Hammering it Out: Week 4 Predictions

After 3 weeks of picks, Jared has picked 25 of 48 games correctly and Travis has picked 24 of 48.

What I learned from Week 3:

-When a game has a line under 4 points, home field advantage is about 50/50 and it depends on who that home team is. Read: if the home team has a legitimately great fan base a la Pittsburgh or Baltimore, they do gain an advantage as the home team in tight ball games.

-Even bad teams can win without their best player playing to his potential (Chris Johnson).

-It appears as though the lockout is hurting the league in terms of injuries. I could be wrong, but I feel like there have been more season ending injuries through 3 weeks of football than in the past 10 or so years.

Alright. To the picks! I’m going to try something here and see if anyone notices. Leave some comments so I can make this a better read!

Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

Ryan Fitzpatrick is an Ivy League graduate. Also, he plays quarterback. Stevie Johnson and Fred Jackson are bordering on elite status with their play thus far. Andy Dalton is a decent quarterback regardless of the fact that he’s a rookie. Jerome Simpson is an idiot. Cedric Benson is in a contract year, therefore he plays, and is also an idiot. A.J. Green, so far, has given Bengals fans some hope for the future. The Bills defense is a wet paper bag and the Bengals have a quietly good pass defense.

What to watch for:

Frankly, I want to see what happens when Ryan Fitzpatrick has to play against a pass defense ranked in the top half of the NFL. For Cincinnati, I want to see Andy Dalton unleashed, as it were. I envision every game the Bills play being a shootout because they can’t stop anyone defensively.

My pick:

I’m ignoring the fact that the Bengals are playing at home because I don’t see their fan base as a factor. Given that Cincinnati could only muster 8 points against a lousy 49ers secondary, I’m taking the Bills by 4 or more.

-Jared – Bills by 4 or more

Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears (-6.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

Jay Cutler is under an immense amount of pressure on nearly every play because of an awful offensive line. Cam Newton is human and can win a game without doing it all by himself. Chicago has a formidable defense. Carolina has no defense unless weather can be counted as the 12th man.

What to watch for:

Can Carolina pressure Jay Cutler at all? Can Cam Newton pass against a top flight defense? Does Carolina still have a rushing game?

My Pick:

The Bears are playing at home and by all accounts, Soldier Field should be considered a heavy factor. Chicago is the reigning NFC North Champion and needs to start playing like it. I like Cam Newton. I do not like him against this defense.

-Jared – Chicago to win by 7 or more

Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns (-1.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

Matt Hasselbeck is serviceable. Kenny Britt was on his way to getting the nod as a top tier receiver in the NFL before tearing his ACL/MCL last week. Chris Johnson needs to step it up. Peyton Hillis is back after sitting out last week due to illness. The Tennessee defense is ranked just outside the top 10. Cleveland doesn’t have a great defense by any means, but has enough to be warranted as serviceable against an average opponent.

What to watch for:

I think Tennessee was relying heavily on Kenny Britt to move the ball the first three weeks as opposed to Chris Johnson. Cleveland has a pretty balanced attack and with Peyton Hillis back, they should be able to move the ball rather effectively so long as they stay way from Tennessee’s secondary, which is pretty effective. The easiest way to beat Tennessee is to run the football. The same can be said for Cleveland.

My pick:

Cleveland can be considered a hostile environment and I like their offensive balance. However, I think both teams have a glaring weakness in defending the run. Tennessee has lost Kenny Britt and desperately needs Chris Johnson to earn his keep. I see this as game as a dogfight and have to take the Titans to upset because at this point, one of the better running backs in the league has been kept pretty quiet in Chris Johnson.

-Jared – Tennessee to lose by 1, tie, or win

Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

Tony Romo is a hype wagon. He’s not a pansy nor is he a hero. He’s an above average quarterback on a slightly above average team in a league full of above average quarterbacks. Matt Stafford has a better arm, better offensive weapons, and a better defense to back him up.

What to watch for:

Dallas is a great venue but by no means a hostile environment. Can Dallas move the ball effectively? Can Romo take a beating from Suh and Company and play through it? Will Matt Stafford stay healthy another week and make good on his prediction that Calvin Johnson will have 7 touchdown catches through 4 games?

My pick:

If Dallas were healthy, I think they win this game. Jahvid Best has a dinged up shoulder. Tony Romo has broken ribs. Miles Austin is out. Detroit’s offense is loaded, healthy, and hungry.

-Jared - Detroit to lose by 3 or less, tie, or win

Minnesota Vikings at Kansas City Chiefs (+1.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

Minnesota needs to realize that Adrian Peterson is the best running back in this league and his workload needs to reflect that. Donovan McNabb is not going to win you games on his own. Matt Cassel, on the other hand, is burdened by a pretty weak offensive line and Thomas Jones/Dexter McCluster sharing the workload in the absence of Jamaal Charles. I feel bad for Dwayne Bowe as a fan of his because this guy has morphed into an upper tier talent but is being caged by opposing defenses thus far.

