Thursday, September 30, 2021

NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 4

By Jeffrey Boswell

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Jacksonville @ Cincinnati (-7½)

The Cardinals beat the Jaguars 31-19 in Jacksonville, overcoming a 13-7 halftime deficit. Arizona's defense forced 4 turnovers and sacked Trevor Lawrence 3 times.

"Trevor's not used to losing," Urban Meyer said, "and neither am I. But we're getting there. And isn't that what life, and football, is all about? The journey?

"I'm excited that we, of all teams, get to bask in the spotlight of a national television audience on Thursday night. We're 0-3, and the Bengals are the Bengals. So tune in at 8:20 PM for 'Thursday Not Football.'"

The Bengals beat AFC North rival Pittsburgh 24-10, led by an efficient Joe Burrow, who went 14-for-18 for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns, both to rookie Ja'Marr Chase.

"Tyler Boyd accused the Steelers of 'giving up' late in the game," Burrow said. "I don't know if that's true, but it sure looks like Ben Roethlisberger needs to 'lay down' for an in-game nap.

"Ja'Marr was my teammate at LSU, so we have a definite connection. As LSU Tigers, we bonded over many things. As Bengals, one would expect us to bond over strip clubs, handguns, attempts to injure opponents on the field of play, and losses. But we've flipped the culture of losing into a culture of losing occasionally."

Bengals win, 30-19.

Washington @ Atlanta (-½)

The Bills crushed Washington 43-21, as Buffalo nearly eclipsed 500 yards of total offense. Washington is 1-2.

"Our defense was supposed to be our strength," Ron Rivera said. "I don't know what's going on, but it's 'not good.' In fact, it's bad.

"But I like our chances in Atlanta. What a beautiful city. It's home of the 'Mercedes-Benz' of NFL stadiums, and home of the 'Plymouth Reliant K' of NFL offenses."

Matt Ryan passed for 2 touchdowns, and Younghoe Koo nailed a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give the Falcons a 17-14 win, their first of the season.

"It's great to get my first win as an NFL coach," Arthur Smith said. "It's such a great feeling. I think that's called 'euphoria.' And hidden in that word is the number of times I can expect to relive that feeling this year."

Washington wins, 27-17.

Houston @ Buffalo (-16½)

The Texans lost 24-9 to the visiting Panthers on Thursday night. Rookie Davis Mills showed promise at quarterback in his first NFL start, but the Texans' rushing attack was stymied.

"In Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay, and David Johnson," David Culley said, "we have three very good running backs. You could say our backfield is loaded, but in most instances, it's loaded with penetrating defensive linemen.

"I realize we're greatly overmatched against the Bills, so we're looking for any edge we can get. What better place to look than towards our Major League Baseball companions the Astros for advice.

"I know Buffalo is not an easy place for a rookie quarterback to play. The Bills Mafia will be loud and feeling no pain. But Davis has his own cheerleading section — it's called the 'Mills Mafia.'"

Josh Allen passed for 358 yards and 4 TDs and added a rushing score to lead the Bills to a 43-21 win over Washington.

"Washington currently doesn't have a nickname," Allen said, "but after that performance, Washington fans probably have tons of suggestions. And they all consist of four letters, so even Dexter Manley can understand them."

Bills win, 31-17.

Detroit @ Chicago (-3½)

In his first NFL start, Justin Fields was harassed by a Browns defense and sacked 9 times as the Bears lost 26-6 to fall to 1-2.

"Honestly," Matt Nagy said, "one of the biggest reasons why we drafted Justin is because he could 'run like hell.' We just expected him to be running like hell to something as opposed to running like hell from something.

"But we're considering Justin, Andy Dalton, and even Nick Foles for the start against the Lions. Heck, even Jay Cutler and Jim McMahon were part of the conversation. That's pretty much an admission that I've bungled our quarterback situation from the get-go. That's obvious. It's also obvious that I may not make it through the year. Vegas seems to have the same thinking. A popular bet at the sports books is this: 'Who coaches more games this year? Matt Nagy, or his interim replacement.'"

Baltimore's Justin Tucker hit an NFL-record 66-yard field goal as time expired to hand the Lions a devastating 19-17 loss at Ford Field.

"Let me correct you," Dan Campbell said. "That kick occurred after time expired, not as time expired."

Ryan Santoso kicks a 36-yard field goal as time expires, and the Lions win, 19-17.

Carolina @ Dallas (-4½)

Sam Darnold passed for 304 yards and rushed for 2 scores as the Panthers handled the Texans 24-9 at NRG Field on Thursday. Christian McCaffrey left the game early with a hamstring injury and is expected to miss a few games.

