Last-Minute Predictions for NFL Week 4
Week 4 of the NFL season is here, and on Tuesday morning, 30 of the league's 32 teams will officially be one quarter of the way through the season (Green Bay and Carolina are on bye weeks).
The four-game mark is an effective barometer to judge where each team is thus far in the campaign. Some squads will be looking to put a red bow on what's been a successful opening quarter, while others are already looking to salvage their campaigns.
It all adds up to a critical weekend of NFL action. With that, here are my last-minute predictions for NFL Week 4.
Chiefs LB Justin Houston Will Have a Big Game Versus the Giants
On Sunday, the 3-0 Chiefs welcome the 0-3 Giants to Arrowhead Stadium.
Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston has been an absolute terror thus far this season, winning the AFC Defensive Player of the Week Award twice and compiling a league-leading seven-and-a-half sacks.
The Giants have been unable to protect quarterback Eli Manning, allowing 11 sacks on the season. Their offensive line has been nothing short of a sieve, possessing more holes than a particularly disgusting slice of Swiss cheese.
When you take all of this into account, predicting a big game for Houston is one of the easiest calls of the week. Houston has proven to be a big-time playmaker, and Big Blue have yet to prove they can keep Manning upright.
Expect at least one-and-a-half sacks for Houston in a Kansas City victory.
The Steelers Defense Will Finally Force a Turnover in a Win over the Vikings
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 0-3, and one of the prime reasons for the awful start to their season is the fact that their once-renowned defense has yet to force a single turnover.
That will change this Sunday in London when the team takes on the Vikings, as Minnesota will start Matt Cassel at quarterback in relief of an injured Christian Ponder.
Going from Ponder to Cassel is like trading in a Pinto for a Yugo. Ponder isn't good, but Cassel is flat-out awful.
Even the Steelers defense should be able to force a turnover or two against Cassel and help the Steelers notch one in the win column.
The Bears Defense Will Turn Lions QB Matthew Stafford over 3 Times
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has enjoyed an impressive start to the 2013 season, throwing six touchdowns against two interceptions in leading his team to a 2-1 record.
Thus far, it's been a major improvement over his 2011 and 2012 campaigns, in which he threw a combined 33 interceptions.
But Sunday, when the Lions host the Bears, don't expect Stafford's sterling run to continue, as the Chicago defense has forced a league-high 11 turnovers on the season.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will make enough plays on offense, and the defense will turn Stafford over three times as Chicago improves to 4-0.
Colts RB Trent Richardson Will Rush for More Than 100 Yards Against the Jaguars
Running back Trent Richardson enjoyed a moderately successful debut with the Colts last weekend in San Francisco, rushing for a touchdown on his first carry with the team in a 27-7 victory.
Sunday in Jacksonville, Richardson will destroy the Jaguars' porous defense to the tune of 100 yards and two touchdowns.
The Jaguars have been unable to stop the run, allowing more than five yards per carry. The unit is 31st in the NFL against the rush, a recipe for disaster when going up against a talented back like Richardson.
Fantasy owners, make sure Richardson is in your lineup. He'll lead the Colts to victory and improve their record to 3-1.
Bucs QB Mike Glennon Will Lead His Team to Victory in His 1st NFL Start
Earlier this week, in an effort to save his team's season (and perhaps his own job), Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano benched ineffective quarterback Josh Freeman for rookie Mike Glennon. The move comes at a time when the Buccaneers are 0-3 and heading into their bye week after Sunday's game against Arizona.
A win against the Cardinals is imperative if the Bucs are to salvage the season.
Expect Glennon to get the job done.
While Bucs receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams have been limited in practice this week, they should play—and Glennon will need both if he's to pull out the victory.
Bottom line: The Bucs possess way too talented a 53-man roster to fall to 0-4. With a new leader taking the reins of the offense, expect an inspired effort from the team as Tampa Bay wins in Glennon's first career start.
The Redskins Will Beat the Raiders Regardless of Who Starts at QB for Oakland
According to multiple reports, including Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, the Raiders will start Matt Flynn Sunday when they host the 0-3 Redskins.
Starter Terrelle Pryor suffered a concussion in Monday night's loss to Denver, and while he's been medically cleared to play, he won't start. However, he could potentially see some action, so speculates NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter whom the Raiders start. The Redskins will win regardless, as this is the week when their offense will finally put together a complete game.
The Chargers Will Upset the Cowboys
While the Chargers are 1-2, they've played extremely competitive football this season and could easily be 3-0.
On Sunday, they'll improve their record to 2-2 with a home victory over the Cowboys.
San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has played well this season, throwing eight touchdown passes against only one interception. He'll put up big numbers against a Dallas defense that is ranked 23rd against the pass.
When it comes down to it, the Cowboys aren't an elite football team, and the Chargers have been better than expected.
That adds up to a San Diego home victory.
The Eagles Will Keep It Close, but the Broncos Will Win the Game
While there's no doubt that the Broncos will defeat the Eagles, it won't be a blowout.
Philadelphia is coming off a 10-day layoff after playing last Thursday night, and that rest is especially critical for the Eagles' frenetic offense under coach Chip Kelly.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will eviscerate the Eagles' awful defense, but expect Philadelphia to light up the scoreboard in its own right.
The Broncos are currently the No. 1-ranked rush defense in the NFL, but that's more of a product of the team constantly being up big, forcing opposing offenses to throw the football. Opponents have only attempted 51 rushes on the season against Denver.
That No. 1 ranking won't last past Sunday, as Eagles running back LeSean McCoy will have a big game, albeit in a losing effort for the Eagles. Expect the final result differential to be in the single digits.
Falcons WR Julio Jones Will Have a Monster Game and Lead Atlanta to Victory
The 1-2 Falcons face a critical matchup on Sunday Night Football when they host the 3-0 Patriots. Atlanta already trails first-place New Orleans by two games for the NFC South lead, and it can't afford to fall behind any further.
The good news for Atlanta is that receiver Julio Jones is an absolute beast. He leads the NFL in receiving yards with 373 and has the ability to dominate any defense.
While the Patriots boast the No. 6-ranked passing defense in the league, they haven't exactly gone against a murderers' row of opposing quarterbacks: Buffalo's EJ Manuel, the Jets' Geno Smith and Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman. None of those signal-callers possesses the ability of Atlanta's Matt Ryan.
Ryan and Jones will show up in a big way on Sunday night. Expect Jones to tally more than 150 yards receiving as the Falcons even their record at 2-2.
New Orleans Will Improve to 4-0 with Its MNF Win over Miami
On Monday Night Football, the Saints host the Dolphins in a clash of 3-0 teams. At the end of the night, only one team will be 4-0.
That will be the New Orleans Saints.
While a loss won't devalue the tremendous start to the season for the Dolphins, they just aren't ready to contend with a team like New Orleans on the road.
The Superdome will be rocking, quarterback Drew Brees will play dazzling football and the Saints will remain perfect on the season.