The Eagles, Vikings, and Falcons proved something to me last week, taking on some personal demons and slaying them. Not many people thought they were for real, but they took out stiff competition in epic fashion. Should we expect some supposed underdogs to take care of business this week? But expectation can be a dangerous thing.
My picks moved from 6-10 the previous week to 8-8 last week, and would have been even better if the Jaguars hadn’t dropped the ball (literally and figuratively) late against the Ravens. My best picks were the Rams and Redskins winning on the road, as the Redskins were my upset special of the week. Some surprises are also in store for this week.
Here are my Ace Picks for Week 4…
Miami @ CINCINNATI – The Dolphins won a game they were supposed to win last week (barely), but this is in another league, and they don’t have a rented kicker against them on the road vs. the Bengals. Besides, this Cincinnati club is angry after getting manhandled at home by the Broncos. They light up the Dolphins. Pick: BENGALS (by 7).
Indianapolis @ JACKSONVILLE – Yes, yes, Andrew Luck owns — absolutely owns — the Jaguars, but is this the same Jaguars team? Everything I’ve seen so far this year tells me that it is. The only issue is that we haven’t seen a Jaguars running game yet. With Chris Ivory getting back up to speed I think they finally have one. With their backs against the wall, I think this team comes up big. Pick: JAGUARS (by 2).
Carolina @ ATLANTA – Speaking of real, how about that Atlanta running back duo? They absolutely shredded the Saints last week, but this is a step up in competition, this Panthers defense. And we all know that the Falcons defense isn’t really very good. Keep pressure away from Cam, and we know what that offense can do. Pick: PANTHERS (by 6).
Buffalo @ NEW ENGLAND – One thing has almost always been true. The Bills head to New England, the Bills lose. Yes, I know the Patriots just shredded a previously unbeaten Texans squad last week. But the Bills did the same thing against a supposedly powerful Cardinals team on Sunday. Who’s for real? Who plays QB for the Patriots? I honestly don’t think it matters. Bills head to New England, Bills lose. Pick: PATRIOTS (by 3).
Detroit @ CHICAGO – These Bears look lost and listless, a team acting as placeholder for John Fox until the powers that be finally decide to give him his walking papers (which might be sooner rather than later). The Lions haven’t been high octane since Game 1, but they’ve done enough against inferior competition. This qualifies as inferior competition, even in Chicago. Pick: LIONS (by 7).
Cleveland @ WASHINGTON – This has all the trappings of a… trap game. The Browns are, well, the Browns. They’re on the road against a team that won last week. Kirk Cousins seems a bit less listless than the Bears. Oh, and the Browns are, well, the Browns. But… with a reinvigorated renaissance man in Terrelle Pryor this team might just stay close against a turnover prone QB. Pick: REDSKINS (by 3).
Tennessee @ HOUSTON – After an absolute embarrassment up north, the Texans return home to face a Tennessee team that doesn’t have the firepower on offense to match Houston’s intensity on defense. And they have something to prove as they are without their leader until at least December. This is a “get right” game. Pick: TEXANS (by 5).
Oakland @ BALTIMORE – Are the Ravens perfect? Absolutely not. Have they won every game they’ve played so far this year? Absolutely have. The Raiders haven’t been that great on defense, but they played a relatively good game last week, and I think they take it up another notch here too. Even on the road, even against an undefeated team, I’ll take the Raiders and Derek Carr to light up the Ravens. Pick: RAIDERS (by 3). Upset Special.
Seattle @ NY JETS – I said something about a trap game higher up. The Seahawks mowed the field with the 49ers last week, but Russell Wilson is at less than 100%, and the Jets have had time to prepare for that Seattle run game. I think they’ll come after Wilson early and often, stifling the run game in the backfield in the process. Pick: JETS (by 3).
Denver @ TAMPA BAY – These Broncos are for real. There is definitely no hangover. Yes, the Denver defense hasn’t been as dominant so far as they were last season, but the offense is operating much better. That gives the Broncos the edge in nearly every game they will play this season, including this one. Siemian stays hot on the road. Pick: BRONCOS (by 4).
Dallas @ SAN FRANCISCO – Without Dez Bryant that changes things. Sure, he and Dak Prescott never really seemed to be on the same page, but Dez stretches the field and gives more space to the running backs and to the other receivers. The 49ers can now stack the box to stop the run and force Prescott to beat them. I don’t think it happens. Pick: 49ERS (by 3).
LA Rams @ ARIZONA – We can officially call it a win streak right now. The team from Los Angeles has woken up. Todd Gurley has woken up. But the Cardinals are pissed off after inextricably getting trounced by Buffalo last week. I just don’t know if they can do anything about it, even at home. Carson Palmer hasn’t looked right so far this season, and the Rams are warming up. I think Gurley runs all over the Cards, and a rumbling will begin in the desert. Pick: RAMS (by 3).
New Orleans @ SAN DIEGO – The Chargers really should have won last week, but there’s no crying over spilled milk. They put that out of their minds, and I assure you Philip Rivers is ready to face a seriously deficient Saints defense. At home, with time to prepare, the team from San Diego rights the ship and takes out Brees & Co. Pick: CHARGERS (by 6).
Kansas City @ PITTSBURGH – Eight turnovers. Eight turnovers produced by an opportunistic Chiefs defense last week against Ryan & the Fitzpatricks. What do they do for an encore? Well, I think it was as much the poor offense as it was the defense, and Pittsburgh (regardless of what happened in Philly last week) doesn’t own a poor offense. They’re back at home, and they make KC pay for what happened to them last week. Pick: STEELERS (by 7).
NY Giants @ MINNESOTA – The Giants came back down to earth last week, joining the ranks of the once beaten. Can they rebound against the Vikings? Based on how both teams have played so far this season, I don’t see it happening. This Vikings defense took out Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton without batting an eyelash. Eli Manning is no match. Pick: VIKINGS (by 7).