Falcons at Redskins: I’ll be in Pittsburgh attending Eagles-Steelers, which means that I won’t get to watch this game live. That’s a major bummer, because I think this game is going to be a very good one. I noted earlier in the week that the Falcons struggle against the running game, specifically against teams with a QB that is a threat to run. I also think they’ll struggle with the Redskins’ quick, short WR screen game. The Falcons are 2nd in the league in takeaways (12), and best in the league in turnover differential (+10). Meanwhile, the Redskins are tied for 5th in the league in takeaways with 9, and tied for 3rd in turnover differential at +7. That doesn’t mean the Redskins haven’t committed a ton of mistakes. The Redskins lead the league in penalty yards with a staggering 356. Atlanta has 114. Cut out the penalties, and I don’t think the talent level of these two teams are all that far apart. I really don’t.
Obviously, the glaring perceived mismatch in this game is the Falcons WRs against the Skins secondary. However, this is a three-man passing attack. It’s Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez. For some reason, Harry Douglas gets a lot of credit for being some sort of stud #3. I never understood that. His career stats:
Meh. The Redskins have to stop the run, which is something they’ve done this season so far, allowing just 89 rushing yards per game. Make the Falcons predictable, get after Matt Ryan. The Falcons OL has yet to really be tested this year, as they’ve had leads in every game. I believe it a weakness. If the Redskins can force the Falcons to pass, even with their bad secondary, I think they can generate enough pressure to force Ryan into mistakes throwing to his three main targets.
I have the Skins in this one, 31-28.
Browns at Giants: My one and only concern for the Giants is this:
The Browns are one of the worst teams in the NFL, and there are two ways to look at this game if you’re a Giants fan. Are the Browns the right team to get right now because you’re so banged up, and you can win anyway? Or is this the worst possible time to get them because it’s the only way you’d lose to this team?
I guess we’ll find out on Sunday. I think it’s the former. Giants survive, 24-23.
Eagles at Steelers: I really don’t have a good feel for this game at all. I have no idea what to expect from Troy Polamalu and James Harrison. Polamalu is coming back from an injury he sustained Week 1. Harrison will be playing his first game of the season. Does that make them the scary defense again that we’ve come to expect from the Steelers? Because frankly, this team does not appear to be anything resembling “scary” so far this season. The Broncos hung 31 on them Week 1, and the Raiders of all teams put up 34 on them in Week 3. The one good showing by Pittsburgh this year so far was against the Jets, who don’t really have a legitimate NFL offense. Still, in that building, the Steelers are 29-9 (.763) going back to 2008.
I think the Steelers are going to have to give their OL a ton of help to deal with the Eagles pass rush, and vice versa. I’ll take the QB that can bounce off tackles and make plays over the one that has to rely on using his legs and Houdini-like escapes. Steelers 22-21.
Some random notes:
- The best OL in the division so far has been the Redskins. Give some credit there to the Shanahans, who have done a good job mixing up their offensive looks and not letting opposing defenses pin their ears back and attack the QB.
- The NFC East rookie of the rookie of the year through Week 4 on offense is… (drumroll)… Yeah, uh, it’s Robert Griffin III. The runner up? Redskins 6th round pick Alfred Morris. 82 rushes for 376 yards and 4 TDs put Morris on pace for 328-1504-16, and a trip to Hawaii.
- The NFC rookie of the year through Week 4 on defense is Eagles DT Fletcher Cox. The stats may not say so, but he has dominated. Acknowledgements here also go to Mychal Kendricks, Jayron Hosley, Morris Claiborne, and Brandon Boykin.
Pleasant surprises (or at least guys that were not a sure thing to perform this season):
- Eagles: DeSean Jackson, Stanley Havili, DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
- Cowboys: Bruce Carter, Jason Hatcher, Mike Jenkins
- Redskins: RG3, Alfred Morris, Trent Williams, Perry Riley
- Giants: Domenik Hixon, Martellus Bennett, Andre Brown, Prince Amukamara, Rocky Bernard
- Eagles: Michael Vick, Demetress Bell, Phillip Hunt
- Cowboys: Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Tyron Smith, Doug Free, Mackenzy Bernadeau
- Redskins: There are guys that are not playing well, but none that really come as a surprise.
- Giants: Corey Webster, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora