Saturday, October 1, 2011

NFL Week 4 Picks

It's Saturday. Pick Time.

Last Week's Record: 10-6
Year to Date: 33-15

Detroit Lions vs Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys won last week, in a pretty ugly fashion. They tallied 6 field goals in their 18-16 win over Washington Monday night. Tony Romo made it through the game with his injured chest, but it wasn't pretty. The defense did its part shutting down Rex Grossman. The Lions came back from down 20-0 against Minnesota to win in overtime on the leg of Jason Hanson, pushing their record to 3-0. It almost seems like no one can stop the Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson connection, and don't expect the Cowboys secondary to do that either. The Cowboys will have to put heavy pressure on Stafford if they want to stop him. I expect another close game here, but the Lions pull it out in the end.

Detroit 27  Dallas 23

Carolina Panthers vs Chicago Bears
Cam Newton finally got his first win as an NFL QB in the rain last week. If the Panthers could get their running game going they could be a surprise team this year. Don't expect Newton to put up the same numbers he's been putting up. The Bears secondary is very strong and their quick pass rush should be able to contain Newton. The Bears need to get their run game going, and they should be able to do that against the Panthers soft run defense. The Bears stayed competitive last week against Green Bay, but their late comeback fell short, and was cut off by a phantom holding call on a great punt return. The Bears will be looking for a win here to keep pace with Detroit and Green Bay. A loss would put them a long ways back. But the Bears have just a bit more talent then Carolina. They win here.

Chicago 23  Carolina 16

Buffalo Bills vs Cincinnati Bengals
The Bills shocked the NFL world last week with their come from behind, upset victory over New England. They showed that they may be for real this year. Ryan Fitzpatrick was named AFC Player of the Month. The Bills offense is one of the best in the league and almost seems like it cannot be stopped. The Bengals looked terrible last week, scoring only 8 points against a less than stellar 49ers defense. Andy Dalton looked like a rookie QB, and the Bengals couldn't get anything going on offense. Their defense, however, has been very stellar. Their front seven is shutting down running attacks and putting pressure on the QB. This has the classic signs of a trap game for Buffalo, but this team isn't one of those teams that thinks highly of themselves. They don't have an arrogant persona about them. It's close, but the Bills win because of their offense.

Buffalo 28  Cincinnati 20

Tennessee Titans vs Cleveland Browns
This is actually quite an intriguing game. Both of these teams are 2-1, with the winner taking a big step forward to competing for a playoff race. The Titans, however, lost a big piece of their offense last week when WR Kenny Britt was lost for the year with a torn ACL and MCL. Now the Titans absolutely have to get Chris Johnson going. With the loss of top WR Kenny Britt, Matt Hasselbeck loses his favorite weapon. The Browns pulled off a last second win last week against Miami, without star RB Peyton Hillis. Colt McCoy has struggled the first few games after showing promise late last season. With Hillis back, the Browns should lean on him heavily. Expect a low scoring game here, but the Browns win on a last second field goal.

Cleveland 17  Tennessee 14

Minnesota Vikings vs Kansas City Chiefs
Some people are calling this the first stop on the "Andrew Luck Bowl." I don't know why. The Vikings drafted Christian Ponder this year in the first round, why would they draft Andrew Luck? The Vikings blew a big lead again last week against Detroit. Donovan McNabb is not playing very well, and the team is forgetting that Andrew Peterson should be the focus of the offense. I wouldn't be surprised to see Ponder sooner rather than later. The Chiefs, meanwhile, showed some fight last week in their close loss to San Diego. Their still missing something on offense, as Matt Cassel continues to struggle to live up to his potential. This game really could go either way. Maybe the Vikings shouldn't build a big lead. The Vikings have the best playmaker in the game, so I'm giving them the edge.

