Week 4 record: 9-6
Overall record: 36-27
Arizona Cardinals (1-3) @ San Francisco 49ers (1-3)
Game Pick: Cardinals – Game already played, pick was as follows:
Washington Redskins (2-2) @ Baltimore Ravens (3-1)
Game Pick: Ravens – The Redskins evened their record at 2-2 with a 31-20 victory over the lowly Browns last weekend, but they didn’t look overly impressive doing it. Going into the fourth quarter they actually trailed by 14, but thanks to a pair of turnovers, the Redskins were able to erase that deficit. It was close, as is often the case in Ravens games this season so far, but unfortunately for Baltimore they were on the wrong side of the scoreboard as they were edged 28-27 by the Raiders. The Redskins front seven was gashed by the Cleveland run game last week, so RB Terrance West should have no issue doing the same. Washington’s secondary isn’t in the best of shape either, and the Ravens should be able to make the Redskins one dimensional offensively with their top notch run defense. In a game featuring in-state rivals, look for the Ravens to get back on track in this one and maybe win one comfortably for change.
New England Patriots (3-1) @ Cleveland Browns (0-4)
Game Pick: Patriots – Well they weren’t able to go 4-0 without Tom Brady, but 3-1 is more than acceptable. The Patriots couldn’t get anything going against the Bills as they were blanked 16-0 at home. Their defense managed to keep them in the game, but third string QB Jacoby Brissett was not playing at 100% and was definitely a factor in the offense being subpar. The Browns again defied the odds and hung around in a game, but also again came up short and now remain the only winless team in the league. Just when you thought the Browns season couldn’t get any worse, they have to play a Patriots team that gets back QB Tom Brady, who will undoubtedly be fired up to get his season under way. This one could get ugly in a hurry and don’t expect head coach Bill Belichick to take his foot on the gas at any point either. It’s just a bad spot for the Browns to be in and it would be a monumental upset if they were able to knock off New England. For those playing in survivor pools, this is as close to a gimmie game as you can get.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) @ Detroit Lions (1-3)
Game Pick: Eagles – With the way the Eagles season started they probably wished they didn’t get their bye so early in the season, but they aren’t going to complain about an early season break. The last game before their bye, Philadelphia throttled the Steelers 34-3. The Lions meanwhile have seen their season go the wrong way after their opening week win. On paper, it looked like another good match up for QB Matt Stafford against the Bears defense, but the only touchdown they managed to score in the game was off a punt return in a 17-14 loss to Chicago. It’s sometimes too easy to assume a team coming off a bye is going to be in better shape than the team they’re playing against, but in this case this looks to be true. A tale of two teams going in opposite directions. The Lions defense is banged up, and so far Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz has looked like a seasoned vet. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles front seven may cause problems for the Lions passing game. Detroit is at home, but look for the Eagles to remain undefeated.
Chicago Bears (1-3) @ Indianapolis Colts (1-3)
Game Pick: Bears – The Bears were staring at an 0-4 start, but thanks to a well rounded offensive performance, Chicago took out division rival Detroit 17-14 last weekend. QB Brian Hoyer filled in well for the injured Jay Cutler, throwing for 302 yards and two touchdowns while rookie RB Jordan Howard, filling in for an injured Jeremy Langford rushed for 111 yards. It must have been a long flight home for the Colts after losing an ugly back and forth shootout against the Jaguars in London 30-27. Aside from a 64 yard touchdown pass on a broken play, the Colts offense struggled immensely. The Colts requested to not have their bye week after a game in London, which might end being a poor decision. They are a team that could easily be 0-4 and are catching a Bears team that finally has a little bit of momentum. Both teams have questionable secondaries, so both Hoyer and Colts QB Andrew Luck will likely be slinging the ball around the field all afternoon, but look for the Bears to emerge victorious.
