A month into the 2013 NFL season and we can clearly see a disparity throughout pro football’s spectrum.
The undefeateds like the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints aren’t giving us reason to doubt their elite status.
The same can be said for the bottom feeders like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Factor in disappointing teams (see Redskins) as well as surprises (see Jets) and Week 4 will be filled with extreme excitement. So, let’s check out this week’s winners.
*Note: All spreads are courtesy of FootballLocks.com. Also, be sure to check each game’s line as they may change prior to kickoff.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings (in London)
Minnesota doesn’t have a legit enough passing game to press Pittsburgh downfield. Regardless of Adrian Peterson’s production, the Steelers are the more complete team in every phase.
Pick: Pittsburgh straight up and against the spread
Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Buffalo Bills
Baltimore is proving to be a solid AFC contender. With the defense coming around, the Ravens have an edge against Buffalo’s non high-powered attack. Plus, the Ravens are well balanced to move the rock consistently.
Pick: Baltimore straight up and against the spread
Are the Browns gaining confidence? Yes, but Cincinnati has much more as it sports a 2-1 record. That said, the Bengals can match Cleveland defensively and field a more technically sound offense to reach the end zone.
Pick: Cincinnati straight up and against the spread the spread
Indianapolis Colts (-8.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Could this be a trap game for the Colts after upsetting the 49ers in San Francisco? Jacksonville is desperate for a victory and the Jags are a division rival. Still, Indianapolis is simply the better all-around team and has the offense to equal any pace set by the Jaguars.
Pick: Indianapolis straight up and against the spread
Seattle Seahawks (-2) at Houston Texans
This is an interesting matchup between two potential Super Bowl contenders. However, the Texans have yet to play a full game on either side of the ball. On the flip side, Seattle has done just that and is capable of controlling the tempo from the start.
Pick: Seattle straight up and against the spread
Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5)
Tampa Bay continues to spiral downward, whereas Arizona just happens to play in one of pro football’s toughest divisions. Here, the Cardinals have the edge with Carson Palmer, a consistently reliable deep threat in Larry Fitzgerald and a better defense.
Pick: Arizona straight up and with the points
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-3)
Although the Bears are 3-0, Chicago hasn’t been as good defensively compared to 2012. As for Detroit, the Lions continue to struggle with consistency, as evidenced by the road loss to Arizona. Here, the Bears present an offense that is capable of keeping pace with Detroit. The Lions are known for explosiveness but Chicago’s more traditional and balanced approach is will be the difference.
Pick: Chicago straight up and with the points
New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5)
New York is just derailing right now. Too many turnovers and no defense equates to a dismal beginning. Kansas City’s fortunes, though, have been the exact opposite. With a ground game and reliable passing attack, the Chiefs control the tempo and play sound defense.
Pick: Kansas City straight up and against the spread
New York Jets at Tennessee Titans (-3.5)
Two rather surprising 2-1 squads in the Jets and Titans square off in Week 4. Tennessee features the more well-known back in Chris Johnson, but Gang Green is also quite solid at punching the trenches. If anything, Jake Locker’s emergence under center gives the Titans a slight edge with his overall experience.
Pick: Tennessee straight up, New York and the points
Dallas Cowboys (-2) at San Diego Chargers
Neither team fields much of a ground game or an established pass defense. That then pits Tony Romo against Philip Rivers. So, expect a high-scoring affair, but Dallas gets the nod as it has proven better at generating turnovers and applying quarterback pressure.
Pick: Dallas straight up and against the spread
Washington Redskins (-3.5) at Oakland Raiders
Washington is failing miserably on each side of the line. Oakland, though, has shown spurts of promise in fighting tough against the Colts and Broncos on the road. The Raiders have potential defensively, while the Redskins have yet to slow anyone down.
Pick: Oakland straight up and with the points
Philadelphia Eagles at Denver Broncos (-11)
Don’t sleep on the Eagles here. Philadelphia’s high-powered attack is capable of moving on Denver’s defense. The Broncos remain vulnerable to big plays, which Philly’s speed will take advantage of. Unfortunately for the Eagles, turnovers are still a concern along with defense. That will lead to Peyton Manning capitalizing.
Pick: Denver straight up, Philadelphia and the points
New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons (-2)
Tom Brady versus Matt Ryan. The downside is that Brady is without Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola, who, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports, are out for the Sunday night contest. Mix in Atlanta’s improved pass rush and the Falcons will outlast New England.
Pick: Atlanta straight up and against the spread
Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints (-6.5)
Miami’s offense has definitely shown signs of growth. And the Dolphins are rather solid defensively. That said, New Orleans still fields one of the NFL’s most prolific aerial assaults. As per usual, Drew Brees ends up as the ultimate factor.
Pick: New Orleans straight up and against the spread
Straight Up: 11-5
Straight Up: 34-16
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