NFL Week 4 Predictions

Posted: September 25, 2014 in Uncategorized
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For the first time in 10-years, the Philadelphia Eagles have begun their season 3-0. They join idle Arizona and Cincinnati as the only undefeated teams remaining in the NFL. This success, coupled with the magnitude of the comebacks during the course of this season’s first month, has Philadelphia kneeling at the shrine of Chip Kelly.

folesSince the second half of last season began, the Eagles are 10-2 (including playoffs). That’s the type of success that starts garnering Coach of the Year consideration. That the Eagles’ offense is near the top of the league and the defense is towards the bottom shouldn’t surprise anyone. But, what should be a pleasant surprise to many is the success of Philadelphia’s special teams so far this season. Rookie K Cody Parkey is now 8-9, including two 50+ yard field goals. Meanwhile, the Eagles saw reserve RB Chris Polk return the Eagles’ first kickoff for a touchdown since 2008, a staggering streak that took the entirety of the Obama regime to snap. This special teams success was a dramatic reason why the Eagles were able to upend the Washington Redskins last Sunday, keeping themselves on top of the NFC East pecking order.

It doesn’t get any easier this weekend, at least in the eyes of the pundits. This early in the season, many spreads are based largely on past successes, rather than recent results. For evidence of that, one only has to look at New Orleans (1-2) being favored over Dallas (2-1) despite being on the road and Philadelphia’s 5 point deficit in Santa Clara. Now, there’s no doubt that both of those games should be tight. But, the success of both the Cowboys and the Eagles this season to overcome deficits and win football games has got to be taken into just as much if not more consideration than the Saints and 49ers success last season.

Colin Kaepernick, while a solid quarterback, isn’t going to beat anyone with his arm. If Philadelphia is able to limit the 49ers’ ground game (as they have done most of this season), they should be in prime position to pull the upset. This isn’t the same San Francisco defense that dominated opponents from 2011-2013. Instead, this is a banged up unit with a suspended star (Aldon Smith) and reserves making critical mental mistakes at the worst of times. An Eagles victory on Sunday could be the linchpin that propels them to a 6-0 mark at the bye week with easier matchups vs. St. Louis and at New York standing in their way.

Last week: 8-8
Season: 16-15

New York Giants (1-2) AT Washington Redskins (1-2) – Redskins -3.5

Prediction: Redskins, 27-17. The Giants and Redskins looked to be heading in polar opposite directions going into week 3. At 0-2, the Giants looked like a potential top-5 team in next year’s NFL Draft. Instead, they were able to overcome a rusty Ryan Fitzpatrick en route to their first victory over Houston. The Redskins, likewise, sent their season into flux with a tough 3-point loss in Philadelphia. If the Redskins lose this one at home, I’d be shocked. They’re just much more talented than New York at this point.

Miami Dolphins (1-2) AT Oakland Raiders (0-3) – Dolphins -3.5

Prediction: Dolphins, 24-13. If Roger Goodell wants to grow the game in Europe, sending these two dilapidated offenses is probably not the best method. Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, who drafted Ryan Tannehill in 2012, is already jumping ship on the young quarterback. But, Miami’s talent level widely eclipses Oakland’s, and the Raiders’ offense will find it difficult putting the ball in the end zone at Wembley.

rodgers

Green Bay Packers (1-2) AT Chicago Bears (2-1) – Packers -1.5

Prediction: Bears, 23-20. In what largely amounts to a must-win for Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers will have to overcome what has been a pathetic performance by his offensive line and running game. That spells doom against Chicago, who has already shown drastic improvement on defense from last season. Expect Brandon Marshall to bounce back from a tough Monday night performance as Chicago sends Green Bay to a disappointing 1-3.

Buffalo Bills (2-1) AT Houston Texans (2-1) – Texans -3

Prediction: Buffalo, 16-13. In a matchup of solid defenses that carry mediocre offenses, these two surprise teams will go right down to the wire in Texas. This game could really go either way. But, I like the Bills to come out on top, and barely, in this one.

Tennessee Titans (1-2) AT Indianapolis Colts (1-2) – Colts -7.5

Prediction: Colts, 34-16. Tennessee, with the exception of their week one win in Kansas City, has looked as putrid as any team in the league so far. Their defense can’t tackle or cover, and the offense is as stagnant as Rob Ryan after thanksgiving dinner. If Indy can’t take this one, it may be time to look at the AFC South as the worst division in pro football.

