NFL Picks for Week 4
by John Canton(NFL)
Posted on September 29, 2006, 11:33 PM
John: Welcome to week four of our weekly NFL picks column. Before we get to the picks we'll hear from the boys, then I'll show you how we did last week, what our records are on the season, give you our picks for the week and then I'll finish it with my four picks against the spread.
Last week my picks stunk as I went 6-8. I took a couple risks, I got them wrong. I picked against my own Rams and I got that wrong too. Just a bad week all around for picks for me. Against the spread wasn't any better. This week when I first looked at the games it looked to me like one of those predictable weeks where I liked one team and didn't like the other in a lot of games. I'm not taking any risks this time. At least I hope not.
drq: I hit a mark of 9-5 last week, which was a pleasant surprise considering how close many of those games actually turned out to be. Imagine if Arizona had managed to handle that snap near the end of the game this past Sunday... I'd have opened the 14-game schedule with a mark of ten wins! I think that's one of the signs of an impending apocalypse, immediately following the great famine but just prior to the swarms of man-eating locusts. Look it up. To avoid further digression, however - this week doesn't quite have the allure that last Sunday had. Sure, you've got a few key matchups in Cincy / New England, San Diego / Baltimore and Seattle / Chicago, but none have the decidedly divisional ring that made last week's big games so much bigger. This week has more a "clash of the leaders" tone to it, which I'm sure pleases some of the second-place squads to no end.
Last Week: John Canton: 6-8
Brett Berliner: 9-5
Season: Brett Berliner: 33-13
John Canton: 31-15
So Brett's got the lead on me while the Q man crept up a bit. It's a long season, so don't get excited, B2!
Note: Brett will post his picks as soon as he can.
Arizona at Atlanta 1:00 p.m. drq: The Falcons were completely taken out of their element from moment one Monday night against the Saints. Considering the once-in-a-lifetime circumstances surrounding that game, I don't know that I can really blame them. When Mike Vick fumbled on their third play from scrimmage, and the ensuing punt was blocked / covered in the end zone for a touchdown, the team may as well have gone back into the locker room and forfeited the rest of the game. There was no looking back for that New Orleans squad. This week, back in familiar confines and playing a team that's not exactly known for stopping the run, I think we'll see a statement from the Atlanta camp. Warrick Dunn and the aforementioned franchise QB should have a Sunday that's frighteningly similar to the one they had opposite Tampa just two weeks ago. My only concern is that I'm awarding the Cardinals too high a score. Atlanta: 38 - Arizona: 13
John: Hear that sound? It's all the "experts" jumping off the bandwagon of the soon to be 1-3 Arizona Cardinals. I called it. Their offensive line sucks, the defense isn't very good and Kurt Warner hasn't even won ten games in the past four years in the NFL. I don't really know who the Saints played against on Monday, but that team was not the Atlanta Falcons that I saw dominate the first two games of the year. This is a huge bounce back game for that team as they run all over the Cards in this one. Falcons 30-14
Dallas at Tennessee 1:00 p.m. drq: Amidst all of the chaos surrounding T.O. this week, between his hand injury, his alleged suicide attempt and his availability for the game this weekend, something noteworthy has fallen by the wayside. Not only is the team's number one receiver injured and of questionable mind, but their #2, the guy who's really carried the team when in need over the past two seasons, is also struggling with an injury. Terry Glenn, whose three huge receptions all but sealed a win against Washington two weeks ago, sliced open his own hand recently, while attempting to remove some tape from his uniform. That's two receivers with noteworthy hand injuries, on a team that was already struggling with dropped passes to begin with. If they were facing a competitor, as they will be with the Eagles next week, that would be an immediate concern. As it is, even against the Titans, the running game needs to step up big this weekend. I don't think they'll have much trouble in doing so. Dallas: 35 - Tennessee 20
John: Something happened with Owens this week? Just another week in the NFL, right? I don't really feel like writing a lot here. The Titans blow. If you pick against them every week you'll be right 13 times because I don't see them winning more than three this year. Dallas wins even though I still don't think they're a playoff team. Oh, and I hope Owens gets a TD, then pretends to pass out in the endzone after the catch. Now that would be funny! Cowboys 20-10
Indianapolis at N.Y. Jets 1:00 p.m. drq: The Colts' defense has been struggling against the run this season, and sorely miss the presence of Corey Simon on the line in that respect. Good timing, then, to run across a Jets team with even less of a rushing offense than the Colts have rushing defense. Likewise, the Jets gave up a lot of yardage to New England on the turf two weeks ago, while the Indianapolis dual-back scheme hasn't exactly lit the world on fire thus far. I see Joseph Addai collecting his first 100 yard game, and a performance from the Indy defense that proves they can still band together and impress when they really want to. Chad Pennington will hit the turf on more than one occasion. Indianapolis: 17 - New York Jets: 3
