The weekly preview runs into the endzone with NFL tips for the eight standout fixtures of Week 4, opening with Chicago Bears’ crunch home clash with Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
History: Played 59: Bears 39 V Buccaneers 20
Last meeting: September 30, 2018: Bears 48 d Buccaneers 10 at Soldier Field
Final Thoughts: Chicago Bears are coming their first loss of the season, while Tampa Bay Buccaneers arrive in the Windy City on a three-match winning streak.
After overcoming a trio of battlers in the Lions, Giants and Falcons, the Bears went down 19-11 to the Colts at home last week. It was a serious underwhelming first start for Super Bowl-winning QB Nick Foles, the Chicago offence managing just 269 yards.
Tom Brady exploded for five touchdown passes as the Buccaneers beat the Chargers 38-31 in Week 4. They were down by 10 at halftime but the G.O.A.T. steered them home, finding five different targets for TDs. Mike Evans had 122 yards on 7 receptions, while Ronald Jones carried the ball 20 times for 111 yards. The defence had some problems but Tampa remain a team on the up.
The Bears have won six of their last nine against the Bucs, including a 48-10 beatdown in Chicago in 2018. But expect Brady to turn the tables on Super Bowl LII nemesis Foles, who is already under huge pressure.
History: Played 48: Ravens 25 V Bengals 23
Last meeting: November 10, 2019: Ravens 49 d Bengals 17 at Paul Brown Stadium
Final Thoughts: Baltimore Ravens host Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC mismatch.
The 3-1 Ravens responded to their Week 3 defeat to the Chiefs with a comfortable 31-17 victory over Washington. Lamar Jackson epitomised the bounce-back with a 50-yard run for a touchdown and two more TD passes.
The Bengals have recovered from an 0-2 start to record an away tie against the Eagles and an impressive 33-25 win over the Jaguars. A 17-0 third quarter proved the difference while QB Joe Burrow threw for 300 yards and a TD and Joe Mixon carted the pigskin for 151 yards and 2 TDs on 25 carries – despite being in doubt during the week.
Last season the Ravens battled to a 23-17 home win over the Bengals. But they won the return clash in Cleveland 49-13. Lamar Jackson rushed in a touchdown in each victory and passed for three in the latter.
The Bengals’ offensive improvement last week was encouraging, but their secondary is unlikely to be able to contain Jackson and Ravens.
History: Played 122: Chiefs 67 V Raiders 53 (2 Ties)
Last meeting: December 1, 2019: Chiefs 40 d Raiders 9 at Arrowhead Stadium
Final Thoughts: Kansas City Chiefs have rolled to a 4-0 start, stamping their authority in the past fortnight. After a 34-20 defeat of the hotshot Ravens, the champs subdued the in-form Patriots 26-10 in Week 4. Patrick Mahomes had 236 and 2 TDs, but it was the Chiefs’ defensive might – despite Chris Jones’ absence – that underpinned the win over the Pats.
Las Vegas Raiders are 2-2 after dropping their last two games to the Patriots (36-20) and Bills (30-23). There’s been positives to take out of every performance but the Raiders still lack the polish on both sides of the ball to beat the NFL’s better sides.
The Chiefs have won 10 of their last 11 against the Raiders, including the last three by 18-plus margins. Last season they romped in 28-10 in Oakland – with Mahomes throwing for 443 yards and 4 TDs – and ran away with it 40-9 at home.
Raiders QB Derek Carr has been good this season – but not good enough to steer his team to an Arrowhead upset against the red-hot Chiefs.
History: Played 79: Eagles 48 V Steelers 28 (3 Ties)
Last meeting: September 25, 2016: Eagles 34 d Steelers 3 at Lincoln Financial Field
Final Thoughts: Pittsburgh Steelers had an unscheduled Week 4 bye to reflect on their highly impressive 3-0 start to the 2020 season, their clash with the Titans postponed due to a coronavirus scare. Ben Roethlisberger’s rousing comeback from injury continued in the Steelers’ 28-21 win over the Texans in Week 3, while the defence kept DeShaun Watson and the Houston offence to zero in the second half.
Philadelphia Eagles started the year 0-2 then tied with the Bengals. But a 25-20 upset of the 49ers on the road in Week 4 was a sizeable step in the right direction. It was a gutsy effort from the Eagles and a personal triumph for QB Carson Wentz with their best four wide receivers sidelined, as well as several other key stars. Incredibly, the Eagles lead the weak NFC East.
The last four matches between the sides have been won by the home team, with the Eagles last picking up a victory at Heinz Field in 1988.
