Week 4 Review

Posted: 10/01/2014 by levcohen in Football

The NFL has more week-to-week and year-to-year randomness than any other sport. That makes sense because it’s just a 17-week season and has a lot of luck involved. Case-in-point: two Thursday’s ago, the Atlanta Falcons crushed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 56-14. As a result, the Falcons were favored in Minnesota while the Buccaneers were heavy underdogs in Pittsburgh. But what happened when Sunday came around? That’s right: the Bucs upset the Steelers, while the Falcons lost to the Vikings. That’s the moral of this week: just when you think you know something about a team, they’ll prove you wrong. Unless, of course, they are the Jaguars or Raiders.

Carolina Panthers (2-1, 2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1, 1-1-1):
Spread: Ravens favored by 3.5
Over/under: 42.5
My prediction: Ravens win 23-16.
Result: I was wrong on the over/under. In hindsight, I should have known this game was going to go over, because Steve Smith was bound to have multiple touchdowns against his former team and that makes over 42.5 pretty darn likely. Sure enough, Smith torched the Panthers, going off for seven catches, 139 yards, and the aforementioned two touchdowns, and the Ravens won 38-10. It looks like the “Panthers regression” crew was right after all, because Cam Newton doesn’t look 100% and the run game has been banged up and terrible.

Detroit Lions (2-1, 2-1) at New York Jets (1-2, 0-2-1):*
Spread: Lions favored by 1
Over/under: 44
My prediction: Jets win 26-21.
Result: The Jets disappointed me here. In particular, their offense was bad in a 24-17 home loss against the Lions, who, gasp, are not blowing close games yet. Geno Smith was bad, and fans predictably chanted for Michael Vick. They kept it close for most of the game, but their two turnovers (Detroit had zero) and Smith’s inconsistent play pretty much sealed the loss. The Lions look pretty good, but I wouldn’t assume they’re making the playoffs yet.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3, 0-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1, 1-2):
Spread: Steelers favored by 7.5
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: Steelers win this 27-17.
Result: 0/3 again. The Steelers were in control of the game, but just couldn’t put the Buccaneers away. I think the loss tells us more about Pittsburgh than it does about Tampa, and it’s one that really cuts into the Steelers’ playoff hopes.

Miami Dolphins (1-2, 1-2) at Oakland Raiders (0-3, 2-1) in London:
Spread: Dolphins favored by 3.5
Over/under: 41
My prediction: Dolphins 26-9
Result: Over/under wrong again (this is getting annoying), as the Dolphins surprisingly had an offensive outburst, racking up 435 yards of offense and scoring 38 points. The Raiders were awful enough that their coach, Dennis Allen, was fired after the game. Again, along with the Jaguars, the Raiders are one of the two outlier teams in football, so it’s hard to take too much from this 38-14 game. It’s safe to say Ryan Tannehill isn’t going to be benched now, though.

Green Bay Packers (1-2, 0-2-1) at Chicago Bears (2-1, 2-1):
Spread: Packers favored by 1.5
Over/under: 50.5
My prediction: Packers win this one 31-24.
Result: Aaron Rodgers is pretty darn good. His 22-28 for 302 yards and four touchdowns effort is one of the best you will see this season, and his Packers absolutely ripped the Bears to shreds in Chicago en route to a 38-17 win. This could be a season turning point for each team, as the Bears could have gone two games ahead of the Packers with a home win but now have to be considered the third best contender in the NFC North behind Green Bay and Detroit. As an aside, this is quite the division, with the three I mentioned and Minnesota. It should come down to the wire, and this is an early big division game that went the Packers way.

Buffalo Bills (2-1, 2-1) at Houston Texans (2-1, 2-1):
Spread: Texans favored by 3
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: Texans win 21-20.
Result: Just the spread wrong, as it turns out I should have trusted my initial instinct and gone with the Texans to win and cover. On the other hand, Houston wasn’t convincing in their 23-17 win, especially offensively. These were two very weak 2-1 teams, and now the Bills are a weak 2-2 team with a new starting quarterback while the Texans are a super weak 3-1 team with an easy schedule and poor offense that basically consists of J.J. Watt and a gimpy Arian Foster.

