NFL Week 4
Guest Analyst: Timothy Carroll
Tim is a freelance Sports Reporter with previous work in the Daily Vidette at Illinois State University.
Thursday 1 October, 2015
Baltimore Ravens (0-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)
Arguably the league’s fiercest rivalry of the last 15 years kicks off the week, but not the way you usually expect it. The Ravens have struggled behind poor offensive line play, and a defense that’s given up an average of 34.5 points the last two weeks against the likes of Derek Carr and Andy Dalton. The Steelers are feeling good following a 2-1 start, even if Ben Roethlisberger is out a few weeks. The offense has been there before, and has a capable fill-in with Michael Vick taking snaps, as well as that LeVeon Bell guy, he’s pretty good. With that being said, the Steelers defense is not very good, with a secondary that’s vulnerable against Joe Flacco’s big arm. Regardless of the specifics, this game should be competitive and exciting all the way to the very end.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 28, Baltimore 23.
Sunday 4 October, 2015
New York Jets (2-1) vs. Miami Dolphins (1-2) (In London)
The New York Jets are still confident after a wild loss to the Eagles. The Dolphins are under fire at every angle, with a head coach rumored to have lost his locker room, a defense that couldn’t stop Tyrod Taylor or Blake Bortles. The Dolphins were a trendy playoff pick, but things just haven’t worked out so far. The Jets seem to be in the situation they’ve always been in as well, good defense, mediocre quarterback. The only difference this time appears to be the receiving core, Brandon Marshall – despite his lateral blunder – and Eric Decker (when he returns) appear capable of sustaining decent play out of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Ultimately, however, this game will come down to one thing, pressure on the quarterbacks. If Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh can get to Fitzpatrick, or the feared Jets front-seven can get to Tannehill, it’ll be long days for either quarterback.
Prediction: New York 24, Miami 13.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off a beat-down at the hands of the Patriots, and the Colts haven’t looked right all season. With that being said, I have a hard time believing Andrew Luck won’t get things as right as he possibly can, like many great QBs before him, Luck has the abilityto maximize potential, and will likely right the ship. The Jags have a lot of likable pieces, Bortles has promise, TJ Yeldon looks like he could be a great running back. But Andrew Luck rules all.
Prediction: Indianapolis 31, Jacksonville 19.
New York Giants (1-2) at Buffalo Bills (2-1)
The Giants head into Buffalo with a few extra days of rest after their first win of the season. They appear to be a hot new NFC East pick after the injuries to Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, as well as the Eagles’ struggles running the ball. The Giants were extremely unlucky in the first two games, blowing double-digit leads in the fourth quarter. That won’t happen again on Eli’s watch. The Bills are looking very good, as Tyrod Taylor has been able to make great use of all his weapons, and that defense is looking as fierce as ever. Their one blunder being against a Patriot’s team in full-on “EFF-YOU”- mode in the wake of the Deflategate drama. This has all the making of a game coming down to the final wire, as a great quarterback takes on a great defense.
Prediction: Buffalo 27, New York 24.
Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-0)
The Chiefs have been unlucky the last few seasons, losing games in crazy ways (like the fumble week 2 against Denver). They are a good football team, they just need to finish. Cincinnati, meanwhile, has been great so far. Dalton has looked good with AJ Green at 100%. They figure to be the favorite in the AFC North now that Roethlisberger is going to miss a few weeks. With that being said, they do not appear to be a 16-0 caliber team. Kansas City has a great ground game, a QB that doesn’t turn it over, and a defense that gets after the quarterback. They’re hungry for a victory, and the Bengals always seem to come back down to Earth at some point in the season. Cincinnati’s best days are when they’re getting after the quarterback too, but Alex Smith combats that with quick releases. It should be an entertaining game.
Prediction: Kansas City 24, Cincinnati 21.
Cleveland Browns (1-2) at San Diego Chargers (1-2)
The Cleveland Browns drafted Johnny Manziel with the intention of making him their starting QB. He has won them their only game of the season, but still went back to Josh McCown. They just don’t seem to respond to McCown the way they do Manziel, it’s almost Tim Tebow-like. Philip Rivers really moves the ball, but seems to be mistake-prone this season. The defense is playing fantastic, and Melvin Gordon looks promising. Some seasons Rivers just goes through a high interception-phase though, and this look like one of those years. The Browns, however, continue to shoot themselves in the foot, stunting their growth.
Prediction: San Diego 26, Cleveland 20.
Minnesota Vikings (2-1) at Denver Broncos (3-0)
It’s the only matchup of the week in which both teams have winning records. Peyton Manning has not looked like himself, and has not yet been responsible for 30 points in a game this season (the fumble return in the final minute in week 2 put them over 30). The running game isn’t there, after many fantasy owners were banking on CJ Anderson. The Vikings have quietly looked solid after a poor showing week 1. Adrian Peterson is doing Adrian Peterson things, and Teddy Bridgewater is managing games beautifully. Head Coach Mike Zimmer is also molding the defense in his image. The Broncos have been hanging onto games by their teeth, and the Vikings are getting better with each week.
