Thursday, October 1, 2009

NFL 2009: Week 4 Picks

NFL Week 3 Review

Not so many surprises this past week. Also, we are starting to get an idea of who actually are 'contenders' and who still are 'pretenders' this season. There are a bunch of teams that are in the middle, with a lots of questions about themselves. In my opinion this is how they grade out:

Sign me up for January!
  • Colts (3-0): Is there any other offense that looks so much in sync all 3 weeks yet. Watch out for the bend-but-not-break defense over the next few weeks though.
  • Saints (3-0): The first 2 weeks had Brees throwing all over the place, the next they have their running game and defense pull them through on the road. They really do look like a complete team.
  • Ravens (3-0): They have a stout defense (in spite of the points they have given up) and an offense to go on a shoot out with anyone.
  • Jets (3-0): Rex Ryan has his defense ready at an elite level. But how long before Sanchez falls down to Earth with a thud and holds them back? or will he?
  • Giants (3-0): Not too flashy in how they take care of business, but they sure do.
  • Vikings (3-0): A Favre-magic moment away from being 2-1. But they would rather not be in a position to put the ball in Favre's hands.
  • 49ers (2-1): A Favre-magic moment away from being 3-0. Only consolation: "You got Favre'd!! Weak NFC should be fine.
  • Chargers (2-1): Weak AFC should be fine
  • Falcons (2-1): Have to show more heart to prove you belong here.
Who am I?
  • Patriots (2-1): Brady still shaking off rust. Do they keep running in the meanwhile?
  • Eagles (2-1): No McNaab no problem, but what happens when he comes back?
  • Bears (2-1): Good Cutler? Bad Cutler?
  • Bengals (2-1): A fluky last second play away from being 3-0.
  • Steelers (1-2): What happened to Steeler Football?? 2 plays from being 3-0..... or 1 play from being 0-3??
  • Packers (2-1): On offense - 'protect, protect!!'. On defense - 'recover, recover!!'. And you should not have to make miracle plays (video below) to go down-field. You are better than that!

  • Texans (1-2): Solid team on paper. Unpredictable is an understatement on field.
  • Bills (1-2): Can you keep TO happy? Rather, you have to feed him anyways to get your offense going.
  • Broncos (3-0): A fluky last second play, the Browns, the Raiders..... very impressive....not.
  • Cowboys (2-1): Will the real Tony Romo please stand up??
  • Cardinals (1-2): Its all about getting your offense going..... and your defense.... and special teams .....or.....just start over
  • Titans (0-3): Do I say "It's all but over" yet??

Looking forward to the "Sam Bradford Bowl" of 2010!
  • Lions (1-2)
  • Browns (0-3)
  • Seahawks (1-2)
  • Chiefs (0-3)
  • Redskins (1-2)
  • Buccaneers (0-3)
  • Panthers (0-3)
  • Jaguars (1-2)
  • Raiders (1-2)
  • Dolphins (0-3)
  • Rams (0-3)

Week 4 Picks

Lions (+10) at Bears
Can the Lions keep their winning streak going? That was a joke.... the Lions are not anymore.
My Pick: Bears

Bengals (-5.5) at Browns
Now, the Browns could be the joke of this year. Who thinks Derek Anderson will fare better than Brady Quinn? (silence.....) I though so.
My Pick: Bengals

Seahawks (-10.5) at Colts
Even if the Seahawks defense gets all their starters back healthy, I do not see them beating the Colts. Boy are the Colts good!!.... I mean scary good!!
My Pick: Colts

Giants (-9) at Chiefs
The Chiefs have no Tyler Thigpen to fall upon...... like that would make a difference. The Giants are on a roll, playing no nonsense football. The easiest pick to go 5-0 with Raiders next week.
My Pick: Giants

Ravens (+1) at Patriots
Now for the big guy league. The Ravens have looked formidable than ever till now, but the Patriots are finding their feet after 3 weeks. If Wes Welker does play, I do not see the Patriots losing at home.
My Pick: Patriots

Bucs (+7) at Redskins
Redskins will try to rebound after being the goat in snapping a 19 game losing streak. They definitely are the better team on paper. And I see it play out the same way on the field.
My Pick: Redskins

Titans (-3) at Jaguars
The Titans can't possibly lose another game to go 0-4, can they? They lost 4 games all of last season including the playoffs. They would not want to equal that in the first 4 weeks of the new season. And the Jaguars are not all that intimidating, even at home.
My Pick: Titans

Raiders (+9.5) at Texans
I am always skeptical to pick the Texans. But when I see the Raiders on the other side, I can boldly pick the Texans. The Raiders are a mess all over, from Jamarcus, Heyward-Bey, to the coaches, to the front office, the PR folk right up to Al Davis at the top. Hard to come out of a funk like that.
My Pick: Texans

Bills (-1) at Dolphins
The Bills have been in all games they lost so far till the fourth quarter. They just need more creative offensive play calling to pull away. Enough of those dinks n dunks, clearly depicting the mindset of the head coach Dick Jouron. As selfish and ego-centric as he may be, I take the side of TO here, you have to try get him the ball to make things happen. He might drop a few, but keep going back to him. He's done this before.
My Pick: Bills

