Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Week Four Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 26, 2008

So you think it’s easy to predict the outcome of football games?  Sometimes it is, but most of the time it’s not.  Take last week’s Miami runaway at Foxboro.  Who on Earth would have predicted a Miami win, let alone a 5 touchdown effort (4 rushing, 1 passing) from Ronnie Brown?  The Dolphins didn’t just win, they blew the Patriots out the way they were expected to be blown out.  Countless people got bounced from their eliminator pools last week because of that game.  (Thankfully I wasn’t one of them).  The Patriots seemed like a cinch pick, if nothing else because they were coming off a road win that they collected even without Tom Brady.  Even branching out beyond the NFL, did anyone, save Oregon State alumni, really believe the Beavers had anything better than a 0 percent chance to beat USC last night?  Sure, Oregon State was playing at home, they had a hostile crowd, and they had historically played well vs. USC at home, but these factors didn’t seem to override the fact that USC has clearly looked like the best team in the country in the early going.  USC had steamrolled Ohio State 35-3, and the players and coaches were saying all the right things about how they weren’t looking past Oregon State and how they were taking their Pac-10 opener seriously.  Still, Oregon State jumped out to a big halftime lead, and managed to hang on for the win at the end.  Football is a very unpredictable game, which is what makes it so great.  As much as I would like to be able to predict the outcome of every game and make loads of money in Vegas, the truth is the games are fun to watch because you don’t know what will happen.  Every game is unique, and there are surprises seemingly every week.  It is the very unpredictability of the games that makes every week must-see viewing.  Given this unpredictability, I suddenly don’t feel so bad about predictions gone awry already, and am even pleased at some that have worked out.  Now on to the picks, where in the theme of unpredictability I start with a real shocker: a winless team will break out this week and beat an undefeated team.  See below:

Last Week: 13-3 (.812) Season: 30-17 (.638)

– Rams over Bills: We start with a major upset alert.   This is a classic example of a trap game.  The Bills may be 3-0, but they needed a late rally to hold off the underachieving Raiders at home last week.  Buffalo by all rights should be 2-1 if not for poor clock management late in the game by Oakland.  The Rams have been beyond awful the first three games of the year, but they have made a quarterback switch to Trent Green.  Like the Vikings with Gus Frerotte last week, I believe the Rams will get a lift with Green under center.  Not to mention, the players are trying to save Scott Linehan’s job already.  You know the formula, it’s a desperate team playing at home, and I say the Rams pull the shocker.  Their offense has way too much talent to keep stinking like this.  Those of you in eliminator pools should think twice about this matchup. 

– Cardinals over Jets: This is really a difficult game to pick.  Arizona gave a great effort at Washington last week, while the Jets looked lost against San Diego.  Brett Favre does not look as though he has his timing down with his receivers yet, and it will take time for the Jets’ offense to get in sync.  This has the potential to be a high scoring game, and if Arizona’s passing attack continues to click, they will put more points on the board than the Jets.  Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are without question one of the top three receiver duos in the league, and Kurt Warner looks as though he has found the fountain of youth.

– Bengals over Browns: Dud game of the week.  0-3 vs. 0-3.  Will either head coach be around by the end of the year?  Cincinnati gets the nod here because they will be at home, and because they actually showed a pulse against the Giants last week.  T.J. Houshmanzadeh has come out of hiding (12 catches last week), and if Chad Johnson/Ocho Cinco actually joins him the Bengals offense could be dangerous again.  Cleveland can’t keep sticking with Derek Anderson at QB can they?  I hate to say I told you so, all you national folks that were on the Browns bandwagon in August.

– Jaguars over Texans: This will be a close game, if nothing else because the Texans seem to play better against Jacksonville then anyone else.  The Jaguars made a statement last week at Indy, and they should carry that momentum to a home win this week.  Houston is a mess early, and they may also need to  ponder a quarterback switch.  The Texans have more talent than their play so far indicates, but it’s too much to ask them to win a road game right now.  It would not be a surprise if this is Matt Schaub’s last start in Houston for awhile. 

– Titans over Vikings: Tennessee has to rank among the season’s top early surprises.  Their defense gave another phenomenal performance last week against the Texans.  If they can shut down Adrian Peterson on Sunday, the Titans may just have the look of a team that can keep it going and be a player to win it all.  It will be interesting to see if they stick with Kerry Collins when Vince Young comes back, but something tells me Jeff Fisher is the right coach to prevent that from becoming a soap opera.  The Vikings were much improved last week, but it is difficult to give them the nod in a road game right now.

