Sep 302011

Welcome NFL sports fans, and gamblers alike. Week four of the NFL season is here, and if you haven’t been paying attention, this years NFL action has been anything but predictable. We have seen the Buffalo Bills beat the New England Patriots, the Tennessee Titans beat the Baltimore Ravens, and two teams in the Bills and Lions who are undefeated, after three weeks for the first time in a decade. The NFL is changing, it’s a pass first league. A league predicated on stars, and big plays, in big moments.I have followed these trends carefully for the last 7 years or so and feel confident in my ability to pick winners each week. My pick success is well documented this year. I am currently 38-10 through the first 3 weeks of play.To put that in perspective. Of the “big network names” Mike Golic currently enjoys the best record through three weeks at 35-13. I guess they should give me a call for some advice on picking winners.. but on to the games! I have formatted these games so that the first team you see is the favorite, and the second team is the underdog. Regardless of which team has the home team advantage. The @ symbol represents the home teams. Lets now take a look at our week 4 match ups.

Week 4 schedule


@Chicago….. vs….. Carolina – The line has Chicago favored by 6.5 points. Chicago is coming off a tough loss to their division rival, the Green Bay Packers. Chicago has also struggled along the offensive line this year allowing 14 sacks through 3 weeks, which ties them for the league high. Running back Matt Forte needs to be more involved in the Chicago game plan this week, and I think he will. Lovie Smith  had a talk this week with Mike Martz about what his “vision” for this offense is. Plan on seeing a more run heavy offense in Chicago this week. Carolina is flying high right now. Cam Newton is playing exceptionally well right now for a rookie, and the offense is moving the ball. The Panthers have a big task this week. Playing on the road, in a hostile environment, against a pretty good Defense that just lost to one of their rivals.Can Cam Newton and Steve Smith continue their success this week?? It’s possible, but they may have a great day and still lose this game. The Panthers defense is already getting banged up. Thomas Davis the OLB has once again tore his ACL and is out for the year. Chris Gamble, the teams best cover corner has missed two straight games, and likely will miss his third game this week. On top of all that this defense had only managed 5 sacks through 3 weeks. Chicago is a tough place to play. Their fans are loud the field is terrible, and the weather may be a factor. Cutler has been beat up the first 3 weeks of the season but this might be the week Cutler can stand tall in the pocket. I like  Chicago in this game to make a statement. Chicago wins  27 -10.

Buffalo….. vs….. @Cincinnati  Buffalo is riding high after a huge divisional win over New England. A team they had not beaten in the last 15 tries. Ryan Fitzpatrick Buffalo’s QB is for real. He’s thrown 9 touchdowns and has a QB rating over 103. Both good for top 5 stats in the NFL. The running game in Buffalo is solid as well. Led by running back Fred Jackson this team is averaging 155 yards per game on the ground. Also top 5 in the league. Defensively Buffalo is talented and young. They have given up more yards than you would like to see from a undefeated team, 387 yards a contest or 26th best in total defense in the NFL. The fact that this defense is very opportunistic with 6 interceptions and three fumble recoveries  makes them a tough D to deal with. On the other side you have the Bengals a team who is currently the number 3 team in the NFL in total defense. They have also given up some plays but their young QB Andy Dalton has played very well to start the season. Dalton became only the second passer in NFL history to start his career with back to back 100 passer rating days. What did he he do for an encore in week three against a underrated 49ers team?? He threw two picks completed 15% less of his passes and ended the day with a 40 QB rating ouch. I expect more of the same this week for Dalton against a very underrated Bills secondary. Cincinnati has no real home field advantage here, as fans are just not supporting the team right now. The Bills can hurt you through the air or on the ground, and they should do a little of both. I like the Bills here, to much offense. Bills 28-14.

