23 September 2014

2014 NFL Predictions: Week 4

(AP)
When the Seahawks and the Broncos play in the Super Bowl, the game's a blowout. But when they play in week three, the game's a classic. Figure that.

While the games this week may lack the magnitude of a certain Super Bowl rematch, we have still got some fine matchups in Chicago, Baltimore, San Francisco and elsewhere. Here are my picks for the fourth week in the 2014 NFL season.

Last Week: 11-5
2014: 26-22
Locks: 3-0

Thursday, September 25th
New York Giants (1-2) vs. Washington (1-2) - CBS/NFL Network, 8:25
With the Eagles sitting at 3-0, this battle of NFC East teams that are tied for last place may just be a must-win. These clubs are coming off fine performances but only the Giants won. However, I like Washington here. I think Kirk Cousins will not give up the ball like Ryan Fitzpatrick did last week in the Meadowlands and the defense should do a better job against Rashad Jennings.
Washington 21 Giants 17

Sunday, September 28th
Carolina Panthers (2-1) vs. Baltimore Ravens (2-1) - CBS, 1:00
As these teams have identical records, both have looked impressive at times this year (although the Panthers didn't look so sharp on Sunday night against Pittsburgh). And this matchup will be fun, and wild, with Steve Smith's return to Charlotte after he was cut back in the spring, promising some "blood and guts" when he plays his old team again. Carolina's front seven is strong as always but I do think Joe Flacco will have the opportunity to take some shots down the field, including with Smith. Cam Newton will keep the Panthers in the mix but I like the Ravens.
Ravens 23 Panthers 20

Green Bay Packers (1-2) vs. Chicago Bears (2-1) - Fox, 1:00
In the 189th meeting of these two old NFC Central rivals, these two have looked very different this year. Save for the final three quarters in the comeback win against the Jets in Week 2, the Packers offense has been very punchless and they failed to take advantage of a handful of Detroit turnovers last week. Meanwhile, the Bears came back from a disappointing opening loss to Buffalo to win over San Fran and the Jets with Jay Cutler looking very sharp. Even though Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay has to get their offense together at some point, I like the Bears to win at home.
Bears 30 Packers 22

Buffalo Bills (2-1) vs. Houston Texans (2-1) - CBS, 1:00
We saw more of the real Ryan Fitzpatrick this past week in East Rutherford as he threw a trio of interceptions. We also saw a Houston defense that struggled against the Giants' rushing attack and against Eli Manning. And in Orchard Park, we also saw a Buffalo offense that struggled to score and an defense that didn't look so hot either. I do think the Texans are a more talented club and with returning to Space City, they'll get the win.
Texans 26 Bills 17

Detroit Lions (2-1) vs. New York Jets (1-2) - Fox, 1:00
In their two victories, the Lions have looked pretty darn good. Their offense has looked good and the defense has looked much better in 2014 than they looked in 2013. Meanwhile, Geno Smith has looked much more competent this year than in his rookie year but he is still is prone to bad mistakes as he has shown these past two weeks in Green Bay and against the Bears. The secondary has also looked very bad at times and I think they can struggle in the deep game against Calvin Johnson and the Detroit receivers.
Lions 26 Jets 21

Tennessee Titans (1-2) vs. Indianapolis Colts (1-2) - CBS, 1:00
Despite falling short in the rally at Denver and blowing the lead the following week against the Eagles, the Colts have looked good thus far and they showed it by blowing out the Jaguars in the River City. Tennessee looked sharp in their opener against the Chiefs but got smoked against the Cowboys and got drilled by the Bengals last week. Unless the Titans turn it around right away, I like the Colts.
Colts 31 Titans 20

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) - Fox, 1:00
Has there been an NFL team that has looked any worse than the Buccaneers? Of course you could say the Jaguars but nobody thought they would be any good while a number of folks (myself included) thought the Bucs could have been a playoff sleeper. They have been a joke on both sides of the ball and Lovie Smith has a much tougher job than many had suspected. Pittsburgh played very well in Charlotte on Sunday and I think that will continue.
Steelers 28 Buccaneers 14

Miami Dolphins (1-2) vs. Oakland Raiders (0-3) - CBS, 1:00
A lot of folks thought the Raiders were going to be smoked by the Patriots in Foxborough but even with a mediocre offensive performance, the defense was strong and kept them in the game where they had a chance to tie before a Vince Wilfork interception ended those hopes. I liked what they did enough to where I think they can go to London and take on a Dolphins team that hasn't moved the ball well at all since their opener and get their first win.
Raiders 12 Dolphins 9

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) vs. San Diego Chargers (2-1) - CBS, 4:05
Blake Bortles is now going to be the man going forward for the Jaguars as Chad Henne has largely been ineffective and the team has looked awful. Bortles wasn't terrible in the second half against the Colts but he wasn't given much of a chance to succeed. Now they'll have to go to San Diego and taken on a Charger club that has looked very good this year and comes in winning two in a row. Look for the Chargers to get after Bortles and force some mistakes that their offense will take advantage of. San Diego is my Lock of the Week.
Chargers 31 Jaguars 13

Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) vs. San Francisco 49ers (1-2) - Fox, 4:25
Philadelphia is one of only three teams that are undefeated and they have looked just as good on offense this year as they did last year. Nick Foles took a number of hits by the Washington defense but came through and looked very good in the air. You know the 49ers will come after him as a result but they had not looked as good on defense as they have in the past, not to mention that they have been a complete mess in the second half this year. Are they taking a step backwards this year? I'm not certain but I do like the Eagles in Santa Clara.
Eagles 27 49ers 24

Atlanta Falcons (2-1) vs. Minnesota Vikings (1-2) - Fox, 4:25
Now Teddy Bridgewater will be the guy for the Vikings after he came into a tough situation in New Orleans after Matt Cassel broke his foot. While he wasn't all that impressive, he wasn't put in a good situation but he should be able to find some success against a Falcons defense that has given up some yards to opposing quarterbacks this year. However, he will only be able to do so much to keep up against a Falcons offense that only put up 56 points last Thursday night.
Falcons 35 Vikings 20

New Orleans Saints (1-2) vs. Dallas Cowboys (2-1) - NBC, 8:20
The Saints finally got off the schneid with a solid victory at home against the Vikings as they shut down a punchless Minnesota offense and got Drew Brees back on track. Meanwhile, Tony Romo and the Cowboys uncorked an impressive comeback against the Rams as they rallied from a 21-point deficit in the first half. However, I still have questions about their defense as they got torched at times by Austin Davis and I think Brees will go to town on them.
Saints 38 Cowboys 20

Monday, September 29th
New England Patriots (2-1) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) - ESPN, 8:30
Let's be honest, the Patriots really have not looked all that impressive this year and Tom Brady in particular has not looked like the Brady of old. And considering they barely defeated the Raiders at home on Sunday, nobody should be surprised should they fall at Arrowhead. Not to mention that Kansas City got a much-needed win behind a sharp Alex Smith performance and Knile Davis finding a lot of success on the ground, New England just is not that imposing. And even if they get Jamaal Charles back and healthy or not, I like KC.
Chiefs 21 Patriots 20

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