NFL BluePrint: Week 4 Preview, Picks and Ranks

Thom Cunningham@ThomBhombCorrespondent IOctober 4, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Offical Super Bowl XLIII and NFL logo signage is seen prior tothe Arizona Cardinals playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers inSuper Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

This is a preview of week 4 in the league. There was no research done in this article, just what goes through my mind when I see the matchup on paper.

Quick side note; the numbers on the left of team's are my power rankings.

Overall: (32-16)                       

Last Week: (10-6)


(3) Baltimore (3-0) @ (9) New England (2-1) - 1:00/CBS

I am unsure why New England is favored in this one. Baltimore is  No. 1 on many power rankings, and people talk about them being the best team. The Ravens are right around where I expected them to be in terms of success on both sides of the ball.

Flacco is proving himself as a reliable player for the offense and McGahee is displaying a great deal of strength, vision and speed. 

Another thing I have heard all week is how will Brady pass against the Raven secondary. This game might be won on how well Brady plays, but his offensive line will be the determining factor.

You can't forget about Suggs, Ngata, Gregg and all the other blitzers Baltimore is capable of unleashing. The Ravens should pressure Brady just as much as New York did, and it will come down to how well the Patriots protect their star.

Both backfields have the potential to breakout any given week, but I don't see this game won on the ground.

I also hear that Welker might not play. I was convinced in week two that the Patriot offense is too out-of-sync and too vulnerable for Brady to find more success than none when being pressured against a solid defense.

Are you more convinced that Baltimore's defense can pressure Brady, or that New England's offense can handle it?  

Pick: BAL


(30) Tampa Bay (0-3) @ (24) Washington (1-2) - 1:00/FOX

The crystal clear problem with the Redskins is Clinton Portis not rushing the football. What'd he rush, 14 times last week? This guy should be the main focus of your offense, not Jason Campbell.

Campbell can ball, but he is not the best playmaker on Washington's offense. Santana showed good signs last week, and he is more than capable of making consistent big plays.

Tampa finally benched Leftwich though, so don't be surprised if their offense shows signs of explosion in the game. The playmakers around the quarterback position are very under-rated for Tampa. Cadillac and Derrick are both dangerous rushers, and Winslow has been a constant red-zone threat.

I don't see Washington losing this game at home, mainly because I don't think their defense will allow Tampa situations to possibly win. A close game at best for the Bucs, and possibly a better offense.

Pick: WAS


(19) Tennessee (0-3) @ (27) Jacksonville (1-2) - 1:00/CBS

Tennessee is the biggest disappointment in the league so far. Good news for Titan fans though, it's only week four. If Tennessee expects to make comeback in the season, they have to win this divisional game.

The Titans defense has given up too many plays in the past two weeks. Teams are both driving on them and making big plays. This is a perfect 'gut-check' game for the Titans. They are playing against a less-than-average offense that is mainly one-dimensional.

Chris Johnson will need to see a majority of the touches on the ground and possibly the air. Jones-Drew is capable of scoring more than once, but Garrard will need to make consistently good decisions to keep this game close or win it.

Pick: TEN


(28) Oakland (1-2) @ (18) Houston (1-2) - 1:00/CBS

I'm expecting a physical game with a handful of big plays. Houston's defense has struggled tremendously (in my eyes), but the offense might be back on track.

Slaton is slowly but surely coming along, and overall they seem much more focused and mature as an offense opposed to last season.

The Oakland defense can stop Houston's rushing attack, but the matchup between Asomugha and Johnson will determine how close this game can be.

Russell is not the answer for a successful Oakland offense, but he is the problem. When it comes down to it, Houston's offense should outscore Oakland's, no matter how well the Raider defense can play.

The only way I see Oakland winning is if they force Houston's offense to score with the final possession. But even then, I would place my money on Houston in that situation.

Pick: HOU


(15) Chicago (2-1) @ (26) Detroit (1-2)  - 1:00/FOX

If Detroit's secondary wasn't so bad, I would probably pick them to win this game. The Lion's front seven is not great, but they are much more improved as opposed to last season.

The Lion's can pressure Cutler if the focus is there and plays are made; but Cutler's throwing skill is too good for the Lions to win the passing battle. Can Detroit keep up with Cutler? Possibly.

Stafford has been playing well, and Calvin Johnson hardly saw the ball in last week's victory. If Detroit can avoid three-and-out situations and convert on third downs, then we might see some lead changes. 

I like the direction Detroit's offense is heading, but their pass defense is too bad to seriously pick against the Bears.

Pick: CHI


(17) Cincinnati (2-1) @ (32) Cleveland (1-2) - 1:00/CBS

It doesn't really matter who is quarterbacking for Cleveland. They have an inconsistent running game, they don't block up front and Braylon Edwards is steadily becoming an unreliable player for the offense.

The defense is still in the middle of a giant riddle and the only thing Anderson will provide is a possible big play down the field every now and then.

He has made the Pro Bowl though, so he has the potential to play well. But there are too many problems around Anderson that even if he plays well, Cincinnati is to good of a team to lose.

I said it at the beginning of the season and I will continue to say that Ochocinco is back as the difference maker of that offense.

He is a consistent threat in one-on-one situations and draws attention off other receivers on the Bengal roster (i.e. Caldwell, Coles).

Cedric Benson has been a very pleasant surprise to me, and the Bengal offense is actually looking like they know how to drive down a field. This could be a snowball effect game for Cincinnati if they win, which I expect them to do... big!

Pick: CIN


(25) Seattle (1-2) @ (2) Indianapolis (3-0) - 1:00/FOX

It is hard to pick against Peyton at home. There is not much to say about this game. The Colts look like an all-around offense again, and the Seahawks (once again) are hurting with injuries.

