NFL Week 4 Picks: The Real Refs are Back and We’re Psyched
Rusty Ryan went on a rampage last week after the Packers loss victory over the Seahawks. He was going to boycott the NFL until the referee lockout ended. Luckily, just a few days later the lockout was lifted and Rusty was relieved because he would have sat out the rest of the season even though he didn’t want to.
The home field advantage is for sure to be reduced as the real refs are back and aren’t as easily influenced or as easy to pushover as the prior refs were.
Rusty Ryan’s Picks
Patriots (-4.5) at Bills
The Patriots are sub-.500 for the first time in what seems like a decade. The refs had a huge impact on the game last week and with the normal refs the Patriots probably squeak out a close win.
Tom Brady is beginning to show his age and be past his peak, but he is still playing really well. The defense has excelled at stopping the run while the Patriots have been running effectively with a heavy dose from one running back, Stevan Ridley.
Buffalo has won two games, over the Kansas City Chiefs who just beat out the Saints avoiding “worst team in the league” discussions, and the Browns who have a quarterback this is at his peak and still throwing two to three interceptions a game.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has some gaudy stats but he only has a 58.1% completion rate. He may not be at the value of his contract but he certainly is playing better than last year when he was dealing with rib issues. The running game will be slowed and more pressure will be on Fitzpatrick.
The biggest issues for the Bills are that their offense is ranked in the teens for both run defense and pass defense. The Patriots have been excelling in both and I don’t think the Bills can make enough stops.
Titans at Texans (-12)
The best team in football is squaring off at home against a team that caught a ton of breaks last week against a Detroit secondary that is struggling. Jake Locker had the game of his life avoiding an interception and having a 69% completion rate. But with a quarterback rating in his last three games of 89.2, 65.1, and 113, which is the outlier and the stats we’ll see going forward?
Matt Schaub has been having a great season, feasting off opposing defenses’ willingness to over-commit to stop the Texans’ rushing attack. The Texans may have the best defense in the league, with the 4th best defense against the pass and 5th best against the run.
Where the Texans really excel is creating short fields for themselves and rushing consistently well. It seems like they are always getting positive yards and moving down the field. It will be a huge test for Jake Locker and a good barometer for fans to see how far he’s come.
Dolphins at Cardinals (-6)
It’s crazy to think that the Cardinals are in the discussion for the best team in football. They have one of the best defenses and special teams units by flipping the field. Patrick Peterson on defense may be the best cover corner in the NFL as opposing teams are just afraid to throw to his side of the field and he’s a home run threat when returning.
Kevin Kolb has been serviceable so far as the starter, throwing 38/59 for 428 yards and 4 touchdowns. It is a pretty surprising turn of events for a guy who looked awful the last couple years. He got revenge last week on the Eagles who traded him in order to start Vick, winning 27-6 at home.
The Dolphins are just mediocre. The Miami rush defense has been stellar so far this year but the offense looks like they are in sand. Reggie Bush was the only guy making plays so far this season and now he’s banged up. Ryan Tannehill has 1 touchdown to 4 interceptions, 3 of which came last week in Houston. Patrick Peterson is hungry for picks.
Giants (+1) at Eagles
When people coming in to this season thought of the Eagles, they thought of a team with great special teams and an explosive offense with DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, and Michael Vick. So far the offense has been disgusting and the special teams average. The defense has been surprisingly good. They are third in the league against the pass and only allow 103 yards on the ground.
LeSean McCoy though has been a bummer. He still is producing weekly but nothing near the amazing numbers he was putting up last year. Somehow the Eagles were able to get a win over the Baltimore Ravens. They survived the opening week of the season, beating Cleveland despite Vick’s best efforts. This is a team that could easily be 0-3 and are a fake at 2-1.
I’m expecting the Giants to get to Vick early and often. The defense can send four guys and get pressure on almost any quarterback in the league. It will be hard for the Eagles to move the ball.
The biggest story for the Giants is Eli Manning, who is bucking the trend of his entire career and continuing to build on his performance last season. He’s already topped 1,000 yards through the air and the team has done a great job of providing depth, which is most evident in how the Giants have battled injuries to key players but keep on trucking.
Panthers at Falcons (-7)
I like the Falcons the most this year to be the number one seed for the NFC. Their schedule is easy the rest of the way. They destroyed Kansas City week one, made Peyton Manning look bad on Monday Night, and ran away from San Diego.