John: The Jets have surprised a lot of people this year and if they win this game right there they will continue to surprise. However, the blueprint on beating the Colts is run the ball right down their throats, keep the ball in your hands and keep their offense off the field. That's a problem for the Jets since their run game is suspect at this point. So I like Indy to win although the Jets do a good job of keeping it close. Colts 20-13
Miami at Houston 1:00 p.m. drq: Talk about a dream set of matchups, back-to-back: a visit from the Tennessee Titans, followed immediately by a trip to Houston to fool around with the Texans. By all means, the Dolphins should come out of these games smelling like roses and looking like heroes, but if their performance against the Titans last week was any indication, these consecutive gimmes could be ominous signs for the team's future. Houston isn't putting up much of a fight so far this year, but they aren't totally inept, either. If the Fins aren't careful, they'll be headed home with their heads hung low and their playoff hopes almost completely dashed this weekend. I still have faith that they'll get it together and make a strong midseason push, but even my hope has limits. They need to crush the Texans this weekend, both to regain some confidence and to silence the critics a bit. I'm envisioning a victory, but not quite the kind of win that they'd hope for. Miami: 24 - Houston: 14
John: The Texans, man, I don't know what's going on there. You realize that David Carr has the best QB rating in the NFL right now? That's crazy. Too bad they can't run. Too bad they can't tackle anybody. Too bad they can't do much of anything these days. Who knows what Miami is going to do from week to week? You think they might kill the Titans last week, yet they barely pull out the win. I can't pick the Texans again. The defense sucks too much. So I'll go with Miami in a squeaker. Dolphins 14-13
Minnesota at Buffalo 1:00 p.m. drq: The Vikings have yet to meet a team that can run away from them, while the Bills come in following a downer of a performance against the Jets. The Vikings don't quite have the passing attack that worked so well for New York last week, but they make up for it with experience and unity at each corner of the field. Their defense is good enough to keep the big boys from blowing them out (and I can't imagine anyone calling the Bills a team of "big boys" at this point) and their offense always seems to come through at just the right moment. I see this being a very short game, considering both teams' affinity for the run, and think Ryan Longwell will once again head home as the hero, another late game-winner tucked safely under his belt. Minnesota: 10 - Buffalo: 7
John: I haven't watched much of these teams. Usually when I'm flipping around on a Sunday I'm not going to watch these teams. However, I do like both of their running games. Since I like McGahee more than Taylor I'm gonna lean towards the home team here. Seems like a field goal game. Bills 16-13
New Orleans at Carolina 1:00 p.m. drq: The Panthers have been playing some really sloppy football this season, especially so the last two weeks. Both the Minnesota and Tampa matchups were completely in-hand and ripe for the picking midway through the second quarter, and Panther mistakes allowed both teams to make serious comebacks. An idiotic punt-return lateral and a seat on the wrong side of a gimmick play cost them the Vikings game, and three second-half turnovers should have truthfully cost them the game with the Buccaneers last Sunday. If and when they can get their ducks in order, the Panthers still have the potential to be the Super Bowl team that everyone predicted them to be at the start of the season. I think this week will be the beginning of that transformation. Keyshawn Johnson's numbers should remain high, and potentially get even loftier as Steve Smith takes the opposing coverage, and with his go-to guy back in the game, Jake Delhomme will start to calm down and play some decent ball. The Saints will stay close, but I like Carolina at home. Carolina: 27 - New Orleans: 21
John: So the Saints completely throttle a very good Falcons team at home while the Panthers barely beat a bad Bucs team and the Panthers are seven point favorites here? I don't get it. Yes, they got Steve Smith back, but this team is struggling. I refuse to hug their nuts like 90% of football fans, as well as gamblers apparently. The Saints are a frisky team that plays good in all three areas. They don't turn the ball over, their defense is unknown, but they are tolerable. The special teams are huge for them too. They've made huge plays in every game. You can't measure intangibles like that, not to mention the pride they're all playing with. I'm going to go with the Saints here in an upset. Maybe then they'll get some respect. Saints 24-23
San Diego at Baltimore 1:00 p.m. drq: This should be a lot of fun, as there are a ton of parallels between these two clubs. Two excellent defenses. Two powerful, explosive running backs. Two quarterbacks who aren't completely familiar with their offenses. Two All-Pro tight ends. Even though the game's in Baltimore, I'm giving the edge to the Chargers this week, and there's one reason why - youth. Shawne Merriman, Ladanian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers are each younger than counterparts Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis and Steve McNair (OK, technically LT and Jamal are the same age - take a look at the way their careers have progressed over the last three years and you'll see what I'm getting at). The majority of the Ravens' roster is on the decline, while the Chargers are just coming into their own. I think this week they prove that those victories over Oakland and Tennessee were more than just mismatches. San Diego: 21 - Baltimore: 17
