A challenging slate of games, including a number of divisional matchups, awaits us in the Week 4 of the NFL season. Here is my Week 4 NFL Six Pack (all games Saturday).
The Cowboys enter Sunday night’s road contest in New Orleans at 3-0 and aspire for their first Super Bowl appearance since the 1995 season, when they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-17.
There is plenty of reason for optimism. The Cowboys have a loaded defense, a great offensive line, stud running back Ezekiel Elliot and quarterback Dak Prescott has looked as good as ever under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. However, it may be time to pump the brakes a tad, because their first three games have been against the Giants (with Eli Manning at the helm), the Redskins and the Dolphins. Dallas will get its first test in Week 4 against New Orleans, which is still without Drew Brees.
New Orleans heads home after an upset over the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on Sunday—a game that was not as close as the 33-27 score indicates. The Saints got a punt return for a touchdown from Deonte Harris, a fumble-return TD from Vonn Bell and controlled play throughout to run their record to 2-1. Backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was not spectacular, but he performed much better than his relief effort off the bench to replace Brees in Week 2 against the Rams. It’s not the same offense without the future Hall of Fame quarterback, but the Saints are still capable.
Teddy Bridgewater’s completions this week pic.twitter.com/94hXdzXP66
— Justis Mosqueda (@JuMosq) September 24, 2019
The Cowboys may be a better team than New Orleans in 2019, but I expect the Saints to bring their “A” game as a rare home dog Sunday night. I will gladly take points in a prime-time game in the Superdome.
Pick: Saints +2.5 (best bet)
New Era Field will be rocking when the defending Super Bowl champions come to town to take on the 3-0 Bills.
Buffalo’s undefeated start has not been a thing of beauty, but the Bills have ridden their strong defense and the playmaking of second-year quarterback Josh Allen.
The Bills defense dominated the first half of their 21-17 win over the Bengals, with just one first down for Cincinnati in the first two quarters, but let up a bit in the second half. It will be more difficult against Tom Brady this Sunday, but the Patriots will be without fullback James Develin, no longer have Antonio Brown and are banged up on the offensive line. They are likely to struggle to find the end zone regularly in Week 4.
The New England defense has been awesome through three games, albeit against less-than-stellar opposition. Its dominance should continue in Upstate New York against an average Buffalo offense. Look for Bill Belichick to conjure up a formula to prevent Allen from beating him with his legs and to contain big-play threat John Brown. It is hard to imagine the Bills scoring much.
Points allowed this season:
Patriots special teams: 7
Patriots offense: 7
Patriots defense: 3
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) September 22, 2019
I’m expecting a slugfest for one of the biggest games in Buffalo in some time.
Pick: Under 42.5
The Rams are off to another good start under head coach Sean McVay, but unlike last year, it has been the defense that has carried the team through three games. They head home after a strong performance against the Browns.
On paper the Rams should handle Tampa relatively easily Sunday afternoon, but this could be a flat spot for a team that has won three tough contests to start the campaign and takes on divisional rival Seattle on short rest next Thursday.
Tampa ruined a chance to run their record to 2-1 when they blew a 28-10 halftime lead and placekicker Matt Gay missed a 34-yard field goal with no time left in Week 3 against the Giants. The Buccaneers defense is far from elite, but it is improved, especially against the run. The Bucs should hold their own against the Rams.
Pick: Tampa Bay (+9.5)
The Lions have yet to lose in 2019, but they could very easily be 0-3. They were fortunate to earn a tie in their Week 1 opener at Arizona, gutted out a win when outplayed at home by the Chargers and took advantage of a number of key mistakes from an injury-riddled Eagles squad.
With Darius Slay questionable because of a hamstring injury and the best passing game in the NFL headed into the Motor City, the Lions’ good fortune will come to an end against a Chiefs team that is 9-0 ATS in September over the last three years.
Pick: Kansas City -6.5
It is difficult to be excited about how the preseason AFC North favorites have played through three games. The Browns were sloppy in a Week 1 loss to Tennessee, beat a Jets team that was on its third-string QB and most recently lost on Sunday night to the Rams.
Despite the Browns’ lack of offensive execution and their propensity to commit penalties, they still have a talented roster and should play with desperation in Baltimore. Lamar Jackson has been great in 2019 and will find a way to get the win for the Ravens, but it will be tougher than some expect.
Pick: Cleveland +6.5
I understand the excitement for rookie QB Daniel Jones after he brought the Giants back to victory in his first start last week in Tampa, as well as the fact that the Giants defense has been terrible to begin the season, but this total has spun out of control.
These teams know each other well, and the Giants will be without one of the league’s best weapons, Saquon Barkley.
Outside of a meaningless game in December last year, this series has produced a number of low-scoring affairs dating back to the start of 2017.