaving a huge gap in the time of possession.
  • The conservative defense for Buffalo paid off as the Bills rarely came after Brissett and also made most of their tackles in the open field.  The back seven gave a strong effort here.
  • LeSean McCoy is looking good and is juking and jiving his way across and up the field much like he did in 2013.  Opposing defenses beware.
  • Jacoby Brissett was limited to what he could do in this game.  He did make most of his throws but also made a bad error attempting to take on three Bill defenders and fumbling the ball away deep in Buffalo territory instead of sliding and settling for three points.
  • The Patriots missed many tackles and did not look sound defensively.  There was a lot of zone defense going on and players were not making the plays that were in front of them.  The sloppiness started on offense when a 90 yard reception by Julian Edelman was called back on a hold on the first play of the game.  He only had one catch in this game.
  • New England was shut out for the first time ever in Gillette Stadium and lost in October for the first time since 2013 and at home to an AFC opponent in tenth month for the first time since 2005.

2016 Season: Week 4 Preview

We are hitting the quarter-pole for most teams in the league this week, so with that being said let’s look at who would win some of the league’s most prestigious awards if the season were to end today:

MVP: Carson Wentz, QB Eagles- Not only is this rookie quickly making a name for himself in the league by quickly grasping the playbook and tearing through opposing defenses, he is showing the necessary leadership skills that it takes to lead teams to championships.  There have been times this season where all the Eagles offense had was Wentz, and that proved to be enough.  Philly was a dead duck three weeks ago, but they are now instantly in playoff contention with their big QB.

Offensive Player of the Year: David Johnson, RB Cardinals- Many would argue that this is an irrelevant award since the MVP should be the OPotY (since it is usually a quarterback), but that may not be the case this season.  David Johnson has been a consistent performer in the Cardinals offense this season, one that has looked dysfunctional at times.  Johnson is a true dual-threat back who can play all three downs.  In this day and age, that is a necessity with quarterbacks throwing the ball all over the lot.  The dude has been an x-factor every week he’s been on the field and if he were to continue this streak, he could be a near lock for this award.

Defensive Player of the Year: Marcus Peters, CB Chiefs- Okay, okay, this one could be a stretch and an overreaction to last week’s performance when he had two interceptions.  However, the dude already has four on the season and is playing like a shutdown corner.  In his second year, he is taking that next step to becoming an elite corner.  Von Miller garnered strong consideration for this award, but if the season ended now I’d say it goes to Peters since Miller does have the help of other pass-rushers to help him to his early five sacks, but he would certainly be deserving as well.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Wentz: If the dude is the MVP, he’s gotta be considered the rookie of the year as well.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jalen Ramsey, DB Jaguars- The guy has shown some spunk and willingness to tackle.  He is everywhere for Jacksonville this season.  Whether it be coming up to stuff a run play or locking down and talking trash with Steve Smith, the guy has been doing it all and is one of the lone bright spots for the Jags on the year.  If he continues on like this, he will be a lock for the award, and it won’t even be close.

Comeback Player of the Year: Kelvin Benjamin, WR Panthers- This pick could be a headscratcher given his 0-for last Sunday, but even with that he has three touchdowns already and is on pace to grab 16 of those and go over 1,000 yards receiving.  Sure, Carolina got smothered by the Minnesota defense last week, but a lot of teams will.  Otherwise this is an excellent offense capable of torching teams on any given week.  Look for Benjamin to bounce back from this performance and finish this season dominating as a number one receiver.

Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick, Patriots- I was going to go with Doug Pederson here, but there is no way that Bill can be overlooked for what he has done with a team that was without their two best players for the first two weeks of the season, and for the third week one of those players was very limited.  Almost any other team in this league could be 0-3 or 1-2 right now given these circumstances, but Belichick is still churning out wins like it is his birth-right.  No other coach in the league could have his team 3-0 the way this man has through brilliant game-planning and preparation.  Things will only get easier as Rob Gronkowski gets healthy and Tom Brady returns from suspension.  You are looking at a 14+ win team here without question.

Now that we have covered all that, it is time to get to my Week 4 picks.  This column will bounce back, I do promise!

Teams on BYE: Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles

Last Week: 6-10

Season: 23-25

Thursday, September 29th, 8:25 e.t.

Miami Dolphins (1-2) @ Cincinnati Bengals (1-2)

The Dolphins are coming off of one of the most unimpressive wins you will ever witness after gritting one out in overtime at home against the Browns.  It is looking like Miami is not going to be a good team this season.  On the other side, we have the Bengals who have not looked too impressive in their first three games themselves, mainly due to a poor performance from their offensive line.  They picked it up a bit last week and looked a lot better against Denver, however the Broncos are looking like the same team this year as they were last so I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Cincy is a bad team this season.  With that being said, it is clear that the Bengals are much better than the Dolphins and should take care of business at home while keeping pace with the Ravens and Steelers in the division.  By the way, the uniforms that Cincinnati will be wearing in this game are awesome, in my opinion.  It will be weird that the team wearing orange at Paul Brown is not the Bengals, however.

Bengals Color Rush Uniform

Cincinnati 28, Miami 14

Sunday, October 2nd, 9:30 am e.t.

Indianapolis Colts (1-2) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) (In London)

Jags in London

Our yearly Jaguars game across the pond is here, and once again it will be sporting a team that looks like they are still not ready to contend for the playoffs.  Any chance the Jags had at redeeming their season last week was lost when the Ravens came to town and beat them with a last minute field goal.  Now they have to fly across the world to face a Colts team that hasn’t looked to good in their own right but was able to eek out a win against a banged up Chargers team.  I think the Jags are still a five or six win team this season and they do have more weapons on both sides of the ball than does Indy.  In fact, you could make the argument that the Jaguars have an advantage in 21 out of 22 positions.  Andrew Luck > Blake Bortles but Jacksonville > Indianapolis in this game.  Their defense will show up and make things tough on Luck and company and the Jags pick up their first win of the season.

