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Week 4 in NFL brought many pleasant surprises!

Posted: October 2, 2013 - 6:30pm

I’m still collecting my thoughts from the incredible weekend of professional football we just experienced. Wow! There were so many great games and fantastic finishes I don’t know where to even begin. Oh wait, yes I do. How about those Seattle Seahawks! Down 20-3 at halftime after getting manhandled by J.J. Watt and the rest of the Houston Texans the Seahawks stormed back for arguably the most improbable victory in the history of the franchise. Seattle looked awful for nearly three quarters. Watt, Houston’s unstoppable force along the defensive line was just that, unstoppable. The only other player I can recall watching that could literally club 300 lb. men to the ground as effortlessly as a grizzly bear was the late great Reggie White. On one particularly devastating display of strength, Watt grabbed Seahawks RG J.R. Sweezy underneath the shoulder pads, lifted him into the air, and tossed him at least three yards before chasing down the quarterback. That’s no small feat — the Seahawks lineman is 6’5”, 300 lbs. of bad intentions. I’m guessing Sweezy, the former high school heavyweight state champion wrestler from North Carolina, has never been rag-dolled like that in his life. Despite Watt’s prolific efforts, the Seahawks did what great teams do, they found a way to win the game. Unbelievable.

The Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints join the Seahawks as the only remaining undefeated teams in the NFL. The Broncos without question are the most impressive of the group. Broncos QB Peyton Manning has been spectacular. Pro-rate the elder Manning’s statistics over a 16 game season and the future Hall of Famer’s stat line would read 5,880 passing yards, 64 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. For those of you that don’t follow football, Manning’s numbers are the equivalent of catching twenty-zillion pounds of salmon in one commercial fishing season.

Of course, not everything in the NFL is sunshine and lollipops. The Jacksonville Jaguars have been utterly malodorous. The Jags have been outscored 31-129 in four contests. Jacksonville is on pace to score a measly 124 points for the entire season. That’s just two games worth of points for the Soldotna Stars! Will Jacksonville owner Shahid Kahn do the respectable thing and fold the franchise sparing the rest of America from having to view that train wreck of a team any longer? Perhaps our Congress will intervene and shut the Jaguars down.

One thing that Uncle Sam can’t shut down is the Sultan of Sides week five picks. A subpar 6-8-1 effort last week leaves us at 28-30-5 for the season but unlike our petulant political leaders I won’t throw in the towel and cry to you, my football constituents. Together, we’ll forge forward, one yard at a time if necessary, until we reach the end zone!

Buffalo Bills @
CLEVELAND BROWNS -4

Incredibly, Cleveland has won consecutive games since trading their best offensive player, Trent Richardson, to the Indianapolis Colts in what looked like an obvious dumpster fire maneuver. The Brown Baggers now find themselves in a three-way tie for first in the AFC North. Buffalo travels to Cleveland coming off a great win at home against the Baltimore Ravens. The Bills have been oddly competitive this season behind the play of a rookie quarterback E.J Manuel, but have surely benefited from opening the year with three of their four games at home. Clevelander’s aren’t renowned for their hospitality. Browns win 23-16

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS @ Chicago Bears even

The Saints looked fantastic Monday evening against the previously undefeated Miami Dolphins. With Head Coach Sean Payton back on the sidelines Drew Brees and the Saints offense have performed beautifully. Chicago fell from the ranks of the unbeaten behind a vintage Jay Cutler implosion in Detroit against the Lions. Cutler looked awful, which is in line with the level of play we expect from the mercurial quarterback. Asking Cutler to keep pace with a red-hot Drew Brees is a tall order. Saints win 31-24

NEW ENGLAND PATS @ Cincinnati Bengals even

The Brady Bunch are going to lose a few games this season, just not this Sunday in Ohio. I have zero faith in Bengals QB Andy Dalton right now. The Red Rocket has been shaky at best in the early going. Something I predicted during the pre-season while Patriots QB Tom Brady looked as sharp as ever in Atlanta on Sunday. New England lost behemoth defensive tackle Vince Wilfork to an Achilles injury but the Bengals loathe rushing the football. Cincinnati’s failure to capitalize on the Patriots greatest weakness will be the difference in the contest. Patriots win 27-23

DETROIT LIONS @
Green Bay Packers -8

How much cache does Packers QB Aaron Rodgers have in Vegas right now? The 1-2 Green Bay Packers are hosting the 3-1 Detroit Lions and they’re laying eight points?! The Cheese Heads defense can’t stop anybody. Detroit RB Reggie Bush has added an extra dimension to the Lions offense that they haven’t had in recent seasons. Reasonable minds would expect the Lions to light up the scoreboard. Of course, Detroit won’t keep the Packers out the end zone either. The last offense with the ball will likely win this closely contested game. Packers win 38-34

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS @ Tennessee Titans +3

The Titans would have been a great play had starting quarterback Jake Locker not injured his hip in last Sunday’s blowout victory over the New York Jets. Locker’s ability to avoid pass rushers with his legs masked deficiencies the Titans have along the offensive line. Locker’s replacement Ryan Fitzpatrick is a solid player but isn’t a multi-dimensional threat to a defense. The Chiefs enter this game undefeated having already won twice as many games this year as they had the previous season. It’s been an amazing turnaround for Kansas City under new coach Andy Reid. The Chiefs are catching the Titans at the right time. Chiefs win 19-13