John: I had Baltimore as my pick in this game for a while until I really thought about it. What I thought about was how their running game was just average. How Steve McNair hasn't looked great in any of the wins. He's okay, but he's far from what he was three years ago when he was winning an MVP award. That's why I like the Chargers. Great defense, the best player in the league in Tomlinson and while Rivers is still young he's not going to be asked to do too much. They'll win a close, physical game here. Chargers 23-17
San Francisco at Kansas City 1:00 p.m. drq: I actually like what I've seen from the Niners so far this season. Their offense has shown some sparks, with a standouts finally beginning to emerge at WR, RB and QB, and while the defense hasn't been very inspirational, it's at least been keeping them in games so far. With the Chiefs confused and disoriented following the loss of Trent Green and the early ineffectiveness of Larry Johnson, it would seem that they're a prime candidate for an upset this week. I can't imagine either team being shut out by the other, (not even close) but I also think we'll see a lot of noise from both defenses in the form of multiple turnovers. San Francisco: 28 - Kansas City: 20
John: I like the Chiefs to improve on their first two games because they're coming off a bye week, they now know Huard's going to be their QB for a couple more weeks and they have the great Larry Johnson running the ball. That should be enough for them to beat a Niners team that is still learning how to win in this league. Chiefs 27-17
Detroit at St. Louis 4:05 p.m. drq: I can't figure the Rams out this year. They open the season strongly with a terrific game against Denver, then falter on the road against San Francisco, and finally produce a spectacular turd against the Cardinals in week three. That's one outstanding performance against a team that I still believe to be quite good, and two slips against below-average divisional rivals. The Lions should pose an interesting conundrum, then, since they aren't a divisional competitor, but they also aren't a very good team. The first meeting between Mike Martz's Lions offense and his old team should be interesting, but I don't think the Lions have the same weapons that the Rams did when he was head coach, and their defense has already improved by several steps. I'm thinking the Rams return to a form similar to that which they showcased against Denver, and that a return to their home field will be inspirational. St. Louis: 13 - Detroit: 10
John: My Rams are 2-1 and I don't know if I believe it because last week's game was very ugly. But screw pretty wins. I'll take any win. They all count. The positive about last week is the defense forced four turnovers (+7 on the year in turnover differential, which is huge), Bulger continues to play without throwing the INTs that hurt him in previous years and the passing game woke up last week. Holt got his first 100 yard game, Bulger threw for over 300 yards and for the first time this year they had that spark in the passing game that they're going to need to be an explosive group again. I'm pleased with the defense. It's coming together nicely. What I'm waiting for is a 3 TD game from him. I think it happens this week. The Lions are just hapless as usual, so I think the Rams kill them at home and make a statement to the league that this is a potential playoff team right here. Rams 31-10
Cleveland at Oakland 4:15 p.m. drq: Cleveland showed a ton of guts last week, en route to giving the Ravens a huge scare and very nearly their first loss. I liked a lot of what I saw out of Charlie Frye, eating all of the punishment that the brutal Ravens defense could give him, calmly brushing himself off, and then running it right down their throats with a personalized QB keeper for the touchdown. Both of these teams have been habitual cellar-dwellers over the last handful of years, but the Browns have been showing signs of life lately. Oakland is stuck in a black hole, in more than just the marketing sense. There's no denying that the Browns are the better team here, but stranger things have happened. Imagine the excitement among the black and silver faithful when the Raiders score their first touchdown of the season this week! Cleveland: 17 - Oakland: 7
John: Don't be fooled by the Browns 0-3 record. They're better than that. They should have beat the Ravens last week and they could have beat the Saints in week one. The Raiders just blow. Can't throw, can't pass, can't tackle. Worst team in the league. Even after a bye, even at home they're not going to turn it around. They just suck too much. Plus, I love the Frye/Edwards/Winslow trio on the Browns. They're going to be a special group sooner rather than later. Browns 28-10
Jacksonville at Washington 4:15 p.m. drq: The Jags are not going to be happy after a disappointment in Indianapolis, and will be looking to exact a measure of revenge against a Redskins team that doesn't exactly have its act together. The Jacksonville defense should have a huge day, systematically picking Mark Brunell to pieces, and I don't think Clinton Portis will even get off of the launching pad. A late defensive touchdown pads the lead, as the Jaguars roll.Jacksonville: 21 - Washington: 7
