The big one is the game on Monday Night, with Brett Favre going up against his old mates from Green Bay.

The big one is the game on Monday Night, with Brett Favre going up against his old mates from Green Bay.

Week 4 of the NFL Season is just about 36 hours away now and I almost forgot to make my pick for this week…oops.  Last week was another solid one, going 10-6 to push the overall record for the year to 29-19 through the first three weeks.  Let’s see if I can give all of those 10 games over .500 back in one week. (Picks in Bold, Home Team listed 2nd):

Ravens (+2) at Patriots: It’s not very often I pick against the Pats at home, but I really think that this Ravens team is the best in the AFC right now.  Their offense is drastically improved from a year ago, Joe Flacco is a star in the making, and their defense is still formidable enough to allow the Ravens to win close games.  Baltimore wins it, 31-28.

Bucs at Redskins (+8): Two of the worst teams is the league battling in FedEx Field, with most ‘Skins fans preferring to see an encore presentation of U2 instead.  The ‘Skins offense should be able to take advantage of a non-existent Tampa secondary and shouldn’t give up more than 10 points against Josh Johnson and the worst offense in the NFL.  Expect Santana Moss to have a big day in this one.

Titans (-3) at Jaguars: Tennessee can’t possibly start the year 0-4, can they? This is a competitive football team that’s run into some tough opponents to start the year, and Jacksonville might just be the break they needed.  If Chris Johnson can get going and the Titans neutralize Maurice Jones-Drew, then Tennessee should pick up its first win in ’09.

Raiders at Texans (-9): In a game that both teams need to win to prove something to their fans, Houston will finally find a way to win at home, mainly because of the erratic play of Oakland QB JaMarcus Russell, who is looking more and more like a big, 275-pound bust.  The Texans should have very little trouble moving the ball against Oakland’s front seven, too, which could make this one more lopsided than Oakland’s 23-3 loss last week to Denver.

Lions (+10) at Bears: After Detroit’s hex-breaking victory last week (that I said would happen, by the way.) over Washington, I expect the Lions to play a bit above their expectations for a little while.  Although I am confident the Bears will win this game, Chicago’s offense hasn’t done much to make me believe that they could win by more than a touchdown.

Bengals (-6) at Browns:  It’s not easy to pick a team that hasn’t scored a touchdown in the last two games, so I didn’t.  The Browns might be the worst team in the NFL this year and part of the problem is that the offense can determine who its leader is because of Eric Mangini’s nonsensical act of keeping the starting QB decision under wraps until the last minute.  Either way, neither Brady Quinn nor Derek Anderson have played well this year.  Going up against a surprisingly good Cincy squad doesn’t bode well for them.

Seahawks at Colts (-11): After seeing what the Colts did to the Cardinals in Arizona last Sunday night, I’d be a fool to pick them to go down against the Seneca Wallace-led Seattle Seahawks.  If the Colts play the way they should, then this one should be in the bag by halftime.

Giants (-9) at Chiefs: After seeing Kevin Kolb light up the Chiefs last weekend, it’s hard to imagine Eli Manning doing anything less than that.  Even worse for the Chiefs, the Giants have a more proficient power running game and might have a slightly better defense than the Eagles, too.  I expect another blowout in this one for the G-Men.

Jets at Saints (-7): At the beginning of this week when I saw this one, I was inclined to pick the Jets to, at the very least, cover.  However, with the injuries to both Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland, it’s hard to imagine the Jets’ secondary holding Drew Brees in check for the whole game.  I also think we’ll see Mark Sanchez, under the pressure to come up big yet again, finally struggle a bit in the Superdome.  I think it’ll be something like 27-13 in favor of the ‘Aints.

Bills at Dolphins (+1): I really don’t know what to make of either of these teams right now.  The Bills lost about half to their defense, with injuries to Donte Whitner, Leodis McKelvin, and Paul Posluszny (sp?) while the ‘Phins lost Chad Pennington for the year with yet another injury to his throwing shoulder (which I said might happen in my season preview.)  However, I think the Wildcat will prevail in this battle of struggling teams.  Miami in a low-scoring and ugly one, 17-13.

Cowboys (-3) at Broncos: It’s about time that the Denver Broncos had to play some decent teams, after winning over Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Oakland.  Dallas comes into this one coming off a tough win at home over the Panthers and desperately needs a statement win to show that they are going to compete in the NFC East this year.  For Denver, this is the start of a rough three game stretch.  After Dallas, it’s home to the Patriots and then to San Diego.

