NFL Week 4 Preview and Predictions

September 29th, 2011 by Scott Dargis | Filed under Eagles, Football, General.

Even though last week was only the third week of a 5 and 1/2 month long season, we learned a good amount about some teams and more question marks were raised about others. The Lions showed that they have some poise beyond the team’s young age. They knew that they could come back from the 20 point deficit and they went out there and took care of business. Why Adrian Peterson only ran the ball 5 times in the second half is beyond me, but know this, Matt Stafford to Calvin Johnson is a combination that looks like it is going to be impossible to stop this season.

We also found out that indeed, no one circles the wagon like the Buffalo f’n Bills. Admit it you thought that after Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted and Tom Brady threw his second touchdown of the first quarter that it was going to be a rout. Then after the Patriots made it 21-0 in the first half you called your friend and complained about why the Bills were getting any respect going into this game and then it happened. The Bills began to expose the one dimensional Patriots and made the comeback that no one saw coming. Great comeback and what an atmosphere in Ralph Wilson stadium, here’s to hoping that both of these teams are in the race come late December.

Let’s take a look to this week, where I will try to improve with my selections, 7-8 last week is just flat out embarrassing, even though over a handful of those games finished with a one score differential.

Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys 1:00pm

The Lions had a very tough comeback on the road last week in a place that they had not had success in years. The offensive line really looked shaky in that first half, but was able to settle down and give Stafford time to actually look down the field. When he gets time to look around things can be dangerous. Now finding Brandon Pettigrew will be tougher this week because the Cowboys have done a great job of shutting the tight end position down, but stopping Calvin Johnson will be something else. I expect Jahvid Best to have a much better game this week.

It was an ugly win for the Cowboys last week, but a win non the less. One of the positives from last week that will continue this week is the progression of Felix Jones into the upper tier of running backs. He showed some real explosiveness against the Redskins. The key will be giving Tony Romo the time to make plays and with the band-aid offense line in front of him it will be much harder this week. The Lions pass rush will be in his face early and often.

If Rob Ryan can dial up some blitzes to get to Matthew Stafford than this one will be close. The Cowboys really need Dez Bryant this week because while the Lions front 7 has gotten better, their secondary can still be thrown on. Having said that I just think the Lions are too much for the Cowboys this week, Jahvid Best will be the difference maker in a 28-20 win.

I will post an extended preview of the Eagles-Niners game on Saturday so I won’t pick that game here.

Minnesota Vikings at Kansas City Chiefs 1:00pm

I just don’t understand how the Vikings could go away from the cornerstone of their offense in the second half. Up 20-0 (20-0!) the Vikings decided to give Toby Garhart more carriers and have Donovan throw the ball. After rushing for 80 yards and 2 TDs in the first half AD became an afterthought, just unfathomable and you wonder why the Vikings have blown 2 out of the 3 double digit leads (come on now the Chargers were bound to come back.

I thought the Chiefs were impressive last week. In a game that no one gave them a chance in they were within a field goal of putting the game into overtime. They capitalized on the Chargers mistakes and even if the stat book isn’t friendly to him, Matt Cassel almost guided KC to victory.

There are just too many injuries for the Chiefs to overcome an offense that can move the ball when they call the right plays. The Vikings should try and see what Mcnabb has left in the tank because he is still getting used to the offense. I think that Peterson will touch the ball early and often in this one, 17-10 Vikings.

Washington Redskins at St.Louis Rams 1:05pm

The Redskins just looked sloppy against the Cowboys, no other way to put it. The positives have outweighed the negatives early on though and the biggest positive comes from the running game. Tim Hightower and some of Roy Helu have been a combination that have been hard to stop at times and Rex Grossman has looked like a much more polished QB than what he was in Chicago. To boot the secondary got a huge boost last week when pro bowl SS Laron Landry returned. His presence was sorely missed back there.

If it sounds like I am gushing about the Redskins it’s because I really like them in the match up against the Rams. Last week had to feel like a hit to the head by a shovel for St.Louis. Previously unknown receiver Torry Smith left trails of flame in the Edward Jones Dome. It really is hard to like anything about the Rams right now. The defense has fallen apart (31st in the NFL), Sam Bradford has appeared to regress and the injury bug has plagued both sides of the ball. Steven Jackson has to be a big factor if the Rams are going to win this game, but I want to see him start and end a game before he can be a factor. Give me the Skins 17-7 in an ugly one.

New Orleans at Jacksonville Jaguars 1:05pm

No biggie, that had to be what the Saints locker room was thinking after they stormed back to beat the Texans last week. A classic Drew Brees performance, can this guy get a new contract already? With the prospect of Marques Colton possibly playing this one does not get any easier for the Jaguars. Darren Sprolles and which ever receiver Drew Brees finds is going to have a big day against the Jags, but keep an eye out on Jimmy Graham he had a break out performance against Houston (4 rec 100 yds 1 TD). He looks like he might just be the most pass catcher in that offense.

