Before I delve into my Week 4 predictions, I must recap a very eventful Week 3. It all started with college football on Saturday night. For me personally, I don't get too involved with NCAA action unless Stanford is having a decent season which of course the Cardinal is not. However, a prime time game between Ohio State and Notre Dame is too hard to pass up. I tuned in for the final few minutes and the ending definitely had you on the edge of your seat. I feel bad for the Notre Dame fans who had a grand opportunity to see their Fighting Irish catapult into the top 5 rankings and potentially put themselves in the driver's seat for the College Football Playoffs which only takes the top 4 teams based on a committee's selections. Too bad the playoff field doesn't expand to 12 teams until next year. It's also too bad that the Notre Dame coaching staff didn't realize they only had 10 defenders on the field for Ohio State's final two plays before they punched the ball into the end zone to win the game. Still, very entertaining football regardless of who you were rooting for or if you didn't have a dog in the fight.
Then we had a crazy NFL Sunday! Let me list the ways it was crazy and how they related to some of my Week 3 predictions. By the way, I went 3-2 and the overall record is 8-6-1. Profitable!
- Miami! 70 points! HOLY SHIT! I took a break from following the games at 12 PM to hop on a Zoom call which was when Miami was up 35-13 at halftime. My eyes nearly bulged out of my head when I saw the score an hour later: 63-20. And Miami still scored another TD!
- I was awfully close with predicting the Bears-Chiefs score. I had KC winning 38-10 and it finished at 41-10 Chiefs. However, the part that was shocking was the presence of certain celebrity at the game. I was initially perplexed as to why the camera kept going to one of the luxury boxes and then noticed it was Taylor Swift sitting in Travis Kelce's box. Clearly she got more air time than the game itself!
- I had Arizona covering and predicted 28-17 but the Cowboys winning, not Arizona. Pretty wild that Arizona was a 12 point underdog but win by 12 points. At least I got the score close to the real thing!
- Lastly, why is Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels still coaching? Kicking a field goal when down by 8 with about 2 minutes left in the game? You still need to score a TD anyway if the FG hits. At least going for the TD at that moment and hopefully scoring a TD means that you don't need to drive the length of the field to get a last second FG should you get the ball back with enough time left. You even had a WR who was dominating the game. To me McDaniels is the biggest loser of all time in addition to the 2023 Stanford football team.
With the baseball regular season winding down, the NFL already 3 games deep, and the arrival of the fall season, I feel football is finally back!
So, who do I like for Week 4. Read on!
- Indianapolis Colts Pick 'Em
Rarely do we get games that are so evenly matched that the betting public can't decide which direction to take. That is the case between the Rams and Colts which kind of have an interesting history together. Hall of Fame running backs Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk played for both teams with the former starting with the Rams and then going to Indy and the latter doing the opposite. Both of them had more productive seasons with the Rams. The run game will be on full display at Lucas Oil Stadium, especially with the Colts who get Anthony Richardson back from a concussion. Some people may not know this but the new head coach for the Colts, Shane Steichen, was the offensive coordinator for the Eagles during the last two seasons. In 2021, the Eagles's offense ranked 1st in rushing yards and rushing TDs. Last year, those rankings were 5th and 1st, respectively. The Colts right now are 12th in rushing yards and 5th in rushing TDs. Zach Moss, Jonathan William's understudy last year, is having himself a nice start to the 2023 season and one has to wonder how good this running game can really be once Jonathan Williams get back on the field. We shall see if Richardson runs amok after his return from a concussion but the one thing I do know is that Steichen has done a masterful job of grooming Jalen Hurts into a Pro Bowl level QB. He also helped groom Justin Herbert during his rookie season while he was the offensive coordinator for the Chargers in 2020. So why am I rambling about the Colts coach and run game? Because they will dominate the line of scrimmage when the hey have the ball. The 49ers-Rams game from two weeks ago kind of exposed the Rams inability to stop a good run game. Aaron Donald can't do it all by himself. This game will be close but the Colts win late at home. Indianapolis 24- Los Angeles Rams 23.
- Philadelphia -9
I don't like taking too much chalk but sometimes you need to do it like I did with the Chiefs last week against the Bears. The Commanders were dominated last week by a Super Bowl contender and that game was at home. Now they go on the road and face another Super Bowl contender who hasn't skipped much of a beat from last year. Even though the Eagles had somewhat stumbled out of the game in Week 1, they finally got their groove back on Monday Night football in Tampa Bay. The one thing that the Eagles did incredibly well last year was winning the war in the trenches on both offense and defense. No team has an offensive line even remotely close to the talent the Eagles boast. As for the defensive line, it's fair to say the Eagles defensive front four rivals any of the other tops defensive lines. Buffalo, a team with similarly good defensive line, dominated the Commanders who could only manage to score 3 points. Expect the Eagles' defense to have their way on Sunday in front of a raucous home crowd. When Philadelphia has the ball, it will keep feeding it to DeAndre Swift who is having a banner year so far behind the exceptional run blocking schemes that have been designed for him. Hurts is still doing his thing and his WRs are also doing their thing. This game will get out of hand quickly and expect the reserves to come into the game early in the 4th quarter. Philadelphia 41 - Washington 13.
