The fourth week of the NFL season saw both a return of the regular referees, which in turn seemingly re-stabilized the league's integrity.
No longer were officials being berated into making questionable calls or were games being halted for 10-minute powwows about seemingly simple rules.
With that return to normalcy came perhaps the best slate of games we've seen in the 2012 NFL season. Eight games were decided by one score or less as some teams played to establish their dominance atop the league, while others desperately clung to what's left of their season.
When you have so many close games, it becomes even more apparent which teams are truly among the elite. In preparation for Week 5, here's a look at some elite teams bound to blow out their opponents.
San Francisco 49ers
The outcome of this game is almost solely dependent on which Buffalo Bills team decides to show up in San Francisco.
If it's the team that gave up a combined 100 points to the New England Patriots and New York Jets, then all of Alex Smith's recent woes are about to be solved.
In the past two weeks, Smith has completed just 36-of-56 passes for 347 yards and both a touchdown and interception. In a vacuum, those numbers are passable. However, Smith started the season looking like such an elite quarterback that San Francisco had seemingly forgotten all about its offseason flirtation with Peyton Manning.
For the 49ers to be taken seriously as Super Bowl contenders, they need Smith to be more like the player he was early in the season.
Count on Smith to come out firing as the Bills continue their failure to compete with elite teams in the AFC.
Score Prediction: 49ers 27, Bills 14
Green Bay Packers
For the Packers' offense, a Week 4 matchup against the New Orleans Saints' anemic defense could not have come at a better time.
Coming into the contest struggling mightily on offense and playing in the first game since Green Bay's infamous Hail Mary loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Aaron Rodgers came out on Sunday and recaptured his groove.
Completing 31-of-41 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns, Rodgers was equal parts efficient and spectacular as New Orleans continually failed to stop the Packers' attack. More importantly, the Green Bay signal-caller finally recaptured his rhythm with Jordy Nelson, who grabbed eight receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown.
With Greg Jennings still hobbled by a groin injury, the chemistry between Nelson and Rodgers must sustain going forward.
Look for that trend to continue Sunday against an Indianapolis Colts defense that has allowed 27.7 points per game and is yet to play an elite quarterback this season.
By all accounts, the Jets' offense is an unmitigated disaster that may even go beyond advanced statistics. After putting up an astounding 48 points in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills, New York has averaged an embarrassing 11 points per game since—and 23 of those points came against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3.
Meanwhile, against the San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers, the team combined for 10 points as Mark Sanchez's performances made Brandon Weeden look like a Pro Bowler.
With Santonio Holmes feared out for the season (via the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta), there is not a 2-2 team in the league in a worse situation than the Jets.
Many are calling for Tebow Time in New York, but if things keep going as they have been, fans may want to re-acquaint themselves with garbage time.
Score Prediction: Texans 31, Jets 10
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