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Pudge’s Picks – Week 4

Matt Ryan throws a pass against the St. Louis Rams

If you didn’t already know, Matt Ryan is very good at home

After two disappointing weeks of picks, I’m off to a good start this week with the Thursday night game being a win. The 49ers did not disappoint, and the lackluster Rams continue to be slow starters.

I honestly feel much more confident with my picks this weekend, as the matchups and lines seem to be fairly straight-forward. But given how 2013 has played out, I may wind up eating those words next week. If I can’t at least get eight wins this week, it’s not going to be pretty for me the rest of the year. Frankly, I’m expected at least 10 or 11 wins this week. Famous last words…

New England Patriots (3-0) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
Sunday, September 29 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC

Line: Falcons (-1.5)

I just haven’t been that impressed with the Patriots, and I think the Falcons match up fairly well with them. Especially at home where the Falcons are nigh-unbeatable and their defense typically plays much tougher. I don’t see the Patriots having enough firepower with their young receivers and a beat up Gronkowski, to match the Falcons offense. And while they do have some things on defense that can give the Falcons a bit of trouble up front, I don’t think it’s going to be as impactful in the Georgia Dome.

Spread Pick: Falcons
Straight Pick: Falcons

Chicago Bears (3-0) at Detroit Lions (2-1)
Sunday, September 29 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Lions (-2.5)

The Lions surprised me last week with their road win over the Redskins considering how bad the Lions have been under Jim Schwartz in road games. The Bears have owned the Lions in the Schwartz Era with a 7-1 record over the past four seasons. A big reason for that has been because the Bears are very effective at containing Megatron, as he’s only went over 100 yards receiving twice in that span. But a big part of that is having Charles Tillman, who is questionable this week with a groin injury. Henry Melton is also out, and I think that might be enough to push the Lions over the top. Reggie Bush will also be back this week, giving something else for the Bears defense to have to deal with. The Lions are the classic team that the minute they look to be building momentum, it quickly evaporates. So even though the matchups do seem to favor them, if the Lions are the Lions, then my pick is going to be wrong.

Spread Pick: Lions
Straight Pick: Lions

New York Giants (0-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
Sunday, September 29 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Chiefs (-4.5)

The Giants were embarrassed last week by the Panthers with one of their worst losses in a long time. The Falcons also shellacked the Giants last year, and then the following week they lost by three scores on the road against the Ravens. So the idea that they will rebound this week doesn’t have a ton of precedent. The Giants simply make too many mistakes, and the Chiefs don’t make enough. In the comforts of Arrowhead Stadium, that trend should continue this week. But the Giants saving grace may be that Alex Smith has played poorly the last two times he’s faced them. Perhaps they have some recipe for success, although in both those games New York was able to run the ball and pressure the quarterback, two things they have not done this year. Unless David Wilson and Jason Pierre-Paul pick this week to come alive, it’s hard to pick the Giants.

Spread Pick: Chiefs
Straight Pick: Chiefs

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

I have no qualms betting on J.J. Watt in the Texans-Seahawks game

Arizona Cardinals (1-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3)
Sunday, September 29 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Bucs (-2.5)

This is going to be an interesting game as the Mike Glennon Era is beginning. We will probably see one of two outcomes: the Bucs play a solid game and look to get their season back on track or that the issue wasn’t really the quarterback and still look inconsistent and underwhelming. I am going to bet on the former ] just because this Bucs team should be better than 0-4 to start the season. And that secondary has played well, and thus I think Fitzgerald will get thrown in the brig on Treasure Island. And if that’s the case, what else do the Cardinals really have?

