NFL Week 4 Picks
The 2008 NFL Season is just starting to heat up with action heading into Week 4. Our team of writers and handicappers hand out predictions for Sunday’s games.
Atlanta Falcons (2-1) at Carolina Panthers (2-1), 1:05 PM ET
Last week, the Carolina Panthers were hoping the long-awaited reunion of Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith would give their offense a boost. Instead, it never materialized and they suffered their first loss of the season.
Delhomme and Smith hope to find their rhythm when the Panthers return home Sunday to meet the surprising Atlanta Falcons.
After accumulating 604 yards in winning its first two games of the year, Carolina (2-1) had just 204 in last Sunday's 20-10 loss to Minnesota.
Atlanta is halfway to its win total from a year ago, but both of those victories have come at home against the hapless Chiefs and Lions.
After losing at Tampa Bay 24-9 on Sept. 14, the Falcons jumped out to a 24-0 second-quarter lead en route to a 38-14 victory over Kansas City last Sunday.
Michael Turner rushed for 104 yards and had the first three-touchdown game of his career against the Chiefs. After spending four years in San Diego backing up LaDainian Tomlinson, Turner is thriving as a lead back. He set a Falcons record with 220 yards rushing in their season-opening 34-21 win over Detroit, and has 366 yards and five touchdowns on the season.
Playing on the road may also hinder Ryan. He is 21-for-31 for 353 yards and two touchdowns in his two home wins, but was just 13-for-33 for 158 yards and two interceptions in the road loss.
The road team, however, has won the last five games in this series.
San Francisco 49ers (2-1) at New Orleans Saints (1-2), 1:05 PM ET
A revamped offense has given the San Francisco 49ers reason to be optimistic. Despite having an even more prolific attack than the 49ers, the New Orleans Saints are having a harder time finding the bright side of the season's first three weeks.
The new-look 49ers look to win three straight games for the first time in nearly two years on Sunday when they visit the Saints, who hope to bounce back from close losses in their last two games.
San Francisco ranked last in the league in points (219), scrimmage yards (4,162), touchdowns (24), first downs (218), sacks allowed (55) and third-down conversion rate (31.4 percent) in 2007, the team's fifth straight losing campaign.
The 49ers addressed those issues by hiring offensive mastermind Mike Martz to be their offensive coordinator, and the move has already paid dividends. After a forgettable performance in a season-opening loss to Arizona, San Francisco (2-1) compiled 365 total yards in a 33-30 win over Seattle on Sept. 14 and 370 in a 31-13 victory over Detroit last Sunday.
The Saints' struggles on the ground last week overshadowed a strong performance from Drew Brees, who recorded his third career 400-yard game by completing 39 of 48 passes for 421 yards and a touchdown without an interception.
Brees is undefeated in three career starts against the 49ers. He's thrown for 858 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception in those games, including the Saints' 31-10 victory last Oct. 28.
New Orleans has won seven of nine in the series, including four straight.
Washington Redskins (2-1) at Dallas Cowboys (3-0), 4:15 PM ET
Its only the fourth week of the season, but the undefeated Dallas Cowboys are already talking about gearing up for a playoff run. This shouldn't be a surprise considering how they've been winning, though.
The Cowboys look to build off their most complete victory of the season on Sunday when they host the Washington Redskins, who will be without six-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Taylor.
In its season-opening 28-10 win at Cleveland on Sept. 7, Dallas' defense allowed just 205 yards and limited the Browns to 11 first downs. That same defense was bailed out by the Cowboys' high-powered offense against Philadelphia in Week 2 in a 41-37 victory.
Dallas (3-0) displayed a nice combination of offense and defense last Sunday night at undefeated Green Bay, where it won 27-16. The Cowboys rushed for 217 yards and passed for 236, and the defense kept the Packers out of the end zone until the final two minutes when the outcome was already decided.
Offensively, the Redskins will be looking for another steady performance from Jason Campbell, who had a league-high eight lost fumbles last season, but has yet to commit a turnover this year.
Campbell, who has thrown for 647 yards and four touchdowns, was 33 of 54 for 348 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the loss at Texas Stadium last season.
Running back Clinton Portis, who has 248 yards and three touchdowns, was limited to 36 yards on 12 attempts in last season's loss to the Cowboys.
San Diego Chargers (1-2) at Oakland Raiders (1-2), 4:15 PM ET
Through three games, the San Diego Chargers have the 29th-ranked defense in football, two heartbreaking losses and a disappointing start for one of the AFC's preseason favorites.
Still, they're much better off than the Oakland Raiders.
With uncertainty swirling around Oakland coach Lane Kiffin, the host Raiders will look to end a nine-game losing streak against the their AFC West rivals on Sunday, while San Diego hopes to build on a high-scoring victory.
After allowing an AFC-high 94 points in their first three games, the Chargers (1-2) certainly haven't looked like they're on their way back to the conference title game - especially with star linebacker Shawne Merriman out for the season with a knee injury.
But at least they're sure their coach will still be around tomorrow. That hasn't seemed such a certainty in Oakland this week, with rumors surfacing that owner Al Davis was set to fire Kiffin.
The Raiders (1-2) went 4-12 in Kiffin's first season last year, and after they blew a nine-point lead in the final five minutes in a 24-23 loss at Buffalo on Sunday, reports - but nothing official - emerged that Oakland's unpredictable owner had seen enough.
Against San Diego, the Raiders haven't been able to produce a victory in exactly five years, since they beat the Chargers 34-31 at home on Sept. 28, 2003.
The Chargers don't want to take the same path, but they started 1-3 last season before winning 10 of their last 12 and advancing within a game of the Super Bowl.
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