Matchups are everything in the NFL, and Week 4 presents some favorable ones for the Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals.
The Falcons will play host to the undefeated New England Patriots in their quest to return to the .500-mark.
In Kansas City, the Chiefs will be looking to continue what has been a pleasant surprise to the season as they take on the lowly New York Giants.
The Arizona Cardinals will be taking to the road in Week 4 and have the benefit of facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of the worst squads in the NFL. Furthermore, Tampa will be debuting a new quarterback.
Let's break it down and find out why the Falcons, Chiefs and Cardinals will each take full advantage of a favorable matchup en route to victory.
Week 4 NFL Picks
Atlanta Falcons (vs. New England Patriots)
The Falcons have yet to hit their stride with a 1-2 start to the season, but things will change this week against the Patriots.
Atlanta's passing attack has been solid as the No. 7 unit in the NFL. The Falcons rushing attack hasn't been as solid with a No. 22 ranking, but the Pats are No. 24 against the run, which should help Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling get the ground game going.
Against the pass, the Pats have the sixth-best air defense; however, they have earned those rankings against weak passing teams such as the Buffalo Bills (No. 25), the New York Jets (No. 17) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (No. 31).
Quarterback Matt Ryan and company should have no problem moving the ball on offense as New England will be faced with its toughest challenge yet on defense, and that's despite the status of both Roddy White (ankle) and Julio Jones (undisclosed) being questionable this week, per ESPN.com.
White's production has been noticeably down thanks to a nagging injury as he's caught just seven passes for 56 yards, but Jones has been doing just fine with a league-leading 373 receiving yards.
While the Falcons have been bad against the pass this season (No. 25), Pats quarterback Tom Brady hasn't enjoyed much success, as evidenced by his team's No. 22 ranking. Receivers Danny Amendola (doubtful, groin) and star tight end Rob Gronkowski (questionable, back) are both uncertainties, per ESPN.com.
That could leave Brady with the same group of receivers that has proven to be unreliable thus far with rookies Kenbrell Thompkins (nine catches in 28 targets for 130 yards and two touchdowns) and Aaron Dobson (10 catches in 20 targets for 108 yards and one touchdown) unable to answer the bell.
Even if Gronkowski can go, he may not be the same reliable target as in years past because of rust, and fellow receiver Julian Edelman hasn't exactly been the explosive answer the Pats need (7.4 yards per catch).
Once the Falcons' fifth-best run defense stifles the Pats on the ground, the Falcons can focus on stopping the pass as Brady attempts to win this game with his arm and a group of suspect receivers.
Final Score: Falcons 28, Patriots 20
Kansas City Chiefs (vs. New York Giants)
As the most mistake-prone team in the NFL, the Giants couldn't be up against a worse matchup than their Week 4 opponent, the Chiefs.
The Giants lead the NFL with 13 giveaways and quarterback Eli Manning has been sacked 11 times behind a pathetic offensive line, which ties him for the NFC lead with Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles. On top of that, Manning was sacked seven times last week against the Carolina Panthers, and his eight interceptions are tops in the league.
The Chiefs feature a stellar front seven that has sacked the quarterback more times than any other team through three weeks (15), and linebacker Justin Houston leads the NFL with 7.5 sacks. That ensures another long day full of Manning having to run for his life and ending up on his back.
Kansas City's nine takeaways are best in the AFC, and its four interceptions are good for third-best in the conference. New York's propensity for turning the ball over is a huge problem considering Kansas City has zero giveaways and have the benefit of being handed extra possessions while it doesn't give any up.
The only strength the Giants have is their passing attack, which ranks No. 5 in the league.
However, the Chiefs specialize in stopping the pass with their own No. 5 ranking and the fact that they are ranked No. 25 against the run doesn't mean much since the Giants are dreadful on the ground with the worst rushing attack in football.
Quarterback Alex Smith will continue to do his thing by protecting the football and making plays with his arm. Running back Jamaal Charles will have a field day against the Giants' No. 27 run defense, and that will help open up plenty of space for Smith to find his receivers.
Final Score: Chiefs 24, Giants 10
Arizona Cardinals (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
The Bucs will embark on a new era in Week 4 after the benching of quarterback Josh Freeman in favor of rookie signal-caller Mike Glennon, as was reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Bucs have made the move: Benching Josh Freeman for Mike Glennon, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 25, 2013
The 23-year-old has yet to take a snap in the NFL, so the reliability factor there already puts Tampa Bay at a disadvantage. Even with the experienced Freeman behind center, the Bucs sported the second-worst passing attack in the league.
To add to those concerns, both Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson are listed as questionable, per ESPN.com, so the Bucs receiving corps may not be at full strength to help Glennon in his first game.
The Cardinals haven't fared as well through the air as they hoped with new quarterback Carson Palmer at the helm, but their No. 19-ranked air attack should get a boost against with what has been a disappointing Bucs pass defense that ranks No. 26 despite being revamped with cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Dashon Goldson.
Running back Doug Martin remains the only sure thing for Tampa Bay at this point, although the second-year back will be up against some stiff competition with the Cards owning the third-best run defense in the league.
Stopping Martin will be the top priority for the Cardinals, and that shouldn't be a problem seeing as how Arizona can stack the box in anticipation that Tampa Bay is intent on moving the rock on the ground.
Such a scenario forces a rookie QB to win his first career game with his arm while the Cards dare Glennon to beat them, and that sets up a nightmare scenario in what amounts to another losing effort for the winless Bucs.
Final Score: Cardinals 21, Bucs 9
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