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Tori Richman/Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2022 NFL Game Picks: Week 4

Last week: 5-11

Season: 22-25-1


MIA (3-0) @ CIN (1-2)

Thursday, September 29 | 8:15 PM ET | Prime Video


Week 3 was as crazy as it gets around the NFL, and perhaps no game more so than the Dolphins beating the Bills despite facing 90 offensive plays while losing starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for a bit due to a supposed back injury. Tagovailoa is expected to start tonight for the AFC’s last undefeated team, but it’s a massive opportunity for Cincinnati to put a slow start behind them as the defending conference champion. Joe Burrow has a collection of talented weapons at his disposal, so it will be interesting to see how Miami defends them all; it feels like Tee Higgins might be the guy that has a huge night. For the Dolphins, Tyreek Hill was contained against the Bills, and the Bengals have shown they can keep him from going off with a modest 118 combined receiving yards in two 2021 matchups (including playoffs). If extra eyes are routinely on Hill (and Jaylen Waddle), look for tight end Mike Gesicki to take advantage, and the Miami running game will be boosted by Cincinnati not having run-stuffer D.J. Reader (knee). Still, the Bengals are at home—wearing the all-white uniforms—and are deservedly favored with the Dolphins coming off a draining battle versus Buffalo.


Winner: Cincinnati Bengals


MIN (2-1) @ NO (1-2)

Sunday, October 2 | 9:30 AM ET (London) | NFL Network


Those who faced Alvin Kamara when he scored six touchdowns on Christmas Day in the fantasy football championship (2020) might want to sleep in to avoid flashbacks, as the first London “match” of the year will see Kamara and the Saints take on the Vikings. In general, the NFC opponents should create a prototype London game that brings big-time unpredictability with Jameis Winston—at less than 100% dealing with various injuries—and Kirk Cousins being two of the streakiest quarterbacks in football, but it’s notable that Winston isn’t practicing as of Thursday, and Cousins already showed the London stage is one he can thrive on with 458 passing yards back in 2016. Also, New Orleans may be without Michael Thomas (foot) and Jarvis Landry (ankle)—not to mention starting cornerback Paulson Adebo (ankle) is still limited in practice and only played 15 snaps in his season debut. I could see Andy Dalton drawing the start and playing well enough to pull off the upset, but Minnesota is much healthier… and Justin Jefferson has been too quiet recently for him to be contained again.


Winner: Minnesota Vikings


CLE (2-1) @ ATL (1-2)

Sunday, October 2 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin pointed out that “Nick Chubb controlled the game” last Thursday night, and the superstar runner should draw serious MVP consideration if he continues playing like he has to keep Cleveland in the AFC North race without Deshaun Watson. This week, Chubb will play his first NFL game in Georgia—as one of the all-time great UGA running backs—so I’d anticipate him putting on a show against an Atlanta defense allowing 4.8 yards per carry. Defensively, the Browns could be without Myles Garrett (shoulder/biceps) following his car accident this week, but Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (groin) would arguably be the more impactful absence as someone with the speed to track Marcus Mariota as a scrambler. Furthermore, the Falcons have basically no one listed on the injury report with Cordarrelle Patterson (rest/knee) being the lone player on it to begin the week, so Cleveland can’t come out flat with a few extra days to rest on their laurels following a win over the rival Steelers. Fortunately for the Browns, Nick Chubb isn’t one to rest.


Winner: Cleveland Browns


BUF (2-1) @ BAL (2-1)

Sunday, October 2 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


The battles in the AFC were going to make it extremely difficult, but I thought the Bills had a real shot at going undefeated this season—and I’d bet some of the players believed the same, so they can’t let a close loss linger ahead of another crucial matchup in a loaded conference. Including playoffs, Buffalo and Baltimore have squared off twice with Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson at quarterback, and the one people remember most is surely the postseason win for the Bills that was fueled by a pick-six by Taron Johnson. Sunday being another slugfest would be a major surprise based on a) how Jackson has thrown the ball this season, and b) how poorly the Ravens been defending the pass, but it should still be a very competitive matchup as a potential playoff preview. If they can keep Mark Andrews from going off, I like Buffalo to win on the road with Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, and Dawson Knox all matching up well versus the Ravens, especially considering the ability of Allen to make plays in and out of the structure.


