Sunday, September 29, 2013

Week 4: On the Road Again

In Denver's high altitude, Chip Kelly might need to slow
down his offense or else he might see his star players pass out.

Week 4 is here and ready to go! I cannot believe it has only been three weeks of football so far. So much has happened already. Terrelle Pryor is the face of a franchise, Josh Freeman is all but out of Tampa Bay, and Chip Kelly's offense has already been figured out by NFL defenses.

This week is filled with evenly matched teams. The good teams are all playing each other, while the struggling teams matchup against one another in hopes of keeping their seasons alive. This makes our job harder predicting games, but it should lead to some exciting fourth quarters this week, which is sorely needed after last week's round of epic beatdowns (I'm looking at you Giants).

Here's what we've got for you this week:

Stally's Eight-Point Pick
@Denver over Philadelphia

Stally: This one's pretty simple.  The Eagles can't score enough points to save their Swiss cheese defense against the league's most potent offense.  I could see this one being something like 42-31, but I can't see the Broncos losing.

Austen: Since the first half against the Redskins, the Eagles offense simply has not looked good. Do they run a lot of plays? Yes, but they turn the ball over like madmen. On both sides of the ball, they are playing losing football. The Broncos, on the other hand, have just manhandled every team they have played this year. I think the altitude in Denver will really expose this Eagles offense, as they will tire themselves out and make costly mistakes. This is the only game I am 100% certain on.

Austen's Eight-Point Pick
Seattle over @Houston

Austen: This is how rough of a week it is. The Texans might not be playing well, but they are still one of the most talented teams in the NFL, and they are at home. I just cannot trust them to beat anyone right now and the Seahawks have been on fire since their Week 1 mediocrity.

Stally: I certainly have the Seahawks in this one, but it's crazy to take them this high.  The Texans are a top-10 team at home.  You can't put all your eggs in the other basket.

Stally's Seven-Point Pick
Indianapolis over @Jacksonville

Stally: When in doubt, bet against the Jags ... they stink.

Austen: Just like cornbread, ain't nothing wrong with that.

Austen's Seven-Point Pick
@New Orleans over Miami

Austen: Miami has been playing pretty good football so far this season, but the Saints at home are pretty unbeatable. I still cannot believe how good Rob Ryan has this defense playing, which might be the biggest surprise of the season so far.

Stally: I think the Dolphins are overrated and not as good as their 3-0 record, so I agree with this pick.

Stally's Six-Point Pick
San Francisco over @St. Louis

Stally: I was actually nervous about this Thursday night game because the 49ers had looked so bad in back-to-back losses.  However, the Rams are far worse and that showed.  St. Louis was miserable in the 35-11 loss to the point that even as an impartial fan of decent football, I was booing my TV screen.

Austen: I've said it all along, the Rams are going to sorely regret not drafting RG3. Sam Bradford's ceiling is a league average quarterback, and that's in a perfect world. He somehow gets worse every year and has only looked good in his rookie year. He might be the most overpaid player in the NFL.

Austen's Six-Point Pick
@Kansas City over New York Giants

Austen: I have to believe that the Giants will bounce back sometime or another, but going to Kansas City is not an easy game for a struggling team even when the Chiefs are terrible. This is the best this team has been in ... let's just say since Dick Vermeil was the coach. Eli is in for another rough outing.

Stally: I'm glad you have this game, as I do agree the Giants will bounce back at some point.  That said, I would have taken this game here as well.  The Chiefs are clearly better and always good at home.

Stally's Five-Point Pick
Cincinnati over @Cleveland

Stally: There's a mismatch in talent between these two Ohio foes.  Mainly, that's noticeable in the Browns, as they have no talent.

Austen: I have the Bengals, but I just have a strange feeling the Browns are going to win. If the Browns still had Trent Richardson, I'd be taking them in this game. This is going to be a very close game. If the Bengals lose this game, we are going to have to take a long hard look at the AFC and figure out if there is ANY team that will challenge the Broncos for a Super Bowl run. The Colts might be the second best team in the AFC and they lost to Miami and almost lost to the Raiders. 

