NFL Week Four Preview
Jaguars @ Bengals
In this game, all eyes are on the quarterbacks, a battle of two number one overall picks, Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence. The last time these signal callers faced off, Burrow led LSU to their first national championship in over a decade. The clash between two "golden boys". If this was a chess match, Burrow and Lawrence would be the kings, but the Bengals have more queens and bishops while all the Jaguars have are pawns. Ja'Marr Chase won offensive rookie of the month in September and has looked dominant in the NFL through three weeks. While the Bengals offensive line has struggled, the Jaguars don't have any players who can get to the quarterback outside of Josh Allen. Shaquill Griffin hasn't played great through the first three weeks and Jacksonville just traded CJ Henderson to the Panthers. The Jaguars don't have anyone who will be able to matchup on Chase, Tyler Boyd, or Tee Higgins. Joe Mixon has also been explosive in 2021. This is the time that where Trevor Lawrence should be making mistakes and learning from his woes. The Bengals have looked sharp in the first three weeks of the season and their offense will overwhelm Joe Cullen's defense. The Jungle will be filled with roars as "Who Dey" nation will erupt on Thursday Night Football.
What to Watch For: Can the Bengals offensive line slow down Josh Allen?
Player of the Game: Joe Burrow QB Bengals
Final Score: Jaguars 20 Bengals 33
Titans @ Jets
After a very rough week one, the Titans have been turning their bus around. They got molly whopped by Chandler Jones and the Arizona Cardinals, then had a come back win against the Seahawks, and in week three a big division win against the Colts. While people are still skeptical of the team, I believe it is only a matter of time before they look like contenders. This week, the Titans are facing off against arguably the worst team in the NFL, the New York Jets. Thankfully for the Jets, both AJ Brown and Julio Jones are banged up and might not play. That means it is Derrick Henry's time to shine. He already leads the NFL in rushing yards and it is only September. Spooktober is here, there is something different in the air, and King Henry is going to breathe it all in. Come Sunday, Henry will be running ransom all over the Jets and slaughter their front seven. The Titans are looking spooky and will be reigning hell for Zach Wilson and the New York Jets. One area that the Jets will be able to expose is the Titans secondary. Outside of Kevin Byard, there are no real "studs" in the Titans defensive backfield. If there was ever a game where Wilson should be airing it out, it's this game. Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, or Keelan Cole have to step up. One of those guys has to make a play and provide a spark for the Jets offense. In reality, the Jets will have to put up at least 30 points to pull off the upset and after laying a goose egg against the Broncos, I don't see it happening.
What to Watch For: The Titans secondary vs the Jets receiving core
Player of the Game: Derrick Henry RB Titans
Final Score: Titans 31 Jets 13
Lions @ Bears
This is a true mystery game, a rare instance where we have no idea who will be starting at quarterback for the Chicago Bears. Andy Dalton is a gametime decision and Justin Fields' first start was very... very anticlimactic. Fields was sacked nine times, but that wasn't the most disappointing part. The most disappointing part was Matt Nagy's playcalling. As someone who saw Nagy as a coach of the year candidate, I was genuinely disappointed by the lack of creativity in his scheme against the Browns. He didn't get Justin Fields on the move or use any pre-snap motion. He was calling the Bears offense as if it was the 1940's. The offense was stiff and lacked any sort of flare. The Lions on the other hand have been in every game. They gave the 49ers, Packers, and Ravens, three probable playoff teams, all problems. The Lions run game has been difficult to stop and this offense has made their opposing defenses sweat. I believe this game could actually be one of the best games of the entire morning slate. The Bears defense needs to get after it. Khalil Mack has three sacks in three games, he needs to be in Jared Goff's ear. One area the Bears must attack is the Lions run defense. Elijah Mitchell and Aaron Jones were able to run all over Detroits front seven. David Montgomery should tote the rock at least 15 times on Sunday. This game should be close, but I expect Justin Fields to get a gritty win over Detroit on his home field.
What to Watch For: Who is starting for the Bears?
