NFL Week 4: Picking the Straight-Up and ATS Winner for Each Game
Not a bad week for me last week: 11-5, and picked Buffalo, Oakland and Tampa Bay. That brings me to 19-13 on the year. (Remember, I did not pick Week 2.)
This week, I have an equal number of home teams winning as I do away teams. Very few surprises in the 16 contests.
Also new this week, I'm picking against the spread (ATS) and am including predictions for both at the bottom of the page.
All lines used are provided by USAToday.com.
Detroit at Dallas(-1.5)
Detroit looks like a team on a mission and the comeback against the Vikings in Minnesota was testament to the growth and talent on this squad.
Dallas scratched out a win against, what I believe is, an overrated Washington club. There will be no victory this week if they can't put the ball in the end zone.
Straight-Up/ATS: Detroit wins this outright and convincingly, 24-10.
Carolina at Chicago (-6)
Carolina won last week on less than what we've come to know as a Cam Newton performance. If only they could play Jacksonville every week, they'd be unstoppable.
Chicago is looking to rebound—again—after a loss to the Packers. They've looked less than solid all season. But, luckily for them, a very underwhelming Panthers team is coming to town.
Straight-Up/ATS: Chicago wins, and I believe they cover the points, 27-16.
Buffalo (-3) at Cincinnati
What a great win last week for the Bills! Finally, they avenged numerous defeats to divisional-rival New England and Tom Brady.
This has Buffalo as one of the last remaining undefeated teams, and facing a Bengals team searching for more positives after back-to-back losses.
Cincy hasn't had much to celebrate since an opening week win against Cleveland. Last week's 13-8 loss to San Fransisco cannot sit well, even with all the young players seeing significant minutes. The Bengals have proven to be the type of team that is just too immature to bounce back.
Straight-Up/ATS: The Bills are the league's highest-scoring offense and the Bengals will be unable to contain them for 60 minutes. Buffalo wins and covers the three points, 31-17.
Tennessee at Cleveland (-1)
The loss of Kenny Britt (17 rec, 289 yards) is going to hurt Matt Hasselbeck.
Joe Haden would have been able to contain either Britt or Nate Washington (21 rec, 258 yards), but not both. Now, outside of Washington's production, the next wide receiver in ranking of catches and yards is Lavelle Hawkins (5 rec, 38 yards).
The addition of Donnie Avery may help, but he has been on the street all season and has only had three real days of practice to acclimate himself to the offense and develop timing.
The Browns are getting Peyton Hillis back and Montario Hardesty is going to be getting more playing time. While I can agree that the Titans' secondary will contain the Cleveland wide receivers, the Browns will create obvious mismatches in size with their tight ends on either linebackers or safeties.
Their defense is quietly playing—statistically—with some of the best in the league.
Straight-up/ATS: If Kenny Britt were healthy, Tennessee wins head-to-head, which means I have to give the nod to the Browns, 21-20, and pushing the spread.
Minnesota (-2) at Kansas City
Minnesota really gave one away last week against the Lions, a game that could have turned their season around.
Instead, they are winless and headed to Kansas City to face a Chiefs team also looking for their first W.
The Chiefs looked better last week than they had the first two weeks—but that's not saying much because they looked like garbage.
Well they really held their own against the Chargers, and I can't see them doing that two weeks in a row.
Straight-Up: Minnesota wins, but the Chiefs cover the two points, 14-13.
Washington (-2) at St. Louis
Last week, in a game of mostly field goals, the 'Skins faltered.
This week, they face a supremely less-aggressive opponent. Although Rex Grossman is easily the most hated starting quarterback amongst his own fans of any in the league, he won't have to do much to beat the Rams.
Sam Bradford is just looking for answers. Last week, the Ravens openly ran the score up and embarrassed them. While the 'Skins won't be passing deep in the final two minutes or calling timeouts to get the ball back one last time, they should lay another beating on the Rams.
Straight-Up/ATS: Redskins win and cover the points, 24-10.
New Orleans (-7) at Jacksonville
New Orleans had one hell of a comeback last week against the Texans, and a healthy Lance Moore is evidence of the offense being back to Super Bowl strength.
Jacksonville is really not playing for anything the rest of the season, but don't tell their fans that, or hundreds instead of thousands will be in attendance.
Good luck to Blaine Gabbert.
Straight-up/ATS: Saints roll and cover, 38-6.
Pittsburgh at Houston (-3.5)
The Steelers look like the oldest team in the league on defense. It is inexplicable how a Colts team nearly stole one away on Sunday Night Football.
The Texans can score with the best of them.
