Alright, after a couple of very average weeks I bounced back with a respectable 10-5 record. Some very interesting developments in week 4. Jacksonville is looking at home in London and pulled out an exciting victory against the Colts, while Chicago picked up there first win against a Detroit team that is falling apart quickly, and the Chargers are seemingly inventing new ways to lose (more on that later).
One interesting fact that caught my eye, is that after only 4 weeks of NFL football we have only 1 team that has yet to gain a victory and only 1 team that is undefeated. The Broncos are 4-0, while the Cleveland Browns are 0-4. Neither of those are particularly shocking, but it stood out to me.
Without further ado:
Arizona Cardinal @ San Francisco 49ers
The Cardinals have started a very disappointing 1-3. I attribute this to two things: 1) 3rd down defense, and 2) lack of a consistent deep threat. This does not exonerate Carsen Palmer. He is only completing 58% of his passes and has thrown 5 interceptions, but the bigger concern is the Cardinals’ inability to get off the field on 3rd downs. The trade for Chandler Jones has looked good with his 4 sacks, but Calais Campbell and Tyrann Mathieu have not played to the level that we have become accustomed to seeing.
The other problem has been the deep threat. John Brown has played in every game, but is fresh off an injury. Last week was his coming out party where he finally contributed in a big way. I think he is now as close to 100% as he will be all season and that this big-play problem will resolve itself.
As for the 49ers, they just do not have the horses. They are 30th in the league in total offense and dead last in passing yardage. They have no big playmakers on offense and they just lost their overall best player, NaVorro Bowman, for the season due to an achilles injury. The Cardinals appear to be on the upswing and the 49ers just won’t be able to keep up.
Cardinals get a vital win.
Washington Redskins @ Baltimore Ravens
Right now Baltimore has the top-rated defense in all of football. That does come with an asterisk, because thus far they have played Buffalo, Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Oakland; with only Oakland featuring a top 10 offense. Coincidentally, that team (the Raiders), are responsible for the Ravens lone loss and put up 28 points in the process.
The Redskins have allowed 10 more points per game than the Ravens, but they have played the Steelers, Giants, Cowboys, and Browns. Three of those teams are in the top 10. I think the Ravens defense is not as good as the stats show and the Redskins defense is not as bad as it has looked.
I like the Redskins in this game, but it should be a good one.
New England Patriots @ Cleveland Browns
Tom Brady is coming back….sorry Browns fans, you’re not getting your first win this week.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Detroit Lions
I always like teams coming off of bye weeks. An extra week of prep, especially against a sub-par opponent, can do wonders. Also take into account the amazingly advanced play of Carsen Wentz, that extra week of prep will give him even greater insight into an already feeble opponent.
For whatever reason the play of their rookie quarterback has galvanized the whole Eagles’ roster into a force to be reckoned with. I like them to take this game.
Chicago Bears @ Indianapolis Colts
Last week I talked about how the Bears had an easy travel schedule (in Chicago, in Indianapolis, in Chicago). That equates to about 8 hours of total driving time. Adversely, the Colts are on their way back from London, which will undoubtedly play a factor into the teams’ stamina.
Typically I would side with the a team that has both home field advantage and the better quarterback, however; given the close proximity Indy won’t be much of an advantage for the Colts and with Brian Hoyer at the helm, the Bears have been a more effective and efficient team.
I like the Bears to pick up their second win in a row.
Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins
Neither of these teams are overly impressive, but the Dolphins have an offense that can make some big plays and put up a fair amount of points. The Titans do not. Both have good defenses, but at this point in time I am going with the home field advantage and the better quarterback.
Houston Texans @ Minnesota Vikings
When you do not turn the ball over and have a coach who accepts no excuses, good things tend to happen. The Vikings, with their iron will, just continue to get the job done; even despite losing their top three players on offense.
The Texans have a much better offense than in previous years, however; they just lost the best defensive player in football. On paper, the Texans should beat the Vikings. On paper, all teams should probably beat the Vikings. But they don’t.
I like the Vikings to keep on rolling in their new stadium.
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers just score at will when they want to. Right now the Steelers look like the team to beat. Le’Veon Bell returned with a vengeance, Antonio Brown is at the top of his game, and Ben Roethlisberger is getting time to make plays. Pittsburgh is a steam roller that will be difficult to stop. Far to difficult for the Jets and their turnover prone quarterback.
Atlanta Falcons @ Denver Broncos
Game of the week right here. Denver is top 5 in virtually every important defensive category and Atlanta is 1st in most offensive categories, including total yards and points scored. Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian has played incredibly well, but is entering this game at less than 100%. Even though it is his non-throwing shoulder.
I really do not know which way to call this one. Both have wins against quality opponents and its strength versus strength. I have to go with the Broncos. I believe the combined efforts of Chris Harris and Aqib Talib will be able to neutralize Julio Jones, and that the Broncos will be able to muster enough offense to carry the day.
Broncos in a close one.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Dallas Cowboys
Tyler Eiffert is scheduled to return this week in a must win game for the Bengals. The Cowboys have been very good behind the uncanny poise of Dak Prescott, but will continue to be without Dez Bryant. With the addition of the Bengals’ best redzone weapon and the loss of the Cowboys’ most explosive one, I like the Bengals to go on the road and take a major victory.
Both defenses have played played well and tend not to give up too many big plays. It should be a good one.
Buffalo Bills @ Los Angeles Rams
I do not know what to make of these two teams. Football Fish has the Rams at 3-1 despite Todd Gurley averaging 2.6 yards per carry and the Bills are 2-2 with Sammy Watkins out and half their defense on IR. Statistically the teams are pretty much on par with each other. Both of their biggest assets is that their defenses bend but do not break. They may give up a decent amount of yardage, but the Rams surrender only 19 points per game and the Bills 17.
I have little faith in either team, but they keep proving me wrong. I am going to go with the Rams. Apart from being at home, I think the Bills will be on a hangover from their victory over the Patriots. Rams win.
San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders
Last week the Chargers were up by 3 scores. Then in the last 7 minutes they turned the ball over 3 times, gave up 3 touchdowns, and lost to the putrid Saints 35-34. Teams like that do not win many games, especially against young, talented and hungry teams like the Raiders. Quite frankly there is no reason the Raiders should lose this games outside of horrendous play and decision making.
New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers
Earlier I stated that I like teams coming off of byes. The Packers have had two weeks to prepare for a dysfunctional team with a new head coach. And on top of all of that Odell Beckem Jr. seems to have completely lost his mind. Right now he is whining about the refs more than a professional wrestler and is having problems containing the kicker’s net.
At the end of the day I have more faith in the Packer organization than I do the Giants’ organization. Packers get the victory.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers
Tampa Bay is currently giving up 32 points per game. With big bodies like Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen, I do not expect that trend to change. The Panthers look like a shell of their Super Bowl selves, but they still have moments of brilliance. It will only take a few of those moments to beat a porous and undisciplined team like the Bucs. Panthers get victory. And for the record, I am picking the Panthers even if Cam Newton is not cleared to play.