Trading away their first-born child for Julio Jones in last year’s draft was a great move as he’s now matured in the league and is now one of the stars of the offense. Roddy White is still one of the premier receivers in the league.
The key has been Matt Ryan, who is finally being allowed to air it out by his coaches. He has a 72% completion rate with 107 attempts for 793 yards and 8 touchdowns to only 1 interception. Unreal numbers. He’s going to need to continue to play well because Michael Turner is showing his age and I don’t think Jacquizz Rodgers is ready this year to carry the load as he is averaging less than three yards a carry.
Much like I thought, teams have kind of figured out Cam Newton. He’s thrown only two touchdowns to 5 interceptions and a fumble and is averaging only 3.4 yards a carry on the ground. Not earth shattering numbers. His completion rate is good at just north of 62% but it is a far cry from where he was last year at this time.
The defense for the Panthers is what will let them down. They gave up 16 to the Bucs, 36 to the Giants, and 27 to the Saints who don’t have the explosive offensive they’ve been known for the past decade.
Trent Walker’s Picks:
How much longer until we can go back to complaining about the real refs? I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the teams most affected by the replacement officials come out for vengeance this week.
San Francisco (-4) at NY Jets
The New York Jets are coming off an overtime win against a terrible Miami Dolphins team. The scary thing is, most of that game the Dolphins, considered one of the worst teams in the NFL, looked stronger than the Jets. The Dolphins pushed Jets around. Miami put up 185 rushing yards, 4.3 yards per rush, on the soft front seven of the NY Jets. If Miami was able to put up these kind of numbers, I have little doubt the 49ers will manhandle the Jets. Not to mention, this week the Jets announced their most talented player, Darrell Revis, is out with a torn ACL. I see the Jets, lead by a QB who sees Tim Tebow every time he looks in the review mirror, folding to the Niners who cover the spread and avenge an embarrassing loss to Minnesota last week.
New England at Buffalo (+4.5)
New England has a loosing record for the first time since 2003, and now they take a tough road trip to Buffalo. Ryan Fitzpatrick has a record of inconsistency, but when he’s at his best Buffalo is a dangerous team. Combined with the hopefully return of Bill’s running back Fred Jackson, offensively the Bills have enough firepower to keep the Patriots hands full. I believe that we will see the best of Buffalo this weekend. Very rarely does a team get the chance to knock New England to 1-3, and energized by their home crowd Buffalo has enough talent to exploit New England’s well-documented weaknesses.
NY Giants (+1) at Philadelphia
An Eagle’s fan would be quick to point at the Eagles 7-1 record head-to-head against the NY Giants. They would say betting against this team at home is a bad idea. All of that, however, is nonsense. The fact that the Eagle’s are 2-1 still blows me away. Considering Philadelphia leads the entire NFL in turnovers, the Eagles are lucky to still be tied for first place in the NFC East. The fact is, Michael Vick needs to learn to settle down and play smarter football. It still appears that he is scrambling across the field looking for the “big play” rather than just the play the Eagles need. In large part, this is why the Eagle’s turnover ratio is so poor. Until Vick settles down and the Eagles better incorporate LeSean McCoy into their offense their luck will run out.
New Orleans at Green Bay (-7.5)
This is a huge spread against a desperate team, but I still bet with confidence. After last Monday’s debacle and our suddenly beloved referee’s return Green Bay will be looking to bounce back. In this case, bouncing back with just a win will not be enough to burry the hatchet of last week’s robbery. Green Bay returns to their raucous home crowd not just to get a win, but to make a statement. All season NO’s defense has struggled, and now they face the best quarterback in the game. After being stripped of a game winning interception, GB’s defense will be out for blood, New Orleans just happens to be this week’s untimely victim.
Seattle (-2.5) at St. Louis
I hesitate to take a team minus points on the road, however I think GB will not be the only team to come out of Monday’s series of unfortunate events reenergized. Looking beyond the blown calls, Seattle played a very impressive game against the Packers. Rookie QB Russell Wilson continues to improve on an already impressive start to the season, proving that he can get the ball to talented playmakers. All week the Seahawks have been listening to the country scream about why they didn’t deserve to win that game. I believe they will come out with a chip on their shoulder, looking to make a statement seminar to the GB Packers. With this mindset the talented Seattle Secondary will force the Rams to rely even more on Stephen Jackson who can’t do it on his own.