Player of the Game: David Montgomery RB Bears
Final Score: Lions 23 Bears 24
Colts @ Dolphins
The matchup we have all been waiting for, the Jacoby Brissett revenge game. It's impossible not to love Jacoby Brissett, he is a lot like Teddy Bridgewater and Tyrod Taylor in that standpoint. Quarterbacks who are universally liked. Carson Wentz might not be one of those guys, but it's undeniable that he is one of the toughest players in the NFL. He is constantly receiving hate because he is getting injured, which is something that is completely out of his control. Last week, he played against the Titans on two sprained ankles which is the definition of toughness. That is like a golfer swinging with no vision. He could barely move, but he was able to put on the horse shoe and strap up his cleats. In order for the Colts to snag their first win of the season, they will need to run the football. Get the ball in Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines' hands. Both of these teams have been underwhelming thus far, but can still turn things around. Once Tua Tagovailoa returns, the Dolphins will be able to make a late-season push. The Colts are also a team that is no stranger to turning things around late in the season. They have had a treacherous start to the season, but this is a game where they can control the clock and play their brand of football, even without Quenton Nelson and four other starters. Frank Reich will feed his workhorse running backs and use the ground game to shred the Dolphins defense. I like Indianapolis to add to the win column for the first time this season.
What to Watch For: Can Jaelan Phillips get to the quarterback
Player of the Game: Nyheim Hines RB Colts
Final Score: Colts 27 Dolphins 26
Football Team (WFT) @ Falcons
While both the WFT and Falcons have underperformed in the first three weeks of the season, this game is a true toss-up. The Bills ran through the WFT last week, so this has to be Taylor Heinicke's bounceback game. If the WFT drops this one, then they might have dug themselves into a hole too deep. The Cowboys look like a contender this year and if the WFT is losing games that they should be winning, then they will have no shot at the playoffs. Chase Young hasn't been able to get to the quarterback through the first three weeks of the season. For a player considered as a defensive player of the year contender, this is bad. If there was ever a time for a breakout game, it would be now, against a bottom-tier Falcons offensive line. As for Atlanta, they might have found something in Cordarrelle Patterson. He may not be a Derrick Henry-type of workhorse back, but he can be used as a reduced version of Christian McCaffrey. He is extremely dynamic as a receiver and can carry the rock on plays that are not straight down the middle. He may be the Falcons' saving grace. One player that Arthur Smith needs to get the ball to is Kyle Pitts. He is the type of player that deserves to be fed. Six targets per game isn't doing it. Pitts needs double-digit targets and plays that are designed for him to get the football. Certain players can handle extreme workloads and Pitts is one of those players. The key to this game will come down to these teams' defensive lines. Which team can make the opposing quarterback more uncomfortable. Despite the WFT's front-seven being underwhelming, they will still cause Matt Ryan problems. As long as Jamin Davis is in the game over Jon Bostic, this defense will be able to shut the Falcons offense down.
What to Watch For: Kyle Pitts vs Jamin Davis
Player of the Game: Jamin Davis LB WFT
Final Score: WFT 22 Falcons 17
Texans @ Bills
Bills fans, get ready for a party. Players need games where they feel like the baddest "mf-ers" on the planet. This will be one of those games for Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, and the entire Bills team. Sanders has found his role in this offense. He could be the missing key to the Bills offense. He may be the separator. That is the piece that separates the Bills from any other team in the AFC. After a grueling start in week one, the Bills have turned their bus around. Josh Allen's swagger is officially back, at his peak, he is one of the most fun players to watch in the NFL. The Texans on the other hand, are in a transition year. It is hard for these players to put their bodies on the line in games where they know they most likely won't win. It is like going to war for a country you are not from, their bodies might be on the field, but their minds are elsewhere. If the Texans can pull off this upset, it will be because of the will of their players. Guys like Mark Ingram, Justin Reid, and Brandin Cooks know what it takes to be successful, they just need to convince their team that they're capable of winning this game. If the players' minds are not fully in this game, the Bills will run them off the field. This is the battle of the Bills mafia vs the Mills mafia, my bet lies in the hands of Josh Allen and Buffalo's offense.
What to Watch For: Is Josh Allen's swagger back?
