Mandatory Credit: Photo by Michael Conroy/AP/Shutterstock (13431427a) Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, in Indianapolis Chiefs Football, Indianapolis, United States – 25 Sep 2022
Through three wild weeks of NFL football plus Thursday night’s Bengals win over the Dolphins, only one undefeated team remains in the league – the Philadelphia Eagles. Philadelphia has looked the part so far and plays one of the league’s easiest schedules this season – but they were far from the preseason favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Plenty of others will have a say before things are said and done, and Sunday’s Week 4 action will continue the process of separating the pretenders from the contenders across the NFL. Let’s take a closer look at what’s on tap for a longer-than-usual NFL Sunday.
Minnesota Vikings (2-1) at New Orleans Saints (1-2) (game played in London, United Kingdom)
Time/TV: 8:30am CT/NFL Network
The Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints have become very familiar with one another after several epic playoff matchups in the last decade but will play in an unfamiliar setting on Sunday afternoon in London. The two teams took vastly different approaches to their preparation, with New Orleans arriving Monday and Minnesota arriving Friday in the U.K. Both teams have had ups and downs in the early going, but it is Dennis Allen’s Saints who enter looking to blow off steam after two straight divisional losses. New Orleans’ offense has been a mess, thanks partly to five Jameis Winston interceptions. The Saints haven’t protected Winston, allowing him to be sacked 11 times en route to just 24 total points in their last two games. Minnesota, meanwhile, has been a difficult team to figure out. The Vikings’ offense looked potent in their wins, both at home over divisional foes – but in between, they were stomped by Philadelphia on Monday Night Football. Cousins threw three interceptions in the loss but played turnover-free in Minnesota’s wins while throwing four touchdowns. If Minnesota wants to make their much shorter trip to London count, they’ll need to play mistake-free football against a Saints team in desperate need of a win.
Cleveland Browns (2-1) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
Time/TV: 12:00pm CT/CBS
The Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons meet in Atlanta Sunday for their first matchup since 2018, when Cleveland prevailed 28-16 in a game between two very different-looking teams. Browns running back Nick Chubb, a former star for the Georgia Bulldogs and resident of Chubbtown, Georgia, will play his first NFL game in his home state. Chubb is the NFL’s leading rusher through three weeks and will have his opportunities to punish an Atlanta defense that ranks in the bottom half of the league in most categories. Atlanta’s three games have been incredibly close, all decided by four or fewer points. Their offense has exceeded expectations by a huge margin, averaging 26.7 points per game while ranking fifth in the NFL in rushing yards per game. Injuries could be a key in this one, with both Browns DE Myles Garrett and Falcons RB Cordarrelle Patterson listed as questionable for Sunday.
Seattle Seahawks (1-2) at Detroit Lions (1-2)
Time/TV: 12:00pm CT/FOX
The Detroit Lions have played an exciting brand of football so far in 2022, playing three games that have averaged 62.7 combined points per contest. Their opponent Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks, have played in games with a little more than half that amount of points scored on average. Seattle has especially struggled to score in the second halves of games, totaling 10 points after halftime through three weeks. When these two contrasting styles meet at Ford Field, Seattle will enter the contest with a bit of a leg up on their competition. Detroit is missing their two most explosive playmakers in D’Andre Swift and Amon-ra St. Brown, while Seattle is getting healthier with only two players tagged with injury designations. The winner moves to an even 2-2 on the season, a hugely important line in the sand if they hope to be surprising factors in their respective division races and the wild card chase.
Tennessee Titans (1-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-1-1)
Time/TV: 12:00pm CT/FOX
Neither the Tennessee Titans nor Indianapolis Colts envisioned the Jacksonville Jaguars taking control of the AFC South through three weeks, yet that’s exactly what has happened in 2022. Both divisional rivals picked up much-needed victories last weekend, each topping AFC West foes in the Raiders and Chiefs, respectively, to avoid disastrous starts. Indianapolis and Tennessee share more than just a connection via I-65 – they also each boast running backs who have led the league in rushing since 2020. The Titans finally found a way to successfully work Henry back into the game plan against Las Vegas, as he accounted for over 140 yards of offense and a touchdown in the 24-22 win. Meanwhile, Colts running back Jonathan Taylor averaged just 3.4 yards per carry against Kansas City. Indy’s offense has struggled as a whole, in part because they’ve surprisingly struggled to protect quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan has more interceptions than touchdowns so far this season and has been sacked 12 times through three games. Tennessee won both matchups between these two last season but required overtime to triumph on the road at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Chicago Bears (2-1) at New York Giants (2-1)
Time/TV: 12:00pm CT/FOX
The Chicago Bears and New York Giants have been two of the biggest surprises of the NFL season thus far, each boasting winning records heading into Week 4. Neither team has scored more than 23 points in a game, letting their defenses do the work while focusing more on avoiding offensive mistakes than making explosive plays. The Bears have been especially conservative, allowing quarterback Justin Fields to throw the ball just 45 times in total for an average of less than 100 passing yards per game. Without starting running back David Montgomery on Sunday, it’ll be up to Kahlil Herbert to spearhead the Bears rushing attack and keep Chicago from having to ask for more out of Justin Fields.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-0)
Time/TV: 12:00pm CT/CBS
When Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson returns to Lincoln Financial Field, he’ll be doing so with a team exceeding all expectations early on. Philadelphia Eagles fans are very familiar with Pederson’s ability to turn a team around, having celebrated a Super Bowl with him at the helm just four years ago. Jacksonville’s defensive rookies have both looked like season vets, and Trevor Lawrence has seemingly taken a big step forward in year two as an NFL quarterback. There might not be a tougher test in the NFL than a trip to Philadelphia right now, where the undefeated Eagles and their bludgeoning trench play await. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is averaging more than 360 yards of total offense per game, while the Eagles’ defense has allowed only 15 total points over their past two games. While the Eagles have already established themselves as a contender this season, Jacksonville can really get the country’s attention with a road win Sunday afternoon.
