NFL

NFL Predictions Week 4: Breaking Down Sunday's Most Important Tilts

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots and Kenbrell Thompkins #85 celebrate a touchdown during the first quarter in a game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Ryan DavenportContributor ISeptember 24, 2013

After a wildly entertaining first three weekends of the 2013 NFL schedule, Week 4 promises to present us with a full slate of intriguing tilts. 

So far, we've seen perennial postseason contenders struggle to winless starts, and former cellar dwellers jump out to 3-0 records. As such, there's been no shortage of stunning upsets. 

Now, heading into a critical weekend of football, here's an early look at how Sunday of Week 4's most important clashes will end up. 

 

New England at Atlanta

Thus far, it's been business as usual for Tom Brady and the Patriots, as New England has rolled to a 3-0 start despite not having a number of key offensive players on the field.

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 13:  Jacquizz Rodgers #32 of the Atlanta Falcons carries the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Georgia Dome on January 13, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Sure, the Patriots' three victories have come over a trio of rather weak opponents in the Jets, Bills and Buccaneers, but one has to give Brady credit for continuing to find ways to score without Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola in the fold. 

However, with the Patriots set to take on the always challenging Atlanta Falcons on the road, Bill Belichick's boys will have their hands full on Sunday night. 

Despite the Falcons' 1-2 record, this is a quality team with enough offensive firepower to outgun anyone, and after losing a heartbreaker against Miami in Week 3, expect Matt Ryan to bounce back against New England. 

It'll be a shootout in Atlanta, but Ryan, Julio Jones and Jacquizz Rodgers will put enough points on the board to get the Falcons back to .500 heading into their Week 5 showdown against the Jets. 

Prediction: Falcons 31, Patriots 27

 

Seattle at Houston

In what may be the weekend's most interesting clash, the 3-0 Seahawks will head to Houston to take on the maddeningly inconsistent Texans, who are coming off an embarrassing 30-9 road loss to Baltimore. 

As of now, the Seahawks have been arguably the game's most dominant team through the first three weeks of the season, as Pete Carroll's bunch has thoroughly dominated its last two games against the 49ers and Jaguars. 

But don't sleep on the Texans, who have the offensive weapons to keep pace with Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and the rest of the Seahawks attack, even if three-time All-Pro back Arian Foster hasn't quite looked like himself yet this season. 

Ultimately, this game could be a high-scoring affair, with Matt Schaub and Wilson trading blows all afternoon, but in the end, I've got the Seahawks moving to 4-0. 

Prediction: Seahawks 34, Texans 31

 

Chicago at Detroit

In what will be the 167th meeting between the Lions and the Bears, both teams will be gunning for control in the NFC North standings. 

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 15:  Wide receiver Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions runs with the football after a reception against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 15, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Heading into Sunday afternoon's meeting, the undefeated Bears have to be considered the favorites, as Jay Cutler's offense has been impressive in each of Chicago's three victories, even if they haven't been over the most challenging of opponents. 

That being said, the Lions' victory over Washington in Week 3 showed that this is a football team that's confident in its abilities, because Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson did enough to compensate for Reggie Bush's absence. 

And against a Chicago defense that has had a lot of trouble defending the pass (allowing 294.3 yards per game), Stafford should enjoy another big day against the Bears. 

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 22: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears gets around the tackle of Jarvis Jones #95 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at Heinz Field on September 22, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/G
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

However, Chicago's 3-0 for a reason, and as the team showed during each of its first two games, the Bears know how to win close games. 

Prediction: Bears 23, Lions 21

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