GLS Picks: Week 4

GLS has the Lions winning on the road for the third time this season.

Can I just take a second to stop and state one more time how great it is to be making picks right now, instead of talking labor? We’ve been so wrapped up in football the last four weeks that it seems like the offseason work stoppage never happened. But let’s be thankful, because for quite some time it appeared as though we wouldn’t be doing this in late September. The NBA owners and players association will meet this weekend, and I feel for them. Stay strong, NBA people. One day, it’ll end. And you’ll never complain about having to make picks again.

For another take on Week 4, here’s Cam Stewart and Co. in their predictions podcast.

And for the sake of full disclosure, here’s my record. You can decide whether or not to read on after that.

Last week: 9-7 (7-8-1 against the spread)
2011 season: 29-19 (22-24-2 against the spread)
2010 season: 155-101 (117-119-20 against the spread)
2009 season: 175-81 (122-101-33 against the spread)
2008 season: 161-94-1 (114-112-30 against the spread)
2007 season: 174-82 (118-105-33 against the spread)


Why would anyone take the Steelers this week? Well, because they’re the “Steelers” and America loves them, dammit! If I gave you all of the facts about the Pittsburgh-Houston game without naming the teams and the players, you’d be all over the Texans at home. Houston is feeling good after outplaying the Saints on the road, while Pittsburgh is a mess after nearly losing to the disaster that is Indianapolis. And suddenly this season, Pittsburgh is beatable on the ground (Arian Foster is back and the Texans are quite good at, um, running). Houston’s revamped defense should take advantage of a bruised and battered offensive line in a memorable victory. Texans 30, Steelers 24

The Niners are travelling too much. For the second straight week, San Francisco is coming across the country. They struggled to beat the Bengals last week, and now it’s a talented Eagles team in desperate need of a win. The Michael Vick injury could play a small role, especially against a decent San Fran pass rush, but LeSean McCoy is red hot and the Niners won’t have an answer on offense. Alex Smith has been terrible, he’s had no room to work and his backs aren’t helping out. Philly wins handily. Eagles 30, 49ers 17

The Packers are banged up, but it really doesn’t matter. Ryan Grant and Bryan Bulaga are hurt, but fortunately for Green Bay, Denver’s on the schedule this week. It’s been two years since the Broncos have defeated a team with a winning record on the road. And with Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey hurting, the Broncos are just as banged up as Green Bay. The Packers proved last year that they can overcome injuries. The Broncos aren’t in the same boat. Packers 31, Broncos 13

Let’s go back in time: One year ago, the Saints inexplicably lost to a rookie deer-in-headlights quarterback in Arizona. Gregg Williams’ aggressive defense failed to bring the heat against Max Hall, but the Saints’ offense was sputtering at the time. This year, I can’t see New Orleans slipping up against rookie Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville. Even if the defense has an off day, Drew Brees — who has been lights out on the road ever since that Arizona game with 343.2 passing yards per game in his last six outings away from home — will have all day to work against a nonexistent Jags pass rush, and the Saints will win in blowout fashion. Saints 35, Jaguars 10

Baltimore doesn’t lose to the Jets. Why would things be any different this time? The game’s in Baltimore, the Ravens are hot (it’s beginning to look as though that Week 2 loss to Tennessee was an aberration) and New York is completely off its game. The Jets are also in bad shape with Antonio Cromartie and Nick Mangold hurt, and the veteran Ravens should make them pay. Expect the pass rush to get to Mark Sanchez, who has 11 turnovers in his last seven games, and expect Ray Rice to have a big day against the Jets defense as they sacrifice the box in order to help a shorthanded secondary. Ravens 27, Jets 17


Don’t overreact to Indy’s performance against Pittsburgh. The Colts took advantage of a terrible offense line. The Buccaneers, who will be fired up for a rare prime-time home game, have surrendered just four sacks in three games. So Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis will have a tougher time changing the outcome. Curtis Painter might help Indy’s cause, but that offensive line is still in big trouble against a front seven that clobbered Atlanta last week. Buccaneers 31, Colts 20

Cam Newton’s wake-up call in Chicago? This Bears defense can still do special things, especially at home. The experienced unit should make life difficult for Newton. I’m also not convinced a mediocre Carolina pass rush can hammer Jay Cutler on a constant enough basis to change the outcome (Chicago is 5-2 when Cutler is sacked fewer than three times), and Mike Martz should finally cede to the pressure and give Matt Forte an increase in reps. Carolina loses its 10th straight road game. Bears 23, Panthers 13

