Saturday, October 3, 2009

NFL Week 4 Preview

I said at the season's start that this year could be the most competitive year in a very long time. So far all the action has backed me up 100%. You just have no idea how things are going to shake out this season. This Sunday's list of huge games should give us some more answers.

NFL Week 4 Preview
Taking a look at the most important games on Sunday and Monday.

Baltimore Ravens At New England Patriots
This is a huge game, though probably more so for the Patriots. Off to a shaky start so far, the Pats had a great second half last week against the Atlanta Falcons.

Tom Brady is clearly not 100%. His is inconsistent, inaccurate, and his timing is bad with most of the receivers. The Patriots had a rough time against the blitz of the NY Jets, and now face the defensive scheme that served as the template! If Wes Welker can play, that should help Brady. Running the ball with Fred Taylor (he knows the Ravens well) would also be advised.

Baltimore has the best defense in the league. I do not use stats, just reality and that is the reality. Add to this a young quarterback in Joe Flacco who is already very good and this team has all the tools to make a Superbowl run.

How will it go? Too many variables to be sure, but I expect a close game either way. My heart yells "Patriots" but I think at this juncture they may be too ineffective on offense to pull this one off.

NY Jets at New Orleans Saints
A fascinating match up on many levels. The Jets use blitzing more than any team in the league so far this year. So far they have been very effective. Sunday will be a real test.

While the Patriots could not shake loose while their wide receivers were in single coverage on the blitz, I would not expect that to be the case in this game. All world receiver Marques Colston is 6'4' and 230 pounds. Cover him with just one small cornerback and I think things will go bad fast.

The Jets have been effective at times on offense, but looking at their numbers they really are not doing anything very well. Luckily for them the Saints defense is still, well the Saints defense, so the Jets can expect to have more success on Sunday.

This game should be clearly decided in the first quarter. Either the Jets blitz scheme will confuse Drew Brees and cause havoc, or the Saints will put up obscene numbers beating the blitz. I don't see any other way for this to unfold. I am thinking the Saints burn the Jets plenty of times to win. Of course every single ESPN analyst has picked New Orleans, so that probably means they will lose by 40 points!

Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos
This game is important for both teams to find out just where they are. Is the 3-0 start for the Broncos for real? Are the Cowboys ready to settle down and cut down on poor execution? This game will provide many answers. I give the edge to the Broncos due to the game being at Mile High Stadium, but I think the Cowboys are the more complete team and a win would not shock me.

San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers
These two teams might as well be in the same division with how many times they play each other in the regular season and playoffs!

This game has importance for many reasons. As the Chargers and the Steelers seem destined to meet every year in the playoffs, the winner on Sunday will have that edge working for them in a possible rematch.

The Chargers have looked underwhelming thus far, and need a breakout performance against a top flight team.

The Steelers need to get settled into the season after losing two last minute games. It is not panic time, the Steelers still have 2 games against division rival Baltimore to catch back up (the Steelers won all three games against the Ravens last year). I think is is important for the champs to close out a game and get back on track.

I think the Steelers find a way to pull this one out, but they have to beware the deep ball. The Chargers will be going long early and often.

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (Monday Night)
This game is the exact scenario why Green Bay would only allow Brett Favre to be moved to an AFC team last year and not his first choice, the Vikings.

I do not think I need to add much here, you know the deal. It is grudge match time.

I like the Vikings at home because you know the crowd is going to be going crazy for this one. Note to Brett Favre: You will win more games on Adrian Petersons legs than your arm, hand off the ball!

There are some other interesting games, but not on the scale of the ones mentioned here. Enjoy the games tomorrow all!

Have a good night.


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GawainsGhost said...

Yeah, Baltimore at New England is a big game. The Ravens have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 38 games, longest streak in the NFL, and Joe Flacco is 14-3 in his last 17 games. That's impressive. And they do look like the team to beat in the AFC at this point, but it's a long season.

I think the Patriots miss the veteran talent they released or traded more than anything else. It may take a few more weeks for Brady to fully return to form and find his rythym, and Wes Welker will help him do that. But as long as Randy Moss is on the field, he's a deep strike waiting to happen.

However, you're right, GYC, the Baltimore defense just brings too much pressure, so I don't see how New England wins this one.

The Jets have been impressive, and Rex Ryan has them believing in themselves. But the Saints are on a roll, playing with confidence. And you live be the blitz or die by the blitz. In this game, New York dies. It wouldn't surprise me if New Orleans puts up 45 points.

As far as Dallas at Denver goes, yeah, this game is going to reveal a lot about both teams. The Broncos have only allowed 16 points in 3 games, and, regardless of the opponents, that is something to take notice of. Kyle Orton has yet to throw an interception, and he can make plays downfield when he has to. Comparatively, Tony Romo has been wildly inconsistent. He went from a career best game in the season opener to a career worst game in the home opener in the span of one week, from a quarterback rating of 140.6 to 29.6. Obviously the Baby Brett thing isn't working. The Cowboys do have a dominant rushing attack, but Felix Jones is out and Marion Barber is limited. That leaves Tashard Choice. Now, I love me some Choice. The man is a pure running back, and the ground game should be structured around him as the feature back, with Barber coming in for short yardage and goal line situations and Jones coming in as a change up. Unfortunately, that is so obvious Jason Garrett is too stupid to figure it out.

This game could really go either way. Depends on which Cowboys team shows up. But it wouldn't shock me in the least if they find a way to lose in the fourth quarter. Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins are definitely going to have the Broncos motivated to play.

Pittsburgh has had trouble closing games so far, being outscored 24-0 in the fourth quarter in losses to the Bears and the Bengals. But they haven't lost three in a row since 2006 and have won their last eight games at home. So they're going to be playing for pride against San Diego.

The Chargers are an enigmatic team that can either explode or implode in any given game. So this is a hard one to call. Norv Turner will be coaching for his life on Sunday Night, but Mike Tomlin is 10-1 in prime time games.

In the end, the Steelers miss Troy Polamalu in a bad way. Thus I'll pick Phillips Rivers in an upset.

Ooooh, a grudge match on Monday Night. Brett Favre against the Packers. The drama! Frankly, I'm tired of hearing about Brett Favre. I just wish he'd go away. In other words, I feel about him the same way Green Bay felt last year. His on-again, off-again retirement soap opera lasted long enough for him to land with the Packers' most hated rival, which is a betrayal.

It would be like Troy Aikman coming out of retirement to start for Philadelphia, which incidentally actually almost happened back in 2002. But Aikman thought better of it.

Favre doesn't have that kind of class. And believe me Green Bay is determined to not let him win this game, and certainly not the re-match at Lambeau Field. I'll take the Packers in a stunning defeat, with Favre knocked out of the game.