NFL Picks Week 4: The NFL's Five Most Important Games This Week
Week 4 in the NFL is upon us, which also means that the bye week cycle has begun and many of us will not have our favorite teams suiting up this weekend. However, the losses of the fan bases of the Cowboys, Vikings, Chiefs, and Bucs are nothing to fear, because the NFL slate features some very intriguing games. A few of these games have the potential to be looked back on in December as turning points of this season for some teams, and I believe these 5 games have the best chance to be those kinds of games.
5. Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans
Denver is feeling banged up, and has lost tough games to Jacksonville and Indianapolis in the first three weeks to come into this week with a 1-2 record. With the Chiefs' unexpected hot start and the Chargers waiting in the wings, the Broncos have to win this game, or else they will face a steep uphill climb over the course of the season.The Colts and the Texans play at the Jaguars and the Raiders, respectively, so it can be assumed that both of those teams will return home with a victory.
Meanwhile, the Titans need to win this game to keep pace in the very competitive AFC South, or risk falling behind two very capable teams in Indianapolis and Houston.The Titans have yet to get Vince Young and Chris Johnson on the same page offensively, and a game against Denver's porous defense may be just what they need.
Look for this game to feature a wealth of yards for both teams, but numerous turnovers from both sides as well.
Prediction: Tennessee Titans 27, Denver Broncos 17
4. Chicago Bears at New York Giants
It's a safe assumption that not too many football fans predicted that the Chicago Bears would be the last undefeated team remaining in the NFC. But strong quarterback play from Jay Cutler, a rejuvenated defense, and a string of good luck have the Bears unblemished so far. The Giants stand as the next obstacle in Chicago keeping their perfect record intact.
The Giants have looked like one of the worst teams in football for the last two weeks, scoring a combined 24 points and giving up 67 in consecutive losses to the Colts and Titans. A team that many thought could win the NFC East this year has looked absolutely deserving of their current standing. Luckily for them, the Cowboys and Redskins have also looked pretty bad, and a win here would go a long way to salvaging this season.
Chicago's defense seems too strong for Eli Manning and the Giants offense.
Prediction: Chicago Bears 19, New York Giants 7
3. New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
The New England Patriots currently lead the NFL in points, but also rank in the Bottom 5 in points against, a risky formula to say the least. Teams with this formula usually find their offense slowing down before their defense can actually catch up. Tom Brady and Co. will have to keep the scoreboard operator busy if New England wants to win a pivotal AFC East division battle.
Miami hosts a second straight primetime home game, this time on Monday Night Football. The defense, which looked good until giving up 31 points to the Jets last week, will have its hands full will Tom Brady and the receiving corps coming from New England. Brandon Marshall figures to have a big game of his own against this Patriots defense.
Look for Miami to turn this into a shootout by often utilizing Brandon Marshall and Devone Bess, meaning that we can expect another entertaining Monday contest.
Prediction: Miami Dolphins 35, New England Patriots 31
2. Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles
Donovan McNabb's return to Philadelphia is by far the biggest storyline in the NFL this week. Philadelphia's all-time best QB comes back wearing the uniform of a division rival after the much-publicized offseason trade, and he expects it to be a warm welcome. Philadelphia fans won't be so welcoming once he puts any points against their beloved Eagles on the scoreboard. The Redskins defense played six amazing quarters to start the season against the Cowboys and Texans, but folded against the Texans in the 2nd half and gave up 30 points to the St. Louis Rams last week.
Michael Vick's career resurgence has put him on the short list for MVP and enabled him to win the NFC Offensive Player of the Month Award for September. Not too bad for a guy about to start his 3rd game since the 2006 season. With weapons like Desean Jackson, Lesean Mccoy, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek at his disposal, it's easy to see part of the reason Vick is playing so well. Philadelphia's defense needs to continue to improve, with their lone strong performance coming last week against the Jaguars.
Look for these quarterbacks to put on a show, with McNabb bettering Vick's passing yardage, but the Eagles taking home the win.
Prediction: Philadelphia Eagles 28, Washington Redskins 24
1. Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Ravens defense, led once again by Ray Lewis, has looked good despite several injuries in the secondary. Joe Flacco silenced the critics last week, albeit against the Browns, and it is important he be the quarterback who threw three touchdowns with no turnovers last week, not the one who threw 4 interceptions against the Bengals in Week 2. Ray Rice's availability for this game will be paramount, as ball control and field position will unquestionably be the most important factors for both teams in this contest. A Ravens victory is important, as a loss would make them the number 3 team in this division.
Pittsburgh, expected by many to struggle in Ben Roethlisberger's absence, have surged to a 3-0 start behind what looks to be a championship-caliber defense led by Troy Polamalu. Charlie Batch will look to manage the game, as the Baltimore defense will be much less susceptible to big plays than Tampa Bay was last week. The Steelers have a bye week next, with Big Ben returning in Week 6. It would be nice for him to return to a 4-0 club.
This game will be an absolute slugfest, and I for one cannot wait. It will be left up to which defense or special teams unit can come up with a big play at the right time.
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers 10, Baltimore Ravens 6