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Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Look Ahead at Week 4

Week 4 is going to include some key match ups, including six potential AFC playoff teams facing off.  We're nearly a quarter of the way through the season already, and this is when the teams start to define who they really are and create separation from the rest of the competition.  Let's jump right into it!

One of the biggest early games will be the Detroit Lions traveling to Dallas to take on the Cowboys.  Now I don't see the Cowboys as an elite team in this league, but the Lions need this win to prove they are a force in the NFC.  The Cowboys need the victory more playing in a very competitive NFC East conference, where they currently sit in a three way tie with the Giants and Redskins for first place.  Tony Romo's "injury" should be fairly well behind him at this point and we can start discussing football in Dallas again.  First round pick Nick Fairley still isn't expected to suit up for the Lions with a nagging foot injury, but I don't suspect they will need him.  Lions get it done in a tight one.

Pittsburgh and Houston are both coming off disappointing games last weekend.  Sure, the Steelers won in Indianapolis but they were 15 point favorites going into the game and had to win on a last second field goal.  This team looks older on defense, the line cannot run block like they use to, and it seems they are fading behind Baltimore in the division.  Houston blew a big lead in New Orleans where the game ended up going back and forth in the fourth quarter before Drew Brees finally put them away.  I expect their defense to play better this week against the Steelers in what should be a fairly low scoring game.  I like Houston to win the game and prove their spot in the AFC elite.

The marquee match up in the four o'clock games will be the Patriots at Oakland.  Always a tough place to play, and the Raiders seem like a legitimate team this year.  They should be 3-0 if for not blowing a late lead to the Bills. Same could be said for the Patriots.  I expect Belichick to have his boys chomping at the bit after that embarrassing loss last week and win this game pretty easily.  I do like Darren McFadden as the best back in the league right now though.

Finally we move to the Sunday night game, where the Ravens play host to the Jets.  I still don't know who this Ravens team is.  They man handle the Steelers in week one only to be shut down by the Tennessee Titans the following week, then dismantle the Rams last weekend.  If there is a pattern forming here, the Jets should have their way with them.  As a top ranked defense in the NFL, it had to be discouraging for Rex Ryan to see McFadden and company run all over his Jets last weekend.  They look very vulnerable against the run, so expect Ray Rice to have a big day.  I like the Ravens by 6 in this match up.

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