Week 4 of the 2016 NFL season began Thursday night in Cincinnati. The Bengals held the Miami Dolphins offense in check all night on their way to a 22-7 victory. Read on for a preview of the rest of Week 4’s matchups.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Both of these respective teams have the potential to run up the scoreboard every single week, yet something just seems to always go wrong. Fans have seen flashes of pure brilliance from Andrew Luck dating all the way back to the 2014 season, but nagging injuries, a discombobulated offensive line, a shaky running game and a very generous defense over the course of the last two years has restricted him to performing at that same level.
The Jaguars spent $178.3 million dollars on big name free agents this offseason and look to build continuity amongst all the new faces. Head coach Gus Bradley’s job might also be riding on this game as the Jags “host” the Colts in London, England. Anticipate this matchup to be high scoring as both defenses have struggled immensely thus far. With the Colts offense being injury riddled and Vontae Davis potentially missing another game, it will be interesting to see if Jacksonville can capitalize in London.
Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars 24, Indianapolis Colts 17
Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots
With the Bills coming off a stellar performance against the Arizona Cardinals at home, they look to carry that momentum into Foxborough to take on longtime AFC East bullies, the New England Patriots. The Pats just keep finding ways to win. With fill-in rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett’s recent thumb injury that may require surgery, New England may look to add a quarterback to the roster sometime this week. Despite quarterback play, running back LaGarrette Blount looked like a monster last week and the defense looked extremely formidable. Expect the Pats to stick to relatively conservative playcalling and manage the game.
The Bills, perhaps inspired by head coach Rex Ryan, thoroughly outplayed the Arizona Cardinals last week. The defense forced 4 interceptions while the offense managed to put up 33 points without their number one weapon in Sammy Watkins. The Bills relied mostly on big plays defensively, which they cannot anticipate as much from the Pats offense this week.
Prediction: New England Patriots 17, Buffalo Bills 13
Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans
The Texans are looking to rebound coming off a rather embarrassing Week 3 performance in which the New England Patriots dominated them in every facet of the game. The Texans are back home in Houston this week and are attempting to correct their miscues from last week. Marcus Mariota, on the other hand, is off to a horrible start to the season. However, the run game has looked promising and the defense has seemed manageable. Brock Osweiler still has star wideout DeAndre Hopkins and emerging rookie Will Fuller available at his disposal, paired with a solid running game with Lamar Miller consistently in the backfield.
The Titans missed out on having Delaine Walker in the passing game last week, but he is hoping to return to aid a struggling pass offense. Look for the Texans to bounce back and give a good showing in front of the Houston crowd.
Prediction: Houston Texans 27, Tennessee Titans 14
Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears
Despite Marvin Jones’s ridiculous Week 3 in fantasy football, the Detroit Lions still came up short against the Green Bay Packers. Brian Hoyer and the Bears also are coming off a loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Look for the red hot Lions passing attack to continue against a struggling Bears defense. The Bears also lost starting running back Jeremy Langford for 4-6 weeks and are relying on rookie tailback Jordan Howard. Although neither defense has performed at an elite level early on, the Lions appear to have the more serviceable one. Expect the Lions to control this game from start to finish.
Prediction: Detroit Lions 31, Chicago Bears 14
Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons
Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers struggled immensely last week against the shorthanded Vikings. There is major concern with the Carolina offensive line as Newton has taken a beating over the first three weeks. They are also without starting running back Jonathan Stewart.
The Falcons on the other hand absolutely took advantage of a horrid Saints defense and put up 45 points in a big road win on Monday Night Football. The Falcons will continue playing at a high level, especially at home. However, the Panthers defense is an elite one at that that will prove to be a major challenge for Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Look for this to be a great game and see if the Falcons can take advantage of an injury-riddled Panthers squad.
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons 28, Carolina Panthers 24
Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Jets
This is a very interesting matchup on Sunday. Both teams are struggling greatly right now and are looking for something that holds promise through the rest of this season. The Seahawks are unsure as of now if Russell Wilson will be on the field come Sunday. The Jets have their own issues at quarterback as Ryan Fitzpatrick is coming off a 6-interception game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
This game could easily turn into a battle of the defenses, as both squads are extremely solid on that side of the ball. Don’t expect a huge offensive output on either side. Brandon Marshall is still banged up and it’s hard to anticipate a big showing from the Jets offense after their poor performance last week. Look for Wilson to be active and give a good showing, as Christine Michael and the run game may struggle against the Jets dominating front 7.
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 13, New York Jets 7
Oakland Raiders vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens are one of only five remaining undefeated teams heading into Week 4. They take on the Raiders in Baltimore at 1:00 p.m. Eastern on Sunday. The Raiders are also off to a hot start to the season and look to build on that. The Raiders revamped their roster this past offseason and the pieces finally seem to be falling into place. Derek Carr and Amari Cooper are a great 1-2 punch in the passing game along with the always productive Michael Crabtree on the opposite side. The running game has seen a combination of Latavius Murray, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.
