So we're back at picking games for Week 4 as the byes start to kick in (thankfully for some teams... I'm looking at mine), so there will be fewer games and thus fewer opportunities to rack up obscene numbers of points in a given week, though it's not too bad this week with 15 games on the docket. This time we disagree on only 5 games, so he can still climb back in it. Let's get started.
San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams (+3.5)
Lucas: Rams. Part of this is a reaction to how bad the Niners have been the past couple weeks, but it's also partially because St. Louis played them really well last year (a win and a tie).
Nathaniel: Rams. Both teams looked really bad last week, but we know the 49ers will be without Aldon Smith, probably won’t have a healthy Patrick Willis and have an offense that probably needs more than three days of preparation to sort out all their problems. Safest prediction either way, though: this game will be U-G-L-Y.
Sunday, Early Afternoon
Baltimore Ravens @ Buffalo Bills (+3.5)
Lucas: Ravens. So apparently Ray Rice was "close" to playing against the Texans. I doubt they need him against Buffalo's defense, though I'm sure Flacco wouldn't mind having another target to pick apart the Bills secondary with.
Nathaniel: Bills. I make this pick knowing full well that JaMarcus Russell circa 2009 likely would have been more accurate with his throws than EJ Manuel was last week. Baltimore’s offense looks bad too, though, and they typically perform much worse away from M&T Bank Stadium.
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions (-2.5)
Lucas: Bears. Let's be honest. If you made a list of people who would be most likely to get into a car accident because of pizza... I'd be at the top of the list. Yet somehow I've avoided a pizza-related accident and Nate Burleson couldn't. Funny how the world works.
Nathaniel: Bears. Flip-flopped on this pick a lot, which probably means that the Lions will end up winning. I just get the feeling, though, that if the game is close (and it probably will be), the Lions would be more likely to make the crucial mistake that usually winds up deciding such contests.
Lucas: Bengals. Easily the funniest line of the weekend goes to Adrian Peterson's daughter. I have a feeling Cincy's offense is just a tad better than Minnesota's however. Also, keep an eye on Brian Hoyer as the new Eff You quarterback.
Nathaniel: Bengals. Gonna need to see another reputable performance from Brian Hoyer before I feel comfortable taking the Browns over what may be the most talented team in the AFC (if we don’t count quarterbacks!).
Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars (+8.5)
Lucas: Jaguars. Look, the Jags are awful. You know it. I know it. CBS knows it. But I feel like Indy has played down to some of their competition (see Weeks 1 and 2). I still think Indy wins this game, but part of me thinks this line is too high. Of course, with my luck, Luck will throw for 350 yards and run for 100 more while the Colts rack up 50 points.
Nathaniel: Colts. Picking against Jacksonville whenever they’re getting fewer than 25 points seems like a pretty good plan this season.
New York Giants @ Kansas City Chiefs (-4.5)
Lucas: Chiefs. Logic tells me to pick the Chiefs. The part of my brain that deals with intangibles is yelling at me about karma for a Gatorade bath in a Week 3 win when you move to 3-0 and the whole "Nobody believes in us!" factor for the Giants and Tom Coughlin being pretty good at playing that card. Hell, if anyone needs a Gatorade bath, it's Tom Coughlin! You know how red his face can get when the Giants suck! Nonetheless, I'm going to ignore the voices inside my head and go with the sane approach.
Nathaniel: Chiefs. The Giants can’t possibly play as badly as they did last week, but the Chiefs and Arrowhead Stadium are not the defense and setting you’d ideally select to get your offense back on track.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Minnesota Vikings (+0.5)
Lucas: Vikings. Granted, the agreement for these teams was put in place a while back. But good Lord, this game will set back the NFL's plans for London relocation/expansion for years. Which, honestly, would be a good thing. It's a logistical nightmare waiting to happen, regardless of any fluff pieces written to make it seem like a good idea.
Nathaniel: Steelers. I wouldn’t be touching this game with a ten-foot pole if I wasn’t compelled by ESPN.com to make a pick – both teams have shown a spectacular aversion to winning so far this year. Ideally, even though it would mean I missed the cover by a half-point, this game would end in a 38-38 tie and London fans would leave Wembley Stadium in droves by the middle of the second quarter so we could stop all this nonsense about London being a viable home for an NFL team.
