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The Lineman’s NFL picks — week 4
OK, I know what you are thinking; after a 2-4 Week Three that a certain German octopus could do a better job of picking winners. True it was a tough week, even Mrs. Lineman got 3-3. But we are nothing if we are not resilient so here we go again with bold predictions for Week Four.
Record: 9-9. Last week 2-4. Pick of the Week: 1-2
PICK OF THE WEEK:
Houston Texans (2-1) at Oakland Raiders (1-2) (Line Texans minus-3.5): I’m looking for the quality teams that bombed in Week Three to bounce back in a big way in Week Four and at the top of that list are the Texans.
The Battle of Texas turned into a bit of surrender last week with Houston falling 27-13 to a desperate bunch of Cowboys but this is still a Super Bowl quality team and the Raiders are not.
Raiders have the NFL’s third rank defense allowing just 260 yards a game but were destroyed by the Titans in the opener and lost a heart-breaker to the Cardinals last weekend. Their only win was a squeaker over the St. Louis Rams.
The Texans rank right near the top of the league in total offense and can beat you both ways on the ground and in the air.
Matt Schaub can turn to Arian Foster, the NFL’s leading rusher or look to pass catching machine Andre Johnson. Pick your poison.
The Texans have the league’s worst pass defense but Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski will never be mistaken for Peyton Manning.
Playing the brutal NFC South with the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans, this is the type of game the Texans must win.
No slip-ups in the Black Hole.
Take the Texans and give up the 3.5 points.
Arizona Cardinals (2-1) at San Diego Chargers (1-2) (Line Chargers minus-8.5): This is another one of those bounce back games I was talking about.
Chargers are off to their familiar spluttering start crushing the Jaguars at home and losing miserably on the road to the Chiefs and Seahawks.
Philip Rivers tossed for a franchise-record 455 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks last week but also turned the ball over five times, including a pair of interceptions.
Rivers has thrown for an NFL best 1,087 yards in three games and should feast on an average Arizona pass defense.
The Chargers have some question marks on defense with linebackers Shawne Merriman and Stephen Cooper both on the limp but the Arizona offense averaging just 16 points a game is not sending any shivers through the league.
Cardinals might be having second thoughts about letting Matt Leinart go and handing the QB job to Derek Anderson, who has just three touchdowns to go along with three interceptions.
Cardinals have won just once in six meetings against the Chargers – make that once in seven meetings after Sunday.
The Chiefs already hold a two game lead in the wacky AFC South and Chargers cannot let KC get too far in front.
Chargers light it up at home. Take the Chargers and give up the 8.5.
Chicago Bears (3-0) at New York Giants (2-1) (Line Giants minus-3.5): I don’t put the Giants in the quality team category but I am calling for a double bounce back win here for the G-Men against a Bears team that is far from perfect despite a 3-0 record.
I’m still not jumping on the Bears bandwagon.
Their season-opening win over the Lions was a gift from the officials and the Packers self-destructed with a record 18 penalties in a Monday Night meltdown.
Not that the Giants have impressed either.
The New Yorkers opened with a win over the toothless Panthers and then Eli Manning was schooled by big brother Peyton and the Colts in the Manning Bowl before getting pounded by the Titans last Sunday.
It’s early but the clock is ticking for the Giants, who need a big win to get back on track.
A year ago, Bears QB Jay Cutler was an interception machine with a league high 26, this year it is Eli Manning sitting top the list with six in three games.
The G-Men will have to put pressure on Cutler, who has thrown for 870-yards and six touchdowns, and stop shifty kick returner Devin Hester, who returned a punt for a touchdown against the Pack.
The Giants have lost their last five regular-season home meetings against Chicago.
But the Bears come into New York on a short week still basking in an emotional win over the Packers.
Bad news for the Bears. Take the Giants and give up the 3.5.
Baltimore Ravens (2-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) (Line Ravens plus-1.5): Turn away if you are squeamish. This one will not be for the faint hearted as the NFL’s too most vicious defenses slug it out.
Have to admit, I am impressed by what the Steelers have been able to do waiting for number one quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to return from suspension but their perfect start to the season ends Sunday when the Ravens pay a visit.
In Big Ben’s absence the Steelers could have had Peewee Herman or even Ryan Leaf calling plays behind a defense that has allowed a league low 11 points per game. In fact, because of injuries the Steelers have emptied their quarterbacking cupboard and for the second straight week will start Charlie Batch – number four on their depth chart at the start of the season.
Scary Ray Lewis lead a Ravens defense that is the NFL best in total defense allowing just 244 yards a game but have not intercepted a pass and have just one take away in the first three games.
With defenses being equal, give me Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco over Charlie Batch any Sunday.
Pittsburgh has not started a season 4-0 since 1979. Ravens are 0-4 in the Steel City since 2006.
For whom the bell tolls. I tolls for thee Pittsburgh Steelers.
Take the Ravens and the 1.5 points.
New York Jets (2-1) at Buffalo Bills (0-3) (Line Jets minus 4.5): Taking over for turfed Trent Edwards, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick gave the Bills a spark last week but Buffalo still lost 38-30 to New England and return to the Ralph with coach Chan Gailey still looking for his first win.
Since a season-opening loss to the Ravens, the Jet have backed up their bravado with nice wins over AFC East rivals New England and Miami.
No reason to think that Jets will not make it three straight with a win over the Buffalo Bills.
Despite the offensive burst last week against the Patriots, the Bills rank last in total averaging just 242 yards per games and have the league’s second worst passing attack.
After a jittery start, Jets QB Mark Sanchez has found his groove the last two weeks throwing six touchdowns without an interception. But Sanchez is probably still having nightmares about last season’s meeting with the Bills when he was picked off five time.
Jets shuffle out of Buffalo with the win. Take the Jets give up the 4.5.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-3) (Line Bengals minus-3.5): I’m not quite sure what to make of the Browns. They are without a win but are playing tougher than expected. Their first two losses to unbeaten Kansas City and Tampa Bay were by a grand total of five points and they put up a good fight in a losing cause last week to the Ravens.
But it’s hard to see this team coming out on top in the Battle of Ohio.
Seattle Seahawks castoff Seneca Wallace is likely to get the start again this week for the Browns ahead of injured Panthers castoff Jake Delhomme.
Cincinnati has put up back-to-back wins over Baltimore and Carolina but has not impressed.
QB Carson Palmer has been out of sync with a top flight fleet of receivers led by Batman and Robin, Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. He has just three touchdown passes and as many interceptions.
But a visit to Cleveland could be just the tonic for the Bengals struggling passing attack.
Palmer has won eight of his last nine against the Browns, tossing 14 TD passes in his last five visits.
Bengals pounce. Battle of Ohio ends in Browns surrender.
Take the Bengals and give up the 3.5.
PHOTO: Houston Texans Andre Johnson celebrates his touchdown against the Washington Redskins to tie the game in the fourth quarter in Landover, Maryland September 19, 2010. REUTERS/Molly Riley