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NFL predictions and picks for Week 4

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Picks and analysis for Week 4 of the NFL

New York Jets v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

All times listed in Pacific Standard Time.

September 29th

5:25 p.m.

Dolphins (1-2) at Bengals (1-2):

The Bengals season has started poorly. Their record stands at 1-2 with the sole win coming from a narrow 1-point defeat of the Jets. Their defense currently ranks 13th in points allowed this season with 25.0. Luckily for Cincinnati, the Dolphins are still figuring out their identity under new coach Adam Gase and after serving a three-game suspension, the Bengals get back their best starting linebacker in Vontaze Burfict. Burfict’s insertion into the defensive lineup coupled with Cincinnati’s offensive firepower should be enough to handedly beat an inferior Dolphins squad.

Pick: Bengals

October 2nd

6:30 a.m.

Colts (1-2) at Jaguars (0-3):

Not only have the Jaguars started off wretchedly, but they also lose a home game to London. It’s very hard for teams to come back from a 0-3 start, it’s virtually impossible for a team to rebound from 0-4. I cannot see Gus Bradley keeping his job if the team loses again, so I expect this team to play with a lot of intensity. Unfortunately for the Colts, Andrew Luck is nursing a shoulder injury and they have to face a talented Jaguars front 7. Indianapolis’ inability to block may cause Colts fans to be squeamish on Sunday. Unless Blake Bortles and the rest of the Jacksonville offense invent a new way to lose, I don’t see them bowing out at Wembley Stadium.

Pick: Jaguars

10:00 a.m.

Seahawks (2-1) at Jets (1-2):

Seattle and New York have dealt with their fair share of injuries so far this season. Russell Wilson’s injury has been well documented, as well as injuries to rookies Germain Ifedi, C.J. Prosise and Nick Vannett. The Jets’ Eric Decker and Darrelle Revis have both set out practice this week with Decker reportedly having a concerning shoulder issue. In my opinion, the key to this game will be the quick passing game. If the offensive line can allow for Russell to develop a rhythm in the pocket, it could open up the run game and eliminate the need for much mobility from Wilson. Seattle’s defense has been on-point this year and they match-up well with the Jets. If they can contain the underneath in their zone and prevent Matt Forte from breaking off big plays, this could play out as a big win later in the season.

Pick: Seahawks

Bills (1-2) at Patriots (3-0):

Bill Belicheck is a wizard. That’s how I feel about the Patriots first three weeks. How they’ve been able to perform as a top-tier squad without their two best players on offense and an important cog on defense is nothing short of amazing. Rex Ryan has always played Belicheck hard and I am thankful for the performance the Bills put together last week, however, I don’t feel they can capture that magic in consecutive weeks. If this game were in Orchard Park, I may feel less inclined to pick New England, but I’ve learned to never bet against Belicheck.

Pick: Patriots

Titans (1-2) at Texans (2-1):

I had a difficult time deciding who to take in this game. The Texans are coming off the losing end of a 27-0 annihilation from the Patriots. Brock Osweiler has the look of an $18M overpay. And the cherry on top this week is the devastating news of J.J. Watt’s potential season ending injury. The Titans, on the other hand, have been in every single game this year and are coming off a narrow loss to a tough Raiders crew. I believe the Titans will be a good team in the future, but right now they just don’t have the talent to compete with the Texans. This has the feeling of a close game and I think Texans edge it out by a field goal.

Pick: Texans

Lions (1-2) at Bears (0-3):

The Bears might be the worst team in football. The only positional group that stands out talent wise is the wide receiver group. On top of the lack of talent are the injuries to key contributors like Jay Cutler, Eddie Goldman and Jerrell Freeman. Chicago just doesn’t have much hope right now and I can’t see them putting up the points necessary to compete with the Lions. Detroit has performed well this season, despite a blown win to the Titans and a failed comeback last week at Green Bay. Matthew Stafford has put together a good season through the first three weeks and I look for that to continue against a week Bears secondary.

Pick: Lions

Panthers (1-2) at Falcons (2-1):

Atlanta’s offense has clicked this year. Julio Jones continues to be an unstoppable force in the passing game and Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman have provided good support in the rushing attack. The harbinger of a Falcons loss will be the defense. They have given up at least 28 points in each game. They are dependent upon turnover because they lack the talent to hold their opponents to low point totals. Outside of their week 2 win against the 49ers, the Panthers haven’t lived up to the bar they set for themselves last season. Carolina seemed lackadaisical in last week’s home loss against the Vikings. Injuries in the backfield, along with poor offensive line play, have played a role in stunting the Panthers offense. The Falcons defense is too much of a question mark for me to doubt Newton walking into the Georgia Dome and not coming out with a win.

