2018 NFL Week 4 Picks & Previews: Which Surprise Teams Come Back Down to Earth?

Welcome to my Week 4 NFL picks and previews.  It was a rough week for me last week, as I finished 6-10.  But luckily, I’m still 27-19-2 (28-19-2 including TNF Week 4) due to my strong week in Week 2.  I’m still ahead of 9 of ESPN’s 10 experts, and half of CBS Sports’ 8 experts. There have been a lot of surprises in the NFL so far this year.  Unexpected contenders have emerged, and what were perceived as some of the NFL’s best teams are struggling to keep up.  I definitely think this week will set some things straight.  Some of the expected contenders will start to surpass the surprise teams.  The question is, which surprise teams come down to earth first?  Keep reading to find out what I think.

Lock of the Week

QB Sam Darnold and the Jets offense looked good in the first couple weeks.  But this offense is still very young and has things to learn. I expect this dominant Jaguars defense to tear apart New York’s offensive game plan.  The pressure of Sacksonville will get to Darnold, which will mess up the entire offensive scheme for the Jets. The Jaguars offense doesn’t have to have a field day to win a game, and they’ve made that very clear.  RB Leonard Fournette will likely return this week.  They had been fine without him, at home against the Patriots!  Given that, this home game against the Jets with Fournette back should be a clinic in Jacksonville’s favor.  

Upset of the Week

QB Sam Bradford had clearly declined, and after two weeks, all Cardinals fans knew Bradford wasn’t the answer.  But Steve Wilks has finally put QB Josh Rosen in as the starter!  Rosen was my favorite QB of this year’s draft, and I expect him to completely turn around the Cardinals offense this week.  I don’t expect this kind of consistency throughout the year in 2018.  But this will give us a glimpse at what the Cardinals invested in down the road, kind of like what the Jets received from QB Sam Darnold in his first game.  I think Rosen can handle the rebuilding Seattle defense on his home turf. Look for Arizona’s tight ends to have an especially strong game as well.  Meanwhile, the Seattle defense will struggle to contain Rosen and RB David Johnson.  Their offense will see slight improvement with WR Doug Baldwin likely to return, but nothing significant as Arizona pulls off the upset at home.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted on Twitter Thursday Night, Actual Score: 38-31 Rams)

Don’t expect an especially strong game from WRs Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.  This Rams secondary is one of the league’s best.  However, the ground game will lead the way for the Vikes and make this close.  Look for QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley to lead the Rams to victory with the help of strong defense.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for Miami’s receivers to thrive against a New England secondary that lacks a #2 corner.  #1 CB Stephon Gilmore will shut down WR DeVante Parker though.  However, this Dolphins run game is not the greatest, and if the Pats can shut them down, there is hope for the New England D.  I don’t think the Pats suck. Their last two Super Bowl-winning seasons started with 2 wins and 2 losses. Plus, they lost to a coach who knows them really well and their toughest opponent.  I think QB Tom Brady will find open men to lead New England to victory here.  This victory that will begin a long winning streak for the Pats.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

The Packers are a pass-first offense, and I don’t think the Bills will be able to keep them under control without CB Vontae Davis.  I don’t see this as a blowout though.  QB Josh Allen and the Bills offense will make it close.  But Green Bay will win at home by a comfortable margin, led by a dominant passing game.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for QB Matt Ryan and his newfound WR duo to overwhelm the Bengals secondary and score multiple TDs.  I don’t think the Bengals will be as strong on offense here without RB Joe Mixon. They will lose this one thanks to surprisingly strong defense by Atlanta.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

I think the Texans will do alright against the weak Colts defense in an effort for their first win.  But depth has been a problem for this team from the start, and that will hinder their success.  The Colts will give the Texans a scare.  This will be thanks to a pretty good week by QB Andrew Luck and his offense, even against the fierce Houston D.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

WR Rishard Matthews was released by the Titans this week.  Now, the Titans lack a healthy QB and lack WR depth.  That will cause the offense regressive struggles.  The Eagles defense will also do their job in shutting down Tennessee’s RB duo.  QB Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense will cruise to victory, especially if WR Alshon Jeffery plays.  
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Expect an offensive shootout here. Both these defenses are some of the league’s worst, and I think both these offenses are underrated.  The Cowboys pass defense will struggle excessively against the LIons strong WR corps.  However, I think QB Dak Prescott will finally turn it around against the struggling Detroit D.  This will lead them to a home win.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

 

I think the Bucs will start QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in this game.  Look for the Fitzmagic to continue, but will it be enough for the Bucs in Chicago?  I’m concerned that Tampa’s secondary will blow it for them against QB Mitch Trubisky and the Bears underrated WR corps.  I also feel that the Bucs young run game will struggle against Khalil Mack and the Bears run defense. These two things will lead Chicago to victory at home.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

QB Baker Mayfield will lead the Browns to another strong offensive game here against a declining Raiders D.  But you cannot sleep on these Raiders receivers. Against a young Cleveland defense, expect QB Derek Carr and the Raiders deep WR corps to dominate.  I also expect a strong game from Oakland’s running backs that assist Carr in an offensive shootout victory.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

The 49ers will miss QB Jimmy Garoppolo here.  QB C.J. Beathard will do alright in LA, but he will be nowhere near Garoppolo’s level.  I don’t see him finishing the job for the Niners. Meanwhile, the Chargers offense will have a strong day against the 49ers young D.  QB Philip Rivers, RB Melvin Gordon, and the strong offense will lead LA to victory.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

QB Eli Manning and his receivers should do alright against a Saints defense that has significantly declined since last year.  But they will miss TE Evan Engram. Meanwhile, RB Alvin Kamara and WR Michael Thomas will have dominant games that lead the Saints to victory despite an underwhelming game by QB Drew Brees.
SNF (Sunday, 8:20 PM EST)

The Steelers may be declining without RB Le’Veon Bell, but they are still an average team that can win some games without him.  I think the Steelers defense will be able to shut down the Ravens attack. Plus, QB Ben Roethlisberger will find plenty of weapons to lead Pittsburgh to victory, even without Bell.
MNF (Monday, 8:15 PM EST) (OT)

This will be a very close game.  QB Patrick Mahomes II will lead a strong Chiefs offense to a big game.  But the Chiefs are all offense, no defense, and they will struggle to contain Denver’s receivers.  I could see this going to overtime, but I don’t see the Chiefs winning with their run game struggling against the unstoppable Denver front seven.

