NFL Schedule Week 4: Predicting Outcomes of Week's Biggest Games
There have been a whole lot of surprises to start the 2013 NFL season.
The San Francisco 49ers are 1-2, the Washington Redskins and New York Giants are 0-3, and the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs are 3-0.
Somewhere in Kansas City, Alex Smith snickers.
There is still a lot of football to be played, though. The 49ers could bounce back, and the Dolphins and Chiefs could sink. Such is the beauty of the NFL. It's a living, breathing organism that at times can have a mind of its own.
Let's take a look at the biggest games over the weekend in Week 4.
San Francisco 49ers (1-2) at St. Louis Rams (1-2)
Where: Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, Mo.
When: Thursday, Sept. 26 at 8:25 p.m. ET
Watch: NFL Network
This is a huge game for both the 49ers and the Rams, who both currently trail the Seattle Seahawks by two games in the NFC West.
It's hard to believe the same team that scored 34 points against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 now ranks 29th in the NFL in points per game (14.7). Scoring a combined 10 points against the Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts will do that to you.
Meanwhile, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was creamed in the 31-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week, taking six sacks and eight quarterback hits.
The difference for me is that the Rams don't have much of a running game (ranked 29th in rushing yards per contest), while the 49ers at least have some semblance of one right now after Frank Gore rushed for 82 yards on 11 carries against the Colts last week.
I would expect the 49ers to run the ball more on Thursday in St. Louis. The Rams rank 20th in the NFL in yards allowed per carry and watched Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray scamper for 175 yards and a touchdown in Week 3.
Prediction: San Francisco 24, St. Louis 21
Chicago Bears (3-0) at Detroit Lions (2-1)
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.
When: Sunday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m. ET
While the Bears are 3-0 this season, they rank 28th in yards allowed per pass attempt, and the Lions love to pass.
That could be a problem in Detroit.
The Lions rank second in the league in passing yards per game and fifth in yards per pass attempt. Matthew Stafford threw for 385 yards with two touchdowns to one interception against the Washington Redskins last week.
The difference is that Detroit will be without No. 2 receiver Nate Burleson on Sunday, who underwent surgery on Wednesday after breaking his forearm in a car accident, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
That means more attention will be placed on Calvin Johnson, and second-year receiver Ryan Broyles will have to slide into the No. 2 spot. Broyles had three catches for 34 yards against the Redskins.
I like the Bears in this one, who have good balance on offense.
Prediction: Chicago 27, Detroit 24
Seattle Seahawks (3-0) at Houston Texans (2-1)
Will Seahawks improve to 4-0 on Sunday?
Where: Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas
When: Sunday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m. ET
Not only did the Texans suffer an embarrassing 30-9 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens last week, now they get to face the top team in the National Football League, the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks have allowed 9.0 points per game this season, the best mark in the NFL. That includes holding the 49ers to three points in Week 2.
Houston ranks 24th in the NFL in points allowed per game. Of course, 18 of those points have come via interception returns and punt returns in the last two weeks.
Still, Seattle just got its offense rolling against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now, the team is clicking on both sides of the ball. Pete Carroll's squad is simply frightening right now.
Prediction: Seattle 27, Houston 21
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