Jacksonville 24, Indianapolis 19

Sunday, October 2nd, 1:00 e.t.

Cleveland Browns (0-3) @ Washington Redskins (1-2)

The Cleveland Browns are winless, as we all may have expected.  Watching the Browns is kind of like watching Tom and Jerry.  The Browns of course are Tom and they try and try again to get the best of their opposition, but often times end up failing in very embarrassing ways.  Sad Browns FanTruth be told, Cleveland has at least looked competitive against the Ravens and Dolphins, so there’s that.  Will they play well against a Redskin team that is coming off of an important division win over the Giants?  I think so.  Washington played a complete, albeit sloppy game against the G-Men and were able to win.  They have some hope to bring their record back to 2-2 with a win over Cleveland.  It’s too bad RGIII won’t be starting for the Browns.  Could you imagine the storylines: the Robert Griffin Revenge Game!  We would have had to flex that one to Sunday Night Football.  As it is, the Brownies are sending rookie Cody Kessler out there to play.  I briefly thought about choosing Cleveland as my upset special, but the ‘Skins have to win cause NFC East.  That’s all I have to say about that.

Washington 34, Cleveland 21

Detroit Lions (1-2) @ Chicago Bears (0-3)

The Lions and Bears got whipped around by superior teams on the road in the first halves of last week’s action but then came back and made the score somewhat respectable after that.  With that being said, the Bears are in worse shape than this guy with their team this year:


Chicago could be the worst team in football and if that is the case, I really don’t want to pick them to win this game, especially the way my picks have gone so far this season.  No upsets here, just some dominance from the Lions as they get healthy against a bad team.

Detroit 37, Chicago 13

Oakland Raiders (2-1) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-0)

Here’s a fun fact: this is the only game on Sunday that pits two teams that have only one loss between them against each other.  maxresdefault-1The Ravens were able to steal a win away from the Jaguars last week in rather unimpressive fashion.  I’m still not sold that this can be a good team throughout the year even though they are off to a fast start.  Oakland is a team that plays a fun brand of football.  There games have been close this season and exciting to watch.  More of the same can be expected this week when the team heads into Baltimore.  The Raiders may be the sexy pick to win this game, and perhaps they are the logical choice since they do have the better team, however I am going with the Ravens at home.  Baltimore, to me, seems like the 2015 Atlanta Falcons.  They will get off to an unexplained fast start and then quickly come back down to earth towards the middle of the season.  This is a contest that everybody is expecting the Raiders to win, which is why they will lose it.  Baltimore has had success shutting down their opponent’s running game and that has been a point of strength for Oakland.  Make that team one-dimensional and they could have some problems.

Baltimore 27, Oakland 23

Seattle Seahawks (2-1) @ New York Jets (1-2)

Russell Wilson suffered a knee sprain last week against the 49ers, but is confident that he will be able to play against the Jets this week (per the Seattle Times).  As ugly as the injury looked, we know that Wilson is a gamer and it will take a lot to keep him off the field on Sunday.09252016-action_800-780x594

Seattle will hit the road to face a Jets team that is fresh off of an embarrassing three touchdown loss on the road to the Chiefs that saw them turn the ball over a whopping eight times.  Ryan Fitzpatrick earned the lowest grade ever (per pro-football focus) as a quarterback with his six interceptions, four of them coming in the fourth quarter.  Going up against a Seattle team whose defense is one of only two in the league that has yet to allow a passing touchdown on the season, the match up does not seem to favor Gang Green.  However, the Jets are a prideful team, and they seem like they are going to be that squad that gives teams problems just when you think they have no shot at winning.  Seattle has had a history of starting slow, as we all know.  2-2 seems likely as I view this as a trap game for them.  I’m betting that the Jets come out and follow up a horrific performance with one that could be considered one of their best of the year.  A limited Russell Wilson plays into this, especially if the team can slow down Christine Michael, which I think they can.

New York 29, Seattle 20

Buffalo Bills (1-2) @ New England Patriots (3-0)

Part of the reason my record is so awful in picking games this year is because I have actually picked against the Patriots (and Vikings and Broncos) in all three games.  That one is my fault.  It is certainly obvious that Bill Belichick is not a coach you can ever bet against, so doing it here would seem foolish.  As tempting as it is to pick the Bills here, which I really want to since I can see them winning this game, I’m not going to.  Buffalo showed a lot of heart against an Arizona team at home last week and proved that they are not completely awful.  Unfortunately they will fall on the road to New England, and here is why.  The Patriots defense has quietly been what has carried the team to a 3-0 start.  It is easy to lose track of their performance since you’ve got young quarterbacks playing well in Josh McDaniels’ system, but this is a group that pitched a shutout against the Texans, held the Dolphins to nothing for about two and a half quarters two weeks ago, and contained the Cardinals in Arizona in Week 1.  Jaimie Collins is in the running for defensive player of the year and is making plays all over the field.  The New England secondary has been good as well and the team is stopping the run game.  All Buffalo is going to want to do is run the ball with offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.  This gives the Pats a distinct advantage.  Couple that with the fact that they will have had nine days to prepare for this game and you have yourself what looks to be a clear spot for them to win at home.4e3f66a0b0c86b7117800782d597a089e7af737317fb85afdabdcd2ffd79a3cc-1

New England 20, Buffalo 9

Tennessee Titans (1-2) @ Houston Texans (2-1)

