NFL Week 4 game picks: Broncos > Raiders; Chiefs, Falcons 4-0

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Week 4 is desperation time for the slow starters across the NFL. A slew of 1-2 and 0-3 teams need to take back control of the season before any hope of meaningful December (and January) football completely slips away. The Giants and Chargers, who both entered this season with high hopes, are still looking for their first win, while the Seahawks remain in search of their mojo.

Yet, with much attention being paid to extracurricular activities surrounding the actual games these days ... Why not keep it there?

Community involvement isn't the only thing the Texans and Vikings have in common this week -- both host tough division opponents on Sunday in rather important games. Those were two of the toughest games to pick, too. My predictions? Below. Your feedback? @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Now, let's get to it!

Elliot Harrison went 9-7 on his predictions for Week 3, giving him a record of 28-19 thus far this season. How will he fare in Week 4? His picks are below:

New Orleans Saints 28, Miami Dolphins 25

Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET, FOX

Saints win! Well, I guess you figured that out by reading the score. The key matchup will be Drew Brees and New Orleans' pass offense against Miami's secondary. Going to the other side, Dolphins coach Adam Gase sounded all sorts of pissed off this week about his own offense. The Jay Cutler acquisition has translated to an escape win and a blowout loss for Miami. In fairness, the veteran quarterback didn't play much in the preseason. While the Saints' defense would normally present easy pickings for an above-average quarterback, coordinator Dennis Allen's group looked terrific last week in Charlotte.

Fun fact: No Dolphins QB has thrown for 5,000 yards, made the All-Pro team or even earned a Pro Bowl nod since Brees became the Saints' starter in 2006. (Sorry, I'm trolling you, Fin fans.) #NOvsMIA

Houston Texans 23, Tennessee Titans 20

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Without question, this is one of the top games on the Week 4 slate. This sucker could go down to the final seconds, if not overtime. Look for both teams to run the football, albeit in different ways. Tennessee is not afraid of running against any front, even if it is not working. Mike Mularkey's squad stays after it. Meanwhile, Houston QB Deshaun Watson will take off when the pocket collapses, which will force Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to adjust his plan, perhaps mid-game. Looking forward to seeing if Watson can hit vertical throws against a vulnerable secondary.

Fun fact: When Marcus Mariota posts a passer rating of 100 or higher, Tennessee is 10-1. When it's under 100? The Titans are 3-16. #TENvsHOU

Jacksonville Jaguars 20, New York Jets 14

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Can the Jaguars build on a London performance in which everything went right? For that matter, will the Jets capitalize on winning a game, oh, 10 to 12 weeks before pundits thought they would? Watching either of these offenses for extended periods can be annoying. It's like two hours of realizing, after you and the dog are already halfway down the block, that you forgot poopie bags. It's important for Jacksonville to stick with Leonard Fournette and the ground game. Keep Blake Bortles' attempts total in the 25-to-30 range. For the Jets, field position is key, and that starts with forcing turnovers. The secondary was fantastic against Jay Cutler and the Dolphins last week. The Jags' defense ranks first in yards per play, passing yards allowed and sacks. Seriously. No, really. #JAXvsNYJ

New England Patriots 34, Carolina Panthers 20

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

The Panthers are in an offensive funk. The Patriots' defense has been in the dumps. Rob Ninkovich's retirement hurt New England's D, leaving the pass rush thin. The secondary, meanwhile, has not played well enough to atone. Through three games, the Patriots have allowed 31.7 points per game, worst in the league. The pass defense? Also dead last. Yet, sans tight end Greg Olsen, I'm not confident Cam Newton and the rest of the Carolina pass catchers can capitalize.

Fun fact: The Patriots rank first in offense and last in defense, based on yardage. The only team to pull that off for a given season since the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger is the 1985 Chargers, who went 8-8. I think I have a game or two of theirs on video cassette. #CARvsNE

Minnesota Vikings 23, Detroit Lions 20 (OT)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

Remember the Lions-Vikings series last year? All appeared lost for Matthew Stafford and the offense when they played at Minnesota in Week 9 -- then the franchise quarterback hit Andre Roberts with a laser, Matt Prater delivered a bomb to send the game to overtime and the Vikes continued their 2016 tailspin. On Thanksgiving, all of the Minnesota dinks and dunks caught up with Sam Bradford when Detroit corner Darius Slay jumped a short route and sealed the Lions' Turkey Day triumph. I'm trusting Minnesota's defense this time around, whether or not Case Keenum starts.

