The weekly preview runs into the endzone with NFL tips for the eight standout fixtures of Week 4, including the Chiefs’ showdown with the Patriots.
History: Played 37: Broncos 20 V Jets 16 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: October 7, 2018: Jets 34 d Broncos 16 at MetLife Stadium
Final Thoughts: Week 4 gets underway between a pair of desperate 0-3 teams.
New York Jets’ start to 2020 couldn’t have been much more grim, losing to the Bills (27-17), 49ers (31-13) and Colts (36-7). Last week’s defeat in Indianapolis was dreadful. Sam Darnold threw three interceptions, two of which the Colts returned for touchdowns.
There’s a clear talent deficiency across the board at the Jets. But ranking 32nd in pass defence says plenty about the early-season plight they find themselves in.
Denver Broncos have gone down to the Titans (16-14), Steelers (26-21) and Buccaneers (28-10). At least keeping it close in the opening fortnight, the heavy home loss to Tampa Bay was very disappointing.
The Broncos’ QB woes continue, with Jeff Driskel struggling in the place of the injured Drew Lock. Brett Rypien came on midway through last week’s game and may get the start here. Their defence is equally thin.
Nevertheless, slight outsiders the Broncos look the better pick of these battlers.
History: Played 11: Chargers 8 V Buccaneers 3
Last meeting: December 4, 2016: Buccaneers 28 d Chargers 21 at Qualcomm Stadium
Final Thoughts: Tampa Bay are easing into the Tom Brady era quite nicely. After a first-up loss to the Saints, the Buccaneers have racked up big wins over the Panthers (31-17) and Broncos (28-10). Brady was solid against a threadbare Denver defence, throwing for 297 yards and 3 TDs.
LA Chargers are eager to get back into the winner’s circle, following up a Week 1 win over the Bengals with narrow defeats to the Chiefs (OT) and Panthers. Rookie QB Justin Herbert’s form has been a silver lining of the last two weeks, however, throwing for over 300 yards in consecutive losses.
Herbert faces another litmus test against the top-five Bucs defence, while the Chargers’ talented secondary should put a bit of pressure on Brady. But the advantage Tampa Bay holds in this match-up couldn’t be much more stark.
History: Played 78: Steelers 46 V Titans 32
Last meeting: November 16, 2017: Steelers 40 d Titans 17 at Heinz Field
Final Thoughts: The positive COVID-19 tests in Tennessee Titans’ ranks could see this game postponed by a day or two – but at this point the pivotal clash looks set to go ahead.
The Titans and Steelers have both carved out 3-0 starts to their campaign. The Titans have walked the tightrope with wins over the Broncos, Jaguars and Vikings by three points or less. Veteran kicker Stephen Gostkowski – in the wake of his tough night in Denver in Week 1 – nailed a 55-yard match-winner against the Vikings.
The Steelers continue to emerge as a genuine Super Bowl threat with solid wins over the Giants, Broncos and Texans. Returning from a long-term injury layoff, Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t skipped a beat, throwing for 7 touchdowns. The Pittsburgh defence stole the show against Houston, however, sacking DeShaun Watson five times to set up a 28-21 result.
The Steelers have won five of their last seven against the Titans, including two of the last three as the visiting team. They’ll get the result over a Titans side severely disrupted over the past week.
History: Played 31: Browns 17 V Cowboys 14
Last meeting: November 6, 2016: Cowboys 35 d Browns 10 at FirstEnergy Stadium
Final Thoughts: Dallas Cowboys need to improve on their 1-2 start. They host a Cleveland Browns outfit that has rallied to win their last two games.
The Cowboys went down to the Rams and Seahawks either side of a Week 2 cliff-hanger win over the Falcons. They fought back brilliantly to take the lead in the fourth quarter against Seattle…but lost 38-31 courtesy of Russell Wilson’s genius. Dallas’ Dak Prescott-led offence has been doing the business but the secondary hasn’t been up to scratch.
The Browns were pumped first up by the Ravens, but have chalked up consecutive high-scoring wins over the Bengals (35-30) and Washington (34-20). Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr, Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb suddenly have the Browns offence looking super-potent, though Hunt has been troubled by a groin injury this week.
