NFL Game Picks: Week 4
Danny Murray and Zac Kaye make their picks for every NFL game in Week 4:
Early season records are typically a good indication of which teams will be contending for the postseason. Usual suspects riding the 3-0 wave like New England and Kansas City seem to be in for clear skies, while surprising 0-3 failures like Pittsburgh and Denver have stormy waters ahead unless they can turn things around quickly. With a couple teams already entering their bye week, the shape of the 2019 NFL season is taking form. The Week 4 NFL game picks now predicts how the weekend’s games will mold it even further.
Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) at Green Bay Packers (3-0)
Green Bay’s defense is legit. A good defense has been rare in Green Bay during Aaron Rodgers’ tenure, which makes this 2019 Packers team all that more frightening. Perhaps the scariest part is that Rodgers hasn’t quite played at his peak yet. Imagine what kind of havoc the Packers can cause when firing on all cylinders. It’s easy to point at Philadelphia’s 1-2 record and say that the Eagles haven’t been on the same level, but just a handful of plays go their way against Atlanta and Detroit and they enter this one 3-0 as well. Still, the Packers are the toughest challenge the Eagles have had to face yet. Green Bay reaches 4-0 with a Thursday night win in Lambeau.
Prediction: Green Bay 30, Philadelphia 24
Tennessee Titans (1-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
It’s hard to believe that the same Titans team that dominated Cleveland in Week 1 also went belly-up in Jacksonville last Thursday. Marcus Mariota looks awful, and Derrick Henry is not the kind of bell-cow back that can carry this team. The defense looks fairly sharp, but if the offense is only able to muster a few scores every week, then Tennessee is in for a long offseason. Atlanta looks like the better team right now, though it did take the Falcons a full two quarters to get going against Indianapolis, which ended up being their downfall. Matt Ryan and company needs to be better about getting hot right out of the gate. They’ll do that against a slumping Tennessee.
Prediction: Atlanta 26, Tennessee 15
New England Patriots (3-0) at Buffalo Bills (3-0)
Funny how both of these teams enter this match undefeated, yet one team is favored by a full touchdown. That’ll happen you’re dealing with the defending Super Bowl champions and a team that has barely edged out three of the worst teams in the NFL. The last time the Bills started 3-0, they finished 3-10 and were outscored by nearly 100 points. Perhaps this year’s Buffalo team won’t face the same cruel fate with how well Josh Allen is playing, but is there any chance his Bills can pull off the home upset against the mighty Patriots? It’s highly unlikely. The Bills may make this one more competitive than previous meetings, but Tom Brady’s crew wins yet again.
Prediction: New England 33, Buffalo 20
Cleveland Browns (1-2) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Suffice it to say, the Browns are not having a great start to their highly anticipated 2019 season. Much of the fault lies on Baker Mayfield, who has yet to return to last year’s level of play. It doesn’t get any easier for Cleveland, which now travels to division-leading Baltimore. The Ravens didn’t quite get the outcome they wanted in Kansas City, and Lamar Jackson didn’t look as sharp as he did in weeks past, but a standout performance from Mark Ingram shows that there aren’t many gaps on the Baltimore offense. Combine that with a stout defense and you’ve got a well-rounded team that will be tough for anyone to beat, including the Browns.
Prediction: Baltimore 30, Cleveland 17
Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) at Detroit Lions (2-0-1)
Is anyone going to stop Patrick Mahomes? In the span of three weeks, Mahomes and the Chiefs have torched two of the top defenses in football (Jacksonville and Baltimore) and have yet to score less than 28 in a game. Remember, this is all without Tyreek Hill, who went down with an arm injury in Week 1. The challenge for Detroit is not stopping the potent Chiefs offense but rather keeping up in the scoring bonanza. Matthew Stafford has been known to sling the rock every once in a while, and Detroit has a plethora of receiving talent available for him to do so. Expect a fast-paced, high-scoring game that ultimately results in another Kansas City victory.
Prediction: Kansas City 41, Detroit 30
Oakland Raiders (1-2) at Indianapolis Colts (2-1)
Maybe the Colts will be just fine with Jacoby Brissett. After another solid outing in a victory over Atlanta, Brissett raised his completion percentage to 72%, good enough for sixth among current starting quarterbacks. Throw in a nice touchdown-interception ratio of 7:1, and Indianapolis may be set at the helm. Although Derek Carr has technically been more accurate, his touchdown-interception ratio of 4:3 is a lot uglier, and Carr simply doesn’t possess the same offensive weapons that Brissett has. Oakland could be making a change at the position if nothing gives in the near future. Right now, all signs point to an Indianapolis victory in Week 4.
Prediction: Indianapolis 27, Oakland 14
Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) at Miami Dolphins (0-3)
The Dolphins are bad. Really, really bad. Miami had the slightest blip of hope, trailing the Cowboys 10-6 at halftime last week. Then Ezekiel Elliott and company bust the doors open with a three-touchdown second half en route to a 31-6 blowout. When do the Dolphins pick up a win? It certainly doesn’t seem like Week 4. The Dolphins are 16.5-point underdogs at home against a 1-2 team. Granted, that 1-2 team is the Chargers, which are off to a slow start thanks to mounting injuries and will likely jump back into the postseason race soon, but the point remains. This Miami team has the potential to rank among the worst NFL teams of all time. LA wins easily.
