2021 NFL Expert Picks: Week 4

2021 NFL Expert Picks: Week 4

by September 30, 2021 0 comments

Three NFL experts from the Prime Time Sports Talk staff came together to share their picks for Week 4.

These three writers will make their picks for the entire season, earning two points for any correct win-loss outcome and an additional three points for correctly predicting the exact score. (Failure to accurately predict a tie will be treated as a loss.) A cumulative points total and record will be listed at the bottom of every article. An archive of all 18 regular-season and four playoff editions can be found here.

Sam Schneider, Joe Heller, and Andersen Pickard contributed to this article.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Sam: Bengals 27, Jaguars 13

Joe: Bengals 24, Jaguars 17

Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ offense are beginning to click on all cylinders. This game will feature a heavy dose of Joe Mixon. Trevor Lawrence, Urban Meyer, and the Jaguars fall to 0-4.

Andersen: Bengals 27, Jaguars 17

The nature of this being a primetime game will keep it close, but the Bengals are far superior. Even without Tee Higgins at his disposal, look for Joe Burrow to win this battle of No. 1 picks. Joe Mixon should run wild along the way.

Tennessee Titans vs. New York Jets

Sam: Titans 34, Jets 14

The New York Jets have scored 20 points this season, and 14 of those came in Week 1. They’ll find the sledding a little easier against the Titans, but in order to win, you have to actually outscore the opponent’s offense. A.J. Brown might not suit up for this one due to a strained hamstring, but it makes little difference. Derrick Henry lowers the boom as Tennessee rolls to 3-1.

Joe: Titans 34, Jets 10

The Titans may be without both Julio Jones and A.J. Brown for this game. This will lead to an even heavier dose of Derrick Henry combined with Ryan Tannehill‘s lesser-known weapons. This one will be ugly early. Zach Wilson and the Jets fall to 0-4.

Andersen: Titans 27, Jets 9

No A.J. Brown? No problem. Tennessee will cruise to another victory thanks to the heroics of Julio Jones, Derrick Henry, and Ryan Tannehill coupled with the miserable nature of the Jets. This one will get out of hand early.

Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears

Sam: Lions 26, Bears 19

Much has been made about Detroit potentially being the worst team in the league this season, but it’s nearly impossible to ignore what is going on in Chicago. Matt Nagy seems to be desperate to get the boot, the team is not the least bit cohesive, and Justin Fields is listening to the hype of the fans rather than improving his craft. The Lions made a late run at San Francisco, were owned by Green Bay in a “get-right” game, and won last week … except they didn’t, because officials missed a delay of game that would have made Justin Tucker’s record 66-yard field goal a 71-yarder. Detroit comes out seething and takes it out on the hapless Bears at Soldier Field.

Joe: Lions 17, Bears 13

The starting quarterback of the Bears could be any one of the three rostered options, according to head coach Matt Nagy. That already spells disaster. The Lions fell a record-breaking field goal shy of upsetting the Ravens. They’ll get Dan Campbell his first coaching victory against their division rivals.

Andersen: Lions 20, Bears 10

It took a missed penalty call for the Ravens to beat the Lions. Meanwhile, the Bears are legitimately considering starting Nick Foles at quarterback this week. That should tell you all that you need to know about this contest. Expect Detroit to win handily while Dan Campbell secures his first career victory as head coach.

Washington Football Team vs. Atlanta Falcons

Sam: Falcons 26, Football Team 24

The woes continue for Washington, this time dropping one to an Atlanta squad that has looked oddly inept on offense in 2021. However, the vaunted Football Team defense has also had its fair share of shortcomings so far. Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley, and Kyle Pitts finally click at home and hold off a late push from Taylor Heinicke to mark off their second-straight win of the young season. 

Joe: Falcons 20, Football Team 13

The Falcons won their first game of the season on a game-winning field goal last week. Arthur Smith’s team will make it two in a row as Washington falls to 1-3.

Andersen: Football Team 17, Falcons 14

Neither of these teams has looked particularly good this season. Washington should (somewhat) right the ship this week, salvaging a win against one of football’s weaker teams. In general, though, we could be due for some sloppy football between these two clubs.

