Saturday, September 29, 2012

NFL Week 4 Picks

Picks for Week 4. Hopefully, none of you took my advice last week.

Week 4 Record: 8-8
Year to Date Record: 26-21

Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons
So, is it time to panic in Carolina? Everyone was hyped up for them against the Giants and expected them to take care of the short handed Giants last Thursday. Instead, the Panthers were whipped like a government mule. The offense couldn't move the ball at all, and the defense could not stop the Giants on the ground or through the air. Steve Smith called out Cam Newton after the game and told him to quit pouting. People seem to be making a bigger story out of it than it seems. Now the Panthers risk the possibility of going 1-3 with this trip to Atlanta. The Falcons have looked almost unstoppable on offense. And last Sunday the defense went into San Diego and shut down a pretty good Chargers offense. If the Panthers couldn't stop Ramses Barden, what makes me think they will stop Julio Jones and Roddy White? Nothing. Falcons win this one.

Atlanta 31  Carolina 20

New England Patriots vs Buffalo Bills
So the Patriots are 1-2: What's their problem? The offense is moving the ball but hasn't been able to convert it into touchdowns like they used to. The defense is also still having problems shutting down teams for an entire game. Have teams figured out the Patriots? That remains to be seen. They like running a two tight end offense and Aaron Hernandez is hurt and won't be playing. That allows teams to focus on stopping Rob Gronkowski. The Ravens shut him down last week. The Bills have rebounded nicely after getting thrashed in Week 1. They won their first road game since Week 1 of last year. But the Bills also likely lost C.J. Spiller this week, but may be getting back Fred Jackson. Similar to last year, the Bills are out to prove that they are for real in the AFC. The key will be the front 4 getting pressure on Tom Brady. That will allow the defense to drop more people in coverage. But can the offense hang with Tom Brady and Company? My homerism and heart tell me to pick Buffalo, but I think the Pats are out for revenge. New England in a close one.

New England 34  Buffalo 30

Minnesota Vikings vs Detroit Lions
Here was my first big blunder from last week. I said I saw no way the Vikings could win this game, and sure enough, they did. Christian Ponder played great against a very good 49ers defense. That was a very gutsy touchdown run Ponder had in the second half. And now Ponder gets to go against a Lions defense that was just torn to shreds last week by Jake Locker. I would consider Ponder a better QB than Locker at this point in their careers, so Ponder could have a career day. The Lions will look to rebound after a heartbreaking loss against Tennessee. Detroit fought all the way back against the Titans only to lose on a botched snap, or mis-communication, or whatever you want to call it. Detroit is a very surprising 1-2, and the could just as easily be 0-3. They should have Matthew Stafford back this week after he left last week's game with a hamstring injury. I like the Lions to rebound here. They know the importance of winning this game.

Detroit 35  Minnesota 31

San Diego Chargers vs Kansas City Chiefs
So which Chargers team is for real here? The team that looked good against weaker opponents in Oakland and Tennessee, or the team that got throttled by Atlanta at home. I think they are somewhere in between. The defense finally came up against a good passing unit and had problems stopping them. Good thing for San Diego, Kansas City does not have a good passing game. But they do have Jamaal Charles, who ran for over 200 yards against the New Orleans Saints last week. Charles won't run like that every game, but the Chiefs should rely more on Charles to help take the pressure of Matt Cassel. This is a coin flip game for me, and in those situations, I always side with the home team. The Chiefs also have momentum from last week.

Kansas City 28  San Diego 27

Seattle Seahawks vs St. Louis Rams
How much luckier can Seattle get? I still can't figure out how last week's game winning touchdown pass was not an interception. That win could have an impact on both team's Playoff future. Russell Wilson still hasn't looked sharp or lived up to the pre-season hype that surrounded him. He has yet to throw for over 200 yards in a game this season. And now he is facing a pretty good Rams secondary that has held opposing QBs in check so far this year. The problem the Rams have, however, is that their offense has trouble getting going sometimes. Steven Jackson definitely looks like he has lost a step in the backfield, and he is once again being hampered by an injury. I think Sam Bradford and the Rams offense do just enough in this one to pull out a win.

St. Louis 17  Seattle 14

San Francisco 49ers vs New York Jets
The 49ers are more than likely a very angry bunch right now. They went into Minnesota last week and were beaten rather easily by a lesser talented Minnesota Vikings team. I was more surprised that the 49ers offense could not put up anymore points than they did. The offense had looked good in the first two games but could barely move the ball last week. You know that Jim Harbaugh has these guys extra motivated this week. The Jets escaped Miami with an over time win last week, but they didn't escape without paying a heavy price. They lost star CB Darelle Revis for the year with a torn ACL. That is a huge blow to the Jets defense. Antonio Cromartie is nowhere near as good as Revis is covering opposing receivers. Teams just became a little less scared to throw on the Jets. I don't think Mark Sanchez will have the same success Christian Ponder did last week against the 49ers. I'm picking San Fran here.

San Francisco 23  NY Jets 13

Tennessee Titans vs Houston Texans
Jake Locker had a great game last week against Detroit. He showed poise in the pocket and had a great command for the game. He also did it against a bad Lions secondary. This week he goes up against a very good Texans defense on the road. Houston had last weeks game in hand before they let the Broncos work their way back into the game due to some stupid mistakes. Houston has still yet to play any real contenders this year. While Denver is good I don't know if they are a Super Bowl contender. But Houston is taking advantage of a soft schedule, and I would expect them to take care of the Titans at home.

