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NFL Week Four Preview & BRB Pick 'Em Extravaganza

I feel like it's pretty safe to say that this blog is among those most eager to turn the page to Week Four. New week, new hope, and a chance to get the Starship Houston back on course.

For the sixth time in nine seasons, your Houston Texans will take on the Oakland Raiders. Along with the Cleveland Browns, the Raiders have faced the Texans more than any other non-division opponent, so there is a fair amount familiarity between the two franchises. Last October, the Texans beat the Raiders 29-6 in Reliant Stadium. With the Purple Drankin' Fatty gone from Oakland, everyone should expect this game to be a bit closer.

An interesting statistic for those who love stats: If the Texans win on Sunday, they will no longer be the "losingest franchise in NFL history." A win will give the Texans a better regular-season winning percentage than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This is progress, faithful Houston fans.

Let's take a look at what's going on around the rest of the NFL during Week Four. Also, the BRB Pick 'Em League will see its weekly update.


San Francisco 49ers (0-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (2-1) (Sunday 10/3 at Noon CDT)
Atlanta just beat the defending Super Bowl champions on the road while San Francisco just fired their offensive coordinator. Last year, Atlanta thrashed the 49ers on the road as well. All signs point to a confused 49er team getting a Dirty South Beatdown. Falcons win 27-13.

Detroit Lions (0-3) @ Green Bay Packers (2-1)
Coming off a game where they had no running game and 18 penalties, I expect the Packers to have a tough week of practice to dial things in. They need to make a trade for a RB, but the Lions secondary is struggling. Packers win 27-17.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) @ Cleveland Browns (0-3)
The Browns have shown no signs of life so far. I thought they'd be a much more improved team, but it's just not there. Cincinnati seems to be clicking, and they fare well in-division of late. Plus, Cincinnati's Reality Show is heading to Cleveland to pick on their young secondary. Bengals win 28-13.

Denver Broncos (1-2) @ Tennessee Titans (2-1)
If you can stop the run and force Vince Young to be a pocket passer, you have a decent chance at beating the Titans. Denver's ranked 10th against the run. The Titans have a top-10 defense, but they've yet to play anything resembling an offensive juggernaut, which changes when the number two overall offense comes to town. It's an interesting match-up that should test both teams. This game comes down to which QB doesn't make mistakes. I trust Kyle Orton more. Broncos win 20-17.

Carolina Panthers (0-3) @ New Orleans Saints (2-1)
The Panthers? They're in rebuilding mode. A rookie quarterback against an opportunistic (lucky?) defense plus the Saints coming off a loss? I have to think New Orleans will come out looking to make a statement at Carolina's expense. Saints win 34-10.

Baltimore Ravens (2-1) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)
The surprising Steelers get their toughest test when Baltimore heads into town. The Steelers have been able to use their defense to mask their back-up quarterbacks, but what happens when they meet a quality defense? The Ravens should force Charlie Batch to win the game. It'll be an physical game, but I think the Ravens can pull out a tough victory. Ravens win 13-6.

New York Jets (2-1) @ Buffalo Bills (0-3)
The Bills showed a major spark last week as CJ Spiller began his highlight reel. That kid needs to touch the ball more. The secondary gave Mark Sanchez trouble last year, but I can't see the Jets losing to the Bills - even if I want to. Jets win 20-3.

Seattle Seahawks (2-1) @ St. Louis Rams (1-2)
The winner of this game is in 1st place of the NFC West. Yes, that's the truth. Seattle is dominant with the best home-field advantage in the NFL, but on the road? I have to trust the Rams. Wait, am I really doing this? Yes, the Seahawks' only turnovers come from Earl Thomas, whom Sam Bradford knows well. Hopefully, this is Oklahoma's only "win" this weekend. Rams win 20-17.

Houston Texans (2-1) @ Oakland Raiders (1-2) (Sunday 10/3 at 3:05 pm CDT)
The Texans can run while the Raiders are struggling to stop the run. On the flip side, the Raiders can run, and the Texans are able to stop it as long as it's not a draw. In general, the Texans are more talented than the Raiders. Texans win 24-17.

Indianapolis Colts (2-1) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
I like the Jaguars, I do. I've picked them for three weeks and been burned the last two. You know who gets burned this week? Their secondary. The Jacksonville secondary gets to meet Peyton Manning, and it won't be pretty. Luckily for the Jaguars, Maurice Jones-Drew typically has big games against Indianapolis. There's that temptation to pick the Jaguars. MJD and a front four that can get pressure, but I'll resist this week. Colts win 27-20.

Washington Redskins (1-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) (Sunday 10/3 at 3:15 pm CDT)
The Redskins lost to the Rams a week ago. I picked the 'Skins, but Texans fans shouldn't be surprised that Washington struggled. The Redskins run an offensive scheme similar to Houston - who also struggled in St. Louis last season. Schematic flaw. After Philly's Mike Vick-led win last week, Andy Reid is looking like a genius. What would be better than Donovan McNabb creating some controversy for his old team? Redskins win 24-20.

Arizona Cardinals (1-2) @ San Diego Chargers (1-2)
The Chargers aren't on the road? They're playing a bad team? They should win then. Chargers win 27-17.