Houston Texans vs. Buffalo Bills

Sam: Bills 34, Texans 20

It’s another runaway game for Buffalo and it’s going to be the Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs show for the duration. The Bills’ defense is nothing to write home about, and even Davis Mills can put up points. Unfortunately, for those fans in Houston, in order to come out on the other side of this, you’ll have to stop Buffalo’s offense. The Texans simply can’t do that.

Joe: Bills 41, Texans 24

Josh Allen and the Bills will continue to roll this week, adding another five total touchdowns to his season total. The score will get a little more respectable in garbage time but not too close. Davis Mills, who will likely get his second consecutive start, will struggle against the Bills’ defense.

Andersen: Bills 31, Texans 13

The Bills cruised to victory over Washington last week while Davis Mills looked solid in his NFL debut. Still, the Bills are the Bills and the Texans are the Texans. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs will come up big while Brandin Cooks gets significantly hindered by a strong Buffalo secondary.

New York Giants vs. New Orleans Saints

Sam: Saints 24, Giants 16

The Giants are beat-up at the wide receiver position, but Saquon Barkley is slowly showing flashes of his old form. He’ll take another step forward this week against a Saints team that has played solid defense in the early going. New York’s defenders will do enough to harass Jameis Winston into a few forced throws to keep the game close before the team ultimately runs out of gas (and healthy bodies) in New Orleans. 

Joe: Giants 24, Saints 20

On paper, this looks like a very favorable matchup for the Saints. Jameis Winston will follow up a solid performance with one of his bad games like he did in Week 2. The Giants will pull off an upset while Saquon Barkley scores a pair of touchdowns.

Andersen: Saints 21, Giants 10

These two teams have both had disappointing seasons, but they’re still two very different beasts. The Saints are better and pose a significant threat when their secondary is healthy. Don’t forget the fact that Saquon Barkley is still restricted and the Giants’ receiving corps is banged up.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Sam: Chiefs 28, Eagles 22

The Chiefs cannot possibly lose again, can they? In a word, no. Jalen Hurts could give the Chiefs’ defense (or lack thereof) fits in the first half and raise some eyebrows, but eventually things even out as Kansas City wakes up from this mini-nightmare and takes control in the third quarter on the strength of multiple turnovers. They’ll do little to inspire confidence that “they’re back,” but this game won’t be as close as the score indicates. It will take a garbage-time touchdown by Philadelphia to save some face.

Joe: Chiefs 34, Eagles 20

The Chiefs come in off of a rare two-game losing streak. That will translate into an early lead that Patrick Mahomes and company can’t relinquish. The Eagles will play catch-up all game long but won’t be able to keep up on the scoreboard.

Andersen: Chiefs 34, Eagles 24

As Sam mentioned, a late-game score will help salvage any minuscule sense of pride that remains for the Eagles. Patrick Mahomes will have a dominant showing, limiting turnovers while relying on a heavy dose of Travis Kelce. Jalen Hurts will also limit turnovers, but the Philly offense is still going to stall far more than Kansas City’s.

Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings

Sam: Vikings 33, Browns 30

Each of these teams boasts playmakers on the defensive side of the ball and fronts capable of stopping the run. That said, they both have offenses that can hum at any moment, so throw all of that out the window. Odell Beckham Jr. has a monster second game while Baker Mayfield and Kirk Cousins throw everything but the kitchen sink at the opposing defense. Eventually, it’s Cousins and Adam Thielen who get the last laugh with an offense that is arguably the most underrated in the league.

Joe: Browns 30, Vikings 27

This game will be a shootout. The Browns’ defense won’t get to Kirk Cousins like they did Justin Fields last week, but they will mount a late-game drive to secure the win. Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will be the difference-maker offensively.

Andersen: Vikings 33, Browns 28

Talk about a toss-up. This could be the best of the early-window games as a pair of similar offenses go head-to-head. Cleveland toppled Justin Fields last week, but the Vikings’ offense presents a whole different story. Minnesota should feel very confident after Alexander Mattison and Tyler Conklin stepped up big-time last week. This wide variety of depth and talent should propel the Vikings to victory over the Browns.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Miami Dolphins

Sam: Dolphins 21, Colts 20

The Dolphins played admirably for a portion of their game against the undefeated Raiders. A defensive touchdown, 50-yard field goal, and clutch two-point conversion highlighted their day before they fell in overtime. The Colts, on the other hand, couldn’t muster much more than a trio of Rodrigo Blankenship field goals and a single trip to paydirt against a questionable Tennessee defense. The Colts are not a good team, whether Carson Wentz is healthy or not. Miami isn’t much better, but home-field advantage wins the day this time.