@Cleveland….. vs….. Tennessee  Both these teams are 2-1 on the season. Cleveland has won their last two games in a row, and looks to continue a impressive start to the 2011 season. Lead by QB Colt McCoy and RB Peyton Hillis on offense this gritty group will not quit.On Defense the Browns are pretty solid against the pass, but struggle to stop the run. This could be a issue and a key component this week in this match up. Chris Johnson the All-Pro RB for the Titans has gotten off to a very slow start to the season. Most contribute this to the fact that Johnson held out and missed all of training camp. now four weeks into the season, Johnson should be getting his legs back and his football conditioning. Kenny Britt the talented WR is lost for the season which is a major blow to the passing attack of the Titans, and QB Matt Hasselback. This week the Titans did sign former second round draft pick Donnie Avery formerly of the Rams. Avery can flat fly, and may provide enough of a deep threat to give Chris Johnson room to run. On defense the titans are the #1 total defense in the league. They play both the run and the pass well.I look for the Titans to take their show on the road this week, and win in Cleveland. Even though Cleveland is a 1 point favorite, Look for the Titans to establish their running game early and win this game. Titans 21-14.

@Dallas….. vs….. Detroit   Detroit is a team many people are buying into at this point. There 3-0 and have a great young offense. Also their defensive line may be one of the best in the league, led by Suh and Vanden Bosch. The question marks I have surrounding this team, stems from the fact that they just have not played the level of competition that most of the other “top teams” have. Lions opponents currently have a 2-7 record on the season, and the Lions have struggled a little on the road this year. Allowing the Bucs to come back in the fourth quarter and almost win that game. Also the Vikings were up 20-0 on the Lions at halftime yet they failed to give their stud runner (Adrian Peterson) the ball more than 5 times in the second half of that game. Detroit is the 4th most penalized team in the NFL which could be a factor this week on the road in a loud Dallas Cowboy stadium. Enter the Cowboys. No team has been more injured through the first three weeks of the season. Missing many stars like Miles Austin, Terrance Newman, Orlando Scandrick, not to mention guys who have played though a lot of pain Tony Romo, Mike Jenkins, Jason Witten, Anthony Spencer, Dez Bryant, etc. This Cowboys team is grinding out victories against decent teams.  The Cowboys defense under the watchful eye of new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, is currently leading the NFL in sacks at 14 through 3 games. Also Dallas is the least penalized team in the league. Overall I look at this game and see a young team in Detroit that is heading into a hostile environment, and taking a big step up in competition. Detroit will hold tough for a while but ultimately I see Dallas handing Detroit their first loss of the season. Dallas wins 26-21.The line on this game is Dallas minus one and a half. They will cover.

Minnesota….. vs….. @Kansas City  Minnesota let a 20-0 half time lead over rival Detroit evaporate in route to their third consecutive lossThe more alarming thing if your a Vikings fan is that the Vikings have had a 10+ point lead in each contest thus far and just cant seem to hold the lead late. Kansas City showed a lot of heart the way they came out last week against their division rival the San Diego Chargers. After Losing star running back Jammal Charles and safety Eric Berry.Some would argue that the Chiefs lost their best player on both offense and defense. The main point to this game? The Chiefs struugle to stop the run, and the Vikings lead by Adrian Peterson will run the ball. When the Vikings jump out to an early lead this week don’t expect to see them stop giving Peterson the ball. They won’t make that mistake again. Minnesota wins this game 24- 13.

@St. Louis….. vs….. Washington  Washington lost a tough game last Monday night. Their defense played well and they lead for most of the game. Brian Orakpo and rookie Ryan Kerrigan are creating a lot of pressure on the outside and Safety Laron Landry, now that he is health should add alot to the back end of that defense. On offense the Redskins like to utilize the running backs and tight ends. St. Louis has been a major disappoint this year. With WR Danny Amendola, CB Ron Bartell, and RB Steven Jackson all out it will be hard to win this match up agianst a much more physical team. Look for the Redskins to run the ball early and often and be in Sam Bradford’s face all day long on defense. Washington wins 24-9. Washington is the underdog here and are my underdog lock of the week.

