Taking a look at the Week 4 schedule in the NFL, there are clearly a bunch of games that could go either way. However, there are also some upsets that you can almost guarantee will happen, especially after the outcomes of some of last week's games. In order for these upsets to take place, the underdog team will need to focus on a certain part of their game, and as a result eliminate a corresponding part of their opponent's game.
Let's look at three Week 4 matchups that have upset written all over them.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
While the Vikings are the underdogs going into Ford Field, be assured that Minnesota is going to ride their upset against San Francisco last week and capitalize on Detroit's emotional loss to the Titans.
Christian Ponder threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns last week against the 49ers, who are ranked 13th in pass yards allowed per game. Expect Ponder to continue to go to the air this week against a weaker Detroit secondary—they're ranked 20th, allowing about 251 yards per game.
Let us not forget about Adrian Peterson. Although he was contained to 86 yards on 25 attempts, we're talking about Adrian Peterson here—he can break out for a big game whenever he deems necessary, and this will be that game. He's averaging just under 20 carries per contest, so expect that to be right around the number of times we see the running back go to the ground.
The key to this game will be the same as it was with San Francisco: Find a balance between run and pass plays and be physical on defense. Coming off a victory against a team considered to be a Super Bowl favorite is a big boost of confidence to the Vikes.
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
Whereas in the past a game against the Bills was a "gimme," this season Buffalo is not a laughing stock in the NFL. The New England Patriots are on the verge of a three-game losing streak for the first time in almost 10 years, and the task at hand is certainly not easy.
Ryan Fitzpatrick had his best game of the season last week against the Browns, and he'll try to carry over the rhythm to Sunday's game at home. He completed 22 passes for 208 yards, including three touchdown passes and no interceptions. However, he'll be facing a different beast in the Pats defense, but Fitz is smart enough to pick and choose where to make the throws.
A component that will factor into the Bills edging out the Patriots is not turning over the ball. Fitzpatrick had three interceptions in their first game against New York, and that was enough to bury them in a deep hole they couldn't escape from. If they can avoid turnovers, they'll be in good shape.
The major thing to watch for in this game—and the key to the Bills upsetting New England—is how Buffalo's defense pressures Tom Brady.
It's a known fact that Brady is considered to be one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, but he's not immortal. The New England QB thrives when the momentum is on his side, so throwing an occasional blitz his way should startle him enough to make a mistake.
The front four of Buffalo must get in Brady's face to rattle him, otherwise he'll have a field day. However, if they are successful in pressuring him, Buffalo should gain some takeaways, and against a team led by Brady, you're going to need more than one.
New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers
I know I'm going to be criticized for this one, but hear me out.
New Orleans has hit a rough patch, and they're due for a win.
Green Bay is coming off a devastating "loss" and that sour taste is surely still in their mouth.
New Orleans doesn't have a problem putting up points, it's preventing opponents from scoring that's the problem.
The Saints defense isn't what it used to be, but they are still a lethal bunch. The pressure will be on both Scott Shanle and Curtis Lofton to contain the talented group of receiving corps available at Aaron Rodgers' disposal.
My gut instinct says that they'll be able to hold tight end Jermichael Finley to limited production.
The biggest key in this game will be the Saints defense and how quick they can make Aaron Rodgers get rid of the ball. This task will fall on defensive end Will Smith—he needs to rush in hard on every play to prevent Rodgers from getting comfortable.
We saw in Monday night's game how Seattle kept putting the Packers quarterback on his back, so Smith and the rest of the Saints defensive line will need to do the same.
In conclusion, you can bank on these teams to upset the competition...with or without the replacement referees.
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