Joe: Dolphins 27, Colts 17

In Jacoby Brissett‘s revenge game, he will lead the Dolphins to the victory over the Colts. Carson Wentz and the Colts, who were widely favored to make the playoffs prior to the season, will drop to 0-4.

Andersen: Dolphins 24, Colts 23

This game will be neck-and-neck the whole way. Nyheim Hines posts another big showing for the Colts but the Dolphins’ offense, fueled by Jacoby Brissett in his revenge game, will get the last laugh. Look for Miami to win a close one at home.

Carolina Panthers vs. Dallas Cowboys

Sam: Panthers 26, Cowboys 20

Carolina’s resume of opposition leading to a 3-0 start is less than impressive, but no matter what they do, they will not get credit for a defensive unit that is currently suffocating the opposition. This game is going to open some eyes. A defensive touchdown sets the tone against Dallas on a short week, and even without Christian McCaffery (hamstring), they walk in and out of “Jerry World” with a W.

Joe: Panthers 34, Cowboys 24

The Cowboys have looked as many expected: explosive plays and scoring points. The Panthers’ defense has been one of the best-looking units through the first three weeks. Dak Prescott and the offense won’t have the same success they had on Monday night moving the ball.

Andersen: Cowboys 20, Panthers 14

The Panthers should have no problem moving the football in the passing game, but the loss of Christian McCaffrey is absolutely brutal. A strong, up-and-coming Carolina defense helps keep it close, but McCaffrey’s injury gives the Cowboys the edge. Don’t forget that while the Panthers are 3-0, the Cowboys would have the same record if not for a narrow loss to the almighty Bucs in Week 1.

Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers

Sam: 49ers 31, Seahawks 24

San Francisco is coming off a heartbreaker at the hands of the Green Bay Packers and get a second-straight home game against their division rival. The 49ers are playing a sort of “Frankenstein’s monster” on offense, as seemingly every week someone new steps up to the plate. For Seattle, a feel-good win on the opening weekend has already escaped from mind. The team is allowing over 30 points per contest, have lost two straight (including one at home), and fans currently have their hands hovering squarely over the panic button. They’ll be ready to press it after falling on the road in a divisional matchup.

Joe: Seahawks 27, 49ers 24

This rivalry matchup will be the typical back-and-forth, chippy-at-times affair. The Seahawks will score late to seal the win, ending their two-game losing streak, after the 49ers’ offense fails on their attempt at leaving no time for Russell Wilson and the offense.

Andersen: Seahawks 24, 49ers 23

This divisional clash always presents a thriller. Week 4 will be no different. A lot lies on the presence of San Francisco’s offense. Will Elijah Mitchell play? Can Kyle Shanahan utilize George Kittle appropriately? What will we see from Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk? Too many questions lie in the way of the Niners; Seattle is the safe pick.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams

Sam: Rams 30, Cardinals 26

The Los Angeles Rams keep passing every test, their latest being when they put a hurt on the defending champion Buccaneers last Sunday, 34-24. Matthew Stafford looks right at home under center at SoFi Stadium. Kyler Murray and company also have the ability to score points in bunches, putting up a whopping 34-plus points per game. They’ll jump out to a first-half lead before the Rams come storming back. The game is likely going to come down to a key stop in crunch time; Los Angeles fits the bill in that category.

Joe: Rams 34, Cardinals 24

This battle of unbeaten division rivals will be a back-and-forth matchup for most of the first three quarters. The Rams’ defense will tighten up and prevent the Cardinals’ offense from keeping up in the points column. The DeAndre Hopkins vs. Jalen Ramsey matchup will be fun to watch, as usual.

Andersen: Rams 31, Cardinals 24

After picking the Rams to win the Super Bowl earlier in the offseason, I feel comfortable picking them every week until they suggest otherwise. Los Angeles, which has always had one of the best defenses in football, has finally found dominance on offense, too. As much as the Cardinals have a strong offense and defense, they’re still inferior to the Rams.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers

Sam: Packers 31, Steelers 17

After getting shellacked by Cincinnati on Sunday, Pittsburgh is rewarded with a trip to Lambeau Field in Green Bay. After what Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase did to a depleted Steelers defense, what do you think Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams are going to do? Just like last week, the spread is wrong on the Packers again. 6.5 points are too little and Green Bay rolls big, leaving Pittsburgh staring at the potential of a lost season early.