The Browns’ last win in this rivalry was in 1994, with the Cowboys winning nine of the teams’ last 12 encounters. But given their recent displays, the Browns are irresistible getting the points here.
History: Played 6: Washington 3 V Ravens 3
Last meeting: October 9, 2016: Washington 16 d Ravens 10 at M&T Bank Stadium
Final Thoughts: Washington are searching for some respite after back-to-back losses. Unfortunately, they host one of the NFL’s big dogs, who have an axe to grind following a heavyweight loss in Week 3.
Washington beat the Eagles in Week 1 but have slumped to dismal losses to the Cardinals (30-15) and Browns (34-20) in their past two outings. QB Dwayne Haskins is seemingly on his last chance after giving up three glaring interceptions to Cleveland.
Rampant in the opening fortnight against the Browns and Texans, Baltimore Ravens fell to the Chiefs 34-20 in the mooted AFC Championship Game preview. Reigning MVP Lamar Jackson was disappointing in his duel with Patrick Mahomes.
Count on Washington bearing the brunt of Baltimore’s frustrations.
History: Played 38: Chiefs 19 V Patriots 16 (3 Ties)
Last meeting: December 8, 2019: Chiefs 23 d Patriots 16 at Gillette Stadium
Final Thoughts: Unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs are aiming to ram home the advantage they gained in the AFC top seed race by thumping the hotshot Ravens last week. The defending champs won 34-20 on the back of a dominant first-half performance. Patrick Mahomes went off for 385 yards and 4 TDs.
But another test looms this week in the form of a traditional AFC heavyweight that remains a major threat.
New England Patriots have moved admirably into the post-Brady era, bookending a tight Week 2 loss to the Seahawks with convincing victories over the Dolphins (21-11) and Raiders (36-20). Cam Newton didn’t have his best game against the Raiders but the Pats offence was still rampant.
The Patriots have won eight of the last 12 matches between the sides. The Chiefs prevailed 23-16 late last season as Mahomes and Tom Brady went toe-to-toe. The previous three clashes produced 68 points or more.
The Chiefs should get the job done, though the line looks a little big. The over may provide the better value here.
History: Played 33: Eagles 19 V 49ers 13 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: October 29, 2017: Eagles 33 d 49ers 10 at Lincoln Financial Field
Final Thoughts: San Francisco 49ers have put a glaring Week 1 loss to the Cardinals behind them, easily accounting for the Jets (31-13) and Giants (36-9) in the past fortnight. Injuries have bit last season’s Super Bowl runners-up hard, with Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) racing the clock to be fit after missing last week. But Nick Mullens (343 yds, 1 TD) impressed under center against the Giants.
Meanwhile, it doesn’t seem long ago that Philadelphia Eagles were winning the Super Bowl but they are a shadow of that team at present. Heavy defeats to Washington and LA Rams, followed by a tie with the Bengals, does not bode well for the Eagles’ hopes in a fairly weak NFC East. Carson Wentz is struggling, with some questioning whether rookie QB Jalen Hurts should be called up.
The Eagles have won six of their last eight against the 49ers. The tables have turned on both teams’ fortunes in the past 12 months, however, and the Niners are the obvious pick here.
History: Played 34: Packers 18 V Falcons 16
Last meeting: December 9, 2018: Packers 34 d Falcons 20 at Lambeau Field
Final thoughts: Green Bay Packers are shaping as the team to beat in the NFC, romping to three big wins over the Vikings, Lions and Saints so far. The Aaron Rodgers-led offence has scored more points than any team in the league, with the long-serving QB in vintage form with nine TD passes already.
Meanwhile, Atlanta Falcons are getting left behind in the NFC South. They have haemorrhaged a league-worst 108 points in losses to the Seahawks, Cowboys and Bears. The Falcons were up by 15-plus in their last two games yet crumbled to defeat. Defence is an obvious issue but QB Matt Ryan let the side down in last week’s collapse against the Bears.
The Packers ended a three-match losing run against the Falcons in the teams’ last meeting, a 34-20 home victory in late-2018.
Expect a similarly convincing, high-scoring result on Monday Night Football.