What to watch for:

Will Minnesota put the ball in Adrian Peterson’s hands as often as possible? Is there anything in the tank for Kansas City or is this season lost?

My pick:

Arrowhead Stadium is a classic NFL stadium but not quite a bad host. I liked seeing Kansas City put up a fight last week. The bottom line is, and I’ve said this before, but Kansas City doesn’t have Adrian Peterson. Minnesota does. Until I see some offensive consistency from Kansas City, I can’t pick them to win. I could say the same about Minnesota, but no one is saying the Vikings are tanking on purpose. They just need to get it together. This would be that week.

-Jared - Minnesota by 2 or more

Washington Redskins at St. Louis Rams (-1.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

St. Louis is in trouble early. Washington showed some promise in the first 2 games and then lost a close one at Dallas. The Rams are a little banged up but are starting to come back. Rex Grossman is the second best quarterback in this contest but has the benefit of better weapons, better protection, and a better defense.

What to watch for:

Will we see the Rex Grossman from the first 2 weeks or the Rex we know and love/hate/make fun of? Can Steven Jackson come back and make an impact on offense for St. Louis?

My pick:

I’ve said it before. I like Sam Bradford. I can’t pick them to win this game. Edward Jones Dome is not a bad place to play.
Washington has the benefit of being healthy and having already won a couple games. I have a feeling it’s going to be a long season for the St. Louis faithful.

-Jared – Washington to lose by 1, tie, or win

New Orleans Saints at Jacksonville Jaguars (+7.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

Drew Brees would be having an MVP caliber season were it not for Tom Brady overshadowing him and Marques Colston being out with a collarbone injury. New Orleans is a little banged up along the defensive front and Jacksonville needs to put the ball in Maurice Jones-Drew’s hands often to move the ball.

What to watch for:

Right now, my top four teams are Green Bay, Baltimore, New England and New Orleans. Everyone else is playing catch-up. Can Jacksonville keep this game close at all?

My pick:

I haven’t seen anything out of Blaine Gabbert to say they’re going to knock off a top 4 team in the NFL, even at home. I like Maurice Jones-Drew, but have you seen New Orleans on offense? This game won’t be close. Not at all.

-Jared – New Orleans to win by 8 or more

 San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

San Francisco is competitive and built to play in low-scoring games. Philadelphia is built… well… to win a Super Bowl. I am by no means saying the Eagles will do so, but I’m saying the 49ers are looking for a high draft pick to take a quarterback in the upcoming draft. At the end of the day, Alex Smith is not a starting quarterback in the NFL. As for Michael Vick, if that guy can just stay healthy, he’s worth every penny. The problem so far this year is, he can’t stay healthy.

What to watch for:

San Francisco has a run-stopping defense. The Eagles can do it all, so long as the pieces fall into place. Look for the Eagles to try to put the ball in LeSean McCoy’s hands as often as possible to set up the pass to keep Michael Vick’s head attached to his shoulders. The 49ers are going to try to run the ball against a pretty weak Philly run defense, but won’t be able to air it out nearly as effectively as the Eagles.

My pick:

If the Eagles can jump out to a 2-3 touchdown lead, look for this game to get boring in a hurry. If that is to happen, look for this game to get chippy in a hurry. If Michael Vick can stay in the game all of 3 quarters, his services won’t likely be needed in the 4th. Mike Kafka!

-Jared - Philadelphia to win by 7 or more

Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans (-3.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

It appears as though the Steeler defense is showing its age. Houston, on the other hand, has shown its ability to play with the big boys. In my mind, this is a “circle the wagons” game for Pittsburgh. They played poorly in a win last week and are facing a Texan team that gave away a game late against New Orleans, who I have going to the NFC Championship.

What to watch for:

Frankly, I’m watching Arian Foster and Rashard Mendenhall in this game. Both teams offer up defensive fronts that can be run on. Both teams have the ability to put the ball downfield in big chunks via the passing game. If I had to take one or the other, I would take Ben Roethlisberger everyday.

My pick:

Houston may very well win this game, but I don’t think they win by more than a field goal, and that’s a big “if” they win. The way I see it, Pittsburgh has something to prove. Houston is probably going to get beat up here and don’t offer up much in terms of a homefield advantage.

-Jared – Houston wins by 3 or less, ties, or loses

Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks (+4.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what’s wrong with the Falcons. I think we all know what’s wrong with Seattle. If you didn’t know, the Seahawks are awful. Atlanta has been underwhelming at best so far this year, and are just struggling to score touchdowns. Seattle is simply playing for a high draft pick.

What to watch for:

Flatly, this is a measuring stick game for Atlanta. Seattle has nothing to prove here. Atlanta needs to come in and smack the Seahawks around early and put this game away in order to get back on track. Roddy White and Julio Jones are turning into quite the wide receiver duo very early in Jones’ career. Look for them to continue to pose a deep threat.

