Thursday, September 26, 2013

NFL Week 4 Picks: Pittsburgh Steelers Are Not As Bad As The Minnesota Vikings

San Francisco (1-2) at St. Louis (1-2)

Colin Kaepernick has had two dud games in a row and the 49ers look to be struggling. That being said, the Rams aren’t exactly blowing people out of the water, either.

The Rams got manhandled by the Cowboys last week. They lost by 24 points, threw for only 197 yards, ran for only 35 yards and surrendered 396 yards on defense.

It’s a good time for the Niners to get back on track.

San Francisco wins.

Baltimore (2-1) at Buffalo (1-2)

After getting torched by the Broncos and holding on against the Browns (which always seems to be a battle), the Ravens finally took it to someone else. It’s quite impressive what they did to a Texans team that some would consider a Super Bowl contender, beating them 30-9.

The Bills don’t look terrible this season. Their two losses are by one score or less.

Still, the Ravens won a big game last week, have some momentum, and have more talent than the Bills.

Baltimore wins.

Cincinnati (2-1) at Cleveland (1-2)

It seems like the Browns last week decided to do whatever it takes to win a game, a fake field goal and a fake punt included. Jordan Cameron caught three touchdown passes and looks like one of the best tight ends in the league. Their defense isn’t half bad, either.

Not to take away what the Browns did last week, but it was against the struggling Minnesota Vikings. The Bengals are a different story.

This team had high expectations for themselves this year and after falling short against the Bears in Week 1, they took it to the Packers last weekend. They caused Aaron Rodgers to throw two interceptions and look pedestrian.

Cincinnati wins.

Chicago (3-0) at Detroit (2-1)

The Lions passing game is ranked third-best in the league. Matthew Stafford is playing well and he’s gotten great contributions from Calvin Johnson (of course), his running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, and Nate Burleson has stepped up alongside Megatron. He has more catches than Johnson and a nice 239 yards.

But Burleson has a broken arm now. How does that affect Detroit’s passing game? The running backs are third and fourth on the team in yards and receptions, and no other player (after Bush) has at least 45 yards receiving. In fact, the only one that’s been even targeted more than 10 times is tight end Brandon Pettigrew, who has five catches (on 12 targets) for 38 yards and no touchdowns.

Chicago wins.

New York Giants (0-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)

The Giants were absolutely embarrassed last weekend. That was a new low for the franchise. They were shutout and lost by 38 points. Eli Manning was sacked seven times. As a team, they registered only 90 yards passing. They turned the ball over three times. They yielded over 400 total yards of offense.

It was the second consecutive game the Giants lost by double digits. It was the second consecutive game they turned the ball over at least three times. And to make matters worse, they also statistically have the worst rushing attack in the league.

The Chiefs are well-known to play very well at home and they could very well provide more misery for the New York football Giants.

Kansas City wins.

Arizona (1-2) at Tampa Bay (0-3)

In a surprising move, the Buccaneers have benched Josh Freeman in favor of rookie Mike Glennon. It’s not the move that’s surprising, it’s more so the timing of it; it’s much earlier than anyone could have expected.

But the Buccaneers have lost eight of their last nine, dating back to last season. Will Glennon be the shot in the mouth the team needs, the fire lit under their backsides?

What I do know is that the Cardinals have the third best rushing defense, so they will make Glennon beat them.

Arizona wins.

Indianapolis (2-1) at Jacksonville (0-3)

There just isn’t any reason to pick the Jaguars. They have yet to be competitive and against another potential playoff team there’s just nothing to like for them in this match-up.

Indianapolis wins.

Seattle (3-0) at Houston (2-1)

The Texans are 2-1 and tied for first in the AFC South. But they haven’t been sharp. They had a come-back win late over the San Diego Chargers. They needed overtime to dispose of the Tennessee Titans (the other team tied atop the AFC South) at home. Then there was last week’s debacle in Baltimore.

That being said, the Seahawks typically don’t play well on the road. Their last road game, they barely got past the so-so Carolina Panthers.