Their defense is better, but still didn't do enough over four quarters to shut down Drew Brees. This week, they face a Pittsburgh offensive line that has more holes than a colander and a secondary that cannot stick with a high-octane passing game.
Straight-up/ATS: Texans will win this one, but Big Ben will keep it close. Houston wins, but take the 'burgh and the points, 27-24.
San Fransisco at Philadelphia (-9)
The 49ers are 2-1, and had every chance to beat the Cowboys in Week 2, but lost in overtime.
They're a tough team to get a read on but are playing fabulous defense.
Philly is reeling from two straight losses to the Falcons and Giants. The Eagles need to not search for their swagger, but more so their pride as they could be in a fight all day long with the Niners.
Straight-up/ATS: Eagles get to .500, but San Fran wins at the books, 17-13.
NY Giants (-1.5) at Arizona
The Giants are a hard team to figure out.
They lose their entire secondary to injury prior to the start of the season and yet they are 2-1, allowing only 16 points a game in their wins.
The sole loss was a 28-14 decision to the Redskins.
The Cardinals are giving up the league's sixth-most yards on defense and managed only 10 points last week to a terrible Seahawks team.
On the bright side, Kolb to Fitzgerald is becoming one of the league's best combos.
Straight-up/ATS: Giants leave Arizona with a win, 17-16. Take the Cards and the points.
Atlanta (-4.5) at Seattle
Who would have guessed the Falcons would have been 1-2 at this point?
They're playing football like they still have yet to recover from the home beating from Green Bay in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.
More stunning, Michael Turner is averaging only 14 carries a game! His 5.6 yards per carry average ranks fourth in the league for runners with over 40 carries.
Seattle has scored all of 30 points this season. Marshawn Lynch has been pedestrian at best. Tavaris Jackson is playing like one of the league's worst quarterbacks. Oddly enough, they have a top 10 defense as far as total yards per game is concerned.
Straight-up/ATS: I think the Falcons get their offense going in this game. I think they commit to the ground game that set up their passing offense last season. I like Atlanta to win and cover, 27-13.
Miami at San Diego (-7)
Miami has had a tough few weeks.
They lost in Week 1 in a quarterback dual with Tom Brady, where Chad Henne was just outclassed.
Week 2, Andre Johnson scored a fourth-quarter touchdown that sealed the game, as Matt Schaub threw all over their secondary.
Week 3, Colt McCoy led a brilliant game-ending drive punctuated by a winning pass to Muhammed Massaquoi.
The Chargers record might be a bit misleading. They've barely beaten two winless teams (Minnesota, Kansas City) and lost by 14 to New England.
Straight-up/ATS: Miami may actually win this game, but I'm not predicting it, I'm just saying it in the case they do. Chargers win this one 31-27, as Miami takes the seven points for a win at the books.
New England (-5) at Oakland
I took the Bills last week against the Patriots and it made me look like a genius. I can't do that two weeks in a row.
The Pats defense is really one of the bottom five in the league. Oakland may end up shredding them on the ground, but Tom Brady will probably find little resistance passing the ball.
Straight-up/ATS: The Fighting Belichicks refuse to lose and cover the spread, 35-21.
Denver at Green Bay (-12.5)
Denver hasn't played a game decided by more than three points all season. Their defense is actually fairly decent, giving up 334 yards a game.
Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd will need to click early and often if the Broncos are to have a chance.
Green Bay is doing what Green Bay does—dominate. While they will most likely out-class Denver in every aspect of the game en route to a 4-0 start, 12.5 points is way too much.
Straight-up/ATS: Pack roll but fail to cover, 31-21.
NY Jets at Baltimore (-3.5)
The Jets were exposed last week by the Raiders, much like I said they would be.
Baltimore has hammered two teams (Steelers, Rams) and has been smashed by the Titans. Winning this game—against another team fighting for the AFC crown—would be a large feather in the cap of John Harbaugh.
Straight-up/ATS: I'm going to take the Ravens straight-up and eat the points, 27-23.
Indianapolis at Tampa Bay (-10)
The Colts fought hard last week against a Steelers team without much happening on the offensive line.
They showed some toughness, but too much inexperience with Curtis Painter finishing the game held them back from a possible tying score.
Tampa's defense has some very nice pieces in the front four. However, they've only generated six total sacks and two interceptions. The game they did lose was to a Lions team with some beasts up front on the defensive line.
That's what they'll run into again with Indy.
Straight-up/ATS: First, 10 points is way too many in my opinion. I think continuity on offense will ultimately lead to a Bucs win, but closer than many probably expect, 17-13.