Winner: Buffalo Bills


WAS (1-2) @ DAL (2-1)

Sunday, October 2 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The Commanders started off the year with a comeback win over the Jaguars, but what they’re shown over the past two weeks has been very discouraging—with the low being last Sunday versus the Eagles as Carson Wentz was sacked nine times. While the pass protection needs to be better, I wondered to myself how long Wentz will remain under center for Washington this season, as he is still plagued by holding onto the ball way too long, and Taylor Heinicke went 7-6 as the starter last year in games he started and finished. Micah Parsons and the Cowboys probably aren’t the group to get things figured out against, so the focus needs to be getting the ball into the hands of Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Curtis Samuel with a quick-strike passing attack. On the other side of the ball, Cooper Rush has proven to be very capable for Dallas, and it’s a great sign that CeeDee Lamb rebounded from a shocking drop on Monday night to haul in one of the catches of the year. The combination of defensive playmakers in Parsons and Trevon Diggs with competent, clutch play on offense should continue to keep the Cowboys on the winning track without Dak Prescott (hand).


Winner: Dallas Cowboys


SEA (1-2) @ DET (1-2)

Sunday, October 2 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The January matchup against Seattle in Week 17 of the 2021 season did not go well at all for Detroit—as it was a 51-29 loss in which DK Metcalf caught three scores and Rashaad Penny absolutely went off with 185 total yards and two touchdowns. However, Jared Goff didn’t play, Russell Wilson is now in Denver (though Geno Smith has performed very well), and the Lions are a more complete team with two losses by a combined seven points this year. I would say the injury concerns on the Detroit offense—with a handful of key players set to be out or less than 100%—is reason to pick against them, but offensive coordinator Ben Johnson has done a remarkable job no matter who has been in the lineup. Instead, the main concern I have is Penny going off again with the Lions allowing 5.0 yards per carry and a league-high seven rushing touchdowns, so it’s important for Jared Goff and the offense to remain aggressive if they jump out to an early lead at home.


Winner: Detroit Lions


LAC (1-2) @ HOU (0-2-1) 

Sunday, October 2 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


At 1-2, the Chargers are fortunate that the AFC West teams have not been impressive to begin the year, but both sides of the ball need to be significantly improved compared to last week if they want to avoid an upset versus a Houston team that’s had a fourth quarter lead in every game this season. Justin Herbert gutting it out last week with a fractured rib cartilage—when he seemed to be trending towards sitting versus an aggressive Jacksonville front—should lead to more toughness for the Chargers in general, but the unbelievable history of bad injury luck has continued to strike with star left tackle Rashawn Slater (biceps) done for the year and Joey Bosa (groin) set to miss an extended period of time. On the bright side, Los Angeles should get Keenan Allen (hamstring) back to open up more single coverage for Mike Williams, and they need to force feed targets to the former first-rounder in order to maximize the offense’s potential; as shown in the close loss to the Chiefs a couple of weeks ago, defenders being draped on Williams doesn’t mean he’s covered. Maybe Davis Mills and the Texans will upset the Chargers again after doing so last December, but I doubt LA allows themselves to drop to 1-3.


Winner: Los Angeles Chargers


TEN (1-2) @ IND (1-1-1)

Sunday, October 2 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The Tennessee defense allowing 5.8 yards per carry is one of the year’s biggest surprises to date after they barely finished as the No. 2 rushing defense in the league last season (Baltimore edged them out by two yards), so Mike Vrabel needs to quickly get things figured out ahead of a road matchup versus Jonathan Taylor and the Colts. That’s doubly true with Indy limiting opponents to an NFL-low 2.6 yards per carry through three weeks, as being unable to control the game with Derrick Henry—who has had a few monster games in this rivalry—would lead to the Colts fully getting past the slow start by knocking off the top two seeds in the conference from a season ago with two wins in a row. That said, I have a lot more faith in Mike Vrabel than I do Frank Reich, and Titans offensive coordinator Todd Downing saying they want to get rookie Treylon Burks more involved is great to hear as Tennessee seeks a consistent threat alongside Henry (similar to what they had with A.J. Brown). A possible takeover by Taylor and the clutch play of Matty Ice makes it shaky, but I’ll go with the Titans.