Pick: Panthers

Raiders (2-1) at Ravens (3-0):

I really believe this Raiders team is a playoff bound team. I also really believe the Ravens have played beyond their talent level and are due to have a game where they don’t escape with a win. Baltimore is 3-0, but those wins include overcoming a 20-0 deficit against the Browns and squeezing out a win in Jacksonville. The Raiders have a defense that I feel is more than capable of slowing down Joe Flacco, Mike Wallace and Steve Smith Sr. Oakland’s offensive line is banged up, however, all of their key offensive playmakers are available. Derek Carr should be able to dissect a mediocre Ravens defense. The Raiders are always capable of putting up a lot of points and the Ravens don’t have talent to match.

Pick: Raiders

Browns (0-3) at Redskins (1-2):

If Washington loses this game, you’d think Jay Gruden would start to feel his seat warming up. Although I like Hue Jackson and I’m all aboard what they’re front office is doing, they just lack talent in so many spots. Terrelle Pryor Sr. has been fun to watch this season but he won’t be enough to stop the Redskins. Kirk Cousins needs to manage the game as best as a quarterback of his caliber can. They need to feed Matt Jones all day and throw the occasional deep ball to their receivers and they’ll come away with a solid win.

Pick: Redskins

1:05 p.m.

Broncos (3-0) at Buccaneers (1-2):

Tampa Bay has been a slight disappointment this far into the season. After a convincing win in week 1 against Atlanta, they were thrashed by Arizona and blew an opportunity against the Rams (I still don’t know how that offense put up 37 points). The Buccaneers offense is going to have a tough time against Denver’s dynamic defense. Tampa has some talented pieces on defense like Gerald McCoy and Lavontae David, but I don’t think it will be enough against C.J. Anderson and the Broncos talented receiving corps. Trevor Siemian needs to play half as well as he did last week for the Broncos to come away with the win.

Pick: Broncos

1:25 p.m.

Rams (2-1) at Cardinals (1-2):

On paper this is a game the Cardinals shouldn’t lose. But it’s a divisional game and it’s the Jeff Fisher Rams so who knows. Arizona has seemed to have an easier time with this team than Seattle, so I suspect that trend to continue Sunday afternoon. The Cardinals have an explosive offense with threats in the short, intermediate, and deep passing game. David Johnson is arguably a top-5 running back and adds another great dimension to Bruce Arians’ offense. The Cardinals defense bolsters a top-5 unit with playmakers on each level in Chandler Jones, Deone Bucannon and Tyrann Mathieu. Coming off a letdown last week against Buffalo, I expect Arizona to come out strong and take care of LA by the end of the first half. However, it is the Rams and this could be a low-scoring game that the Rams win, because why not.

Pick: Cardinals

Cowboys (2-1) at 49ers (1-2):

Wednesday afternoon news came out that Dez Bryant could be missing an extended amount of time with a knee injury. The Cowboys are now without the two best players on their team, which has to be disheartening to coaches and fans. On the bright side, the Cowboys get a game against the 49ers, a team who might be the most devoid of talent besides Cleveland. In last week’s game against the Seahawks, San Francisco didn’t even look competitive. The Niners do have home-field advantage but that won’t stop Ezekiel Elliott from running all over them.

Pick: Cowboys

Saints (0-3) at Chargers (1-2):

Philip Rivers has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the NFL since he took over the starting gig in 2006. Because of this, I have confidence that the Chargers will grab this win regardless of the Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead injuries. Melvin Gordon finally delivering on his 2015 hype has helped offer a new dynamic to the offense that they were desperately lacking last season. Facing Rivers is his old teammate Drew Brees. Brees and top receiver Brandin Cooks are a great combination in the passing game. New Orleans running game hasn’t produced like it did last year, so Brees will have to capitalize on every opportunity that comes his way. The Chargers end up getting the nod in this game, however, due to the atrocity that is the Saints secondary.

Pick: Chargers

5:25 p.m.

Chiefs (2-1) at Steelers (2-1):

I am really excited for this matchup, specifically Antonio Brown vs. Marcus Peters. This game comes down to which unit you have more confidence in; Pittsburgh’s electric offense or Kansas City’s staunch defense. This week I have more confidence in Kansas City. Pittsburgh’s offensive collapse against the Eagles last week was tough to watch. If they continue to perform like that against the Chiefs defense, the game won’t be close. On the other side of the ball, I like the Chiefs steady, run-first offense against the young, inexperienced Steelers defense. Spencer Ware and KC’s short passing game should be enough to wear down Pittsburgh for the duration of the game.

Pick: Chiefs

October 3rd

5:30 p.m.

Giants (2-1) at Vikings (3-0):

Firstly, I pray this game is better than the Monday night game in 2013. This was the toughest game for me to decide this week. The Vikings have been on a tear and look to have momentarily resurrected Sam Bradford’s career. They beat the Panthers last week in convincing fashion without Adrian Peterson and Matt Kalil. Minnesota’s defense is arguably the best in the league right now and aren’t showing any signs of misstepping. The Giants are coming off of a poor performance agaisnt the Redskins and an unimpressive week 2 win versus New Orleans. On a whim I’m picking New York. I think this will be a spectacular game from Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Manning. If the Giants can generate enough pressure on Bradford from their front 7, I think the Giants can pull off the win in Minnesota.

Pick: Giants