My pick:

If Atlanta doesn’t win this game by a bunch, I will NOT eat anything off your carpet (thank you Rick O’Reilly). However, this game will be over at halftime. I do like Qwest Field as the 12th man for Seattle.

-Jared – Atlanta to lose by 4 or less, tie, or win

New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals (+1.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

Kevin Kolb is a decent quarterback on a decent team. Eli Manning is a good quarterback on a good team slowly getting it together after suffering a bunch of injuries early on. See what I did there?

What to watch for:

Frankly, if Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck didn’t play this game, I would call it a coinflip. In light of that, they’re both playing. Kevin Kolb is going to struggle to find time in the pocket. Eli Manning is going to sit in the pocket and throw all day, right? Watch the Giants run up and down the field all day on this weak Cardinal secondary.

My pick:

I figure there has to be a reason Arizona is only a slight underdog here and I figure it has to do with the health of a bunch of Giants. I just can’t see the Cardinals putting up more than 20 points here. I can see Eli throwing for 400 yards and 4-5 touchdowns.

-Jared – New York to win by 2 or more

Denver Broncos at Green Bay Packers (-13.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

Frankly, don’t bet against Green Bay. Denver has some injury issues at the running back position and teams are keying on last year’s sweetheart, receiver Brandon Lloyd.

What to watch for:

You simply do not run against Green Bay. So, since you’re the Broncos and you have to pass, can you look to Brandon Lloyd to help you out? No. He’ll be covered. Look for Eric Decker to have a great game, all things considered. I can see Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and Jermichael Finley scoring touchdowns. Hell, let’s give one to John Kuhn while we’re at it.

My pick:

Denver is going to have a hard time moving the ball. Green Bay is not. There isn’t really much more to say.

-Jared – Green Bay by 14 or more

New England Patriots at Oakland Raiders (+4.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

New England will run up and down the field on damn near everybody. Oakland will literally run the ball down the field. I really like what Oakland’s got going on. I really do. However, they aren’t on the same planet as New England. This isn’t Buffalo. This a Bill Belichick coached football team. They make adjustments week to week.

What to watch for:

Frankly, Tom Brady is going to throw for 300+ yards every single game until someone stops him. Darren McFadden is going to run for 100+ yards until someone stops him. Neither are going to be stopped this week.

My pick:

Frankly, I have a hard time understanding how Oakland is ONLY a 4.5 point underdog, even at home. I love the Oakland faithful. I really do. I think Darren McFadden is the best running back, outside of Adrian Peterson, in this league.

-Jared -New England by 5 or more

Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers (-8.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

Miami is tanking on purpose. I’m saying it. Daniel Thomas looked great two weeks in a row and comes up limp during the middle of the week? Come on, man. Philip Rivers has been struggling, but he won’t have that problem this week.

What to watch for:

How good/bad is Chad Henne? Is Philip Rivers going to continue to struggle? Is Ryan Mathews REALLY a top 5 running back? Frankly, I can’t answer that question yet.

My pick:

Miami is traveling across the country to play a San Diego team that is probably going to unleash the wrath of… something nasty found in San Diego on the Dolphins. Syphilis? Why not?

-Jared – San Diego by 9 or more

New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

I know a few things about this game. I know that you don’t run the ball against Baltimore and Ed Reed will hurt your feelings if you try to throw it. Ray Lewis is not getting old. He’s getting angry. JOE FLACCO THREW FOR ALMOST 400 YARDS LAST WEEK. Ouch.

What to watch for:

This is going to be a slug fest. Shonn Greene is no Ray Rice, who is quickly becoming my favorite running back to watch and my least favorite running back to play against that for whatever reason I managed to get in zero of my 15 fantasy leagues. That’s right. Fifteen. I wish I had a better excuse.

My pick:

I’m not basing this pick off of the Ravens’ ability to throw the deep ball to Torrey Smith. Come on! I’m basing this pick on the idea that I think Shonn Greene is overrated and Ray Rice is going to have a ball against the Jets defense. Ravens by a touchdown.

This is my pick for Game of the Week.

-Jared – Baltimore by 4 or more

Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9.5)

What I’ve learned so far:

Tampa Bay is merely a middle of the pack team destined to fall short of the Playoffs yet again. The Colts are reeling. They are. As a Colts fan, I hate to see Gary Brackett and Melvin Bullitt go to IR. I’m still wondering what happened with Justin Tryon. Someone help me out!

What to watch for:

I see this game as a duel, I really do. I don’t think Tampa Bay is as good as their 2010 record. I said that at the start of this year. I’m still saying it.

My pick:

I want Curtis Painter to come out, throw for 300+ yards, win the game, and flip double birds to the world after everyone starts jumping back on the bandwagon. That’s what I want to see. However, I’m not delusional. That isn’t going to happen. It could. “That’s why they play the game”, right?

-Jared – Indianapolis loses by 9 or less, ties, or wins.

Optimism. It pays.

Or something.

Tampa Bay by 9 or less

 

 

 

 

 

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