New York Jets (1-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2)
Two teams in quarterback limbo do battle in Pittsburgh Sunday as the New York Jets visit the Steelers. Each team’s single win came from a wild ending, and neither has won a game by more than three points so far. Pittsburgh’s defense has struggled mightily since losing TJ Watt, who left Week 1’s win in the second half with a pectoral injury. They’ve especially struggled to stop the run, allowing 142.7 yards per game on the ground through three weeks. The Jets will undoubtedly look to take advantage, riding their duo of young running backs in Michael Carter and Breece Hall while quarterback Zach Wilson tries to get used to game speed after returning from injury to make his first start of the season Sunday. New York’s offense looked great in the fourth quarter against Cleveland in Week 2 but otherwise has struggled to get much of anything going.
Buffalo Bills (2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Time/TV: 12:00pm CT/CBS
The Buffalo Bills were the talk of the NFL through two weeks, parading into Miami off two blowout wins to start the season. The Dolphins found a way to slow them down, squeaking out a 21-19 win after Buffalo stalled out at the goal line in the final minutes. The Baltimore Ravens have played all three of Buffalo’s division rivals to start the season, their only loss coming in a similarly close game at the hands of the Dolphins. Sunday’s showdown at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore will do more than just provide feedback for where two of the AFC’s top contenders stand – with how well Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen have played so far; it may go a long way in determining the NFL MVP at season’s end. Both teams are dealing with injuries to their secondaries, which might lead to offensive fireworks all afternoon if the weather allows. Neither team is a stranger to brutal football weather, and the Ravens might even prefer it given their run-centric offensive scheme.
Arizona Cardinals (1-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-2)
Time/TV: 3:05pm CT/FOX
Two frustrated fan bases will watch their teams kickoff Sunday’s late afternoon slate as the Arizona Cardinals visit the Carolina Panthers. Carolina’s Baker Mayfield experiment is off to a sloppy start, as the Panthers have yet to gain more than 300 yards in a game this season. Their lone win came last weekend over the Saints despite getting blown out in the yardage department, taking advantage of three turnovers from a defense that has been the only bright spot in Charlotte thus far. The Cardinals were within a razor’s edge of a loss in their Week 2 win and sputtered again in Week 3’s divisional loss to the Rams. Arizona was held without a touchdown last weekend, an offense that looked dominant at times last season but hasn’t found any consistent potency yet in 2022. Both teams still have all of their goals in front of them for this season and plenty of time to turn things around, in theory. A win Sunday would go a long way toward restoring confidence, but either team would find themselves in dire straits at 1-3 with a loss.
New England Patriots (1-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-1)
Time/TV: 3:25pm CT/CBS
The New England Patriots have been uncharacteristically sloppy under Bill Belichick this season, turning the ball over four more times than their opponents thus far. With quarterback Mac Jones injured and potentially unavailable, they’re making the trip to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers at a rather inconvenient time. Green Bay defeated the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday, putting forth a second consecutive dominant defensive showing to improve to 2-1. If Mac Jones does miss Sunday’s game, it’ll be up to veteran Brian Hoyer to lead the Patriots to an unlikely road win. Hoyer has plenty of experience running the offense in New England, having spent seven seasons over three different stints as a Patriot – but a win Sunday would elevate him to the status of a folk hero in Foxborough.
Denver Broncos (2-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (0-3)
Time/TV: 3:25pm CT/CBS
In a league with only one undefeated team and one winless team, it’s difficult to feel the level of disappointment Denver Broncos fans do despite a 2-1 mark. Expectations were sky high in Denver with Russell Wilson’s arrival, but it’s been the defense instead that has led the Broncos to a winning record in the early going. On the other side, the Raiders are looking for answers at 0-3, all but out of contention in a brutal AFC West. Beating Denver would be a crucial first step in what Vegas hopes is a resurgence, and they’re seemingly capable of doing it given how easily their 0-3 start could be a 3-0 start. They’ve lost all three games by one possession but have seen flashes of the electric relationship Derek Carr, and Davante Adams have shared since college. With Hunter Renfrow unavailable Sunday, Las Vegas will lean on that connection to topple the Broncos.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
Time/TV: 7:20pm CT/NBC
It’s been a tragic, difficult week for the Tampa Bay area, as much of the Florida coastline to their south was decimated by Hurricane Ian earlier this week. Sunday night’s matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers was almost moved to Minneapolis but remains on schedule in Tampa at Raymond James Stadium following some deliberation. Future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are both donating generously to relief efforts, joining philanthropists like Jim McIngvale of Gallery Sports in support of Florida’s rebuild. On the field, Chiefs-Buccaneers is a battle of two living legends at the quarterback position in Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady. The Bucs’ offense has struggled in the early going but takes on a Kansas City defense that can be more forgiving than the New Orleans and Green Bay units they’ve seen the last two weeks. Tampa Bay also gets back wide receiver Mike Evans and hasn’t ruled out the returns of Chris Godwin or Julio Jones. On the other side of the ball, Kansas City is looking to move on quickly from a frustrating loss in Indianapolis a week ago. Patrick Mahomes and offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy may or may not have been upset with each other on the sidelines last weekend, but they’ll need to be on the same page to grab a big-time road win Sunday night.