Overall: 34-27
Last Week: 9-4

Thanks to torrential rains and surprise flooding, I had to stay in a hotel last Saturday night with a dying cell phone. Somehow, I managed to cobble together my winners for Week 4 moments before the games started on Sunday morning. Shockingly, I went 9-4 with those predictions for my best week of the season in 2014. Go figure.

Vikings @ Packers

Thursday Night Football is an unwatchable clusterfuck. Although the move to division matchups was intended to add stakes, the games through these first few weeks have been completely uncompetitive. If Teddy Bridgewater had the whole week to get healthy, this game could be closer since Green Bay has relatively little on defense. When the Packers have home-field advantage at Lambeau and Aaron Rodgers as the supremely more talented QB, Green Bay will win this game running away—whether that involves Eddie Lacy actually running is a different story.

Win: Green Bay Packers

Texans @ Cowboys

How ‘bout them Cowboys? Admittedly, I wrote them off for dead before the season even began because of their defensive issues and the serious questions about Tony Romo’s health. However, those concerns have been silenced—at least in the early stages of the season. Dallas is running DeMarco Murray into the ground, which is the reason they’ve been so successful. But Murray has always been injury-prone and his current pace of carries is a scary proposition if he’s to stay healthy all year. Even if it means a less effective running game, Dallas needs to involve backup Joseph Randle more to keep DeMarco Murray spry during the stretch run. Look for the Cowboys to assert themselves early to try to grab the lead because Dallas is considerably better trying to control the game through the run rather than play catch-up through the air. If J.J. Watt is allowed to wreak havoc, then the Texans could have a chance by keep this game a low scoring affair. Ryan Fitzpatrick is merely the caretaker of an offense, and Houston should be elated to score more than 17 points each week. That likely won’t be enough against Dallas in this battle for Texas football.

Win: Dallas Cowboys

Bills @ Lions

Finally, Kyle Orton has come back to football! Everyone’s favorite neckbeard, Orton staged a fake retirement to wiggle free out from under the thumb of Jerry Jones in Dallas. Now, Orton finds himself as a starting QB once again after E.J. Manuel continually planted his face in the dirt week after week. It’s going to be tough for Orton to do much other than check down to his running backs, and the Detroit Lions isn’t exactly the type of defense to make your debut against this season. Detroit is much more mediocre than people might think after a solid start, but the Lions have just enough talent in the right places. Unless C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson rip off chunk yardage running the ball, the Lions should be able to distance themselves by double-digits—placing the onus on Orton to win the game.

Win: Detroit Lions

Browns @ Titans

Talk about a shitty matchup of teams no one (outside of their geographic area) cares about. Can Cleveland show they’re not that awful? Can Tennessee salvage their sinking ship of a season? These are questions that I have no interest in truly answering. Both of these teams will be infinitely more interesting once the season ends and they have to make decisions about the direction of their future. After playing effective when healthy in 2013, Jake Locker has been absolutely abysmal for much of this season. While I think Cleveland is a more well-rounded team offensively and defensively, Locker is capable of carrying his mediocre offensive cast to victory. On the other hand, Locker could throw an interception or two on the first few drives and then get knocked out of the game. Although the Browns are on the road, Cleveland has a slight advantage given their more consistent quarterback play.

Win: Cleveland Browns

Ravens @ Colts

IND - 3.0 YPC

Both Baltimore and Indianapolis seem like playoff contenders simply by default in the AFC. The Colts play in a considerably worse division while the Ravens are primed to hover around .500 before making a move near the end of the season. For years, these teams have been evenly matched. When it comes to head-to-head combat, the team with more consistent offensive drives will win. Andrew Luck has virtually no other playmakers on his team anymore while the resurgence of Steve Smith has revitalized a sleeping Baltimore offense. Since neither team has a noteworthy running attack or a very good defense, the difference between these teams could be at quarterback. Joe Flacco may have a ring already, but Andrew Luck has a child-like enthusiasm for the game to go with a manchild-like neckbeard. In a battle of QBs with boring personalities, always take the man with the best facial hair.

