|Alshon Jeffery has formed a formidable partnership with fellow Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall|
Last night’s lopsided match-up between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins heralded the start of week four of the NFL season, and with the year nearing the quarter mark here’s what American Football Focusthinks will transpire across the league over the weekend, with our prediction record currently standing at 30-18.
Carolina @ Baltimore
Carolina were handled easily by Pittsburgh last weekend in a beat-down that was largely brought about by the Steelers rushing attack. Fortunately for the Panthers the Ravens aren’t nearly as prolific on the ground thanks to the suspension of Ray Rice, while Baltimore have also looked suspect on defense at times in the season’s early going. It’s a big game between two perennial play-off teams, but with Cam Newton and the Panthers defense not quite right I’m going for a home win.
Panthers 20, Ravens 26
Green Bay @ Chicago
After two losses in the opening three weeks Green Bay are in danger of falling out of play-off contention early doors, with their defense leaky and their offense failing to produce the amount of points they’re accustomed to putting on the board. The Bears meanwhile have looked good in getting to 2-1, with two comeback victories in the past two games. The Packers secondary really doesn’t look good and with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery nearing full fitness it could be a long day for Aaron Rodgers and his team in the windy city.
Packers 17, Bears 28
Packers 17, Bears 28
Buffalo @ Houston
Both of these teams came crashing back to earth last week after 2-0 starts to the season, but the Bills are better equipped to bounce back with E.J Manuel at quarterback and a rushing attack that features both C.J Spiller and Fred Jackson. Houston should put up a good fight but without Jadaveon Clowney and a competent QB they could struggle to keep pace with the up-tempo Buffalo attack.
Bills 24, Texans 14
Tennessee @ Indianapolis
Again, both of these teams have identical records at 1-2 but the Colts are clearly the superior team after their blow out of Jacksonville in week three. Andrew Luck and the offense continue to make plays even if the defense struggles, while Jake Locker and the Titans have regressed significantly since their opening weekend win over Kansas City.
Titans 19, Colts 31
Detroit @ New York Jets
Rex Ryan’s job seems like it’s in jeopardy every week, and following a comprehensive defeat on Monday night Rex is on the hot seat once again with a decision over who is starting quarterback will be looming large. Geno Smith may or may not turn it around this season but he’ll struggle in the face of a lethal Lions pass rush, while the Jets lack of talent at corner could hurt them against Megatron and Matthew Stafford. Lions 27, Jets 17
Miami @ Oakland
80,000 Londoners will turn out at Wembley Stadium to watch two poor teams face off in the first of three International Series games in 2014, although as poor as Miami have been in the past two weeks they’re still a superior side to the train wreck Raiders. It probably won’t be much of a spectacle to watch, but Miami are the better side here. Dolphins 28, Raiders 14
Tampa Bay @ Pittsburgh
The woeful Buccaneers travel to the Steel City to take on a resurgent Pittsburgh team who overwhelmed Carolina last weekend. Josh McCown is out injured so Mike Glennon steps in to take his place, but it’s likely to be in a losing effort as the Steelers move to 3-1 at the quarter mark of the season behind the arm of Ben Roethlisberger. Buccaneers 16, Steelers 28
Jacksonville @ San Diego
This is a potential trap game for San Diego, who have looked good thus far this season, although not good enough to make this match-up a foregone conclusion. Jacksonville have Blake Bortles making his first ever NFL start under centre and the rookie looked good in the second half last week versus Indianapolis, and while the Jags are unlikely to win they could keep the score a lot closer than most people will have anticipated. Jaguars 17, Chargers 23
Atlanta @ Minnesota
The Teddy Bridgewater era begins in Minnesota after Matt Cassel was pronounced done for the season, but life will be tough for Bridgewater without the services of Adrian Peterson at running back. Atlanta have put up a boat load of points so far this season and with all of their key players healthy and ready to fire they should win big on the road and move to 3-1.
Falcons 34, Vikings 17
Philadelphia @ San Francisco
The Eagles are slightly fortunate to be 3-0 having fallen into deep holes in each of their first three games this season, and this road trip could be a step too far on their path to a likely NFC East title. Colin Kaepernick needs a big game to quell doubts about his ability as a passer and the porous Philly secondary could be just what the doctor ordered, while the 49ers defense is as well-equipped as most to handle the Eagles fast-paced offense.
Eagles 24, 49ers 34
New Orleans @ Dallas
Two of the NFL’s worst defences square off in Big D on Sunday night in what promises to be a high scoring affair, especially after Tony Romo rediscovered his best form against St. Louis in week three. Both teams need a win to avoid slipping to 1-3, but at home and with the better skill position players Dallas are my pick to make it back to .500.
Saints 27, Cowboys 30
New England @ Kansas City
Andy Reid has struggled throughout his career against Bill Belichick and New England, and that trend should continue on Monday night even with the Chiefs welcoming Jamaal Charles back into the fold. Alex Smith has been poor for Kansas City at QB this season and the Patriots defense is good enough to make life difficult for the former number one overall pick again this week, while Tom Brady could step it up as he seeks to take advantage of a banged up Chiefs defense. Patriots 24, Chiefs 13
What do you think will happen in week four of the NFL season? Have your say in the comments or tweet @fredjstanley