Player of the Game: Emmanuel Sanders WR Bills
Final Score: Texans 17 Bills 37
Giants @ Saints
This game makes me reminisce of the classic Drew Brees vs Eli Manning 13 touchdown game in 2015. If you have never seen that game, I strongly recommend you watch it. That game was the definition of a thriller. Manning threw six touchdowns and Brees threw seven. I don't expect this game to be nearly as good as that game from six years ago. In this matchup between Jameis Winston and Daniel Jones, I expect lots of turnovers. The Saints have one of the most underrated defensive lines in the NFL and with Jones' history of holding on to the football (or lack thereof), it is safe to expect a lot of strip-sacks. As for the Giants' defense, they are very talented on the back end. James Bradberry is one of the most technical cornerbacks in the NFL and I'd bet money that he intercepts Winston at least once on Sunday. While I do expect this to be a defensive matchup, Alvin Kamara will still feast on offense. The Saints are a better team when the ball is in Kamara's hands and Sean Payton knows that. The Giants workhorse showed spurts of his old self last week, Saquon Barkley has arrived. While he may not be as explosive as he was prior to his injury, he has his moments. The league is in a better place when Barkley is on the field and thriving. Sean Payton is the difference in this game, the Saints entire coaching staff is better than the Giants'. I like New Orleans to win this game in a defensive show down.
What to Watch For: Saquon Barkley vs Alvin Kamara
Player of the Game: Cam Jordan DE Saints
Final Score: Giants 20 Saints 23
Browns @ Vikings
This is easily one of the best matchups of the entire morning slate. Both teams are a few plays away from being 3-0 and have offenses capable of putting up 30 points per game. Kevin Stefanski, the student, has overcome his master, Mike Zimmer, and he will prove it in this game. Stefanski has been one of the best offensive coaches since he was hired by the Browns in 2020, his players rally behind him. The entire Browns team will continue to have his back as they take on his former team. Odell Beckham Jr. looked fantastic in his season debut last week and this week he will be lined up against his former college teammate, Patrick Peterson on Sunday. Peterson had his best game of the season last week and there is nothing I'd rather see than a vintage matchup between those two. Another LSU legend playing in this game is Justin Jefferson. Unsurprisingly, Jefferson's success has continued in his sophomore campaign and he's arguably a top seven receiver in the NFL. Matched up against Denzel Ward, this will be a great matchup between two young NFL stars. We will also be seeing a matchup between two of the best running tandems in the NFL, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt vs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison. Which ever team controls the time of possession will win this ball game. The Browns defense is much better than the Vikings, there will be open running lanes for Chubb and Hunt to run through. This game should be high scoring, and I expect the Browns to win this game in a close one.
What to Watch For: Odell Beckham Jr. vs Patrick Peterson
Player of the Game: Odell Beckham Jr. WR Browns
Final Score: Browns 31 Vikings 28
Chiefs @ Eagles
Standing at 1-2, this is a must win for both the Chiefs and the Eagles. Nobody expected to see the Chiefs with a losing record through three weeks and the Eagles looked like a bottom three team in the NFL last week. This game will be a turn around game for one of these squads and a wakeup call for the other. If I was a betting man, I'd be putting the house on Kansas City. Patrick Mahomes is still the best player in the NFL and Tyreek Hill is destined for a big game. For the first time in a while, Mahomes will be playing with a chip on his shoulder. People are beginning to doubt the Chiefs, but there is no player I trust more with my chips than Mahomes. This is the week where the Chiefs start looking like the Chiefs. The Eagles are a franchise that gets very down on themselves, this fanbase needs to have their team's back. Jalen Hurts has been inconsistent this year, but has flashed moments of greatness. Last week, he shit the bed, but he's flushed that bad taste out of his mouth. I want to see Hurts air it out. Throw the ball up to Jalen Reagor and Devonta Smith and let them go get it. Playing conservative against the Chiefs is a recipe for disaster. The Eagles need to exhaust all options and Nick Sirianni must find ways to surprise the Chiefs defense. While Tyrann Mathieu is a veteran who has "seen it all", Sirianni needs to keep him on his toes or else he'll eat this offense alive. The Eagles defense won't be able to contain Travis Kelce or Tyreek HIll. While I expect Hurts to make a few big plays downfield, it won't be enough to upset the reigning AFC champions.
