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Week 4 picks


NFL Week 4
 
Last week: 11-5 (.688); Season: 37-11 (.771)
 
Sunday, Oct. 2
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX)Detroit Lions (3-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
"I can reach back in my memory bank and remember games like this," Ndamukong Suh told me Wednesday. "Nebraska-Oklahoma, Nebraska-Texas." He said he never thought when he was drafted the Lions would stay doormats. Now the way to 4-0 is to put the kind of rush on Tony Romo that they pestered Donovan McNabb with last week in the second half -- and I think the Lions' defensive front will do it.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX)San Francisco 49ers (2-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)
Sorely tempted to pick the Niners, because I don't know how long Mike Vick is going to play, and the Niners are plus-six in turnover differential, best in the league. Eagles had best be taking this one seriously.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX)Minnesota Vikings (0-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-3)
Which team is less bad? The team that can torment the passer, and that's Jared Allen and his mates.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX)Washington Redskins (2-1) at St. Louis Rams (0-3)
Okay. Someone's taken Sam Bradford somewhere and has subbed his evil twin under center for the Rams. Somebody confess. Quick, before the Rams have another one of those truly meaningless seasons we're so used to seeing them have.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX)New Orleans Saints (2-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
Such numbers can be deceiving, but Drew Brees has eight TDs and no picks in three career starts against the Jags. If I'm Jack Del Rio, I'm taking the ball out of Blaine Gabbert's hands and the air out of the football, and giving Maurice Jones-Drew 33 touches. That's the Jags' best chance.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS)Tennessee Titans (2-1) at Cleveland Browns (2-1)
I never thought I'd be saying these three things about the Titans exiting September: Matt Hasselbeck is more productive at 36 in a new offense than he ever was in Seattle (small sample size, I know), Chris Johnson has been a total non-factor in a 2-1 Tennessee start, and the team is first in the NFL in team defense. Weird year continues Sunday, I say.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS)Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) at Houston Texans (2-1)
This is Pittsburgh's first game in Houston since 2005. In that game, young Ben Roethlisberger threw for two touchdowns and Troy Polamalu had three sacks. The way both played last week, it wouldn't be stunning to see the same thing happen again. But this is not your father's Texan defense, despite what you saw in New Orleans last week. This D will have a comeback performance Sunday.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS)Buffalo Bills (3-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-2)
Remember when the Bills buried the Bengals last year with 35 second-half points? Good news for Cincinnati: Buffalo won't score 35 in two halves Sunday. Seems strange to say because Buffalo is 3-0, but the Bills really need this one, with the Eagles, Giants, Redskins, Jets and Cowboys coming in the next five games.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX)Carolina Panthers (1-2) at Chicago Bears (1-2)
A year ago, the Bears went to Charlotte and won by 17, holding the Panthers to 147 yards. That won't happen this time, because Cam Newton will find Steve Smith a couple of times deep to make this a ballgame. The difference: Matt Forte. Call his name early and often, Mike Martz.
 
4:05 p.m. ET (FOX)Atlanta Falcons (1-2) at Seattle Seahawks (1-2)
Not saying the Falcons are falling off America's radar or anything, but Craig Bolerjack is doing play-by-play of this game for FOX.
 
4:05 p.m. ET (FOX)New York Giants (2-1) at Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
Still trying to figure out how Cards lost at Seattle. Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? Great start for Eli Manning, by the way (104.3 rating, six touchdown passes, two interceptions). Now we have to see if Victor Cruz can be Frank Gifford for another week. The kid did it all in Philly.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (CBS)Denver Broncos (1-2) at Green Bay Packers (3-0)
Greg Jennings remembers the last time these two teams met. It's the moment he burst onto the scene as an impact receiver. Monday Night Football, October 2007, first play of overtime, 13-13, Brett Favre throws a long rainbow, Jennings grabs it, and it's an 82-yard touchdown. Not so much drama here, but I do think Jennings, with a different quarterback this time, has a very good chance to go deep again.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (CBS)Miami Dolphins (0-3) at San Diego Chargers (2-1)
You might not be surprised to learn Philip Rivers leads all quarterbacks with 5,689 passing yards since the start of last season. But you might raise an eyebrow to know Chad Hanne's edging him in passer rating (82.4-82.1) so far this season, thanks largely to Rivers averaging two interceptions a game. Rivers sure could use Antonio Gates, likely to miss another game Sunday with persistent plantar fasciitis. "It was supposed to be gone five months ago, but somehow it's still lingering," said Gates. Bad news for Rivers.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (CBS)New England Patriots (2-1) at Oakland Raiders (2-1)
The Richard Seymour Revenge Bowl sure doesn't sound like a vengeful game for the ex-Pat. He's soft-pedaled it all week. I'm starting to like Oakland a lot. I won't like them much, though, if Darren McFadden doesn't play like McFadden after straining his groin in the win over the Jets. I'm taking New England because, as if you hadn't noticed, Bill Belichick is not a big fan of losing two in a row ... and because they're putting up 540 yards per game.
 
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)New York Jets (2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
A week ago, before I saw the impact of Torrey Smith on the Ravens offense, I probably would have picked the Jets, with Baltimore tormentor Santonio Holmes the main culprit. But Smith is a certifiable field-stretcher, the kind of player the Jets just may have to put Darrelle Revis on to take out of the game. That could leave holes for underneath routes. Interesting chess match here. I say the Ravens make one more play and win it.
 
Monday, Oct. 3
 
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)Indianapolis Colts (0-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
Would have loved to see a Peyton Manning-Josh Freeman matchup, because Freeman has so much of Manning's smarts and fearlessness and precociousness. But on Monday night, Freeman won't need any of that fourth-quarter comeback magic.
 
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