Nobody likes smug.
(Kevnote: Sorry about missing the Thursday Night Special again. I’m not big on picking up new habits quickly.)
Week 4 Picks
Baltimore 26 – Carolina 17
This is extremely tough to call. The Ravens’ last two outings were solid, while the Panthers are coming off of an entirely unexpected rout at the hands of the visiting Steelers. There was a real lack of discipline in the Panthers’ gameplan last week, something I don’t expect will plague them too often as it hasn’t in the recent past. However, I think this is a team in Carolina that are still trying to find their footing, while the Ravens are further along that path. I’ll take Baltimore at home.
Green Bay 30 – Chicago 28
I can’t help but think that, with the Packers typically slow out of the gate, that they’re going to come around any week now and hit their stride. But, then I remind myself that this team isn’t all that good where it counts: at the line of scrimmage. That deficiency can make problems for anyone, including the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews Jr. I see a nail-biter, that comes down to Jay Cutler making a costly mistake and Aaron Rodgers capitalizing for the close win.
Houston 24 – Buffalo 16
The Bills are discovering their identity, something they’ve been questing for since their last Superbowl loss. It really has been that long since this team was formidable. Now, however, they’re going to find a team in Houston that, despite injuries and several holes in their depth chart, has a team geared to beat an attacking defense. A hefty dose of a healthy Arian Foster coupled with a stout defense should give the Texans a quality home victory.
Indianapolis 31 – Tennessee 20
The Colts are the wild, one-punch boxer of the NFL: they’re either going to land it or whiff so bad that they leave themselves wide open for a counter shot. Coming off of a rout of the lowly Jaguars, Indianapolis gets another chance to pad their record against a banged up and mostly inferior Titans squad. Charlie Whitehurst is apparently starting for Jake Locker, which does nothing for Tennessee’s chances but lowers ’em.
Detroit 24 – New York 10
After the performance Detroit showed against the Packers, I’m starting to feel more comfortable with them as a team. While their offense struggles, their defense appears (finally) ready to step up and take some of the slack. Against Geno Smith and the Jets offense, their capitalization on mistakes will give them the edge. While Rex Ryan’s defense will probably force the Lions to abandon the run early, it won’t matter when the Jets’ offense can’t move the ball themselves. Also, who is covering Megatron? Who indeed.
Miami 20 – Oakland 10
The jet lag of a trip across the Atlantic will take its toll on both of these struggling franchises, but I’m simply going to chalk this game up to which team has the better roster. That edge goes to Miami, despite their inability to get out of their own way. They would have to hand this game to the Raiders, and despite all the distraction talk, it’s nothing they’re not used to after 2013’s bullying fiasco.
Pittsburgh 37 – Tampa Bay 17
Yes, I fully believe the Buccaneers are as bad as they showed us against Atlanta last week. And, yes, I think the Steelers are as good as they appeared in Carolina. Lovie Smith has a long, long way to go to put the pieces together in Tampa Bay, where the pivotal talent is either injury-prone, nullified by poor scheming or chemically inbalanced. It’s a clusterfu…well, it’s not good. The Steelers should roll this one up smoothly.
San Diego 33 – Jacksonville 14
A game that has blowout written all over it. One of the worst teams in the league, traveling two time zones into the house of a team who has the look of a postseason contender. A matchup nightmare for the lesser team. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chargers end up over 40, but I’ll play the conservative role mostly because they need to prove they can balance their offensive attack with the rash of injuries (Ryan Matthews, Danny Woodhead, Nick Hardwick).
Atlanta 31 – Minnesota 27
The Vikings, I think, will hang with the Falcons in this one. Neither team will be fully accustomed to their environment, but the Falcons are riding a really nice high while Minnesota is just trying to figure themselves out. Still, Atlanta will have to do more than the standard to beat this resilient Vikings team. They will.
Philadelphia 30 – San Fransisco 24
No doubt the game of the week, two of the NFC’s best will make headlines in San Fransisco with a tightly contested matchup. I’ve broken this one down in every way imaginable, and I think what it’ll come down to is actually quite simple: Nick Foles is a better quarterback than Colin Kaepernick, and has a better gameplan behind him as well. If Philadelphia can continue to mask their defensive liabilities with smart coaching and playcalling, there isn’t a team in the NFL they can’t keep up with.
Dallas 35 – New Orleans 31
I called this one last week, and I’m not backing down from it. The Cowboys were embarrassed mightily by the Saints last year in New Orleans. Now, the Saints are coming to Jerryworld, and their defense will simply not be able to stop DeMarco Murray and the limited-effective Tony Romo from controlling the game. The flip side? Dallas, while stigmatized for having a porous defense, are playing better than advertised on that side of the ball, clamping down in key situations. The return of CB Orlando Scandrick will do them good. Beating the Saints will do them even better.
Kansas City 23 – New England 20
The rationale behind this pick? Miami beats New England. Miami loses to Kansas City. Kansas City, therefore, beats New England. But, really, this comes down to what I saw last week from both teams. While the Patriots struggled to beat the Raiders (and came one holding penalty from losing), the Chiefs buckled down, found a way past their injury concerns and hit the efficient stride that took them to the playoffs last year. That efficiency should be enough to pull this upset, but I think it’ll hinge on a handful of plays that decide a very close contest.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins
Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Dwayne Allen, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
Blair Walsh, K, Minnesota Vikings
Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Knile Davis, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Any Baltimore Ravens RBs (wouldn’t be shocked if each got 10 carries)
Steve Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens (in my experience, this much hype usually leads to letdown. beware.)
Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins
Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Garrett Graham, TE, Houston Texans
Stephen Gostkowski, K, New England Patriots (as long as you call pull a waiver wire kicker with a better matchup)
San Fransisco 49ers D/ST