Minnesota 24  Kansas City 13

Washington Redskins vs St. Louis Rams
You have to feel bad for the Rams. They've had a brutal first three games. Now while you can feel bad for them, some of that is also their own doing. They played terrible last week against Baltimore, a game they were out of by the end of the 1st quarter. Even though they are 0-3, there not out of it yet in the NFC West, but they need to win this week. The Redskins offense finally came back down to earth last week against Dallas. Rex Grossman looked like bad Rex. But their defense still looked strong, and you can expect them to bring the heat onto Sam Bradford. I picked the Rams last week saying they would play desperate and that back fired. They play desperate again this week, but this time they pull off the win.

St. Louis 27  Washington 24

New Orleans Saints vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Blaine Gabbert's first game as a rookie QB was in a monsoon against Carolina. His first home game? Against a blitz happy New Orleans Saints defense. Talk about throwing Gabbert to the wolves. Expect the Saints to stack 8 guys in the box to stop Maurice Jones-Drew, making Blaine Gabbert beat them. The Jaguars defense has been surprisingly stout against the run, but they are vulnerable against the pass. The Saints have Drew Brees to take care of that. Brees should be able to pick apart the Jags secondary, especially the Jags LBs who are poor in coverage. The Saints put points up in bunches and win here.

New Orleans 38  Jacksonville 14

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Houston Texans
I'm really intrigued by this match-up. The Texans offense hung with the high powered Saints offense last week, but their improved defense took a step back last week. The Steelers, meanwhile, didn't look too great last week in their win over Indianapolis. Their offensive line is in shambles and they were down to their last five active offensive linemen last week. Luckily for Pittsburgh, their defense bailed them out. Their defense will have to play just as well as they did last week. But the Steelers aren't facing Kerry Collins. They're facing Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and a close to 100% Arian Foster. When the Texans offense is healthy, they're scary good. You have to worry about Big Ben's pass protection in this one. Expect the Steelers to rely on Rashard Mendenhall. I think this game is close, but the Texans have a few more offensive weapons at their disposal and take this one.

Houston 24  Pittsburgh 23

San Francisco 49ers vs Philadelphia Eagles
So, will Mike Vick complain after this game too? Vick went off on the officiating in last week's game, believing he wasn't getting calls for getting hit late. Vick also hurt his non-throwing hand in the game, but is expected to play this Sunday. Vick needs to exploit a bad 49ers secondary and rely heavily on DeSean Jackson. The 49ers won an ugly game last week in Cincinnati. Alex Smith continues to not impress. Frank Gore is playing at less than 100% which can't be good. The Eagles are an angry team after last week's embarrassing home loss to the Giants. Expect the Eagles to role here.

Philadelphia 31  San Francisco 14

New York Giants vs Arizona Cardinals
Good Eli Manning showed up last week for the Giants. That's the Manning the Giants want to see if they want to win the NFC East this year. Some people are questioning whether or not the Giants are the best team in the NFC East. I'm still not ready to jump on that bandwagon. I'm not writing off the Eagles just yet. The Cardinals offense did a vanishing act last week against Seattle. The running game couldn't get going at all. Expect a lot of Larry Fitzgerald this week. He should be the center piece of every Cardinals offensive game plan. This one is a toss up to me. These teams are kind of bi-polar, you never know which side you are going to get. I'm picking the team with the best offensive playmaker gain.

Arizona 33  NY Giants 31

Atlanta Falcons vs Seattle Seahawks
The Falcons offense did not look good last week against Tampa Bay. Michael Turner was an absolute non-factor, and Matt Ryan had one of his worst games as a starter. The Falcons are now 1-2 and already behind the 8-ball in the NFC South. They're in danger of falling to 1-3 too, because it is not easy to win in Seattle. It was an ugly game that saw the Seahawks prevail in the end with some strong defense. Tavaris Jackson still looked bad, but the offense made just enough plays to beat the Cardinals. They'll need to make a few more to beat Atlanta. You can be sure the Falcons will be ready to play here, and won't be intimidated by the Seattle crowd. The Falcons offense is too good for a mediocre Seattle defense.

