NFL Week 4 Predictions: Last-Minute Forecasts for Sunday's Biggest Games

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 23: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws against the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Ravens won 31-30. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

With less than 24 hours remaining before the bulk of the NFL's Week 4 action kicks off, the excitement across the nation is palpable.

It seems that every week there are top-tier teams playing in playoff-like atmospheres to prove their worth, and there is a cavalcade of such matchups Sunday.

While these games are scintillating for fans to watch on a weekly basis, they also present a myriad of problems for bettors and people in pick 'em contests. Though it's glorious to see the NFL's top talent battling it out on a weekly basis, it's equally frustrating to make a confident selection.

You can scour the injury reports and study the player matchups all you want, but these teams are so talented and well-coached that sometimes it's too close to call.

Luckily, we're here to help. Here is a breakdown of Week 4's biggest games along with a prediction of which squad will come out on top.

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

After two straight losses by a total of three points, the Patriots will come into Buffalo Sunday desperate to get a victory.

Last week's loss to the Baltimore Ravens puts New England at 1-2, the first time the team has been under the .500 mark in an astounding 145 weeks.

Also troubling for the Patriots is the fact they have seemingly lost their sense of offensive balance. Running back Stevan Ridley looked like a potential breakout star in Week 1, toting the ball 21 times for 125 yards in New England's dominating victory over the Tennessee Titans.

That has changed over the past two weeks, as Tom Brady has attempted more than 40 passes in each contest and Ridley's been relegated to a secondary role. 

Luckily for the Patriots, they are seemingly getting the Bills at the perfect time. While both may play, the two-headed rushing attack of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson will come into Sunday's contest nowhere near 100 percent. 

That should mean an easier than expected road for New England and a much-needed victory on Sunday. A healthy Bills team could beat the Patriots, but a banged-up squad that will walk into Week 4 simply won't have enough firepower.

Score Prediction: Patriots 31, Bills 17

New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers

While it would normally not behoove anyone to call a game between teams with a combined 1-5 record "big," the Packers and Saints undoubtedly come into Week 4 as the league's most desperate teams.

By now, we all know of the unscrupulous way Green Bay fell to the Seattle Seahawks last Monday night. However, there are far more problems with the Packers than the Golden Tate Hail Mary non-catch that brought the real officials back. 

Most notable among those problems is a passing attack that has suddenly gone limp. Lining up behind a porous offensive line, Aaron Rodgers has accumulated just 745 passing yards and three touchdowns this season.

Nevertheless, things have not been much better in New Orleans, as the abject failures of the defense have masked terrible play from Drew Brees as well.

Following a season where he rewrote the NFL record books, the Saints signal-caller has floundered this season, completing 54.7 percent of his passes and tossing five interceptions. Brees' yardage totals have been on par, but it looks like he misses Sean Payton's play-calling more than anyone.

Expect both teams to revive their dormant offensive attacks on Sunday. A loss puts each side in dire straits playoff-wise, and both Rodgers and Brees are too great to be mediocre forever.

The matchup will be close, which means the victor almost surely comes down to coaching. Unfortunately for New Orleans, that likely means an 0-4 record.

Score Prediction: Packers 38, Saints 34

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

Though both teams come into this vital NFC East contest at 2-1, the feelings in both respective cities could not be more different.

The Giants are riding high after two straight wins and an utter evisceration of the Carolina Panthers last Thursday. Eli Manning led the NFL with 1,011 passing yards coming into Week 4 play and may be on the verge of creating a second star wide receiver in as many years in Ramses Barden.

Replacing an injured Hakeem Nicks, Barden grabbed nine passes for 138 yards against the Panthers and brought back memories of a similar breakout from Victor Cruz a year ago.

Things in Philadelphia aren't so dandy. Michael Vick has struggled mightily this season, completing just 55.2 percent of his throws with just three touchdowns against six interceptions. It's so bad for Vick that many are clamoring for rookie Nick Foles to overtake the starting job.

Don't look for a reprieve for the Eagles quarterback this week against the Giants' vaunted pass rush. The spread for this game favors Philadelphia by one (via Bovada), but don't look for much of a close game.

The Giants are better in just about every facet of the game and will prove themselves the class of the division on Sunday night. 

Score Prediction: Giants 31, Eagles 20