NFL Week 4 Picks: Game-by-Game Predictions & More
A wild and wacky 2012 NFL season shifts into Week 4 Thursday, as the Baltimore Ravens host the Cleveland Browns in a nationally televised AFC North clash.
What more could we possibly see this week?
Already in 2012, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are a combined 3-9 to start this season. The Arizona Cardinals—yes, the Arizona Cardinals—are a perfect 3-0 and have looked good doing it.
Want more crazy? The names "Christian Ponder" and "Kevin Kolb" can be found in the top five for passer rating through three games. Rodgers, Manning, Brees and Matthew Stafford are in the bottom half of the same stat.
Michael Vick has turned over the football more times by himself than all but one team. Nine times. Only the Kansas City Chiefs have as many.
Heck, replacement refs who haven't officiated a level of football higher than high school are even deciding the outcomes of actual games! Who saw that coming?
All kidding aside, craziness in the NFL is somewhat typical of the first three weeks. As we get into the middle portion, things start to settle into place and we learn much more about the 32 NFL teams.
That settling in may start this week.
Below, we make our Week 4 predictions. There aren't as many crazy picks as you'd probably expect:
Cleveland Browns (0-3) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
The Browns need more time to gel on offense, and four days of preparation time for a road game in Baltimore isn't enough. Ravens roll against their AFC North rival.
Ravens 27, Browns 13
Carolina Panthers (1-2) at Atlanta Falcons (3-0)
Atlanta looks like the NFC's best team through three weeks, and Matt Ryan is probably the top candidate for early MVP. The Panthers have had a long work week to get ready, but winning in the Georgia Dome is a tough thing to do.
Falcons 24, Panthers 21
New England Patriots (1-2) at Buffalo Bills (2-1)
The Patriots can't fall to 1-3, can they? The Bills not having both of their featured running backs is a big blow. With no ground game to worry about, New England pins its ears back and gets after Ryan Fitzpatrick in Buffalo.
Patriots 24, Bills 16
Minnesota Vikings (2-1) at Detroit Lions (1-2)
Have the Vikings found a winning blueprint, or was Sunday's win against the heavily favored 49ers a perfect storm? We'll find out Sunday when Minnesota travels to Detroit. Keep an eye on Matthew Stafford's health as the practice week drags on. Lions bounce back at home, but it's ugly.
Lions 20, Vikings 17
San Diego Chargers (2-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)
Wins like Kansas City's on Sunday in New Orleans can be season-changers. The Chiefs are talented, but they needed that shot of confidence. The Chargers are dragging after they got a slap of reality in Week 3. Chiefs have won two straight in Kansas City, and they'll make it three Sunday.
Chiefs 23, Chargers 17
Seattle Seahawks (2-1) at St. Louis Rams (1-2)
The Seahawks are very good defensively, and that defensive line could give Sam Bradford all kinds of trouble. St. Louis will have to depend on turning over Russell Wilson and keeping Marshawn Lynch under control, because it's hard to envision that offense scoring more than 17 points Sunday.
Seahawks 20, Rams 9
San Francisco 49ers (2-1) at New York Jets (2-1)
Doesn't this have sneaky upset written all over it? 49ers are a long ways from home, everyone is writing off the Jets after losing Darrelle Revis, San Francisco's invisibility cloak is down? Don't know how they pull it off, but Jets give the NFL world another jolt Sunday.
Jets 17, 49ers 13
Tennessee Titans (1-2) at Houston Texans (3-0)
The Texans are the most complete team in football. Passing, running, stopping the run, stopping the pass. They can do it all. We're not sure what the Titans are good at yet. Texans roll big at home.
Texans 34, Titans 20
Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has been on an absolute tear the past two weeks, save for one red-headed—I mean, bone-headed—decision Sunday to open his day. He should continue his hot hand Sunday against a defense that allowed over 300 yards and two touchdowns to Andrew Luck in Week 2.
Bengals 27, Jaguars 16
Miami Dolphins (1-2) at Arizona Cardinals (3-0)
Good teams that want to be playoff contenders win these kind of games. Everyone is jumping on that Cardinals bandwagon now, so it's time to prove they belong with the big boys. If the first three weeks are any indication, that defense should smother Ryan Tannehill.
Cardinals 20, Dolphins 6
Oakland Raiders (1-2) at Denver Broncos (1-2)
Who knows what to make of the Raiders, who overcame a 10-point deficit to a likely playoff team last week to win. Maybe there's more fight in this bunch than originally thought. Still, I like Peyton Manning to have a big game at home against a secondary that was torched by Ben Roethlisberger Sunday.
Broncos 31, Raiders 27
New Orleans Saints (0-3) at Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Due to obligations at CheeseheadTV.com, I am withholding my prediction on Saints-Packers until later in the week.
Washington Redskins (1-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)
The Bucs return home after two blood-curdling losses on the road. The Redskins are dealing with their third road game in four weeks. In a toss-up, I'll take the team whose quarterback manufactures more positive plays on his own. The Redskins' victory formation is again attacked by Greg Schiano.
Redskins 21, Buccaneers 20
New York Giants (2-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)
The game of the week is perfectly placed in prime time on Sunday night. The Giants laid a championship beatdown on the Panthers a week ago, while the Eagles continued raising doubts with an uninspired performance in the desert. But here's the kicker: Andy Reid always has the Eagles ready for this kind of game. He loses games like Arizona in Week 3, but wins games like this.
Eagles 31, Giants 28
Chicago Bears (2-1) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
J'Marcus Webb should mentally prepare for another tongue-lashing from Jay Cutler, because it's coming Monday night. DeMarcus Ware is the best pass-rusher in football and the Bears offensive line again looked like an overmatched group in Week 3. This will be one of those ugly, low-scoring games where the quarterbacks are black-and-blue Tuesday morning. Cowboys win because their offensive line is fractionally better than Chicago's.
Cowboys 20, Bears 13
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