Sunday, October 2, 2011
NFL Week 4 Picks: Seattle Seahawks to Upend the Atlanta Falcons
Last weekend 12 out of the 16 NFL games were decided by a touchdown or less.
Nine teams won games by overcoming a fourth quarter deficit.
The cliché of “On any given Sunday,” proves so true in the NFL this year. People liked the Bills and Lions to improve this year, but to come into Week 4 both undefeated? What about the Titans leading their division, or the Rams winless and last in theirs?
With that in mind, I think the Seahawks at home with the less-than-stellar quarterback play of Tarvaris Jackson can actually upend the Falcons, a popular preseason pick to make it to the Super Bowl.
Other things to watch this week: Can Michael Vick stay in the game for its duration? Which team will come out on top in the battle of the winless, the Vikings or the Chiefs? Can Chris Johnson pick up the slack and lead the Titans to another victory and keep them atop the AFC South?
Who do you think will win this weekend?
Carolina (1-2) at Chicago (1-2)
Last week the Panthers prevented the Jaguars from making a play in the end zone. While Chicago’s offense has sputtered lately, it’s hard to imagine this happening again.
The Bears O-line needs to step up and Matt Forte needs to get going after a nine-carry, two yard performance last week but the Bears have faced some stiff competition the first three weeks of the season.
The Panthers aren’t close to the level of the Packers, Saints and yes, even the 1-2 Falcons. They could be battle tested and ready to put a beat down of their own on a lesser team.
Buffalo (3-0) at Cincinnati (1-2)
The Bills are the highest scoring team in the league.
The Bengals couldn't even score a touchdown against the 49ers, putting up eight points thanks to a safety.
Tennessee (2-1) at Cleveland (2-1)
The Titans strength has been the passing game. That takes a huge hit with the loss of Kenny Britt.
To say running back Chris Johnson has been underwhelming is an understatement. He has yet to rush for 100 yards total over three games (98). He's going to need to step it up for the Titans offense to be respectable.
For Cleveland, riding a two-game win streak, running back Peyton Hillis returns after missing last week with an illness.
Detroit (3-0) at Dallas (2-1)
Dallas was able to stay in the game last week against Washington thanks to six field goals from kicker Dan Bailey and the defense holding the inept Washington offense to only one touchdown.
Things won’t be as simple against the Lions. Detroit’s offense is much more dynamic and will be tougher to keep pace with.
Also there is Ndamukong Suh, who will be like a shark circling a wounded seal when he goes after Tony Romo. It’ll be hard enough playing straight-up against Suh, but if the Cowboys have more fumbles and miscommunications between center and quarterback it could be a very long day for the Cowboys.
Minnesota (0-3) at Kansas City (0-3)
It's a tough call, but the Vikings are just more dangerous than the Chiefs at the end of the day.
Adrian Peterson is a game changer, while the Chiefs lost their star, Jamaal Charles, to an injury a couple weeks ago.
His first game was bad, but Donovan McNabb has put up respectable numbers the past two games and is still better than Matt Cassel.
The Chiefs have been hit hard by injuries in the early going and just don't have the big play potential that the Vikings have.
Washington (2-1) at St. Louis (0-3)
Rex Grossman has been impressive this year while Sam Bradford has taken a step back but the key in this one will be the running game.
The Rams and Redskins are 11th and 12th in the league in rushing yards per game, respectively. The difference is while the Redskins defense allows just under 100 rushing yards per game (97.7) the Rams are the league’s worst at stopping the run (174.3 yards per game).
Time for Tim Hightower and Roy Helu (5.7 yards per carry) to have a big game, supported by a better passing game than the Rams.
San Francisco (2-1) at Philadelphia (1-2)
Kicker David Akers makes his return to Philadelphia, and he may be the only way the 49ers score any points.
They scored 13 points last week, registering only one touchdown, and are in the bottom five of the NFL in both passing yards per game and rushing yards per game.
The Eagles have struggled in the early going, and Michael Vick has had difficulty staying in games, but expect a long-overdue explosion from this offense, with the team pinpointing the 49ers secondary as the weak link on the field.
New Orleans (2-1) at Jacksonville (1-2)
It's tough to look at anything else beyond Drew Brees vs. Blaine Gabbert.