Carolina Panthers (2-1) AT Baltimore Ravens (2-1) – Ravens -3.5

Prediction: Panthers, 23-20. What a great game this should be with two improving defenses and offenses that rely on the running game. Baltimore overcame a tough loss on opening day to take down two divisional rivals in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. They’ll get their first taste of the NFC with a matchup against Cam Newton and the Panthers. I liked Carolina last week and was burned. So, I’ll refuse to learn from my mistakes and stick with them this Sunday.

Detroit Lions (2-1) AT New York Jets (1-2) – Lions -1.5

Prediction: Lions, 26-16. I really don’t understand the hype that Vegas is giving the Jets so far this season. They were favored last week against Chicago, a game in which they fell behind 14-0 in the first few minutes and never recovered. Meanwhile, the offensively laden Detroit Lions come to town to take on one of the most pathetic offenses so far, and it’s a toss up. I’ll take Stafford and the Lions to raise the proverbial roof at MetLife Stadium en route to victory.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3) AT Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) – Steelers -7.5

Prediction: Steelers, 21-14. Based on Tampa Bay’s debacle last week, this should easily be Pittsburgh’s game. The problem is that the NFL doesn’t work that way, and results change drastically on a weekly basis. Tampa also had 10-days to prepare for a Steelers team that has been known to play down to its competition in recent years. I think Pittsburgh will hold on. But, this will be closer than people think.

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) AT San Diego Chargers (2-1) – Chargers -13

Prediction: Chargers, 34-20. If it weren’t for a 4th quarter collapse in Arizona, it would be San Diego and not the Cardinals sitting pretty at 3-0. Regardless, it would take a miracle for Jacksonville to get their first win this week, as the Jags are forced to travel cross-country for a matchup against a San Diego team that is coming off back-to-back quality victories. Blake Bortles is expected to make his first start. But, the rookie mistakes that have plagued so many before him will likely aid San Diego in their effort to cover the largest spread of the week.

Atlanta Falcons (2-1) AT Minnesota Vikings (1-2) – Falcons -3

Prediction: Falcons, 27-17. Teddy Bridgewater will make his first career start against a Falcons team that resembles Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde so far. The Falcons have looked like a venerable contender at times, with divisional wins over Tampa and New Orleans sandwiched around a blowout loss to Cincinnati. When the Falcons are at home, they’re a tough nut to crack. But, when they’re outdoors, anything could happen. I could easily see Bridgewater rallying the Vikings in this one. But, the rookie would have to play lights out to overcome a talented Falcons offense.

Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) AT San Francisco 49ers (1-2) – 49ers -4.5

Prediction: Eagles, 26-24. This spread was at 5 as recently as this morning. But, Vegas appears to have gotten a late run of Eagles bets. The fact of the matter is that this spread is based almost entirely on the location of the game and the past success of San Francisco. These units could not be more polar opposite so far. The 49ers, juggernauts of the NFC for three years, has blown consecutive second half leads en route to a 1-2 record. Even their win over the Cowboys was almost entirely fueled by their defense’s ability to force Tony Romo turnovers. The offense has done absolutely nothing after halftime, and their considerably consistent mental errors have left San Francisco on the brink of collapse. Meanwhile, the Eagles have the most efficient offense in the league, and a defensive unit that comes out energized after the half. Expect San Francisco to take a first half lead before blowing it late, with a Cody Parkey game winning field goal sending Philadelphia to 4-0.

New Orleans Saints (1-2) AT Dallas Cowboys (2-1) – Saints -3

Prediction: Saints, 34-31. New Orleans put a record setting beatdown on Dallas last season on Sunday Night Football. They’ll look to do it again from Jerry World. But, don’t count out Dallas, who has forced turnovers to keep their beleaguered defense off the field for long stretches. Meanwhile, Romo and that offense, when hanging onto the ball, are as deadly as ever thanks to their utilization of DeMarco Murray. This will be a close game.

New England Patriots (2-1) AT Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) – Patriots -3.5

Prediction: Patriots, 20-10. I would typically have some concern over a primetime game played in Kansas City with the road team possessing perhaps the worst offensive line (when healthy) in football. But, this is Bill Belichick vs. Andy Reid we’re talking about. We’ve seen this story before. Kansas City will probably have a chance to come back in the fourth. But, Reid will have already burned all three of his timeouts and will show no urgency in the no-huddle offense.

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