In Week 4, I got off to the worst start by sheepishly predicting the Rams would upset the 49ers. However, the Rams could not utilise some good pitch position and some woeful throwing by Sam Bradford led to a sizeable victory by the 49ers who sit 2-2 behind the dominant Seahawks.
Elsewhere during the week I went 10-5 which adding to the previous week of 12-4, I am now 22-9 over two weeks.
I was even lucky enough to predict the correct margin of victory for the Arizona Cardinals over the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who again succumb to a late field goal. The Redskins won on the road at Oakland after going 14-0 down. There were two upsets as the Bills won at home against the Ravens and the Browns convincingly defeated the Bengals at home 17-6.
There is now a three way tie atop the AFC North between those two teams and the Ravens with all three 2-2; so will the winner of that division be the only representative in the playoffs. The AFC is shaping up to have six from Patriots, Broncos, Colts, Ravens, Bengals, Chiefs, Texans and now add the Dolphins.
I would have considered the Titans but the loss of Jake Locker to a hip strain for a supposed four weeks may disrupt their momentum at a crucial time, the replacement Ryan Fitzpatrick is one of the more capable back-ups, however, he needs to have good ball control and avoid turnovers, something Locker had done thus far.
This week's predictions (Byes this week for Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Washington, Tampa Bay)
Bills at Browns
Thursday night football usually means bad football, however with these two .500 teams we might be in for a surprise. The Browns are riding a wave of momentum thanks to the play of Brian Hoyer who is throwing for fun and is 2-0 since getting the starting gig. The Bills probably have more offensive weapons yet there is an inconsistency to EJ Manuel's play along with injury concerns over running backs CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson.
Prediction: Browns by 3
Saints at Bears
Jay Cutler finally had his bad game and will want to bounce back in this shoot out against Drew Brees and the 4-0 Saints. However, this is a match-up of two decent offences; yet player of the month Jimmy Graham is having a purple patch of form as well as some receiving yards for Darren Sproles.
Prediction: Saints by 7
Patriots at Bengals
The Patriots having won by 7 at Atlanta on Sunday night, face another tough road trip to the Bengals who are smarting after a shock loss to the Browns. The Bengals will be hoping to pressure Brady like they did against Aaron Rodgers two weeks ago. However, Brady showed signs of clicking with his young receiving core. The Bengals will need to attack the run defence of the Pats without Vince Wilfork whose ruptured Achilles means he is done for the season.
Prediction: Patriots by 4
Lions at Packers
The Packers come off a bye week and the Lions have a spring in their step. If the Detroit defence and vaunted front seven can unsettle Rodgers like they did Cutler, and Rodgers has looked susceptible to pressure versus Bengals. Yet you feel Rodgers has more weapons and the Packers need to stop a rampant Reggie Bush who is the real star of the Lions offence.
Prediction: Packers by 3
Chiefs at Titans
If Locker was fit the Titans would have been favourite for me, yet the Chiefs are playing solid mistake free football led by Alex Smith and the great play of Jamaal Charles who is rushing big and catching out of the backfield for big yards. Whilst fans of Dwayne Bowe will feel aggrieved at this, the defence of the Chiefs is making huge plays as Michael Vick and Eli Manning will attest to.
Prediction: Chiefs by 7
Seahawks at Colts
This should be a great one. The Colts are making noise and are being heard. The Seahawks had a huge win on the road at Houston after being 20 points down to win in overtime led by a Richard Sherman pick six off Matt Schaub. Andrew Luck will be targeted but also tempted to throw down field, and Trent Richardson might have a big day. Another stat this week was that Marshawn Lynch has less yards per carry on the road than when at home. A tough one to predict.
Prediction: Seahawks by 3
Jaguars at Rams
Not the greatest spectacle on paper, a possibility for the Jaguars perhaps to score double-digits yet the Rams will require a response and will have the chance if they can get the run going. Do not expect fireworks.
Prediction: Rams by 7
Ravens at Dolphins
This writer was not a fan of the Dolphins before the season, yet they have the potential to be a playoff team due to the consistency of Ryan Tannehill and this under-rated defence. They will have another chance to make a statement such as their victory over the Falcons against Joe Flacco, who threw five (FIVE) interceptions versus the Bills last week. The Ravens also ran the ball only nine (NINE!!) times, a sheer waste of Ray Rice's ability and yet the Dolphins run defence is pretty good.
Prediciton: Dolphins by 5
Eagles at Giants
1-3 versus 0-4 in the awful NFC East. Eli Manning has no protection and the Chip Kelly offence could not keep up with Peyton Manning. This match will be decided by the play of LeSean McCoy against a run defence that is non-existent; pay note fantasy fans.
Prediction: Eagles by 7
Panthers at Cardinals
Carolina might have too much for the Cardinals who are plainly a hot and cold team. The Panthers got a win before their bye week thanks to utilising the power of Cam Newton's prowess out of the pocket. The Panthers might goad Carson Palmer to throw considering Rashard Mendenhall is not getting much joy with the rushing.
Prediction: Panthers by 3
Broncos at Cowboys
Can the Cowboys come up with a plan to slow down the accurate and precision machine of Peyton Manning's led offence that averages 40+ points a game. Manning has no interceptions and 16 touchdowns, whilst sharing the joy for touches with Welker, the Thomases and Eric Decker. Romo can sling it but can he sling it enough versus these Broncos? Probably not.
Prediction: Broncos by 10
Texans at 49ers
The Texans keep beating themselves and the 49ers are seemingly turning the corner thanks to getting back to the sort of defence that got them to the Super Bowl last year, and with Aldon Smith away from the team more players are coming to the party. Schaub will probably not have enough and with Arian Foster not producing, the 49ers D will have too much.
Prediction: 49ers by 6
Chargers at Raiders
Terrelle Pryor returns for the Raiders following Matt Flynn stinking out the joint. They go up against a resurgent Philip Rivers in this AFC West contest, along with Danny Woodhead becoming the focus of the offense. Most of these matchups I have predicted thus far have been picking the better defence over a weaker defence; in this case you pick the better quarterback.
Prediction: Chargers by 10
Jets at Falcons
The Falcons need to win this otherwise they will be an incredible four games behind the Saints if they beat the Bears. The Falcons came close against a good Patriots side, but the comeback was too late. Whilst the Jets defence has turned some heads you do wonder if they will be able to contain Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez, who had a career day on Sunday. Career day at the age of 37, yeah its about time.
Prediction: Falcons by 7
My thanks to the boys at DundeeNFL who hosted me as we talked the Week 4 action, follow this link to the podcast