Despite the Eagles’ pluckiness last week to knock off last season’s Super Bowl runners-up, Big Ben and the Steelers should take out the Pennsylvania derby comfortably.
History: Played 34: Browns 17 V Colts 17
Last meeting: September 24, 2017: Colts 31 d Browns 28 at Lucas Oil Stadium
Final Thoughts: This didn’t look like the juiciest of match-ups three weeks ago when Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts sunk to dismal season-opening losses. But both teams head into Week 4 on three-match winning streaks.
Plugging away in the Steelers- and Ravens-dominated AFC North, the Browns’ offence has had a field day in victories over the Bengals, Washington and the Cowboys. A 24-0 run in the fourth quarter carried them to a 49-38 win in Dallas, with Odell Beckham Jr’s performance – 73 rushing yards (1 TD) and 81 receiving yards (2 TDs) – the standout feature.
The Colts look set to grapple with the Titans for division title in a soft AFC South. They have conceded just 29 points in total in wins over the Vikings, Jets and Bears, prevailing 19-11 in Chicago despite the early injury exit of All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard. Veteran QB recruit Philip Rivers is doing enough under center.
The Colts have won eight of their last nine against the Browns – including their last five straight in Cleveland.
It’s clearly a question of who wins out between the Browns’ hot offence and the Colts’ stingy defence, with these teams performing modestly on the other side of the ball. Cleveland are somewhat surprising underdogs at home and worth getting behind.
History: Played 53: Broncos 30 V Patriots 23
Last meeting: November 12, 2017: Patriots 41 d Broncos 16 at Sports Authority Field
Final Thoughts: Impressive in the first three weeks of the post-Brady era with wins over the Dolphins and Raiders either side of a high-scoring loss to the Seahawks, the Patriots were humbled 26-10 by the Chiefs in Week 4.
The Broncos were on the ropes after opening their campaign with losses to the Titans, Steelers and Buccaneers. But a 37-28 defeat of the Jets last week – with Melvin Gordon rushing for 107 yards and 2 TDs – opened their 2020 account. Brett Ryplen had some good moments after becoming the Broncos’ third starting QB already this season.
The Patriots have won their last five against the Broncos at Gillette Stadium, scoring at least 31 points on each occasion.
If this game goes ahead, Cam Newton and the Pats should have too much firepower for a Denver side conceding 24.5 points per game.
History: Played 17: Seahawks 12 V Vikings 5
Last meeting: December 2, 2019: Seahawks 37 d Vikings 30 at CenturyLink Field
Final Thoughts: Seattle Seahawks have staked their claim for the NFC’s top seed, surging to a 4-0 start. The Russell Wilson-led offence has scored 31-plus points in every game – though the defence has leaked at least 23 each time out. The injury-ravaged secondary was better in a 31-23 win over the Dolphins in Week 4, however. Wilson already has 16 touchdown passes.
The 1-3 Minnesota Vikings claimed a desperately-needed 31-23 win over the Texans last weekend. Running back stud Dalvin Cook takes the pressure off QB Kirk Cousins’ limitations on offence, racking up 130 yards and 2 TDs on 27 carries. But it’s a long way back in the Green Bay-dominated NFC North for the Vikes.
The Seahawks are on a six-match winning streak against the Vikings. They came from behind to record a 37-30 home victory last season.
Seattle will get it done at home as $1.30 favourites, but both teams’ games are averaging a pile of points and the over is shaping as a tasty play.
History: Played 12: Chargers 7 V Saints 5
Last meeting: October 2, 2016: Saints 35 d Chargers 34 at Qualcomm Stadium
Final thoughts: The 2-2 New Orleans are searching for some momentum as they grapple with Tampa Bay for NFC South supremacy, while LA Chargers are reeling at the bottom of the AFC West thanks to three straight losses.
The Saints recovered from consecutive defeats to the Raiders and Packers with a 35-29 comeback win over the Lions. Not overly impressive on the surface, but with six injured started and a COVID-19 scare on top of an early two-touchdown deficit, it was an important result for Drew Brees and co. Michael Thomas could be a big inclusion this week.
The Chargers only just accounted for the Bengals in Week 1 and have slumped to narrow defeats to the Chiefs (OT), Panthers and Buccaneers since. The defence struggled in the 38-31 loss to Tampa Bay after they led by 17 and star RB Austin Ekeler is out for at least a month with injury. But rookie QB Justin Herbert shone with three touchdown passes in just his third start.
The Saints have won their last three against the Chargers. The Chargers’ last win in New Orleans came in 1997.
Another game that should go to the over with both offences racking up plenty of points and both defences leaking 23-plus points a game. I rate the Chargers’ chances of covering with a big start.