NFL Sunday Predictions - Week 4
by Josh Nagel - 10/2/2009
Here is a look at this week's action:
Game: Dallas Cowboys (2-1, 2-1 ATS) at Denver Broncos (3-0, 3-0 ATS).
Spread: Dallas -3.
Overview: One prominent Las Vegas oddsmaker called the Broncos "the worst 3-0 team in NFL history" earlier this week, and he's got a point. The Broncos looked awful in the pre-season, and were shrouded in controversy because of the Jay Cutler trade brokered by new coach Josh McDaniels and the holdout of receiver Brandon Marshall.
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Denver was the recipient of the "Immaculate Deflection" in Week 1 when Brandon Stokley caught a tipped pass and raced for the winning touchdown in a 12-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Broncos proceeded to beat up on the Cleveland Brown and Oakland Raiders by a combined score of 49-6.
Facing this type of opposition can lead to a lot of lofty statistics. The Broncos have the league's best defense, at least by the numbers, yielding just 214.7 yards per game.
They will face their first true test in the Cowboys, who showed a balanced attack in their 21-7 win Monday night over the Carolina Panthers.
Although their game plan was criticized for putting the clamps down on quarterback Tony Romo, it was effective. He was 22-of-33 for 255 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Dallas also showed the depth of its backfield, which was missing workhorse Marion barber because of injury. Third-stringer Tashard Choice had 82 yards and a touchdown, while Felix Jones ran for 94 yards on just eight carries.
The Cowboys rank third in total yards (429 per game) and are fifth in scoring at 28.7. Denver will have to make its share of plays to keep pace, and it says here the Broncos will struggle to do so.
Trends: Dallas is 4-0 ATS in its last four as a road favorite of three or fewer points, and 7-1-1 ATS in its last nine against such spreads. The Broncos are 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight as a home underdog.
Pick: Dallas -3.
Game: Buffalo Bills (1-2, 2-1 ATS) at Miami Dolphins (0-3, 0-3 ATS)
Spread: Buffalo -1.
Overview: This one might be best described as the AFC East Underachievement Bowl, pitting two teams that have each failed to meet expectations and desperately need a win to help salvage their seasons.
The warmth in coach Dick Jauron's seat might help him survive the frigid Buffalo winter, but he might not be feeling cozy for long. The Terrell Owens experiment is in near melt-down mode, as Owens was held without a catch in last week's 27-7 loss to the Saints. It's just a matter of time before he calls out quarterback Trent Edwards publicly and starts to spread his special brand of cancer in the locker room.
The Dolphins have been unable to build on last year's breakout 11-5 season, mostly because they sorely lack playmakers on offense. The "wildcat" formation had lost its novelty and, as they showed in a tough 27-23 loss to the Colts on Monday Night Football, receivers like Ted Ginn are not doing their part to make plays.
Injury-prone Chad Pennington is on the shelf again after hurting his fragile throwing shoulder. This gives the reigns to stronger-armed but inexperienced Chad Henne, the Michigan product who was being groomed as Pennington's heir apparent.
Henne threw for 92 yards and a touchdown in last week's 23-13 loss to the Chargers, and his effectiveness will be a key in this game.
Although it's difficult to back either team here, you have to like your chances with a home underdog against a club that appears headed for extreme turmoil.
Trends: Miami won both of last year's games against Buffalo by a combined score of 41-19. The Dolphins are 4-1 ATS in their last five October games. The Bills are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games after a loss, and 4-1-1 ATS in their last six against clubs with losing records.
Pick: Dolphins +1.
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