Not bad, yet again. I thought Houston would play better in Baltimore, but now it looks like Houston isn’t as good as many expected. Cincinnati pulled their win from the clutches of defeat in a crazy game. I thought Green Bay would win that one. I, like most NFL fans, didn’t think Cleveland would win in Minnesota, but they did. Buffalo disappointed me against the Jets, who are suddenly 2-1 and the 49ers looked awful, coupled with Indy looking fantastic, in a 27-7 loss to the Colts. Didn’t see that one coming either.
This week is a big week in the NFL with teams having the opportunity to really make a name for themselves as contenders culminating with a Monday Night football game between two remaining undefeated teams in Miami and New Orleans. Let’s see how my Week 4 NFL predictions play out this week…
This week Carolina and Green Bay are on a bye. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Thursday, 9/26 – 8:25 pm ET
San Francisco 49ers 1-2 @ St. Louis Rams 1-2
Prediction: St. Louis Rams
San Francisco will get back on track at some point and they should do it this week, even being on the road in St. Louis, but as you have heard me say before, divisional games are a whole new beast. These teams know each other almost as well as they know themselves and that’s what creates surprisingly close games against what many may call inferior opponents. In this case, the 49ers are reeling and seem to have major issues they need to work out. The Rams aren’t coming in with much to hang their hat on, but at home against a familiar opponent, I think they get the job done and steal one from the 49ers. Remember, this is the same Rams team that tied and beat the Super Bowl runner-ups last season with Colin Kaepernick at the helm for San Fran.
Sunday, 9/29 – 1:00 pm ET
Baltimore Ravens 2-1 @ Buffalo Bills 1-2
Prediction: Baltimore Ravens
Buffalo isn’t that good right now. I am hoping, for my credibility’s sake, that they will eventually find a rhythm, but it isn’t happening this week. The Ravens have answered the call following their rough Week 1 loss at Denver. The Ravens defense is playing very well over the past two weeks and their offense, while still learning to play together with new pieces, shouldn’t have a problem with Buffalo’s defense after they were picked apart and run over by Jets’ Geno Smith and company. If Bills E.J. Manuel plays out of his mind, Buffalo has a chance, but this isn’t a favorable matchup for the Bills.
Arizona Cardinals 1-2 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0-3
Prediction: Arizona Cardinals
I would love to pick the Buccaneers here. Their defense matches up with the Cardinals well. Darrelle Revis can cover a still recovering Larry Fitzgerald and Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer figures to be under duress throughout the game. However, the Buccaneers have announced that rookie Mike Glennon will make his first career start, taking over for Josh Freeman, who has struggled and seems to have lost favor with the coaching staff. I don’t think Glennon will give the Bucs offense any more than what Freeman did and I think Arizona wins, what could be, a rather poor offensive showing for both teams. I think Arizona is a little more focused and talented at key, game-deciding positions.
Pittsburgh Steelers 0-3 @ Minnesota Vikings 0-3
Prediction: Minnesota Vikings
Who thought both teams would be sporting a combined 0-6 record? The Steelers are probably the more surprising 0-3 of the two, but I think they are pushed to 0-4 this week. Yes… I am aware that the Vikings lost to the Browns last week… I just think this is the week that Minnesota gets something together on offense and the defense should be able to benefit from the Steelers’ weaknesses. The Steelers’ line is still a weak spot, their run game could be better this week if Le’Veon Bell comes back and performs well, and the Steelers’ defense hasn’t played up to their usual level in recent weeks. I like Minnesota to finally get Adrian Peterson going and pull out a close one. This game is being played in London. The jet lag shouldn’t help either team.
New York Giants 0-3 @ Kansas City Chiefs 3-0
Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs
Is this the week the Giants finally look like a professional football team? They have turned the ball over like it is their job, been ineffective in the run game and haven’t been able to get their passing game going. The defense isn’t looking capable of covering for their offenses’ performance, as has been clear through the first three weeks. Kansas City, on the other hand, has been dominant on defense, and has been efficient on offense both running and passing. I like the Chiefs’ defense to play suffocating defense and the Chiefs to win.
Indianapolis Colts 2-1 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 0-3
Prediction: Indianapolis Colts
Instead of me telling you why the Colts will win, why don’t I just tell you who will play well: Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Reggie Wayne, Darrius Heyward-Bey, T.Y. Hilton… etc…
Seattle Seahawks 2-1 @ Houston Texans 2-1
Prediction: Houston Texans
This is an interesting matchup. Seattle didn’t even have to show up to beat Jacksonville last week and Houston looked very underwhelming in a 30-9 loss to the Ravens. I like Houston though. I know Seattle is probably the deepest and one of the most talented teams in the league, but you can’t ignore their biggest weakness. Playing away from home. At home they are practically instant victors, but on the road, particularly for a 1 p.m. ET game (10 a.m. in Seattle), they aren’t as frightening. They are still an incredibly talented team who will make this a great game, but I think Houston finds a way at home.