Jets (+7) at Saints
This will be the only meeting of undefeated teams this weekend. The Saints at home will like to get their passing game on track after last week's outing at Buffalo. But it should not be a major concern as they seem to have the defense and running game to fall upon. But thing that is certain is Rex Ryan will unleash all kinds of exotic blitzes to try pressure Brees. Will be fun to watch this match-up. And will this be the weekend when the rookie Sanchez falters and plays like a rookie? The Jets may be in trouble if Brees and the Saints manage to turn it into a shoot out, and the rookie will have to make plays more often than the Jets would like to.
My Pick: Saints

Cowboys(-3) at Broncos
The Denver Broncos have been the most surprising team so far based on their 3-0 record. Not so surprising when you look at how they won their first game and their otehr 2 opponents. Still, you cannot discount them until they actually lose to someone. Dallas come off a shaky outing against the Panthers, despite what the final score might suggest. But Romo played within himself, mistake-free to make sure Dallas clinched the game down the home-stretch without making mistakes of their own. If he does the same against the Broncos, they should be good to come out of Mile High City with a win.
My Pick: Cowboys

Rams (+9.5) at 49ers
The 49ers had a gut-wrenching loss last week, as a result of some last second heroics of an old man named Favre. What better opponent to make sure you are not stuck in that funk than the lowly Rams. The niners will go in without Frank Gore, but they should have enough offense with Glenn Coffee and the resourceful Shawn Hill to take care of business at home. Rams are without their starting QB Bulger, and Brunell will take snaps under center this week.
My Pick: 49ers

Chargers (+6.5) at Steelers
This clearly is one of the most intriguing match-ups of the weekend. The Chargers never do great when they visit the Steel City during the regular season. But this time they are catching the Steelers with no visible running game and doubting themselves on finishing games. Chargers though have problems of their own, with Jamal Williams and LT injured. Mike Tomlin will have his team fired up after their two close losses the past two weeks and will just have enough to beat out the Chargers at home. But I think the Chargers still cover the spread.
My Pick: Steelers

Game of the Week: Packers (+3.5) at Vikings

This obviously is the biggest game of the week, with so many sub-plots and side stories to go along with the actual game. To add to this already spicy match-up Favre threw that last second TD against the 49ers last week to remind us that he is not washed up, yet. There are many interesting things to watch out on Monday Night, starting with how Favre greets with his old teammates not to mention his hand-shake moments with Aaron Rodgers, Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson. Obviously, the Packers didn't want this match-up to happen and hence traded Favre to the Jets last year. But, Favre, with a little help from Brad Childress and the Vikings managed to circumvent the efforts of the Packers and land as the Vikings QB this season. There have been rumors about the "revenge" factor behind Favre's presence with the Vikings, which he absolutely denies (but come on, everyone knows he felt he had scores to settle with his old team).

Coming down to the actual match-ups, here are my pointers to look out for:

Can the Packers D stop Adrian Peterson?
Well stopping him is out of the question, but they sure would like to limit him to less than 80 yards or so for the game. Last week, against the Rams, Don Capers used whats called the "Big Okie" formation on defense where he essentially played 3-5 (with 5 linebackers, one linebacker extra instead of a DB) to try limit the Rams running production. They were not too successful with it against Stephen Jackson, but at least they have a plan in place, which will definitely be more refined after a week of game-tape analysis. Ideally, they would like to make Favre throw with 2nd and long downs. Easy said than dont though.

The Packers Offensive Line
Chad Clifton may come back this week to start at Left Tackle, which means College and Spitz can go back to their respectable positions of strength Left Guard and Center (respectively). It doesn't mean all Packers Offensive line woes are solved overnight, but atleast it should be better than the second half of the Bengals game. UPDATE: Clifton did not practice Thursday, means he will most probably not play Monday. The two things they will concentrate on doing are: protect Aaron Radgers from not only getting hit, but also giving him enough time to throw downfield to Greg Jennings and Donald Driver and also maybe try executing their zone blocking schemes to aid Ryan Grant executing the run plays better (especially on first downs to avoid 2nd and long situations). It's a tall ask with Jared Allen going to be revving his motor all night against Clifton. Hopefully, the play-calling can include some quick slants and screens to slow down the initial burst of pass rush from the Vikings defensive front. If Rodgers gets chased around all night, its going to be a long night for the Packers.

Packers should make Favre throw
You think I am crazy? Believe me, I know what I'm wishing for. As an avid Packer Fan I have been following Favre over the last few years real up-close. As much as he may surprise you with a play like against the 49ers, he will also help his opponents throwing picks. Especially with old age, he does the latter more often. If I am his opponent, I would like my chances defending his throw than get bruised trying to stop Adrian Peterson all night. To do that, you have to limit Peterson on first downs. And more importantly, score more points making the Vikings catch up to you. If you turn it into a shoot out, then the Vikings will have no option but to keep throwing.

As far as my prediction for the game goes, my heart says "pick the Packers". But given the situation of the PAckers offensive line and the new unpredictable 3-4 defense, I would be a fool not to trust my head and pick the Vikings at home.
My Pick: Vikings

Last Week: 12-4
Year to date: 35-13

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