Fun fact: Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen lead all wideout duos in catches and yards, and they're tied for second in touchdowns. #DETvsMIN

Atlanta Falcons 26, Buffalo Bills 17

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Falcons will be at home, where their offense is a completely different animal. That said, I think the Bills' defense will weather the storm well enough, forcing Atlanta coach Dan Quinn to settle for numerous field goals. This will be a Matt Bryant game. Buffalo's defense has allowed all of two touchdowns in three games. Atlanta's defense must stop LeSean McCoy so that Bills coach Sean McDermott -- who, having served as Carolina's defensive coordinator from 2011 through '16, is all too familiar with these Falcons -- can't slow this contest down to a run-based, defensive slugfest. The Bills' rush offense is down from 164.4 yards per game in 2016 to 111.3 this season, while the yards-per-rush mark has sagged from 5.3 to 3.4. They've only rushed for one touchdown, too. #BUFvsATL

Pittsburgh Steelers 10, Baltimore Ravens 7

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Wish I could predict a different score for you. Maybe there will be a bunch of big plays, and you'll see a 16-10 barnburner. Couple of points here ... Ben Roethlisberger's road numbers the last couple of years have paled in comparison to how he fares at Heinz. This season is no different. In two road contests, he's posted a passer rating in the 80s, as opposed to his 104.8 mark against a formidable Vikings defense in Pittsburgh. On the other side, the Ravens are coming off an awful performance in London where John Harbaugh sat Joe Flacco late. Can the QB rebound? Speaking of rebounding ... Le'Veon Bell averaged 157 scrimmage yards per game last year and 4.9 yards per carry. This season? He's dropped those marks to 78.7 and 3.5. #PITvsBAL

Cincinnati Bengals 30, Cleveland Browns 27

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

You know you want this game. I've lobbed a call to the league office to make sure the entire country sees this AFC North title bout. Actually, there's a lot riding on this matchup of longtime division rivals -- after all, one of them will leave this Sunday with a real, live WIN! (Unless they tie. Wouldn't that be fitting?) For real, though: These two have played so many entertaining contests over the years, and I don't see this Sunday's match being any different. Andy Dalton was able to get the ball to A.J. Green consistently in Green Bay (10 receptions, 111 yards, TD), but wasn't as aggressive as he could've been late. The Bengals QB should find many of the same windows Jacoby Brissett threw through last Sunday. DeShone Kizer won't play scared, either. Would like to see the Browns use Isaiah Crowell a bit more.

Fun fact: I created a stat in my football dungeon called N3P, which rates QBs on how often they produce positive plays. Here's the formula: (Passing touchdowns + passing first downs + rushing touchdowns + rushing first downs - giveaways - sacks)/qualifying snaps. (A "qualifying Snap" is a play where the QB attempted a pass, had a rushing attempt or was sacked.) Jack Andrade from our NFL Media Research team has been tracking the stat every week. Andy Dalton is lowest in the NFL, with only 13.8 percent of his qualifying snaps winding up in positive plays. #CINvsCLE

Dallas Cowboys 30, Los Angeles Rams 24

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

Back in Dallas for the first time since the season-opening blowout of the Giants in Jerryworld, the Cowboys string two wins together. That "Sunday Night Football" game in Week 1 already feels like forever ago, even though the Giants' offense still stinks. You know which offense doesn't suck anymore? The Rams' attack, which put on a great show on grass last Thursday night. Jared Goff appears to be an ascending player. The Sammy Watkins trade has already paid dividends. All of which has opened up opportunities for Todd Gurley. Who would've thought Los Angeles' offense would be the team's strength (leading the league in scoring at 35.7 points per game), while the defense rests at 26th in points allowed? Goff's passer rating on third down: 139.4. In the red zone: 137.3. Throwing downfield (10-plus air yards): 120.1. And he loves kittens. #LAvsDAL

Philadelphia Eagles 27, Los Angeles Chargers 20

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX

When it comes to the Eagles' secondary, I'm on full health-and-recovery watch. I mean, I haven't been DVRing Dr. Oz segments or anything, but I recognize what DC Jim Schwartz has accomplished with a patchwork defensive backfield. Wait until Ronald Darby returns to action. Granted, Philly gave up a few big plays against the Giants, but New York was a desperate team trying to save its season -- not to mention, that was a division game. In order for the Eagles to win at StubHub, Carson Wentz's mobility will be a huge X-factor -- just like it was against the formidable pass rushes of the Redskins, Chiefs and Giants. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram can get after it, and they have their own season to save.