Tennessee Titans (1-3) @ Miami Dolphins (1-3)
Game Pick: Titans – They were able to hang around, a common theme early in the Titans season, but alas they came up on the short end of the stick in a 27-20 loss to Houston. QB Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee passing game was again an issue as they could just not get in any rhythm. The Dolphins scored first last Thursday in Cincinnati against the Bengals, but that would be the last time they’d score in a flat and embarrassing 22-7 loss. At one point, Bengals WR A.J. Green had more total yards than the entire Dolphins offense. Miami has had 10 days to think about their poor showing, but is that going to be enough to beat a Titans team that has actually played competitive football despite their record? The combined record of the teams Tennessee lost to is 10-2, and they’ve put up a good fight in all of those games. That is going to translate into a Titans win. This would be considered a slight upset despite the teams having similar records.
Houston Texans (3-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (4-0)
Game Pick: Vikings – In their first game without star DE J.J. Watt last weekend, the Texans had their struggles with the Titans, but thanks to a 67 yard punt return by rookie WR Will Fuller, they hung on to beat Tennessee 27-20. Things were much less dramatic in Minnesota on Monday night as the Vikings moved to 4-0, easily dispatching the Giants 24-10. They completely shut down the New York offense, stymying both their run game and through the air. Looking at the records of both clubs, one might think this will be a close and competitive game. But as you delve deeper into the game, it could be very similar to the Vikings game against the Giants. Minnesota should be able to shut down the Texans passing attack, and keep their running game under control. The Vikings haven’t exactly lit up the scoreboard, but as they’ve proven in their other games this season, as long as their defense continues to play at a high level, the offense just needs to be competent for them to win. Minnesota moves to 5-0.
New York Jets (1-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1)
Game Pick: Steelers – The Jets defense kept them in a game that they probably didn’t deserve to be in, but again the offense let them down in a 27-17 loss to the Seahawks. Though his three interceptions were somewhat unlucky, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has now thrown an unacceptable nine interceptions in his last two games. It was a major bounce back from the Steelers on Sunday night as they completely dominated the Chiefs 43-14. RB LeVeon Bell looked electric in his first game back from a three game suspension, rushing for 144 yards on 18 carries. It’s looking grim for the Jets as their gauntlet of a schedule continues with a trip to Pittsburgh. While the New York’s front seven has looked the part, their secondary has been atrocious. QB Ben Roethlisberger should be able to take advantage of that fact and then some. That all being said, the Jets as a whole are still a fairly competitive team and should put up a good fight against the Steelers. It just won’t be enough to win the game.
Atlanta Falcons (3-1) @ Denver Broncos (4-0)
Game Pick: Broncos – In what was probably the biggest surprise last weekend, the Falcons throttled their division rival Panthers 48-33. It was the Matt Ryan and Julio Jones show in Atlanta as Ryan threw for over 500 yards and four touchdowns, while Jones racked up an incredible 300 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches. The Broncos traded touchdowns early with the Buccaneers, but that was it for Tampa Bay as the Broncos continued their trend of dominating defense and mistake free football offensively in beating the Bucs 27-7 to move to 4-0. This is a fascinating game in terms of how the Falcons offense will match-up with Broncos defense. Atlanta has yet to face a defense as elite and proven as the Broncos, and having to do it on the road will make it that much more challenging. The Falcons have been on a roll, but that roll appears poised to hit a bit of bump this week. Even if the Broncos have to start rookie QB Paxton Lynch, which seems very likely to happen due to QB Trevor Siemian’s shoulder injury, they shouldn’t have any problem putting up points of their own against a suspect Atlanta defense. Denver remains undefeated after this one.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) @ Dallas Cowboys (3-1)
Game Pick: Bengals – After two tough games against the Steelers and Broncos, the Bengals got a bit of break from the schedule makers. They were able to easily handle the Dolphins at home, beating them with relative ease 22-7. The Cowboys had a little bit of difficulty in San Francisco against the 49ers, but after ILB Navarro Bowman left the game with an injury, RB Ezekiel Elliott went wild rushing for 138 yards and a touchdown in a 24-17 victory for Dallas. The Vegas line had this as Pick’em game early and it’s easy to see why. These teams do seem to be relatively even, but the Bengals are a little more battle tested at this stage and on paper are the more well rounded team. The Cowboys are going to have a tough time defending WR A.J. Green, and this might be the game where the Bengals get their ground game in gear against a soft Cowboys run defense. Take the Bengals to win this one by a touchdown.
