O’Neil’s Week-4 picks: The NFL hath no fury like Bill Belichick scorned
The NFL should stop punishing the Patriots.
Because we’re the ones who end up suffering. Us. The rest of the non-Patriot football public.
What happened after the Patriots got caught filming opposing coaches’ signals in 2007? They proceeded to rack up 16 consecutive regular-season victories in the most ruthless fashion possible.
Then Tom Brady gets suspended for the first four games this year and all the Patriots do is go out and win three straight while starting a pair of quarterbacks who sound like sandwich orders: Garoppolo and Brissett. Oh wait. Sorry. They call them grinders in the Northeast.
Anyway, here’s hoping that Rex Ryan and the Bills can at least slow down the revenge tour on Sunday.
Miami at Cincinnati (Thursday night)
Oooh. Is this a color rush game? I sure hope Miami comes out looking like a toothpaste tube again. That was awesome last year. The Miami Aquafresh. Instead of a test of strength, it’s a duel of weaknesses. The Bengals have gained the sixth-fewest rushing yards in the league while the Dolphins have allowed the second-most. Cincinnati’s offense might be the biggest mystery in the league this year. It’s largely vanished. The Bengals failed to score 20 points only three times all last season. It has already happened twice this year. The Bengals have got to find their stride, though.
Pick: Bengals 16, Dolphins 13.
Indianapolis at Jacksonville
The Jags just don’t make sense. They’ve allowed the eighth-fewest yards in the league this season yet they’re tied for the eighth-most points allowed. No such struggle to understand the Colts’ defense. It is simply bad, ranking No. 24 in yards allowed and No. 30 in points given up. The Colts have won six of the past seven games in this series.
Pick: Jaguars 24, Colts 20.
Carolina at Atlanta
Clubber Lang’s prediction in “Rocky III”: pain. The prediction in this one? Points. The Falcons are averaging a league-high 448 yards while the Panthers have yet to hold an opponent to fewer than 20 points in a game. Atlanta’s defense – if you can call it that – is even worse. The Falcons have allowed at least four touchdowns in each of their three games this season.
Pick: Panthers 130, Falcons 122.
Oakland at Baltimore
The last time the Raiders were in Baltimore, the Ravens hung 55 points on the scoreboard, and this is a Raiders team that has allowed more than 30 points in two of three games this season. Meanwhile, the Ravens have yet to allow more than 20 points in a game and are not-so-quietly in first place in the AFC North.
Pick: Ravens 34, Raiders 23.
Detroit at Chicago
The Bears were missing Jay Cutler last week. Wait. That’s the wrong verb. See, the Bears scored more points with Brian Hoyer than they did in either of the first two games with Cutler, so how much Chicago missed its starting quarterback is an open question. The Bears are one of two teams in the league that have yet to score 20 points in a game this year. Throw in fact that the Lions have won the past six games against the Bears, and it’s almost enough to make coach Jim Caldwell smile. At least it would be were Caldwell not an android robot incapable of projecting human emotion.
Pick: Lions 20, Bears 17.
Tennessee at Houston
You know how the Bears were one of two teams in the league that have yet to score 20 points in a game this season? Well, the Titans are the other one. To say watching Tennessee is pointless wouldn’t be literally accurate, but it would be close.
Pick: Texans 24, Titans 15.
Buffalo at New England
Remember Troy Brown? He was that one wide receiver that Patriots coach Bill Belichick used to trot out there as a defensive back. I was half-convinced Belichick would do that just to really rub it in an opponent’s face. Like, “Not only am I beating you, but I’m beating with a roster so thin that I’m forced to use a freaking receiver in my secondary.” Well, the Patriots are 3-0 with the Garoppolo-Brisset combination platter at quarterback, which is like three times as big a troll job as putting a receiver in the secondary.
Pick: Bills 24, Patriots 17.
Seattle at New York Jets
Russell Wilson was ruthless against the AFC last season, averaging 286 yards and throwing 14 touchdown passes in four games against the AFC North. Seattle has also won its past two games at MetLife Stadium by a combined score of 66-8, one of those being Super Bowl XLVIII.
Pick: Seahawks 20, Jets 16.
Cleveland at Washington
Seems only fitting that Robert Griffin III is sitting this one out the way he has hobbled both teams.
Pick: Browns 30, Epithets 27.
Denver at Tampa Bay
I don’t want to live in a world where some guy named Trevor Siemian is 4-0 as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Pick: Buccaneers 16, Broncos 12.
Los Angeles at Arizona
This might be the single most interesting game in the NFL this season. Are the Rams actually (gasp) good even with something called Case Keenum at quarterback? Are the Cardinals (ohmygosh) possibly bad? They’ve now lost at home to a Garoppolo-led, Gronk-less Pats team in Week 1 and then got drop-kicked last week in Buffalo of all places. If the Rams win this one, then we should all just go ahead and assume this Cardinals team is sunk.
Pick: Cardinals 27, Rams 13.
New Orleans at San Diego
The Saints have definitely gotten better since changing defensive coordinators. They gave up the most points in the league last season. They’ve only given up the second-most through three games this season. But hey, at least New Orleans has only allotted one-quarter of this year’s salary cap to players who are no longer on the roster.
Pick: Chargers 24, Saints 23.
Dallas at San Francisco
Is Tony Romo about to get Tony Romo-ed by Dak Prescott? Because there was a time that Romo was the athletic youngster who stepped in to replace an aging Pro Bowler in Drew Bledsoe. That was 2006. Ten years later, it’s Romo who could be aced out by the younger, hotter model.
Pick: Cowboys 31, Niners 27.
Kansas City at Pittsburgh
The Steelers scored only three points in Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh’s fewest in any game since a 19-3 loss to San Francisco on Dec. 19, 2011. Now the Steelers are facing a Chiefs team that held the Jets to three points last week. It was the third time in the past 10 regular-season games that Kansas City had held an opponent to a single field goal.
Pick: Chiefs 16, Steelers 13.
New York Giants at Minnesota (Monday night)
The Vikings have nine takeaways, which is the most of any team in the NFL. The Giants have only one takeaway, which is tied with Seattle and Detroit for the fewest. That’s exactly why the Giants are going to win this game. Minnesota has gotten the benefit of an absolutely unsustainable turnover ratio. The Vikings are plus-8 while the Giants are minus-6. That’s going to correct starting Monday night.
Pick: Giants 24, Vikings 20.