The Texans took one on the chin last week in New England, and are now struck by the news that they could be without J.J. Watt for a significant amount of time due to a re-injury of his back.  Houston we have problems?  Nope.  Jadeveon Clowney is emerging as the no. 1 overall talent that we all thought he would be. Jadeveon Clowney Vince Wilfork is still doing his thing and absolutely stuffing the run.  John Simon has impressed quite a bit on that line as well.  Whitney Mercilus is brutalizing runners and quarterbacks alike.  The secondary has held its own over the first few weeks.  What I am trying to say is that this is a bad match up for the Titans, a team that looks to run the ball down your throat every week.  The Texans are a good defensive team, even more so at home.  They, like the Patriots, have had nine days to prepare which will help a lot.  The Titans like to play a lot of close games as their style invites this, but unfortunately for them I don’t believe they have the playmakers to match blows with the Texans.  Houston should improve to 3-0 at home with an easy win over their rivals.

Houston 24, Tennessee 10

Carolina Panthers (1-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (2-1)

Who woulda thunk it, that Falcons are sitting all alone atop the NFC South after three weeks.  Their offense has looked very good at the beginning of this season and Matt Ryan is fourth in the league in passing with 970 yards already.  The dirty birds are the highest scoring team in football, and they have two road wins to start the season.  This is great and all, but we have to remember the teams they were playing.  Their two wins came against Oakland and New Orleans, two teams that have really struggled defensively to start the year.  Carolina, although off to a 1-2 start, does not have its defense to blame for it.  They have played well through the first three weeks of the season and have been dominant with their front seven.  Their two losses have come against clear playoff contenders who have excellent defenses, something Atlanta lacks.  The Panthers offense has been to blame for the team’s two losses.  This is a good spot for Carolina to get right on the road against a team that has shown no ability to rush the passer with their front four.  Cam Newton was harassed last week against Minnesota, getting sacked eight times after holding the ball too long.  The Falcons do not have that kind of pass-rushing ability and therefor Cam should be able to pick them apart.  Matt Ryan will struggle a bit in this game if the team cannot get a semblance of a running game going.  By the way, who else is excited to see what kind of crazy outfit Cam decides to don during the post-game press conference?

Cam Newton

Carolina 42, Atlanta 23

Sunday, October 2nd, 4:05 e.t.

Denver Broncos (3-0) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)

The Broncos are 3-0, and I’ve picked them to lose all three of their first games.  Their defense has shined, and there are a lot of people out there, myself included, that think that this team is no worse off with Trevor Siemien as their quarterback than they were last year with Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler.  Make no mistake, this defense can carry this team in 2016.  Last week, however, Siemien threw for four touchdowns and over 300 yards on the road in Cincy where nobody beats the Bengals during 1:00 games.  So when Denver has both offense and defense working, it is hard to bet against them.  Trevor SiemienThis is a game they should dominate, right?  Well, not only will the Broncos not dominate, they won’t even win.  Call me crazy, but I like Tampa Bay to win a game like this even though they are coming off of a puzzling home loss to the LA Rams.  The Broncos secondary has struggled to cover bigger receivers, and that is all Tampa Bay is going to throw their way.  Teams have actually shown an ability to run the ball against the Broncos as well.  While I don’t think that the Bucs are going to try to do much with their ground game on Sunday, it does help to know that they have a chance to lean on it should it become necessary.  Tampa needs to attack the middle of the field with their guys like Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans.  The team did lose Austin Sefarian-Jenkins to the Jets, but I still like their size inside.  Give me Tampa with the upset.

Tampa Bay 23, Denver 20

Sunday, October 2nd, 4:25 e.t.

Los Angeles Rams (2-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (1-2)


In life you can only bet on a few things: death, taxes, and Jeff Fisher coached teams playing division rivals tightly.  The Rams, in a mind-boggling start to the season, are tied atop the NFC West, despite having only scored 46 points on the season (15.3/game).  37 of them did come last week against Tampa Bay, however, so maybe this team is starting to turn the corner offensively.  Either way, Arizona is not going to lose this game.  They are 0-2 against AFC teams this season and have been shut down offensively in their two losses.  However, they looked great at home against Tampa Bay, and I think that is a real indicator as to how this team is capable of performing on any given Sunday.  The Rams are still struggling to get Todd Gurley going this year and that is due to teams stacking the box against him and because of the fact that the o-line is very underwhelming.  Arizona doesn’t necessarily have to stuff eight guys in the box to slow down Gurley, but I think they will because I don’t see the Los Angeles wide receivers beating the secondary of the Cards.  The Rams may play this game close early on, but I just don’t think they will be able to keep up with Bruce Arians’ offense in the long-haul.

Arizona 30, Los Angeles 13

New Orleans Saints (0-3) @ San Diego Chargers (1-2)

As funny as this may sound, this is probably the hardest game to pick this week as well as one of the more intriguing games.  On one hand we have the Saints whose defense still can’t stop anyone but on the other we have a Chargers team that has been bitten badly by the injury bug and may not have a ton of weapons to keep pace with an offense like New Orelans’.  When picking this game, it comes down to who I think will perform better: the Saints defense or the Chargers offense.  It seems like the perfect spot to pick the Saints because they have a healthier team overall and are more explosive on offense, but I can’t do it.  Philip Rivers is quietly having one of his more impressive seasons, and is doing it with guys like Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams.  In addition to that, Melvin Gordon is looking like the back that the Bolts thought he would be when they took him 15th overall in the ’15 draft.  Against a defense that allowed the Falcons to score on six straight possessions, as well as one that let Tevin Coleman score three touchdowns on the ground in addition to getting absolutely shredded by Devonta Freeman, it is hard to see why Gordon won’t have a nice game.  Melvin GordonI suppose in the end, I think that the San Diego injuries will hinder the team less than will New Orleans’ injuries to their secondary.  Not to mention, the Chargers still have a good scoring defense.  That will play a factor as well.  This has the makings to be one of the more exciting contests of the week.