Buffalo Bills (2-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (3-1)
Game Pick: Rams – Pretty much everyone wrote off the Bills after an 0-2 start. Considering they had the Cardinals and Patriots coming up on the schedule, it was difficult to envision them getting back on track. But as the saying goes, that’s why they play the games. The Bills marched into New England and took control early, and ended up shutting out the Patriots 16-0. Many expected the Rams to give the Cardinals a good run for their money as they often step their game up against division rivals. They did that and then some, knocking off Arizona 17-13. This didn’t look like a great game a couple weeks ago, but now it is one of the more intriguing games of the week. Don’t expect a lot of points in this one as both teams are playing exceptionally well defensively. Buffalo might have a little more spark offensively with QB Tyrod Taylor and RB LeSean McCoy, but the Rams are back home after two in a row on the road and RB Todd Gurley seems overdue for a breakout. It’s hard to imagine the Rams at 4-1 after this one, but believe it. It may not be pretty again, but look for them to take down the Bills in a tight defensive struggle.
San Diego Chargers (1-3) @ Oakland Raiders (3-1)
Game Pick: Raiders – Things continued to go from bad to worse for the Chargers as they blew a double digit lead in the fourth quarter for the second time this season in a 35-34 loss to the Saints at home. They fumbled the ball on back-to-back offensive possessions, which is what started the meltdown for San Diego. In a tough spot for a west coast team playing their second straight game on the east coast, the Raiders came through in the clutch for a 28-27 win over the Ravens thanks to a late touchdown strike from QB David Carr to WR Michael Crabtree, who caught three touchdown passes in the game. The Chargers could very easily be 4-0 at this point, but due to an inability to close out games, they’re 1-3. On the other side, the Raiders ability to close games late is why they’re 3-1. Losing CB Jason Verrett to a torn ACL this week is just another reason to take Oakland to win this game, as without their top defender, they will have more difficulty shutting down Carr and the Raiders passing attack.
New York Giants (2-2) @ Green Bay Packers (2-1)
Game Pick: Packers – Save for a 64 screen pass to RB Paul Perkins, the Giants offense was essentially non-existent in a 24-10 loss to the Vikings. Most expected the Giants to struggle against an elite Vikings defense, but QB Eli Manning basically avoided sacks all night long by throwing the ball short or out of bounds. It wasn’t pretty. The Packers meanwhile are fresh off a week four bye after beating the Lions 34-27 in week three in a game that saw QB Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense get back on track. The 2-0 start for the Giants has quickly become a thing of the past and they are now looking at losing three in a row as a trip to Lambeau Field is always a challenge. The one match up in the game they do have an advantage in is the pass game, as the Packers have been hemorrhaging passing yards to opposing offenses. That might keep the game close, but coming off a bye, the Packers should be refreshed and ready to roll against a Giants team that is trending in the wrong direction.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) @ Carolina Panthers (1-3)
Game Pick: Panthers – It wasn’t as bad as their thrashing at the hands of the Cardinals in week three, but the Buccaneers performance against the Broncos last week wasn’t much better as they dropped a 27-7 decision at home to Denver. The Panthers meanwhile were outclassed on the road against the Falcons, struggling to get anything going offensively until the game was out of hand and QB Cam Newton was knocked out of the game with a concussion. This is an important game for these two teams, as whomever loses is going to be in a tough spot at 1-4. Newton is looking like a dicey proposition for this game, but back up QB Derek Anderson is no slouch and actually beat the Bucs in two start against them last year. Bucs QB Jameis Winston should be able to move the ball against a Panthers secondary that has been getting absolutely eviscerated with out Josh Norman. No matter who is at quarterback for the Panthers, expect this game to be a high scoring affair. Take the Panthers in a game that will likely be decided by less than a touchdown.