Joe: Packers 31, Steelers 20

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense will continue to roll. If T.J. Watt is a go this week, the score will be a little closer but the Steelers will still come up short. The concern about Ben Roethlisberger and him still being the right man for the job begins to grow.

Andersen: Packers 31, Steelers 10

Ben Roethlisberger literally can’t attempt a throw without toppling to the ground. Now, with Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster injured, his options in the passing game will be limited even more. Just like its quarterback, Pittsburgh will fall flat on its face against Green Bay.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos

Sam: Ravens 21, Broncos 20

The Broncos have an adequate offense to hang around in most games, but it’s the defense that has allowed just under nine points per game thus far in 2021. They can’t hold Lamar Jackson and Baltimore to an amount like that, but the Ravens looked out of sorts on offense last week in defeating the lowly Detroit Lions, 19-17. This is a game that the surprising Broncos can and should win on the strength of that defense, but the Ravens do just enough on a late touchdown to escape Denver with the victory.

Joe: Broncos 27, Ravens 20

The Ravens were able to escape Detroit with a victory. They won’t be as lucky this week. The Broncos will prove to the doubters, who say their 3-0 record is a mirage, that they are a legit team in the AFC.

Andersen: Ravens 21, Broncos 17

Both teams have been difficult to project through three weeks. This Week 4 clash will answer several questions about both teams, but until then, it’s hard to pick against the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New England Patriots

Sam: Buccaneers 34, Patriots 13

The emotions involving the return of Tom Brady to Foxborough have been discussed ad nauseum. Believe it or not, this game can absolutely be evaluated without them. While there’s sure to be a little extra desire to win by both parties, Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick are far too professional to let emotion dictate the flow of this game. Unfortunately for the latter, his team is not prepared for the smoke that the entire Tampa Bay squad is going to bring to the northeast after a loss to Los Angeles. The Buccaneers get back on track after beating New England in every phase of the game.

Joe: Buccaneers 38, Patriots 17

The anticipated return of Tom Brady will be a disastrous one for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Expect Rob Gronkowski to be a major factor in his return, too. The Buccaneers will jump out to an early three-score lead and not look back.

Andersen: Buccaneers 27, Patriots 10

This might be the most highly-anticipated regular-season game ever. As such, it would be super fun to witness an upset. However, that’s not likely to happen. Bill Belichick might know how to slow down Tom Brady, but there’s not much he can do to propel his weak offense over a dominant Buccaneers defense. As such, Brady gets the (last?) laugh this time around.

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Sam: Chargers 30, Raiders 23

Las Vegas has been a nice surprise this season but are still a little inconsistent for people’s liking. Skepticism surrounding their undefeated start abounds. On Monday night, they run headfirst into division rival Los Angeles, who is searching for their first home win of the season. Justin Herbert and the combo of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams on the outside are set to feast on the Las Vegas secondary, and Derek Carr wouldn’t have enough magic to match them even with 10 Darren Wallers on the field. The Chargers even up the records of both teams at 3-1.

Joe: Chargers 27, Raiders 24

Andersen: Chargers 24, Raiders 21

The Raiders’ dynamic passing approach has led them to a 3-0 record thus far. However, they won’t find this same type of success against a Chargers defense that goes all-out to stop air attacks. This will force the Raiders to focus on running the ball, which they will struggle to do regardless of Josh Jacobs‘ health status. In the end, look for the Bolts to strike against the Raiders, bringing their undefeated run to an end.

Point Totals

Sam: 58
Joe: 66
Andersen: 64

Records

Sam: 29-19
Joe: 33-15
Andersen: 32-16


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Sam Schneider on Twitter @BuyAndSellYou
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Andersen Pickard on Twitter @AndersenPickard

Main Image Credit: 

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Andersen is a teenage sportswriter and reporter whose articles have appeared across the Prime Time Sports Talk, Sports Illustrated Kids, FantasyPros, and SB Nation platforms. He has also received credit from RotoWorld, CBS Sports, ESPN, Bleacher Report, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, The Athletic, SB Nation, NBC Sports, NY Post, and dozens of other sports sites for his reporting work.

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