Win: Indianapolis Colts

Buccaneers @ Saints

I hate people who use the phrase: Any Given Sunday. Of course anyone can beat anyone in one game. It’s fucking annoying. With that said, it would take a miracle for Tampa Bay to pull off another last-second comeback this week after just roasting Pittsburgh on the last play of the game in Week 4. Like any stubborn idiot, I will keep going to the well by taking New Orleans. Sure, the Saints have been atrocious on defense with no identity outside of fucking blitzing on every play. And maybe Drew Brees doesn’t have his fastball anymore. But if New Orleans can’t beat the lowly Buccaneers with “Goldilocks” Glennon, then the Saints should fire Rob Ryan immediately and Sean Payton should implement a new bounty system to motivate his defense to actually tackle someone.

Win: New Orleans Saints

Falcons @ Giants

So much for the demise of Eli Manning. I’ve been a staunch, steadfast supporter since Eli has entered the league. For whatever reason, Manning just hasn’t earned the credit he deserves for consistently leading the Giants to victory. While his numbers aren’t always pretty, I would rather have Eli at the helm than Matt Ryan. Both of these teams are truly unremarkable on defense, which could make this a sneaky entertaining shootout. If neither defense can pressure the pocket or create turnovers on the back-end, then I like Atlanta’s odds of winning a shootout because Matt Ryan simply has more weapons at his disposal. Outside of Victor Cruz and his hands made of stone, Eli doesn’t have comparable talent at receiver or enough time behind a makeshift offensive line.

Win: Atlanta Falcons

Rams @ Eagles

If you’re looking for a huge upset this week, you could potentially find it with the Rams heading to Philadelphia against the Eagles. Surprisingly, St. Louis has proven to be spry and competitive regardless of who has been their starting QB. The Rams true advantage week-to-week is always their defensive line because they can pressure anyone. With the Eagles just trying to keep their heads above water with so many injuries on their line, this game has the potential to get ugly for Philadelphia. Nick Foles likely won’t have the time for anything to develop downfield. However, I have enough faith in Chip Kelly to allow St. Louis’ pass rush to get just close enough before Foles dumps screen passes to Darren Sproles out of the backfield. If Philadelphia managed to escape San Francisco with a win last week, I would be more worried that the Eagles would come out flat to start this game.

Win: Philadelphia Eagles

Bears @ Panthers

I follow football more closely than the typical, average fan. For more than a decade now, I have played Fantasy Football and I’ve employed a lot of no-name running backs over the years. But I couldn’t tell you the name of any healthy running back on Carolina’s roster now that DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and Mike Tolbert are all out. Aside from Jerricho Cotchery and rookie Kelvin Benjamin, I don’t know who the Panthers have at receiver who can catch a damn ball. Since when did The Walking Dead start filming in Carolina? Cam Newton is doing his best Superman impersonation, but I don’t see how he can do enough to beat the Chicago Bears this week. However, if Jay Cutler continues to loft passes off his back foot, then anything is possible. By now, Cutler needs to take the next step forward with the Bears transitioning from their Monsters of the Midway identity to a team that exploits their advantage with the Twin Towers on the outside.

Win: Chicago Bears

Steelers @ Jaguars

Without a doubt, this is the best contender against Browns-Titans for the worst game on the slate. Pittsburgh is desperately trying to hang onto relevancy with an aging cast of mediocre football players. Just because players have been on your team for years doesn’t still make them any good. Meanwhile, at least Jacksonville is trying to build a future. Blake Bortles will struggle and remain inconsistent, but the Jaguars need their BB-gun to get the necessary repetitions. Jacksonville will likely make Bortles conservative with short-to-intermediate passes, but the Jaguars could be dangerous if their receivers can shake loose for big plays. Pittsburgh can’t live off tradition forever. By now, it appears that Antonio Brown is their best all-around player and Big Ben needs to keep feeding him the ball.