San Diego 31, New Orleans 29

Dallas Cowboys (2-1) @ San Francisco 49ers (1-2)

I’m going to say this right now: the 49ers are going to upset Dallas at home this week.  This game is a bundle of all my bold predictions in the week.  I believe we will see Colin Kaepernick take the field for the first time all year and play in Chip Kelly’s offense.  Kaepernick Afro PowerI may only be speaking for myself when I say that this is very anticipated.  How will Kap perform in this offense.  I’m thinking we get a chance to find out on Sunday after Blaine Gabbert struggles again early.  San Fran on the year has not looked overwhelming on defense, but they do have a unit that is budding and has the potential to be good down the line.  They were outstanding Week 1 against Los Angeles, but that was against Los Angeles.  Dallas is another story.  Their offense hasn’t been explosive, but it has been very effective to this point in the season.  Jason Garrett has done a nice job prepping Dak Prescott for game-day and the young QB has responded by making a lot of safe throws and not turning the ball over at all.  Ezekiel Elliot finally had a breakout game last week versus Chicago and all seems to be going right for Dallas as even their defense has looked good.  With that being said, I think that Chip Kelly has a little something up his sleeve for the Cowboys this week; a team that he got used to playing over his three years in Philly.  This could be a gut feeling more than anything else, but I feel that the San Fran offense finally gets it going this week.  I’ll take them in an upset at home.

San Francisco 24, Dallas 20

Sunday, October 2nd, 8:30 e.t.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)

The Chiefs take on the Steelers in the only game this week to feature two 2-1 teams.  Pittsburgh is coming off of their worse defeat of the Mike Tomlin era and will likely be playing with a huge chip on their shoulder while the Chiefs rode their defense to an absolutely dominant home win over the Jets.  If Kansas City is to slow down the Pittsburgh passing attack, they will have to do two things:

  1. Pressure Big Ben
  2. Cover the Steelers receivers

Seems pretty simple, but it is easier said than done.  Philadelphia did not get a ton of pressure on Roethlisberger early last week, but they did cover pretty well.  Later in the game when up by a lot, they pinned their ears back and came after Ben.  The Chiefs need to hope for the same luck here.  The only problem is the fact that Pittsburgh gets Le’Veon Bell back in this game.  Tomlin’s quote of the week was that “L. Bell is our guy” and will be seeing a lot of carries in this game. L Bell Look for him to tote the rock 22-25 times as well as receive an additional four or five touches in the pass game.  The Chiefs have had some success running the ball this year, but that was against some much slower defenses.  The Steelers have perhaps the fastest “D” in the sport and I can see them giving the road team fits here in that department.  At the end of the day, the 34-3 loss last week is going to fire this Pittsburgh team up.  They are so much better than that and will prove it by taking apart the Chiefs in prime time.  This just seems like it will be a classic night for Todd Haley’s offense to get healthy again.

Pittsburgh 41, Kansas City 17

Monday, October 3rd, 8:30 e.t.

New York Giants (2-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (3-0)

This is, perhaps, the best game on the entire Week 4 slate, and we wait until Monday to watch it go down.  The Giants really could be 3-0 if it weren’t for a lot of silly mistakes against a desperate Washington team that was trying hard to save their season a week ago.  For Minnesota, they have been nothing short of awesome so far this season on defense, and it is clear that the team isn’t losing much if anything at all with Sam Bradford starting over the injured Teddy Bridgewater.  The real question here is can the Vikings offensive line protect Bradford against a not-too-shabby Giants pass rush?  I think they can do just enough to slow the unit and give Sammy Sleeves enough time to find Kyle Rudolph in the middle of the field for big plays.  The Giants have had a bit of trouble containing top-tier tight ends this season, and that can continue here.  The one thing the Vikings have not done at all this year is run the ball.  Teams aren’t doing that very well against New York so far on the season, so I don’t expect it to get any better here for the Vikes.  Yes, Minnesota clearly has the better team overall, but I think that the G-Men present a lot of match up problems for them overall.  Can Xavier Rhoades, Trae Waynes, and Terrence Newman slow down Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, and Sterling Shepherd?  I think they will struggle to some degree.  This seems like a game where Eli Manning is going to be pressured a lot, but will somehow fight his way through it for a win.  The one thing that the Giants have going for them is their offensive scheme, predicated on Manning getting the ball out quickly.  If he can avoid being hit by dumping the ball off in a timely manner, Big Blue can steal one on the road here handing the Vikings their first loss in a new stadium, and I think they will.US Bank Stadium

New York 21, Minnesota 17

Week 4 Bonus Predictions

Sure Bet of the Week (3-0): Pittsburgh over Kansas City

Upset of the Week: New York Giants over Minnesota

Offensive Player of the Week: Ben Roethlisberger, QB Steelers

Defensive Player of the Week: Whitney Mercilus, LB Texans

Rookie of the Week: Sterling Sheperd, WR Giants

Best Quarterback: Cam Newton, QB Panthers

Best Running Back: Le’Veon Bell, RB Steelers

Week 4: Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers Recap

Randall Cobb making a nice grab from 10/4/15
Randall Cobb making a nice grab from 10/4/15

Final: Green Bay 17, San Francisco 3

It was a slug-fest in Santa Clara on Sunday afternoon that saw the Green Bay defense smothering the 49ers offense to the tune of six sacks, one interception, and an allowance of only one field goal.  Colin Kaepernick didn’t look much better than he did last week when he threw four interceptions against Arizona, and the Niners really struggled to run the ball (outside of a few quarterback scrambles).

