NFL Week 4 Predictions

Week 3 was filled with lots of upsets and crazy games. Let’s look ahead to Week 4 by predicting the outcome of each game.

Vikings at Rams TNF

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Photo Cred: turfshowtimes.com

On Thursday Night Football, the Vikings and Rams will face off in a matchup between two of the NFC’s elite teams. The Vikings are coming of off a dreadful 27-6 loss at home against the Bills last week, while the Rams absolutely dominated the Chargers en route to a 35-23 win. However, they will be without their top two corners Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, so Kirk Cousins and the Vikings pass offense should take advantage. The problem with the Vikings is two things. For starters, they haven’t been able to establish a running game with Dalvin Cook dealing with a hamstring injury. Most importantly, their offensive line has been awful and it showed last week when the Bills forced two strip-sack fumbles. These two teams are extremely similar, but the Vikings are slightly more flawed while the Rams are rolling, so it makes sense to take the Rams to win this game and move to 4-0. Prediction: Vikings 24 Rams 28

Bengals (2-1) at Falcons (1-2)

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Photo Cred: WLWT-TV

The Bengals and Falcons are as identical as it gets, just take a look at these stats:

 CIN Offense: 12th Pass, 22nd Run, 29.7 PPG                                                                         ATL Offense: 11th Pass, 21st Run, 26.7 PPG
 CIN Defense: 24th Pass, 26th Run, 25.7 PPG
 ATL Defense: 26th Pass, 28th Run, 28.3 PPG

Both teams are also extremely banged up; both teams are without their running back and the Falcons are without several key defensive starters. This should become a shootout quickly, and the Falcons will have the advantage. Atlanta has the more explosive offense with three big-play receivers in Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Calvin Ridley. They’re also at home and have to win this game following an overtime loss to the Saints at home. They’re arguably playing for their season, so expect them to come out with a vengeance and win a high scoring affair against Cincinnati.                        Prediction: Bengals 30 Falcons 43

Buccaneers (2-1) at Bears (2-1)

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Photo Cred: Bearswire.USAToday.com

Could Fitzmagic be coming to an end? Despite throwing for 411 yards, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three first-half interceptions and looked overwhelmed during that time. Of course, he was able to lead the Bucs to two late touchdowns to make that game much closer than it was, so he’ll remain the starter despite Jameis Winston’s three-game suspension being over. Fitzpatrick will have a major test this weekend, facing off against the ferocious Bears defense. Chicago’s defense will completely shut down Tampa Bay’s weak running game. They also are amongst the league’s best in forcing turnovers, so they should be able to take advantage of Fitzpatrick’s mistakes. On the other side of the ball, the Bears pass offense should be much better this weekend against Tampa’s weak secondary. Expect Chicago to get out to an early lead, which will mean Tampa will be forced to play catch up. Unfortunately for them, that doesn’t work against the Bears, unless your name is Aaron Rodgers. Prediction: Bucs 13 Bears 24

Lions (1-2) at Cowboys (1-2)

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Photo Cred: dallasmorningnews.com

Arguably the toughest game to pick this weekend, the Lions and Cowboys will match up in Dallas in a game between two teams that have been extremely inconsistent this season. The Lions looked awful against the subpar Jets and Lions, but then all of a sudden beat the defending champ Patriots 26-10 on Sunday Night Football. The Cowboys, on the other hand, look like a shell of their former selves, but at times their defense looks good enough to carry them. These teams are pretty much even and the Cowboys have struggled at him recently, so who has the advantage. One stat signals it could be Dallas: opposing yards per play. Dallas is second in the league in opposing yards per play and fifth in opposing points per play. In other words, they give up very few big plays. Considering that the Lions offense is known to be a vertical offense that uses Matt Stafford’s incredible arm strength to produce big plays, they may have a tough time scoring against the Cowboys defense. Detroit’s rush defense is also amongst the league’s worst; Ezekial Elliot may have a big game as a result. Prediction: Lions 20 Cowboys 21

Bills (1-2) at Packers (1-1-1)

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Photo Cred: IGN.com

The Bills beat a legitimate Super Bowl Contender in the Vikings by a whopping 21 points in Minnesota after being 17 point underdogs. They’re once again double-digit underdogs, as the Packers are favored by 10 points in this matchup in Green Bay. The Bills have a great chance to beat that spread, as they should be able to stuff the Packers’ rushing attack, force pressure on Aaron Rodgers, and should have running back LeSean McCoy back this weekend. However, they won’t be able to win this game for two reasons: Aaron Rodgers and the fact that Green Bay will be at home and desperate for a win. Green Bay has the clear quarterback advantage with arguably the best quarterback in the NFL in Rodgers against a rookie quarterback in Josh Allen. Buffalo may have pulled off a shocker against the Vikings, and they’ll keep it close against the Packers. At the end of the day, however, it won’t be enough and the Packers will get a much-needed win to put them over .500. Prediction: Bills 20 Packers 26

