Here are my picks for the NFL’s Week 4:
*Sunday September 28, 2008*
RJ’s Lame-Game Of The Week: Cleveland 0-3 at Cincinnati 0-3 – 1:00 PM (Line: Cincinnati by 3)
Last Week: Cleveland was beaten by Baltimore, 28-10. The Browns managed just 169 total net yards and turned the ball over three times (all Derek Anderson INTs). Cincinnati lost to the Giants in overtime, 26-23. T. J. Houshmandzadeh caught 12 passes for 146 yards and a TD in the loss.
What To Expect: The Bengals have essentially no pass rush (just one sack for the entire team through three games). This is good news for Derek Anderson, who’s been sacked 7 times already this season. Anderson isn’t used to facing much pressure; he was sacked just 14 times all of last year (and he started in 15 games). The pass rush has clearly rattled him so far this season: He’s thrown five interceptions and has a dismal quarterback rating of 43.5. So the fact that he’ll presumably have plenty of time in the pocket this week leads me to believe that the Browns will be able to put some points on the board for a change (they’ve scored just 26 points total this year, last in the NFL). Therefore, I think they’ll pull off the upset on the road.
RJ’s Pick: Cleveland by 2
Minnesota 1-2 at Tennessee 3-0 – 1:00 PM (Line: Tennessee by 3)
Last Week: Minnesota beat the Panthers, 20-10. The offense dominated the time-of-possession, and the defense sacked Jake Delhomme five times and forced two fumbles. Tennessee defeated Houston, 31-12. LenDale White ran for two scores and the defense intercepted Matt Schaub three times.
What To Expect: The Vikings have an excellent run defense and are clearly a better offensive team with Gus Frerotte under center. The Titans have a great all-around defense (they’ve given up just 29 points total this season, best among NFL teams that have played three games), and are clearly a better offensive team with Kerry Collins starting at quarterback. I don’t expect a blowout, but I do believe the home team will get it done.
RJ’s Pick: Tennessee by 7
Denver 3-0 at Kansas City 0-3 – 1:00 PM (Line: Denver by 9.5)
Last Week: Denver won against New Orleans, 34-32. Brandon Marshall caught six passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Kansas City lost to Atlanta, 38-14. Tyler Thigpen was really quite bad, completing just 14-of-36 passes for 128 yards, one TD, and three INTs.
What To Expect: The Broncos have scored 114 points through three games, best in the NFL. The Chiefs have scored 32, fourth-fewest in the league. Denver’s big weakness is their pass defense, but will the Damon Huard-led Chiefs be able to take advantage of that? I doubt it.
RJ’s Pick: Denver by 14
San Francisco 2-1 at New Orleans 1-2 – 1:00 PM (Line: New Orleans by 6)
Last Week: San Francisco stomped Detroit, 31-13. Frank Gore rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown, and also caught four passes for 32 yards. New Orleans lost at Denver, 34-32. Drew Brees threw for 421 yards and a touchdown in the loss.
What To Expect: The Saints have a potent passing game, but a sub-par running game. And their defense leaves much to be desired. TE Jeremy Shockey is out with an injury, and OL Jamar Nesbit is suspended for, apparently, using steroids. The 49ers have an above-average offense (especially running the ball), and a solid pass defense. I’m going with the upset.
RJ’s Pick: San Francisco by 1
By the way, did you hear the news? Matt Millen was fired! I was so happy when I found out, I fell to my knees and wept. Then laughed hysterically. Then wept some more. I’m pretty sure I had some sort of a breakdown. But it was worth it. ^_^
Arizona 2-1 at New York Jets 1-2 – 1:00 PM (Line: New York Jets by 1.5)
Last Week: Arizona lost to Washington, 24-17. Larry Fitzgerald had 7 catches for 109 yards and a TD in a losing effort. The New York Jets were abused by San Diego on MNF, 48-29. They could manage just 41 yards on the ground, and Brett Favre and Kellen Clemens combined to throw three picks.
What To Expect: Favre is gimpy but expected to start after injuring his ankle last week. Kurt Warner should have a lot of success against the Jets secondary, but don’t expect much from Edgerrin James. I’m going to have to pick another road ‘dog here.
RJ’s Pick: Arizona by 4
Green Bay 2-1 at Tampa Bay 2-1 – 1:00 PM (Line: Tampa Bay by 1.5)
Last Week: Green Bay lost to Dallas, 27-16. The Packers defense gave up 217 yards on the ground. Tampa Bay beat Chicago in overtime, 27-24. Brian Griese completed 38-of-67 passes for 407 yards and two TDs, and incredibly wasn’t sacked once.
What To Expect: The Packers defense was already pretty porous, and now it looks like cornerback Al Harris might be out for the season with a spleen injury (ouch!). Look for Earnest Graham to have a 100-yard game rushing. This should be a close game.
RJ’s Pick: Tampa Bay by 4
Atlanta 2-1 at Carolina 2-1 – 1:00 PM (Line: Carolina by 7.5)
Last Week: Atlanta defeated the Chiefs, 38-14. Michael Turner gained 104 yards on the ground and got into the end zone three times. Carolina lost to Minnesota, 20-10. The Panthers had just 47 yards rushing on 20 attempts.
