By Mike Crum
Dallas Cowboys Team Analyst and Co-Host of the Across The Cowboys Podcast
So about week three, it did not go all that well for me. I went 8-8, but on the year I'm a healthy 33-15 overall, so let’s see if we can turn things around in week four.
Denver Broncos (DEN) at New York Jets (NYJ)
What a terrible Thursday night football game for the NFL Network. One team is trying to fire its coach. They are playing so badly and are showing so little improvement. The other is decimated by injury and traveling across the country without much going for them either. I’m taking my typical home team on a short week, but only because Denver has no quarterback. If it wasn’t for injuries I’d definitely not be picking the Jets to win this game. The organization may be out on Adam Gase, but Sam Darnold needs to get wins and I think they finally get one on Thursday night.
New Orleans Saints (NO) at Detroit Lions (DET)
My first two weeks I had a good record, but my 8-8 week has me questioning my gut in week four. The Saints haven’t looked great without Michael Thomas, and the Lions are coming off a big win in Arizona. I believe Matt Stafford can put up points on the Saints defense, but I don’t know if New Orleans will adjust to Thomas being gone, or if they'll continue to underperform. Detroit has a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball, and I just believe they will pull off another close victory. That will shockingly drop one of the best rosters in the NFL to 1-3. I'm going with the upset here.
Los Angeles Chargers (LAC) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TB)
I don’t like to pick many west coast teams that have to travel to the east coast and play at 1:00 pm. Add to that the Chargers are bringing a rookie QB in Justin Herbert to face a TB team that has Tom Brady. How can I not pick the Bucs here? The Chargers added Chris Harris, Jr. to an already loaded IR list that is littered with impressive players such as Melvin Ingram and Derwin James. I think a quick passing game helps negate the Chargers pass rush and the skill position players of TB are too much for an injured Chargers defense.
Jacksonville Jaguars (JAX) at Cincinnati Bengals (CIN)
It seems like Jacksonville regressed to the mean in week three. Of course that happens when I pick them to win a game against a winless opponent. Just when I was beginning to trust Gardner Minshew and the rest of the Jaguars' squad, they massively disappoint us, as usual. Joe Burrow and the Bengals just tied a desperate Philadelphia Eagles team and the young QB continues to look impressive. I think the Bengals have a much better roster and should win this game. Perhaps a return of DJ Chark brings back the Jaguars magic, but I’m not picking them to do it.
Minnesota Vikings (MIN) at Houston Texans (HOU)
One of these teams will be 0-4 after this game. That blows my mind. The Texans had to play maybe the hardest first three games I’ve ever seen. Their season began with games against Kansas City, Baltimore and then Pittsburgh. I can understand losing all three of those. The Texans are playing at home in this contest, and they have the better QB. I predicted that this would be a transition year for the Vikings. I did not expect an 0-4 start, however, yet here we are. I’ve got Watson getting his team their first W.
Seattle Seahawks (SEA) at Miami Dolphins (MIA)
What a tough game this is for me. We all know that the Seahawks are playing great, have an MVP candidate at QB, and the Dolphins have one win versus Jacksonville, a team that a lot of people considered to be the worst in the league heading into the season. My problem is that I try to look past the easy stuff and I dive into these games more thoroughly. When you look at things like a gambler you know these are still just human beings, so things affect them, such as the Dolphins getting to play in Florida last week. And, they played on Thursday night so they are getting extra rest without having to travel.
On the other hand, the Seahawks just played an emotional game against the Dallas Cowboys, and they have to travel across the country for a morning game which is always tough on west coast teams. Add to this that Ryan Fitzpatrick, Preston Williams, DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki should be very effective against an incredibly poor Seattle pass defense and I smell a chance at an upset. So do I go with my tried and true formula, and pick the upset? Or should I stay on the smart path and back Russell Wilson and the Seahawks? Let's shake things up and get a little nuts here. I’m picking the Dolphins in an upset.
Pittsburgh Steelers (PIT) at Tennessee Titans (TEN)
(This game has been postponed until later in the season. However, I'll still include my write-up and prediction for this game.)
Wow. Having several members of the Titans' staff and roster test positive for COVID-19 really make this game impossible to logically choose. I don’t know when they will play, or if they will even play. Can either team practice at all this week? I don’t know, so I’m just gonna go with the team I think is better. Handing off to Derrick Henry could be a killer strategy, and a necessary one, in a game with so little time to prepare, as it would make things easier on Ryan Tannehill and the entire Titans offense. However, I just think the Steelers are the superior team so I’m picking them.
Cleveland Browns (CLE) at Dallas Cowboys (DAL)
The Cowboys got a terrible draw in week four when you consider what ails them. In week one, the Rams killed them by running up the middle. The last time the Cowboys went up against a Kevin Stefanski lead team, their running back, Dalvin Cook, went for 183 combined yards and a touchdown. Now Dallas has to deal with Kevin Stefanski's creative running game and two stellar RBs in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. To boot, all three of the Cowboys opponents have thrown the ball all over them. Here comes Odell Beckham, Jr., Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, and even Chubb and Hunt catch the ball really well.