"Sam already has two 300-yard games," Matt Rhule said. "That's more than he had as a Jet. Sam also has a competent head coach. That's also more than he had as a Jet."

The Cowboys walloped the Eagles 41-21 on Monday night. Dak Prescott tossed 3 TD passes and Ezekiel Elliott added 2 scores on the ground.

"We wanted to get Ezekiel lots of touches," Mike McCarthy said. "When Zeke says 'feed me,' I feel like he's speaking for me as well. When people say I lack clock management, they're definitely not talking about my microwave oven usage."

"Now, I don't condone any of our players attempting to bribe an NFL drug-test collector. We have a dedicated employee to handle those duties."

Cowboys win, 30-23.

Indianapolis @ Miami (-2½)

Colts win, 24-21.

Cleveland @ Minnesota (+1½)

Kirk Cousins passed for 3 touchdowns and the Minnesota defense controlled Russell Wilson in a 30-17 Vikings win at U.S. Bank Stadium.

"That's three consecutive turnover-free games for Kirk," Mike Zimmer said. "That's quite a stretch. It's also quite a stretch that he can make it four consecutive.

"I'm thrilled with the performance of our defense. On Sunday, they actually looked like the 'Purple People Eaters.' In our previous two games, they were more like the 'Land of 10,000 Leaks.'"

The Browns defense overwhelmed Justin Fields, and Cleveland cruised to a 26-6 win to improve to 2-1. In his first game since a season-ending knee injury in October of last year, had 5 catches for 77 yards.

"Our defense sacked Justin Fields 9 times," Kevin Stefanski said. "Myles Garrett had 4½ of those. I'm not exactly sure how sacks are calculated, but I think you only get½ a sack when you sack a Bears quarterback by yourself, because, let's face it, it's a Bears quarterback.

"It was great to have Odell back on the field. He looked like his old self; we'd like him to eventually look like his young self."

Cleveland wins, 31-28.

NY Giants @ New Orleans (-7½)

The Giants remained winless, losing 17-14 at home to the Falcons.

"Fans at MetLife Stadium showered our owner John Mara with boos," Joe Judge said. "Give those Giants fans credit ... for showering.

"Despite what you may have heard on the internet, and despite my better judgment, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will still be calling plays. I encourage Jason to get creative and call some more exotic plays. I would tell him to pull out all the stops, but I'm afraid he's been doing that all season."

The Saints pounded the Patriots 28-13 at Gillette Stadium, led by a defense that picked off Mac Jones 3 times, one of which was returned for a score by Malcolm Jenkins.

"It's always satisfying to fly out of New England with a victory," Sean Payton said. "Even if the gate I departed from was called 'Bounty.' It's right between Gates 'Spy' and 'Deflate.'

"After making life miserable for Mac Jones, our defense is 'Jones-ing' for more, and they'll get it with Daniel Jones."

Saints win, 30-20.

Tennessee @ NY Jets (+7½)

Ryan Tannehill passed for 3 touchdowns, and the Titans defense surrendered only one touchdown in a 25-16 Tennessee win.

"We're 2-1," Mike Vrabel said, "which puts us atop the AFC South. Of course, that's not saying much, because we have twice as many wins as the rest of the division combined. So, it's safe to say we have the inside track to the AFC's No. 4 playoff seed."

The Broncos shut out the Jets 26-0 in Denver to keep the Jets winless at 0-3. Zach Wilson threw 2 interceptions and was sacked 5 times.

"I thought playing in the altitude at Invesco Field was good for us," Robert Saleh said. "It's honestly the first time I can say we went into a game with 'high' expectations."

Titans win, 27-16.

Kansas City @ Philadelphia (+6½)

The Chargers upset the Chiefs 30-24 at Arrowhead Stadium, handing K.C. its second straight loss. The Chiefs committed 4 turnovers, and had no answer on defense for Justin Herbert. K.C. is last in the AFC West.

"What this team needs is a wake-up call," Patrick Mahomes said. "So I'm bringing my brother Jackson in to dump some cool, refreshing water on us. Maybe that's why they call him 'The Douche.'"

The Cowboys stopped the Eagles 41-21 at AT&T Stadium on Monday night. Jalen Hurts threw 2 interceptions and was off-target for much of the night.

"You probably heard my post-game comments," Hurts said, "where I used bathroom references to describe my thoughts on our performance. Basically, I just said that we need to forget about that game. In other words, I told the memories of that defeat that they need to 'Scat!'

"We're really going to need the home crowd to be loud. We'd like them to toe the fine line between 'rowdy' and 'criminally negligent' in making the Chiefs feel unwelcome. Ask anybody, like Ben Simmons, for example, and they'll tell you they hate playing in Philly."

