Week 4 opens up on a brighter note than Week 3 ended: The regular referees are back! While that doesn't mean we've seen the last of bad calls, there's certainly a better chance that we won't have games dominated by incompetent officiating.
As great it is to have the regular refs back, it's sad that it took a calamity on national television like the final play of Monday night's Green Bay Packers Packers–Seattle Seahawks game to close the deal. It's sad that it took Twitter meltdowns, thousands of phone calls to league offices and days of the NFL getting blasted on sports talk radio to reach this point.
Regardless, the real refs are back and it will be interesting to see the reaction they get when they make their debut this week. It will be even more intriguing to see how fans react when human error rears its ugly head on the watch of the NFL's more seasoned officials.
The fourth week of the season provides us with some exciting games. The Packers and New Orleans Saints will have a rematch of last year's season opener. Both teams are bit more underwhelming this time around than they were the last time they met, but it should be a fun duel between two explosive offenses.
There will also be a couple division games worth watching. The Philadelphia Eagles renew their rivalry with the New York Giants for the first time this season. The Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers will do battle a week removed from Kansas City finally getting in the win column. You should also keep an eye on the Detroit Lions–Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons–Carolina Panthers clashes as well.
We open the week with a Cleveland Browns–Baltimore Ravens game that won't be the faint at heart. Also, not for the faint at heart were my picks last week. Thanks to some mild upsets, yours truly finished with a laughable 6-10 record in Week 3. That drops the season record to a putrid 21-24-2. Naturally, I blame the replacement refs.
Let's see if I can fare better this time around. As always, the lines are brought to you by USA Today's Danny Sheridan.