NFL Teams on Upset Alert for Week 4
Pardon the hyperbole, but no three opening weeks of any NFL season has matched the 2012 campaign in terms of sheer lunacy. Aside from the replacement refs debacle, parity reigns in the league, with 27 teams posting 2-1 or 1-2 records through the first three weeks.
Furthermore, teams that have been late-night punchlines in years past are starting to post laudable efforts. The Cincinnati Bengals have scored 72 points in their last two games, and the Arizona Cardinals are undefeated.
Meanwhile, the Patriots and Saints are a combined 1-5, with the latter team looking at 0-4 should they lose to the furious Green Bay Packers this weekend.
Week 4 should provide more drama in the form of upsets. Let's take a look at four possibilities this weekend. The team on upset alert will be outside the parentheses.
Seattle Seahawks (vs. St. Louis Rams)
Don't want to rub in the whole "non-touchdown" thing that just happened. It isn't the Seahawks' fault that they were the ultimate beneficiary of one of the worst-officiated games in recent sports history.
Instead, let's rub in the fact that Russell "The Second Coming" Wilson has struggled to reach 100 passing yards in two of the first three weeks. His "Fail Mary" pass on Monday night got him over the mark against a defense that would give up 100 passing yards to an offense fielded by me and the 10 least athletic readers of this article.
It isn't just Wilson. The receivers aren't helping him out—at least, not as much as the refs are—and the offensive line has dealt with injuries and that whole lack of talent thing.
The Rams aren't the pushovers they used to be. Yes, they have their own lack of talent, but the new regime has shored up a lot of the holes. On paper, this game is closer than many (especially those in the Pacific Northwest) would expect.
(Minnesota Vikings vs.) Detroit Lions
Technically, Minnesota winning this game would not be an "upset." At least, not as far as Las Vegas is concerned, as many sites and casinos have this game "OFF" the board and refuse to even accept bets.
Yet many still consider the Lions a "contender," and this game could throw them right into the "pretender" category.
The Lions come into this game underachieving like the cool kid in a Generation X coming-of-age flick. Stopping the other team from scoring is for squares, man! They've played as terribly as any team through the first three weeks, even after essentially returning last year's playoff squad.
Meanwhile, this Minnesota Vikings team is straight-up horrible from a talent perspective. Yet, somehow, their overmatched coaching staff has them ready to conquer the world week in and week out.
As bad as the Vikings record was in 2011, they were in every game and continued that streak into 2012. Then they embarrassed the 49ers last week, punctuating their massive underratedness.
This would be a classic trap game for the Lions had they not just endured one of those last week. If Jake Locker looked good against Detroit, Christian Ponder can start his MVP campaign. His only competition will be the rest of the Vikings offense.
Arizona Cardinals (vs. Miami Dolphins)
On paper, the Cardinals still have some serious talent issues but deserve kudos for being 3-0 against teams that (again, on paper) should have beaten them. Still, it's hard to look at the players Arizona is putting on the field and just blindly trust that they will continue to overachieve every week.
The NFL has been topsy-turvy through three weeks. The replacement refs had much to do with that, and the real refs coming back won't exactly be a smooth transition. Anything can happen, so the 1-2 Dolphins beating the 3-0 Cardinals shouldn't be beyond the pale.
Add in the fact that Miami has been a rushing machine so far this season and the Arizona defense hasn't been great at stopping the run. All of a sudden, even a Reggie Bush-less Dolphins team looks like it could have a field day.
The Cardinals should continue their winning ways, but don't be surprised if the Dolphins sneak up and steal this one.
Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)
The Jaguars are getting a bunch of players back in this one. Most notably, Eben Britton is coming back to solidify the offensive line and keep Blaine Gabbert much cleaner in the pocket than he otherwise would've been.
A calm Gabbert can beat this Cincinnati Bengals defensive backfield, especially if the defense is creeping up to stop Maurice Jones-Drew. If the Bengals can't stop the run and pressure Gabbert consistently, it could be a long day.
On offense, the performance of Andy Dalton has been up and down this season. Much like Gabbert, he's at his best when he's able to stay upright and not worry about the walls closing in around him. If Mel Tucker gets his squad back on track, this will be an upset waiting to happen.
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff alongside other great writers at "The Go Route."