Bye weeks have begun. We’re entering the meaty part of the NFL schedule, the time when most of the Haves truly separate themselves from the Have-Nots and teams get into more of a routine, more of a groove.
Given the lackluster quality of play across the league thus far, we should keep our fingers crossed that a more cohesive, generally better stretch of games really is upon us and that I’m not just whipping up word salads that will make me feel more hopeful that the NFL as presently constituted isn’t just three or four great teams and a 28 or 29 more that range from mediocre to unwatchable.
So with that, let’s get into our 2015 NFL Predictions, Week 4 edition, with all lines courtesy of Bovada LV and each home team in ALL CAPS.
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Jets (-2) over DOLPHINS: This is a “who do you trust less” kind of game and it’s admittedly amazing that the Jets are not the answer to that question. Miami not showing up for a division game in its home opener last week can’t possibly bode well for coach Joe Philbin but he’s still employed after the problems of the past two seasons so maybe he has pictures of owner Stephen Ross or something.
Panthers (-3.5) over BUCS: Carolina’s three-game winning streak to open the season has come against teams ranging from not very good to horrifyingly bad. Tampa falls firmly within that spectrum. Therefore, the Panthers are soon to be 4-0.
Jaguars (+9) over COLTS: What’s this now? The Colts’ inability to properly build an offensive line to protect their biggest investment has come back to bite them? It certainly appears that way, with Andrew Luck questionable to play. The Colts aren’t a terribly bright team but they could start to stem that tide by sitting their franchise this week for a home game against a lousy Jaguars team. That being said, even if Luck plays there’s zero evidence to support taking the Colts minus this many points anywhere on record this season.
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BENGALS (-4) over Chiefs: This would be a great time for the Chiefs to prove to everyone that they aren’t doormats after their two sorry primetime showings against the Broncos and Packers. But September/October is the Bengals’ time and they’re playing at home and the Chiefs aren’t exactly inspiring any real reasons to have faith at the moment. Bengals roar.
Giants (+5) over BILLS: The Bills steamrolling the Dolphins on the road last week was a huge surprise especially in the aftermath of their Week 2 disaster against the Patriots. Things are well lined up for them now with another meh team in the Giants coming to Orchard Park on Sunday. It feels like a little too much of a stretch to accept that they’re more than five points better than anyone, especially when you consider that Rex Ryan spent part of the week obsessing over the Pats. But they’ll still win.
Raiders (-3) over BEARS: The Raiders are giving points on the road? Yep, the Bears are that bad. Over at Grantland, Bill Barnwell notes that this is just the second time the Raiders have been a favorite away from Oakland in 10 years, which defies logic. But again, the Bears really are that horrible. Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffrey are both probably out again and John Fox is starting to sell guys off already. Chalk another on up, amazingly enough, for Derek Carr, Jack Del Rio (???) and the Raiders.
Browns (+7.5) over CHARGERS: It’s only been three weeks but wouldn’t you know, another Cleveland Browns season feels like it’s on the verge of being over. The Browns are somewhat lucky this week in that they have to travel but will be playing a team in the Chargers that is racked with issues (major offensive line injuries, weak pass defense) of its own. That’s enough reason to take the Browns to cover, if not figure out some way to pull off an upset outright.
Texans (+6.5) over FALCONS: Atlanta may yet prove to be really good but there haven’t been many 3-0 teams over time that inspire such little confidence. Luckily for the Falcons, they’re playing in a league chock full of mediocrity masquerading as much more than that which brings us to the Texans and their never ending quarterback issues. it’s too soon to trust a team like Atlanta giving nearly a touchdown against anyone, hence this pick. But this should absolutely be a Falcons win.
Eagles (-3) over WASHINGTON: The hurricane that threatened to force this game into a postponement appears to have veered into a different course which is probably a lousy outcome for Washington. The Eagles nearly coughed up a 24-point lead to the Jets last week so their problems are still worth watching. But Washington continues to put all its support behind a quarterback who throws 12 interceptions every week so take Philly.
Packers (-9) over 49ERS: That’s a lot of points for a road team but the most recent info we have to go on is Green Bay eviscerating the Chiefs on Monday Night Football and Colin Kaepernick playing one of the worst games on record by a starting quarterback in years. The Niners owned Green Bay in the Jim Harbaugh years but that time has well since passed.
Vikings (+7) over BRONCOS: The only thing weirder than watching noodle-armed Peyton Manning finding ways to win on a tough-minded, defense-oriented team is the idea of taking a road dog starting Teddy Bridgewater under center despite the game being played in Denver. Still, the Vikings defense is legit enough to almost counteract that of the Broncos (also very, very legit) which is why they’ll cover in yet another low scoring Denver victory.
Rams (+7.5) over CARDINALS: If these were the old Cardinals, the Rams would come in favored, score six points and lose a heartbreaker. But since these Cards are good — possibly the class of the NFC — St. Louis will arrive ready to play and the Rams’ front seven could very well wind up a hindrance to the thus far amazing Arizona aerial attack. Cards win 23-17.
SAINTS (-4) over Cowboys: NBC breathes a sigh of relief at the news Drew Brees will indeed play in this one, sparing the Peacock Network from hyping a Brandon Weeden/Luke McCown matchup. The Saints are terrible even with Brees at the helm but there is no way in this life or any other that anyone should ever take Weeden on the road no matter how many points he’s getting.
SEAHAWKS (-10) over Lions: Wouldn’t you know, there are Lions publicly calling out the offensive coaching staff! The Lions have entered into another Hawaiian blue tinted black hole that’s bound to last at least four years before their next out of the blue 10-6 and lose in the wild Card game season. And the Seahawks continue to get well after their miserable first two weeks.
Last Week: 9-6
Season to date: 24-21
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