Last Week 7–9
Back-to-back losing weeks has me under .500 for the first time this season. Buffalo really surprised me with a convincing win over Arizona, as did Philadelphia who crushed Pittsburgh at home. Minnesota looks like a Super Bowl contender after marching down to Carolina without Adrian Peterson and promptly thumping the now 1–2 Panthers. On the plus side, Washington did cash in on my upset special with a road win at the Giants. Let’s get to week four’s picks.
Byes this week: Philadelphia, Green Bay.
Miami (1–2) at Cincinnati (1–2), Thursday 5:25 p.m.
There is no way a stout Bengals team falls to 1–3 on the season against a Dolphins team that had to go to overtime to beat Cleveland at home. Bengals take a big early lead and weather a garbage time surge by Tannehill and company.
Prediction: Cincinnati 33 Miami 24
Indianapolis (1–2) vs. Jacksonville (0–3) in England, Sunday 6:30 a.m
There is nothing like trying to sell football in Europe with two uninspiring teams that compete in the worst division in football.
Prediction: Jacksonville 23 Indianapolis 20
Detroit (1–2) at Chicago (0–3), Sunday 10 a.m.
Chicago looks like the worst team in football and the Lions have looked good — on offence anyway. Stafford to Jones all day, baby.
Prediction: Lions 38 Bears 17
Carolina (1–2) at Atlanta (2–1), Sunday 10 a.m.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is 44–22 in his career at home, and road wins are also very hard to come by in divisional play. I know the Panthers went 15–1 last year, but this isn’t last year. Panthers drop their second straight — this time in overtime.
Prediction: Atlanta 36 Carolina 30
Oakland (2–1) at Baltimore (3–0), Sunday 10 a.m.
I’ll take coach Harbaugh and Joe Flacco over the upstart Raiders in this one.
Prediction: Ravens 24 Raiders 17
Buffalo (1–2) at New England (3-0), Sunday 10 a.m.
Since 2000, the Patriots are 28–4 against the Bills. Bill’s coach Rex Ryan made a name for himself as coach of Jets by beating the Patriots several times in big games, but that success did not carry over to Buffalo last year even though the games were competitive. New England has looked dominant this season and will continue to roll in this lopsided rivalry with or without a healthy quarterback.
Prediction: Patriots 34 Bills 24
Cleveland (0–3) at Washington (1–2), Sunday 10 a.m.
After getting levelled the first game of the year, the Browns have played competitive football the last two weeks, losing by two points to Baltimore and in overtime to Miami. Back-to-back road games will be tough for this young team and Washington will play determined as they know they cannot afford a slip-up in this one. Washington will win despite more highlights from Browns multidimensional threat Terrelle Pryor.
Prediction: Washington 35 Cleveland 27
Tennessee (1–2) at Houston (2–1), Sunday 10 a.m.
No J.J. Watt, no problem. Look for a big game from the receiving duo of Deandre Hopkins and Will Fuller. The Texans stop the Titans’ run game and throw the ball down the field for the W in the land that gave us President W.
Prediction: Houston 31 Tennessee 21
Seattle (2–1) at New York Jets (1–2), Sunday 10 a.m.
Jets coach Todd Bowles knows the Seahawks well after his time coaching in Arizona. The Seahawks have to fly cross-country and star quarterback Russell Wilson is beat up. Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was absolutely awful last week throwing six — that’s not a typo — six interceptions. Jets bounce back with a big home victory.
Prediction: Jets 21 Seahawks 17
Denver (3–0) at Tampa Bay (1–2), Sunday 1:05 p.m.
Is this a trap game for the Super Bowl Champs? Not this week. Broncos surge to 4–0 as 2015 seventh round pick Trevor Siemian continues to develop. Broncos win in a game with more points than expected.
Prediction: Denver 34 Tampa Bay 26
Los Angeles (2–1) at Arizona (1–2), Sunday 1:25 p.m.
Upset special! Arizona is reeling after an ugly road loss against a previously winless Bills team. Coach Bruce Arians is not happy and went so far as to punish his long snapper by cutting him for an errant snap last week. This is a veteran team with high expectations that can either right the ship this week or tumble into uncertainty. The Rams always play well in their division and beat the Cardinals last year coincidentally in week four. The Rams defence and special teams do just enough to beat the Cardinals on the road.
Prediction: Rams 31 Cardinals 28
Dallas (2–1) at San Francisco (1–2), Sunday 1:25 p.m.
In the mid-1990s these Conference rivals were the two best teams in football. Now San Francisco’s most dynamic player is their backup quarterback. The Cowboys are contenders and prove it with a statement game on the road.
Prediction: Dallas 28 San Francisco 18
Kansas City (2–1) at Pittsburgh (2–1), Sunday 5:30 p.m.
Watch out, Kansas City. Le’Veon Bell is back from suspension and ready to show the league that he is the best running back in football. Will injured Chiefs star Jamaal Charles return to duel with Bell in this primetime matchup? With or without Charles the Steelers make enough plays to best a worthy opponent.
Prediction: Steelers 24 Chiefs 20
New York Giants (2–1) at Minnesota (3–0), Monday 5:30 p.m.
The Minnesota Vikings have victories this season over the highly touted Packers and Panthers. Their defence and special teams have been outstanding. This matchup between two potential playoff teams will not be as close as it may seem on paper. The Vikings frustrate Odell Beckham Jr., and Eli Manning has one of those off-days with multiple turnovers as the Vikings continue to dominate.
Prediction: Minnesota 24 Giants 12
GAME OF THE WEEK:
New Orleans (0–3) at San Diego (1–2), Sunday 1:25 p.m.
Drew Brees travels to San Diego for the first time since the Chargers elected not to resign him after the 2005 season. Brees has been phenomenal this season and is on a pace for another 5,000-yard season. However, the team’s defence is atrocious, which is the primary reason for their 0–3 start. The Chargers meanwhile could very well be 3–0 if they didn’t cough up fourth quarter leads in both of their losses. Quarterback Philip Rivers has played very well despite losing weapons Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead to season ending injuries. This game has shoot-out written all over it and should be a great game to watch. Look for the Chargers to rush for over 200 yards but for Brees to eclipse 400 in a triumphant victory over his former team.
Prediction: New Orleans 46 San Diego 39