The NFL currently has a logjam of good teams. Entering week four, 17 teams boast a 2-1 record or better. A few teams have shown they can win under any circumstance, others have shown they will find new ways to lose. The half of the league that is looking good will split this Sunday and then we will start to see which teams are for real. Its too early for the “if the playoffs started today” talk but at least we’ll see who’s really hot right now and who’s not.
Just a thought:
Chicago Bears’ running back Tarik Cohen came into week four with 20 receptions on the season. That would tie him for sixth in the league. That also makes him the Bears’ leading receiver.
Speaking of running backs, did you know a pair of rookies are one and two in rush yards so far? Kareem Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs) and Dalvin Cook (Minnesota Vikings) have been impressive in their inaugural seasons. It seems just like last year when we had a rookie lead the league in rushing and another rookie as the second leading rusher.
Is New York Giants’ head coach Ben Mcadoo really to blame for the teams woeful 0-3 start? Well yes, but lets extend some of that blame to general manager Jerry Reese. The plan was to beef up the defense for their former offensive coordinator turned head coach. Hmmm?
On to the games.
Buffalo Bills (2-1) vs Atlanta Falcons (3-0). You know by now that the Falcons are one of the two best teams in the league. They are ranked in top five in total yards and points. They are top ten in both passing and rushing yards. What you might not know is that the Bills are number one in points given up (37 points total). They’ve allowed the least amount of passing touchdowns (4) and are seventh in rushing yards. Better yet, Buffalo has just one turnover in three total games. The Bills should try and attack the Falcons through the air and use LeSean McCoy as more of a reciever this week. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor needs to put pressure on the Falcons secondary and see if he can hit a few big plays deep or even force a penalty or two. Buffalo needs to stay at home on the wide receivers and stay away from trying to jump routes and get picks.
Atlanta’s offense can score on pretty much anybody. They should try and soften up that Buffalo defense. Implementing a few more screen plays would help. The tight ends should get more involved and put Buffalo’s linebackers in coverage situations. I’ll take the Falcons to win 27-17 with a big day for either Austin Hooper or Tevin Coleman (or both).
Los Angeles Rams (2-1) vs Dallas Cowboys (2-1). This is a game featuring two teams we thought were somebody else. We thought the Cowboys could be the best team in the NFC. Its not out of the realm of possibility but they sure don’t look the part thus far. The Rams didn’t strike us as a team bound to do anything this season. They aren’t following suit though. The Rams have scored the most points in the league (which is weird) coming into week four. Todd Gurley has 381 total yards from scrimmage (6TDs). The Cowboys are pretty stout up front, so L.A. should use more edge or stretch running plays of tackle. Dallas has been giving up yards through the air. Jared Goff should look to pass deep in spots, without taking unnecessary risks.
Cowboys’ defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence leads the NFL with 6.5 sacks. Dallas leads the NFC in sacks and they will look to put even more pressure on Goff. This should be the week Ezekiel Elliot gets back to the rookie version of himself. He currently averages 64.0 rushing yards per game, down 44 yards from last years average. He should find plenty of holes versus a Rams defense that is ranked 29th in rushing yards given up. I’ll take Los Angeles in an upset 31- 27. Sammy Watkins goes nuts, as does Elliot.
Oakland Raiders (2-1) vs Denver Broncos (2-1). Downright cold blooded division rivalry here, with two teams coming in fresh off of losses last week. You can expect a fired up team on both sides of the football. The Broncos control both sides of the rushing game. They don’t give up the yards, and they gain them in bunches. C.J. Anderson, Jamal Charles and company should keep that trend going. Oakland has given up 112.3 rush yards per game. Trevor Siemian shouldn’t be subjected to the Raiders’ pass rush. The Raiders’ offense is enigmatic to say the least. They rank in the mid-teens or lower in every offensive category except one, touchdowns.
The Raiders will use a balanced attack to find ways into the end zone. You have to get Marshawn Lynch and friends more touches, considering Oakland as a team averages 4.7 yards per carry. So basically both teams will play solid defense and try and run it down the other team’s throat. Oakland however has the challenge of throwing against Aquib Talib and Chris Harris. I’ll go with Denver over Oakland 24-21. Both teams are undefeated when they score 20 points or more.
Detroit Lions (2-1) vs Minnesota Vikings (2-1). This classic quarterback match up features Mathew Stafford versus Teddy…, versus Sam……,versus Case Keenum? OK lets try again. This classic NFC North match up features two teams bound to score. The Lions have picked off seven passes two of which they ran back for a touchdown. The Vikings have racked up a lot of yards no matter who the signal caller is. Adam Thielen and Stefon diggs are both in the top three in receiving yards. Dalvin Cook is second in rushing yards.
Minnesota might be the best team we aren’t talking about. The Lions are the comeback kids, laughing at fourth quarter deficits like they are nothing. A close game in the fourth should be in favor of Stafford. Detroit should keep attacking deep, as Minnesota’s defense is not very impressive versus the pass. Minnesota will go after big plays all game. They will need to run a bit more, but they shouldn’t abandon the pass by any means. In a shootout type game I’ll take Detroit over Minnesota 34-27.
Carolina Panthers (2-1) vs New England Patriots (2-1). Tom Brady and the Patriots will be too much offense for Carolina’s weak secondary. Patriots win 30-17.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) vs Baltimore Ravens (2-1). Baltimore started off hot enough, but now have half their team on the disabled list. I’ll take Pittsburgh for the win 27-14.