Friday, 2 October 2015

NFL 2015 Week 4 Preview

Week 3 was a much better instance of picking with yours truly going for a 12-4 in the week, raising me to 26-22 for the season. The few games I got wrong were close games including my upset special of Tennessee at home to the Colts who were trailing with 8 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter before Andrew Clutch came to the fore again to get the 35-33 victory on the road and avoid going 0-3 to start the season.  As for Tennessee, following the resounding opening day victory they seem to be stifled on offense not helped by the fact that Mariota is having to throw more than necessary and the lack of running back quality is clearly affecting their production.

Other oversights included the Oakland Raiders winning their first back to back games since 2012 on the road at Cleveland; Derek Carr again threw for over 300 yards with rookie Amari Cooper again receiving for over 100 yards for the second consecutive game. Cooper is seemingly tying up the Rookie of the Year contest before the end of week 6.  Cooper has two consecutive 100+ yardage games in his rookie season, do you know none of Calvin Johnson, Antonio Brown or AJ Green can lay claim to that stat in their rookie season.  Something is happening in the Bay Area, and it is good to see.

Elsewhere, some teams remain winless and frankly pitiful.  The Saints, Bears, Lions are all winless and in the case of Chicago planning for next season already with the release of Jared Allen to the Carolina Panthers; a great additon for the Panthers in that QB heavy division.  Yet the most surprising loss of the weekend, although I picked correctly, was the way the Buffalo Bills dismantled the Miami Dolphins 41-14 on the road with such ease.  Miami were meant to be a main challenger versus the New England Patriots, this result means the Bills will lay claim to that right for this season while the Dolphins defence which includes such Pro Bowlers as Suh, Cameron Wake and Brent Grimes looked unidentifiable from the defence we expected.

Week 4 is the first week to have bye weeks, with the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans having a week off. So while Brady goes dancing at his sister's wedding and Mariota goes back to Hawaii. Here are my predictions:

BALTIMORE @ Pittsburgh
NY JETS @ Miami 
(at Wembley Stadium)
CAROLINA @ Tampa Bay 
OAKLAND @ Chicago
Kansas City @ CINCINNATI
Houston @ ATLANTA
Jacksonville @ INDIANAPOLIS
Cleveland @ SAN DIEGO
Minnesota @ DENVER
GREEN BAY @ San Francisco
St. Louis @ ARIZONA
Detroit @ SEATTLE

Match of the Week

New York Jets (2-1) versus Miami Dolphins (1-2)

So on paper not one to really write home about, but the fact that this game is happening in my near hometown is reason enought to shout about it. The first of three International Series games taking place at Wembley Stadium this year sees for the first time an actual divisional game taking place on overseas soil. This is a huge filip for the International reach of the game that an AFC East rivalry game is taking place in London, as so often they are mis-matches and unfair contests such as the recent games involving Jacksonville and when the Patriots decimated the St. Louis Rams.  However, for once we could have a close contest as both teams have to contend with travelling over the Atlantic and both will be wanting to regain momentum following tough home defeats last Sunday.

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The Dolphins as mentioned above were pulverised by the rampant Buffalo Bills and gave up 41 points at home.  There offence has struggled to click and but for a Jarvis Landry punt return in week 1 versus Washington they could be 0-3 coming into Wembley.  The offence much like the defence is lacking an identity and leadership, a lot was expected of Tannehill but will he be able to cope with another mean defence in the Jets.

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Revis will be hunting Tannehill on Sunday
The Jets lost at home to the Philadelphia Eagles 24-17, having gone 24-0 down in the first half the comeback was too much for Ryan Fitzpatrick to create, yet they have better offensive options with a nice balance of run - Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell - and receiving options in Eric Decker and if fit, Brandon Marshall.  The Jets seem to be a better balanced side on paper and that will probably be the case on the Wembley turf with the Jets flying back to their bye week victorious by 10 points.

Upset of the Week
Dallas Cowboys (2-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-3)

While this may not be much of a reach, both teams are dealing with a series of crucial injuries to star players. The Cowboys are without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant until Week 9 or 10 at the earliest. Whilst the Saints missed Drew Brees last week with a rotator cuff injury. 

Luke McCown did a fairly decent job completing 31 of his 38 passes last week in the defeat to Carolina, but it is the lack of running attack that is mystifying for the Saints whose wide receiver depth is weak. If the Saints can stop the run attack of Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar out of the backfield. A lot rests on Brees being fit to start if he does you can see the team wanting to galvanise the franchise to a first home win in 7 attempts.

Dallas meanwhile showed a great deal of versatility in their play last week in their defeat to Atlanta. Brandon Weedon did a nice job in the first quarter but after gaining the upper hand they went to the run game and pretty much restricted Weedon's options downfield. Admittedly they faced an improving Falcons defence and they will not face a wide receiver in the calibre of Julio Jones this Sunday; but perhaps this is a perfect storm for the Saints to get that first win of the season. Expect a lot of points in the Big Easy.

Fantasy Advice
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- Stick with Charles Clay (Buffalo) as a fill for the resting Gronk.
- Sam Bradford (Philadelphia) might finally be turning the corner for the Eagles.
- Lance Dunbar (Dallas) can rush but also gets plenty of catches
- Ty Henderson (Green Bay) seems to be the 3rd WR now for Packers; good match up versus the 49ers
- If you have Marshawn Lynch (Seattle) bench him for this week; don't risk that hamstring as the Seahawks won't versus Detroit at home.

Check out my other previews:

and my feature piece on the Denver Broncos

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