Quick advice to the Jags, give the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew as many times as possible. Blane Gabbert will have his moments, but Jones-Drew is the key to even making this game watchable. Saints in a rout 35-10

Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns 1:05pm

This could very well be a sneaky good early game on Sunday. The Titans are obviously going to have to find a way to still be explosive without WR Kenny Britt. Injuries are obviously part of the game, but it really is a shame what happened to Britt. He was on his way to a career year and one that would have put him on the map as one of the best receivers in the game, but the Titans will have to move on. The best way for them to do that is to have Chris Johnson actually lace them up. He has been the most disappointing player by far this season and I’m not talking about fantasy football. He has the ability to be a real game changer, something that very few players in this league are capable of. I have said it before and i will say it again, if he can get it going, the Titans could be a real surprise and that is even without Britt.

The reason why this game could very well be the best of the early ones is because both teams in this match up are playing much better football than anticipated. Now the Browns have had a favorable schedule (@CIN,@IND,MIA), but they won two of the games that they were supposed to, so you can’t ask for too much more. The pass defense has been really good so far (3rd in NFL), but it is the running game that has torched the defense so far (29th). Peyton Hillis and Colt McCoy just won’t be enough this week as Chris Johnson will finally get it going and crack the 125 yd barrier, Titans 24-14

Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans 1:05pm

Boy it has not been a good month for the Steelers. They got routed by the Ravens in the opener, did what they were expected to do in a 24-0 shutout against the Seahawks, and then barely squeaked by against the Peytonless Colts. If Curtis Painter can drive 80 yards in the fourth quarter against the “mighty” Steeler defense, just imagine what Matt Schuab can do against them in a full 60 minutes this week.

The other concern for Pittsburgh has to be the non effect that Rashard Mendenhall has had on the offense so far. This appeared to be his breakout season and he had a perfect opportunity to do just that last week, but had another one of his mediocre games (18 carriers 37 yards), this offense runs through Ben Roethlisburger and Mike Wallace. Good luck trying to get the ball to him on those deep routes this week. With a roughed up offensive line and a renewed Texans pass rush, Big Ben won’t have the time to let Wallace get down field.

With last year’s rushing champ Arian Foster expected to be back this week, the Texans will win 28-17.

Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals 1:05pm

Yeah! That was the word that was shouted out across western New York last week. The Bills finally got the monkey that was a 15 game losing streak to New England off of their backs in a unreal fashion. Now comes the Bengals, a perfect trap game. Cinci comes into this game after a disappointing loss to the 49ers at home. How can the Bills possibly lose this game?

Cedric Benson is the correct answer. This could be his last game before he serves his three game suspension. Buffalo is in the bottom half of the league when it comes to stopping the run and Benson is out to make a statement before he goes away for almost a month. Andy Dalton should have some success too, he has to have a better game than he did last week.

The Bills will win this game though and I can’t believe I am about to say this, but the Bills have too much offensive firepower for the Bengals to stop. Fred Jackson is the cornerstone of this offense and a top 5 back in the league right now. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s noodle arm is no longer talked about, in just over a season he has turned this team and just maybe an entire franchise around. Bills 30-17.

Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears 1:05pm

Cam Newton got the win that he needed to get, even if the stats were not even close to the ones he put up the first two weeks of the season, but the W is the only stat that was important last week. This week that W will be much harder to take home with him. The Bears have a tough defense to begin with, but this one is at Soldier Field combine that with a rookie QB and it just doesn’t seem like a recipe for success.

The Bears are coming off of a tough loss to the division rival Packers. The offense just never got off of the starting block and the defense had no answer for the nightmare matchup that is Jermichael Finley. This will be the bounce back week that the Bears really need to get their confidence back.

With absolutely no production from DeAngelo Williams and little from Jonathan Stewart, there will be no running game to bailout Cam Newton from the nightmare that the Bears defense will be. I think that Chicago’s offense will still be sloppy, but will have enough short fields to work with to get the win, 17-7.

Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks 4:05pm

It was just to little to late for the Falcons last week in Tampa Bay, by the time that the offense found their groove the game was over and the Falcons lost yet again. Seattle presents the Falcons with an interesting test this week. While the Seahawks offense did little except for last week against the Cardinals, their defense has been stout (10th). The Cardinals pass defense was a perfect chance for Sidney Rice to step up and he did by crossing the 100 yd barrier, but they only scored 13 points.

Atlanta must use the hurry up offense earlier in the game, every time they have used it this season the opposing defense has looked clueless out there. Tampa Bay couldn’t stop Roddy White or Julio Jones late in the game and it was a drop by White that ultimately cost the Falcons the game. This week the combo will become a trio thanks to Tony Gonzalez, too much fire power for the Hawks to stop 24-10.

New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals 4:15pm

For all of the negative talk that the Eagles received this week, the Giants deserved some serious credit. The Giants coaches came out with a near perfect game plan against the Eagles, especially early in the game. They knew to attack the weak points of the defense, but what was embarrassing for Philly was that it was done by a 40 yard wheel route by Brandon Jacobs. A huge running back that does not have game breaking speed, burned Casey Matthews all the way back to the bench where he goes this week.

