NFL Picks Week 4: Underdogs Who Will Make a Big Statement

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NFL Picks Week 4: Underdogs Who Will Make a Big Statement
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Week 4 of the young NFL season has a slate of games that could tilt either way.

A few teams this week are eyeing an opportunity to rebound from prior losses, while some look to solidify an impressive start to 2013. 

Let's take a look at which teams are looking to make a big statement in Week 4. 

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Houston Texans (2-1): Baltimore undressed Houston on the road last Sunday, and one week later, the Texans are tasked with facing the Seattle Seahawks. 

Although Seattle ranks atop the league in a majority of defensive categories—first in both points and total yardage allowed—there are a few areas Houston can expose, particularly in the run game. 

It's no secret the Texans are steeped in zone blocking. And although Seattle, a team built around zone blocking, ranks 12th versus the run, it'll have to answer for a relatively healthy Arian Foster

As Andre Johnson battles a shin bruise that could sideline him for Sunday's game, Houston could be forced to rely on a heavy dose of both Foster and counterpart Ben Tate. 

And considering Seattle has surrendered an average of 181 passing yards in its two games, running the ball between the tackles could be the answer for Houston. 

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San Francisco 49ers (1-2): Injuries have decimated the 49ers in the early going. 

Both Vernon Davis and Patrick Willis are listed as questionable for tonight's game versus the Rams—a team that has owned the 49ers' number in their last few contests.

And without Aldon Smith rushing off the edge, San Francisco's ability to create pressure, by use of stunts and twists with No. 99 and right defensive end Justin Smith, could decline.

But luckily for San Francisco, it has depth—and much-needed motivation to supplant St. Louis following a dismal 1-2 start to 2013. 

And the 49ers could very well find success running the ball. 

The Rams rank in the bottom half of the league in almost every major defensive category, including yards per game (393.0) and rush defense (105.0). And just last Sunday, Dallas' DeMarco Murray gashed St. Louis for 175 yards on 26 carries.

ESPN.com's Nick Wagoner sheds light on why this week could be productive for Frank Gore:

The fact the 49ers lost and didn’t use Gore as much as normal would likely be enough to get him heavily involved this week, but if San Francisco needed any more motivation to go to Gore, the Rams provided it last week.

Gore has long been a thorn in the Rams defense. And Thursday night's contest could provide the spark the 49ers offense has been searching for in the early going. 

 

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Miami Dolphins (3-0): Miami has easily been the most surprising team in the NFL so far, with Kansas City coming in at a close second. 

Consecutive wins versus Indianapolis and Atlanta, respectively, have raised excitement and expectations in Miami for the first time in a long time. 

And with Ryan Tannenhill completing 66 percent of his throws and orchestrating last-minute drives versus NFC playoff contenders, the Dolphins have a realistic shot to knock off the Saints. 

MiamiHerald.com's Greg Cote discusses Tannenhill's growth and what it means moving forward. 

Tannehill brilliantly led a 75-yard touchdown drive in those closing minutes to beat the very good Atlanta Falcons, 27-23, and now Miami is 3-0 for the first time since 2002. Now an entire fan base, down too long, is feeling better about the team and its future than it has in a long time.

The Dolphins may have too many injuries to disrupt Drew Brees and the Saints offense, which could turn this contest into a shootout. And if Tannenhill's performances in the last two games are any indication of what Miami's offense could be, the Dolphins may have a shot at improving to 4-0. 

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