Texans (0-3) at Colts (1-2)

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Photo Cred: indystar.com

No team has disappointed more to start the season than the Texans. Houston was picked by many to win the AFC South, but instead, they’re 0-3 in three winnable games. They’ll face a Colts team that despite being nearly the unanimous pick to finish last in the division, has been competitive in all three games. The Texans on paper look like the much better team, but that may not better. Indianapolis is well coached, are slightly better in the trenches, and the more efficient quarterback. Houston also seems to simply not know how to win; it’s hard to trust them to win a divisional game on the road. It’s tough to pick a winner in this game, so it makes sense to go with the home team that has looked much better to start the season. Prediction: Texans 20 Colts 23

Jets (1-2) at Jaguars (2-1)

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Photo Cred: saturdaydownsouth.com

The Jets looked like a legitimate playoff team after their 48-17 Week 1 win at the Lions on Monday Night Football. Since then, they’ve lost ugly games to the Dolphins and Browns and the hype has simmered down tremendously.  A big reason for that has been their turnover issues, as Sam Darnold has thrown five interceptions, while the Jets have fumbled three times. This may continue to get worse for them, as they face against exceptional Jaguars defense. Jacksonville’s defensive line should cause havoc against New York’s weak offensive line, while their ball-hawking secondary will take advantage of Darnold’s turnover woes. On the other side of the ball, Jacksonville may struggle to move the ball against a solid Jets defense, but they’ll likely be put in great field position with Darnold turnovers. This may not be a pretty win for the Jags, but they’re built to win games like these and will be playing into their strengths this game.                                  Prediction: Jets 9 Jaguars 20

Dolphins (3-0) at Patriots (1-2)

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Photo Cred: boston.cbslocal.com

The Dolphins are two games ahead of the Patriots in the AFC East after three games. How would have guessed that? After back to back losses, New England is in a tough position and has many analysts wondering if their dynasty in now over. Sure, they’ve looked awful this season, but are we really doing to say with a straight face that the Dolphins are the better team and will go into Foxborough and win this game? New England still has the better quarterback and are more disciplined. Miami may hit a decline soon, as they’ve relied on big plays and turnovers and are in the bottom half in passing yards per game, rushing yards per game, opposing passing yards per play, and sacks. New England has struggled also, but there is a reason that they were almost unanimously picked to win this division while Miami was viewed as one of the worst teams in football; the Pats are the superior team. Expect them to play with a vengeance and win this game that may be for their season. Prediction: Dolphins 25 Patriots 33

Eagles (2-1) at Titans (2-1)

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Photo Cred: nbcsports.com

The Eagles and Titans have been absolutely decimated with injuries, but both seem to be getting healthier. Philadelphia was without quarterback Carson Wentz for the first two weeks, and will likely have running back Jay Ajayi and wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey. The Titans, on the other hand, should have tackle Jack Conklin back and quarterback Marcus Mariota’s elbow seems to be progressing week by week. The Eagles have more talent, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll win this game. The Titans have been a turnover machine on defense and have had a solid pass rush. Philadelphia meanwhile is has a -3 turnover differential and has allowed the ninth most sacks. The Titans have also been exceptional at home in recent years and have won games against the Texans and Jaguars- two teams with more talent- despite being banged up. Now that they’re healthier, they should find a way to win this game against the Eagles. In a game that may be won in the trenches, the Titans have a slight advantage. It’s time to start giving them the recognition they deserve. Prediction: Eagles 16 Titans 17

Seahawks (1-2) at Cardinals (0-3)

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Photo Cred: seattletimes.com

In what was a big-time divisional rivalry a couple years ago, the Seahawks and Cardinals will face off in Arizona in what is now a matchup between two lower level teams. The big storyline in this game is rookie quarterback Josh Rosen starting in his first game for the Cardinals. The 21-year-old has drawn praise for his accuracy and poise; he’s as ready to start in the NFL as it gets. The big factor in this game may come from the other side of the ball, however. Seattle is tied for the most sacks allowed and now will have to face off against a solid pass led by one of the game’s premier pass rushers in Chandler Jones. The Cardinals were extremely competitive last week against the Bears and the insertion of Rosen into the starting lineup may give them the spark they need to finally get going. It should be close, but Arizona should be able to win this game.                                                     Prediction: Seahawks 23 Cardinals 24