Tennessee Titans (1-2, 1-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-2, 2-1):
Spread: Colts favored by 7.5
Over/under: 45.5
My prediction: Colts win 30-14.
Result: I guess picking against Charlie Whitehurst was a good idea after all. Colts are who we thought they were: an average all-around team with an amazing quarterback in Andrew Luck. They’ll probably go 10-6 and win a weak AFC South again. Meanwhile, I wasn’t sure about my Titans under wins pick after their week one win, but I’m more confident in it than ever now.

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3, 0-3) at San Diego Chargers (2-1, 3-0):- Lock
Spread: Chargers favored by 13
Over/under: 45
My prediction: Chargers win 30-20.
Result: Just the spread wrong. I’m really going to try not to pick the Jaguars next week, because it’s come back to bite me four weeks in a row. The Chargers look like one of the best five teams in football, with Philip Rivers playing like an MVP candidate through the first quarter of his season. The division race between Denver and San Diego might turn into an exciting one that also gives one of them home field advantage.

Philadelphia Eagles (3-0, 2-1) at San Francisco 49ers (1-2, 1-2):
Spread: 49ers favored by 4
Over/under: 48.5
My prediction: 49ers 27-16.
Result: This game ended up 26-21 San Francisco, but it was really more like a 33-0 game, as the Eagles’ only three touchdowns came from defense and special teams. Philly’s offense was really bad, while San Francisco’s had its bad moments but was definitely the better of the two. A 3/3 here, but barely, as the 9ers covered by just one point and it went under by only 1.5. These teams are both playoff contenders, but neither is a Super Bowl contender right now.

Atlanta Falcons (2-1, 2-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-2, 1-2):*
Spread: Falcons favored by 4
Over/under: 47.5
My prediction: Vikings win 27-23.
Result: Another 3/3. Before exiting the game with an injury, Teddy Bridgewater looked pretty good in his first NFL start. He’s not a read-option type quarterback, but he looked pretty mobile and also threw for 317 yards. Atlanta’s defense is terrible, so I’m interested to see how Bridgewater plays against a real defense. Meanwhile, Atlanta is still what we thought they were: a good offensive teams with deep flaws defensively. A 9-7 or 8-8 season seems pretty likely for the Falcons and, if Bridgewater continues to play well, maybe Minnesota as well.

New Orleans Saints (1-2, 1-2) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1, 2-1):
Spread: Saints favored by 3
Over/under: 54
My prediction: Saints 31-27.
Result: Just the over/under correct. This was a shocking game (not as shocking as the Monday Night Football game, but still), and the Cowboys look like they are going to make some noise in the NFC East. I still don’t think they win the division, but it’s time to start taking their offense seriously. The defense isn’t great, but it’s not the record-worst unit we thought it might be. Meanwhile, we aren’t quite at panic time for New Orleans, but we’re getting there. The offense just doesn’t look the same, and Rob Ryan’s defense stinks.

New England Patriots (2-1, 1-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-2, 2-1):
Spread: Patriots favored by 3
Over/under: 46.5
My prediction: Patriots 24-20
Result: An 0/3 for me and for most of America too. It ended 41-14 Kansas City, and that second New England touchdown came after the Patriots took Tom Brady out of the game. This was the worst game of the Brady-Belichick era, but I’m not going to overreact and say the Patriots are out of the race. Their division stinks, and they are still likely AFC East favorites, but it doesn’t look great right now. Kansas City, meanwhile, has had the opposite first quarter of fellow regression candidate Carolina. They’ve won their last two after losing to the Titans and Broncos, and look like they can stay in the mix in a tough AFC West.

Upset picks:
Jets over Lions
Vikings over Falcons
1-1… 6-7 total

Lock of the week:
Chargers over Jaguars
1-0… 3-1 total

8-5 on game predictions.. 36-25 total
6-7 on spread.. 28-31-2 total
7-6 on over/under.. 22-38-1

By the way, primetime games have really killed me. Not including the second MNF game in week one, which was really late and wasn’t really a primetime game, I’m 5-7 straight up, 4-8 against the spread, and 2-9-1 over/under in night games.

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