Cincinnati Bengals 2-1 @ Cleveland Browns 1-2
Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals
A crazy win against the Packers last week has people asking if the Bengals are legitimate contenders in the AFC, especially with other perennial powers starting slow (Baltimore, New England, Houston, Pittsburgh). I think Cincinnati wins this game, but it will be close because, once again, it is a divisional opponent and, in this case, there is a solid chance of a letdown after a big win. Now Cleveland is coming off their own big win against Minnesota on the road, but they have nothing to lose. I think Cincinnati will focus and get the win this week, but an upset wouldn’t surprise me.
Chicago Bears 3-0 @ Detroit Lions 2-1
Prediction: Detroit Lions
I like what I have seen from Chicago this season. Their defense is still as opportunistic as ever and their offense is finally protecting and maximizing Jay Cutler and his ability. So, why Detroit? Calvin Johnson is still as unstoppable as ever, which doesn’t hurt, and I think that Reggie Bush’s return is key. If he plays this week and isn’t limited due to a knee injury, I think he is the x-factor who can get Detroit in the endzone. I know Chicago’s offensive line has been exceptional, but Detroit has the defensive line to challenge the Bears’ line.
Sunday, 9/29 – 4:05 pm ET
New York Jets 2-1 @ Tennessee Titans 2-1
Prediction: Tennessee Titans
Here are two more surprises in the early season. The Jets have been exceeding expectations and could be 3-0 if not for Geno Smith’s erratic play. The Titans also could have been 3-0 if they had held on in overtime against the Texans. Both teams are playing great defense and are able to move the ball, albeit not always consistently. I still don’t trust Smith, who continues to play inconsistently with poor accuracy at times. He is playing better than I thought, and in that case I was wrong, but I like Tennessee to take advantage of those mistakes unlike the Bills a week ago.
Sunday, 9/29 – 4:25 pm ET
Washington Redskins 0-3 @ Oakland Raiders 1-2
Prediction: Oakland Raiders
Terrelle Pryor (“Superstar”) is making his way back from a concussion suffered on Monday Night and if he plays, I think the Raiders will take advantage of the Redskins defense that has given up more yards in the first three games than any other team in the history of the NFL. Those three games have been against quality offensive teams and the Raiders aren’t one of those, but with Pryor running the offense, he should do enough at home to pull off the win. I don’t think the Raiders win with Matt Flynn though. Robert Griffin III and the Washington defense are settling in after poor starts. Give both time and Washington will win some games, but I think Pryor is the x-factor who beats the Redskins, if he plays.
Philadelphia Eagles 1-2 @ Denver Broncos 3-0
Prediction: Denver Broncos
Philly has been exciting to watch offensively, but the Eagles defense has been weak over the past couple weeks. Even a great offensive showing from the Eagles won’t help them against a Broncos offense led by Peyton Manning. Manning has been ridiculous, leading the NFL is every quarterback category and setting a new record with 12 touchdowns in the first three games. Oh, and he hasn’t thrown a pick yet. I think he does this week, because now I’ve said something about it, but it won’t matter. Denver will win this one.
Dallas Cowboys 2-1 @ San Diego Chargers 1-2
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys
I like the Cowboys in this one, despite San Diego’s surprising start. Even at 1-2, the Chargers have been efficient offensively with Phillip Rivers leading the way. The difference maker here for me is Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray. Murray is coming off a 174 rushing yard performance last week, displaying his ability to be a breakout performer. The Chargers defense ranks 28th in the NFL against the run. If Dallas sticks to a balanced offensive attack, the Cowboys should win a tough game on the road.
Sunday, 9/29 – 8:30 pm ET
New England Patriots 3-0 @ Atlanta Falcons 1-2
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons
The Patriots are finally coming together offensively and may get to see Rob Gronkowski back on the field this week. The Patriots defense has been playing lights out, which has kept New England among the undefeated. The reason why I like Atlanta here is because they are playing at home where Matt Ryan has been great throughout his career. I expect Ryan to utilize his offensive weapons and win a close one.
Monday, 9/30 – 8:40 pm ET
Miami Dolphins 3-0 @ New Orleans Saints 3-0
Prediction: New Orleans Saints
Miami is the most surprising of these two undefeated teams, but they have been very impressive in the early part of the season and have earned their 3-0 record. The Saints have been equally impressive with their high-powered offense performing as expected. The real surprise in New Orleans is the impressive defensive play they have gotten out of a unit that ranked dead last in the NFL a year ago. I think the Saints will continue their winning ways as their defense will play even better behind their home crowd. Drew Brees and the Saints offense is unstoppable even for a Dolphins defense that has been impressive this season. I like the Saints to win this one, but Miami does appear to be an AFC playoff contender.