Atlanta 30  Seattle 20

Miami Dolphins vs San Diego Chargers
The Dolphins may be the leaders in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes. They play in what is arguably the toughest division in football in the AFC East. Their offense has looked terrible the last two games, and Tony Sparano is already on the hot seat in Miami, and he may not make it through the season. That's a recipe for disaster in Miami. Oh, and they can't win at home either. The Chargers, while 2-1, are going through their normal September struggles. They barely hung on to beat the Chiefs last week. Philip Rivers has struggled, and he will be without Antonio Gates again this week. I expect the Chargers to win here. They are just much more talented on offense.

San Diego 28  Miami 14

New England Patriots vs Oakland Raiders
Tom Brady is a very angry man. He is not happy about the loss last week in Buffalo. That's bad news for the Oakland Raiders. Their secondary is already hurting. Expect Brady to just pick them apart. But the Raiders are no slouches either. The Patriots defense, especially the secondary, is very mediocre. Ryan Fitzpatrick tore them apart last week. Also expect a heavy does of Darren McFadden from the Raiders. They should be able to give a good balance of their passing attack and McFadden, enough to keep the Patriots on guard and ready for everything. I expect this one to be close, but I would never want to bet against an angry Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck coming off a loss. I will take New England here.

New England 38  Oakland 30

Denver Broncos vs Green Bay Packers
I don't want to say the Broncos have absolutely no chance of winning here, but it's slim to none. Kyle Orton should be able to exploit the Packers surprisingly weak secondary this year, but the Broncos defense will more than likely have no answer for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers high powered offense. The Broncos only hope is that their pass rush gets to Rodgers and forces some turnovers. But I don't think that is happening. Rodgers lights up the Broncos and the Packers continue to look like a team playing Madden on Rookie Mode.

Green Bay 41  Denver 21

New York Jets vs Baltimore Ravens
Expect a brutal, nasty defensive game here. It's just how these two teams are built. But the Ravens have some offensive firepower. Joe Flacco had the best game of his career last week against a lowly Rams secondary. But the Jets secondary is not the Ravens secondary. Flacco could struggle a bit here, so expect a heavy dose of Ray Rice. Darren McFadden ran all over the Jets run defense last week, no reason Rice can't do the same. The Jets loss last week exposed some problems in their game. They aren't really built to score more than 20-24 points in a game, and if a team can put points up on them, they could be in trouble. I'm still not sold on Mark Sanchez, and he will probably struggle again here. I think the Ravens are a better football team, and they win a low scoring affair here.

Baltimore 17  NY Jets 12

Indianapolis Colts vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The last time these two teams played on Monday night, the Colts completed the biggest comeback in regular season history. Unfortunately for the Colts, Peyton Manning won't be on the field to help them again. Curtis Painter takes the field for them this week. He actually didn't play terrible last week. He lead the Colts only TD drive, and put them in position to stay in the game. He also missed a wide open Pierre Garcon on what would have surely been a TD. The Bucs overcame the Falcons last week in what is a huge step for a young team like them. They held a good Falcons offense to only 13 points. That's bad news for a poor Colts defense. The Colts improved defense should somewhat contain the Bucs, but Tampa pulls away from the Colts in the end.

Tampa Bay 23  Indianapolis 17

My Vegas $$$ Picks
Last Week: 2-2
Year to Date: 5-6-1

Obviously by my results, I hope you guys don't take my advice gambling. But I will continue to give it to you!

Detroit +2.5 at Dallas: I think Detroit is winning here. Cowboys can't stop Calvin Johnson

Denver at Green Bay OVER 46.5: Packers could put up 30+ by themselves

New Orleans -7 at Jacksonville: Drew Brees is more than 7 points better than Blaine Gabbert

NY Giants at Arizona OVER 44.5: Both secondaries are terrible. Points could come in bunches

That's all for me this week. Hell in A Cell Review Monday, RAW Review and Week 4 Review Tuesday.

Until next time,
Justin C
Follow Me on Twitter @JCWonka

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