By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) There was a bit of history made in Week 3. No, not the awful call in the Seahawks-Packers game. Last Sunday marked the first time in NFL history where Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger all lost on the same day. Crazy, but true. Fans, rejoice over the return of the real refs, but that honeymoon will end quickly. Here’s my take on how Week 4 will shake out.
(Home team in all CAPS)
Game of the Week: Giants 27, EAGLES 23
Two NFC East heavyweights square off in Philadelphia, as the Giants visit the Eagles. After last Thursday’s thrashing of the Panthers, I’m not sure if Carolina is that bad, or the Giants are that good. Most likely, it’s a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B. Despite missing Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants offense didn’t miss a beat, doing as they pleased against the Panthers. The Eagles were dominated by the Cardinals last weekend, leaving me confused, as just a week earlier they beat the Ravens. I’m going with the team I trust more, the champs on the road.
FALCONS 27, Panthers 20
The Falcons are for real. The Panthers? Not so much. After getting demoralized by the Giants at home last Thursday night, this is a huge game for Carolina. Will they bounce back? Doubtful. I’ve liked the Falcons since before the season started and I like them this weekend at home.
Patriots 30, BILLS 23
The last-place Patriots take on the first-place Bills, just like everyone thought, right? Even though they lost the game, the Patriots looked more like the team we’ve known them to be last week in Baltimore. The Bills have played a bunch of nobodies this season, and will get a little dose of reality on Sunday.
LIONS 24, Vikings 20
I still can’t believe the Vikings beat the 49ers last week, convincingly, at that. They took it to San Francisco from the opening whistle and never let up. This is the same Vikings team that lost to the Colts the previous week. The Lions converted an improbable Hail Mary to force overtime in Tennessee only to inexplicably go for it – and fail – on a 4th-and-1 in overtime. Jim Schwartz’s explanation was not convincing in his post game press conference. Nonetheless, I think the Lions are a better team.
Chargers 20, CHIEFS 17
Just like I said last week, the Chargers record was a misnomer as they hadn’t played anybody, and Atlanta went to San Diego and gave them a solid butt-whipping. Kudos to the Chiefs for not giving up against the Saints last weekend. The Chiefs looked left-for-dead on their way to 0-3, but played some inspired defense, and Jamaal Charles carried them to victory. I still think the Chargers are a more talented team and will win a close one on the road.
Seahawks 20, RAMS 16
For the first time this season the Bears didn’t have the worst offensive line on the field, that dubious distinction belonged to the Rams. Wow, is the Rams line – and offense in general – a mess. That’s not a good thing heading into a matchup against the Seahawks. For a while, much of the nation wasn’t aware of just how good the Seahawks defense was, but after their performance on Monday night, they know now. The Seahawks will pick up their second, I mean third win of the season in St. Louis.
49ers 24, JETS 17
Just when I was ready to cancel the remainder of the season and hand the Lombardi trophy to the 49ers, they wet the bed in Minnesota. What was that? Sloppy tackling, undisciplined play, turnovers, everything they haven’t been to this point in the season. Luckily, they face the awful Jets this weekend, who just lost Darrelle Revis for the season. If you didn’t see Tim Tebow get hit in the head with a pass last Sunday, here you go. That play is a perfect microcosm of the Jets. All hat, no cattle.
TEXANS 28, Titans 16
At his current pace, Titans running back Chris Johnson will eclipse 100 rushing yards in the 3rd quarter of Week 6. Surely, this is exactly the type of production Tennessee was hoping for when they re-upped Johnson for $30M guaranteed. It gets no easier for Johnson and the Titans this weekend in Houston. The Texans are playing flawless football, and will thrash the Titans.
Bengals 27, JAGUARS 20
The Bengals travel to “Harvey with palm trees” (touch ‘em all, J-Hood), also known as Jacksonville to play the Jaguars. Two second-year signal callers lead the way for these clubs. It’s safe to assume if the 2011 draft had a re-do, Andy Dalton would’ve gone much higher than many of his counterparts. The Bengals can score points in bunches, and I like them to score more than the Jaguars on Sunday.
CARDINALS 24, Dolphins 17
We all know the NFL is unpredictable week to week, but even the most ardent Arizona fan couldn’t have looked at their schedule and thought that 3-0 was realistic. Yet, after knocking off the Patriots and Eagles, there they are. The Cardinals defense is ferocious and will feast again this weekend against the scrappy, but limited Dolphins.
BRONCOS 27, Raiders 17
So how’s that 5-year, $96M contract the Broncos signed Peyton Manning to looking right about now? Let me be clear, I have enjoyed watching Peyton Manning’s career and fully recognize all the positive contributions he’s made to the NFL brand on and off the field. But unfortunately, the Peyton we once knew is done. Questionable decision-making and muted arm strength is a bad combination. The Broncos schedule has been brutal, but they get a break this weekend against the awful Raiders.
PACKERS 31, Saints 23
After being victimized by one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen in an NFL game (cough, Calvin Johnson continuation, cough), I feel bad for the next team on the Packers’ schedule. That team happens to be the Saints, who are a hot mess. Winless, disjointed on offense, incapable of stopping anyone on defense – it’s looking grim in the bayou. It will look even worse after this weekend as they add another number to the loss column.
BUCS 23, Redskins 20
I have to tip my hat to Tampa Bay’s rookie head coach Greg Schiano. While the results haven’t been there, the Bucs have given the Giants and Cowboys everything they could handle. To go from worst to first in run defense in one offseason is a testament to the new attitude he’s instilled, as a large portion of tackling is ‘want to.’ The Redskins’ RG3 looks like he’s the real deal (and I was mocked when I wrote before the draft his ceiling was higher than that of Andrew Luck). But, I’m taking the Bucs at home.
COWBOYS 23, Bears 20
Two good – not great – teams square off in Big D, as the Bears battle the ‘Boys. There are several parallels between these two teams. Ultra-talented quarterbacks who are constantly scrutinized by the media, dominant defensive lines, talented play-makers on offense, and sieves for offensive lines. So what will be the tipping point between two seemingly equal teams? I have a feeling the Cowboys – even with a shuffled secondary – will blitz and confuse the Bears protection to force some mistakes from Jay Cutler. Cutler hasn’t been very effective under the bright lights in primetime, so I’m giving the nod to Dallas.
Dan Durkin joined The Score’s columnist community after finishing runner-up in the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois where he was a member of the men’s football team (despite his best efforts to join the women’s team). Dan is a longtime Scorehead, known as Dan in Wicker Park – even though he no longer resides in Wicker Park – who will be sharing NFL analysis and opinions. You can follow Dan on Twitter @djdurkin. To read more of Dan’s blogs click here.