The focus of week 4 in the 2012 NFL Season will be on the NFC East taking over Sunday night football, as the Eli Manning show takes the New York Giants into Philadelphia, against an Eagles team that’s losing its patience with Michael Vick. Monday night is about the Bears and the Cowboys, two of the best defenses in the league, while the Falcons, Texans and Cardinals will try and remain undefeated.
Carolina Panthers (1-2) at Atlanta Falcons (3-0), 1:00 PM
Matt Ryan, according to the ratings, is the best quarterback in the NFL so far this season, putting a 114.0, while throwing for 793 yards, 8 touchdown passes to one interception, completing 72% of his passes. He’s probably the same reason that Atlanta are on the verge of their first 4-0 start since 2004. On the other side is Cam Newton, the only full-time starter with only two touchdowns passes, while throwing 5 interceptions. In order to take some pressure off Newton’s shoulders, the Panthers have to commit to the running game, with Jonathan Stewart hopefully back in this one. Without him, the Panthers are likely to lose.
New England Patriots (1-2) at Buffalo Bills (2-1), 1:00 PM
Last time the Patriots were 1-2 to start a season was in 2001. That’s how good and consistent they’ve been over the last decade. The problem for them so far has been establishing a running game, averaging only 110 yards on the ground. The Bills don’t have a very good run defense, which should be an opportunity for the Patriots to avenge their loss from last season in Buffalo, blowing a 21 point lead. Brady was intercepted four times in the loss from last season, so taking the pressure off him will be crucial for the Patriots, still favorites to win this one.
Minnesota Vikings (2-1) at Detroit Lions (1-2), 1:00 PM
The Vikings like to give the ball to Adrian Peterson, but with the Lions allowing 345 passing yards a game, they should turn to Christian Ponder, second in the NFL with a 70.1 completion percentage and fifth in passer rating at 104.9 to make it a little bit easier for Adrian Peterson, off to a decent start (230 yards, 2 touchdowns) in his comeback season. For the Lions, Stafford appears to be healthy again, but without any kind of defensive support, the Lions are likely to lose again.
San Diego Chargers (2-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-2), 1:00 PM
One thing about the AFC West – no matter who is the favorite coming in to games, things tend to remain unpredictable in this division. However, the Chargers, on paper, are a much better team, with a much better quarterback in Philip Rivers, but looked terrible against the Falcons last week, failing to score a touchdown. For the Chiefs, it’s all about Jamaal Charles, who rushed for 233 yards on 33 carries in New Orleans. It should be an interesting battle as the Chargers have allowed only 67 yards per game on the ground this season, which should give them another edge against a team that is terrible at stopping the pass.
Seattle Seahawks (2-1) at St. Louis Rams (1-2), 1:00 PM
Pretty simple for the Rams – stop Marshawn Lynch, who is averaging over 100 yards per game this season, with 4.2 yards per carry. Quarterback Russell Wilson was one half of the heroic duo that won the game against Green Bay, illegally along with Golden Tate, who never actually scored a touchdown. It doesn’t matter, as Wilson is learning the ropes in the NFL and using his scrambling skills to get along. The Seahawks, excellent at getting to the quarterback, will be a real test for the Rams improved offensive line. If Bradford gets good protection, the Rams will win this one.
San Francisco 49ers (2-1) at New York Jets (2-1), 1:00 PM
The Jets might the perfect solution for the 49ers to rebound from their surprising loss to the Minnesota Vikings in week 2, as New York are terrible at stopping the run, which is how the 49ers establish their offensive game behind a powerful O-line. Frank Gore is averaging 5.9 yards per carry so far, while the Jets are allowing 149 yards on the ground per game. If the 49ers handle the constant blitzing from the Jets, they should come up with a win in Jersey against a team who hasn’t impressed, despite the above .500 record.