Austen's Five-Point Pick
Chicago over @Detroit

Austen: This is the only game I have any confidence left in. And I really mean any confidence. The Bears have won nine of the last ten games against the Lions. Well aside from one season, the Lions have been pretty atrocious for the past decade or so, so that should not be that surprising, but still a telling fact. The Lions are still not good and they are still trying to find a receiver to line up across from Calvin Johnson (see Nate Burleson's pizza related car accident). The Bears on the other hand are firing on all cylinders. Reggie Bush would need to have a big day for the Lions to steal this one.

Stally: This is telling of just how much parity there might be this weekend.  This is too high for the Bears on the road against a decent Detroit team, butt there's no better option.  The Bears are better and should win.

Stally's Four-Point Pick
Minnesota over Pittsburgh (in London)

Stally: Yes, the Steelers are this bad.  I'm taking the 0-3 Vikings.  They went 10-6 last year and really aren't that much worse this season.

Austen: I've put my faith in Matt Cassel too many times and get burned every time. I have no idea who is going to win this game. Both teams are simply bad football teams.

Austen's Four-Point Pick
Dallas over @San Diego

Austen: The Chargers look so much better this year than last, and way better than I expected them to be. Yet they still find ways to lose games in the end, something that has plagued them for the last few years. I don't know what it is about them, but I just cannot trust them to beat anyone, so much so that I'm taking a Tony Romo led team to finish in the fourth quarter. Like I said earlier, rough week.

Stally: Wow!  Austen took the Cowboys before I did?  It must be a rough week for picks!

Stally's Three-Point Pick
Washington over @Oakland

Stally: Similar to my pick of Minnesota, the Redskins were a playoff team last year and have started 0-3.  I don't think either Austen nor I was surprised to see Washington regress a little, but I do think they're still good enough to be at a team like the Raiders.

Austen: I had the Raider until I heard Matt Flynn is getting the start. My man crush on Flynn has all but dissipated and I've got to think the Redskins will win this game. How bad must Flynn be that the Raiders were very close to playing a concussed Terrelle Pryor over him?

Austen's Three-Point Pick
@Atlanta over New England

Austen: If this game was in New England, I'd be taking the Patriots with more confidence. Both of these teams are decimated with injuries, especially on offense, so it is going to be very interesting to see how these two teams, who are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, play against one another without some of their star players. Matt Ryan is just so unstoppable at home, I had to go with him, especially since the Patriots have really yet to look good this season.

Stally: The Pats key to success has always been depth and maturation of youth.  I think that's what separates the good from the great.  Over the past few seasons, Atlanta has been good, New England has been great; I have the Patriots in a close one.

Stally's Two-Point Pick
@Tennessee over New York Jets

Stally: The Titans are better than the Jets and they're at home.  This one will probably be low scoring and thus be close, but I see little reason why the Jets would win this one ... perhaps the Green and White Knuckler can come up with some reasons ...

Austen: Jake Locker = Tim Tebow. He threw one good pass last week. ONE! It won him the game, but it does not make up for an entire game of mediocrity. The Titans have been good on defense, but their offense is a bit of a mess. Sound familiar Jets fans? These teams are very similar, but I'd say their offenses are on par and the Jets defense is much better. Also, the Jets always seem to have the Titans number. 

Austen's Two-Point Pick
Baltimore over @Buffalo

Austen: Oh how the Ravens have fallen from grace. Are they really the second to last pick on the board, even when they are playing against the Bills? They looked great last week taking it to the Texans, even without star running back Ray Rice. With Rice looking like he should suit up, there's no way I could not take the Ravens here.

Stally: I was leaning toward taking the Bills, but I'll give the nod to the Ravens.  It's no secret I'm very low on them, but they did steamroll Houston last weekend, as Austen said.

Stally's One-Point Pick
Arizona over @Tampa Bay

Stally: I want no part of the Bucs right now.  Josh Freeman has been benched and seems pretty much on the outs, and the team lost 23-3 to a Patriots team that struggled to beat the Bills and Jets in the two previous games.  This isn't an endorsement for the Cardinals, just a pick against Tampa Bay.

Austen: I cannot remember a bigger fall from grace for a young quarterback. Freeman has a lot of talent, but his attitude is making him untouchable. Why would you go straight to the press after getting benched? Keep your mouth shut, work your tail off, and become a better football player. If he doesn't improve his work ethic, he will never start another game in the NFL. 

Austen doesn't have a one-point pick due to bye weeks for Green Bay and Carolina.

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