Prediction: LA Chargers 32, Miami 6
Washington Redskins (0-3) at New York Giants (1-2)
How about Daniel Jones? After receiving an offseason full of criticism for “wasting” the sixth pick of the draft on the Duke signal caller, the Giants came back from 18 down against Tampa Bay thanks to Jones’s four-touchdown performance. Perhaps we should wait for a larger sample size before we crown Jones as the quarterback of the future, but it’s clear that there’s hope for Big Blue. New York did take a massive blow with the loss of Saquon Barkley due to an ankle sprain, but at least Jones and crew will start life without Barkley at home against the struggling Redskins. Jones wins it again, and the G-Men reach .500 for the first time since 2016.
Prediction: NY Giants 29, Washington 18
Carolina Panthers (1-2) at Houston Texans (2-1)
Carolina didn’t seem to miss Cam Newton one bit, as Kyle Allen went 19-for-26 and tossed four touchdowns in Arizona. Is Allen for real, or his performance just a product of playing one of the NFL’s worst defenses? The stakes will be raised substantially against Houston’s fierce pass rush combo of J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. Don’t forget about that offense, led by Deshaun Watson, who threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns in Los Angeles last week. The more experienced and more trustworthy quarterback gets the win here, but perhaps Allen does enough to keep himself in the starting role while Newton takes his time to heal completely.
Prediction: Houston 31, Carolina 24
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2) at Los Angeles Rams (3-0)
The Rams may be undefeated now, but that won’t last if Jared Goff can’t return to form. The third-year quarterback is off to a slow start in 2019, and with Todd Gurley’s presence fading by the day due to health worries, it’s easy to see how the defense has carried the Rams so far. Even if Goff performs poorly again, Los Angeles can still win in Week 4, as the Rams square off against a wildly inconsistent Buccaneers offense. Honestly, Tampa Bay’s offense played about as well as it could in Week 3, but in the most Buccaneers fashion possible, Tampa Bay lost on a heartbreaking missed field goal. In Week 4, the Bucs lose because they’re the worse team.
Prediction: LA Rams 29, Tampa Bay 16
Seattle Seahawks (2-1) at Arizona Cardinals (0-2-1)
All of a sudden, there’s a lot of pressure on the Seahawks. Division rivals Los Angeles and San Francisco are both undefeated, and Seattle has fallen behind due to an ugly loss to the Drew Brees-less Saints: Seattle’s first home loss in September since Pete Carroll became head coach. To make things worse, the Seahawks head to the desert, where they have historically struggled. Fortunately for Seattle, the Cardinals are still trying to find their footing with youngsters Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury running the show. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks overcome past troubles and rebound with a victory over the winless Cardinals.
Prediction: Seattle 33, Arizona 18
Minnesota Vikings (2-1) at Chicago Bears (2-1)
For a glimpse at these two NFC North squads at their peaks, just look at Week 3. Minnesota dismantled Oakland thanks to big performances from Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen, and Chicago’s top-tier defense stymied Washington for the entire first half. The real question mark here lies in the quarterback battle: Kirk Cousins vs. Mitchell Trubisky. Both signal callers looked markedly better in Week 3 after struggling earlier in the season, but neither one has lived up to their lofty expectations. There’s slightly more reason to believe in Cousins due to his superior experience, but can he foil the vaunted Bears defense? Probably not. Chicago wins at home.
Prediction: Chicago 20, Minnesota 17
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) at Denver Broncos (0-3)
The Gardner Minshew hype train is in full motion. After tossing a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter against Tennessee last week, Minshew and the Jags rolled to an easy home victory. If Minshew continues to ball out in the absence of Nick Foles, then perhaps Jalen Ramsey will change his mind about wanting to be traded. The next stop on the tracks is Denver, against the winless Broncos. Despite having Vic Fangio at head coach and playmakers like Von Miller and Bradley Chubb on defense, the Broncos still haven’t recorded a sack or turnover. Denver’s struggles continue, and Minshew Magic rolls on with another Jacksonville victory.
Prediction: Jacksonville 26, Denver 13
Dallas Cowboys (3-0) at New Orleans Saints (2-1)
This suddenly got interesting. Just a week ago, this looked like a snoozefest with Dallas rolling to an easy victory. But Teddy Bridgewater turned on the jets in Week 3, leading New Orleans to its first win without Drew Brees under center since 2005. Of course, it helps having certified stars like Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, but Bridgewater proved that he has what it takes to keep this team under control in Brees’s absence. The next challenge is handling the undefeated Cowboys, which have outscored opponents 97-44 through three weeks, but New Orleans is notorious for being tough to beat at home. Sunday night’s match is shaping into a beauty.
Prediction: New Orleans 24, Dallas 23
Cincinnati Bengals (0-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3)
It seems like these two are always destined for a gritty, hard-nosed and, frankly, dirty match in the limelight, and that might continue with both teams looking down the barrel of an 0-4 start. Then again, with instigators like Vontaze Burfict and Antonio Brown out of the picture, perhaps Cincinnati and Pittsburgh can finally play a good, clean game. Regardless, both teams badly need a win to keep the ship from sinking. Considering Pittsburgh has won the last eight in a row over the Bengals, there’s reason to believe that trend will continue, especially in front of a home crowd. Mason Rudolph gets his first win as the Steelers’ starting quarterback on Monday night.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 20, Cincinnati 16
Byes: New York Jets (0-3), San Francisco 49ers (3-0)
DJ Bauer is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.