John: Last week I spent my time writing about how I think Mark Brunell sucks and then he has an incredible game against a horrible Texans defense. Well, not this week. The Jags are going to beat him up and he'll go back to being the Brunell that stunk it up the first two weeks of the year. I like the Jags here. Too much defense and too much physicality for a soft Redskins team. Jaguars 19-10
New England at Cincinnati 4:15 p.m. drq: One of the league's premiere passing offenses, facing off against a Patriots secondary that's been shaky at the very best. I'm thinking of this as a preview of the Indy / New England face-off that's coming later in the year, with neither ending well for the former World Champions. With Corey Dillon shaking off an injury, this is likely the week that Laurence Maroney makes the starting RB job his for keeps, but I can't imagine much else going right for the struggling Pats. Houshandzadeh comes through again, this time coupled with a big game from Chad Johnson, and the Bengals make another loud statement that the old guard of the AFC is in for a true fight this year.Cincinnati: 21 - New England: 10
John: The Pats don't look like the championship team they've been. They look confused, they look disoriented and they look like they're very vulnerable. That's not a good thing as they head on the road against a Cincinnati team that is coming off a huge high in beating the Steelers. It's hard not to like the Bengals in this game. I like them here and I like them to win big. Bengals 27-10
Seattle at Chicago 8:15 p.m. drq: Should be a wild one, and a true measuring stick for both teams. I wasn't all that confident in Chicago last year, despite their eight game win streak, as they benefitted from a weak division and never truly dominated a good team outside of the north. They've looked vastly improved so far this year, while it's been the opposite story in Seattle. They're three and oh, but have not looked impressive in so doing, and will be missing their biggest playmaker in Shaun Alexander this weekend. Factor in the team's disturbing trend of turning the ball over frequently each game (2 fumbles lost against DET, 2 interceptions against ARI and 3 interceptions against NYG) and the Chicago D's tendency to jump on such occasions, and I'd be worried if I were a Seattle fan. I'm envisioning a close one, but a late Hasselbeck interception marks the end of the line here. Chicago: 13 - Seattle: 10
John: The Seahawks are a very good football team right now, with or without Shaun Alexander. It looks like they'll be without him on Sunday night, but the key for this team this year is the defense. They've been phenomenal. People talk about the Bears defense with good reason. However, where's the talk about Seattle's. They have no weakness on defense since they are strong on the line, they have great LB's and I think they have the best secondary in all of football especially now that Ken Hamlin is back. As a Rams fan it pains me to say it, but they look like the best team in football. I think the Bears are solid, too. I just don't like Grossman against this defense. He looked shaky last week against Minny. If he plays the same way this week they lose. That's what I see happening. In a close game I always like the veteran QB. In this case that's an effective Matt Hasselbeck. Seahawks 17-13
Green Bay at Philadelphia 8:30 p.m. (Monday) drq: The Eagles have shown serious signs of greatness thus far, and Donovan McNabb is having the season of his life, receiving corps be damned. If I were a member of the Eagles fan base, I'd be more than a little concerned about the defense, now that Javon Kearse is gone for the season, but I can't imagine that it'll have too much of an effect against a sorry Packers team, in Philadelphia on a Monday night. McNabb continues his breakneck pace, as does Brian Westbrook, and Brett Favre contributes another solid Monday Night effort for his Pack. In the end, the Eagles should have little difficulty in finishing this. Philadelphia: 24 - Green Bay: 17
John: People think Green Bay are better than they really are because they got to play Detroit. The Pack have problems, namely on defense. The Eagles, meanwhile, are rolling over teams because the McNabb/Westbrook duo is back healthy and they're creating a lot of problems for defenses. I like Philly big. I picked against the home Monday night team the last two weeks and both of them were dominant. I'm not doing it again. Eagles 34-16
Byes: Denver, N.Y. Giants, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay
JC vs. The Spread I'll use the line that Yahoo provides and I'll pick four games that I think you should bet on for the week.
Last week: 1-3! Ouch. After a 4-0 performance last week I come back to Earth this week.
St. Louis (-5.5) over Detroit I may be biased, but you really think a horrible 0-3 team is going to cover on the road against a 2-1 team that's historically been good at home? Rams win by at least 7.
Cincinnati (-6) over New England The Bengals are rolling. The Pats are reeling. I like Cincy comfortably.
Atlanta (-7) over Arizona Way too much respect for a bad Cardinals team. Don't be surprised to see Leinart getting some PT after Warner gets pulled for sucking.
Cleveland (-3) over Oakland I said two weeks ago I will pick against the Raiders every week. That's what I'm doing.
Four favorites this time. It's a week for favorites, I think. Unlike last week when I knew it was tough, I think it's easier this time around. Guess we'll see on Sunday.
Until next week, when we are back for hopefully a Friday morning posting, for Drqshadow and Brett Berliner this is John Canton saying enjoy the games. You know we will.