LOS ANGELES, September 26, 2013—While some predictions have been thrown out the window, the elite athletes are still staying true to form.
The Giants and Packers will not be going 13-3. The Bills, Dolphins and Titans will not be going 3-13. The Bears will not be going 4-12.
Yet not every prediction was a boneheaded one. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees all have their teams at 3-0, exactly as expected. Manning has yet to throw an interception. Brady is wringing ability out of rookie receivers. Brees is doing what he does. All three of these Super Bowl champions have a legitimate shot at getting another ring. Denver and New Orleans have also given Manning and Brees solid play on defense. New England is being criticized by outsiders and by Brady himself for playing below standards, but that just shows how great the Patriots have been for so long. This week will see if they all take one step closer to matching the 1972 Dolphins.
Here is the Week 4 NFL Preview (all times EST), with point spreads provided by Linemakers.
Thursday, September 26, 8:30pm
San Francisco 49ers (-3.5) at St. Louis Rams—Throw out the records. The Rams play the 49ers tough, and the Aldon Smith situation will be a factor. The 49ers have more talent, but when both teams are playing like garbage, take the home team. Upset special, Rams win outright
Sunday September 29
Baltimore Ravens (-3.5) at Buffalo Bills—The Bills are improved, but they had a long way to go. The Ravens are worse, but they had a long way to fall. Ravens cover
Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5) at Cleveland Browns—These teams have both been awful for much of the last few decades. The Bengals have talent, while Cleveland might finally have a quarterback in Brian Hoyer. After winning last week on the road, the Browns deserve one chance at home to prove themselves. Upset special, Browns win outright
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (3) —The Bears are 3-0 and the Lions are 2-1, giving them both plenty of time to regress. Whoever loses this game will still not be as good as their record. Lions cover
Seattle Seahawks (-3) at Houston Texans — Seattle is a wrecking machine, having carpet-bombed teams by a combined 74-20 the last two weeks. Houston is a better than average team, but Seattle is a great team. Seahawks cover
Indianapolis Colts (-9) at Jacksonville Jaguars — The Colts made a statement last week in going on the road and throttling San Francisco by 20 points. The Jaguars are the worst team in football, and Andrew Luck should easily carve up Jacksonville’s defense. Colts cover
New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5) — These teams were expected to be a combined 3-4, but with the Giants having the three wins. Tom Coughlin and Andy Reid are both good coaches, but even the best coaches need players. The Chiefs have them. Big Blue lost 38-0 last week. Chiefs cover
Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings (Pick ‘em) (In London) —Not since America exported “Baywatch” to Pakistan has the worst of American culture been sent to a supposed ally. These teams are both 0-3, and should expand on the great Wembley Stadium tradition offered in prior years by Jacksonville and Tampa Bay. Vikings win
Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2.5) —Despite losing on the road last week 31-7, Arizona faces a Bucs team that may have given up on their coach. The Bucs quarterback change should accomplish nothing. Upset special, Cardinals win outright
New York Jets at Tennessee Titans (-4.5) — If the 2-1 Jets win this game, the world will be subjected to the old Rex Ryan boasting of having the greatest team in New York and a Super Bowl contender. That cannot be allowed to happen. Titans win but fail to cover.
Philadelphia Eagles at Denver Broncos (-10.5) — Chip Kelly has installed a high octane offense, but it takes time for the players and the system to gel. Peyton Manning has been running his rocket fuel offense for over 15 years, and is on pace to shatter league records. Now he plays a team without a defense while his own defense gets to hunt Michael Vick. Broncos win but fail to cover
Washington Redskins (-3) at Oakland Raiders — The 0-3 Redskins will rebound at some point, while gauging the 1-2 Raiders is tough since everyone is losing at Denver and beating Jacksonville at home. Winning this game could separate the 8-8 Raiders from the 4-12 Raiders. If Terrelle Pryor starts, the Raiders could win. Pryor does not remember last week’s game while the Redskins try to forget this entire season and the Raiders try to forget the last decade. Upset special, Raiders win outright.
Dallas Cowboys (1.5) at San Diego Chargers —These hot and cold teams are led by hot and cold quarterbacks Tony Romo and Philip Rivers. Dallas won last week to get to 2-1 while San Diego lost to fall to 1-2. This week they reverse again. Upset special, Chargers win outright
New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons (-1) — The 3-0 Patriots might be overrated and the 1-2 Falcons might be underrated. Atlanta is at home, giving them one more chance to show the league they are still elite. Falcons cover
Monday, September 30, 8:30pm
Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints (5.5) — Both teams are 3-0, but Miami still has many skeptics. Winning this game would silence the critics. A Saints blowout would expose the Dolphins as pretenders. Expect the latter. Saints cover
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