NFL Picks Week 4: Chris Simms' Game-by-Game Predictions
I need to go crystal-ball shopping after what happened in Week 3.
Bills over Cardinals? Eagles over Steelers? Even the Oracle couldn't see those upsets coming. You never fully know what to expect, and that's why football is great.
You know what else will be great? Seeing how some of these 1-2 teams react. Do they feel they're back in the hunt? Is the pressure off now that they have their first win? The NFL's truly talented teams—the ones I've highlighted in my trusty notepad—always rise back up again.
My goal: getting my weekly win total back up to double digits where it belongs. I went back to the classroom for film session after film session to make sure Week 4 goes smoother.
Let's get into these Week 4 picks!
Dolphins at Bengals
Adam Gase sounded like the unhappiest coach in the world after his first victory.
I would be too with that roster. Gase's leading rusher of 2016 is Ryan Tannehill with a whopping 54 yards. His secondary couldn't stop Terrelle Pryor from doing whatever he wanted (imagine what A.J. Green will do). It's getting to the point where Miami's opponent is the safest pick of the week.
Cincinnati isn't like most 1-2 teams. The Bengals gave Denver's defense the most problems out of anyone this year and fell to the Steelers on the road. There's no shame in either loss.
Marvin Lewis will pinpoint a weakness—like Giovani Bernard on any Dolphins linebacker—and run up and down the field with it. I trust his judgment. Can't say the same for Gase on a short week.
Colts at Jaguars (London)
One man doesn't make a team, but Henry Anderson is a man-and-a-half.
You saw his instant impact in the heart of the Colts' defensive line last week. He'll be instrumental in forcing the Jaguars to be just as one-dimensional in Week 4 as the Chargers had to be in Week 3.
Once that happens, it's game over. I have no faith in Blake Bortles to carry the Jaguars. Andrew Luck will have his regular three-touchdown day against a secondary that has pieces such as Jalen Ramsey without an exciting scheme to showcase them.
Bills at Patriots
I saw Rex Ryan throw a few vintage zone looks at Arizona on game film.
It could've been his new plan. It could've been a red herring for New England the following week. But does it really matter? Regardless of quarterback, Bill Belichick will crack Ryan's code like he always does.
Expect to see Tyrod Taylor's rushing numbers plummet back to earth. Why? Because Belichick will turn Jamie Collins into the ultimate quarterback spy. He'll keep No. 5 in the pocket—a place where he's incapable of throwing short, accurate throws.
Titans at Texans
Bill O'Brien is not going to let his team get embarrassed for the second week in a row.
He'll have 10 days at the chalkboard and in the film room. Something needs to change with Brock Osweiler, and he'll pinpoint and correct it. He can start with installing some plays against zone defense because Osweiler couldn't do it last Thursday night.
Tennessee wants to be the tougher team, and its offensive line is a handful. But even without J.J. Watt, one side has a dominant defense. The other doesn't.
Lions at Bears
The Bears are one of the five worst teams in football, plain and simple.
They've shown me no ability to stop a quarterback or get in his way. They're not a run-stuffing team without Eddie Goldman. And their offense can't keep up the pace set by their terrible defense because...well, Brian Hoyer.
I can see Detroit completely outclassing them in this game. A hobbled Alshon Jeffery might get jealous when he sees how the Lions free up Marvin Jones or Eric Ebron. In the end, Matthew Stafford finds those guys and Jeffery's guy can't.
Panthers at Falcons
We'll see a little less dancing and jumping around. We'll see a lot more shoulder-throwing and helmet-lowering.
The pissed-off Panthers are going to come out hot after losing a game they had in Week 3. It's almost like a desperation game for them, and they'll play like it against Atlanta.
Like Drew Brees, Cam Newton should be able to exploit a weak Falcons pass defense. The NFL's reigning MVP has the defense to back big plays up, though. Luke Kuechly is playing his best ball in the middle of a group that doesn't look much different than last year.
Seahawks at Jets
Players won't ever make the East Coast-West Coast excuse.
But I'm no longer a player, and I'm here to tell you it's a real issue that'll plague the Seahawks when they fly six hours for an early Sunday game. It's not even fair.
Russell Wilson's injury situation (MCL) isn't fair, either. He could get by on a bum wheel against the 49ers. Against the Jets? It'll be a much different story.
