*Editors Note- This does not include the Thursday game between Baltimore and Pittsburg.
Jets vs Dolphins (In London) – Line EVEN
Ah, the crème de la crème of what the NFL offers our friends across the pond. The London game has been notorious to lack the top-level play that us Yanks are use to. Blame the travel, foreign environment or sometimes-shoddy field conditions. This game is usually an outlier from the norm. Joe Philbin’s Dolphins look like they are about to quit on him after their slow start. The Jets at least know who they are defensively. In a game that is historically low scoring, I’m going with Todd Bowles Jets to hold on and get to an impressive 3-1 start and keep the pressure on the Evil Empire Patriots in the AFC East.
Jets- 17 Dolphins- 10
Jaguars @ Colts – Line IND -9.5
The Colts barely extended their 14 game winning streak against “the worst pro sports division of the last 5 years” AFC South last week by edging Tennessee. After a sloppy start for Indy, this tilt with a hapless Jags team would seem to be what the doctor ordered. But as I write this, Andrew Luck is legitimately questionable to start on Sunday. If Luck is out, Colts lose. But even if he starts, the betting line looks to be still too high. I see another struggle for the supposed Super Bowl bound Colts. Luck does just enough to edge Jacksonville at home. But I’d be worried Colts fans, really worried.
Colts- 23 Jaguars-20
Giants @ Bills – Line BUF -5.5
One team should be for real and the other is for real. The G-Men easily could be 3-0 but the familiar Jekyll and Hyde routine has struck in the 4th quarter twice so far this year. As for the Bills, if they faced anyone in the AFC outside of New England in Week 2, they’d be 3-0. A couple of things are starting to become quite clear. Rex Ryan is a good coach, Tyrod Taylor is Russell Wilson-lite and Orchard Park is becoming a great home field advantage. Add all those things up and I’m taking the Bills. Tom Coughlin seems to be losing his voice with the team, it eventually happens to every long tenured coach. The Bills have that look and the Giants are not the team to stop them at home.
Bills- 24 Giants 20
Panthers @ Buccaneers – Line CAR -3
The end of Week 4 marks the end of the seasons 1st quarter. Usually gives us a good idea of what a team is. We know what the Bucs are; just look at their quarterback, up and down. And that is going to be expected. Jameis will look terrible but he will also flash promise. Usually those great performances happen at home. With a Panthers team looks to be without the heart of their defense, Luke Kuechly, taking the Bucs at home is defensible. But I usually err on the better QB and right now, Cam Newton is turning back the clock to 2013. Look for Cam to expose the Bucs LBs in coverage with Greg Olsen. The Panthers go undefeated in the seasons 1st quarter.
Panthers- 27 Buccaneers- 17
Eagles @ Redskins – Line PHI -3
This one is the ultimate toss up. Both teams have question marks all over their first 3 games. Both starting QBs are unknowns at this point. So are the RBs. Philly is favored by 3 because they have the more talented team, but I am still skeptical of “The Mad King” (Chip Kelly). The Redskins defense appears to be above average and the run game is legit if they choose the right RB with the hot hand. Kirk Cousins on the other hand is terrible and sometimes that can be too much to overcome. I’m taking Philly in this one, they are just more talented than Washington and I expect Chip’s mad genius to at least show a little life on Sunday.
Eagles- 28 Redskins- 20
Raiders @ Bears – Line OAK -3
With the Bears in fire-sale mode and riddled with injuries, this one seems like the lock of the week, even with the young Raiders traveling to Chicago. Everyone from Matt Forte to Alshon Jeffery is on the block and Jimmy Clausen might be the worst QB in the league. As bad as the Bears are, more should be said about the young core Oakland is quietly building. The defensive foundation is there and Mack is the real deal. Derek Carr looks to making the jump and it doesn’t hurt to have a talent like Amari Cooper on the outside. Oakland may very be turning the corner, just as Chicago looks poised for some tumultuous rebuilding years.
Raiders- 30 Bears- 14
Texans @ Falcons – Line ATL -6.5
The “Best WR in the NFL” championship belt is now squarely in Julio Jones’ possession. He is on pace for one of the greatest receiving seasons of all-time. Through 3 weeks, no one has an answer for him, and I don’t think there is one. While Atlanta has its flaws, Houston is not the team to exploit them. If Arian Foster makes it back from injury this week, expect them to hang with the Falcons but the Texans don’t have anyone who can match the firepower of the Matt Ryan-Julio Jones connection. When the Falcons play down hill, especially at home, they are as scary as any team in the NFL.
Falcons- 34 Texans- 20
Chiefs @ Bengals – Line CIN -4
Is Andy Dalton for real? Is he ready to make the next jump? Are the Bengals legit? Are we sure the Chiefs are bad? A lot of questions that will get a little more clear after Week 4. The Bengals are rolling; Andy Dalton looks like a top 5 QB this season so far. His magic with A.J. Green has never been better and they get to face a Chiefs team that just got blasted on MNF. But are we sure KC is that bad? How come the Vegas Line is only -4. They are saying the Bengals are only 1 point better than the Chiefs. While I don’t think the Chiefs are as bad as their record (2 losses to two top 5 NFL teams, DEN & GB), the snail-pace of the down field passing offense has me worried if Dalton & Co. get it going early. And after the performance of KC’s secondary last Monday, nothing short of a 2007-esque Giants pass rush will save the Chiefs. The Red Rifle improves to 4-0.