Houston 27  Tennessee 17

Cincinnati Bengals vs Jacksonville Jaguars
I don't think anybody really knows what these two teams are about. The Bengals surprised a few people last week by going into Washington and ruining RG3's home debut. The offense was great and A.J. Green had a huge breakout game that defined him as one of the best WRs in the NFL. I am still a bit concerned that their defense seems to have taken a step back. It was a top unit last year and now it seems to have problems stopping anybody. The Jaguars have played a couple close games. Last week they leaned on Maurice Jones Drew. But sooner or later Blaine Gabbert is going to have to win this team some games. Gabbert has still yet to show me anything this year. He has shown some flashes, but hasn't put it all together yet. I like Cincinnati here. More complete team.

Cincinnati 21  Jacksonville 13

Miami Dolphins vs Arizona Cardinals
As I said in my Week 3 NFL Review, I'm on board with the Cardinals hype. That defense is ferocious and seems to be on a mission this season. They gave Mike Vick absolutely no time to throw the ball last week and had him scrambling for his life at times. That is on defense, but the offense finally came alive next week. Sure they only scored 27 points, but it is better than what they had been doing in the first couple weeks. Kevin Kolb still hasn't shown he is worth the contract he got. The running game has also struggled to come along as well. But the good thing for Arizona is that they are going up against a young Dolphins team with a rookie QB. They also may not have their #1 offensive weapon as Reggie Bush is being slowed by a hamstring injury. All of that equals bad things for the Dolphins. Arizona wins.

Arizona 26  Miami 13

Oakland Raiders vs Denver Broncos
This is a make or break week for Denver. The team seems to be struggling to come along as most people expected. Peyton Manning has looked off the last couple games. And the defense as failed to stop anybody in recent weeks. Many people, myself included, thought Denver would be the class of the AFC West this year. But the team has yet to gel. If Peyton Manning is going to have his breakout game as a Bronco, than this game is it. The Oakland Raiders defense is not that great. But maybe their offense is starting to come around. I thought they would get shut down last week by Pittsburgh, but apparently I was wrong. Carson Palmer played surprisingly well and the team leaned on Darren McFadden who had a good game. I think the Broncos know the importance of this game, and I am taking Denver here.

Denver  35  Oakland 31

New Orleans Saints vs Green Bay Packers
This is a bad spot for the New Orleans Saints. They are 0-3 and looking for this first win. But the problem is, they are going on the road to Lambeau to play a very angry Green Bay Packers team. The Saints defense is having major problems right now. They got ran over by Jamaal Charles and could not stop any of the Chiefs offense. There is only so much Drew Brees can do for them on offense. Now Brees will have to go score for score with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. The Packers are going to be out on a mission this week after getting screwed over by the replacement refs last week. The Packers also had a bad showing on offense as Aaron Rodgers was sacked 8 times in the game. Expect Green Bay to come out slinging and to hand the Saints their fourth loss.

Green Bay 41  New Orleans 31

Washington Redskins vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Much of the Robert Griffin hype has died down because of Griffin's last two losses, including his home opener last week against Cincinnati. While Griffin is still playing good, he can't do anything to help the defense. They showed that they were missing Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker last week. If the Redskins will want to win more games this year, it looks like they are going to have to be in some shootouts. Tampa Bay has had problems scoring points this year. Outside of Week 2, the offense has struggled to move the ball. It may be time to question whether or not Josh Freeman is the real deal. He's only had 1 really good season and has yet to put together a string of consecutive good games. I think the Redskins offense does just enough to win this game.

Washington 24  Tampa Bay 23

New York Giants vs Philadelphia Eagles
Just when you think the Giants are down and out, they come back and prove you wrong. Many people doubted the Giants chances last week against Carolina and they just demolished them. They shut down Cam Newton on defense and seemed almost unstoppable on offense. I've learned to never bet against Eli Manning. This guy just knows how to win the big game when people doubt him the most. The Eagle struggled last week against Arizona, and they will face another good pass rush with the Giants coming to town. Will Mike Vick make it out of the game healthy? There are already people in Philadelphia asking how long Mike Vick will remain the teams quarterback. Those questions wouldn't be around if the Eagles gave the ball to LeSean McCoy more. It seems at times the Eagles become too one dimensional. Philly has yet to put together a complete game this year. I'm going with the Giants again on the road.

NY Giants 28  Philadelphia 24

Chicago Bears vs Dallas Cowboys
This is an intriguing game to me. The Cowboys and Bears are two team that can look really good one week than look like complete crap the next week. Dallas struggled last week against a weaker Bucs team, and Chicago didn't pull away until the 4th quarter against St. Louis. Jay Cutler had another terrible game. Are his teammates playing fully for him? I would hope so this early in the season. But the Bears go up against a very good secondary in Dallas this week. Cutler could struggle again, and then you know the media will be hounding him in Chicago. Dallas needs to find some consistency on offense after only scoring a combined 23 points in the last two weeks. Tony Romo, much like Cutler, is struggling and they may be facing the same media scrutiny if they lose this week. Again, another coin flip game. But I think Dallas has a slightly better defense than Chicago and I will take them here.

Dallas 21  Chicago 17

My Weekly If You Listen To Me You're Nuts Vegas $$$ Picks
Year to Date: 7-5
Arizona -5.5 vs Miami: If Dolphins are missing Reggie Bush, this pick is a LOCK
NY Giants +2.5 at Philadelphia: Eagles haven't won big this year, and those were against weaker teams
San Francisco -4 at NY Jets: 49ers will be playing motivated. Look out Mark Sanchez
Cincinnati -1 at Jacksonville: These two teams aren't that close in talent

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

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