I was pleased to record my third 4-loss mark of the season in Week 4. Jacksonville’s head-scratching 37-17 thumping of Tennessee, Denver’s victory over Dallas, Miami’s win over Buffalo, and the Patriots’ victory against Baltimore were the four games that tripped me.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Last Week: 10-4
This Week: 10-4
Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) at Baltimore Ravens (3-1)
Should be an interesting game between AFC North rivals. Both teams have been pleasant surprises this year, although we knew Baltimore was good last year. I don’t think the Bengals will have enough offense to be able to keep up with the Ravens’ new high-powered offense and overcome Baltimore’s defense.
Prediction: Baltimore 24, Cincinnati 20
Actual Score: Cincinnati 17, Baltimore 14
Cleveland Browns (0-4) at Buffalo Bills (1-3)
Talk about a miserable game to watch between two inept teams. Somebody’s gotta win, don’t they? Neither team has looked particularly good this year and Cleveland is ranked last in total defense. But I like the way they played last week with Derek Anderson under center.
Prediction: Cleveland 20, Buffalo 17
Actual Score: Cleveland 6, Buffalo 3
Washington Redskins (2-2) at Carolina Panthers (0-3)
The Panthers have had two weeks to prepare for the Redskins and they can’t possibly be as bad as they’ve looked in their first three games, or as bad as the Redskins are, for that matter.
Prediction: Carolina 21, Washington 14
Actual Score: Carolina 20, Washington 17
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) at Detroit Lions (1-3)
The Steelers don’t look like themselves this year, particularly with Troy Polamalu out. The Lions are an improved team, but I don’t even think home field advantage will help them upset Pittsburgh this week.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 27, Detroit 17
Actual Score: Pittsburgh 28, Detroit 20
Dallas Cowboys (2-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-4)
Tony Romo hasn’t played well this season, but he’ll have the benefit of facing a Chiefs defense that is among the worst in the league against the pass. I’m not sure if the Chiefs will have enough in their bag to pick up their first victory of the season.
Prediction: Dallas 23, Kansas City 20
Actual Score: Dallas 26, Kansas City 20
Oakland Raiders (1-3) at New York Giants (4-0)
Eli Manning is listed as questionable, but I’m not so sure the Giants would even need him to suit up to win this game, especially considering the Raiders are 26th against the run and the Giants are 6th in the league at running it.
Prediction: New York Giants 24, Oakland 13
Actual Score: New York Giants 44, Oakland 7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)
The Eagles had a bye last week to rest some injured players, including Donovan McNabb, who is now listed as probable for this game. The extra week of preparation should allow them to cruise in this one.
Prediction: Philadelphia 28, Tampa Bay 10
Actual Score: Philadelphia 33, Tampa Bay 14
Minnesota Vikings (4-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-4)
The Vikings haven’t lived up to their expectations just yet, and that says a lot considering they’re undefeated. Just last week against the Packers did they finally not play down to the level of their opponent and I don’t see any way the Rams hang around with them this week.
Prediction: Minnesota 34, St. Louis 13
Actual Score: Minnesota 38, St. Louis 10
Atlanta Falcons (2-1) at San Francisco 49ers (3-1)
The 49ers should keep this game close because of their defense, but I don’t know if their offense sans Frank Gore can keep them in the game. They were able to nearly defeat the Vikings in Minnesota a few weeks ago, and that was without Gore for most of the game, so maybe it’s possible. I think the Falcons’ bye week will have played to their advantage, though.
Prediction: Atlanta 24, San Francisco 17
Actual Score: Atlanta 45, San Francisco 10
Houston Texans (2-2) at Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
This should be a game in which we see little defense being played. Houston has been all over the map this season — as usual — and the Cardinals are succumbing to the Super Bowl runner-up curse. Still, I like the Cardinals at home in this one.
Prediction: Arizona 30, Houston 24
Actual Score: Arizona 28, Houston 21
New England Patriots (3-1) at Denver Broncos (4-0)
This is the game where the Denver Broncos can make a believer out of me. I don’t think they’re anywhere near as good as the other 4-0 teams in the NFL and I truly feel the Patriots will put them in their place this week. But, if the Broncos should somehow win this game, I’ll give them the credit they deserve.
Prediction: New England 23, Denver 14
Actual Score: Denver 20, New England 17
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) at Seattle Seahawks (1-3)
Which Jaguars team is going to show up this week? The team that started 0-2 and averaged 14.5 points per game? Or the one that has since gone 2-0 in the past two weeks while averaging 34 points per game? They’re an enigma, one that is difficult to predict, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt against a struggling Seahawks team.
Prediction: Jacksonville 24, Seattle 20
Actual Score: Seattle 41, Jacksonville 0
Indianapolis Colts (4-0) at Tennessee Titans (0-4)
I’m shocked that the Titans are 0-4 after finishing with the best record in the league last year. And with the Colts and Patriots coming up on their schedule, they could be 0-6 heading into their bye week. This is not a gimme game for the Colts, but I’m going with the safe pick after having gotten burned last week when picking the Titans over the Jaguars.
Prediction: Indianapolis 27, Tennessee 17
Actual Score: Indianapolis 31, Tennessee 9
New York Jets (3-1) at Miami Dolphins (1-3)
I think the Jets will get back on track after dropping their first game last week against the Saints. Their defense should keep the Dolphins’ Wildcat offense in check. Teams have had difficulty running against the Dolphins’ defense as Miami is ranked No. 2 in the league in that category. But I think the Jets will find some holes.
Prediction: New York Jets 20, Miami 17
Actual Score: Miami 31, New York Jets 27