NFL Week 4 Games: Ranking the Games, From Worst To First
And they call this a quarterback league?
The Steelers are one of three undefeated teams—despite having started Denis Dixon and Charlie Batch in place of the suspended Ben Roethlisberger.
Pittsburgh has leaned heavily on their defense and running game, the former staple of a franchise that is the epitome of consistency, integrity (excluding Big Ben) and excellence. The undefeated Steelers will host the Baltimore Ravens this week, in a match-up of historically impressive defenses.
Does this match-up top the list in this week's rankings? I guess you'll just have to click to find out.
Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams
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I'm sorry St. Louis fans, the fact remains that the Rams are a few years away from playoff contention due to a deterioration of talent in recent years. They have a few cornerstones in place, in Sam Bradford and the always lethal Stephen Jackson on offense, as well as Oshiomogho Atogwe (say that three times fast) on defense.
The Seahawks are not overly impressive on offense as far as yardage is concerned but their defense and great field position has allowed them to somehow average ninth in the league in scoring. The Seahawks are 29th in total yards, 21st in passing yards and 24th in rushing yards.
So, this is a winnable game for St. Louis if they can establish a ground game and Sam Bradford can stay out of trouble.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
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Braylon Edwards played well the week after his DWI charge in Miami on Monday Night Football, catching two passes, one of which he ran for a 67-yard score. The sudden progression of Mark Sanchez is a little unexpected but apparently all he needed was for the handcuffs to come off and his receivers to play inspired football, all of which has come to fruition.
The Jets are the team we thought they were, they just played a dominant defense in week one, something they won't worry about this week against the Buffalo Bills. Ryan Fitzpatrick will likely be replaced next year by a first-round pick and apparent franchise caliber quarterback but last week against New England, he played well and almost pulled the upset.
Fitzpatrick provided a much needed spark that recently released Trent Edwards could not but this week he isn't playing an inexperienced secondary like he did against the Pats. The Jets' defense will more than likely shutdown this passing game and their talented stable of running backs.
Detroit Lions Vs Green Bay Packers
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The Packers dominated in all facets of the game on Monday Night Football except in two key areas; penalties and more importantly the final score. You cannot win a game after committing 17 penalties and a boatload of mistakes.
The Bears capitalized on those mistakes and came out on top, something the Lions can only hope will occur. Detroit always seems to be in it at the end but three comeback attempts fell short and without Matthew Stafford, the Lions lack the deep threat needed to keep a defense honest.
The real key for the Lions will be getting to Aaron Rodgers, which is made easier by the Packers' offensive line issues. The running game and pass defense need to come up big for the Lions to even have a chance against the Packers' pass-happy attack.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
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Combine a rookie quarterback with only one real dependable receiver and the Super Bowl MVP quarterback on the opposing side and you have a recipe for a blowout. I'm not saying the Panthers don't have a shot because with a running tandem like DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, you always have a chance but it's unlikely the Panthers will come away with a W.
The Saints played much better offensively last week in their overtime last week against Atlanta and should be just fine on the Super Dome field turf. Jimmy Clausen should have a better game against the Saints bend-don't break, big-play defense but he likely won't keep pace with Drew Brees.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
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Peyton Hillis ran for a career-high 144 yards rushing last week—surprisingly against the Baltimore Ravens. That type of production could lead to an upset in Cleveland this week and if that happens I won't be the least bit surprised.
Cleveland has looked better in recent weeks and despite Cincinnati's superior talent, the Browns could pull this off because something is off about Carson Palmer. He's missing wide-open receivers and looks sluggish at times. I'm not sure what it is but whatever it is, it's preventing the Bengals who have played well defensively, from winning comfortably.
I think Peyton Hillis and the Browns will earn their first victory this week at the expense of the Chad Ochocinco and the Bengals.
Arizona Cardinals at San Diego Chargers
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The Chargers aren't nearly as explosive without L.T. or Vincent Jackson and because of that have suffered to finish comebacks late in two out of their three games. Phillip Rivers in my opinion should be considered to be in the upper echelons of NFL quarterbacks but there isn't much he can do with no one to throw to outside of Antonio Gates.
The Cardinals have explosive wide outs but Derek Anderson has struggled and looks undeserving of a roster spot over Matt Leinart. He is inconsistent and turnover prone, Larry Fitzgerald can only work with what he's given and that's not very much.
The Chargers will get back to .500 this week with a win over the Cardinals.
San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons
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Matt Ryan and the Falcons came to play against the defending Super Bowl champions the New Orleans Saints. Ryan and the Falcons' offense capitalized on a Saints' missed field goal in overtime which cost Garrett Hartley his job.
How are the 49ers 0-3? They are far too talented to be in this hole but mistakes and a lack of offensive firepower have nearly eliminated all thoughts of contention for the NFC West. The 49ers need this win more obviously and I see a big day from Frank Gore to help them possibly get back into the race.