The Giants capitalized off of a terrible turnover on downs that flipped the tide of the game, this week they won’t need that. The Cardinals will be able to put some points on the board through the air, no question about that, but they just won’t be able to stop anything coming the other way. Even with all of the replacements in the receiving core, the Giants will just put up too many points for Arizona to answer, 32-21 GGGMEN.

Denver Broncos at Green Bay Packers 4:15pm

I don’t know why I ever doubted the Packers last week. In the offensive league that we have, the Packers have the best one. There are just simply too many options for Aaron Rodgers to go to. Jermichael Finley should be listed as a WR/TE as he is just a nightmare for any corner back to try and defend. Making things even tougher for opposing defenses was the emergence of Ryan Grant last week. He finished with 95 yards against a good run defense of Chicago.

In the words of Howard Eskin this is a stone cold mortal lock, 38-17 Packers. Denver hasn’t clicked offensively and this matchup on paper warrants the Broncos some chance, but the Packers defense has to turn it on at some point… right?

Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers 4:15pm

Doesn’t it always seem like the Chargers always play at home. I don’t know what it is, but every season it just seems like they are always at home especially early in the season. The schedule really set up nicely for them to get off to a fast start this season and while they have a 2-1 record, those wins are not quality ones. The teams that they have beaten have a combined 0-6 record and they won those games by a combined 10 points. Not exactly what you want to see if you’re Norv Turner an co.

The one standout aspect in the first month of the season has been running back Ryan Matthews. He has taken over the RBBC away from Mike Tolbert and looks to be the final piece in an explosive offense. The Chargers just need to do some fine tuning, otherwise a disappointment is bound to take place at some point.

Speaking of disappointments, look no further than the Miami Dolphins. Last week was a must win scenario for the Dolphins if they wanted to have any hope of having a successful season, but it just looks like coach Tony Sparano’s seat is about to be set on fire. When the team needs to come together to put together a drive or a stop it just isn’t there. Reggie Bush has looked like a tremendous bust, while Daniel Thomas has been a diamond in the rough. The talent is there, but sadly it looks like they have lost motivation.

I’ll take the Chargers 24-17.

New England Patriots at Oakland Raiders 4:15pm

I am absolutely gushing over the Oakland Raiders. They play such a different style of football from what has become popular in this league, but they do it in such a way that is just hard not to like. It all begins and ends with running back Darren McFadden, hopefully that groin injury isn’t too serious because he has to have another big game if the Raiders want to win this one. Don’t overlook Jason Campbell though, he has been surprising really good this year thanks to the emergence of WR Denarius Moore.

History just doesn’t make this one look good for the Raiders. The last time the Patriots lost two in a row was in 2006 (against the Colts and Jets respectfully). I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Belicheck told Brady to get that hair cut off, he seems like the superstitious type for some reason.

I really want to pick the Raiders but there will be simply just too much Brady for the Raiders to handle. This one has the makings of a shootout, with the better team coming out on top, Pats 35-28

New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens 8:20pm

The prime time game is the best matchup of the week. The Jets were humbled in Oakland and the Ravens got back on their feet in St.Louis. They are really close in total team defense 11th (NYJ) and 13th (BAL), but the advantage in this one has to go to the Ravens because of their explosiveness on offense.

Ray Rice has emerged in my eyes as the best running back in football, simply because he can do it all. Torrey Smith emerged last week, but it will take more than one week for me to buy into him. Don’t forget about Anquan Boldin, even though he might be lost on Revis Island this week.

Mark Sanchez said he is 100% and ready to go this week, but I just want to see if Shonn Greene is finally ready to go. He had a decent game against the Raiders, but it just seems like every time he bursts for a run, you know that he is going to get stuffed on his next 5 attempts. Even though the Ravens secondary is aging, Sanchez has not proven himself to be mistake free and the ball hawk Ed Reed will be all over any bad throws his way.

The Jets had problems stopping Run DMC last week and this week it will be a new face and the same problem. Ray Rice will be the difference maker in this one, 17-14 Ravens.

Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Monday 8:30pm

Curtis Painter deserves to get the start this week in Tampa. I don’t see how that 80 yard drive in the 4th quarter against the Steelers did not lock up the job for him. Having said that it doesn’t matter who lines up underneath center for the Colts, because the Bucs are going to win this one. No heroics are going to be needed from Josh Freeman.

The matchup to watch is Legarrette Blount against the Colts run defense. If the Bucs really want to be taken as a serious contender they have to show that their running game is just as good as it was last year, so far it has just looked average and the Colts run defense showed life last week, but I don’t know how much of that was Mendenhall just laying another egg.

Bucs 24-10, Painter needs more experience before he and the rest of the Colts can be taken seriously.

So to recap, I am taking the Lions, Vikings, Redskins, Saints, Titans, Texans, Bills, Bears, Falcons, Giants, Packers, Chargers, Patriots, Ravens, Buccaneers. Tweet me you’re picks @scottdargis and as always enjoy football!!

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One Response to “NFL Week 4 Preview and Predictions”

  1. ck says:

    Good stuff! Thanks Scott!