Nothing was easy for Green Bay either outside of their opening drive where Aaron Rodgers took the team right down the

Colin Kaepernick and Clay Matthews have had their run-ins in the past, and Sunday was no different
Colin Kaepernick and Clay Matthews have had their run-ins in the past, and Sunday was no different

field and into the end zone for a touchdown.  After that they managed to score only ten more points as the Niners’ defense was pretty solid.  They were able to get off the field on third down, which was important, as the Pack was held to 5/15 on their third down conversions.  They were, however, two for two going for it on fourth down.  Tim Masthay punted six times, which, for Green Bay, seems like a lot these days.  It was the most they have punted in a game this season.

James Jones was the go-to guy for Aaron Rodgers, catching five passes for 98 yards, including an incredible toe-tipping grab on the boundary to convert a third and seven midway through the third quarter.  This led to a 1-yard touchdown run by fullback John Kuhn, his first score since Week 1 of the 2013 season.  Mason Crosby missed a 44 yard field goal going into the half, and hit a 31 yarder in the third quarter to finish his day 1/2.  The Green Bay defensive line was incredible in this contest.  B.J. Raji was especially impressive as he was constantly able to penetrate into the backfield.  The Pack did a nice job containing Colin Kaepernick, something they have struggled mightily to do in the past.

Kaep was only 13/25 throwing the ball for 160 yards.  More than half of those yards came on two plays, a 47 yard dime to Torrey Smith in the fourth quarter, and a 40 yard push pass to Quinton Patton in the second.  Outside of those two throws, Colin was not very good.  Of course, protection did not hold up well and he did not have the help of a running game either.  Green Bay’s defensive game plan was to have #7 beat them.  He was unable to do so.  Many throws came out of his hand awkwardly and he looked very skittish in the pocket.  San Francisco’s offensive woes can easily be traced back to the struggles of their offensive line and it showed in this battering.

Colin Kaepernick in action from 10/4/15
Colin Kaepernick in action from 10/4/15

San Fran will fly out to the Meadowlands to take on the Giants next Sunday night, a game that they will have to have if they want to make anything of this season.  Meanwhile, the Packers will host the Rams, who are coming off of a surprising road win over the Cardinals.  Green Bay is 4-0 for the first time since 2011 and they have looked very good doing it.  They, or New England, are without a doubt the best team in football right now.  A road win over the 49ers proved this, even though Frisco looks to be a feeble team in the NFC.

The Skinny

  • Aaron Rodgers has now thrown 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions this season.  He has not thrown an interception in the regular season since Week 15 last year
  • Colin Kaepernick threw for 87 out of his 160 yards on two plays in this game, a 40 and a 47 yarder to Quinton Patton
    Kaepernick running for his life from Sunday's game
    Kaepernick running for his life from Sunday’s game

    and Torrey Smith respectively

  • Green Bay has started 4-0 for the first time since 2011 while the 49ers have started 1-3, their worst start since going 0-5 back in 2010
  • Ty Montgomery stepped up as the number three receiver in this game, getting good separation.  He did drop a couple of catchable passes, however
  • After obtaining seven sacks a week ago, the Packers got to the quarterback a whopping six times this week
  • Aaron Lynch was the standout on defense for the 49ers with two sacks and a quarterback pressure
  • Aaron Rodgers has defeated Colin Kaepernick for the first time in his career.  He is now 1-3 against Kap

2015 Season: Week 4 Predictions

It is Week 4 of the NFL season and so far there have been many surprises and thrilling finishes.  here’s to hoping that this one will be loaded with many more to come!  Below are my predictions on what the outcome of all fifteen contests will be.  Let me know what you think!

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 24-24

Thursday, October 1st, 8:30 e.t.

Baltimore Ravens (0-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)

Both of these teams suffered big blows last week.  The Ravens obviously got knocked down a peg or ten with the loss to Cincy at home while the Steelers have found out they will be without Ben Roethlisberger for the next month and a half.  So in steps Mike Vick, and he will try to guide this Pittsburgh offense during that time.  At home against a Raven team that is desperate for a win, he will give it a go.  The Steelers have LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown still and should have the edge on offense because of it.

Pittsburgh 27, Baltimore 21

Sunday, October 4th, 9:30 am e.t.

New York Jets (2-1) vs. Miami Dolphins (1-2) (London)

After getting flattened at home by the Bills, the Dolphins will jump across the sea and face another tough AFC East defense with the Jets.  The Miami offense has really struggled to run the football this season, and Ryan Tannehill is just not good enough to get it all done on his own.  I see that trend continuing for one more week as Gang Green has something to prove after getting defeated by Philly last week.

New York 22, Miami 16

Sunday, October 4th, 1:00 e.t.

Carolina Panthers (3-0) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)

The Panthers have started and impressive 3-0, and Cam Newton has looked solid (for the most part) in those three contests.  This week he will go on the road and face a Tampa Bay defense that has the ability to be pretty good but so often looks bad.  I really don’t know if I trust the Panthers yet, however, but the Buccaneers don’t excite me too much either.  Carolina should improve to 4-0 as long as they take care of the ball and don’t get gashed by Doug Martin on “D”.

Carolina 24, Tampa Bay 11

 Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) @ Washington Redskins (1-2)

The Philadelphia offense did struggle some against the Jets last week, but the Jets do have a solid defensive unit.  Washington?  Not so much.  Furthermore, the Eagles have been acceptable in their own right on “D”.  They should pick up their second win of the season on the road against a Redskin club that is still trying to find an answer at the quarterback position.  Be warned, though.  The ‘Skins tend to show up against the Eagles.