San Diego has yet to beat a team with a win. But it just so happens that Miami doesn’t have one, either. Regardless, I’m thinking upset. The Dolphins are better than their record, and although they’re at home, San Diego keeps trying to throw away games with mindless errors. Miami is significantly better on the road than at home, and San Diego nearly blew it last week at Qualcomm. Tipping the scales: San Diego’s injuries. Dolphins 24, Chargers 23

Vegas is bang-on with the Bills-Bengals. Some are surprised that Buffalo is only a three-point fave, but the Bills are coming off back-to-back emotional wins at home and are back on the road. We don’t have much of a sample size to see how good the Bills are away from home, because Kansas City was a mess in Week 1. The Bengals will still have Cedric Benson, and Andy Dalton has a chance to repeat his stellar Week 2 performance against a defense that was rocked pretty hard by Jason Campbell two weeks ago. Buffalo’s defense comes up big again versus the league’s worst third-down offense, and they win a close one. Bills 24, Bengals 21

Atlanta is too good to lose in Seattle. But I had to think about it. The Seahawks are sneakily dangerous at home, but they were also crushed by Atlanta, Kansas City and the Giants at QWest Field last season. Matt Ryan is much better at home than away (he has nine picks in his last five road games), but the experienced Falcons should battle back after a tough loss to Tampa. And to beat the Falcons, you have to take advantage of their offensive line — Seattle doesn’t have much of a pass rush. Falcons 24, Seahawks 13


I’m not convinced Chris Johnson is in the right place at the right time. The Browns are better than the numbers show against the run, and D’Qwell Jackson has been lights out thus far. Johnson could struggle again and the Titans won’t be quite as explosive without Kenny Britt and with Nate Washington being covered by Joe Haden. Tennessee’s defense is slightly better, and the Browns are a phony 2-1 with wins over two 0-3 teams. Still, I think Cleveland wins a close, low-scoring game at home. Browns 16, Titans 13

On paper, the Rams at home are better than the Redskins. At a neutral site, it’s a toss-up. But this year, Washington’s been playing above its head and St. Louis has struggled. In St. Louis, I like the Rams to bounce back after a tough loss to Baltimore and I expect the ‘Skins to have trouble on a short week. Rex Grossman is quickly coming back to earth, and the Rams are getting healthier. Rams 23, Redskins 20

I just can’t do it. Despite Oakland’s momentum and New England’s injuries and Darren McFadden’s hot streak and the Patriots’ terrible pass defense and the location of the game (Oakland), I cannot take the Raiders to beat the Pats. I figure Bill Belichick’s defense will find a way to keep McFadden under control and I figure Tom Brady will be pissed off and ready to roll against a thin secondary. The veteran Patriots will come through in a close game, but with Albert Haynesworth, Aaron Hernandez, Logan Mankins and Patrick Chung dealing with various injuries, it will be close. Patriots 30, Raiders 28


The Giants are slightly more talented than Arizona. Slightly, though. Slightly. Too many injuries for New York. And does anyone really expect Eli Manning to follow up a great game with another great game? Mario Manningham is healthy, but Hakeem Nicks is suddenly having injury troubles and Brandon Stokley is out. The Cards are actually quite solid at home, and Kevin Kolb should find holes with Larry Fitzgerald against a somewhat depleted defense. For those who figure the New York pass rush will be too much for the Cards to handle, consider that Justin Tuck might not play, Osi Umenyiora isn’t 100 percent and Jason Pierre-Paul could be playing a bit above his head. Cardinals 23, Giants 20

Detroit is soooo vulnerable, but Dallas might not be explosive enough right now to take advantage. Yes, the Cowboys easily beat the Lions in the very same stadium last year, but Detroit is better now. And in that game, Dallas got two touchdowns from Miles Austin (injured for this game) and the Lions didn’t have Matthew Stafford (one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league now). Stafford will take heat against DeMarcus Ware and Co., but a banged-up Tony Romo should face similar problems against the Lions’ quality front seven. These teams are actually eerily similar, but the Lions are healthier and have all the momentum. They’ll win a close one. Lions 27, Cowboys 24

Time for a “complete” game from the Vikings. And it’s not really because I have confidence in Minnesota, but because I can’t see Kansas City putting up too much of a fight if the Vikings jump ahead, as they’ve been doing. It’s easy to look at the Chiefs at Arrowhead and consider their close game with San Diego last week, but KC was actually badly outplayed again in Week 3, and the Vikes should stuff Adrian Peterson down their throats in Week 4. Vikings 20, Chiefs 13