That’s all for my Week 4 picks and previews.  Feel free to comment with your thoughts.

 

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10 Bold Predictions For The Upcoming NFL Season

1 day into the season, here are some things to look out for.

1.The Cowboys will sign Montee Ball, and he’ll dominate

Montee Ball was ditched by Denver last season after injury.  Before then, he was a star.  Now CJ Anderson is there.  In Dallas, their old star, DeMarco Murray, is gone.  Ball can fill in that slot, and I believe he can make a comeback to the top 10 fantasy running backs.  The Dolphins may also need him to backup Lamar Miller, but Dallas is a better fit for Ball. Comeback Player of The Year, no decision.

2. Peyton Manning will conclude his NFL career

This year I think is Peyton Manning’s last. Manning is getting older, and he isn’t as dominant anymore.  I would rank Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford before him, at this point.  The burning question is, how will to Broncos do without him?  Unless they get a sharp rookie QB, not as good.  More like 10-6, 9-7 than 12-4, 13-3.   I expect Manning to announce his retirement any moment now.

3. The Packers will struggle at receiver

The Packers still have Randall Cobb, but Davante Adams is not a WR2, and James Jones is not a good WR3.  they’ll depend on Aaron Rodgers, Cobb and Lacy.  Who else do they have.  This is not as dominant of an offense without poor Jordy Nelson.  Nelson is amazing, probably top 3 in the league, of any position, along with Rodgers and DeMaryius Thomas.  Hope for 11-5, 12-4 if the D is sharp.

4. The Seahawks defense will slow down

Besides Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett, who do they have anymore.  This years ‘Hawks will be more base offense, using Marshawn Lynch, and Jimmy Graham like their wide receiver that can fill that hole, while they continue using the same old guys like tight ends.  I wouldn’t be shocked if Graham became a receiver permanently. This is another slowing team.  In the future, look Eagles, Cowboys, Colts, Ravens, Steelers, Pats and Bengals.  Maybe also the Pack if Nelson returns.  Not the Seahawks as much.

5. The Texans will not perform offensively

the defense in Houston is amazing.  J.J Watt and Vince Wilfork on one defense, joined by Brian Cushing, Jadeveon Clowney, and Johnathan Joseph.  But the offense, when you think about it, isn’t so great.  Brian Hoyer is not very good, and with Arian Foster out, Alfred Blue, Chris Polk and  Jonathan Grimes are the only running backs left.  And at receiver, DeAndre Hopkins I think is overrated.  Then you have Jaguars and Titans former sleepers Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts III.  Shorts could be alright, but I don’t feel it in Washington.  And that leaves you with rookie Jaelen Strong, and I feel that Strong is a strong player.  Then at tight end, Garrett Graham, C.J. Fieodorowicz and A.J. Griffin.  The offense is not as good as you might think.

6. The Vikings won’t get better, but get worse

This sounds stupid, stating the fact that Teddy Bridgewater is emerging and Mike Wallace got bring some power to his options, but the defense has not improved very much, and that will impact the team.  Adrian Peterson has returned, but that thins their other options.  If they don’t play, what happens if Peterson gets hurt like he did in 2013?  At receiver, it’s the same.  After Mike Wallace, Charles Johnson and Cordarrelle Patterson are the next best options.  And the tight ends are better that 2014, but they can’t always catch passes.

7. The Buccaneers go 2-3 in the first 5, but won’t win another game

The Buccaneers have easy matches against the Titans and other bad teams early on that they can easily win.  But when their schedule gets tougher in the last eleven weeks, don’t expect another victory.  Everyone on the Bucs is pretty much a sleeper or developing player.  EVERYONE.  Even Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey.  When they don’t have an easy match, they can’t win.

8. The Rams will make the playoffs

Things are looking up in St. Louis.  Nick Foles is a less injury prone quarterback, so that straight-up trade for Foles was worth it, even if it was good for Philly too.  At wide receiver, I see potential in sleepers Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt.  These two players never fully adapted last season, and they can this year.  The defense has also improved.  Aaron Donald should be better in year two, and Robert Quinn and Alec Ogletree should still be within stardom.  There are also many more offensive sleepers that push it so much, that the Rams should get an NFC wild card, giving them a ticket to the playoffs.

9. Matt Ryan, Tevin Coleman and the Falcons will have a bust season

I wouldn’t go expecting much from rookie Tevin Coleman, or any Falcons running back, and I have a feeling Matt Ryan will also have a bust season.  Even with Julio Jones and Roddy White at receiver, the rest of the offense is in bad condition.  And the defense isn’t any better.  The Falcons are not going to perform this season, at least that’s what I think.

10. The Colts will power the defense to win Super Bowl 50

The Colts already have a great offense.  Andrew Luck, Frank Gore, TY Hilton and Andre Johnson are all primed for a breakout.  And there’s more.  Don’t forget Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener.  The Colts will be the best offense in the NFL.  But imagine the defense doing the same.  Dwight Freeny, Robert Mathis, D’Qwell Jackson and Vontae Davis are all great players. What stops them from working together to make the defense much better than it really is?  They have super bowl potential.