2012 NFL Week 4 Predictions: Saints Continue to Fall as Falcons Stay on Fire

Michael JakubowskiCorrespondent ISeptember 26, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons drops back to pass against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on September 23, 2012 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Week 3 started the demise of the 2012 season. Well, that's if nothing is done about the replacement refs. Players are taking advantage of the lax attitude and terrible calls during games, and the results are now becoming detrimental to the league.

Week 3 saw some terrible hits resulting injuries because players now are testing what they can get away with.

Houston quarterback Matt Schaub lost a piece of ear when Broncos linebacker Joe Mays connected on a helmet-to-helmet hit.

Darrius Heyward-Bey was left unconscious on the field after a vicious hit from Steelers safety Ryan Mundy, and it took 10 minutes for Heyward-Bay to open his eyes.

Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush, and Austin Collie all suffered injuries as well during their respective Sunday matchups.

Oh, and let's not forget the atrocious call that gifted a win to the Seattle Seahawks last night against the Green Bay Packers.

Now, with that off my chest, here are my picks for Week 4:

Cleveland Browns (0-3) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1)

Winner: Baltimore Ravens

This one should be a gimme for the Ravens. The Browns have had some close games to start the season, but they have yet to come up with a win. I can't see it happening against the tough Ravens defense in Baltimore.

The Ravens are coming off a great win against the Patriots last Sunday night, and Joe Flacco is trying hard this season to finally get his name in the mix of the league's elite quarterbacks. The Browns have Trent Richardson working for them, but outside of that...it's kind of a wash. 

San Diego Chargers (2-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)

Winner: San Diego Chargers

The Chargers were embarrassed at home by the Falcons on Sunday. But that was the Atlanta Falcons, who are neck and neck with the Houston Texans for the title of best team in football this season.

The Chiefs are not the Falcons, who only have one win (against the faltering Saints). The Chargers, who traditionally start slow and finish strong, have looked better at the start this season with a 2-1 record. The Chiefs sit at first in the NFL in overall yards and rushing yards per game, but these numbers are skewed by one particular run from this week.

Philip Rivers is better than Matt Cassel, and the Chargers now have their rushing attack back with Ryan Mathews returning. 

San Francisco 49ers (2-1) at New York Jets (2-1)

Winner: San Francisco 49ers

Who would have thought it would be Christian Ponder who brought out and showed the football world the holes in the 49ers' defense? Alex Smith saw his interception-less streak end, and this game brought the 49ers back down to earth.

The Jets have now lost their best player, Darrelle Revis, for the remainder of the season, and the simultaneous moan could be heard from Jets fans around the country.

The 49ers have the upper hand both offensively and defensively in this game and should be able to take care of the Jets at MetLife Stadium.

Carolina Panthers (1-2) at Atlanta Falcons (3-0)

Winner: Atlanta Falcons

The Giants had no problem ripping apart the Panthers on Thursday night last week, allowing only one score on a Cam Newton rushing TD. The Panthers allowed 36 points in the game, with the Giants not having three of their top offensive players (Nicks, Bradshaw, Hixon).

The Falcons have possibly a stronger offense than the Giants (they absolutely did when looking at Week 3 lineups) and are playing at home this week.

The Panthers should slide to 1-3 with a loss against their division rival while propelling Matty Ice and the Falcons to 4-0.

Minnesota Vikings (2-1) at Detroit Lions (1-2)

Winner: Minnesota Vikings

My upset pick of the week.

The Lions haven't been able to get the wins in 2012, and the possibility of not having Matthew Stafford for Week 4 will severely put a damper on their chances of winning.

Christian Ponder did his best to look like a top QB in Week 3, throwing for a few TDs and rushing for one as well. If Ponder can keep playing at the same level, and if Adrian Peterson can stay healthy, the Vikings have all the tools needed to be a division-leading team.

New England Patriots (1-2) at Buffalo Bills (2-1)

Winner: New England Patriots

Buffalo has lost golden boy C.J. Spiller to the injury pool that currently has Fred Jackson wading in it. Tashard Choice is not a good running back, and outside of Stevie Johnson, the Bills are looking pretty dismal going into Week 4. Their two wins came against Kansas City and Cleveland, who have a combined one win. They allowed 48 points against the New York Jets, who have what many consider a dysfunctional offense (Jets fans are going to hate hearing the truth, regardless of how it's put).

If the Bills let the Jets score 48, what will the offensive powerhouse Pats put up against them? The Pats fell to 1-2 last week, but it was a heartbreaking loss to the Ravens. The Ravens had a lot of heart going into that game after the sudden death of Torrey Smith's brother, and the Pats couldn't compete with the level of play the Ravens had Sunday night.

Tennessee Titans (1-2) at Houston Texans (3-0)

Winner: Houston Texans

Matt Schaub isn't as great as he used to be, but I'm sure he will outplay Jake Locker in Week 4. I can also tell you that Arian Foster will have his typical monster rushing game, but more importantly, even Ben Tate will outperform lead Tennessee back Chris Johnson.

What has happened to Chris Johnson?