Spread Pick: Bucs
Straight Pick: Bucs

Seattle Seahawks (3-0) at Houston Texans (2-1)
Sunday, September 29 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Texans (+2.5)

It’s a good thing this game is at home, where I think the Texans should rebound after an embarrassing loss to Baltimore. They will be aided by the fact that three of the Seahawks offensive line starters are likely to miss the game with left tackle Russell Okung being out, and center Max Unger and right tackle Breno Giacomini being doubtful. That should allow the Texans defensive line featuring J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith to eat, and eat hardy. The early start time typically leads to a sluggish Seahawks team, even in the central timezone. But the concern is with Duane Brown being a game-time decision, will the Texans take advantage? I have no inside info, but the signs don’t appear promising that he’ll play. And with Richard Sherman likely to lock down an injured Andre Johnson for a large chunk of the game, Houston may need this to be the week that Arian Foster starts to play like Arian Foster. Even without Brown playing, I’m going to side with the Texans because they should be able to win the battle in the trenches.

Spread Pick: Texans
Straight Pick: Texans

Baltimore Ravens (2-1) at Buffalo Bills (1-2)
Sunday, September 29 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Bills (+3.5)

The Ravens have been unable to get Ray Rice going this year, and he appears to be a game-time decision this week. The positive thing for the Bills is that they’ve lost every game by one score and thus it’s fairly safe to assume that this will be a close one. But the absence of Stephon Gilmore seemed to show last week against the Jets, with the Bills giving up several big plays to Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill. Now they face Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith and that should make all the difference for Baltimore. And with Ray Lewis furtively motivating his former team by calling out their leadership, I expect the Ravens to respond well.

Spread Pick: Ravens
Straight Pick: Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-2)
Sunday, September 29 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Browns (+4.5)

I think the commentary after this game will be either: “Wow, the Browns and Brian Hoyer are much better than anybody could have possibly imagined” or “Okay, yeah, that’s the Cleveland Browns we know.” I just have this feeling that Cincinnati is going to crush Cleveland. Or at least they should. But Cincy is pretty beat up in the secondary, their pass rush has yet to really dominate this year as many expected (including myself). But the Browns’ guard play has been weak with Oniel Cousins at right guard. But Cousins should be done since Shawn Lauvao is expected to make his first start of the season and it’s going to see him facing Geno Atkins quite a bit. If the Bengals front can’t come alive this week, then we need to start questioning just how good they are. The other issue I have with the Bengals is that their offense isn’t very good. They can’t really run the ball and they turn it over way too much. But I’m still going to bet that the Browns are the Browns.

Spread Pick: Bengals
Straight Pick: Bengals

Indianapolis Colts (2-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3)
Sunday, September 29 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Jaguars (+8.5)

For the life of me, I’m trying to figure out why this line is so low. This should be a double-digit line. Jacksonville’s offense seems nigh-incapable of scoring any points, and the Colts’ offense with Trent Richardson getting the start and Reggie Wayne being Reggie Wayne should have little issue scoring on that Jacksonville defense. Maybe the Colts are in for a letdown after an emotional and surprising win on the road against San Francisco last week. But I took Jacksonville in Week 2 and they disappointed, so I see absolutely no reason to pick them ever again.

Spread Pick: Colts
Straight Pick: Colts

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3) vs. Minnesota Vikings (0-3)
Sunday, September 29 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Vikings (+0.5)

I’m not doing what the league insists and suggesting this is a home game for the Vikings, as it will be played in London. The Steelers have disappointed me this year, but I think they should be able to get back on track this week against the Vikings. Matt Cassel is starting, Heath Miller is back, and Antonio Brown should murder that Vikings secondary as Josh Gordon did last week. I honestly don’t think Cassel will play poorly, and the Vikes do have Adrian Peterson and Steelers’ jet lag in their favor. Somebody will be 0-4 when this is all over (unless the Football Gods smile upon us and give us a tie!), with the Steelers being the better team. But it wouldn’t shock me if the Vikings win this one. I’m counting on Roethlisberger and the boys to pull this one out in the end with a game-winning drive. Hopefully Pittsburgh gets better as the game wears on, rather than worse. If the Steelers can’t pull this one out, it’s going to be hard to pick them again the rest of the season.