Browns (1-1-1) at Raiders (0-3)

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Photo Cred: nbcbayarea.com

Baker Mayfield will make his first NFL start as the Browns will head to Oakland to take on the winless Raiders. This game is absolutely crucial for Cleveland, as a win on the road would prove that they could be a potential playoff team. On the other hand, the Raiders have lost three games in which they had the lead at halftime, and need to put together a complete performance to finally get a win. So what’s more likely to happen? Let’s go with the latter, not because of overall talent, because of a couple important stats. Number one overall picks since 2003 are 0-10 with a 59.9 passer rating in their first start. Sure, Mayfield has a calm demeanor that few rookies have, but it still will be a challenge for him to win in the black hole in his first NFL start. The Raiders also are back at home, and with the energy of their fans, should be able to finally put together a four-quarter performance that nets them a win. It should be a very close game, so let’s go with the more experienced quarterback in Derek Carr and take the Raiders to win their first game. Prediction: Browns 17 Raiders 19

49ers (1-2) at Chargers (1-2)

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Photo Cred: ocregister.com

Every year there is one team that seems to get decimated by injuries more than any other team. This year it appears to be the 49ers. San Francisco had already lost highly paid running back Jerrick McKinnon for the year with a torn ACL, and now they’ll be without highly paid quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with the same exact injury. That’s $47 million in cap hits out for the season. The 49ers will turn things over to CJ Beathard under center; his 4-6 touchdown to interception ratio and 54.9 completion percentage should tell you all you need to know about him. It is simply impossible for the 49ers to keep up with Phillip Rivers and the high powered Chargers offense, especially considering their defense is 27th against the Pass. This could be a long day for San Francisco, as the Chargers should have complete control of this game.                                     Prediction: 49ers 17 Chargers 28

Saints (2-1) at Giants (1-2)

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Photo Cred: msgnetwork.com

In what has the makings of a shootout, the Saints and Giants will meet up at Met Life Stadium in an interesting matchup. Both teams possess high powered offenses that are capable of taking the game over at any level. So who will come out on top? The Giants have the better defense, run game, and are at home. The Saints aren’t a traditionally good road team outdoors, and still have easily the league’s worst defense. That defense should get absolutely exposed against the Giants explosive offense with elite playmakers in running back Saquon Barkley, and receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. Once again, that unit will let Brees and the offense down against while the Giants will continue to build off of last week’s win. Prediction: Saints 27 Giants 38

Ravens (2-1) at Steelers (1-1-1) SNF

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Photo Cred: nytimes.com

Sunday Night Football renews one of the greatest rivalries in football, as the Ravens and Steelers will face in Pittsburgh in a heated divisional match. The Ravens have looked much better through their first three weeks, but Pittsburgh still arguably has more talent. The Steelers need this game badly, and I expect the offense to come out firing. Sure, Baltimore’s defense ranks first in total yardage, but they’ve played the Bills, Bengals, and Broncos. The only legitimate offense of those three is the Bengals, and Baltimore gave up 34 points to them. Now, the Steelers defense has played terrible, so Joe Flacco should be able to answer Ben Roethlisberger’s passing attack with big plays of his own. It will likely come down to the play of the two quarterbacks, and how can you not side with a still elite Roethlisberger over the example of mediocrity in Flacco? Baltimore also hasn’t won a regular season game in Pittsburgh in which Roethlisberger has started since 2012, and most have those games have been close. They clearly have trouble closing games against Big Ben at home, and that should carry over into this game.               Prediction: Ravens 30 Steelers 31

Chiefs (3-0) at Broncos (2-1) MNF

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Photo Cred: broncoswire.usatoday.com

At 3-0, the Chiefs are in a great position thanks to a prolific offense that is scoring 39.3 points per game. Their next test will go up against a Denver defense that is ranked 21st in the pass and made Derek Carr look like an MVP candidate. Oh boy. Patrick Mahomes is an actual MVP candidate and could be in line for a big game. He may struggle at first in his first prime-time game, but once he gets going, the Chiefs offense will be good to go. There is concern with their defense that is giving up 30.3 points per game, but they’re in luck as they’ll face Case Keenum, who is a game manager at best. At home and on Monday Night, I expect the Broncos to keep it very close, but I trust Mahomes a lot more than I do Keenum to win a close game, which is why I’ll take the Chiefs in a nail-biter.        Prediction: Chiefs 27 Broncos 26

 

 

 

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