Win: Pittsburgh Steelers

Cardinals @ Broncos

DEN - Acid Test

Easily the best game of the week. However, the matchup downgraded a bit this week once news broke that Carson Palmer would still be benched with nerve issues. Everyone should appreciate Peyton Manning that much more since he played through dead nerves in his neck and arm when he initially started his comeback with Denver. With Drew Stanton as the signal-caller, Arizona will be even more reliant on their surprisingly stout defense. But the Broncos should have one-on-one matchup issues all over the field. If the Cardinals continue to be blitz-happy (their current calling card on defense), then Manning could have a huge day dismantling one-on-one, man coverage. Arizona will pressure Manning and cause at least one turnover, but this needs to be a game where Denver stops being so damn conservative in terms of calling plays. The Cardinals have no answer if Julius Thomas busts the seams of their defense down the middle. If Denver exploits their advantage with Orange Julius like they should, the sky is the limit for their offense because they have the weapons to take advantage underneath and on the outside if their receivers can get behind the defense.

Win: Denver Broncos

Chiefs @ 49ers

With San Francisco struggling and Alex Smith continuing to do Alex Smith things, there’s been considerable media speculation this week as to whether Jim Harbaugh made the right decision to make Colin Kaepernick their starter. And the answer is still yes. Kaepernick is still rough around the edges and prone to making a dumb mistake, but the 49ers need his playmaking ability more than ever—especially with injuries and suspensions taking their toll on defense. Meanwhile, Alex Smith is still Captain Check Down. In Andy Reid’s system, Smith’s statistics are inflated due to his ball control conservative mindset. That doesn’t mean that Kansas City can’t beat San Francisco this week. But it does mean we need to put the brakes on the Chiefs hype after they destroyed New England at home last week. Playing in Kansas City masks a lot of the team’s faults, but the Chiefs don’t have that home-field advantage in this tilt against the 49ers. However, this should be one of the closest games of the week considering these teams are so evenly matched. The big difference could and should be Kaepernick’s ability to make a big play when San Francisco needs it the most.

Win: San Francisco 49ers

Jets @ Chargers

New York kept it close last week against Detroit, and they might be able to remain competitive against San Diego this week too.  However, the Jets like to blitz and Philip Rivers typically dissects defenses that try to hurry his passes.  If the Jets can hit home on a few of those blitzes and create turnovers, then New York could have a chance to win because they will undoubtedly bottle up whatever San Diego attempts to do on the ground. The biggest issue for New York is their own inability to score points on offense. If Geno Smith struggles mightily, it just might be time to turn to Michael Vick in a desperate attempt to salvage the season for the Jets.

Win: San Diego Chargers

Bengals @ Patriots

Is Cincinnati truly the best team in the AFC? While the Bengals have played up to that billing through the first four weeks, Cincinnati still has the Red Rocket at QB and we all know how temperamental gingers can be—especially when told they are indeed soulless. Although I despise the Patriots, I really want to side with sanity and expect New England to correct their course. However, the Patriots appear to have serious issues on their offensive line and Tom Brady doesn’t have a reliable threat outside of Julian Edelman. New England could still win this game if they can get to Andy Dalton and pick off those passes he always lofts a little too high. But with the Patriots reeling and trying to get their footing, Cincinnati has the momentum to make New England scared if they get off to an early lead.

Win: Cincinnati Bengals

Seahawks @ Redskins

SEA - Adderall

Why even play this game? Yes, the Seahawks are on the road instead of at home so they aren’t immortal. But Seattle is so far and away superior to the Washington Redskins. Kirk Cousins is a capable QB, but he’s not the guy to put a team on his shoulders and carry them to victory. In the same mold as Chad Pennington, Washington needs Cousins to move the chains and make smart decisions. Seattle should jump out to an early lead and pressure Cousins to make long passes downfield in comeback mode. None of that bodes well for the chances of the Washington football club.

Win: Seattle Seahawks

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