- Carolina +4
The theme last week was playing the home dogs. Well that didn't work out too well for me since I had Washington covering against Buffalo and Tampa Bay pulling off the upset against Philadelphia. At least I learned my lesson by selecting Philadelphia to crush Washington! Of course I was right about Arizona covering and of course they outright won the game. I think we see a similar result between the Vikings and Panthers. Both teams are 0-3 so something tells me that this game should be close to a pick 'em but it's not. The public loves Minnesota because they have the star power. Justin Jefferson no doubt will have a good game but he can't do everything. He doesn't throw the ball, he doesn't rush it, and obviously he doesn't play defense. The main issue I have with the Vikings is their turnover differential. Right now Minnesota ranks dead last in giveaways and in the bottom in 10 in takeaways. The Panthers get back their rookie QB who will face a very soft pass defense. While I don't like rolling with a QB only making his 3rd career start in the NFL, every once in a while a rookie QB will shine and this game could be it. Bryce Young has had the spotlight on him often in high school and college so I am sure he can handle the attention this weekend. He has decent talent surrounding him and the Panthers defense is solid. I will be calling for an upset here which is kind of weird since Minnesota hasn't won a game yet this season. Carolina 27 - Minnesota 20.
- Los Angeles Chargers -5
Back to Chalk City! While I don't like selecting a team in a divisional game that has pretty much gone 50-50 (they split the last 3 years and each have won 7 games against each other since 2016), I can't resist picking against the Raiders. As I mentioned earlier in this article, I don't think very highly of the Raiders head coach. He is someone who has ridden the coat tails of Bill Belichick and completely flamed out in his first stint as a head coach with Denver over a decade ago. Why do teams think that assistants who worked with Belichick will ever amount to anything as an NFL head coach? There is a litany of Belichick disciples who didn't last terribly long as head coaches: Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, Matt Patricia, Eric Mangini, Jim Schwartz, and of course Josh McDaniels. Belichick simply doesn't mentor his assistants to become successful head coaches unlike another famous head coach with the same first name: Bill Walsh. Now Walsh was a mentor and even taught classes on leadership at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Another knock on the Raiders is that they may have to use the services of Brian Hoyer at QB who interestingly spent a good deal of his career playing for Belichick. I suppose McDaniels wanted a backup QB he was familiar with but again, I question McDaniels' decision making. Hoyer is 16-24 as a starter and has not won a game since 2016. That means he has lost his last 15 starts. Ouch! Hoyer does not have the arm strength to make full use of WR Davante Adams' vertical abilities and it doesn't help that Hoyer is in his late 30s. This will be my best play of the day if Jimmy Garoppolo is out. Meanwhile the Chargers brought in Kellen Moore as the offensive coordinator and so far Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen are lighting up the scoreboard. True, the Chargers will still be without Austin Ekeler and now Mike Williams is done for the season but the Chargers have plenty of depth at several key offensive positions. Plus, this will be a home game for the Chargers where they tend to play fairly well. The Raiders, on other hand, struggled on the road last year going 2-7. Chargers win comfortably at SoFi Stadium. Los Angeles Chargers 31 - Las Vegas 20.
- Kansas City -8.5
OK, one more heavy favor! Like their Super Bowl opponent from last season, the Chiefs finally found their groove last week when they pummeled the Bears. Maybe Taylor Swift had something to do with that! I don't know but what I do know is that Patrick Mahomes is the best QB in the universe and he is matchup proof. Yes, this game is in New York and on Sunday Night Football but the Jets are now reeling thanks to Zach Wilson's struggles in the pocket. I am not sure why Jets head coach Robert Saleh still supports him. It's clear that Wilson is a bust so just cut your losses and move on. Most of the Jets players have lost faith in Wilson and now they face a team that has been a beacon of success for the last five seasons. Expect Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones to make life difficult for Wilson and expect the rain of boos to shower Wilson as he makes mistake after mistake. I see that Tim Boyle (Tim who?!) is the backup QB who is absolute trash. The Jets will need to find a QB off the street to salvage their season. Colin Kaepernick anyone? Or maybe convince Tom Brady out of retirement? The Aaron Rodgers injury will prove to be one of the most devastating injuries for an NFL franchise. Sorry Jets fans, this will be a very long season for you. Kansas City 35 - New York Jets 14.
There you have it. One pick 'em, 3 favors, and a home dog. Let's hope we get another exciting weekend of football!