AP's Week Four NFL Predictions
It is Week Four in the NFL, the week where teams begin their byes (although Houston and Baltimore had their bye installed in the second week of the season due to Hurricane Ike).
The undefeated Giants will get a breather as they watch their division foes battle it out for supremacy in the stacked NFC East.
The Lions, on the other hand, are crawling for the oxygen tank after three weeks of having their rear ends handed to them.
Last week, in my first week of the whole NFL prediction hype, I went an impressive (if I may say so myself) 11-5. We’ll see what kind of luck I have this week with several match-ups taking place.
I’ll start off with my Game of the Week pick:
Washington (2-1) at Dallas (3-0) Sunday 4:15pm FOX
With so many closely-matched teams competing this weekend, I had to go with the rivalry game as my Game of the Week.
The Redskins have rebounded nicely after a Week One debacle in New York against the Giants.
The Cowboys continue to prove that they are the class of the NFC, dismantling opponents one by one.
The Redskins will certainly have their work cut out for them, but this rivalry is one that tends to produce good games.
Look for Santana Moss to continue his recent success if Jason Campbell can get some protection from the offensive line that will allow him to go through all of his progressions in the pocket.
If the Redskins can eliminate the threat of Terrell Owens like the Packers did, it will greatly increase their chances of pulling the upset.
Dallas 28, Washington 20.
Cleveland (0-3) at Cincinnati (0-3) Sunday 1:00pm CBS
The battle for bragging rights in Ohio isn't quite what it was last year.
Both the Browns and the Bengals are winless and don't look like they are headed for much else.
Cincinnati made strides last week, taking the Giants to overtime before losing by a field goal.
Browns QB Derek Anderson will need a much-improved performance, or he may find himself on the bench watching Brady Quinn by the end of the game.
The loser of this game can pretty much write their season off. While it is not a definite end, 0-4 is a nearly insurmountable hole in today's NFL.
Cincinnati 20, Cleveland 17.
Houston (0-2) at Jacksonville (1-2) Sunday 1:00pm CBS
The Texans have gotten off to another bad start this year, and their lives won't get any easier this Sunday as they face the Jaguars, who are coming off of their first win of the season.
The Jags played like last year's team last week against Indianapolis, winning with their running game. Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew combined for 228 yards and a touchdown, and Josh Scobee kicked a last-second field goal to beat the Colts.
That win gives the Jaguars some hope and momentum which should transfer to a solid game against Houston.
One piece of the Jaguars offense that must improve, however, is the play of quarterback David Garrard, who has just one touchdown and four interceptions to his name—one more than he had all of last season.
Jacksonville 26, Houston 14.
San Francisco (2-1) at New Orleans (1-2) Sunday 1:00pm FOX
This is a huge game for J.T. O'Sullivan and his 49ers.
After an impressive and surprising start, the 49ers are tied with the Cardinals atop the NFC West.
O'Sullivan has outperformed all expectations, and is going into his first big road game outside of his division.
The Saints have lost two close games in the last two weeks, with the Redskins coming back to beat them, and their own comeback attempt coming up short in Denver last weekend.
If the Saints are going to keep pace with the rest of their division, they need a victory in this game. It will not come easy, though, as the 49ers continue to be one of the biggest surprises in the league this year.
New Orleans 21, San Francisco 17.
Arizona (2-1) at New York Jets (1-2) Sunday 1:00pm FOX
This is a big game that will likely fly under the radar on a big weekend in the NFL.
The Cardinals are in first place in the NFC West, a sentence that has not been uttered in week four in a long time.
Kurt Warner has all but silenced the critics who challenged the call to make him the starter over troubled youngster Matt Leinart.
With the receiving corps of the Cardinals, the Jets’ secondary will be tested all day long.
The Arizona offensive line will be key in allowing Warner time to throw to these weapons.
Brett Favre and the Jets will be looking to rebound after a big loss on Monday Night Football last week in San Diego.
If the Jets slip to 1-3, Favre may feel his first real dose of New York tabloid pressure. Arizona 21, Jets 20.
Green Bay (2-1) at Tampa Bay (2-1) Sunday 1:00pm FOX
Green Bay will be looking to return to their winning ways under new quarterback Aaron Rodgers after losing to the Cowboys last week.
Tampa Bay has a chance to stay tied atop the NFC South standings, as the other two teams they are tied with, Atlanta and Carolina, are facing each other.
The Bucs will need to establish a running game that they completely abandoned last week, rushing only 17 times in their overtime victory in Chicago.
QB Brian Griese threw the ball 67 times last week, completing 38 of those attempts for two touchdowns and three interceptions.
The Packers can extend their NFC North lead with a win, pulling away early in the year.
Packers 20, Bucs 16.
Minnesota (1-2) at Tennessee (3-0) Sunday 1:00pm FOX
This is a close second for my Game of the Week pick. This is a huge match-up for this time of year.
Minnesota finally showed up for a game last week, knocking off the Panthers at home.