Which defense will perform better? The Seahawks defense has given up the fewest points in the league and Jacksonville only got to 17 last week after Seattle’s reserves took the field. The Texans, meanwhile, are second in the league in passing defense (Seattle is first) and ninth in rushing defense (Seattle is 12th).

At home, I think the Texans defense plays just a bit better.

Houston wins.

Pittsburgh (0-3) vs. Minnesota (0-3) – GAME IN LONDON

Both teams head to the NFL’s annual game in London struggling mightily.

The edge in this game is at the quarterback position, though. The Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger, who has won multiple Super Bowls and is a proven commodity.

The Vikings have Christian Ponder. He’s third in the league in interceptions, tied for fifth in sacks and is 22nd in completion percentage. He does not look sharp and fans are calling for Matt Cassel to come into games.

Pittsburgh wins.

New York Jets (2-1) at Tennessee (2-1)

How many people had both these teams coming into this game with winning records?

Other than passing yards per game, there isn’t much separating these two teams. The biggest difference, more important than the difference in passing yards, is the turnover battle. Tennessee is second in the AFC with a plus-five turnover differential, helped by the fact that they haven’t committed a single turnover yet this season. The Jets, on the other hand, are minus-six in turnovers, thanks to six interceptions from Geno Smith.

That could be huge, especially with the Titans as the home team.

Tennessee wins.

Washington (0-3) at Oakland (1-2)

Had Terrelle Pryor not picked up a concussion last weekend, thus making it unlikely he will play this weekend, it would have been a very fun match-up between two quarterbacks that can seriously move with the ball.

RGIII has played decently this season, but he still hasn’t matched the magic he had from last year. It hurts that Washington’s defense is just downright terrible this year.

The Raiders aren’t world beaters though. And while Matt Flynn played well in reserve of Aaron Rodgers, there has to be a reason he went from big free agent signing to Russell Wilson’s back-up, to Oakland, then to Pryor’s back-up.

This seems like a game that Washington can take away.

Washington wins.

Philadelphia (1-2) at Denver (3-0)

The Broncos are cruising. And at home? This team knows how to get the job done.

Something worth watching: the Eagles rushing attack is first in the league in yards per game but the Broncos defense is first in fewest rushing yards allowed per game.

The Broncos are first in total points scored while the Eagles are tied for sixth for most point allowed. Denver has won their games by an average just shy of 19 points per game.

Denver wins.

Dallas (2-1) at San Diego (1-2)

All three of the Chargers games this season have been decided in the final 30 seconds. With gunslingers like Phillip Rivers and Tony Romo playing quarterback in this game, anything can happen.

Neither team defends the pass very well, but the Chargers are dead last in passing yards allowed, giving up a whopping 340 yards per game. The Cowboys may rank only 18th in passing yards, but Romo picked apart the Rams defense before the team finally relented and worked to kill the clock.

Dallas wins.

New England (3-0) at Atlanta (1-2)

The Patriots young receivers finally looked to start clicking with Tom Brady against the Buccaneers last weekend, which is promising for the team.

But even with Steven Jackson injured and Roddy White still not at 100 percent, the Falcons at home have a slight edge. Even though they have two losses, those losses are both less than seven points and the Miami loss occurred very late in the fourth quarter of a back and forth game. Both losses were also on the road.

The Falcons have never been two games under .500 with Mike Smith as the team’s head coach.

Atlanta wins.

Miami (3-0) at New Orleans (3-0)

The Dolphins are one of the surprises of the league thus far this season and have a strong defense and very improved offense to thank.

They can make this a competitive game, but prime time home games are what the Saints do best. New Orleans is 7-0 in Monday night games since 2009 and 5-0 in Monday night home games in the same time frame.

With the team undefeated, Drew Brees starting off strong and Sean Payton back on the sidelines, expect the New Orleans fans to be even louder than usual.

New Orleans wins.

Bye Week: Green Bay, Carolina

Last Week: 9-7

Overall: 34-14

Photo Credit.
Ben Roethlisberger: AP Photo/Don Wright

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