Rams at 49ers (-10): The Niners are without Frank Gore, which is very bad news for my fantasy team.  The Rams are without Marc Bulger, which is very bad for their real team.  St. Louis’ offense was awful with Bulger at the helm, so God only knows how much worse they could get with Ravens reject Kyle Boller.  The SF defense is going to be fired up, as well, after last week’s crushing last-second loss in Minnesota.

Chargers (+7) at Steelers:  Neither of these two teams has looked overly impressive in their first three games.  The difference is that San Diego is healthy and has a much more effective offense than do the Steelers.  I don’t know how the Chargers are being given 7 in this game, but I’ll gladly take it to the bank.

Packers at Vikings (-4): Brett Favre says it’s not about revenge, but at least part of it might be.  He has the best weapon of vengeance that any NFL QB could possibly want, too, with Adrian Peterson carrying the football behind him.  Aaron Rodgers hasn’t really been tested to much, yet, and he didn’t look great in the loss to the Bengals in Week 2, either.  I expect the Vikes to win by a touchdown, 28-21.

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Leodis McKelvin made a name for himself in the worst way possible last night.

Leodis McKelvin made a name for himself in the worst way possible last night.

Last night’s Monday Night Football double-header provided more than just insomnia for people living on the East Coast.  It provided two games that were much more competitive than people were expecting and two of the marquee moments of this opening week of the NFL season.

First, the New England Patriots escaped at home with a 25-24 win over the Buffalo Bills after Tom “the Golden Boy” Brady found tight end Ben Watson in

In his first real game back, Brady was 39-53 for 378 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT.

In his first real game back, Brady was 39-53 for 378 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT.

the endzone twice in the final 5:43 to complete a great comeback from down 24-13.  However, its how the Pats got the chance to win the game that will be discussed more than anything else.  The Bills’ rising defensive star in CB Leodis McKelvin inexplicably decided to attempt to run back the kickoff after the Patriots cut the deficit to 24-19.  McKelvin, who by all accounts had a very nice game defensively, coughed up the ball at the Bills 32, setting up the game-winning strike from Brady to Watson.  Naturally, the camera focused on a forlorn Dick Jauron on the sidelines, who was once again left to wonder how his team could lose a game like THAT.  There are really only a few teams that could lose a game in such a fashion, namely, the Bengals, Lions, and now the Bills.  That’s not the kind of company you want to be in if you expect to be a winning team this year.  After the game, I was somewhat impressed by the way Brady and the Pats looked at the game, realizing that they had seized the opportunity given to them and that they could have played far better.  In actuality, this was a game where it seems like you were better lucky than good, as New England dominated almost every major stat category with 28 first downs to Buffalo’s 17, over 400 yards of offense, and just over 37 minutes of possession.  This sets up another battle with the division rival New York Jets in the Meadowlands on Sunday, which should certainly provide some fireworks both on and off the field this week.  As for the Bills, they will have to find a way to put this heartbreaker behind them as they host the Tampa Bay Bucs, who are coming off of a 34-14 loss at home to the Cowboys.

The second game might have been an even bigger surprise than the first, mainly because not one person really gave the Oakland Raiders a good

Rivers had a less-than-spectacular game, but was 6-7 for 79 yards on the Chargers winning drive.

Rivers had a less-than-spectacular game, but was 6-7 for 79 yards on the Chargers' winning drive.

chance against the San Diego Chargers.  Yet it took a final 89 yard TD drive, engineered by Philip Rivers, to help lift the Chargers to a 24-20 victory in the Black Hole.  The key to figuring out this one really is how well the Raiders ran the ball, as well as how they defended against the run.  Oakland out-rushed San Diego 148-77, and also forced LaDanian Tomlinson’s first lost fumble in almost 3 seasons.  Richard Seymour, whose status most people weren’t even sure of three days ago, looked like a force to be reckoned with in the trenches with his 6 tackles and 2 sacks, and the Raiders’ O-Line won their battle up front.  At the end of the day, though, the Raiders’ three turnovers proved to be very costly.  JaMarcus Russell threw two picks in the first half, showing that he still can’t make some of the throws a good NFL QB needs to be able to make and Darren McFadden doesn’t look like he’s cured his case of Fumble-itis.  The Raiders will look to bounce back next week as they face-off against another division foe in the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.  The Chargers will look to make it 2-0 as they host the Baltimore Ravens.