What To Expect: The Falcons lead the NFL in rushing with an average of 203 yards per game. The Panthers run defense is just mediocre, so Jerious Norwood and Michael Turner should combine for at least 150 yards on the ground (unless the Falcons fall behind early and have to go one-dimensional). So, yup: I’m going with yet another road ‘dog.
RJ’s Pick: Atlanta by 1
Houston 0-2 at Jacksonville 1-2 – 1:00 PM (Line: Jacksonville by 7.5)
Last Week: Houston lost to the Titans, 31-12. Matt Schaub was awful, completing just 17 of 37 passing attempts, and throwing 3 INTs and no touchdowns. Jacksonville beat the Colts in Indianapolis, 23-21. Both Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for over 100 yards.
What To Expect: Texans fans are calling for future Hall of Famer Sage Rosenfels to replace Matt Schaub, but head coach Gary Kubiak is ignoring them, for now. The Jaguars should rack up some serious yardage on the ground in this one.
RJ’s Pick: Jacksonville by 11
San Diego 1-2 at Oakland 1-2 – 4:05 PM (Line: San Diego by 7)
Last Week: San Diego crushed the Jets, 48-29. Philip Rivers threw for 3 TDs, and LaDainian Tomlinson ran for two more. Oakland lost at Buffalo, 24-23. The Raiders were dominated in time-of-possession, and JaMarcus Russell completed just 9 of 19 passes.
What To Expect: Philip Rivers should throw for at least 300 yards against the weak Raiders pass defense. San Diego’s pass defense is pretty bad, too, but Oakland is last in the league in passing yards per game. JaMarcus Russell isn’t scaring too many cornerbacks or safeties. And remember, San Diego is one defensive play and one bad call away from being 3-0 right now. This should be a blowout.
RJ’s Pick: San Diego by 17
Buffalo 3-0 at Saint Louis 0-3 – 4:05 PM (Line: Buffalo by 8.5)
Last Week: Buffalo beat the Raiders, 24-23. Marshawn Lynch ran for two scores in the come-from-behind victory. Saint Louis lost to Seattle, 37-13. The Rams defense allowed 245 yards on the ground, while their offense managed just 65 rushing yards on 24 carries.
What To Expect: Saint Louis is last in the league in rushing yards per game. Their passing game hasn’t been much better, so Marc Bulger has been benched in favor of the ageless Trent Green. Defensively, they are also horrendous. The Rams have given up 116 points (most in the NFL) and have scored just 29 (worst in the NFC). The Bills have a solid defense and an above-average passing attack. This should be an absolute slaughter. A shutout is not out of the question, either.
RJ’s Pick: Buffalo by 21
RJ’s Game Of The Week: Washington 2-1 at Dallas 3-0 – 4:15 PM (Line: Dallas by 11)
Last Week: Washington beat Arizona, 24-17. Jason Campbell was very efficient, completing 22 of 30 passes for 193 yards, two TDs, and no interceptions. Dallas defeated the Packers at Green Bay, 27-16. Marion Barber rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.
What To Expect: Redskins DE Jason Taylor is out for at least a week after having emergency surgery on his injured calf. The Cowboys lead the league in total yards per game. On paper, this looks like a relatively easy win for Dallas. But Washington usually plays Dallas close, even when the Cowboys are playing at home and clearly have the better team (as is the case here). Also, Jason Campbell has been excellent so far this year. He hasn’t thrown a single interception, and his quarterback rating is in the triple digits. I predict a victory for the home team, but no blowout.
RJ’s Pick: Dallas by 3
Philadelphia 2-1 at Chicago 1-2 – 8:15 PM (Line: Philadelphia by 3)
Last Week: Philadelphia beat Pittsburgh, 15-6. The Eagles defense racked up a total of nine sacks. Chicago lost at home to the Buccaneers in overtime, 27-24. Brandon Lloyd caught six passes for 124 yards and a score (his first TD since 2005) in the loss.
What To Expect: Donovan McNabb should have great success against the Bears secondary. Matt Forte will struggle to get more than a yard or two per carry against the Eagles run defense. Kyle Orton will likely spend a significant portion of the game laying on his back, with a very large man on top of him. (He might like that more than you’d think.) What I’m saying is, don’t expect a close game.
RJ’s Pick: Philadelphia by 10
*Monday September 29, 2008*
Baltimore 2-0 at Pittsburgh 2-1 – 8:30 PM (Line: Pittsburgh by 5.5)
Last Week: Baltimore beat Cleveland, 28-10. Le’Ron McClain rushed for two touchdowns, the first (and second) of his career. Pittsburgh lost to the Eagles, 15-6. The Steelers were held to just 33 yards rushing on 19 attempts.
What To Expect: Ravens QB Joe Flacco has a flaccid (lol) quarterback rating of 55.7 through two games. But Baltimore has a solid defense, one of the best in the league, and we saw just how bad the Steelers looked against a good defensive team last week. Also, Willie Parker is injured and will not be able to play. However, Pittsburgh has one of the top defensive units in the league themselves. I expect a very low-scoring game (bet the under!).
RJ’s Pick: Pittsburgh by 3
[Bye Week Teams: Detroit Lions 0-3, Indianapolis Colts 1-2, Miami Dolphins 1-2, New England Patriots 2-1, New York Giants 3-0, Seattle Seahawks 1-2]
WEEKLY RESULTS (2008):