By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
This week’s “Pick6” selections are highlighted by a pair of matchups in the NFC West, which is shaping up to be the NFL’s most competitive division. And speaking of “competitive,” my picks so far this season have been anything but that. I went 1-5 in Week 1 and 2-4 last week. That’s just embarrassing. Still, I agree with the sentiments of the five NFL teams that have yet to win a game so far in 2021: IT’S STILL EARLY!
On to this week’s picks:
♦ ARIZONA @ L.A. RAMS: There only five undefeated teams remaining, and the Rams and Cardinals are two of them. Both teams feature prolific offenses (the Cardinals average 34.3 points per game, tied for tops in the league, while the Rams are third, averaging 31.7) and are led by early MVP candidates (Kyler Murray, Matthew Stafford). The Rams will be at home, however, and are riding high after beating the defending Super Bowl champs. Pick: RAMS
♦ SEATTLE @ SAN FRANCISCO: Both the 49ers and Seahawks are licking their wounds after suffering bitter losses in Week 3. Granted, we’re only four weeks into the season, but for Seattle this already feels like a must-win game. A loss on Sunday will put them three games out of first place in the division. Pete Carroll would do well to turn Russell Wilson loose early and often to have a chance to upend the 49ers. Recent history says he won’t. Pick: 49ERS
♦ BALTIMORE @ DENVER: Something’s got to give here. Baltimore is averaging 31.3 points per game. The Denver defense, however, is surrendering a scant 8.7 points per contest. No one thought the Broncos would be 3-0 to start the season, and a lot of credit belongs to Teddy Bridgewater, who has brought leadership and a steadying hand to the team’s offense. It will be interesting to see whether the Broncos can contain Lamar Jackson. I don’t think they will. Pick: RAVENS
♦ CAROLINA @ DALLAS: The Panthers are 3-0 but will be without star RB Christian McCaffrey, who is nursing a strained hammie. Even a McCaffrey-led Carolina team, however, might not be a match the revitalized Cowboys. What a different a healthy Dak Prescott makes. Dallas is looking like a playoff team right now with Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb leading the offense. (Plus, Zeke and CeeDee rescued my Fantasy team this past week.) Pick: COWBOYS
♦ TAMPA BAY @ NEW ENGLAND: You probably heard that there’s some interesting storyline for this matchup. Hmmm, I wonder what it is. All kidding aside, this game might set some kind of TV viewership record for an early-season contest. Brady vs Belichick. Returning legend vs the Young Gun. The Patriots would have had a better chance if the Bucs weren’t coming off a disappointing loss to the Rams. Tampa Bay will want to win this one for their QB. Pick: BUCCANEERS
♦ LAS VEGAS @ L.A. CHARGERS: The Chargers will be the home team only in the technical sense. One report says that about 75% of the crowd inside So-Fi Stadium will be rooting for the visiting team. The Raiders are 3-0 for the first time since the 2002 season, when they went to the Super Bowl. The big difference for the Silver & Black this season is their improved defense, but they’ll have a tough time stopping second-year QB Justin Herbert, who is the real deal. Pick: CHARGERS
2021 Record: 7-11 (.388)