NFL Week 4 Previews and Predictions
Detroit @ Chicago
Som egood news for the Bears is that Jay Cutler has a passer rating of 110.4 over the past four quarters, and Devin Hester has caught at least four passes in all three games this year. While the passing game is working, surprisingly enough, Chicago can’t move the ball on the ground.
Matt Forte is averaging a paltry 2.5 yards per carry. He hasn’t been getting to the second level, which means he hasn’t had an opportunity to showcase his marvelous fluidity.
An interesting note about Detroit’s victory is that in their win, Calvin Johnson had only five catches for 49 yards. If the Lions can at least win enough to stay halfway relevant, people will soon describe Johnson as the best receiver in football.
Cincinnati @ Cleveland
One thing I’ve never been able to stand is when a head coach, especially a new head coach, does a crappy job and, in what amounts to a flimsy prayer, tries to reverse his fortune by replacing quarterbacks. Brady Quinn deserves more of an opportunity than just two-and-a-half games to get this pathetic team off the ground. He’s far from the sole problem. Scott Linehan threw Marc Bulger under the bus like this last season in St. Louis. Linehan rightfully got fired shortly afterwards. Is Browns owner Randy Lerner paying attention?
Oakland @ Houston
Call me diabolic, but it’s kind of fun watching the world turn against JaMarcus Russell like this. All of the sudden, everyone seems to be looking at the former No. 1 overall pick and saying What the hell? Russell is exactly the quarterback Houston’s defense needs to face if the Texans are going to get on track.
The only reason to watch this game is to see Nnamdi Asomugha matched up against Andre Johnson. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Seattle @ Indianapolis
What’s up with Joseph Addai? He looked sluggish last season because of injuries, but he’s healthy now and still looking sluggish. Addai used to have one of the best first step in football. His initial cuts were always outstanding. Now, he doesn’t even have the best first step or initial cut in the Indy backfield; swift first-round rookie Donald Brown does. Doesn’t matter how Addai plays this week….Peyton Manning has been nearly perfect thus far.
Tennessee @ Jacksonville
It’s only been three games, but is there anyone out there who truly thinks either of these teams will make the playoffs this season? The thing about the AFC is that the great teams seem to stay great from year to year. The Steelers, Colts, Chargers and Patriots are always major contenders. That leaves two spots open. The Jets and Ravens look dominant, the Broncos are undefeated (they won’t make the playoffs, but still, 3-0 puts them three whole games ahead of the Titans) and the Bengals suddenly look sharp.
New York Giants @ Kansas City
We’ve been talking about “Larry Johnson looking to get back on track” for years now. He has rushed for just 136 yards on the season. What if Johnson is merely a decent running back who benefited from running behind Willie Roaf, Brian Waters, Casey Wiegmann and Will Shields earlier in his career?
Baltimore @ New England
You couldn’t ask for a more intriguing early window game than this. The Patriots just faced this defense a few weeks ago in New York. Expect them to come out firing on all cylinders. What will really draw huge headlines is if Joe Flacco wins this game and puts up better numbers than Tom Brady. That’s what the second-year stud has been doing so for the season. The last time these two teams faced each other, it was a Monday Night fistfight in which the Patriots barely maintained their undefeated regular season record. Expect this one to be more of a shootout.
Tampa Bay @ Washington
And to think, just two weeks ago I could have sworn there’d never be a more boring matchup than St. Louis @ Washington. Byron Leftwich got benched. But this isn’t a case of 0-3 Raheem Morris throwing his quarterback under the bus in hopes of igniting some magic. The difference between benching Byron Leftwich for Josh Johnson and benching Brady Quinn for Derek Anderson is that you’re not benching a recent first-round pick when you bench Leftwich, and you’re not turning to a guy whom you already know is a middling starter like the Browns are with Derek Anderson. After all, there is some hope that Josh Johnson can be part of this team’s future. And, given that the short-term fill-in Leftwich is absolutely not moving the ball, it makes sense to roll the dice and see if there’s something in Johnson.
Buffalo @ Miami
Remember when these two teams play two times for the AFC title back in the early 90s?
Pick: Buffalo. No, Miami. Well….I guess Buffalo. Does it really matter? Miami. Let’s go with Miami. They’re at home. Miami.
New York Jets @ New Orleans
If you’re not excited to see Bart Scott and the Jets defense take on Drew Brees and the Saints offense, then you’re not a fan of football. But remember, there are two other sectors to the game: special teams, and New York’s offense against New Orleans’s defense. Both teams can be electrifying in the return game, and both teams have so far, surpassed most observers’ expectations on their less-hyped side of the ball.
As far as the showcase matchup in this game goes, I give the edge to Brees and the Saints offense. So much of what they do is predicated on quick-hit passing in the flats. Brees is capable of getting rid of the ball before New York can execute their blitzes.
Dallas @ Denver
Finally, a meaningful test for the Broncos.
St. Louis @ San Francisco
I’m glad everyone is telling me to drink the Mike Singletary Kool-Aid and hop on the Niner bandwagon. If it weren’t for that, I might be inclined to think this is just another dull NFC West matchup.
San Diego @ Pittsburgh
Big, big game for the Steelers. For San Diego, not so much (unless they’re thinking they need home field advantage in the AFC playoffs…which they actually might). But for Pittsburgh, a loss means 1-3. What’s more, Ben Roethlisberger is hosting WWE Raw the following Monday night. Normally players do those type of events before a bye week. But the Steelers have a road game at Detroit the next Sunday. Keep in mind, Tuesday is the off day in pro football, which means Big Ben has scheduled out what amounts to his Saturday night. But imagine the outcry that will ensue if the Steelers falls to 1-3 and their starting quarterback hosts something as wild (and lame) as Raw less than 24 hours later. I just don’t see Big Ben letting that happen.
Green Bay @ Minnesota
I’m going to assume that this game will get plenty of attention in the next few days. Not wanting to be targeted in the “Brett Favre gets too much publicity” complaints, I’m going to refrain from diving too deep into this one. We’ll save it for the Nov. 1 return to Lambeau. All I’ll say for this game is, I can’t wait.
Pick: Favre plays solid, Rodgers plays better, neither dazzles and Packers win
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