NFL Week 4 is here, which means it’s our last chance to get a look at every team before byes begin. We still don’t know what is going on with the Patriots defense, or why the Seahawks defense can’t get off the field. Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson appears to be “the guy” in Houston, and perhaps the same can be said about fellow rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer in Cleveland.
Let’s take a look at our weekly quintet of bold predictions.
DeShone Kizer throws for 250 yards and 2 scores
Kizer has been up and down thus far, mostly down given his 52.8 completion percentage and seven interceptions. At times, he really looks the part: Commanding presence in the pocket, rocket for an arm and accurate. Then, the very next play he throws a ball you have to watch on replay three times because you just don’t believe it. The good news for Kizer though, is that his next opponent is the reeling Cincinnati Bengals, fresh off a collapse at Lambeau Field. I expect Kizer to take full advantage and have a huge day, guiding the Browns to their first win of the year as well.
2. Jay Cutler throws for 300 yards and 3 scores
Don’t get sucked into believing the Saints can suddenly play defense after they suffocated Cam Newton last week. Newton’s shoulder is still a huge concern, and the loss of tight end Greg Olsen to a broken foot was a killer. Having seen Cutler in person last week, he was about as bad as it gets. The 34-year-old quarterback was under duress all game, and nothing down the field was available. The Saints however, remain the second-worst unit in the league in total defense. Their secondary starts three rookies – all of whom should develop into good players – but none of whom will bother Cutler, DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry. Expect a bounce back performance in London from the entire Dolphins offense against a Saints defense that surrenders 311 yards passing per game.
3. Steelers total fewer than 275 yards of total offense
Ben Roethlisberger is not quite the Big Ben we expected and enters this game having lost five straight road games (with seven interceptions) in Baltimore. The Ravens were atrocious across the pond last week, turning Blake Bortles into John Elway for 60 minutes. This is still a very good defense though, with strong secondary play from safety Eric Weddle and cornerback Jimmy Smith. Pittsburgh may very well win this backyard brawl, but it won’t be because of No. 7, who has amassed a 6.5 yards per attempt average the past two games.
4. Seahawks go VERY ground heavy versus Colts
One of the lesser talked about results to Seattle’s shaky offensive line play has been the running game, which has really suffered. Rookie seventh rounder Chris Carson has ran hard and looked pretty good (4.5 yards per carry), but there just hasn’t been any room, hence the measly 37 attempts. The result has been an unhealthy dose of Russell Wilson. This is a quarterback who has never attempted more than 500 throws in a single season – he’s now on pace to attempt 613. The good news for the Seahawks is that Indianapolis comes to town. It’s a big ask for Jacoby Brissett and an even bigger ask for Chuck Pagano’s defense. At the same time, it’s a prototypical “get right” game for Seattle, who should look to feed Carson as much as possible and get back to becoming a more balanced offensive attack.
5. 49ers upset Cardinals on the road
Upset picks have been good to this column so far! The 49ers nearly toppled NFC giant Seattle on the road in Week 2, and then put up a 39 spot in a Week 3 loss to the Rams. The win column is the only thing yet to change. Running back Carlos Hyde was gushing over his new offense this week, telling me: “I think every play [Kyle Shanahan] calls should be a touchdown. … You see it, we get explosive gains.” Hyde has every reason to be thrilled. He ranks third in the league in rushing, trailing only Kareem Hunt and Dalvin Cook. Arizona will be gashed by a motivated Hyde and a 49ers offense desperate for its first win.
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