Philadelphia 33, Washington 27

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) @ Indianapolis Colts (1-2)

It looked like the Colts were gonna fall to 0-3 last week, but then Andrew Luck happened in the fourth quarter and his team rallied to save their season from a disastrous start.  Now, at home against a team that let the Patriots score 51 points and did not force a punt, Indy looks to get back on track.  Luck should have a prolific performance in this one.  And look for Andre Johnson to actually contribute finally.  He scores two TDs as the Colts rip apart the Jags at home.

Indianapolis 37, Jacksonville 18

Houston Texans (1-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (3-0)

I was gonna pick the Texans to take this one in an upset, but then I remembered that Julio Jones is an animal (with 34 catches in his first three games, an NFL record) and that you don’t mess with Matt Ryan in the dome.  The Falcons take this game and join the Panthers at 4-0 atop the NFC South because, why not?  It would figure that a division that sent a 7-win team to the playoffs a season ago would boast two 4-0 teams the very next year.  You gotta love the NFL.

Atlanta 35, Houston 21

Oakland Raiders (2-1) @ Chicago Bears (0-3)

Speaking of cooky things to start the 2015 season, how about the Raiders having a competent offense and starting 3-1?  It will happen.  Chicago couldn’t do anything but punt the ball away up in Seattle.  I do think they’ll fare better at home against a defense that is not so stingy, but that doesn’t mean I completely trust Jimmy Claussen’s Bears.

Oakland 22, Chicago 20

New York Giants (1-2) @ Buffalo Bills (2-1)

Early reports swirling say that LeSean McCoy may be a no-go for the Bills this Sunday against the other New York team (that isn’t actually from New York).  But then again the Buffalo Bills aren’t actually from Buffalo, they hail from Orchard Park.  In fact, is this game even being played in New York or will Montreal get a little NFL action?  I digress.  Buffalo still has Karlos Williams, and he has been running like a man possessed this season.  So even without Shady, I still like the Bills to take the “W”, coupled with a solid defensive performance.

Buffalo 21, New York 13

Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3-0)

The Bengals might be for real.  They have looked pretty good in three consecutive weeks.  Jeremy Hill has killed my fantasy team over the last two, but that’s really none of my business…  I think the Bengals get things rolling on the ground against a Kansas City defense that hasn’t been extra sharp this season.  Throws will be there for Andy Dalton as well.  Let’s hope this game doesn’t end in a tie like it did the last time Andy Ried traveled to Cincinnati.

Cincinnati 25, Kansas City 23

Sunday, October 4th, 4:05 e.t.

Cleveland Browns (1-2) @ San Diego Chargers (1-2)

The Chargers, who looked good in the second half of their first game and solid in their second game, got destroyed on the road in Minnesota last week.  They look to bounce back against a Cleveland team that is 0-2 when starting Josh McCown this season and 1-0 when starting John Football (just saying).  McCown is starting this game, so look for that stat to drop to 0-3.  The Chargers do have the more talented team here.  As long as they can contain Travis Benjamin they should be fine.

San Diego 28, Cleveland 13

Sunday, October 4th, 4:25 e.t.

Green Bay Packers (3-0) @ San Francisco 49ers (1-2)

Coming on the road on a short week versus the 49ers (a team that seemingly always plays well against the Packers) spells trap game for Green Bay.  I feel like I haven’t picked enough shockers this week, so how about I do it here.  The Niners will bounce back from an atrocious performance in Arizona and pick up a win at home over Aaron Rodgers who, as another bold prediction, will turn the ball over three times after not doing so at all in the first three games.

San Francisco 28, Green Bay 24

Minnesota Vikings (2-1) @ Denver Broncos (3-0)

Denver probably has the best defense in all of football right now, and it has carried the Broncos to a 3-0 start this season.  At home against a Viking team that hasn’t done much in the way of throwing the ball this year, I would say that their odds of winning are pretty good.  Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib have been monsters on the outside.  As long as the Broncos don’t get torched by Adrian Peterson, they should be another team that improves to 4-0.

Denver 23, Minnesota 10

St. Louis Rams (1-2) @ Arizona Cardinals (3-0)

I feel as though I’ve been a little too harsh on the Cardinals this year, and they really don’t deserve it.  Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald have been amazing on offense this year, and the defense has been fantastic (especially last week).  Facing the Rams, a team that has managed only 16 points since scoring 34 in Week 1, I would say their odds of winning are pretty good.

Arizona 31, St. Louis 14

Sunday, October 4th, 8:30 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (2-1) @ New Orleans Saints (0-3)

The Saints nearly pulled an upset last week on the road and Carolina, but were killed at the end with an amazing interception courtesy of Josh Norman.  Now, they will host the Cowboys, who relinquished a 14 point halftime lead to the Falcons at home.  Sure, Dallas does play better on the road, but this week I see that changing.  Luke McCown or Drew Brees should focus on getting the ball to C.J. Spiller, Mark Ingram, and Brandin Cooks in space and watch them carry the offense.

New Orleans 21, Dallas 20

Monday, October 5th, 8:30 e.t.

Detroit Lions (0-3) @ Seattle Seahawks (1-2)

The Lions (along with Baltimore) may be the most surprising 0-3 team on the season.  I would say there is no way that they drop to 0-4, but they do play the Seahawks in Seattle on a Monday night.  Good luck with that.  Seattle should play a bit better on offense and their defense, although it did pitch a shutout against the Bears last week, has room for improvement.  The ‘Hawks win big against a banged up Matthew Stafford and a team that cannot run the ball worth a lick.