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS @ Indianapolis Colts +3

Siding with so many road teams this week gives me pause, but how can you pick against the Seahawks right now? Undefeated in real life and against the spread Seattle has looked every bit the Super Bowl contender they were touted to be in the offseason. The Colts have been nearly as impressive crushing the San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars in back to back weeks. I expect this to be a four-quarter contest but Seattle’s confidence is at an all-time high following last week’s dramatic victory over the Texans. Seahawks win 27-20

Jacksonville Jaguars @
ST. LOUIS RAMS -13

St. Louis entered the season with a lot of buzz as a potential dark horse in the NFC. Just four weeks into the season the positive vibes surrounding the organization have been effectively replaced with despair. Indeed the Rams are terrible at football. Amazingly I’m still siding with St. Louis this week despite their ineptness. Why? Their opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, are historically awful. The Jaguars seem destined to join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams in NFL history to lose all 16 games. The Jaguars average margin of defeat this season is an astonishing 24.5 points per game, a stunning feat of mediocrity. Rams win 34-10

Baltimore Ravens @
MIAMI DOLPHINS -3

This past off-season the Super Bowl Champions Baltimore Ravens inked quarterback Joe Flacco to a contract extension which will pay the passer 120.6 million over the next six seasons. The contract guarantees Flacco 52 million including a tidy 29 million dollar signing bonus. Is it too early to suggest that the Ravens may be experiencing a little buyer’s remorse on their old but new investment? Flacco is on pace to throw 28 interceptions and post a QBR eight points lower than he recorded his rookie season! That’s bad. The Dolphins fell back down to Earth in the Superdome against the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night but have still impressed in the early going. Dolphins win 27-20

Philadelphia Eagles @
NEW YORK GIANTS -1

The entire NFC Least has exactly two wins against teams outside of their division. It’s a bad division and these two teams may very well be the worst of the bunch. The Giants have been a debacle losing their past two contests by a combined score of 69-7. That’s approaching Jacksonville levels of suck. Of course, the Eagle haven’t been much better led by arguably the worst defense in the NFL. I’ve already tired from discussing this week’s version of the Toilet Bowl. Giants win 33-30

Carolina Panthers @
ARIZONA CARDINALS +2

We discussed “red flag” games last season. This is a clear example of one. Inquisitive minds would wonder how a 1-2 Carolina team could be favored against the 2-2 Cardinals in Arizona. The Desert Bats opened the season playing three of four away from home and survived the stretch relatively unscathed. Having already defeated the Detroit Lions at home you have to like their chances against an average Panthers team. Carolina has talent, but they always seem to stumble over their own feet when prosperity presents itself. Panthers coach Ron Rivera excels at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory with curious coaching decisions. History repeats itself for Rivera and Panthers this Sunday. Cardinals win 23-17

DENVER BRONCOS @ Dallas Cowboys -9

“Ride her until she bucks ya” is an old saying that originated near the country roads of Cohoe Loop where I spent my adolescent years expanding my vocabulary. That’s my strategy with this Denver Broncos team led by Peyton Manning and his reconstructed bionic neck. The Broncos are crushing opponents with a dizzying display of offensive brilliance. Until I see a defense slow Manning down it’s impossible to side against him. Dallas is good enough offensively to keep pace for a quarter or two, but ultimately they’re not consistent enough to play a full game against an opponent of Denver’s caliber. Broncos win 41-28

HOUSTON TEXANS @
San Francisco 49ers -8

San Francisco fan was quick to proclaim the 49ers had returned to their frightening form after dismantling the hapless Rams last Thursday. I’m not convinced. Handle the Texans at home and I’ll forgive the thorough beatings the Niners took from the Seahawks and Colts in back to back weeks earlier this season. Houston will play their best game hoping to avoid a three game losing streak. J.J. Watt’s dominance in the trenches will prevent the 49ers from establishing a consistent rushing attack forcing QB Colin Kaepernick to beat them through the air. Kaepernick is a good player, but his receiving options are limited without star wide-out Michael Crabtree. San Francisco will win the game late but the Texans play well enough to cover. 49ers win 24-20

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS @ Oakland Raiders +4

Chargers QB Philip Rivers career revival continues for another week. After being left for dead by media pundits Old Man Rivers has performed beautifully this year. Rivers QB rating through four games is second only to the magnificent Peyton Manning in the NFL. Look for Oakland QB Terrelle Pryor’s erratic play to continue as he attempts to return from a brain injury. The Raiders may be without star RB Darren McFadden as well, who is nursing a sore hamstring. San Diego is the play in this contest. Chargers win 27-14

New York Jets @
ATLANTA FALCONS -10

Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith has fared much better at home than he has on the road early in his career. Smith’s 84.6 QB rating at home drops to a gruesome 53.0 when he leaves the friendly confines of MetLife Stadium. Atlanta fell to a surprising 1-3 after falling to the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football last weekend. Obviously the Falcons, a team with championship aspirations, can’t afford to start the year 1-4. If Atlanta is ever going to put a complete game together this is the week. Talent and motivation strongly favor the home side. Falcons win 33-14

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