He has 45 rushing yards in three games, averaging 1.4 yards per carry and no scores. That's just...crap. Jake Locker is out-rushing Chris Johnson. Locker isn't at the level yet to carry a team with passing a la Peyton Manning, so the Titans will struggle until Chris Johnson returns to form (if). 

Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)

Winner: Cincinnati Bengals

The Jacksonville Jaguars are very reliant on their rushing game, whereas the Bengals have a nice balance between receiving and rushing.

Andy Dalton has developed into the type of quarterback Blaine Gabbert wishes he could be. The hype that followed Blaine Gabbert from the preseason has completely fallen off, as the Jags signal-caller is now averaging under 150 passing yards a game and only four passing TDs on the season.

The Bengals have brought their momentum from the 2011 season over to 2012, sitting in the top 10 in points per game, yards per game, passing yards per game and rushing yards per game. 

Miami Dolphins (1-2) at Arizona Cardinals (3-0)

Winner: Arizona Cardinals

I'm still not sold on the Arizona Cardinals, with their crap quarterback and fragile rushing options. What I do know is that its highly possible that Reggie Bush won't start Week 4, and with that, you throw most of the Dolphins' offensive attack out the window.

Daniel Thomas is no Reggie Bush, and Ryan Tannehill is not a great quarterback.

Oakland Raiders (1-2) at Denver Broncos (1-2)

Winner: Denver Broncos

The Broncos have played better than a 1-2 team, and the Raiders have not. The Raiders also lost their best receiver for at least Week 4 after suffering a nasty concussion against the Steelers.

Peyton Manning is still shaking some rust off and should see improvement with each passing week.

What the Raiders will be dependent on is a solid rushing performance from Darren McFadden to come up with a win against Peyton on his home field. (Should I mention that it pains me to call Denver his home field?)

Washington Redskins (1-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)

Winner: Washington Redskins

The Tampa Bay offense looked terrible against the Cowboys in Week 3. Josh Freeman barely cracked 100 passing yards and lead running back Doug Martin didn't even gain 60 yards on the ground.

RGIII put up some typical RGIII passing and rushing figures, but he didn't have enough juice to pull out the win against the offense of the Bengals. This one will be a close one, no doubt, but the win will go to the Redskins in this matchup.

Seattle Seahawks (2-1)/(1-2) at St. Louis Rams (1-2)

Winner: Seattle Seahawks

By no means should the Seahawks be sitting at 2-1 going into Week 4, but I think I beat that one to death in the opening paragraph. The difference here is that the Seattle defense smothered Green Bay in Week 3 and the Rams allowed the Bears to put up 23 points on them.

Steven Jackson looked pretty blah on Sunday, whereas Lynch almost had 100 yards against a strong Packers defense. While neither team's quarterback or receiving options are all that hot, I think the Seahawks will feel the need to silence critics and naysayers going into Week 4.

New Orleans Saints (0-3) at Green Bay Packers (1-2)/(2-1)

Yeah, the Packers should be 2-1, and I'm still reeling after that play. I knew that Tate didn't have that touchdown, the other watchers of MNF knew Tate didn't have it and Tate knows he didn't have it (although he is saying otherwise).

The Packers have threatened to take a knee on every offensive play until the league fixes the situation with the refs, and that is the only way the disaster known as the New Orleans Saints will get a win in Week 4.

I don't think anyone anticipated the level of impact we've seen Bountygate affect the Saints. Will the Saints become the worst team in football in 2012, not even a full year after Drew Brees broke Dan Marino's passing record? It could happen.

New York Giants (2-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)

Winner: New York Giants

The Giants destroyed Cam Newton and the rest of the Panthers with an injured offensive cast. With Nicks, Bradshaw and Hixon all aiming to return this Sunday, they should be able to put away the Eagles and unreliable quarterback Michael Vick (three touchdowns  to six interceptions).

Look for the Giants' defense to put a beating on Michael Vick, possibly forcing the Eagles have another quarterback step in for a play or two.

Chicago Bears (2-1) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1)

Winner: Dallas Cowboys

The Bears beat up the Rams pretty good in Week 3, but Jay Cutler is still a poison in that offense. They are possibly still missing lead rusher Matt Forte for this week, and Brandon Marshall hasn't looked the same since Week 1. But who can blame him, given the quarterback leading the team (or lack of leading)?

The Cowboys had a rough game in Week 2 versus the Seahawks and barely pulled out a win against the Bucs on Sunday, but I see them hitting their stride at home in Week 4. Look for a big passing game from Tony Romo and for Dez and Miles to reap the benefits.


    Sources: Julio Talks Nearing $100M

    Only Larry Fitz makes more as a WR

    NFL logo

    Sources: Julio Talks Nearing $100M

    Only Larry Fitz makes more as a WR

    Mike Freeman
    via Bleacher Report

    Cam Gives Up Sex for a Month

    NFL logo

    Cam Gives Up Sex for a Month

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report

    Son of 'Invincible' Star to Try Out for Eagles

    NFL logo

    Son of 'Invincible' Star to Try Out for Eagles

    Megan Armstrong
    via Bleacher Report

    Kraft's Attorney Says Spa Tape, Traffic Stop Were Illegal

    NFL logo

    Kraft's Attorney Says Spa Tape, Traffic Stop Were Illegal

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report