The Cowboys have one big issue on offense, and that's the health of their two offensive tackles. This is a horrible time to be dealing with that problem because they're about to face maybe the best edge defender in the NFL in Myles Garrett. So this game is definitely a threat to Dallas. If the Browns can run the ball and hit big plays they could get a lead and wear the Cowboys defense down while limiting the possessions of the powerful Cowboys offense. While I think that’s definitely possible, I believe Dallas' offense is a little too powerful for the backend of Cleveland's injured defense to contend with. I expect Dallas to score early which should help to take away Cleveland’s running game, thus turning this contest into a Baker Mayfield versus Dak Prescott matchup. That scenario would definitely go to Dallas and so will I. Cowboys by more than a touchdown.
Arizona Cardinals (ARI) at Carolina Panthers (CAR)
I was honestly shocked when the Panthers upset the Chargers last week. While I realize that my belief that west coast teams have trouble going across the country and beating east coast teams should make it where I’m not so shocked at these types of results, I just thought that the Chargers would overcome that since they are the more talented team. Speaking of shocking, the Lions went into Arizona and beat the Cardinals last week. Yeah, I definitely didn’t see that happening. I don’t like Arizona having to travel to Carolina, but I don’t expect the Cardinals to get upset two straight weeks. Kyler Murray is a rising star and even if this is a tough game, he will find away to lead his team to a win.
Indianapolis Colts (IND) at Chicago Bears (CHI)
For me, this is easily the toughest game this week. (Well, it's the toughest among the games that may or may not be cancelled.) It was the last pick I made. Nick Foles will help his Bears offense be more consistent, and Chicago's consistently great defense gives them a chance to win every week. I hate the thought of Phillip Rivers in Chicago having to face that Bears pass rush. In normal circumstances with a home crowd I think the Bears would be an easy choice. In 2020, of course, that isn’t the case. The Colts Head Coach, Frank Reich, knows Foles well from their time in Philadelphia together. I believe he will know how to attack him. On the offensive end, the Colts have an O-line that should hold up to the Bears excellent defensive front. I'm betting that Rivers won't throw the game-losing interception in this game, and win a close, tough battle in Chicago.
Baltimore Ravens (BAL) at Washington Football Team (WAS)
The Ravens got spanked by their rivals this past Monday night. They got dunked on by their biggest competition in the AFC and they will be looking to respond. Wrong place, wrong time for this Washington team. I would definitely lay the -13 with the Ravens in this game.
New York Giants (NYG) at Los Angeles Rams (LAR)
The Giants lost to the 49ers' JV team last week. No, that's inaccurate. They got destroyed by them. They weren’t even competitive. The Rams almost beat an undefeated Bills team in Buffalo. Easy choice, eliminator pick game for sure. Take the Rams.
New England Patriots (NE) at Kansas City Chiefs (KC)
I just don’t think that the Patriots have the horses to handle this Chiefs team, especially in Kansas City. The Patriots will play the Chiefs tough for a while, but Patrick Mahomes will be too much for them. KC wins by 10 or more.
Buffalo Bills (Buf) at Las Vegas Raiders (LVR)
Buffalo has been excellent this year, and I’m sold that they are one of the best teams in the AFC. Their defense is the real deal, Josh Allen is killing it at the QB position so far this season, and I think they can travel to Vegas and get a W. This is a hunch game for me though, and I think the Raiders are gonna steal it. Las Vegas has a big, nasty O-line that can handle a good defensive front like Buffalo's. They have a great young lead back in Josh Jacobs, on whom they can lean, and I really like Gruden to be able to finish off a few drives with touchdowns with his smart play-calling. This is definitely a risky upset pick, but I’m gonna go with my gut. Look for a nice breakout game from Hunter Renfrow this week, as Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards are long shots to play in this one. The Raiders get a surprising W.
Philadelphia Eagles (PHI) at SanFrancisco 49ers (SF)
Look, considering the injuries that the Niners are dealing with I can understand how the Eagles seem like the obvious pick. I expect Carson Wentz to play better this year (he can't play much worse, can he?), and Doug Pederson has never missed the playoffs as the Eagles head coach. I’m going with the home team here though. Kyle Shanahan puts up big points no matter which starters he is missing, so I expect him to do the same to the Eagles. Another factor for me is that Philly has to travel all the way out to California. I will be more confident if Jimmy Garappolo plays, but either way I’m taking the 49ers.
Atlanta Falcons (ATL) at Green Bay Packers (GB)
After back-to-back collapses for the Falcons, how can I pick them to go into Green Bay and beat maybe the best team in the NFC? The answer is I can’t. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers might finish off Falcons coach Dan Quinn's career this Monday night. Easy pick here as the Packers remain undefeated.
Ok guys now it’s on you. You like any of my risky picks? Do you think I’m gonna bounce back from 8-8? I hope so! I can’t wait to find out!
Week Four Pick Summary:
NYJ over DEN
DET over NO
TB over LAC
CIN over JAX
HOU over MIN
MIA over SEA
PIT over TEN (Postponed until later in the season)
DAL over CLE
ARI over CAR
IND over CHI
BAL over WAS
LAR over NYG
KC over NE
LVR over BUF
SF over PHI
GB over ATL
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