Houston Texans At Oakland Raiders
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A missed kick and the right quarterback for this team not starting until week three, equals an 0-3 record for the Oakland Raiders. This team isn't as bad as their record indicates, and if they continue to go with Bruce Gradkowski at quarterback, they could surprise a few people and compete on a weekly basis.
The Houston Texans are talented as hell—and are a result of a series of great drafts.
The offense is stacked and the defense is nearly stacked. The Raiders are better than they look on paper but the Texans are much better and have a great chance of contending for the AFC South title and their first playoff birth in franchise history.
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars
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Manning is on a record pace again this year and with it comes wins.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are statistically one of the worst pass defenses in the National Football League. What was once a proud and stout defense has seen many key pieces come and go, with a plethora of new faces. To call the Jags' secondary mediocre would be putting it lightly.
The inexperience in the secondary really hurts Jacksonville, only Rashean Mathis has been in the league for more than four years. This team has never been flashy, but their defense was formidable for a number of years, that is no longer the case.
Manning will likely tear this defense apart whether methodically or aggressively—the Colts' offense will attack this weak secondary and produce solid numbers on their way to a win.
Chicago Bears at New York Giants
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Chicago is a surprising 3-0 on the season and have Mike Martz to thank, oh yeah and No. 54 is back. The Bears could be the NFC North winner when all the talk has been about Green Bay and Minnesota, some even predicting a better finish would be had by the Detroit Lions.
Predictions obviously mean very little and speculation is just that. So the Bears are better than predicted and because of that I'll make a pointless prediction; the Bears will beat Eli Manning and that awful offensive line, which will have its hands full with Julius Peppers.
Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans
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I feel like Kyle Orton simply walked up to Indy's pass defense last week and simply muttered, "I'm better than you think I am" and the Colts didn't believe him, so he decided to shove 476 yards down their throat whether they liked it or not.
This Orton guy is the most underrated passer in the NFL because he came from Purdue and looks dorky (wait a second, wasn't there a guy...oh, never mind). The point is this, if NFL teams continue to ignore his ability, he will continue to beat their secondaries time and time again. As soon as this defense decides it's time to play like they did at the beginning of last year and the Broncos can find a way to punch it in from inside the five, they could be a scary team, especially in the AFC West.
The Titans' running game with Chris Johnson and Denver's aerial attack should present a very entertaining game and a game of contrast.
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
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The AFC East (excluding the Buffalo Bills) is a fun division to watch, the Miami Dolphins have the Wildcat, the Patriots have what equates to a pass happy spread offense, and the Jets have a dominating defense. The AFC East is like a great variety show—it has a little something for everyone.
Tom Brady threw three touchdowns last week to beat the Buffalo Bills 38-31, two of which went to Randy Moss. The offense will do just fine against the Miami defense, Brady and the word touchdown should be synonymous by now.
I do however worry about the Pats' pass defense; Brandon Marshall and Chad Henne could exploit New England's crop of young corners. But then again Miami's approach since this new regime has arrived has been to play sound defense and pound the rock, this year's version is a bit more multidimensional, but not enough where I can't see New England pulling off a win in a tight game on Monday night.
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles
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Everyone knows the story here, it's Donovan McNabb's triumph return to the place he called home for a decade and the United States' first national capital, Philadelphia, PA.
Is it fitting that the last game Vick played in prior to his dog fighting saga was against McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles and his first home start since then will be in Philadelphia against McNabb who is starting his first game at Lincoln Financial in a different uniform?
It's a lot to swallow but there are no statistics that can magnify the importance of this game for McNabb, Vick and Eagles head coach Andy Reid. If McNabb wins, Philly hates Reid for a week or two because he made the wrong decision, if Vick and Reid win, Vick is still the darling in the cheese steak capital of the world and Reid looks like a genius.
The outcome of this game is only a divisional pairing and the second meeting in Washington will likely mean more as far as the standings are concerned but in this era of media speculation and over-exaggeration, this game means a hell of a lot more on paper then it really should in reality. Still even with that fact looming over our heads, you have to be excited by the match-up.
There is one storyline after the other in this game and I'm sure FOX is chomping at the bit to see their ratings go through the roof.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
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The Ravens and Steelers are synonymous with defense and Sunday's game should do nothing to change that.
Joe Flacco got out of the dog house last week with a three touchdown performance in a 24-17 win over the Cleveland Browns. But this week he plays arguably the best defense in the NFL with LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu, and James Harrison—who may not be as kind as the Cleveland defense.
The Ravens also allowed Browns fullback (a halfback in bigger pads) Peyton Hillis to rush for 144 yards on 22 carries, something that rarely happens to Ray Lewis and company. Rashard Mendenhall ran for nearly the same total against a far worse defense but 143 rushing yards on 19 carries is a great performance no matter the opponent.
I like everyone else expects a low-scoring defensive affair with a lot of action between the tackles, but I expect Ray Rice to have that breakout game this week against the Steelers to ruin perfection.
And, as a Lions' fan I can tell you Charlie Batch, is no match, for Lewis and that Baltimore D.