Bet On It: Week 4
Each week we'll take our best shot at the predictions beyond the game predictions.
Last week: 3-7 (.300); Season Record: 8-22 (.267)
There's only one explanation for another sub-.500 week ... replacement officials. And misguided faith in the New Orleans Saints. I blame Roger Goodell for everything.
Now that the real officials are back, we're starting over. Expect less physical contact in the secondary and some of the high-profile quarterbacks who have struggled to pick it up. They better, because I'm running out of excuses ...
1. Michael Vick gets back on track with three total touchdowns
Andy Reid has been able to make adjustments to help struggling quarterbacks in the past. He may have been sending a message to Vick by saying he'll "evaluate [Vick's status] as we go" this week on his radio show. Look for Vick to be more disciplined and stick closer to the game plan instead of holding on to the ball and looking for the big play. Reid will help get him going with some short passes early against the Giants.
2. Wes Welker has over 100 receiving yards
Regardless of head coach Bill Belichick's feelings toward him, with tight end Aaron Hernandez injured, the Patriots will run their offense through Welker. New England has been guilty of looking past the Bills early in the season in the past, but in a must-win situation, Tom Brady is going to rely on his safety blanket all game long.
3. Christian Ponder comes back to Earth on Sunday with a rating lower than 80
Minnesota faces a Lions defense that has had success stopping the run, and should be able to put the young quarterback in unfavorable down-and-distance situations. The Lions' biggest weakness is their secondary, but the Vikings aren't built to take advantage of it. Ponder has been great because he's played within himself, but he won't be able to do that if Detroit can get an early lead. The Lions may or may not have Matthew Stafford, but backup Shaun Hill isn't too far a drop-off.
4. Peyton Manning gets back on track with a rating over 100
With all the attention on his arm strength, everyone's ignored some of the things Manning does well. Even if he can't throw downfield effectively, he'll be able to carve up Oakland on short passes.
5. Kevin Kolb has over 250 yards passing against the Dolphins
Kolb averaged 217 passing yards per game in nine games last season. His numbers have been way down this year -- 143 passing yards per game -- since the Cardinals have been ahead in games and keeping it conservative. But Kolb should be loose and confident for this one, and Arizona will rely on its short-passing game to move the ball against the Dolphins.
6. Danny Amendola has at least eight catches
Amendola followed his 15-catch day against the Redskins in Week 2 with a five-catch day against the Bears last week. This is going to be a very tough defensive game on Sunday. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford will focus on getting the ball to their Wes Welker clone on short routes to neutralize Seattle's pass rush.
7. Cam Newton throws two or more interceptions against the Falcons
The Panthers coaching staff has to be scrambling to correct offensive problems, but this the wrong matchup for Newton to get back on track. Newton threw five picks in two games against Atlanta last year. And the Falcons' revamped secondary has a league-high seven interceptions this year.
8. Packers put up at least 30 points on the Saints
The replacement officials might have awoken a sleeping giant last Monday. The Packers have uncharacteristically struggled to score this season. And their offensive line seems pretty average. But their confidence in running back Cedric Benson is growing, and they're going against a defense that is still adjusting to new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's system.
9. Jake Locker comes back to earth with fewer than 225 yards
Locker seemed to have it all figured out last week against Detroit, throwing for 378 yards, 2 TDs and no picks in a 44-41 overtime win. But he'll have less time to throw against the Texans' devastating pass rush, and his lack of accuracy will creep up again as a problem.
10. Tim Tebow will finally score
We're at Week 4. The real officials are back. The leaves are turning. There's a chill in the air. It's time the Jets get Tebow on the scoreboard. They tried last week in the red zone and came close. It's a matter of time before Tebow is kneeling in the end zone.