Jones has surprisingly ran the ball hard so far, and we all know the struggles Indy's run defense has. It shouldn't be a determining factor here as Indy has no excuse to loose this game.

Pick: IND


(1) New York Giants (3-0) @ (29) Kansas City (0-3) - 1:00/FOX

This is another easy game to pick with not much to discuss. New York will out rush, throw, kick, blitz and cover Kansas City.

We all know what the Giants' pass rush is capable of, especially against an offense that is struggling both running and passing.

Eli will more than likely make this defense look worse than they truly are. This might be another blowout similar to what you saw New York lay against Tampa.

Since we're on Kansas City and I have nothing more to say about this game, let me spitball with them for a minute.

Dwayne Bowe has proven his reliability as a No. 1 target, but that's all that is right with this offense. Cassel and the rushing game has struggled, which may reflect the offensive line.

Defensively, the Chiefs are better than I expected, but I think their potential is through the roof. They have shown great signs of playing tough, physical defense.

Maturity and a terrible rushing game is holding Kansas City back from being a slightly above-average team. They play well more times than none when you consider the teams they have to play outside their schedule. 

Pick: NYG


(8) New York Jets (3-0) @ (10) New Orleans (3-0) - 4:05/CBS

To me, this is the game of the week. These are two teams that not many people saw undefeated heading into week four.

How well Drew Brees handles the Jets' blitz packages wil determine whether New Orleans can win the game. The Saints have been rushing the ball extremely well, but they are facing one of the toughest defenses they will see all year.

Kris Jenkins might have something to say about New Orleans recent success on the ground, but I have said this once and I will keep saying Pierre Thomas should never be slept on.

If Thomas can produce solidly when his number is called, Brees can take the game from there. New Orleans' defense is the biggest mystery in this game. They have played well so far this season, but can they play as consistent as the Jets' defense?

The Saints should disrupt Sanchez for a majority of the game; but if the New York defense can slow the rushing game and beat the protection, they might escape with a victory.  

Pick: NYJ


(21) Buffalo (1-2) @ (22) Miami (0-3) - 4:05/CBS

Miami is a better team than their record shows, with Pennington under center. I liked Miami until I heard the news about Pennington's injury. Miami's offense is good, but they are not going to score at will.

Marshawn is coming back and (I feel) the only thing that will slow him down is splitting carries with Fred Jackson.

The Miami defense will have to slow a potentially dangerous Buffalo offense to keep this game close.

I expect a lot of three-and-outs from the Dolphin offense, but Ronnie Brown can produce nicely for a whole game.

If Buffalo wants to have a successful season, they need to win this game which will ultimately come down to the offense (like always) which measures down to Trent Edwards (like always).

Buffalo's offense could produce nicely and still lose, but that would lay on the Bills' defense which I don't see happening with Henne as the starter.

Pick: BUF


(14) Dallas (2-1) @ (20) Denver (3-0) - 4:05/CBS

If Denver wins this game, I will be completely sold on their defense. The only way I see Denver winning is if they pressure Tony Romo.

Romo struggles when he is pressured, and it is the easiest formula for victory against Dallas. I am already sold on their secondary; but if their front seven can disrupt Romo enough that Denver pulls this off, then I will be head over heels for them.

Tashard's performance can go either way, but I don't think it will become the determining factor in this game. If Romo doesn't turn the ball over, Dallas wins. If Denver's defense is 3-0 legitimate, they will give the offense an opportunity to win.

Will the offense follow through? I don't see Denver's offense running away with this one, but it seems to be slowly becoming more effective (which could make for a close game).

Pick: DEN


(31) St. Louis (0-3) @ (11) San Francisco (2-1) - 4:15/FOX

Although Gore is not playing, I don't expect the 49ers to struggle on offense. Coffee is capable of producing solidly, especially if the Niners passing game is as good as I think it is.

I feel Vernon is on the verge of breaking out pretty soon and the defense is as physical and fundamental as they come. I don't see St. Louis doing any damage on either side of the football.

Boller might actually make more plays than Bulger did, but I don't see enough to beat San Fran on the road.

The Niners might be stinging from that loss to Minnesota, so they could be very dangerous and determined this week.

Pick: SF


(12) San Diego Chargers (2-1) @ (7) Pittsburgh (1-2) - 8:20/NBC

This should be a great smash-mouth game between two teams with something to prove. Both team's rushing attack has struggled to say the least; so if Tomlinson can return and run well, it might give the Chargers an edge.

Despite losing last week, I trust Pittsburgh's defense more times than none. There should be great amount of pressure on Rivers, so if the Pittsburgh secondary can fill into their roles, it should produce a greater chance of victory for the Steelers.

I have been bashing the offensive line for Pittsburgh, but it's time the receivers stepped up and caught some passes. Back to back weeks, Pittsburgh has had a receiver drop an open pass in the end zone.

Rivers might be able to keep this game close, but I trust the Steelers on all three aspects (kicking, offense, defense) for a full 60 minutes.

Pick: PIT


(16) Green Bay (2-1) @ (5) Minnesota (3-0) - 8:30/ESPN

This should be a fun game to watch. Getting right into it, Adrian Peterson should have a successful evening. I'm interested to see how Favre plays since nobody knows him better than Green Bay.

Minnesota's defensive line should have no problem pressuring Rodgers and stopping the run. I like both defenses causing turnovers in this one, but the Vikings matchup equally or better with Green Bay on almost very aspect.

This is going to be a great game. My most honest piece of advice in this one is to expect the unexpected.

Pick: MIN


BYE: (4) Atlanta, (6) Philadelphia, (13) Arizona, (23) Carolina


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