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Revised NFL Predictions After Week Four

By Robert Ferringo of Doc's Sports Picks

You always need to be sure that you take some time away from everyday life and do a little self-evaluation. Should I have called the cops after I hit that homeless person with the car? Did I really need to pay my taxes last year? Am I sure that I still love my wife and that I don't want to follow my dream of being a rock-and-roll roadie, getting wasted and banging groupies across the country?

Yeah, a little soul searching never hurt anyone. Well, we are now officially one-quarter of the way through the National Football League regular season and it's time to do a little reflecting on where we're at compared to where we expected to be. Naturally, we all figured we would have made enough money to quit our jobs and move to a Southern California beach house, but that hasn't worked out. Yet.

So where does that leave us? Well, many of our preseason expectations and predictions have been dead-on. Others have been about as accurate as Dick Cheney's (predictions) about Iraq. Well, we weren't greeted as liberators and the Bengals haven't been deterred (yet) by their off-field problems.

Well, here's a look at the good, bad and ugly about how our preseason views have held up through the first four weeks:

- The AFC East has been the wackiest division in the NFL. Well, in relation to how I saw it playing out. The only team I had pegged was the Patriots. They are not the same club that won three of four Super Bowls. They're still good, but not nearly as reliable.

The Bills and Jets are much better than I thought. Apparently I wasn't the only one, because they are a combined 6-2 against the spread. They are both plucky teams that will be hanging around all season. Then there are the Dolphins - who I endorsed with the disclaimer that "I have no idea why I'm trusting them, but someone has to win this division." They've been awful, and I completely underestimated the impact that Mike Mularkey's incompetence would have on this offense.

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- I felt the three toughest divisions were the NFC East, AFC North, and NFC South. I'm sticking with that and I think it's played itself out that way.

- Tampa Bay, as predicted, took a major step backwards for all of the reasons that I pointed out prior to the season. Also, the Giants appear to be the schizophrenic, undisciplined club that we figured them to be.

- The Lions are still the Lions (I was drinking the Kool-Aid on that one) and the Cardinals are still the Cardinals (we knew the offensive line was a major problem). The two are a combined 1-7 ATS.

- Right now my Super Bowl picks are still looking OK. I had Denver and Chicago in The Big Game, and both are relying on their powerful defenses. However, neither is running the ball with any authority and that should be a concern.

Also, I'm a damn fool for trusting in Jake Plummer. With the exception of a few quarters against New England he's looked like a guy just back from three tours in 'Nam. He definitely has the 1,000-yard stare going on. Then again, looking around the league and spotting names like Frye, Gradkowski, Losman and Walter under center The Snake is looking like a reliable quarterback.

- That air of invincibility that usually surrounds the defending champions was gone during the summer when Big Ben got in his accident. He looked much less confident after that whole situation. That's what we saw in the preseason, and that's exactly how it's played out.

- The Chiefs may not be dead because - shockingly - the defense is performing very well. However, the losses across that offensive line have had the impact that we suspected. I still don't believe the Chiefs are a playoff team.

- I had Cincinnati pegged to take a step back. I thought people were a little too high on them and that they were a little too high on themselves. Also, I figured that we would've been watching Anthony Wright for the first four games. It looks like I've been proven wrong - so far.

However, I still know that they are not a legitimate Super Bowl threat. They have an active defense but if they aren't causing turnovers they are one of the weaker units in the NFL. Also, injuries are already starting to mount on both the offense and defense. Toss in an inflated public opinion and I'm almost ready to fade the Bengals.

- I expected Oakland and Tennessee to have improved a bit and to be putting up a fight, kind of like the Jets and Bills. Not so much.

- We knew people were sleeping on the Rams. They've still been very shaky and that offense has looked old and confused. But Jim Haslett has worked wonders with the defensive line and secondary.

- I admitted that Carolina was a very good team entering the season. Not the Super Bowl lock that so many had predicted, but certainly an NFC front-runner. However, said that their two flaws were the linebacking corps (especially after letting Will Witherspoon get away) and the offensive line.

- I certainly didn't see New Orleans coming. But I don't think anyone can say that they did.

- It's a shame that the Kerry Collins, Aaron Brooks and Kurt Warner Eras are over. They were a lot of gambling fun for the whole family, and I was looking forward to it for the entire season. Too bad, really.

OK, so now it's time for a few more predictions:

- The Redskins will have another late-season run in them. Once they get Shawn Springs back.

- The Saints are going to hang around for the duration. They may be a playoff team.

- Chicago will be the last team to lose, and it will be in New York against the Giants.

- Arizona's season is over.

- The 49ers have looked improved, but they are going to drop off as the year wears on.

- The Seahawks aren't going to score as much as everyone thinks. They don't want to be a run-and-gun team.

- Carolina is still in a lot of trouble. Atlanta and New Orleans don't appear to be going anywhere.

- This isn't the last injury from Terrell Owens.

- San Diego is going to be extreme in the last six weeks of the season. Either Marty Ball kicks in and they lose four of six, or Phil Rivers cuts loose and they rip off five of six.

- Pittsburgh won't bounce back until they get back to running the ball 60 percent of the time. There was a reason they did that.

- If Indianapolis doesn't get healthy they are a teetering team. If they do, they'll still be just good enough to not make the Super Bowl.

Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at robert@docsports.com or check out his Insider Page here.

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