NFL Predictions Week 4: Rookies Who Will Have Breakout Performances

Mike Moraitis@@michaelmoraitisAnalyst ISeptember 25, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 22: Cordarrelle Patterson #84 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the football during the game against the Cleveland Browns on September 22, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

There have been some intriguing rookies who have made an impact so far in the 2013-14 NFL season, but this week will feature some first-year players that have breakout games.

Giovani Bernard of the Cincinnati Bengals has been one of the most talked about rookies thus far and continues to inch closer and closer to being his team's No. 1 back.

Cordarrelle Patterson has already shown some serious special teams skills, however the rookie receiver would like to make the most of his opportunities in what has been a limited Minnesota Vikings pass attack.

The Baltimore Ravens are looking for all the help they can get on offense. and rookie receiver Marlon Brown looks ready to answer the bell on Sunday.

Let's take a look at each of these rookies and why they are ready for career games in Week 4.


Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 22:  Giovani Bernard #25 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs for a touchdown during the NFL game against the Green Bay Packers at Paul Brown Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As the season wears on, Bernard continues to improve his production week to week. In Week 3, he was a threat on the ground with 10 carries for 50 yards and a score and caught four passes for 49 yards. His attempts and totals on the ground and through the air were all career highs.

So, with that in mind, expect Bernard to once again surpass himselfthis time against the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns have been solid on defense this season, as evidenced by their No. 12 and No. 7 rankings against the pass and run respectively. However, last week against the Minnesota Vikings wasn't great. The Browns allowed 134 total yards on the ground to the tune of 4.3 yards per carry.

Bernard is an explosive back that can make big plays in both facets of the offense. Even if he and BenJarvus Green-Ellis can't get things going, the Bengals will likely have quarterback Andy Dalton get Bernard the ball in the flat in order to make plays.

Once he has space, Bernard can make things happen, unlike his fellow back Green-Ellis. Because of that fact, Bernard will continue to see more carries and action than his teammate, and that's especially true if things get tough offensively for the Bengals.

After the Bengals open things up with the passing attack, Bernard will have much more room to do his thing running the ball, and it should lead to a huge all-around day for the rookie back.

Stat Projection: 14 carries for 87 yards, six catches for 73 yards and two total touchdowns.


Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings will need a solid game from Patterson if they hope to break their winless streak to start the season.

Patterson has already proven to be an explosive runner with a kickoff return for touchdown, but that has yet to translate into him doing much in the passing gamewhich is more of a result of lackluster quarterback play by Christian Ponder than anything else.

In Week 4, the Vikings will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in London for what should be an unpredictable game between two winless teams in a foreign setting.

With much of the focus on running back Adrian Peterson as well as receivers Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson, Patterson will have the opportunity to make plays in space against the Steelers and their No. 3 pass defense.

Once Peterson is successful in torching the Steelers No. 22 rush defense, that will help make it easier to move the ball through the air—even for Ponder. Patterson stands to be the biggest beneficiary of such a scenario.

Not to mention, the potential is certainly there for Patterson to take one to the house on a return.

Stat Projection: Seven catches for 107 yards and one touchdown.


Marlon Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Sep 15, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marlon Brown (14) runs for yardage following a catch against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Brown has made the most of his limited targets thus far in his rookie campaign, but Week 4 will be the game that Brown and the Ravens have been waiting for. With 10 total catches, Brown has compiled 116 yards and two touchdowns in three games.

In Week 4, the Ravens will head to Buffalo to take on a Bills team that is ranked No. 19 against the pass and just allowed rookie quarterback Geno Smith of the New York Jets to throw for a career-high 331 yards.

Veteran QB Joe Flacco should have no problem matching or topping Smith's Week 3 total in this game. With much of the focus on stopping receiver Torrey Smith and running back Ray Rice, who could be back this Sunday, per Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, Brown should see plenty of single coverage.

Because of his excellent size and foot quickness, that one-on-one coverage should be a total mismatch that can be exploited by Brown en route to his best performance yet as a rookie.

Stat Projections: Eight catches for 115 yards and one touchdown.