Tennessee Titans (1-2) at Houston Texans (3-0), 1:00 PM
How good are the Texans right now? They’re averaging nearly 400 yards of offense, Matt Schaub having loads of fun with Andre Johnson, who has caught 13 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns so far. Arian Foster is being overworked, already carrying the ball 79 times this season, but the Texans gain 150 yards on the ground, while the Titans, who average just 39 in rushing so far, somehow made it out with a win last week thanks to Jake Locker and no one else. It won’t be enough against one of the best teams in the AFC.
Oakland Raiders (1-2) at Denver Broncos (1-2), 4:05 PM
Two teams who have quarterbacks that just don’t have the arm they used to have and are waiting for their running game to kick in. While Peyton Manning looks more and more like a 36 year old after neck surgery instead of a four time MVP, the Raiders are hoping that Darren McFadden plays like he usually does against the Broncos, averaging 144.7 yards in his last three games against them. If the Broncos can’t protect Manning (already sacked 8 times), a weak Raiders team might be too much to handle.
Miami Dolphins (1-2) at Arizona Cardinals (3-0), 4:05
Who expected the Cardinals, with all of their quarterback problems (Kevin Kolb and John Skelton) to be 3-0? Not many, but Ken Whisenhunt has a great defense, allowing only 13.3 points per game so far and extremely efficient with their pressure defense, keeping quarterbacks at 34.1% when sending five or more pass rushers this season. The Dolphins have a bad secondary which will find it hard to handle Larry Fitzgerald, while Reggie Bush won’t be enough for the limited Dolphins.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2), 4:05 PM
Both teams can’t stop the run, which is very good news for Maurice Jones-Drew. Despite missing over a month of training camp and preseason, last season’s best rusher in the NFL has already notched up 314 yards on 59 carries, averaging 5.3. It’ll probably come down to Blaine Gabbert remaining mistake free, still without throwing an interception this season, while Andy Dalton enjoys a defense that is bad against the pass. If Gabbert remains focus, MJD will do enough to carry the Jags to victory.
New Orleans Saints (0-3) at Green Bay Packers (1-2), 4:25 PM
The Saints defense has been terrible so far, allowing 34 points per game so far and a league worse 215 yards on the ground each game. The Packers are one of the best in the NFL over the last three season in weeks after losses (10-3) and should try and at least mix it up a bit, as Aaron Rodgers is struggling a bit to get his gun slinging arm going on, suffering from bad protection. Still, the Saints defense is terrible, while the Packers, despite the losses, have been good at stopping quarterbacks up until now.
Washington Redksins (1-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2), 4:25 PM
The Bucs are struggling offensively behind Josh Freeman at quarterback (491 yards, 51.3%, 4 TD, 3 INT) but the Redskins secondary has been terrible so far, allowing 33.7 points and 337 yards in the air. Robert Griffin III no longer looks like the second coming, but the entire offense is built on either his passing or running game, which makes it a bit easier for the Bucs defense to know what to do, as RG III has seen most of his success against single safety formations. If the Bucs stop the Redskins running game (181 per game) they have a good shot at winning it.
New York Giants (2-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-1), 8:20 PM
Patience isn’t something that is synonymous with the Philadelphia Eagles, always carrying high expectations. Despite the 2-1 start, Michael Vick’s six interceptions are extremely worrying for Andy Reid, actually considering dropping his quarterback if things continue. The Giants have full confidence in theirs, as Eli Manning is playing like an MVP (1011 yards, 5 touchdowns, 3 interceptions) at the moment. But without a running game and mixing it up, the Giants might struggle against a very good Eagles team, probably a bit more cautious with the ball on Sunday Night.
Monday Night Football – Chicago Bears (2-1) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1), 8:30 PM
The Bears are great at stopping the run, the Cowboys have vastly improved when it comes to keeping quarterbacks on low numbers, allowing only 137 passing yards per game so far. Both allow less than 3 touchdowns a game, so it should come to which quarterback makes less mistakes. In that department, Tony Romo, who’ll probably feel a lot of pressure and should try to use DeMarco Murray as much as possible, has the advantage.