@Philadelphia….. vs….. San Francisco  Ah.. the Dream Team… or so they said. The Philadelphia Eagles have a lot of holes. This team has not had the same linebacker combination for two consecutive games this year, and that streak will continue this week as Casey Mathews will exit the starting lineup in favor of a more veteran presence. The Eagles have a difficult time stopping the run, on defense. Their Line backers, and Safeties are a weakness right now due to inexperience. Also this dream team has 12 sacks on the year but all of these sacks have come from the D line. Not the type of numbers you would expect from a eagles team. The Eagles defense needs to get more aggressive and stop trying to prevent the big play. On Offense it has really been the LeSean McCoy show. The Eagles running back has carried this team on his shoulder despite the fact that most of the other playmakers Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, and Brent Celek have really under preformed so far this year. McCoy is a great back. He has really made the Eagles offensive line look much better than it really is. McCoy’s cut back ability has allowed him to really make his own rushing lanes. McCoy is also adept pass catcher out of the backfield, something the 49ers struggle with. The niners are a tough team to figure out. On one hand they have one of the best run defenses in the NFL. As they have not allowed a 100 yard rusher in 25 consecutive games a league record. Also they have gotten much healthier over the last two weeks in their secondary. With corner Shawntae Spencer and safety Dashon Goldson returning to the starting lineup. The 49ers offense is the really reason I can’t buy into this team. The 49ers have been unable to run the ball, nor protect QB Alex Smith. Smith has played well thus far but he has also not been allowed to really open up the offense. Look for the Eagles defensive line to con troll this game. I see Alex Smith being sacked at least 6 times this week, and the offense sputtering. Eagles win a game they must have 24-10. Eagles are favored by 9 point.

New Orleans….. vs….. @Jacksonville New Orleans wins this one big 34-10

@Houston….. vs….. Pittsburgh Houston wins a statement game 27-20

New York (NYG)….. vs….. @Arizona  Giants take car of business on the road and win 23-14

Atlanta….. vs….. @Seattle  Atlanta’s offense finally looks dynamic 34-17

@Green Bay….. vs….. Denver Greenbay is the better team and their home 42-14.
New England….. vs….. @Oakland One of the bigger match ups of the weekend is the New England Patriots traveling out to the west coast to take on the upstart Oakland Raiders. New England is a thing of Beauty to watch offensively. They Have arguably the best QB in the league in Tom Brady, two great young tight ends in Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez, a stealer slot wide out in Wes Welker, and a decent running back by committee with Green-Ellis, Woodhead, Ridley, and Vereen. The problem is as great as the offense is there defense is just as bad. Currently the Pats defense is dead last in the league in total yards given up at almost 470 yards a game. On top of that they do not rush the passer that well, nor do they defend the run that well. New England will have to tighten up their run defense this week  against Oakland to slow the Raiders down. The Pats have allowed a ungodly 5.75 yards per rush attempt this season. Which is by far the worst in the league. Enter Darren McFadden and the Oakland Radiers. McFadden got off so to slow start when his career first began, mainly because of injuries. Now that Darren McFadden is healthy he is show all why he was such a highly respected runner coming out of Arkansas. McFadden currently leads the NFL in rushing yards, averaging just over 130 yards per game. Add that component to the Rookie phenom wide out Denarius Moore streaking down the field and suddenly the radiers become a much tougher team to game plan for. Oakland defensive line is a great one. Lead by Richard Seymour the former Patriot who was traded, Seymour and that defensive line will be the best line Tom Brady and the New England offense has faced thus far. This game should be a shoot out but I have a feeling the team who controls tempo will win the game. The Raiders have the better running game, and New England really will have a tough time stopping the Oakland attack. I’m picking Oakland in a high scoring nail bitter. Oakland wins 34-31.The line for this game is Oakland +3.5 take Oakland.

@San Diego….. vs….. Miami San Diego wins this one with both the running gane and passing game clicking 27-13.

@Baltimore….. vs….. New York (NYJ) Baltimore running game propels them to a win over the Jets 31-21

@Tampa Bay….. vs….. Indianapolis Tampa Bay wins a tight one 17-14.

Brian Hughes

Brian Hughes has been covering the NFL draft for over 15 years.He has appeared on several radio shows as an NFL Expert, and has written many draft related articles for multiple websites. Brian has a keen eye for talent and has shown the ability to identify the "sleeper prospects" in each draft. Brian will be on each and every NFL Front Office Show to bring you the listeners of Sport City Chefs, the best analysis possible on all your favorite teams needs!!!

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