Prediction: Minnesota 23, Denver 21.
Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) @ Washington Redskins (1-2)
The Chip Kelly takeover has fallen flat on its face so far this year. DeMarco Murray isn’t rightbfor this offense and Sam Bradford is only good when a running game is strong behind him. The Redskins just don’t look good all-around. It’s sad to say, they still have a lot of talent on offense, but RGIII and Kirk Cousins just look like they cannot get anyone the football. This game will likely draw an audience because of the fanbases, but unless you have a direct rooting interest in this game, should take your attention elsewhere.
Prediction: Philadelphia 20, Washington 17.
Oakland Raiders (2-1) at Chicago Bears (0-3)
The Oakland Raiders look like a really competitive football for the first time in a while. Derek Carr has looked like he will turn into one of the top QBs in the NFL, and has enjoyed getting the ball to Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Latavius Murray has looked good on the ground, too. The Bears, meanwhile, appear to be a very sound team fundamentally; they just seem to be out-talented every week. And how many Bears fans thought they’d miss Jay Cutler? They can’t move the football with Clausen. If the Raiders win this week, they’d have three wins in their first four games for the first time since 2002, when they started out 4-0, and went to the Super Bowl. If the Bears start 0-4, they’ll be 0-4 for the first time since 2000. Which team will make history?
Prediction: Oakland 24, Chicago 16.
Carolina Panthers (3-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)
Carolina is one of the last unbeaten teams left, and probably the most surprising. Injuries to Kelvin Benjamin and a slew of defenders have not derailed this team’s fight. The offense appears to be finding its way, scoring more points in week. The defense has just added Jared Allen, which, along with guys returning form injury, should help things. The Bucs have a nice young group, Jameis Winston, athletic receivers and a defense of Lovie Smith’s that make few mistakes are enough to give Tampa fans hope. But this week will be tough. Cam Newton should be able to put up enough points, as he’s always seemed to do well against conservative defenses.
Prediction: Carolina 27, Tampa Bay 16.
Houston Texans (1-2) at Atlanta Falcons (3-0)
Houston has a lot of talented pieces, including JJ Watt, who is widely regarded as the best defensive player in the league, if not best all-around player in the whole league. DeAndre Hopkins is the man, and there are rumors that Arian Foster will play this week. Even so, they are going up against a pass-rush that should be feared. Dan Quinn has done an excellent job of turning to a mediocre front-seven into a solid unit. And Julio Jones is making a case as the undisputed top wide receiver in the NFL. Jones is already at 440 receiving yards, which is a pace that would put him at 2,347 yards. Matt Ryan loves every second of it. He is unlikely to maintain that insane pace, but could still break 2,000 and is still likely to burn the Texans’ secondary repeatedly, despite Watt’s presence.
Prediction: Atlanta 31, Houston 17.
Green Bay Packers (3-0) at San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL, I hate to skip this game, but it is just that simple. Colin Kaepernick may be a “Packer-killer” but that was a Pro-Bowl defense ago… this game may not be worth watching unless you’re a Packer fan.
Prediction: Green Bay 35, San Francisco 17.
St. Louis Rams (1-2) at Arizona Cardinals (3-0)
The St. Louis Rams are an incredibly frustrating team to watch, one week, they beat the defending NFC Champs, then they lose to Washington. They lost a hard-fought game against Pittsburgh, but Nick Foles and co. just never seem to be on the same page. And so far Todd Gurley and the rest of the running backs have been outgained by Tavon Austin, who is a wide receiver. Meanwhile Arizona is looking like a title contender with Carson Palmer playing like its 2005 and Larry Fitzgerald playing like its 2008. Their defense looks as fierce as ever as well, and their secondary may rival the Seahawks now. The Rams’ defense may stifle Palmer, but it won’t be enough if Tavon Austin isn’t on his return game this week.
Prediction: Arizona 24, St. Louis 9.
Dallas Cowboys (2-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-3)
New Orleans is hungry for their first win, and get Drew Brees back from is knew injury. The Saints still have talent around Brees, but it just seems like something is missing without Jimmy Graham. With that being said, Drew Brees always gets the offense rolling at some point. The Cowboys have Brandon Weeden, who has been a huge disappointment as a backup. The offensive line for the Cowboys is great, and the run game will likely thrive against a mediocre Saints defensive line (outside of Cameron Jordan). The Cowboys will get a victory without Romo and Bryant, but this Sunday may not be their day in the Big Easy.
Prediction: New Orleans 31, Dallas 26.
Monday 5 October, 2015
Detroit Lions(0-3) at Seattle Seahawks (1-2)
Seattle is feeling good coming off of a shut-out, and getting their all world safety back in Kam Chancellor. The offense still not may be perfect, but Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham are starting to develop chemistry, which could spell doom for defenses across the league. The Lions have looked bad so far, with the defense missing the pressure cause by Ndamukong Suh, and the offense lacking any sort of a running game. The Lions will be playing right into the Seahawks hopes, as they will dare Detroit to throw the ball every play. It may be a game that you’ll turn off shortly after everything gets going.
Prediction: Seattle 27, Detroit 14.
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