The Ravens don’t have many flashy names but play a hard-nosed style of defense and just move the chains on offense. Look for Oakland’s passing game to overpower the shorthanded Baltimore secondary. There are also still questions surrounding the Baltimore ground game, and they are looking for someone to emerge out of the backfield.
Prediction: Oakland Raiders 27, Baltimore Ravens 17
Cleveland Browns vs. Washington Redskins
Browns fans still have their mouths hanging open in shock of Josh Gordon’s decision to enter in-patient rehab and most likely not return to football this season, nothing seems to be going right in Cleveland. However, Cody Kessler looked solid in his debut and they found their Swiss army knife in Terrelle Pryor.
The Redskins are coming off a big divisional win against the previously undefeated New York Giants. Washington quietly has one of the best passing attacks in the league with Kirk Cousins having options like Jordan Reed, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder. The Redskins defense has also looked manageable, allowing their offense to take control of games. Look for the Browns to struggle against the pass-happy Redskins as Joe Haden will also be a game-time decision for them.
Prediction: Washington Redskins 31, Cleveland Browns 3
Denver Broncos vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Denver Broncos are surprisingly coming off of a huge offensive performance against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3. The Bucs on the other hand put up 32 points, but they couldn’t quite come out on top of the Los Angeles Rams. Jameis Winston has shown flashes of potential and what he could be, but he has also showed his youth and lack of discipline at times, too. It won’t be an easy matchup at all to say the least for him on Sunday. Denver’s defense continues to dominate opponents. If the offense gets going like it did last week, this will once again be a very scary team come playoff time. Even in Tampa, Winston will struggle against the best defense in the league. However, don’t expect another 4 touchdown output from Broncos QB Trevor Siemian either. Look for the Broncos to fully control this game from start to finish.
Prediction: Denver Broncos 24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10
Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals
The Rams have had a roller coaster of a season thus far. They started off the season by getting shut out by the lackluster 49ers,, but then defeated Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. Arizona has struggled out of the gate. Expectations for the Cardinals were sky high coming into the season, but Carson Palmer and the defense has really struggled early on. Both teams have elite running backs and will surely try to get them involved as much as possible. The Cardinals are hoping that Palmer can get on the same page with his receivers sooner rather than later, but it won’t be an easy matchup due to the Rams’ stout defense. The Rams offense has struggled all year but will try to get big time playmaker Tavon Austin in open space as much as possible. Look for this to be a tight game.
Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 21, Los Angeles Rams 14
Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers
As the Romo-less Dallas Cowboys appear to be cruising along, they now face being without Dez Bryant on Sunday. Dak Prescott has looked impressive in his first three NFL games and hopes to continue against the 49ers. Even without Bryant, Dallas will try to control the ground game with first round draft pick Ezekiel Elliot.
San Francisco has had an underwhelming start. Blaine Gabbert is still handling duties at QB, and the passing attack has not hit its stride yet. Carlos Hyde can’t do it all on the offensive side of the football. The 49ers could find a way to make this a close one at home against an injury riddled Dallas team, but as long as Prescott is under center, Dallas looks good to go.
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 17, San Francisco 49ers 7
New Orleans Saints vs. San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers have impressed early on after losing top offensive weapons Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead to injury. The offensive line is holding its own and they look to be in business. Opposing quarterbacks drool at the thought of facing the Saints defense. So no matter how impressive Drew Brees or Mark Ingram or Brandin Cooks look, it will all go to waste if the defense can’t perform. Expect Phillip Rivers to feast on the New Orleans secondary and torch them with deep threats like Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams. The Saints will put up their fair share of points as well, however. It is going to come down to which defense can contain the opposing offense better in San Diego.
Prediction: San Diego Chargers 37, New Orleans Saints 26
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Both teams have a large part of their team returning to them in this Week 4 matchup. The Chiefs are looking forward to running back Jamaal Charles making his 2016 debut coming off his torn ACL suffered last season. The Steelers are also welcoming back suspended RB Le’Veon Bell. Pittsburgh is coming off a blowout loss from Carson Wentz and the underdog Eagles.
On the other hand, the Chiefs destroyed the New York Jets last week and are looking to build on that. This could end up being a close one in the Steel City on Sunday Night Football. Big Ben, Bell and AB might be too much to handle for some teams; however, I expect the Kansas City defense to continue its dominance and contain the Steelers on the road. Both squads are really looking forward t this one and could shape up for a great game
Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 24 Pittsburgh Steelers 21
New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings
To wrap up Week 4, the New York Giants will visit the Vikings in Minnesota. The Vikings are looking to remain perfect despite losing both their starting QB and RB. The Giants have struggled with their rushing attack all year and that may continue heading into this one, as Rashad Jennings isn’t sure he will be a go. However, the Giants defense is much improved and looks like it could actually play a positive roll for New York.
The Vikings hand the ball off to Sam Bradford again after an impressive performance last week. The Vikings defense has also been a large reason why they still haven’t lost yet. Look for the Giants passing arsenal to dictate the game and for the Minnesota secondary to be scrambling around against top flight receivers. Minnesota’s luck may have run out.
Prediction: New York Giants 24, Minnesota Vikings 13