Clearly, the story of the NFL season to this point has been the surprise performances by the Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins. Many expected the Lions to be much improved, but coming back from a 20-point deficit against the Vikings last week? No one expected the Bills to come back from 21-down against the Patriots last week. Then, there are the Redskins, who just missed getting to 3-0 after faltering in their 18-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Before heading to Week 4, a quick poll question on the above topic…
The Week 4 slate provides another interesting batch of games. Among the most notable include the undefeated Lions traveling to Dallas to take on the Cowboys and the humbled New York Jets defense, who hope to bounce back against the Baltimore Ravens.
Last week was a solid week for me personally, as I just missed winning the week overall in the pool that I’m in. Here’s hoping this week’s selections are as consistent.
Last Week: 10-6
This Season: 23-25
Last Season: 144-112
It’s once again time to “Pick Your Knows” – the only time it’s not a disgusting habit – and here are Week 4’s scheduled games (with spreads as they appear through CBSSports Fantasy).
Pick Your Knows: 2011 NFL Week 4 Picks Against the Spread
Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears (-6.5)
The biggest key in Bears games is always going to be how many sacks the Chicago offensive line allows and how much pressure will be put on Jay Cutler. The Carolina defense has just one interception in three weeks, plus a mediocre five sacks. This could mean a rebound for Mike Martz, Jay Cutler and the pass game. With the Bears playing in front of their home crowd, Chicago covers at home.
KP’s Pick: Chicago
Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals (+2.5)
After an emotional comeback victory over the Patriots last week, many will see a letdown game for the Bills when they travel to Cincinnati. The Bengals are third in total defense, including fifth against the pass, so Ryan Fitzpatrick will have his hands full. But as steady and balanced as Buffalo’s offense has been with Fitzpatrick in the pass game and Fred Jackson in the run game, It’s hard not to pick the Bills to win by three on the road.
KP’s Pick: Buffalo
Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns (-1.5)
Both pass defenses in this game crack the top three and the Titans have the number one overall defense at this point in the season. But the Browns’ defense has nearly twice the sacks that the Titans have, and with Kenny Britt – Matt Hasselbeck’s favorite target – out for the season, the Tennessee offense could be scrambling for its life. Browns win at home.
KP’s Pick: Cleveland
Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (-2.5)
The Lions posted a major comeback against the Vikings last week, and this Sunday, travel to Dallas to take up the battered Cowboys. Dallas has one less day of rest after playing on Monday, and Romo, Bryant and others are fighting off injuries. This will be the most aggressive defense that the Lions have had to face, and my gut feeling is that Rob Ryan and the Cowboys force multiple turnovers, and Dallas gives Detroit its first loss.
KP’s Pick: Dallas
Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans (-3.5)
The Steelers have a patchwork offensive line, which has left Rashard Mendenhall and the running game ineffective. On the other side, the Texans still have a top five run game, even with Arian Foster hobbled. The Pittsburgh defense has allowed the fewest passing yards per game, but they will have to their hands full with a balanced and potent offense. This should be a high-scoring and close game. Houston covers at home… barely.
KP’s Pick: Houston
New Orleans Saints at Jacksonville Jaguars (+7.5)
The Jaguars actually have the fourth ranked defense overall, but Jacksonville has yet to face a team with this much offensive firepower. Marques Colston is healing quickly, which adds one more headache for the Jags. Gregg Williams will throw everyting he has at Blaine Gabbert and the pass offense. MJD won’t be able to keep this game under one score. Saints cover.
KP’s Pick: New Orleans
Minnesota Vikings at Kansas City Chiefs (+1.5)
This Kansas City defense is 28th in the NFL against the run and has allowed five TD’s on the ground in the first three weeks. Adrian Peterson has publicly made it known that he wants and needs to be a bigger part of the offense, and here’s banking on the fact that the Minnesota coaching staff listens to him. Controlling the ground game and the time of possession, Minnesota gets in the win column on the road.
KP’s Pick: Minnesota
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5)
The Philadelphia defense’s biggest weakness has been against the run, but the Niners’ ground game has been ineffective and the team’s backfield is battered with injuries. Michael Vick says he’s going to play with the bruised hand, and if he can stay on the field for a significant portion of the game, the Eagles cover easily at home.
KP’s Pick: Philadelphia
Washington Redskins at St. Louis Rams (-.5)
The Rams have allowed more rushing yards than any other team. Expect the Shanahans to give St. Louis a hefty diet of Hightower and Helu, because of that. Jim Haslett will show enough different defensive looks to keep Sam Bradford and a depleted offense off balance. In a tossup game, my gut thinks the ‘Skins rebound from last week’s disappointing loss.
KP’s Pick: Washington
New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals (+1.5)
Beanie Wells has been hobbled by injuries again, and Larry Fitzgerald was completely shut down in the second half last week. The Giants have also been hampered by injuries, but have had solid play from Eli Manning, and the run game has been effective. New York has the clear edge in offensive firepower, and covers on the road against the Cards.
KP’s Pick: New York Giants
Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks (+4.5)
The Falcons have struggled and the Seahawks play much better at home. Seattle is a drop in talent compared to the last three weeks of opponents, and the Falcons have to realize their backs are against the wall to some degree. With Roddy White likely playing, Matt Ryan and the offense cover, even in a hostile environment.
KP’s Pick: Atlanta
Denver Broncos at Green Bay Packers (-13.5)
Denver’s first three games under John Fox have been decided by three points or less, but this week, the Broncos travel to Lambeau Field to take on one of the best offenses in the NFL. Champ Bailey and Elvis Dumervil are questionable, and it seems likely the Denver pass defense could take a hit on pressure and against the pass. With an issue of depth in mind, Green Bay’s weapons will prove to be too much, and win by two touchdowns at home.
KP’s Pick: Green Bay
New England Patriots at Oakland Raiders (+4.5)
New England has struggled against the pass, while the Raiders have excelled running the ball. Oakland has had success getting to the quarterback, but they will have trouble getting to Tom Brady (NE – 3 sacks allowed). Don’t expect Brady to throw four picks this week, and a high-octane Patriots offense will put points on the board to the point that the Raiders will have to use McFadden less on the ground. That’s when the Pats pull away, and cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: New England
Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers (-7.5)
Daniel Thomas was very effective over the last two weeks, and added balance to the office, but he reportedly will not make the trip to San Diego, which will hurt. San Diego has very much been a Jekyll and Hyde team under Norv Turner, as shown last week against the Chiefs. Therefore, it’s hard to judge the Chargers against the spread, but playing at home with a potent offense, San Diego could torch Miami’s defense much like New England did Week 1. Bolts cover.
KP’s Pick: San Diego
New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)
Darren McFadden lit up the Jets’ run defense last week, and the Ravens will attempt to do the same with Ray Rice and the run game. But the New York pass defense has allowed just two TD’s in the first three games, so Joe Flacco and the pass game could struggle. Expect Rex Ryan to have made adjustments to see defensive improvement, making it highly unlikely that the Ravens cover, even while playing at home. Take the Jets.
KP’s Pick: New York Jets
Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9.5)
Last week, the Indianapolis defense played much better, and had a good showing against a potent Pittsburgh offense. Curtis Painter led a steady late-game touchdown drive, showing that he could have more success moving the ball than Kerry Collins did. With this in mind, the Colts should be able to keep this one close against a Bucs team that isn’t blowing anyone out.
KP’s Pick: Indianapolis