Mahomes passes for 4 touchdowns, and the Chiefs win, 34-20.

Arizona @ LA Rams (-6)

The Cardinals beat the Jaguars 31-19 at TIAA Bank Field.

"It's important we get out to a good start," Kliff Kingsbury said. "We want to silence that SoFi Stadium crowd. When you silence Rams fans, what you've done is 'stopped the bleating.'"

Matthew Stafford passed for 4 touchdowns, two to his favorite target Cooper Kupp, as the Rams won their showdown against Tom Brady and the visiting Bucs.

"Cooper and I definitely have a connection," Stafford said. "Heck, it may even be telepathic. I'll ask Cooper, 'Are you thinking what I'm thinking?' And at the same time, we'll both say, 'Don't throw it to Robert Woods.'"

Rams win, 30-27.

Seattle @ San Francisco (-4½)

The 49ers fell victim to a dramatic Aaron Rodgers game-winning drive, as Rodgers found Davante Adams twice to set up Mason Crosby's game-winning 51-yard field goal as time expired.

"That's why we pursued Rodgers in the offseason," Kyle Shanahan said. "He's a difference-maker. Don't get me wrong, Jimmy Garoppolo is also a difference-maker. He's usually the difference between winning and losing.

"Pete Carroll may let Russell Wilson 'cook'; I'm okay with letting Jimmy G cook. Unfortunately, he's a terrible chef."

San Francisco wins, 28-27.

Baltimore @ Denver (-1)

The Broncos blanked the visiting Jets 26-0 at Empower Field at Mile High. Denver sacked Zach Wilson 5 times and intercepted him twice.

"We're 3-0," Vic Fangio said. "That's pretty impressive, until you look at our strength of schedule. Our three wins have come against teams that haven't won a game all season. But the Ravens are a real team. Need proof? They ended our streak of playing winless teams, without even stepping on the field."

The Ravens stunned the Lions, 19-17, on Justin Tucker's 66-yard field goal as time expired. Tucker's kick broke the NFL record for longest field goal, previously held by Matt Prater, who kicked a 64-yarder in 2013.

"I can't believe I hit that," Tucker said. "It was surreal. It was like time stood still, or maybe that was just the officials in charge of the clock."

Denver wins, 20-17.

Pittsburgh @ Green Bay (-6½)

The injury-depleted Steelers dropped their second straight at home with a 24-10 loss to the Bengals.

"That was a demoralizing loss," Mike Tomlin said. "We lost at home, to the Bengals, and Cincy ended the game in the victory formation. And to add insult to injury, the Bengals called their victory formation the 'Kneel Curtain' Offense.

"T.J. Watt is expected to play. It's great to get T.J. back. With him in our lineup, opposing quarterbacks better watch out. They've got nowhere to run, which is also a problem facing Najee Harris."

The Packers edged the 49ers, 30-28, winning on Mason Crosby's 51-yard field goal as time expired.

"Aaron Rodgers needed less than 37 seconds to get us into field goal position," Matt LaFleur said. "Of course, the 49ers seemed to be playing some form of 'prevent' defense. I think they wanted to take away the 'Hail Mary' play. And that's the only successful thing they did on that drive."

Packers win, 29-24.

Tampa Bay @ New England (+5½)

The Rams pulled away in the second half to snap Tampa's 10-game winning streak, as L.A. won 34-24. Tom Brady passed for 432 yards and a score, and became the second quarterback to pass for 80,000 yards.

"That's 79,965 yards more than we rushed for as a team against the Rams," Brady said. "We've got to be better on the ground. I actually led the team in rushing. I don't know who that should insult more, our offense, or the Rams defense.

"Understand that when I get to Foxboro, I'll be all business. To quote the great Robert Kraft, any time he walks into a massage parlor, 'I'm not here for a social call.'"

Brady throws 3 touchdown passes, one to Rob Gronkowski, and the Bucs defense steps up for Brady.

Tampa wins, 31-17.

Las Vegas @ L.A. Chargers (-3½)

The Chargers upset the Chiefs 30-24 Arrowhead Stadium, handing K.C. its second straight defeat. Justin Herbert passed for 4 touchdowns, and the Chargers forced 4 Chiefs turnovers.

"We wanted to send a message to the Chiefs," Herbert said, "and it's this: Anthony Lynn is no longer the head coach here."

Derek Carr passed for 386 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Daniel Carlson kicked the game-winning field goal in overtime as the Raiders remained undefeated with a 31-28 win over Miami.

"Derek is playing lights out," Jon Gruden said. "Apparently, Mark Davis gets his hair cut 'lights out.'"

Chargers win, 31-27.

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