Time to look forward to what I think week four holds for us all!
Jets @ Jaguars
Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold will face what could be his toughest test to date when he takes on one of the league’s best defenses in Jacksonville. If we can play at his best and the Jets run game continues to impress then they at least stand a chance. The Jags need to see a big improvement in their offence against an improving Jags defense though now without stalwart defensive lineman Mo Wilkerson.
Verdict: Jags to win if Bortles can get back to the form we saw him in when he played the Pats
Dolphins @ Patriots
The Pats will be hurting after two losses on the bounce and critics frothing at the mouth to declare a decline in form. This is usually when we see the best of the Patriots, but that was when they had quality in depth. I think that quality is lacking but no matter how many times I look at it, I just can’t see the Pats losing three times in a row and to the Dolphins at home. Miami themselves have opened up the playbook in recent weeks but, despite their record, this will be their toughest test
Verdict: Pats. Just.
Eagles @ Titans
Quarterback Carson Wentz has a game under his belt as he goes to Tennessee to play a team with what is fast becoming a stout defense under new head coach Mike Vrabel. I think we’ll see a continual improvement from Wentz and with Alshon Jeffery and possibly Jay Ajayi back, a bit more from the offence. The Titans offence have struggled to score and will struggle more against this Eagles defense
Verdict: Eagles, but might be a bit more of a struggle than we’d expect
Texans @ Colts
The Colts defense is playing better than most people thought behind rookie star linebacker Darius Leonard. Luck is continuing to improve and whilst questions remain about his strength and fitness he’s at the very least a good game manager! JJ Watt announced himself back in business with three sacks last week against the Giants and he’ll be licking his lips at the thought of facing the Colts O-Line.
Verdict: Texans to get their first win
Lions @ Cowboys
The Lions have been improving since the second half of their match against the 49ers in week 2. Last week their completely snuffed out Tom Brady and the Patriots. How much of that was due to the knowledge of former Patriot coordinator Matt Patricia? It matters not, this Cowboys team is not a good one and the Lions have the personnel to beat them on both sides of the ball and probably special teams.
Buccaneers @ Bears
Tampa go in to Chicago still on a high despite their Monday night loss to Pittsburgh. Fitzpatrick may have thrown three INTs but he also threw his usual collection of extensive yardage and TDs. The problem here though is that in Chicago, he faces the defensive behemoth that is Kahlil Mack. Trubisky needs to improve or the Bears need to give more ball to Howard and Cohen and take some pressure off of him. Defense wins championships though and so….
Bengals @ Falcons
Atlanta will have been gutted to lose the shootout against New Orleans last week in a game where their offence was just as good. The Falcons red zone efficiency has improved dramatically and in Ridley they have a weapon to take some heat from Julio Jones. Whilst the Falcons defense is injury ridden, they don’t have to contend with much of a running game against the Bengals with Mixon out injured. For the Bengals, much depends on the fitness of AJ Green after the wide out left the game early last week.
Verdict: Falcons comfortably
Seahawks @ Cardinals
A match between two teams that really appear to be struggling so far in 2018. In my head, this really is a case of which team will play worst? Maybe a bit harsh and I would expect the Seahawks, led by Wilson, to get it done against the Cardinals. For the Cardinals to stand a chance they really need to get David Johnson rolling, especially with rookie quarterback Josh Rosen making his first start. Look for him to get plenty of touches, either running or receiving.
Browns @ Raiders
Everyone’s favourite second team, the Browns, recorded their first win in over 600 days last week and now head to Oakland to play the Raiders. I have doubts about the fitness of the Raiders as their second halves have been disastrous. The Browns are developing a very good defense and expect Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward and co to give Derek Carr trouble all day. All eyes will be on Baker Mayfield though who will make his first career start. He should have plenty of time in the pocket which, with his accuracy, bodes well for the Browns
Verdict: Browns double their victory tally and keep the hype train rolling
Saints @ Giants
The Saints offence is just amazing at the moment. Their defense less so. It seems to be pretty easy to pass on the Saints and despite his doubters, Eli Manning can still pass the ball, providing the Giants O-Line can help him stay up-wright. With the weapons available to the Giants and Saints and the “meh” defense played by both teams this year, this could be another shootout.
Verdict: Saints, because they can realistically score on every drive
49ers @ Chargers
The 49ers begin their Garoppolo-less season in LA against a Chargers team which, despite results, is playing well. The bigger concern for the 49ers will be their defence against an offence led by Rivers getting increasingly better. Second year wide receiver, Mike Williams, is starting to get more production and will look to take advantage against a toothless 49ers backfield who are also without Richard Sherman.
Verdict: Chargers, by some distance.
Ravens @ Steelers
The Ravens have a good offence and a good defense. The Steelers have a great offence and a poor defense. If the Steelers defense gets better then they should win this match but I like the look of Flacco and this Ravens team this year. Now with some decent receivers, they’re looking a class apart from the Ravens teams of the last few years. But playing in Pittsburgh is tough and Big Ben is playing like he did at the start of his career.
Verdict: Steelers, but this could be a great match
Chiefs @ Broncos
The Chiefs need to score lots because their defense really isn’t very good. This could be their toughest test to date as the pass rush from Denver should be better than anything Mahomes and co have faced to date. Get past that though and I would expect them to do well. Case Keenum needs to improve to justify his $20m pay packet as he’s not looking any better than what Denver have had there in previous years.
Verdict: Get a good start again and it’s the Chiefs.