A quarter of the season is complete, and we have reached the first week of byes—six teams will sit this week out.
Only two teams remain undefeated (and coincidentally, they both play in the NFC North), but double that amount has yet to win a single game.
Tragedy struck the NFL this week as longtime Raiders owner Al Davis passed away on Saturday. Many jokes have been made in recent years about the state of Davis while running the Raiders, but make no mistake about it—he was a huge part of the NFL for a long time and will be missed, especially by Raider Nation. How will his team respond and play in his honor?
Who do you think will win this week?
Tennessee (3-1) at Pittsburgh (2-2)
It’s a small sample size, but the Steelers are 0-2 against teams above .500 this season.
Ben Roethlisberger (foot) will most likely play, but he’s extremely banged up thanks to a porous offensive line. And while the line has not helped the quarterback out, they also haven’t helped the running game either.
The Steelers are 21st in the league in rushing yards per game. Rashard Mendenhall has only 173 yards in four games and is questionable for the game against the Titans with a hamstring injury.
There was some concerns the Titans wouldn’t be as good offensively as they had been at the start of the season after Kenny Britt was lost for the year, but the team scored 31 points last week and Chris Johnson finally stepped up and had a 100-yard rushing performance. Now all he needs to do is score a touchdown.
Seattle (1-3) at New York Giants (3-1)
Last year the Giants beat the Seahawks 41-7 and Ahmad Bradshaw scored two touchdowns. And that was in Seattle, where the Seahawks were 5-3 last year.
The Giants haven’t had a 100-yard rushing game from any back thus far this season but at home that could be changed this weekend. They give up 105 yards per game on the ground and that is mostly because they fall behind big early.
If the Giants can get up by a couple scores, probably thanks to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, they can let Bradshaw run out the clock against a team struggling on offense to keep pace.
New York wins.
Cincinnati (2-2) at Jacksonville (1-3)
The Bengals are first in the league in defensive yards yielded (1,102). They are in the top 10 in both passing yards per game allowed and rushing yards per game allowed. They are also sixth in points allowed.
The Jaguars are last in the league in passing yards per game and last in the league in points scored.
New Orleans (3-1) at Carolina (1-3)
This one should be exciting: two of the top three ranked passing teams square off, Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees vs. rookie sensation Cam Newton.
But New Orleans averages almost 14 yards more per game on the ground and they score nearly ten more points per game than the Panthers do. And over the past two years the Saints have won three of four games against the Panthers.
Right now, the Panthers just aren’t at the same level as the Saints even if the game is a home one. The Saints are a legitimate Super Bowl contender and are playing like one of the best teams in the league right now.
New Orleans win.
Oakland (2-2) at Houston (3-1)
There have been a number of times when we have seen teams rally behind the loss of someone special to the organization. The Raiders will want to play a good game in honor of former coach, general manager and owner Al Davis, who passed away at the age of 82 on Saturday.
The Texans had a big win last week, but they will be without top wide receiver Andre Johnson. Johnson has 352 yards receiving this year. No other player listed as a wide receiver on the Texans roster has 92 yards receiving. It’s a big loss in their offense.
Philadelphia (1-3) at Buffalo (3-1)
What it will come down to is which defense will yield more: the Philadelphia Eagles defense against Fred Jackson and the Bills running game or the Buffalo Bills defense against Michael Vick and the Eagles passing game?
The Eagles have gotten torn apart on the run, 30th in the league in rushing yards allowed and allowing Frank Gore his first 100-yard game of the season.
Meanwhile the Bills are 25th in passing yards allowed per game and are last in the league in sacks with only four in four games.
It’ll be a sigh of relief for Michael Vick if he isn’t hit or hurried. He’s been banged around a lot this season yet he’s still 11th in the league in passer rating, only two tenth of a point behind Tony Romo to fall in the Top 10.
The Eagles will have to play with some urgency to avoid falling to 1-4 and if Vick isn’t pressured then he could lead the Eagles to a very big game.
Kansas City (1-3) at Indianapolis (0-4)
At home, this could finally be the week the Colts get their first win.