Bengals- 27 Chiefs-20
Browns @ Chargers – Line SD -7
After two road losses the Chargers look to bounce back and get to .500. The Browns don’t look any better and to make matters worse, there seems to be a locker room divided on who should start at QB. One thing is for certain, the Browns defense looks to have more leaks than the NFL during a scandal, especially against the run. I expect Melvin Gordon to finally have his “welcome to the NFL” moment and Keenan Allen to keep doing Keenan Allen things. Chargers roll comfortably at home.
Chargers- 28 Browns- 17
Rams @ Cardinals – Line AZ -7
The Cardinals have that look. The Chiefs had it at the start of 2013. Strong attacking defense and a veteran QB making all the right decisions, and it has led them to statistically, the most impressive 3-0 start But beware the divisional game, they are never as cut and dry as you would think. St. Louis has in my opinion, the best front 7 the NFL has to offer and Aaron Donald is J.J. Watt-Jr. They took down the NFC 2014 Champ Seattle in Week 1…. but since then, a lot of sloppiness, especially on the offensive end. Nick Foles is still finding his way, Gurley looks to be a few weeks away from turning it on and the WRs are basically non-existent for STL. The Cards on the other-hand, know exactly who they are despite a rash of injuries to there RB position. Larry Fitzgerald is having a renaissance season and Carson Palmer is turning back the clock to 2005. The Rams only chance is for the defensive-line to take over this game and the offense to play mistake free football. Unfortunately the latter is not going to happen. Cards win this one in the desert.
Cardinals- 24 Rams-20
Vikings @ Broncos – Line Broncos -7
Probably the best game on Sunday, as these are two legit playoff teams. Both get it done on the defensive side of the ball. Aside from what now seems like a fluke loss to SF in Week 1, the Vikings look the part, except for Teddy Bridgwater. He seems stuck in game-manager mode; and that’s all fine and dandy when playing at home against .500 level opponents, different story when you face Peyton in Denver. Now this isn’t the high-octane offense we’ve grown accustom to in years past, points for Peyton have come at a premium this year. But that defense is stout and when you mix that with a young QB still finding his way on the road, I give the nod to Denver. It will take a herculean-effort from Adrian Peterson to win this game, and that could happen. I see Teddy making that big mistake, and Peyton does not.
Broncos- 20 Vikings- 17
Packers @ Niners – Line GB -8
A lot of the media are predicting a Packers blow out. And I don’t blame them, Aaron Rodgers is Superman with a #12 on his chest and the Niners are coming off their worst loss since the pre-Harbaugh era. But a couple things to keep in mind, Kaepernick has owned the Packers since 2012, 3 straight wins. Despite a Week 2 win over the Seahawks, Dom Capers still hasn’t found a way to contain the read option, Russell Wilson had 76 yards rushing in the loss. And the Packers are a vastly different team away from Lambeau Field. Last year they went 4-4 with head scratching losses to Detroit, New Orleans and Buffalo. The Niners cannot be expected to play as terrible as they did two weeks in a row can they? With all that taken into account, the Niners pass defense will not figure it out overnight, and not against Aaron Rodgers, who looks to be at the heights of his powers. No Jordy Nelson, no Eddie Lacy, no Devante Adams. No problem. I picked the Packers to lose this game on the BTL Packers Podcast last week. I still think it’ll be far tougher than most media pundits are predicting but in the end, I see Green Bay continue their “Vengeance Tour”.
Packers- 31 Niners- 24
Cowboys @ Saints – Line NO -3
For second there NBC executives were soured by the thought of the riveting matchup of Brandon Weeden vs Luke McCown on SNF. Luckily, at least Drew Brees will make this tilt watchable. We saw last week what 60 minutes of Brandon Weeden was like, and to be truthful, not that bad. We also saw the Dallas D finally exposed against a legit NFL offense (sorry Chip Kelly, you don’t count yet). Can Drew Brees attack Dallas in the same way? Will he be healthy enough to do so? A lot remains to be seen. The Dallas running game travels anywhere and is the perfect game plan to neutralize a rowdy New Orleans crowd. But will Brandon Weeden still be decent for 60 minutes of football, I don’t think so, I’m taking the Saints to finally get off the snide.
Saints- 28 Cowboys- 24
Lions @ Seahawks – Line SEA -9.5
Kam Chancellor is back, and show is the Legion of Boom, so far. Going against the hopeless Jimmy Clausen lead Bears was hardly a challenge. And now Seattle gets another salivating matchup in turnover-prone Matthew Stafford. Given the state that the Lions have looked like over the first 3 weeks of the season, this is another lock. They don’t come easier than this, especially when Seattle gets to play at home. That Vegas betting line isn’t high enough. Seahawks roll and begin to get there mojo back.
Seahawks- 34 Lions- 13