In the Red Zone: 3 weeks down, 14 to go|
by Bryan Swink
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs
9/29/2010 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Who would have thought after Week 3 the unbeaten teams in the NFL would be the Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs? Not me. It was nice to see the Vikings and Cowboys finally get their first wins of the season, even though Minnesota squeaked by the Lions. Dallas finally looked like the team they were hyped to be.
Last week, I improved my pick record by one game, picking 11 out of the possible 16 games correctly. Miami disappointed me this week, but I did pick the Chiefs to beat San Francisco and Atlanta to upset New Orleans on the road. All in all, I'm happy with this week, but there is always room for improvement, so let's look at Week 4.
San Francisco at Atlanta
The 49ers have looked absolutely horrible to start the season while the Falcons looked impressive in their win against the Saints last week. San Francisco made coaching changes this week as they fired their offensive coordinator Monday. It will take more than a week for San Francisco to see the fruits of this move. Expect them to struggle once again as they travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons, who have a ton of confidence.
Swink's prediction: Falcons win at home
Cincinnati at Cleveland
Looking at this matchup, Cincinnati has the much more talented team on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Carson Palmer has the weapons to disassemble the Browns defense. Look for the wide receiver-duo of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco to have a big game. The Browns are a bit banged up in their skill positions on offense, which could mean it will be an easy day for the 10th-ranked Cincinnati defense.
Swink's prediction: Bengals win on the road
NY Jets at Buffalo
The Bills have now decided on a quarterback as they released Trent Edwards Monday, leaving Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. With this team, it doesn't matter who is the quarterback because they don't have enough weapons on offense to be effective anyway. The Jets are ranked 28th against the pass but expect that to improve against this horrendous offense.
Swink's prediction: Jets win on the road
Seattle at St. Louis
If the Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is going to have a breakout game throwing the ball, it will be this week. Seattle has given up an average of 315 yards per game in the air and has struggled to figure opposing quarterbacks. Regardless of the outcome, St. Louis fans have to be excited about the future Bradford brings to this team.
Swink's prediction: Rams win at home
Denver at Tennessee
The Denver offense, which threw for almost 500 yards against the Colts last week, is playing against the Titans defense, which ranks 5th in the league against the pass. Titan's running back Chris Johnson needs to have a big game if Tennessee wants a chance to win. Quarterback Vince Young and the passing game have not figured things out this season as they only average 147 yards per game through the air.
Swink's prediction: Denver wins on the road
Detroit at Green Bay
I figured it out. The Packers absolutely excelled last week in creating penalties, which in the end, lost them the game. They had 17 penalties for 158 yards. I don't think this game will be nearly as bad as it was in Chicago on Monday. The Lions don't have a chance to win this game, but they can make it competitive. Give the ball to Jahvid Best.
Swink's prediction: Packers win at home
Baltimore at Pittsburgh
This is a game I am thoroughly looking forward to. Pittsburgh has been my surprise team solely for the fact they are undefeated without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Their defense has been playing unbelievably well and continues to carry this team. The Ravens offense will have a big test in front of them after putting on an impressive showing against a poor Cleveland team. We will see if they can carry that momentum into Pittsburgh.
Swink's prediction: Baltimore wins on the road
Carolina at New Orleans
New Orleans is coming off a rough loss against Atlanta and is looking to rebound against the poor Carolina Panthers. Even though the Saints don't have the greatest defense in the league, they are good enough to stop one of the worst offenses. This should be an absolute blowout for New Orleans.
Swink's prediction: Saints win at home
Indianapolis at Jacksonville
This one is a no-brainer. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning will have an impressive first half of this game. If Indianapolis can stop Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, it will be a blowout by halftime. The Jags are defining themselves as one of the worst teams in the league, so Manning should have no problem making short work of this team on the road.
Swink's prediction: Colts win on the road
Houston at Oakland
The Texans tasted a bit of reality last weekend, as they were blownout at home by the Cowboys. They are traveling to face a bad Oakland team that can't figure out its identity after suffering a close lost to the just-as-bad Cardinals. The Texans are too talented to let the Raiders upset them. As long as Houston can stop running back Darren McFadden, they should leave California with a record of 3-1.
Swink's prediction: Texans win on the road
Washington at Philadelphia
I was tired of hearing about the return of Donovan McNabb to Philadelphia before the season began and I only have to wait a few more days before it's over. Even though the Eagles are sitting on top of the NFC East, McNabb will be hungry for a win. The key for the Redskins is on defense though. If they can shutdown Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and force him to make turnovers, they have a good shot at tying the Eagles for the top spot in the division.
Swink's prediction: Redskins win on the road
Arizona at San Diego
Statistically, the Chargers are one of the best all-around teams in the league. Why doesn't their record show it? They have lost to two teams that are not nearly as talented. The Cardinals are not nearly as skilled as San Diego, but if the previous weeks say anything, they have a great shot to win, even though they won't.
Swink's prediction: Chargers win at home
Chicago at NY Giants
The Giants have looked confused and disoriented on both sides of the ball for the past two weeks. The Bears are coming off two impressive wins against the Cowboys and Packers, both of which are playoff teams from last year. These two teams are going in different directions and for Giants fans, it's not toward the playoffs.
Swink's prediction: Bears win on the road
New England at Miami
If the Buffalo Bills can march into Foxboro and almost upset the Patriots, I don't see why the up-and-coming Dolphins can't beat them at home. They have looked good this season but I picked them to upset the Jets last week. They need to make a statement this week if they want to have my pick against the Packers following the bye week. If they consider themselves a legitimate playoff team, they must win division games.
Swink's prediction: Dolphins win at home
If you want to argue a prediction or point I made, please e-mail me at email@example.com. Good and detailed responses will be posted in next week's column with, of course, my rebuttal with why you are wrong.