Who will win? NFL 2018 season week four game picks
Dolphins (3-0) at Patriots (1-2)
Sunday 1:00 pm EST
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
Here it is. The game. This could quite possibly become the biggest game the Dolphins will have played this decade. A game that rivals the importance of the win over the Brett Favre and the Jets on the road to clinch the division in 2008. A win for Miami and things are blown wide open in this division. A win for Miami changes everything.
Starting off with a 3 game lead over New England this early in the year would be huge. And we know how things go when the Pats have to travel to South Florida: bad things for Brady and Belichick, good things for the Fins. A win in this game would do some much for this franchise.
This feels like a potential franchise-altering game. In 2008, the last time any team but the New England Patriots won the AFC East, the 0-2 Dolphins obliterated the Patriots (albeit without Brady) 38 to 13 in Foxborough. That game was the last time the Dolphins beat New England on the road. From that point on, the entire season had completely changed for the Dolphins. The team did not look back, finishing 11-5 and were crowned champions of the AFC East. If the Dolphins want to even think about repeating that season, a win in this game would go a long way.
While record-wise, this game may seem more important to the team trying to avoid a 1-3 start than it does to the team looking to improve to 4-0, it’s not. This game would mean so much to the Dolphins. To this team, to this organization, to the fans. This is our Super Bowl.
The Patriots rarely ever lose 2 in a row, but 3? That just doesn’t happen to Brady and Belichick. Why should it happen here? I’ll tell you why.
Ryan Tannehill has won 10 of his last 11 starts. Only Carson Wentz can say that. The Dolphins this season, as they did in 2016, find ways to win games. They’ve done it home. They’ve done it on the road.
The Patriots defense has been awful. New England gave up 31 points to a Jaguars offense that hasn’t come close to that in any other game. They gave up 26 points to a Lions offense that scored just 27 in the season’s first 6 quarters. In points allowed per game, the Patriots are ranked 20th. The Dolphins defense, by the way, is ranked 6th in that category. In yards allowed per game, staggeringly, New England is ranked at 28th.
Offensively, it really hasn’t been much better for Brady and Belichick. Last week against Detroit, a defense that ranked in lower half of the league, the Patriots were only able to score just 10 points. With exception of one drive, the Patriots failed to get anything going all game. New England is ranked 25th in both yards and points per game offensively. In points per game, Miami is ranked 11th.
It’s simple: this season, the Dolphins have been good and the Patriots have not been good. This seems like the type of game where everything switches and things go back to the way they have been for the last 18 years. But with both the Patriots offense and defense looking deficient of talent and the speed to keep up with what the Dolphins have on both sides of the ball, there is certainly hope.
As Dolphins fans, hope is all we need to believe.
The Patriots usually play their best football after a bad loss, making my mind tell me the Patriots will run away with this one. But my heart and gut tell me that this time is different. This time things have actually switched a bit, showing the Dolphins are headed in the right direction, while the Patriots are headed in the wrong one.
This is the year things change.
Dolphins 27 Patriots 24
Browns (1-1-1) at Raiders (0-3)
Sunday 4:05 pm EST
Oakland Alameda Coliseum, Oakland, California
Well, here it is, Baker Mayfield’s first career start. His first appearance went about as well as it could have. On the road, in the black hole, against a team hungry for its first win, will be a much tougher test than was his first game. Baker can provide a spark at any point in the game and he did that immediately when he replaced the injured Tyrod Taylor.
The Raiders, meanwhile, are sitting here at 0-3 despite leading at halftime in every game this season. They just can’t seem to finish off games. But at home, against a rookie QB in his first career start, this will be their best opportunity to do so. The Raiders will start off strong and will have Baker rattled early on, but in the second half Baker flips his switch and the Raiders switch theirs as the Browns steal a win on the road from the Raiders.