What to Watch For: Nick Sirianni's creativity or lack thereof
Player of the Game: Tyreek Hill WR Chiefs
Final Score: Chiefs 37 Eagles 20
Panthers @ Cowboys
This is what I am talking about. This is a great game, even without Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers have been auspicious all season long and are looking to continue their success in Dallas. The Cowboys look really, really good. Before the season started, two young defensive players needed to step up, Micah Parsons and Tre'Von Diggs, if the season were to end today, they'd both be pro bowlers. While the stat sheet might not be in Parsons' favor, anyone who watches film knows how impactful he has been since converting to defensive end. Parsons has shown speed, power, and bend. He has been doing something that the Cowboys have been missing for a while, getting to the quarterback. On the backend, Trevon Diggs has been making a name for himself. Having three interceptions in three games, Diggs has officially stepped out of his brother's shadow. The difference in this game will be these two young superstars in the making. This will be the game where Parsons finally pads the stat sheet. As for the Panthers' offense, DJ Moore has been dynamic. Lined up against Diggs, I can't wait to see what this matchup has in store for us. Sam Darnold has been impeccable through the first three weeks, but this will be his biggest test. While he did impress against a very good Saints defense, this is the first time that he will have to keep up with another great offense. Chuba Hubbard doesn't have the same explosiveness as McCaffrey. McCaffrey's absence will be the difference in this game as I expect Dallas' defense to step up and wreak havoc for the Panthers' offense.
What to Watch For: DJ Moore vs Tre'Von Diggs
Player of the Game: Micah Parsons EDGE Cowboys
Final Score: Panthers 26 Cowboys 27
Ravens @ Broncos
Having watched the NFL for 10+ years, certain games bring out nostalgia, this is one of those games. Whether it is the classic Peyton Manning 7 touchdown performance in 2013 or the classic Jacoby Jones overtime touchdown in the 2012 divisional round, this game used to be a heated rivalry. This rivalry will be renewed come Sunday. Standing at 3-0, the Broncos have been mesmerizing. Albeit, the combined record of the teams they've beaten is 0-10, Teddy Bridgewater has finally been able to take hold of an offense and lead it into battle. Von Miller is coming off a Defensive Player of the Month award in his first month back since his 2020 season-ending dislocated ankle. The Broncos have looked great, but this will be their biggest test up to date. The Ravens are coming off a miracle win against the Lions where Justin Tucker drained a record-breaking 66-yard field goal as time expired. This is the Ravens game to lose. Lamar Jackson has been unstoppable since he entered the league, and Baltimore has both better coaching and more experience in big-time games. The Broncos' defense against the Ravens' offense is the matchup to watch. I expect Marlon Humphrey to match up well against Courtland Sutton. Both players are big and physical which means that there will be a lot of 50-50 balls. I expect the Ravens' first-round rookie, Odafe Oweh to be the difference-maker. Oweh will reign terror on Garrett Bolles and the Broncos' offensive line. This should be a nail-biter, but I expect Lamar Jackson to eek out a win against the 3-0 Broncos.
What to Watch For: Marlon Humphrey vs Courtland Sutton
Player of the Game: Marlon Humphrey CB Ravens
Final Score: Ravens 31 Broncos 27
Steelers @ Packers
Coming off of a ridiculous win where Aaron Rodgers drove the Packers downfield in 37 seconds, the Steelers will need to use all their will to stop the Packers' offense. Standing at 1-2, the Steelers' season is spiraling down in the wrong direction. With Chase Claypool sidelined, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson will need to step up in a major fashion. Jaire Alexander has proven to be a top 5 cornerback in the NFL while Eric Stokes is making a name for himself on the other side of the defense. Najee Harris is on the cusp of an explosive run of 50+ yards. He is sniffing at it. While I do expect him to break a big run in this rematch of the 2010 Super Bowl, I don't expect it to be enough to beat the Packers. Aaron Rodgers has been playing at another level the past two weeks, and his accuracy will continue to haunt the Steelers this week. Davante Adams is built different and the Steelers don't have the corners to slow him down. Even with TJ Watt returning from injury, I don't expect the Steelers defense to contain Adams or Aaron Jones. The Packers' week one loss lit a fire under their ass and now they are kicking ass and taking names.
What to Watch For: TJ Watt's return to Wisconsin
Player of the Game: Eric Stokes CB Packers
Final Score: Steelers 23 Packers 33
Cardinals @ Rams
When watching the Cardinals play this year, it feels like we have been watching a nature documentary: Kyler Murray: Untamed. This will be Murray's biggest test of the season so far. The Cardinals and Rams have been arguably the best two teams in football this season. With that being said, this is a bad matchup for the Cardinals. Teams who have had success in the past against the Rams defense have been able to use the run game to open up their passing attack. The Cardinals don't have a run game. Chase Edmonds has been very underwhelming through three weeks and James Conner still lacks any sort of explosiveness. Murray has had to do it all with his legs. One matchup that I can't wait to watch is Deandre Hopkins lined up against Jalen Ramsey. It's the best against the best, two true alphas. Offensively for the Rams, no team has been able to stop Cooper Kupp from the slot. Kupp has looked like one of the best route runners in the league and has been running double moves on every defensive back he has faced. Whether it is a slight stutter on a simple out route or a post-corner comeback, nickels seem hesitant when having to guard him man-to-man. I expect this game to come down to the wire, but with the Rams ending up on top. The difference in this game will be the Cardinals becoming one-dimensional. Without a run game, they won't be able to confuse Aaron Donald and the Rams defense. The Rams should win this game in a close one.
