|Photo: Associated Press|
Week 4 of the 2012 NFL Season is now in the books, and what a week it was.
The New Orleans Saints are (0-4) while the Arizona Cardinals, yes, the same Cardinals who supposedly didn't have a definitive starting quarterback are (4-0) mostly with Kevin Kolb as their starting quarterback — though their defense is the real reason behind their success.
Coming off of their upset victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3, the Minnesota Vikings continued to blow minds around the league with a convincing win over their NFC North rival Detroit Lions.
The Houston Texans continued to make their case as the best team in the league with a blowout win against an offensively inept Tennessee Titans squad.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Kansas City Chiefs continue to do their best to prove that there the worst team in the league with an embarrassing 37-20 loss to the visiting rival San Diego Chargers in the normally friendly confines of Arrowhead.
I really upped my game last week, going (11-4) with my weekly picks. Hopefully I can continue to build on that success this week.
My Pick 'Em Record: 28-35
Now, onto my picks for Week 5!
Arizona Cardinals (4-0) at St. Louis Rams (2-2) on Thursday Night Football
The Cardinals look unstoppable thus far this season, and their defense is championship caliber. The only question is which Kevin Kolb will show up on Thursday night in prime time, especially against a much-improved St. Louis secondary? Regardless, I like the Cards' defense to keep the Rams' offense at bay and lead the desert birds to their fifth win of the year.
Prediction - Cardinals win, 24-13
Miami Dolphins (1-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)
The Dolphins' offense looked surprisingly good against the Cardinals in Week 4, including record-breaking performances from wide receiver Brian Hartline and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Bengals currently rank 31st against the run, but they're also coming off a game against Jacksonville in which they pretty much shut down Maurice Jones-Drew, so it's hard to tell which defense will show up. I'll take Cincy at home.
Prediction - Bengals win, 27-17
Green Bay Packers (2-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
Green Bay is coming off a 28-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints to improve to 2-2 on the season while the Colts were idle. I could be wrong, but I feel like something clicked for the Packers' offense last week and I fully expect them to beat Andrew Luck and the Colts comfortably.
Prediction - Packers win, 31-17
Baltimore Ravens (3-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-3)
The Chiefs have looked terrible thus far while the Ravens — especially their much-improved passing game led by Joe Flacco — have looked phenomenal. Before the season started, I picked the Chiefs as my dark horse team in the AFC. Needless to say, that was a grave calculation on my part. Kansas City has looked nothing short of horrendous on both sides of the ball, at least in the games I've seen. Forget what their stats say. The eye test tells all.
Prediction - Ravens win, 24-14
Atlanta Falcons (4-0) at Washington Redskins (2-2)
Robert Griffin III has been nothing short of a godsend for the Redskins thus far, but Matt Ryan and the Falcons look like the best team in the NFC (no offense, Arizona). Washington will play tough, but in the end, the Falcons just have too much firepower on offense and John Abraham will have their defense ready too.
Prediction - Falcons win, 34-17
Cleveland Browns (0-4) at New York Giants (2-2)
The Browns are bad. Enough said. The Giants, meanwhile, despite losing a last second game to the rival Philadelphia Eagles, are still one of the better teams in the league in my opinion. Brandon Weeden will be running for his life in this one.
Prediction - Giants win, 27-13
Philadelphia Eagles (3-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)
See what happens when you run the ball, Andy Reid? Good things happen. Unfortunately, they'll be hard pressed to have any luck on the ground against Pittsburgh. No doubt the Steelers will come into this one with a massive chip on their shoulder after choking one away to the lowly Raiders in Week 3. Not to mention, James Harrison, Troy Polamalu and Rashard Mendenhall could all be back this week too. I could pay for going with my favorite team in this one, but hopefully they'll show up and make me look smart for picking them.
Prediction - Steelers win, 23-20
Seattle Seahawks (2-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-3)
The Panthers are coming off another gut-wrenching loss after Matt Ryan and the Falcons fought their way back and managed to defend home turf thanks to clutch play from Ryan and Roddy White down the stretch. The Seahawks, after knocking off the Packers thanks to an assist from the replacement refs (though Seattle's defense does deserve some credit for giving them a fighting chance), came out and loss to the Rams. Both squads will be looking for redemption, but the Panthers are easily the better overall team.
Prediction - Panthers win, 23-17
Chicago Bears (3-1) at Jacksonville (1-3)
Let's be honest with ourselves — this game should be a one-sided affair. The Bears are a top ten defense against both the run and pass, which is bad news for a Jags' team that struggles on offense regardless of who they're up against. It might be closer than some people think, but I still like Julius Peppers and company to wreak havoc and come out on top.
Prediction - Bears win, 20-13
Tennessee Titans (1-3) at Minnesota Vikings (3-1)
This game features two teams headed in completely different directions. While the Titans look terrible — especially the running game with Chris Johnson — Christian Ponder is looking more and more like he was worth that reach by the Vikes after all. Regardless of whether it's Jake Locker or the veteran Matt Hasselbeck under center for Tennessee, my money is on the Vikings. I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to Jared Allen's sack dance.
Prediction - Vikings win, 17-13
Denver Broncos (2-2) at New England Patriots (2-2)
I think it goes without saying why this game is important. It's the revival of the Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady rivalry. With those two under center, you can bet that both offenses will be able to put up plenty of points. The question is, which defense will make enough plays to get the win? Give me the Patriots.
Prediction - Patriots win, 31-27
Buffalo Bills (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (3-1)
While the Bills are coming off a blowout loss to New England, the 49ers enter this one having shut out and flat out embarrassed the New York Jets in their own building. San Francisco clearly wasn't happy with their showing when they lost to the Vikings a couple weeks back, and I think head coach Jim Harbaugh will continue using that as a motivational tactic to get the best out of his players again this week.
Prediction - 49ers win, 31-17
San Diego Chargers (3-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-4) on Sunday Night Football
The Saints came up short against the Packers last week despite the referees doing their best to try and get them one for the win column. Don't expect this week to be any easier. I just feel like the Saints are stuck in a rut that they just can't find a way out of. Philip Rivers and company get the job done and New Orleans falls to (0-5) on the season. No doubt Sean Payton is cursing at the television from his couch watching his team this season.
Prediction - Chargers win, 31-24
Houston Texans (4-0) at New York Jets (2-2) on Monday Night Football
This is the easiest pick of the bunch. The Texans are not only making a strong case to be labeled the current best team in the NFL. The running game with Arian Foster and Ben Tate is solid as always, and the Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson connection continues to be lethal. Oh, and did we forget to mention that their defense is arguably the best in the NFL too? The Jets don't stand a chance in this one, especially with that anemic offense of theirs. At this point, the 'We Want Tebow' chants can't be too far off from starting up.
Prediction - Texans win, 28-13