Browns 20 Raiders 17
Seahawks (1-2) at Cardinals (0-3)
Sunday 4:05 pm EST
State Farm Stadium, Phoenix, Arizona
Another rookie QB will be making his first career start on Sunday. Former UCLA signal caller and current Cardinal, Josh Rosen. Rosen was not nearly as impressive as Mayfield in relief for the injured Sam Bradford. Rosen threw an interception while trailing by 2 late in the game, but was given an opportunity to redeem himself. He did not so, as he was sacked on the final play of the game. He did not provide the spark that Baker did but he did face one of the best defenses in the league in the Bears.
The Seahawks defense played well last week and hasn’t been bad all year. This will certainly be a test for the rookie, and rookies tend to make mistakes, the Seahawks should be able to capitalize on those mistakes and get out of Phoenix with a win.
Seahawks 19 Cardinals 13
Saints (2-1) at Giants (1-2)
Sunday 4:25 pm EST
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
The Saints offense can score points, they proved that last week in Atlanta. We didn’t think the Giants offense could score points, but they proved that they can last week, dropping 27 in Houston. At home against a Saints defense that has not been very good this year, the Giants should be able to repeat last weeks performance.
Not so fast. The Giants offense, specifically Eli Manning, has been very inconsistent in years past. Just because they dominate on defense, doesn’t mean they’ll do the same against a seemingly worse defense.
But the true key in this game is this: The Saints are a different team outdoors. This their first game not played in a dome, and it should be expected that their offense isn’t quite prolific as it has been. Still, it’s enough to eek out a win against an inconsistent Giants team.
Saints 24 Giants 21
49ers (1-2) at Chargers (1-2)
Sunday 4:25 pm EST
StubHub Center, Carson, California
For a pair of 1-2 teams facing off, a 10 point spread looks a little out of line. But in case you were under a rock last Sunday and stayed under it this week, Niners’ starting QB, Jimmy Garoppolo is out for the year with a torn ACL. That means second-year QB C.J. Beathard will get the start for San Francisco. Making an already below average team worse.
The Chargers don’t appear to be at the Super Bowl level many pundits had picked them to prior to the season, but they are better than their 1-2 record suggests. Los Angeles is the better and more talented team and the loss of Jimmy G for San Fran is a huge blow to the season. The Niners offense should have trouble sustaining a consistent offense, which will, in turn, keep their defense of the field. The Chargers will cruise to victory against a depleted team on their home turf.
Chargers 27 49ers 13
Ravens (2-1) at Steelers (1-1-1)
Sunday 8:20 pm EST
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
This is a truly classic rivalry that always ends up being a great game. This year should no different. These are two seemingly evenly matched teams that will likely need a game-winning field goal to find a winner.
The Ravens have been very good at beating the Steelers on their home turf, and they are a team that can grind out games. Even without Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers offense is still elite and will still be able to put points up in bunches. JuJu Smith-Schuster has been a force all season, and that should continue on Sunday night.
This will surely be a very close contest that the home team Steelers find a way to win, doing so by a great late game drive by Big Ben and a game-winning field goal by Chris Boswell.
Steelers 27 Ravens 24
Chiefs at Broncos
Monday 8:15 pm EST
Broncos Stadium at Mile High, Denver, Colorado
For the first time in his very short NFL career, Patrick Mahomes will be playing a game under the lights in primetime, and the NFL world could not be more excited. Patrick Mahomes has been the clear MVP favorite so far this year, and if he keeps this up, it will be a runaway.
It seems as if every game the Chiefs play this year will be a shootout as their defense has been below average at best. Case Keenum and the Broncos offense shouldn’t have much trouble getting things going against Kansas City’s defense. But it seems that however many points the Broncos put up, Mahomes can outdo it.
This game, like all other games the Chiefs are involved, should be expected to be a shootout. If the Broncos fail to eclipse 35 points in this game, it will be difficult to get the win against this offense. It’s still not clear if this offense will ever score less than thirty the entire year. I wouldn’t anticipate that happening here.
Chiefs 38 Broncos 27