Joe-Pinions: Sports

2 Oct 2010 – NFL Pick ’em, Week 4

Posted in Football (NFL) by txtmstrjoe on 02/10/2010

Week 4 picks, fresh out of the oven!

Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots

Even during the apex of the Bill Belichick + Tom Brady era (assuming, of course, that this coach+player combination has already peaked), games against the bitter division rival Dolphins have been very tough games for the Patriots.  This Monday Night Football match-up promises to offer up more of the same.

Versatile running back Ronnie Brown, ever-improving young quarterback Chad Henne, and a solid defense will challenge Brady, Randy Moss, and the Patriots in what will likely be a game with both teams scoring at least three touchdowns each.  In the end, I think the PATRIOTS come out on top with either a score by their defense or via a last-second field goal.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens

The Steelers have been without their troubled star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger since the beginning of the season, who is serving a four-game suspension for legal issues off the field.  Losing a quarterback, especially one of Roethlisberger’s caliber, for an entire quarter of the regular season very often dooms a team’s playoff aspirations.  Nevertheless, the Steelers have steamrollered their way through their first three games and established themselves as perhaps the early-season AFC Super Bowl contender.  Are they overachieving?

The Ravens picked up Anquan Boldin in the off-season, and many pundits thought that the addition would give up-and-coming quarterback Joe Flacco another receiving option and spark Baltimore’s offense, giving the team an offense worthy of its always-stellar defense.  Through the first three games, Boldin has been solid if unspectacular, and Flacco has been a little unsteady, probably due to some uneven play by the O-line.  At 2-1, are they underachieving?

This is the best game on this week’s schedule, in my opinion.  Normally, my thinking is that the home team gets the advantage in such an even game, but I’ll buck the trend and pick the RAVENS to upset the Steelers on the road.  Why?  The Ravens have a great defense (almost a match for Pittsburgh’s transcendent unit) and will limit RB Rashard Mendenhall’s production; the Ravens’ offense will likewise be limited by the Steel Curtain, but it will produce more than Pittsburgh’s and will be crucial difference in this game.

Oakland Raiders vs. Houston Texans

This game has the potential to be a high-scoring affair.

No, seriously.

The Raiders have Bruce Gradkowski at quarterback.  He’s not someone most people think of as one of the NFL’s great quarterbacks, and his form and technique aren’t classical.  But unquestionably, the ex-backup QB plays with great instincts and leadership, and the Raiders always have played better when he’s on the field than when the nominal starter (first mega-bust Jamarcus Russell, then the disappointing and probably burnt-out Jason Campbell this year) is playing.  Gradkowski’s play elevates his teammates’, so expect a lot of yards and points as they play against a weak Houston defense against the pass.

The Texans, meanwhile, have a great offense.  Matt Schaub is at the controls of one of the league’s best passing games (led by WR Andre Johnson), and RB Arian Foster is explosive on the ground.  The Raiders’ defense is young and improving, but I think it will be struggle against the Texans.

TEXANS win in Oakland, simply because they ought to not have any problems scoring against a defense that is far from the elite standard.

Atlanta Falcons vs. San Francisco

The Falcons did last week what the 49ers couldn’t (but probably should have) in Week 2:  They beat the New Orleans Saints.  Last week’s victory could be the Falcons’ official coming-out party, the game where they announced their intentions to take the always-competitive and entertaining NFC South and parlay the division crown into a big playoff run.

Meanwhile, the 49ers are in a state of near-chaos.  The roster used to be the team’s main deficiency, but this year it looks to have been improved.  Now the main problems look to be in the coaching staff.  Mike Johnson is the team’s new offensive coordinator, replacing the very-experienced (yet frustratingly inadequate) Jimmy Raye.  The 49ers’ offense isn’t lacking in terms of strategy, but could improve in game day tactics and adjustments.  More importantly, the team as a whole needs much better teaching in terms of technique and execution.

As much as I love head coach Mike Singletary for his ability to inspire and lead through strength of character, the team needs better teachers on its coaching staff.  Is Mike Johnson the answer, insofar as the offense is concerned?  It’s impossible to say, but I know all 49ers fans (including your writer here) hope that he is more effective than Coach Raye was.

At least the defense looks to be in better hands.  Despite the fact that the 49ers surrendered a lot of points to both Seattle (Week 1) and Kansas City (Week 3), it’s very difficult to contain the other team if your own offense isn’t giving you much.  On the other hand, it’s a bit of a travesty to allow Matt Cassel to score three touchdowns through the air.

So… who do I pick in this game?  My heart says San Francisco, but my brain says pick the FALCONS.

(I hope I get this particular pick wrong, though.)

NFL

After three weeks and twelve picks, I’m sitting on 4-8.  Picking games isn’t easy, but it’s fun!  Join in with me, if you wish, by registering your picks on the games I selected in the comments section.  We’ll tally up and compare at the end of each week’s schedule (either late Monday night, or sometime on Tuesday).

Hope to see your picks!

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One Response

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