– Broncos over Chiefs: For the second straight home game, Kansas City is close to a non-sellout, absolutely unheard of in barbecue country.  This really has the look of a complete mismatch, a Broncos offense averaging 38 points per game vs. a Chiefs team that hasn’t scored 38 points combined in three games this season.  The Broncos do have to guard against a letdown here, because it is a division game and the Broncos historically have not played well at Arrowhead.  On the other hand, if last year’s Broncos team could win there by two touchdowns, this year’s club should have no problem with the offense playing at a record setting pace.  Kansas City goes back to Damon Huard at QB, but is that really an improvement over Tyler Thigpen?  On that thought, let’s add Herm Edwards to the “Will he last the season” question. 

– Chargers over Raiders:  Speaking of coaches, is this Lane Kiffin’s last game as Raiders coach?  Oakland does have their bye following this game, so his dismissal would not be a surprise.  Oakland should have won last week at Buffalo, but bungled the game away late.  The Chargers woke up and looked like their old selves last week against the Jets, so naturally all the national pundits are right back on the San Diego bandwagon.  Oakland should play hard in this division game, and they do have the backing of the Black Hole, but San Diego should find a way to steal this one.  The Chargers really could be unbeaten if not for a couple of bad breaks.

– Cowboys over Redskins: This is not the gimmie it appears for Dallas.  In fact, if the game were at FedEx Field instead of Texas Stadium, my pick might well be reversed.  Washington always plays Dallas tough, and the Cowboys could be in trouble if Terrell Owens is held to two catches like he was last week.  The Redskins do look like they’re getting their offense in sync and their defense is forcing turnovers.  There is no question that the NFC East is the best division in football, and every game will be close and hotly contested.  The Cowboys win this one, but expect it to go down to the wire.  The difference is Tony Romo will show more poise than Jason Campbell in the quarterback battle.

– Buccaneers over Packers: This will be one of the best games of the week.  Green Bay is looking to bounce back from last week’s home loss to Dallas, and Aaron Rodgers faces his first hostile road environment as a starter.  Tampa Bay pulled a surprise last week at Chicago, and Brian Griese is somehow playing excellent football (407 yards passing last week!).  This is essentially a coin flip game that is likely to be decided by the turnover battle.  That being case, I’m going with the better, more aggressive defense, and that would be the Buccaneers.  It is easy to forget that Tampa Bay won the NFC South last year. 

– Panthers over Falcons: Hard to believe that both of these teams are 2-1.  Carolina should benefit from playing at home, while the Falcons struggled in their one away appearance so far this year.  Matt Ryan is actually playing well for a rookie, but Carolina’s defense will be stiff test.  The safe bet here is that Steve Smith should have a big game for the Panthers at home, and that they should be able to win this game without too much trouble.

– Saints over 49ers: I really, really, want to pick the upset in this game, but the Saints will be very difficult to beat back at the Superdome after two road games.  This should be a high scoring shootout.  San Francisco is scoring points with the Mike Martz offense, while the Saints offense is as talented as anyone in the league.  This is a must win game for New Orleans if they want to keep pace in the NFC South, so that is the sway factor for the Saints.  San Francisco will keep this game close though, and I still say the Niners will crash the playoff party in January.  I have a sneaking suspicion i might come to regret this pick on Sunday afternoon. 

– Eagles over Bears: This should be a good Sunday night game at Soldier Field.  The Bears will be desperate after blowing one at home to Tampa Bay last week, while the Eagles are coming off a big win against Pittsburgh.  Philadelphia has Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook coming in less than 100 percent, which should help the Bears defense, but Chicago has not shown it can move the ball with any consistency offensively.  If the Eagles want to be a player in the NFC, this is the kind of game they need to win, and a hunch says they should have enough to pull this one out.

– Steelers over Ravens: This should be one the purists will love, a tough, physical, defensive battle in the AFC North.  Pittsburgh is reeling after getting sacked nine times in Philly last week, and will be without top back Willie Parker.  That being said, Baltimore has not played a road game yet, which means this is the first for rookie QB Joe Flacco.  I’m sure the Ravens would prefer a much less hostile environment for their rookie signal caller get his feet wet on the road, and that right there is the sway factor.  I simply can’t back a rookie QB in a road game like this.  Pittsburgh wins. 

BYE: Miami, New England, Indianapolis, NY Giants, Detroit, Seattle

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