Winner: Tennessee Titans


CHI (2-1) @ NYG (2-1)

Sunday, October 2 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The Giants have done a tremendous job featuring Saquon Barkley to begin the season, and the play of Daniel Jones on Monday night should not go overlooked with multiple pinpoint passes delivered while under pressure and/or on the move. If you listen to people that actually know the game—such as two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning—it’s clear that Jones has the capability to be a solid starter, and he’s been very impressive this year throwing to perhaps the weakest receiving corps in the NFL. Justin Fields, on the other hand, doesn’t appear likely to take a Year 2 leap if September was any indication, and that’s even with Chicago doing what they can to ride the running game and their defense. While not very deep, I don’t think the supporting cast can be pointed to as a major factor (excluding Barkley, Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet would instantly be the top pass-catchers on the Giants), so Fields needs to show signs of improvement with three games in 12 days starting this weekend. If not, there is a good chance the Bears are aiming to select a new franchise quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft.


Winner: New York Giants


JAX (2-1) @ PHI (3-0)

Sunday, October 2 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


The Eagles are looking like a legitimate powerhouse with Jalen Hurts developing into a top-shelf quarterback, and the only question might be whether the group is ready to beat Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers in the postseason. We are still over three months away from that being answered one way or another, but taking care of business in the regular season against a very favorable schedule is crucial to getting homefield advantage in the NFC. Jacksonville should be the toughest challenge yet with the confidence of Trevor Lawrence rising and head coach Doug Pederson—who will get a nice ovation from the crowd (despite some in the media saying otherwise)—maybe knowing how to attack his former team on both sides of the ball; but the Philly front is going to test Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor at the tackle spots, and James Robinson might finally be slowed down with the Eagles tightening up the run defense. Overall, the home team should have the talent edge on both sides if Josh Allen and Travon Walker don’t get the better of Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson (which is possible).


Winner: Philadelphia Eagles


NYJ (1-2) @ PIT (1-2)

Sunday, October 2 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


What were people watching that they thought Mitchell Trubisky played poorly last Thursday night? I guess preconceived notions—whether it be because of a low opinion on a player entering the league or straight-up groupthink—are common for the media and casual fans, but Mike Tomlin doesn’t sound close to making a quarterback change, and Sunday presents a get-right spot for the offense with the Jets continuing to struggle on defense. Pittsburgh needs to be better themselves on defense with Zach Wilson having plenty of ammunition to come out firing in his return to the field this weekend, but the mini bye is a big advantage for Tomlin’s squad, and throwback, do-it-all runner Najee Harris—somehow facing criticism from those thinking he’s not an elite back—could be as healthy as he’s been all season.


Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers


ARI (1-2) @ CAR (1-2)

Sunday, October 2 | 4:05 PM ET | FOX


Kyler Murray was out of the lineup for last year’s matchup, but Carolina has owned the Cardinals over the past three seasons—winning all three games by double digits with a +54 point differential. Arizona has yet to get going offensively this year (Murray is averaging just 5.6 yards per attempt), so wanting to feature James Conner is probably a wise move for an offense that’s currently throwing it 47 times per game, and Rondale Moore (hamstring) will hopefully return as a dynamic underneath weapon to help make things easier on Murray. In last year’s matchup, the Panthers had their offensive engine in Christian McCaffrey (13 carries for 95 yards and ten receptions for 66 yards), but him missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday with a quad injury doesn’t bode well for his chances of suiting up. If that’s the case, it’s imperative that Baker Mayfield and D.J. Moore get on the same page, which there seems to be little hope of at this point based on how the first three games have gone (4.9 yards per target). The recent dominance of the Panthers in this NFC matchup led to me originally going with them, but not with McCaffrey expected to be out.


