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NFL Week 4 Predictions: Struggling Teams That Will Stop Bleeding on Sunday

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 speaks with head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers prior to the start of the game against the Chicago Bears at Heinz Field on September 22, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2013

Somebody call a doctor. These teams don't have much time left.

The blood is hemorrhaging out of them after starting the season 0-3, and another loss would would be catastrophic for their playoff chances. Get these squads some mediocre opponents, stat.

Was the Super Bowl realistically on the horizon for any of these organizations? Probably not, but they have enough talent on paper to at least crack .500, and one of them even made the playoffs last season.

It's been a rough sled for these clubs, but they'll momentarily put their seasons on life support by besting an adversary riddled with just as many problems.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Arizona Cardinals)

The Bucs have a star running back coming off a monster rookie campaign, a major deep threat at wideout, a healthier offensive line and a shutdown cornerback who is new in town? Why are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers so awful?

It's easy to forget now that the Buccaneers are firmly the NFC South's worst squad, but they had some preseason buzz in their favor. After adding some reinforcements to a 7-9 team, they looked the part of playoff hopefuls who could be really dangerous if everything clicked.

Very little has clicked. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars have tallied less yards than Tampa Bay. While Doug Martin is not exactly delivering superstar production at 4.1 yards per carry, the passing game is the main culprit.

Josh Freeman has completed a league-low 46.3 percent of his passes, which is right in line with that guy who played for the Denver Broncos before Peyton Manning rode in on his white horse to save the day. What was his name? Tom? Tony? Oh well, not important.

But the Bucs could have easily started 2-0 instead of 0-2, losing both games by a combined three points in gut-wrenching fashion. Two of three losses came to title contenders in the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots while the New York Jets needed the help of an excessive shove to put them in field-goal range.

Tampa Bay will go to rookie Mike Glennon this weekend, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, but how much worse can he be than Freeman? Arizona's 26th-ranked passing defense is just what the doctor ordered to get Tampa Bay in the winning column.

Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Cardinals 21

 

Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Minnesota Vikings at Wembley Stadium)

Somebody has to win. OK, fine. There could be a tie, but somebody almost certainly will probably win.

In not quite the matchup the NFL wants to promote its product internationally, the Steelers and Vikings will both travel to London in quest of their first victory. The winner can return to the U.S. with a shred of dignity while the losers might as well stand out in Abbey Road until a car runs them over.

While the Vikings have kept every game close enough, they hold a dastardly combination of struggling to pass the ball and stop the pass. Christian Ponder is developing in the wrong direction with a 59.0 completion percentage and five turnovers while the defense ranks 28th with 315.7 passing yards allowed per game

Despite losing to the Chicago Bears, the Steelers at least salvaged some offense for the first time this season. Ben Roethlisberger topped 400 passing yards in a losing effort after entering the contest with 442 yards through the first two affairs.

Pittsburgh's rushing defense ranks sixth in opponents' yards per carry, and Minnesota's offense goes nowhere without Adrian Peterson. This is the perfect opportunity for Big Ben to notch a victory by the Big Ben.

Prediction: Steelers 20, Vikings 9 

 

Washington Redskins (at Oakland Raiders)

If Washington can't win this one, when can it win?

A year after riding a seven-game winning strike into the postseason, Washington is now 0-3 and in danger of ending its bid at a repeat well before Halloween. With Oakland on the docket, Washington should salvage its first victory of the year.

The defense has surrendered 488 total yards per game, which places them at the very bottom of the NFL. But in Washington's defense, that came against the second-, third- and fourth-ranked offenses. You try stopping LeSean McCoy, Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson.

The maligned unit finally receives a fighting chance against Oakland, a team that could easily be 0-3 if not for facing Jacksonville. Robert Griffin III will finally get a chance to build a lead against a team whose ability to score 21 points in a double-digit loss was considered a moral victory.

Prediction: Redskins 30, Raiders 20

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