Chicago Bears (3-0) @ New York Giants (1-2) (Sunday 10/3 at 7:20 pm CDT)
Surprisingly, the Chicago Bears are the last unbeaten team in the NFC. The additions of Mike Martz and Julius Peppers are paying off already. The Giants look confused and lost. A ton of penalties, a ton of Eli Manning turnovers, and it appears that Tom Coughlin is on the brink of losing this team. The boobirds will be out in New Meadowlands Stadium. Bears win 31-13.

New England Patriots (2-1) @ Miami Dolphins (2-1) (Monday 10/4 at 7:30 pm CDT)
The Patriots have an offense, but the defense comes and goes. The Dolphins have a defense, but the offense is hit-or-miss. After losing to the Jets, both of these teams need to pick up a division win to keep pace in the race for the AFC East crown. Mike Nolan's defense beat the Patriots one year ago, so I think he can help Miami do the same here. Dolphins win 23-20.

Bye week teams:
Dallas Cowboys (1-2): The heat from the hot seat has died some after their Week Three win, but the question remains:  Will they relax or continue to work?

Kansas City Chiefs (3-0): They're certainly improving, but it's hard to gauge what kind of team this is when their wins come against road and September strugglers San Diego, 0-3 Cleveland, and 0-3 San Francisco. With road games against Indianapolis and Houston upcoming, the Chiefs are about to find out exactly what kind of team they have.

Minnesota Vikings (1-2): Another team who won when their backs were against the wall. The bye week will give them time to get healthier, but this team enters a gauntlet in two weeks. Can they manage?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1): Hard to complain about 2-1 as they are in full-on rebuilding mode. The future is bright in Tampa Bay behind young Josh Freeman and a young defense.

BRB Pick 'Em League Extravaganza

First of all, there were three guys who didn't submit their picks in time this week. Two of the three are guys who have now missed two weeks and haven't been seen around these parts, so now those two spots can be had. I hate to do it, but I know there are people wanting spots. Chrisd has one, but if you're wanting a spot let me know in the comments, and we'll make it happen.

Now to Week Three's winner of the Andre Johnson Award for Ass-Kicking and Excellence...after three weeks of the BRB Pick 'Em League, one thing is apparent: Cake is the league's most dominant force.

SATexan wasted little time in becoming the first two-time winner of the Andre Johnson Award for Ass-Kicking and Excellence. The pride of the Alamo City, SATexan put up a 12-4 week worth an astounding 116 points. Let's put this man's early consistency in perspective: SATexan has put up weeks of 14, 11, and 12 wins. His 37 wins outpaces "experts" from ESPN, the Houston Chronicle, and everyone in the BRB Pick 'Em League. Clearly, the only expert around these parts is SATexan, who can do little wrong. Tim Duncan should move aside for San Antonio's rising new star as SATexan continues to dominate the BRB Pick 'Em League. Let us now bow to our new prognostibating overlord - SATexan, the Week (One and) Three Winner of the BRB Pick 'Em League and Current Overall Leader.

"Should've Put Money On It" Games of the Week: New England over Buffalo and Baltimore over Cleveland - 47 out of 47 people correctly chose these games. Great job everyone.

"We Know Nothing" Game of the Week: Dallas over Houston - 45 out of 47 BRBers got this wrong. Kudos (?) to krkenney and riversmccown for picking this game correctly.

Sippin' on Battle Red Drank: LisaK, Jordann, Diehard Chris, Distant_Texans_Fan, pvavocalist, DilloTex, HoustonTransplant, Taco Joe, NoSafetiesNeeded, tehGrindCrusher, Papabear, Jaws, texanmaniac, RED56, WhiskeyR, Southern Lion, txknight, and rrtx all put 16 confidence points on the Texans.

Hidin' Out In the Back of the Meeting Hall: krkenney and riversmccown chose against the Texans.

The Rex Grossman "F*** It, I'm Goin' Deep" Award (Most confidence points on the biggest upset): tehGrindCrusher put 12 points on 5.5 point underdog Seattle who beat San Diego. Only 9% of Yahoo Pick 'Em users called this game correctly.

The David Carr Misguided Faith Award (Most confidence points on an underdog who loses): RED56 put 8 points on 11 point underdog Detroit to knock off the Vikings in Minneapolis. RED56 joins the 7% who believed in the Lions as we once did in David Carr.

The Charley Casserly Decision-Making Award (Week's worst picks): Southern Lion channeled the brainwave of Charley Casserly this week with a 5-11/49 point performance. Since he failed to better 5-11 in 5 of his 15 seasons as a GM, Charley is proud of you.

For comparison's sake...strictly straight up
ESPN Average: 9-7 (27-21 season to date).
John McClain: 9-7 (30-18).
Jerome Solomon: 6-10 (24-24).
BRB Pickers: 8-8 (28-20).

BRBer with the best weekly record: SATexan (Cake) 12-4
BRBer with the most weekly points: SATexan (Cake) 116 points
Overall best record: SATexan (Cake) 37-11 leads by 4 games over 10th place points man Fuzion (Boing Boing)
Overall points leader: SATexan (Cake) 331 points leads by 40 points over ketchuppants7 (TOUCHDOWNTHERE)

Yup, SATexan is just bullying people around. Congrats to him. Everyone be sure to get your Week Four picks in. As always the comments are yours for league observations and/or Pick 'Em talk. Enjoy the weekend and GO TEXANS!