Seattle 27, Detroit 9

Week 4 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week (0-3): San Francisco over Green Bay

Sure Bet of the Week (2-1): Indianapolis over Jacksonville

Rookie of the Week: Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders

Offensive Player of the Week: Julio Jones, WR, Falcons

Defensive Player of the Week: Von Miller, LB, Broncos

Best Overall Offense: Indianapolis Colts

Best Overall Defense: Seattle Seahawks

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

2014 Season: Week 4 Predictions

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!

Week 4: New Orleans Saints 38, Miami Dolphins 17- Post Game Recap

Golly, this sure is a passing league nowadays.  You want proof, eh?  Well try this on for size: Drew Brees’ passing performance on Monday night helped the league tie a record.  In the history of the NFL there have only been two seasons (2010 and 2012) where there were six passers who threw for over 400 yards, multiple touchdowns, and no interceptions.  With his 413 yards and four touchdowns, Brees now joins Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick, Philip Rivers, Colin Kaepernick, and Peyton Manning to complete this record tying list in just four weeks!  In other words, quarterbacks are passing more efficiently now than ever before (but we already knew that).  I just think it is impressive that the 2013 season has already turned in a tuplet of incredible performances.

Anyways, the game itself was highly entertaining.  At first, the Dolphins seemed as if they were going to be able to withstand the high-octane offense of the Saints.  They forced a few early punts and closed out the first quarter down only 7-3.  Things did not look horrible going into the half either, as New Orleans was only ahead 21-10 (a manageable deficit).  When things really exploded was in the third quarter when Drew Brees decided to drive a spike into Miami’s heart with two quick scores to his tight ends (a four yard dump-off to Ben Watson and a 43 yard to Jimmy Graham).  As the game wore on, Graham was proving to be a difficult mismatch.  In the first half he had only one catch (albeit for a touchdown).  In the second half, he exploded with three catches for 73 yards.

To be fair, Miami had a lot to deal with in this game.  It was clear that early on the Saints and Sean Payton wanted to get the ball in running back Darren Sproles’ hands in space as much as possible.  Sproles absolutely killed the ‘Phins, racking up over 100 yards receiving in the first half along with a rushing and receiving touchdown.  Nobody in the secondary was fast enough to keep up with this lightning bolt and he shredded Kevin Coyle’s unit; he averaged a gain of 12.9 yards every time he touched the ball (punt and kick returns notwithstanding).  In the second half of the game when the defense was eyeballing Sproles, Drew Brees was hitting up his bigger targets in Graham and Marques Colston.  It was going to be tough to stop the Saints on this night (as it always seems to be on a Monday night), so the fuel was added to the fire when Ryan Tannehill decided to be a bit careless with the football (four turnovers total).  As ugly as those giveaways were, I would say the real reason the Dolphins had this game slip away from them was because of the play of their offensive line.  Tannehill was dropped four times and hurried on several other occasions.  Junior Gallete and Cameron Jordan simply terrorized the tackles and became a nuisence to the Miami quarterback.  Simply put, the Saints dominated the line of scrimmage on defense.

One guy who has really impressed me is Khiry Robinson, running back for the Saints.  Last week against Arizona he proved to be a punishing runner, so he earned himself some playing time this week.  Early on Randy Starks and Paul Soliai were stone-walling him, but late in the game Robinson returned the favor by power running right into the teeth of the Miami “D”.  The young running back has really carved out a niche in this New Orleans offense and I would like to see him used as a closer in future games.

At the end of the day, this game was won by the Saints defensive line and the incredible play by Drew Brees.  413 yards and four touchdowns is nothing to shake a stick at, so it would be a huge disservice if I failed to mention how his right arm totally dominated the night.  Miami does indeed fall to 3-1, but they are in no need to panic; many of teams have come down to New Orleans and gotten it handed to them on a Monday night.  Now they need to shake the cobwebs and head back home to play the defending Super Bowl Champions.  The Saints head to Chicago to play the Bears in what promises to be a telling game for both teams.  I am looking forward to both of these upcoming contests as we head into Week 5!

Week 4: New England Patriots 30, Atlanta Falcons 23- Post Game Recap

Red zone issues are magnified for the Atlanta Falcons in a crushing loss at home to the New England Patriots.  Atlanta found their way into the red zone six times and only came away with 16 points; one touchdown.  That is unacceptable when you are playing one of the best teams in the league, and it is something that has plagued them this year.  The ending of this game was eerily similar to the last two games in New Orleans between the Falcons and the Saints; yes I am suggesting that this could be a problem that has been lying in the weeds for more than a year now.  Nevertheless, the Patriots come in and take the game over on offense for a thrilling win.  Let’s take a step back in time and relive some of the key moments of this nail-biting contest.

Atlanta came charging out of the games.  Matt Ryan hit seven of his first nine passes (including a string of seven in a row to start the game), and he drove his team down the field to the New England 5 yard line and the Falcons kicked a field goal.  The Patriots would later answer this score with a touchdown on the back-end of a 12 play, 6:05 drive that included 10 running plays.  Tom Brady hooked up with Matthew Mulligan for a one yard touchdown pass to put the Pats up 7-3.  Later they extended the lead to 10-3 before the Falcons found their way into the end zone to tie the game at 10 going into the half.  Matt Ryan hit the ageless wonder Tony Gonzalez from 21 yards out to bring the game to a deadlock.

