Sept 24, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Green Bay Packers nose tackle Ryan Pickett (79) tackles Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) during the first quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

NFL Week Four: Game Predictions

Sorry for the slow updates, but I had a trip to Texas that I just returned from. Last week, again, was one of “those” weeks – I was 5-11 in my prognostications which brings me to 28-20 overall. Odd start to the season, but the picture gets clearer and clearer as the season progresses.

I do start 1-0 this week at least. Although I hadn’t been able to post for the Thursday night game, take my word for it – I had the Ravens by 14 and they won by 7.

Carolina at Atlanta – A good “Eliminator” game if you’ve not used the Falcons yet and don’t want to try to “steal” a game this early. Carolina only has played well in one game – their win at home over a troubled Saints franchise. The Falcons have no large weaknesses on either side of the ball really. The only thing Carolina has going for them is RB Jonathan Stewart returning to the lineup, but the Falcons rarely lose in the Georgia Dome…except in the playoffs. Falcons by 17

New England at Buffalo – This game should give us a clearer picture of the power structure of the AFC East. It almost looks upside-down…except the Dolphins are tied with the Pats for last. The Dolphins belong there; the Pats don’t, but the Pats have something to prove now. Buffalo at home should actually be a decent test and gauge of how the Patriots can play this season, even if their offensive line has been neglected. Buffalo’s D hasn’t improved nearly like their offseason activity would suggest. Patriots by 6

Sep 23, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) throws during the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at the Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the 49ers 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Minnesota at Detroit – The Vikings have gotten very solid play from 2nd-year QB Christian Ponder, and their rookie LT Matt Kalil does seem to be the correct pick for them, helping keep heat off his blind side. Detroit’s Matt Stafford looks like he may play on Sunday, but he’s hobbled and may not be at 100%. Also, he’s gotten off to a rough start and Detroit’s defense is horrible. Even their vaunted defensive line looks over-rated so far and their defensive backfield, horrid as it was coming into the season, also appears over-rated. The Vikings’ much-maligned D coming into the season has actually played well, giving up fewer than 20 points per game after three weeks. Vikings by 4

Tennessee at Houston – the Titans found their offense last week, but I wonder how much of that was due to Detroit’s ineptitude on the defensive side. This week? Houston, we have no problems. Texans by 21

San Diego at Kansas City – San Diego and Philip Rivers have had trouble with the Chiefs recently and have to travel to Arrowhead and play. I think this is a Mr. Hyde game for the schizophrenic Chiefs at home after a tough beating on the road in Buffalo last week. Chiefs by 11

San Francisco at New York Jets – The Jets’ defense has been suddenly vulnerable this year and losing Revis Island won’t help their situation. Thankfully for Jets fans, the closest thing the Niners have to a dominant WR is the streaky Michael Crabtree, but they’ve been incredibly soft against the run – the Niners’ strength. 49’ers by 12

Seattle at St. Louis – I’m telling you guys, the Rams are a better team than they’re getting credit for. This is one of the most intriguing matchups of the week, with a rookie QB in Seattle facing up against a top-ten CB duo in Cortland Finnegan and rookie Janoris Jenkins. I see Russell Wilson throwing a pick-6 in this one one the road, which should be the difference in this game. Seattle probably wins at home, but they’re playing in St. Louis. Rams by 6

Miami at Arizona – the Cinderella story continues this week as the undefeated Cardinals face off against an only slightly better than expected Miami team. However, I’m REALLY sticking my neck out on this one…something tells me (and I have NO idea why) that the Miami defense steps up on the road and keeps them in the game. I think part of it is that they rank 3rd in rushing defense, and Kevin Kolb may come back to earth as Beanie Wells is now on IR which won’t help their ground attack. Reggie Bush looks to be active, and I just have a “feeling” this is gonna be one of those upsets that few people see coming. If Tannehill can keep from turning it over, the Dolphins have a good chance here. Okay, so it’s just a “feeling” but I call ‘em as I see ‘em…as unlikely as it might be. Dolphins by 3

Oakland at Denver – Oakland looked like the worst team in the NFL after being pounded by the aforementioned Dolphins, then turned around and beat the Steelers last week. The Steelers’ defense is not the same without Polamalu, but Denver’s pass rush and improved run defense (middle of the pack overall) from last season coupled with Raiders RB Darren McFadden’s poor start gets Denver an easy victory at Mile High Stadium. Broncos by 20

Cincinnati at Jacksonville – Cincy’s defense hasn’t played well overall but they’ve got one of the larger, more physical units as far as construction than most. This matches up well against one of the MOST physical runners in the NFL in Jacksonville’s MJD. Unless Blaine Gabbert can carry his offense, Cincy wins this one. Bengals by 11

New Orleans at Green Bay – Talk about a crazy matchup in a crazy season for both teams! Green Bay’s vaunted offense has struggled while their defense is third in the NFL. New Orleans and Drew Brees can still put points up, but can’t keep anyone else from doing the same thing. Look for Green Bay to try to lean on their running game a lot more in this one as Cedric-sir Benson-mum gets over 100 yards rushing in this one. Mike McCarthy may have AR-12, but he doesn’t want to see Drew Brees on the field any more than necessary so they’re running a lot more this week for more than one reason. After the “Hail Scary” last Monday Night, this should be one angry, angry team. Packers by 13

Washington at Tampa Bay – Two teams that should get better as the season progresses from here but the Redskins’ defense is lousy with the injuries to Carriker and Orakpo. They weren’t all that great with them, and Tampa Bay would be 2-1 instead of 1-2 if not for one of Eli’s Herculean efforts coming from behind in week 2. I like the way the Bucs match up in this one at home. Bucs by 4

New York Giants at Philadelphia – Hard one to predict here with Philly’s turnover machine, Michael Vick, still upright. He’s already taken 30 good hits after 3 games, but won 2 of those…by one point each. I’d rather be lucky than good, but I think the Giants’ pass rush is just gonna be too much. Remember Jason Peters? Vick sure misses him. Giants by 12

Monday Night:

Chicago at Dallas – This one looks really bad for Chicago. Jay Cutler has never been one that takes care of the ball well and the Cowboys’ defense is a top-3 unit with the best group of corners in the NFL. The one thing that “may” help Chicago is that Matt Forte claims he “may” play Monday night. Fine. He won’t be much of a factor either way. Cowboys by 17

“Eliminator” choices:

Houston over Tennessee
San Francisco over New York Jets
Tampa Bay over Washington – a “steal” game
Denver over Oakland
Kansas City over San Diego – another bit of a “steal” game

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