Matt Cassel is 29th in the NFL in passer rating and the Chiefs are 30th in passing yards per game. He could be in for a long day with the pass rushing specialties of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Both have three sacks this season (in the top 20 in the league).
Curtis Painter played pretty well last week, throwing for 281 yards and two touchdowns. The Chiefs aren’t playing as well as the Bucs so it could be another solid outing for Painter.
Arizona (1-3) at Minnesota (0-4)
Despite Adrian Peterson and the third ranked rushing game the Vikings are winless. And the passing game is where they really are at a disadvantage.
They are 31st in the NFL in passing yards and 28th in passing yards allowed. A poor passing game in Minnesota definitely benefits the Cardinals defense, which has been poor in defending the pass.
They can throw the ball on offense though. They are 14th in the league in passing averaging 243 yards per game. And while winning games will be the team’s incentive, Larry Fitzgerald, the team’s leading receiver, will be extra motivated to make plays. He’s pledged to donate $1,000 per catch and $10,000 per touchdown this month to breast cancer research. A score or two from him would go a long way in this game.
Tampa Bay (3-1) at San Francisco (3-1)
The Buccaneers aren’t the only team that can make comebacks.
The Niners completed a 20-point second half comeback against the Eagles last week. Frank Gore ran for a season-high 127 yards and the game-winning touchdown and then said that the Eagles basically threw in the towel.
Another player to look out for this week is Niners wide receiver Michael Crabtree. After missing Week 3, Crabtree caught five passes for 68 yards against the Eagles. The Buccaneers have the 21st ranked pass defense in the league so it could be a good day for San Francisco in the air at home.
San Francisco wins.
New York Jets (2-2) at New England (3-1)
The Patriots haven’t lost at home since 2007.
The Jets may have the second best pass defense and Revis Island, but the corner can only cover one receiver. The Patriots have plenty of weapons in the passing game that have helped Tom Brady make the Pats the best passing offense in the NFL.
Wes Welker is first in the league in receiving yards (616). But then you have tight end Rob Gronkowski (296 yards, five touchdowns) who has been a huge red zone weapon as well as Deion Branch who also has over 200 yards receiving. Tight end Aaron Hernandez had 165 yards and two touchdowns in his first two games before being injured, but he did practice this week and the Jets will need to plan for him. And don’t forget Chad Ochocinco, who hasn’t made too big a splash yet this year but is learning the playbook more and more and will have a breakout game sooner rather than later.
The Pats have been balanced on offense, unlike the Jets, as they are also ninth in the league in rushing yards per game thanks to the trio of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead.
New England wins.
San Diego (3-1) at Denver (1-3)
The Broncos are 29th in the NFL in points allowed. And while the Chargers haven’t been as dangerous so far as in years past they still are an extremely competent offense just waiting to break out.
Kyle Orton may be sixth in the NFL in touchdowns thrown, but he also has six interceptions in only four games, including three last week. The Chargers are fifth in the NFL in passing defense and could make life hard for Orton.
San Diego wins.
Green Bay (4-0) at Atlanta (2-2)
The Falcons have struggled with consistency in the early going while the Packers seem to be effortlessly rolling.
Aaron Rodgers was unbelievable last week, throwing for 408 yards and four touchdowns and adding two rushing touchdowns. Everyone on offense is making contributions and this team is just firing on all cylinders right now.
It’s tough to go against a team that’s playing so well and looks like the best team in the league right now.
Green Bay wins.
Chicago (2-2) at Detroit (4-0)
The Bears are 0-2 against teams that have a record better than .500 and they lost their only game on the road so far this season.
The Lions and their fans are fired up right now. The team is undefeated, they have two 20-point comeback victories in back-to-back weeks and now they have their first prime-time game in six years (they haven’t played on Monday Night since 2001).
The fans also will be excited for the potential debut of first round pick Nick Fairley.
The fans will be loud and the team looks good right now.
Bye week: Cleveland, Dallas, St. Louis, Miami, Washington, Baltimore
Last week: 11-5