Here is how The Examiner breaks down this week in the NFL.
WEEK 4 STORY LINES
1. DeAngelo Hall’s meltdown last week in a game against the Carolina Panthers cost the Atlanta Falcons a win. Atlanta fined Hall $100,000 for his many outbursts and penalties. The team is 0-3 and on the verge of collapse.
2. Pittsburgh’s new coach, Mike Tomlin, said that he was not concerned about his team facing former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, now the coach in Arizona. Many of the current Steelers players were loyal to Whisenhunt and former offensive line coach Russ Grimm when Tomlin was hired. Tomlin’s 3-0, so something is working.
3. What happened to LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Johnson? The big-yardage running backs, whose teams face each other this weekend, are struggling to break the big runs and get in the end zone. Something has to give soon. And both teams desperately need a victory, San Diego more so.
— Matt Palmer
GAME OF THE WEEK: Broncos (2-1) at Colts (3-0)
The Colts are the defending Super Bowl champion, but virtually no one is betting on them repeating come February. The Broncos are searching for a bit of relevance — and some consistency — in the AFC. Everyone knows that Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is the best in the business, but Denver’s Jay Cutler could use the national stage as a coming-out party. He already has 795 yards passing, but just three touchdowns. Look for the Colts to be 4-0 when the game is over.
— Matt Palmer
WEEK 4 PICKS
PACKERS AT VIKINGS Packers have their act together at last and could produce a final magical season for Brett Favre. Packers 24, Vikings 19
RAIDERS AT DOLPHINS No more field-goal shenanigans, Raider Nation. Two in two weeks is more than enough. Dolphins 13, Raiders 10
JETS AT BILLS Jets are in no position to lose this game — and the struggling Bills without J.P. Losman should roll over. Jets 26, Bills 17
TEXANS AT FALCONS Matt Schaub pours some more salt in the Falcons’ quarterback wounds. Texans 31, Falcons 13
BEARS AT LIONS Lions surprise the Bears and throw the Bears’ season in doubt — even without Rex Grossman at QB. Lions 16, Bears 15
RAVENS AT BROWNS Jamal Lewis says he has the inside dirt on the Ravens’ defense. Yeah, Jamal, they’re good. Ravens 17, Browns 13
RAMS AT COWBOYS Cowboys are the class of the NFC, which isn’t saying much. Rams are in trouble. Cowboys 34, Rams 27
BUCCANEERS AT PANTHERS NFC South is up for grabs already. Do you feel the tension? Neither do we. Panthers 21, Buccaneers 12
SEAHAWKS AT 49ERS NFC West could have a new king if the inconsistent Niners can keep it together. 49ers 20, Seahawks 17
CHIEFS AT CHARGERS IfNorv Turner can get out of his team’s way, they might actually win. Chargers 23, Chiefs 13
STEELERS AT CARDINALS Steelers keep rolling, even at the expense of their former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. Steelers 30, Cardinals 20
BRONCOS AT COLTS Colts can win big and win close games, which will help them at the end of the season — again. Colts 31, Broncos 24
EAGLES AT GIANTS Which Donovan McNabb will show up this week? Eagles fans will still boo. Giants 21, Eagles 20
PATRIOTS AT BENGALS These teams are capable of putting up 100 points. Unfortunately, Patriots are the only team with a defense. Patriots 38, Bengals 23
— Matt Palmer
PLAYER TO WATCH
Quarterback Brian Griese takes over the struggling Chicago Bears’ offense after the Rex Grossman multiyear experiment failed. The Bears might have made the Super Bowl last season, but they reached that level despite playing Grossman. Can the Bears finally move downfield?