What to Watch For: Jalen Ramsey against Deandre Hopkins
Player of the Game: Cooper Kupp WR Rams
Final Score: Cardinals 24 Rams 27
Seahawks @ 49ers
Here we have two potential playoff teams that both desperately need a win. The 49ers were 37 seconds away from being 3-0, while the Seahawks have been put on upset alert two weeks in a row. The Seahawks have had the worst run defense in the NFL this season which plays into exactly what the 49ers want to do. While Elijah Mitchell most likely won't play, Kyle Shanahan should be able to scheme something up for Trey Sermon. Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf will both be playing through injuries, but they should be able to expose the 49ers beaten up secondary. With Josh Norman, and K'Waun Williams both injured, Russell Wilson is going to air it out. Whether it be Metcalf and Lockett or Penny Hart and Freddie Swaim, Wilson will find a way to convert on at least one "moon ball". The 49ers struggled mightily in week one to stop the run and I expect Chris Carson to find a few open running lanes against this defense. With that being said, I can't see Seattle having an answer for Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk. Nick Bosa will be playing motivated after failing to pressure Aaron Rodgers the week before. I am picking San Francisco to get a come from behind win in the last seconds of week four.
What to Watch For: Can the 49ers defense stop the run?
Player of the Game: Trey Sermon RB 49ers
Final Score: Seahawks 26 49ers 29
Buccaneers @ Patriots
"I'm coming home, I'm coming home, tell the world I'm coming home"... Chills... This is the matchup we have all been waiting for. We will truly get to see who is the greatest, Bill Belichick or Tom Brady. While both will undeniably still be the greatest at their respected positions, regardless of this outcome, it will still be very fun to watch Tom Brady's homecoming. While we, unfortunately, won't get to see Rob Gronkowski's homecoming, I expect Brady to tear this team up to shreds. I've been hearing all this nonsense about Belichick being able to expose Brady because he coached him for 20 years, that is BS! Brady knows and has relationships with nearly 75% of the roster, every coach on the coaching staff, and the entire organization. He knows the Patriots' weaknesses, but I can't wait to see how Belichick tries to surprise Brady. I'm also interested to see how Mac Jones responds to the pressure. This game is also the matchup between the G.O.A.T and the successor. Jones needs to start unleashing it. He has played too conservative which is why he has a losing record through his first three weeks. The Patriots will need to take some shots downfield to upset the reigning Super Bowl champs. I expect Tom Brady to not only break the record for passing yards but also break the hearts of Patriots fans in a big-time win on Sunday Night Football.
What to Watch For: Belichick's defensive gameplan
Player of the Game: Tom Brady QB Buccaneers
Final Score: Buccaneers 41 Patriots 20
Raiders @ Chargers
Ooooweeee, here we have another amazing game on Monday Night Football. Derek Carr and the undefeated Raiders against Justin Herbert and the 2-1 Chargers. Both teams have been rolling and extremely impressive through three weeks of the season. The Raiders have a certain swagger to them this year. Maxx Crosby has been unblockable and Trayvon Mullen has been strapping it down from the outside. One area where the Raiders need improvement is their running game. With Josh Jacobs on pace to return on Monday Night, I do expect improvement. As for the Chargers offense, feeding Mike Williams has worked. Justin Herbert needs to keep throwing the ball downfield to number 81. And for the Chargers' defense, they will be without Kenneth Murray who got hurt in practice. Derwin James will have to step up (despite playing through a separated shoulder). These games define grit. The ones where players are playing through injury on primetime against a division rival. The Chargers are going to have to will their way to victory to upset the Raiders on Monday Night Football. I think they'll be able to do it with Justin Herbert leading the way.
What to Watch For: Trayvon Mullen vs Mike Williams
Player of the Game: Justin Herbert QB Chargers
Final Score: Raiders 26 Chargers 30