New England and Atlanta traded punts to start the second half, and eventually the Patriots took a 13-10 lead after Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman deep over the middle of the field for a big 34 yard gainer.  On the ensuing drive, the Falcons ended up punting after Matt Ryan took a 13 yard sack.  LeGarrette Blount rumbled for a 47 yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.  This guy has surprising break away speed.  I can recall a few long touchdown runs where this 250 pound beast has simply run downhill for a score.  Anyways, the Falcons cut into this lead with a field goal and they were feeling alright with the score sitting at 20-13 with 11:52 in the fourth quarter.  Unfortunately for them, they were about to endure a five and a half minute stretch that ended up putting the game pretty much out of reach.  To begin the downward spiral, Tom Brady found Julian Edelman up the left sideline for a 44 yard catch and run on a 3rd and 8.  On the next play #12 dropped one in the bucket to Kenbrell Thompkins for a nifty 18 yard touchdown.  Next, Matt Ryan threw an interception to Aquib Talib on the first play of the Atlanta drive.  It was about this time when the stadium began to empty out, with the score at 27-13.  New England would go on to add a field goal to sturdy up a 17 point lead.

Matt Ryan did the best he could to make the game interesting again, and he did so by finding Harry Douglas for a 44 yard gain.  Then, it took two passes to Tony Gonzalez to cover the final 33 yards that stood between the Falcons and a 30-20 game.  Atlanta then kicked onsides to try and steal a possession from the Patriots, and it worked.  Matt Ryan then went back to work as he drove his team down the field to the New England 7 yard line.  His pass intended for rookie tight end Levine Toilolo was incomplete, so Matt Bryant had to add a field goal to cut the game to a seven point deficit at 30-23.  Surprisingly, the Falcons then went for another onside kick (I say surprisingly because they had all three of their time outs and a shade under three minutes left to stop New England).  Mike Smith went to the well one too many times though as his team was unable to recover the second onside kick.  However, the defense made a stand and on a fourth and one, Tom Brady was going to try a quarterback sneak to ice the game, but the snap was fumbled and the Patriots were stopped on fourth down.  This gave the Falcons a chance with two timeouts and 1:50 left to tie the game.  Julio Jones made an amazing catch with Devin McCourty draped all over him for 49 yards to start the final drive for Atlanta.  After this play, the offense was only able to gain three more yards and on a fourth and seven Matt Ryan’s pass intended for Roddy White in the end zone was knocked away by Aquib Talib.  Game over for the Falcons, the 1-3 Falcons.

If you are asking me, the player of the game award would have to go to Aquib Talib.  He shut it down on the outside.  Early in the game, he was getting help over the top from safety Steve Gregory when he was covering Julio Jones.  Later on, he was locking up with Jones one on one and was doing a great job taking him away.  What Talib was able to do in coverage was highlighted with his interception in the fourth quarter.  He was using the sideline as a second defender and pinching Julio to the edge (therefore boxing him out of the play).  That is how you should defend physical outside receivers when matched up one on one.  The team did, however, struggle to defend Tony Gonzalez.  Early on they had Jerod Mayo (a linebacker) manning up on him, and the future Hall of Famer was winning.  Next they tried getting Devin McCourty to man up on him, and that did not work either (he was beat once for a touchdown).  When all else failed, they just double teamed him and when the Patriots did that, they took away Matt Ryan’s most productive weapon when the game was on the line, and it made a difference.

The Falcons do drop to 1-3, but they are, in no way, out of it.  They are about to hit a stretch of their schedule in which their next four opponents have a combined five wins, so they can begin to make up ground you would think.  For the Patriots, this is easily their most satisfying victory.  Their defense played well and they won a game on the road in Atlanta, something that not many teams could do.  The New England road trip will continue as the team heads to Cincinnati to take on the .500 Bengals in a crucial game for each team (one that could go a long way in determining playoff seeding).  The Pats are getting healthier and Tom Brady is feeling more and more comfortable with his young wide receivers as the weeks go on.  This team is eventually going to get Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola back, and when they do they will be a force in the AFC once again if they aren’t already.  I am sold on this team; they have as good of a shot at making a deep playoff run as any other team if they can continue to play at this level on both sides of the ball.

Week 4: Arizona Cardinals 13, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10- Post Game Thoughts

I was watching the Seahawks-Texans game this weekend, and as I always do, I’ll keep a close eye on the scoreboard at the bottom of the screen.  While I was eyeballing the scoreboard, I couldn’t help but notice that the Cardinals had the ball deep in Tampa Bay territory on more than a few occasions when the game was 10-0 in the favor of the Bucs.  Carson Palmer did throw 2 picks in this game, but he was also able to take his team down the field for a winning score when it counted.  However, this is the second straight week in which Arizona has struggled to score points; this could be a huge problem for them as we move forward in the season.  As it stands, they will be happy to get out of town with a victory.  Mike Glennon’s numbers didn’t look too bad in his NFL debut, and he really could have benefited from a better running game.  Doug Martin had 45 yards on 27 carries in this game; he will need to do better than that for the Buccaneers to really go places.  He needs to be their best player and so far this year he is not off to a particularly good start.  This loss also has to hurt for the Bucs because this game now marks the third time this year where they have lost a game after leading at the 2 minute warning.

Week 4: Indianapolis Colts 37, Jacksonville Jaguars 3- Post Game Thoughts

The Jaguars actually lead this game at the end of the first quarter, but the Colts were easily able to scoot away with this one.  Andrew Luck didn’t live up to the standard he set for himself last week, but he didn’t play horribly (260 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception).  Trent Richardson found the end zone for his second time in a blue and white uniform (and on the season).  Obviously, this was simply a walk-through for Indianapolis against a poor Jacksonville team.  The Jags have scored 31 points in four games this year… do I need to go any further when explaining why the Jags are 0-4?  You can’t win if you don’t score points, such is the paradox for Gus Bradley and his team.  This was a cake-walk for Indy, but things will get much tougher next week when the Seahawks come to town; that will be a true test for this now 3-1 team.