NFC Week 4 Preview – 2006

NFC Week 4 Preview
by Staff

Arizona Cardinals (1-2) +7, o/u 40 at Atlanta Falcons (2-1), 1 p.m. Eastern Sunday, Fox

Atlanta rolled through its first two opponents, but ran into a wave of emotion in a 23-3 loss at New Orleans Monday night. Arizona won its opener, but has since lost at Seattle and to St. Louis at home. And now it looks like the Cardinals may switch QB’s at any moment. The acquisition of RB Edgerrin James hasn’t helped much so far; Arizona is averaging just 83 yards on the ground per game. Atlanta, with the help of crazy-quick QB Vick, leads the league in rushing (225 YPG), and has held opponents to 83 RYPG. The Falcons are 2-1 against the spread this season, while the Cards are 0-3. And the over/under is a combined 1-5 in Atlanta and Arizona games.

New Orleans Saints (3-0) +7, o/u 42 at Carolina Panthers (1-2), 1 p.m. Eastern Sunday, Fox

New Orleans is undefeated and coming off that very emotional win over Atlanta on Monday night. Before that, the Saints beat the Browns in Cleveland and the Packers in Green Bay. Carolina finally put one in the W column last week, using four long John Kasay FGs to nip the Bucs at the buzzer. Playmaker Steve Smith saw his first action of the season last week, making seven catches for over 100 yards. Coincidentally, the Panthers scored two touchdowns, after scoring one in their first two games. These two teams split their two games last season, Carolina winning 27-10 while the Saints won 23-20 in Charlotte. But the Panthers outrushed Nawlins both games by margins of 161-94 and 141-101. And both games stayed below their posted totals. This season, Carolina is getting outrushed by an average of 152-91. Consequently, the Panthers are 0-3 against the spread. The Saints, on the other hand, with QB Drew Brees (63% completion rate) providing some stability and converting on 3rd down, are 3-0 vs. the number.

Detroit Lions (0-3) +6, o/u 44 at St. Louis Rams (2-1), 4 p.m. Eastern Sunday, Fox

New head coach Rod Marinelli is still looking for his first win with Detroit, while new St. Louis coach Scott Linehan has two in his first three games. The Lions scored three points in a loss to Seattle and seven points at Chicago, but 24 last week, albeit in another loss, at home to Green Bay. On the season, Detroit is averaging just 63 rushing yards PG, but the defense is only allowing 80. The Rams kicked six FG’s in beating Denver to open the season, and got three more in a fortunate 16-14 win at Arizona last week. St. Louis is 2-1 against the spread this season, and all three Rams games have gone under the total. St. Louis, however, ranks 23rd against the run this season, allowing 130 rushing yards PG.

Seattle Seahawks (3-0) + 3, o/u 35 at Chicago Bears (3-0), 8:15 p.m. Eastern Sunday, NBC

A couple of NFC undefeated’s hook up at Soldier Field in what could well be a preview of a conference title bout. Seattle, however, will most likely be without reigning MVP Shaun Alexander, who has a broken foot. The Seahawks struggled to beat Detroit, then knocked off Arizona, then exploded to a 35-0 lead over the Giants last week in an eventual 42-30 win. Chicago has given up one touchdown this season and leads the league by limiting opponents to 266 yards per game. The Bears have beaten the Packers, Lions and Vikings so far, but they needed a late fumble recovery and clutch TD pass to win at Minnesota last week. Chicago got outrushed by the Vikings 97-51 and didn’t cover as 3 ½-point chalk. The Bears defense at home has been downright nasty, allowing just 67 total points in the last nine regular-season games at Soldier Field. The Seattle defense hasn’t been too bad itself, allowing only 59 rushing yards per game, and Chicago isn’t running the ball to well at the moment (83 yards PG).

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) +3, o/u 34 at Washington Redskins (1-1), 4:15 p.m. Eastern Sunday, CBS

Jacksonville beat Dallas to open the season, then shut out Pittsburgh. But the Jags lost at Indianapolis 21-14 last week despite besting the Colts in just about every offensive category, including rushing 191-63. On the season, Jacksonville is averaging 122 yards on the ground PG. Washington lost at home to Minnesota to start the season, then got kicked by the Cowboys in Dallas. The Skins finally got a win last week, beating the Texans in Houston 31-15. QB Brunell completed his first 22 passes, and Washington, which had scored one TD in its first two games, scored four vs. the T-Men. The Redskins are averaging 143 rushing yards per game, but that number is a bit skewed by the 234 they got against Houston’s 32nd-ranked defense.