Week Four Predictions

As we approach the quarter mark of the 2012 NFL season we are treated to a mouth watering slate of games. Teams like New Orleans and Green Bay are desperate for a win to reassert their pre-season status as play-off certainties, whilst Arizona will hope to prove that victories over New England and Philadelphia weren’t flukes. Last week I went 6-9 with my predictions, so if you’re putting any bets on the games tomorrow… don’t take my advice!

Carolina @ Atlanta
Cam Newton is yet to really get going this season, whilst the Falcons keep rolling along and are looking more and more like one of the genuine Superbowl contenders in the NFL at present. The Panthers can’t stop anyone on defense at the moment, so expect Matt Ryan to continue his torrid start to the year in the Georgia Dome. Panthers 21, Falcons 31

New England @ Buffalo
It’s difficult to analyse this game and not double take when you realise the Patriots haven’t been under .500 since week two in 2003. Of course, at 1-2 New England finds itself with a losing record for the first time in nine years, and it’ll be a real test of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick to see if they can overturn their poor start to the season. When New England entered Philadelphia after a week one defeat in the aforementioned 2003 season I was actually in attendance to witness a massacre that included three Donovan McNabb interceptions and Christian Fauria catching two touchdown passes for the Pats, and I see a similar outcome this Sunday. Patriots 27, Bills 18

Minnesota @ Detroit
The Vikes are fresh off the biggest shock of the NFL season so far, their victory over the much fancied San Francisco 49ers last week. Christian Ponder is developing into a very good quarterback, and Detroit has one of the worst secondaries I can remember. Calvin Johnson should rack up some receiving yards himself but I’m on the Vikings bandwagon… at least for this week. Vikings 26, Lions 24

Tennessee @ Houston
Houston continues to be proclaimed the best team in the AFC, and maybe even the NFL, by most pundits and the Titans should offer little in the way of opposition. Although they managed an overtime shootout victory against the Lions, the Titans face a completely different calibre of opponent this week and Arian Foster, Matt Shaub and the gang should be able to exploit a porous defensive unit and seal a comfortable home win. Titans 17, Texans 27

San Diego @ Kansas City
Before last week the Chargers were one of the hot teams in the NFL, but after being dismantled by the Falcons they will be seeking an immediate bounce back against a Chiefs team that had failed to live up to expectations thus far this season until last weeks upset of the Saints. Jamaal Charles erupted last week for over 200 yards rushing, but the Chargers have a strong run D and Phillip Rivers could be in for a big day against Romeo Crennels defense. It should be close, but I’m gunning for a road win in this AFC west battle. Chargers 28, Chiefs 20

San Francisco @ New York Jets
This cross conference battle pits a Niners team intent on bouncing back from last weeks showing against a Jets outfit who are still probably crying into their cornflakes over the loss of Darrell Revis for the year with a torn ACL. Revis will be missed no doubt, but the 49ers don’t pass the ball all that effectively so this game could be one the Jets might get away with. Nonetheless I’d be surprised if San Fran didn’t come out with a little fire in their belly after last week, so I’m giving this one to the west coasters. 49ers 17, Jets 14

Seattle @ St. Louis
It must be strange to be a Seattle fan, coach or player after last weeks win against Green Bay. From one point of view you’ve just beaten one of the best teams in the league on the last play of the game, from another you robbed a victory with assistance from the now (thankfully) extinct replacement refs. Seattle is 2-1, when really they should be 1-2. That happens to be the same record as the Rams, and I happen to think identical records would suit these two evenly matched teams. For that reason, and the fact the Rams are at home, I’m plumping for a Rams win that’ll lead to folk from Seattle pleading for the replacements to return. Seahawks 21, Rams 27

Miami @ Arizona
The Cardinals have to be the biggest surprise of the NFL season so far. Not only are they 3-0, but they’ve beaten two highly touted teams in New England and Philadelphia. Miami lack the same ability on offense of the Patriots and Eagles but they probably have a stronger defense than either which will turn this game into something different than the Cards have encountered so far. Ryan Tannehill hasn’t been too bad so far but I can’t see him out performing Kevin Kolb, who’s ball management style of playing the QB position is somewhat reminiscent of Alex Smith in San Francisco. Dolphins 14, Cardinals 20

Cincinnati @ Jacksonville
This match up is a fairly low key one – the Jaguars are awful and I’m not sure the majority of people who follow the NFL realise just how talented Andy Dalton and A.J Green are. The Bengals offense is explosive, as shown last week when they ran roughshed over the Redskins defense, so it figures that the Bengals will win this one with some points to spare. Maurice Jones Drew is basically the Jaguars offense, so if he can break a few runs and Blaine Gabbert limits his mistakes it could stay close. But it won’t. Bengals 34, Jaguars 21

New Orleans @ Green Bay
Both these teams are reeling following poor results last week, although whilst Green Bay aren’t where they want to be the Saints are flat out desperate right now. They miss the leadership Sean Payton gives them, whilst Drew Brees hasn’t quite been able to orchestrate the offense to the tune it usually plays at. The same can be said of Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay, which is worrying because they have more of a running game this year than they had at any point in 2011. Is this the week both units wake up? We’re about to find out. The Packers defense has the kind of play makers that New Orleans wishes they had, and for that reason I’m predicting the Saints begin the year with four losses on the spin. Saints 32, Packers 38

Washington @ Tampa Bay
RG III mania has tailed off in recent weeks, and his opening game win in New Orleans may have been misleading when you consider how poor the Saints have been since. Griffin can obviously play though, whilst Josh Freeman continues to confuse observers with his patchy play after a horrendous 2011 season. The Redskins would love to have some of their injured defensive players back, namely Brian Orakpo, so Freeman might actually be able to move the ball this week. I think he can, and I think the Buccaneers D is good enough to shackle Griffin into some mistakes befitting a rookie quarterback. Redskins 20, Buccaneers 23

I’ll forecast the Sunday and Monday night games tomorrow night, but for now I’m retiring to watch the final couple of holes of Ryder Cup action tonight. Come on Europe!

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