Spread Pick: Steelers
Straight Pick: Steelers

New York Jets (2-1) at Tennessee Titans (2-1)
Sunday, September 29 at 4:05 pm ET on CBS

Line: Titans (-3.5)

Who would have thought that the Jets or Titans would be 3-1 at this point? But someone will be (unless the Football Gods smile upon us and give us a tie!) after this week. The Titans have benefited from the fact that they have played mistake-free (no turnovers) and they’ve been able to run the ball effectively which means Jake Locker only has to manage games. Also their secondary has played lights out as Alterraun Vernern and Jason McCourty are arguably the best cornerback duo in the league right now. But the Jets have gotten better than expected play from Geno Smith, have an even better defense, and got solid production from Bilal Powell last week on the ground. I like the Jets defense to slow down the Titans’ running game this week and if they can force some turnovers, that will get the Titans out of their comfort zone. The issue for the Jets is going to be whether they can limit their own turnovers. If so, Geno and the Jets get their first road win. If not, then the Titans keep trucking along.

Spread Pick: Jets
Straight Pick: Titans

Dallas Cowboys (2-1) at San Diego Chargers (1-2)
Sunday, September 29 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Chargers (+1.5)

San Diego sports a potent passing attack this year, but one of the league’s worst defenses. All five of their starters on the offensive line were on their injury report this week, with three listed as questionable or doubtful.  They face a Dallas team that isn’t great but pretty solid all-around and only have to overcome the loss of Miles Austin this week, which shouldn’t be that hard with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten for Romo to still throw to against that porous Charger defense. I expect Rivers to be pressured quite a bit, and look like the turnover-prone Rivers of yesteryear.

Spread Pick: Cowboys
Straight Pick: Cowboys

Philadlephia Eagles (1-2) at Denver Broncos (3-0)
Sunday, September 29 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Broncos (-11.5)

Before the start of the season, I had projected the Eagles to start 4-0 and pull the upset this week against the Broncos. Their up-tempo offense coupled with a suspended Von Miller would catch the Broncos off guard and lead to a win. After Week 1, the plausibility of that outcome went right out the window. I do expect this game to involve a lot of scoring, but the Eagles defense just isn’t good enough to slow down Denver’s offense and given the likelihood of a couple of turnovers, Denver should have little problem getting the win. However, I’m betting on a backdoor cover by the Eagles late in the game.

Spread Pick: Eagles
Straight Pick: Broncos

Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Jimmy Graham may prove a monster vs. Miami


Washington Redskins (0-3) at Oakland Raiders (1-2)
Sunday, September 29 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Raiders (+2.5)

After the Steelers, the Redskins have to be the second-most disappointing team of this year. But this should be a welcome matchup for Washington. They are terrible against the pass, but the Raiders will be sans Terrelle Pryor and I don’t see Matt Flynn dinking and dunking his way to big yardage. I expect the Redskins pass rush to be effective against a lackluster Raiders offensive line, and Alfred Moorris should also be effective at running the ball against the Raiders front. If Washington can’t pull out their first win of the year this week, then their season is doomed.

Spread Pick: Redskins
Straight Pick: Redskins

Miami Dolphins (3-0) at New Orleans Saints (3-0)
Monday, September 30 at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN

Line: Saints (-6.5)

I don’t think the Dolphins match up well at all against the Saints. I think Jimmy Graham goes for big yardage in this one, and without a healthy Cameron Wake to pressure Brees, I think the Saints are going to score often. I just don’t see the Dolphins offense being able to keep pace unless Lamar Miller and Mike Wallace each have big games. That’s always a possibility against the Saints defense, but Rob Ryan has his unit playing well. I would not be surprised at all if the Saints win this game by two or three scores.

Spread Pick: Saints
Straight Pick: Saints

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Author: Aaron Freeman

Aaron is the founder of FalcFans.com.

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