Fun fact: Zach Ertz is on pace for 112 catches and 1,307 yards. We'll see. #PHIvsLAC

New York Giants 24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX

Taking the plunge here in picking the winless Giants. Ben McAdoo -- with his Pat Riley 'do ... and a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. -- will get it done in Tampa Bay on Sunday. New York probably won't be able to run the football, though the Bucs could be without LBs Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander. The big question in this contest is whether Tampa's pass rush can force a couple of Eli Manning mistakes, with Jameis Winston avoiding his own. Neither QB has a strong ground game to lean on, yet the Giants are still a slightly stronger defense. With last week's loss in Minnesota, Winston is now 2-5 with a 68.8 passer rating against teams that finish the season with a top-10 scoring defense. #NYGvsTB

Arizona Cardinals 31, San Francisco 49ers 24

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX

These two played a really tight contest in Arizona last season -- with David Johnson involved. This season could be the end of the road for the Arians-Palmer-Fitzgerald Cardinals, but I don't expect that trio to go down easy. And don't forget that Johnson could still return to action in December. With a win here, Arizona is 2-2 in a division where every team has at least one loss. San Francisco, meanwhile, is still in search of win No. 1. Kyle Shanahan's offense showed up last Thursday night, and hit on a couple of deep balls. So it will be interesting to see how often the Cards dial up blitzes, and whether Shanahan will let Brian Hoyer air it out. Arizona's defense is down from last season in almost every major category, most notably sacks (from first to tied for 21st). #SFvsAZ

Denver Broncos 20, Oakland Raiders 17

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS

Raider Nation won't be happy, but I'm taking the Broncos, who are a different team in familiar digs. Going back to last season, Denver has lost its past three games on the road, with the largest difference being the performance of the offense. Worth noting: Jack Del Rio's team won the last time it played in Denver with Derek Carr at quarterback. The ironic thing is that Khalil Mack actually owned that contest, sacking Brock Osweiler five times. The Raiders' wideouts just struggled badly against the Redskins' secondary -- sure doesn't bode well for this week's matchup against the "No Fly Zone." Thus, Carr might be forced to choose between holding the ball against a top-level pass rush and throwing into tight coverage.

Fun fact: Since 2016, the Raiders' offensive line has allowed the fewest hits on the quarterback, while the Broncos have delivered the most hits on the quarterback. #OAKvsDEN

Seattle Seahawks 27, Indianapolis Colts 14

Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC

Not a fun matchup for the Colts. The Seahawks are ticked off with their 2017 showing thus far. Richard Sherman looks ticked off -- period -- whether it be at the President, the refs or the poor play from his unit in Nashville. Sherman is a fantastic corner -- he'll need to live up to the lofty bar he's set with T.Y. Hilton coming to town. Here's the good news: If Sherman wins, Indy loses. Jacoby Brissett has fared well at home, against the Cardinals and Browns. Cool, but those aren't friendly confines in Seattle. And the dudes on the other side sure aren't the Browns. The Seahawks, who have allowed 100-yard rushers in each of the last two games, haven't suffered the indignity of three straight since 2006. Don't think Frank Gore gets there. #INDvsSEA

Kansas City Chiefs 26, Washington Redskins 17

Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

What an important game, especially for the visiting Redskins. Washington has often faltered in these situations, needing a statement win in a national game (like last Thanksgiving in Dallas). This is not to say Washington never wins on the national stage -- SEE: last Sunday night, as well as last year, when Kirk Cousins torched the Packers -- but Monday night provides a huge challenge. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have an opportunity to open a two-game lead on either the Raiders or Broncos. And while it's too early to even broach the topic of home-field advantage in January, the Chiefs can continue to make the argument -- to outsiders and themselves -- that they're the best team in league.

Fun fact: Since 1950, among running backs with at least 40 carries, only Jim Brown averaged more yards per tote though the first three games of a season (8.58 in 1963) than Kareem Hunt, with his sterling 8.53 figure. Brown rushed for 1,863 yards that season. Old-timers considered that to be the greatest year ever by a running back. #WASvsKC

THURSDAY NIGHT'S GAME

Green Bay Packers 27, Chicago Bears 13

Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS/NFL Network/Amazon

Aaron Rodgers has yet to play a full game with both his starting tackles this season, and it looks like he'll be dropping back without David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga again this week. Running the football will not be easy on this Bears front seven, which has made every running back it has faced earn real estate, Devonta Freeman (37 yards on 12 carries in Week 1) and Le'Veon Bell (61 yards on 15 carries in Week 3) included. Think this will be a tight contest into the fourth quarter before the Packers' No. 12 catches the Bears with 12 men on the field. Rodgers' passer rating in the second half is a whopping 116.9, partially because of his 5:0 TD-to-INT ratio. Rodgers' numbers in the first half? 59.0 passer rating and 1:3 TD-to-INT ratio. Oy. #CHIvsGB

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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