The Titans are one of only six remaining undefeated teams in the NFL. With the struggles in Indianapolis, the Titans are now the favorites to win the AFC South after an impressive start to the season.
Although they are without QB Vince Young, the Titans offense hasn’t missed a beat, with Kerry Collins filling in nicely and rookie running back Chris Johnson coming up big thus far.
For Minnesota, if they want to remain in the conversation for NFC playoff favorites, they need to pull off the big win here. That could provide them with the jump start they need to get back on the track to a division title.
Tennessee 24, Minnesota 21.
Atlanta (2-1) at Carolina (2-1) Sunday 1:00pm FOX
In a key early-season match-up in the NFC South, the Panthers will look to rebound after a disappointing performance in Minnesota last week.
The Falcons are surprising at 2-1, but have only beaten Detroit and Kansas City to reach that mark.
Their one true test came against Tampa Bay and they were absolutely outplayed.
The Panthers offensive line will have to do a better job protecting Jake Delhomme, who ended up on his back five times last week. Falcons defensive end John Abraham leads the league with six sacks, and looks to continue his constant success against the Panthers.
Rookie quarterback Matt Ryan will play his second division game on the road and hopes to improve from the last outing. The running game could be the deciding factor with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart going head-to-head with Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood.
Carolina 24, Atlanta, 16.
Denver (3-0) at Kansas City (0-3) Sunday 1:00pm CBS
The Broncos have been one of the pleasant surprises in the NFL this season, and should continue that trend Sunday.
The Chiefs are just straight up bad, and will have a different starting quarterback again this week.
Jay Cutler and the Broncos high-octane offense should have a field day against a struggling Chiefs defense.
Look for big games from receivers Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal.
Broncos 30, Chiefs 17.
San Diego (1-2) at Oakland (1-2) Sunday 4:05pm CBS
The Raiders looked like they may have turned their season around last week against Buffalo until a late field goal sent them home with another loss and more questions to be answered.
While the status of head coach Lane Kiffin remains up in the air, the Raiders will try to go into their bye week on a positive note by knocking off favored San Diego at home.
The Chargers are better than their 1-2 record shows, losing to Carolina on the last play of regulation in the opener and to Denver after the now infamous blown call at the end of the game in Week Two.
They rebounded nicely on Monday Night Football, handing the Jets a lopsided loss in an offensive outburst. If Philip Rivers and the Chargers can replicate that performance, they are in for another win. San Diego 27, Oakland 14.
Buffalo (3-0) at St. Louis (0-3) Sunday 4:05pm CBS
The Buffalo Bills are arguably the most surprising story in the NFL thus far.
After an emotional season last year with the Kevin Everett injury, the Bills showed a huge improvement in the second half of the season.
That success has carried over to 2008, and with the Patriots missing Tom Brady, the Bills are in line to possibly take the AFC East division title this year if they can keep up the good work.
St. Louis has benched QB Marc Bulger in favor of Trent Green in an attempt to provide a spark to a dead offense. It seems to have had a negative effect thus far, though, with Steven Jackson publicly opposing the decision.
In three games, the Rams have scored a total of 29 points; a total they haven’t been able to hold any of their opponents under.
Buffalo 28, St. Louis 10.
Philadelphia (2-1) at Chicago (1-2) Sunday 8:15pm NBC
The Eagles have been playing like the Eagles of old so far this season, with Donovan McNabb leading his team to victories with a smile on his face and the defense coming up big.
Although McNabb and fellow offensive impact player, running back Brian Westbrook, suffered injuries last week against Pittsburgh, both expect to be ready to play Sunday.
Although the Bears started off with a win in Indianapolis, that feat is looking less and less impressive as the Colts have struggled to start the year, and the Bears have been unable to find another win since.
QB Kyle Orton has to be more consistent and reliable if the Bears are going to do anything against a tough Eagles defense. The Eagles' lone loss came in a Monday Night barn-burner in Dallas in Week 2.
Philadelphia 24, Chicago 17.
Baltimore (2-0) at Pittsburgh (2-1) Monday 8:30pm ESPN
This week’s Monday Night Football match-up showcases the Ravens and the Steelers’ division rivalry.
The Ravens are 2-0, somehow, although rookie QB Joe Flacco has experienced some struggles in his first two games.
The young field general has completed 28-of-48 passes for 258 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions in the two wins despite showing good poise.
The rushing game has been the story for Baltimore, with four players combining for five touchdowns on the ground (one coming from Flacco).
The Ravens defense has allowed a total of 20 points on the year, and will be playing in their first road game of the season after their Week Two date in Houston was postponed by inclement weather.
The Steelers will look to rebound from a loss to the Eagles where QB Ben Roethlisberger was injured in an all-out barrage by the Philly defense in which he was sacked eight times.
Roethlisberger’s health could provide an interesting twist if he is unable to go the distance.
Pittsburgh 21, Baltimore 20.
We will see Monday whether or not I will be basking in another successful week of picks, or if I will be helping myself to a dish of crow! Feel free to leave your feedback and comments on what you think will happen. Good luck to everyone’s teams!
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