Winner: Arizona Cardinals


NE (1-2) @ GB (2-1)

Sunday, October 2 | 4:25 PM ET | CBS


Bill Belichick and Aaron Rodgers have only faced off twice over the years, and it’s been a split with Green Bay getting the better of New England with a close game in 2014, but the Patriots winning the rematch in 2018 by pulling away in the fourth quarter. Belichick obviously doesn’t have Tom Brady for Round 3, and Mac Jones (ankle) looks like he’ll miss some time with a significant high-ankle sprain—though him doing what he can to play through it wouldn’t be a shock. So, I’d say New England being able to make it a game will be determined by how well they can run the ball and contain Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon (something Aaron Rodgers seemed to subtly allude to by saying they’ll likely try to take away “first and second options”), and finding a way to force a turnover in a key moment might be necessary on the road. Considering the early-season struggles for the Pats and the non-struggles of Green Bay since Week 1, the Packers should be able to get to 3-1.


Winner: Green Bay Packers


DEN (2-1) @ LV (0-3)

Sunday, October 2 | 4:25 PM ET | CBS


Josh McDaniels having a closed-door meeting with Raiders owner Mark Davis immediately after Sunday’s loss to start 0-3 is an indication that the hot seat is already on for him, which would be understandable from the perspective of ownership with a Super Bowl contender being the expectation in Las Vegas. There is a real chance the wheels completely fall off if the Raiders can’t beat the Broncos this week, as next up is a Monday Night Football matchup—on the road—against the Chiefs. For an optimistic view, the Raiders have beaten the Broncos in each of the past four meetings, and the play of Maxx Crosby has been a big reason for it with 6.0 sacks over that span (including 4.0 last year); jumping out to an early lead and getting Chandler Jones going alongside Crosby is the formula to win on Sunday and carry the momentum into the rest of October and beyond. I’d just hope Russell Wilson doesn’t feel more inclined to use his legs after it sparked Denver in Week 3.


Winner: Las Vegas Raiders


KC (2-1) @ TB (2-1)

Sunday, October 2 | 8:20 PM ET | NBC


The impact of Hurricane Ian was thankfully not enough to move Chiefs-Buccaneers out of Tampa Bay on Sunday night, and with the weather looking clear by then, a shootout is suddenly very possible as Tom Brady gets at least two of his key weapons back (Mike Evans and Julio Jones; Chris Godwin remains up in the air). Both Brady and Patrick Mahomes will be very determined to end perhaps their last ever meeting with a victory, as Mahomes has the regular season edge by taking two-of-three matchups, but TB12 has won both playoff games (including Super Bowl LV). We know the Bucs had a perfect game plan to stop Mahomes in that Super Bowl win, so the counter by Andy Reid will be very interesting as Todd Bowles has his defense playing at an insane level with 9.0 points per game allowed. My guess is that the downfield passes will continue to be eliminated—even without Tyreek Hill—so Travis Kelce (10/133 in the Super Bowl) and JuJu Smith-Schuster will be the guys that need to make plays for the most part, and Kansas City can’t be one dimensional by abandoning the run. It will be much closer than last time, but Brady, Bowles, and the Bucs shouldn’t drop two in a row at home.


Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 


LAR (2-1) @ SF (1-2)

Monday, October 3 | 8:15 PM ET | ESPN/ESPN2


The schedule-makers must love the first week of October for some reason, as Chiefs-Buccaneers will be followed up by what should be a 15-round fight between the Rams and 49ers on Monday night. I believe I said something similar last year, but at a time when seemingly everyone in the sport is friendly with one another, it’s refreshing to have legitimate bad blood between these division rivals—with the individual beef between Deebo Samuel and Aaron Donald being the headliner. Donald and the Rams might have primary bragging rights for winning in the playoffs and eventually claiming a Lombardi Trophy, but Samuel has the right mindset by saying the 49ers don’t play games in the media (like Donald acting like he didn’t know who Samuel was) and instead they “just put the pad on and go to work.” That will be needed this week as Los Angeles rounds into form defensively, but Jimmy Garoppolo should play much better in his second start of the year, and the San Francisco defense has been sensational under defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. This is truly a toss-up and the loss of Trent Williams (ankle) almost had me choose the Rams, but the Niners are the hungrier team in my opinion.


Winner: San Francisco 49ers