Ryan Fitzpatrick will curb his many mistakes. His weapons can edge out a groggy Hawks defense in a close game at home.
Raiders at Ravens
Don't be fooled by Oakland Raiders' second-ranked rushing attack.
They've busted loose on a few carries, but this isn't a ground-you-out attack. This Ravens defense can rotate in big bodies—Timmy Jernigan, Zach Orr, Michael Pierce—and never worry about chunk runs.
I'm worried about what happens after that. Baltimore's secondary is still suspect, and it is facing an Amari Cooper-Michael Crabtree tandem.
Joe Flacco will put his points up on a one-week wonder Raiders defense. Can Baltimore's secondary perform when its front seven shuts the run down?
Browns at Redskins
Kirk Cousins couldn't dream up a better defense to face.
He won't need to overcome a terrific pass rush or outwit any top defensive backs (except if Joe Haden returns healthy). He can throw underneath to Jamison Crowder, over the top to DeSean Jackson and in the middle to Jordan Reed. It all should work.
But this contest stays close thanks to Cleveland's running game. Isaiah Crowell isn't talked about much, but most of his carries have been productive and even explosive. Washington will have its hands full trying to stop him.
Broncos at Buccaneers
I was the one sounding the alarm about the Denver Broncos' underrated-ness all offseason.
I'm not about to stop now that everyone else figured out they're a title contender. And title contenders take care of business against inferior teams such as Tampa Bay.
That's what they'll do Sunday. The line blocking in front of Jameis Winston is a little iffy, and the line coming after him isn't. Not good for the guys in red, white and pewter.
Another bad sign? Denver's secondary is tall and speedy enough to neutralize Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. When the Broncos grab a lead, Aqib Talib or Chris Harris Jr. will steal one of Winston's 50-50 balls and seal the deal.
Rams at Cardinals
I like the Cardinals in this one for all the wrong reasons.
Their Week 2 blowout was the best football they've played, and I wasn't impressed. They're not an adept pass-blocking team—an issue versus any D-line with Aaron Donald on it. Speaking of which, what happened to Arizona's front seven? I'm unenthused and yet…
I still can't take the Rams. The Cardinals are at home against a familiar opponent, and they're desperate. A showdown against Case Keenum should give their defense some much-needed juice.
Cowboys at 49ers
I've been critical of the Cowboys' rah-rah defense in weeks past. It's all effort and no game-planning.
No one can deny the Cowboys play hard on defense, though. They're undermanned, undersized and in a scheme that doesn't force offenses to adjust much. Yet the Cowboys are not breaking when opponents get in scoring range.
That'll be the story again in Week 4. Blaine Gabbert doesn't have the wherewithal to march repeatedly down the field against the Cowboys. Dak Prescott will hit a handful of throws they need him to and ice another win.
Saints at Chargers
On a short week?
Flying across country?
To face a quarterback who destroys weak defenses?
Sounds like torture for a New Orleans defense that wasn't any good to start the season. It has lost three starting defensive backs and a first-round defensive tackle since. You saw the end result on Monday Night Football.
Philip Rivers will shred them slowly. Expect tons of short, precise throws that give his receivers the advantage over their backups. Then, plenty of Melvin Gordon to close everything out.
Chiefs at Steelers
Oh, man. This is my toughest pick of Week 4.
The Steelers will be angry. They'll have Le'Veon Bell back. In front of a national audience, they'll want to show that last week was a fluke. But I don't like them more than I like Kansas City on the road.
My reasoning: They're both banged up, but K.C. is the deeper team right now. The Chiefs have a good offensive line and a balanced attack. More importantly, they possess a natural counter to Antonio Brown with Marcus Peters in their secondary.
Jeremy Maclin or Travis Kelce will be open for throws of more than 10 yards. Can Alex Smith push the envelope a few times? If so, his team wins.
Giants at Vikings
Eli Manning doesn't prescribe to Cam Newton's approach to field vision.
He won't be patting many balls down in anticipation of Odell Beckham Jr. or Sterling Shepard. It's three steps and fire for Big Blue's quarterback—and that could sink the Vikings on Monday night.
Why? Because that deep and scary Vikings line can't hit home if the ball is already out.
Meanwhile, I like New York's pass defense to get back on track. Damon Harrison is a beast inside who will shut the run down. Then, the Giants will be able to take advantage of a few injured Vikings blockers and force enough Sam Bradford hurries.