The first round of byes are here, and those fast-starting Patriots (as well as those inconsistent Titans) are off sunning themselves somewhere nice while the Jets and Dolphins are cooling off in London on the early morning shift. That game scares me. I mean, which team is going to step up after both stumbled last week? The rest of the games on the slate for Sunday and Monday night are no slouches either. There’s always room for surprises.
But I did great in my predictions for last week’s games, and that’s always a bonus, especially if you get points for every game in Pick’Em leagues. Last week is done now, though, and Thursday night’s game showed us that there’s still a reason they play the games, as Baltimore finally picked itself up off the turf and took it to Josh Scobee and the Steelers (Scobee is since gone from Steeltown).
Here are my picks for Week 4…
NY Jets @ Miami (really in London) – After the way both of these teams played last week I think this game will go to whomever wants it most from the start. The Jets have the better record, but if the Dolphins win they will make a statement. I just don’t know if Miami has the offensive firepower to overcome that Jets defense. Pick: NY JETS.
Oakland @ Chicago – The Bears have looked bad the past two games, and Oakland has looked like gangbusters in that same span of time. Are the Bears as bad as they’ve seemed? Is Oakland a contender? I think both teams will come closer to the mean, and this game will be a close one. But I trust Derek Carr more than I do Jimmy Clausen. Pick: OAKLAND.
Houston @ Atlanta – Atlanta is 3-0, but they’ve only faced the NFC East, and they trailed in every single game at some point. Julio Jones has to cool off at some point? You know, or at least get less than 150 receiving yards. Maybe Houston has the answer. I’m not counting on it. Pick: ATLANTA.
NY Giants @ Buffalo – Is this the Buffalo defense that fell apart against the Patriots or the one that shut down the Dolphins? Since that Patriots game was the outlier on the season so far, I’m willing to believe in that Bills defense. Eli hasn’t thrown a pick yet this year. That will change, and it will change here, which will be the difference in this one. Pick: BUFFALO.
Jacksonville @ Indianapolis – This used to be an easy one to call, but Blake Bortles is looking better now, and Indianapolis hasn’t quite been the Patriots this season so far. Besides, Andrew Luck’s shoulder issue is not a small one, and he may not even play here. Even if he does it won’t be easy sledding against that Jacksonville front. But the Colts are the more talented team, and they’re at home. Pick: INDIANAPOLIS.
Kansas City @ Cincinnati – The Bengals are for real. Imagine if they get Jeremy Hill untracked, but even if they don’t Giovani Bernard is there to pick up the slack. They’re at home where they generally take care of business, and the Chiefs can’t stop the aerial attack of Dalton and Green. Pick: CINCINNATI.
Philadelphia @ Washington – When the Eagles needed to take care of business at the end of last season and beat the Redskins they couldn’t do it. But this is a different Eagles team (in more ways than one), and they got their mojo back last week while Washington will be without its biggest playmaker (DeSean Jackson). That doesn’t bode well in the nation’s capital. Pick: PHILADELPHIA.
Carolina @ Tampa Bay – So many experts are getting on the Panther bandwagon, but I’m of the opinion that if the Buccaneers can get to Cam Newton they can win this game. He is making plays happen because of his versatility, but with a lack of playmakers around him, and with the run game stagnating, I think this one sets up for an upset. Pick: TAMPA BAY.
Cleveland @ San Diego – Is Philip Rivers regressing? It sure looked that way last week against Minnesota, and this Cleveland defense can’t be simply overlooked. If the Browns can lean on their running game and keep Rivers off the field they will have a legitimate shot at taking out the Chargers in San Diego. I don’t know if all of that will happen, though. In a close one the Chargers take it. Pick: SAN DIEGO.
Green Bay @ San Francisco – Yes, Colin Kaepernick has good history against the Packers, and this game is being played on the west coast, but what about the 49ers can you honestly believe in for this one? Sure, Kaep won’t throw a ton of pick-sixes again, but can that offense get untracked enough to take care of the juggernaut that is Green Bay. My solution: Hyde, and a lot of Hyde. It won’t matter, though. Pick: GREEN BAY.
St. Louis @ Arizona – I’m only going to say this once. Arizona isn’t as good as they’ve looked the first three games of this season, and if there’s any team that can expose their flaws it’s the Rams. They’ve played the Cards as hard as anyone over the past three years, and they have made a (recent) history of taking out teams that are on top. Foles goes for over 300 in this one, and the Rams take a squeaker. Pick: ST. LOUIS.
Minnesota @ Denver – Denver just doesn’t lose at home, and I think they’ve finally figured some things out on offense. Now, if they could only get their running game off the slide things will look even better. With that defense, though, I don’t think the offense completely clicking really has to happen, especially not against a one-dimensional Minnesota offense. Pick: DENVER.
Dallas @ New Orleans – Drew Brees didn’t look good in practice. He didn’t look good the week before last. He hasn’t looked good, or comfortable, in a while. And neither have the Saints. I don’t see much changing in this one, but they get lucky with Brandon Weeden starting for the Cowboys. If they can stop that Dallas running game they will have a chance, and they’re desperate. I think it happens, and somehow the Saints take a close one at home, with or without Brees. Pick: NEW ORLEANS.
Detroit @ Seattle – Well, the Seahawks pitched a shutout against the Bears (and Jimmy Clausen) last Sunday, but they themselves didn’t look too good on offense either for that first half. I don’t know if they’ll be too comfortable here too, but they are at home, and they’re facing a team that finds ways to beat itself. Pick: SEATTLE.