One leads a high powered offense that makes making big plays look easy.
The other is lucky to put up double digits in points week after week.
New Orleans wins.
Pittsburgh (2-1) at Houston (2-1)
The Texans were challenged last weekend against the Saints and although they didn't win the game they responded well.
It was an entertaining game and the Texans traded shots with the Saints in what was a respectable road loss. If they want to be a legitimate playoff contender this is a game, at home, they have to win.
The Steelers just squeaked by a winless Colts team last weekend (one that the Texans demoralized in Week 1).
While the Pittsburgh defense still stepped up when it was needed most, it showed its age and had difficulty throughout the game and containing third-string quarterback Curtis Painter.
The Texans have a better offense and defense than the Colts and the Steelers have not been sharp in the early going.
New York Giants (2-1) at Arizona (1-2)
To show that this Giants team is still a playoff contender, the team needs to not have a hangover from their big win against the Eagles in Week 3.
Arizona struggled to score points against the Seahawks last week. The Giants will be getting back DE Osi Umenyiora this week, bolstering their usually strong pass rush.
The Giants should also get back leading receiver Hakeem Nicks, making the offense a bit more potent.
New York wins.
Atlanta (1-2) at Seattle (1-2)
The defense for Seattle is playing well enough, but the offense is still having its struggles, as expected. Two things are giving the Seahawks some hope.
Marshawn Lynch had his best game of the season last week, rushing for 73 yards. Atlanta is in the bottom half of the league (20th) in rushing yards allowed per game (112).
To open up lanes for Lynch the passing game desperately needs to improve. They get a big boost from wide receiver Sidney Rice, who played his first game of the year last week and caught eight passes for 109 yards. Atlanta’s pass defense allows 261 yards per game, 22nd in the NFL.
Atlanta has struggled early on this year and the Seahawks play better at home (their lone win so far this year coming in their only home game). With improvements in the offense Seattle can take advantage of a slumping and vulnerable Falcons team.
Denver (1-2) at Green Bay (3-0)
The Packers are rolling. It's hard to imagine that a Denver team that seems to make a lot of crucial mistakes in crunch time could upend such a disciplined and finely tuned machine like Green Bay, on the road nonetheless.
Green Bay wins.
New England (2-1) at Oakland (2-1)
The Raiders looked really good in their home opener against the Jets, dominating their defensive line and keeping the Jets offense in check.
The problem is timing. They face a Patriots team that lost last week. And following a loss the Pats are almost unbeatable, as if to make up for the prior week's stumble. And usually it isn't a close game either.
New England wins.
Miami (0-3) at San Diego (2-1)
The Dolphins' problem is not talent; they have a good amount of players with individual skill.
The issues are poor miscommunication and a failure to execute. Those things suggest that the coaching is subpar. So what do they do at practice?
According to Davone Bess and Reggie Bush, in addition to Chad Henne, Jason Taylor and Yeremiah Bell, the team admittedly doesn't work hard enough on the field nor do they pay attention in team and position meetings. Well then...
Promising rookie running back Daniel Thomas has also been ruled out.
San Diego wins.
New York Jets (2-1) at Baltimore (2-1)
The Jets defense, supposedly their strength, was bullied by the Raiders and their rushing game last week.
Baltimore may not hold the top-ranked rushing attack in the NFL but Ray Rice is considered one of the best backs in the league.
The Ravens have put up 30-points in their two victories. The Jets still struggle on offense and will struggle to keep pace with an improved Baltimore offense, even if they aren't scoring loads of points.
Indianapolis (0-3) at Tampa Bay (2-1)
Indianapolis held its own against the Steelers, especially when Kerry Collins was knocked out of the game with a concussion. So kudos to them.
But now they have to start Curtis Painter. The team didn't have faith in him to start at the beginning of the season. Has anything changed other than the fact that another quarterback ahead of him on the depth chart is hurt?
Meanwhile the Buccaneers did enough to beat the much-hyped Falcons last week, doing something they were unable to last year. Maybe this team really is ready to take the next step.
Tampa Bay wins.
Last Week: 10-6
Marshawn Lynch: AP Photo/ John Froschuer