Arizona Cardinals @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5)
Lucas: Cardinals. This line was set Tuesday afternoon before the Bucs announced Jaaaaash Freeman was getting benched for rookie Mike Glennon. I honestly don't think that's going to help these guys. Even with Freeman... how, exactly, were they favored?
Nathaniel: Cardinals. I was taking the Buccaneers , until news broke of Josh Freeman’s demotion. I’m no Jaaaaaaassssshhhh Freeman fan, but now seems like a good time to point out that Mike Glennon led the ACC in interceptions last year. Good luck, Bucs fans! (All three of you.)
Seattle Seahawks @ Houston Texans (+2.5)
Lucas: Seahawks. Houston got beat by a team that has struggled a bit offensively so far this year and is banged up some. How much more will they get spanked by Seattle?
Nathaniel: Texans. Seattle’s probably not going to win a home game by fewer than two scores all season, but let’s not forget that they were a DeAngelo Williams fumble in the red zone away from possibly losing their lone road game of the season so far. Houston’s still a good team, unlucky return touchdowns and all.
Sunday, Late Afternoon
New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans (-3.5)
Lucas: Jets. Tennessee has been a bit of a surprise this season, as have the Jets. Ultimately it comes down to me trusting Geno Smith more than I trust Jake Locker. I'll take the points.
Nathaniel: Jets. Two erratic quarterbacks who had big games last week against shoddy defenses now line up against considerably stiffer opposition this week. Taking the points and the better defense.
Dallas Cowboys @ San Diego Chargers (+1.5)
Lucas: Chargers. Give me a rebound week for Rivers. Besides, we all know how this Cowboys story goes: they tread water early while blowing some winnable games, go on a tear in November, then fall apart in December. Though the way the NFC East looks this year, they could fall apart and still possibly make the playoffs while Jerry Jones does a happy dance in the background.
Nathaniel: Chargers. If I felt at all confident that Dallas would play as well this week as they did against the Rams, I’d pick them in a heartbeat. That ought to tell you everything you need to know.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Denver Broncos (-11.5)
Lucas: Broncos. I did a little math for this one. Through 3 games, the Eagles have averaged 22:39 of possession time in Chip Kelly's offense. The Broncos, meanwhile, have scored 120 points on offense in 97:14 of possession time through 3 games. ...Do you really want to put Peyton out on the field for nearly 40 minutes of game time when his offense is averaging over a point per minute of possession time? This projection has Denver scoring 46 points, and I don't see Philly putting up 35.
Nathaniel: Broncos. Because there’s a legitimate chance they could score 70 this week. And because Demaryius Thomas came up with the funniest on-field quote since “Goddammit Donald.”
Washington Redskins @ Oakland Raiders (+2.5)
Lucas: Redskins. As of posting time Terrelle Pryor's status is unknown, but even if he were healthy, his team's passing attack hasn't been up to par. Washington finally catches a break. Just ask Spiderman.
New England Patriots @ Atlanta Falcons (-1.5)
Lucas: Patriots. Anyone else surprised that Danny Amendola If He Stays Healthy isn't staying healthy? Anyone? Still, with injuries in Atlanta's receiving corps and Tom Brady still putting up okay numbers with the likes of Julian Edelman and Kenbrell Thompkins, I'll take them on the road this week.
Nathaniel: Falcons. First real test for the Patriots defense this year. And for the first time in forever, I don’t like New England’s chances if the game gets into a shootout.
Miami Dolphins @ New Orleans Saints (-6.5)
Lucas: Dolphins. So... is Vegas not sold on the Dolphins yet? I mean, I had them penciled for 7-9 this year, but Tannehill hasn't been bad and they're 3-0. And yes, the Saints defense looks better this year, but I just think 6.5 is too high a line.
Nathaniel: Dolphins. Head over gut pick. Head says the Dolphins are pretty good and typically are among the best road teams in the NFL. Gut says the Saints are much better and are going to stomp them by some score like 38-13. Cognitive dissonance: the best part of making NFL picks!
Records So Far
Lucas: 29-19 (10-6 last week)Nathaniel: 25-23 (6-10 last week)