Poupart's picks: Week 4

The Dolphins are off their weekend, taking a bye after starting the season 2-1. But there are 14 games on the schedule, including two involving surprise 3-0 Tampa Bay and Cincinnati. Here are this week's predictions.

Sunday, October 2

Houston (0-2) at Cincinnati (3-0): Difficult to see the struggling Texans stop the Bengals' roll. Yeah, the Texans have a new offensive coordinator (Joe Pendry), but they still have the same problems on the offensive line and at quarterback. Meanwhile, the Cincy offense is balanced and explosive. Cincinnati, 31-13.

Denver (2-1) at Jacksonville (2-1): The Broncos sure have improved since they were pounded by the Dolphins on opening day, and it's on defense where they've made the most improvement. But they must travel a long way on a short week, which always spells trouble. The Jaguars are coming off a big win against the Jets, and their defense will make the difference here. Jacksonville, 17-16.

Philadelphia (2-1) at Kansas City (2-1): The Chiefs' new-look defense sure looked like the old one last Monday night, but it was mostly the running game that did them in. The biggest issue here is Donovan McNabb and his abdominal injury. How effective can he be? The Chiefs passing game hasn't done a lot this season, but this could be the game. Kansas City 27, Philadelphia 23.

San Diego (1-2) at New England (2-1): The Chargers finally figured out that giving the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson might be a good idea, and the result was a 45-point outburst against the Giants. Now, things obviously won't be that easy against a Pats defense that will have to make do without former Chargers safety Rodney Harrison. This should be a very close game because San Diego is a good team and the Pats might be feeling the afereffects of their injuries. The bottom line is it's always dangerous to pick against the Pats. New England, 24-23.

Buffalo (1-2) vs. New Orleans (1-2) at San Antonio: This is as close to a home game as the Saints have had so far, but it's not really one. This is a game between two teams that are really struggling. The Bills have not stopped the run all year, and we're thinking Deuce McAllister might be in for a big day. New Orleans, 23-16.

St. Louis (2-1) at N.Y. Giants (2-1): These are two very unimpressive 2-1 teams who have benefited from a favorable schedule. St. Louis' defense has come up with some big plays so far this season (most notably by safety Adam Archuleta), but the Giants will put up some points in this one. N.Y. Giants, 29-22.

Detroit (1-1) at Tampa Bay (3-0): Kind of sad to think that the Lions, who squeaked by Green Bay and then got pounded by Chicago, are in the first place in the NFC North. The Bucs, meanwhile, have ridden the legs of Carnell Williams and strong defense to their 3-0 start. It'll get to 4-0. Tampa Bay, 24-10.

Indianapolis (3-0) at Tennessee (1-2): The Colts offense is bound to explode one of these days. Isn't it. This might be the week. Indianapolis, 33-16.

Seattle (2-1) at Washington (2-0): The Redskins were off last weekend after their shocking come-from-behind Monday night win at Dallas, but the truth remains that their offense is mediocre. The Seahawks, meanwhile, looked very impressive last week -- but then again it was Arizona they played. Seattle, 23-17.

N.Y. Jets (1-2) at Baltimore (0-2): Brooks Bollinger will start at quarterback for the Jets, while the Ravens will start Anthony Wright. Yuck! This has the makings of an ugly game. Baltimore, 9-6.

Minnesota (1-2) at Atlanta (2-1): Yeah, the Vikings got a win last week after two ugly losses, but it came against a New Orleans team that has been displaced. The Falcons won't be so easy. Atlanta will run, run and run some more in this one. Atlanta, 30-20.

Dallas (2-1) at Oakland (0-3): The Cowboys had a nice comeback against the 49ers last week, but won't be so lucky this time. Oakland has lost three close games against three very good teams -- New England, Kansas City and Philadelphia -- but they'll get their first win in style. Oakland, 38-20.

San Francisco (1-2) vs. Arizona (0-3) at Mexico City: The good folks of Mexico get an NFL regular season game, but they didn't exactly get a gem with this one. These are two bad teams. The Cardinals, who will start Josh McCown at quarterback, are just a little worse. San Francisco, 21-19.

Green Bay (0-3) at Carolina (1-2): These are two of the biggest disappointments so far, even more so in the case of the Panthers. Green Bay is a mess and it doesn't figure to improve too much this season. Carolina, however, still is good enough to become a factor, but it needs this game. Carolina, 26-17.

Last week's record: 9-5

Season record: 27-19


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