While devastating injuries were certainly the theme in Week 2, Week 3 had a much lighter vibe associated with it. It was the week of the comeback in some games, and that of the narrow escape in others. There were also a trio of double-digit victories that coincidentally all featured 36-point tallies for the winners.
We also appear to have the first bona fide quarterback controversy of the season in Chicago, as the Bears saw Nick Foles lead them back from a 26-10 fourth-quarter deficit to hand the Falcons a second consecutive crushing loss. There could be another brewing in Los Angeles, where rookie Justin Herbert exceeded 300 yards passing for the second time in as many career games despite the Chargers dropping a 21-16 decision to the Panthers.
The road teams more than held their own, as hosts were only 6-7-1 straight up. The suddenly hapless Eagles were responsible for the tie against the Bengals, which saw first overall pick Joe Burrow exceed 300 yards for the second straight week. Four teams broke into the win column for the first time in Week 3, factoring in the Dolphins’ rout of the Jaguars Thursday night.
Looking at Week 4 we have a mixed bag — a couple of marquee matchups, battles between what appear to be middle-of-the-pack squads, and a meeting between two teams yet to notch a win on Sunday (Vikings at Texans).
Also of note is the situation regarding the Tennessee Titans. Several players and team personnel members tested positive for COVD-19 this week, and the Titans’ Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers has been rescheduled for Week 7.
The New England Patriots vs. Kansas City Chiefs game that was scheduled for Sunday afternoon has also been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. The game is now set to take place on Monday with a 7:05 p.m. ET kickoff.
NFL Week 4 odds
Thursday, Oct. 1
Denver Broncos at New York Jets (-1) – 8:20 p.m. ET
There are a couple of games each season that serve to remind the NFL why it should always have special affinity for sports bettors. This is one. A game of very lukewarm interest for the general public is on tap at MetLife Stadium, where these two winless, injury-hampered squads meet.
Denver is managing the multi-week absence of Drew Lock (shoulder), as well as the season-long absences of Courtland Sutton (knee) and Von Miller (ankle). Defensive end Jurrell Casey can now be added to the latter list. He tore his biceps in the Week 3 loss to the Buccaneers and won’t return until 2021. In addition, RB Phillip Lindsay (toe) has already missed the last two games. He is unlikely to play Thursday night.
The Jets, meanwhile, have their own injury woes. They operated without starting receivers Breshad Perriman (ankle) and Jamison Crowder (hamstring) in Sunday’s loss to the Colts. Starting left tackle and rookie first-round pick Mekhi Becton exited the Week 3 contest early with a shoulder injury, while right tackle George Fant missed the game altogether with a concussion.
Sunday, Oct. 4
Arizona Cardinals (-3) at Carolina Panthers – 1 p.m. ET
This conference battle features two inconsistent defenses facing two capable quarterbacks that have gotten off to mostly solid starts this season, and in Teddy Bridgewater’s case, one that appears to be getting better with each passing week in a new offense.
The Cardinals suffered their first loss of the season Sunday at the hands of the Lions by a 26-23 margin. Kyler Murray uncharacteristically served up three interceptions, even while once again displaying a prolific connection with DeAndre Hopkins (10-137). The second-year quarterback did account for three total touchdowns, however. He has a chance for a rebound against a Panthers defense that gave up 61 points over its first two games before tightening up against Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert in Week 3.
The Panthers managed to find success in their first full 2020 game without Christian McCaffrey. They edged the Chargers by a 21-16 score thanks in large part to another efficient performance by Bridgewater. The veteran completed 22 of 28 passes and averaged a solid 8.4 yards per attempt, distributing the ball effectively to the top receiving trio of Robby Anderson, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel. Mike Davis also did a solid job filling in as the primary back. The journeyman accounted for 91 total yards and a receiving touchdown.
The oddsmakers are showing some faith in Arizona by making them road favorites. Meanwhile, points are expected. The projected total is one of several over 50 on the Week 4 slate.
Baltimore Ravens (-14.5) at Washington Football Team – 1 p.m. ET
The Washington Football Team saw second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins go through some serious growing pains in a Week 3 loss to the Browns. To make matters worse, Haskins’ three interceptions were all followed by Cleveland touchdowns on the ensuing possession. The WFT’s defense also had a difficult time containing Nick Chubb, who averaged 5.7 yards per carry on his way to 108 yards and two rushing scores. Meanwhile, coach Ron Rivera’s squad appears to have the foundation for an effective ground attack in the form of rookie Antonio Gibson, but he’s yet to be afforded more than 13 carries in any one game.
Haskins’ mistake-prone ways and the caliber of the Ravens defense are big reasons for the two-touchdown advantage being afforded Baltimore as a road favorite. The Ravens will also be an irritated group after losing to Kansas City on Monday night.
Cleveland Browns at Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) – 1 p.m. ET
The Cowboys have already shown a penchant for heart-stopping shootouts this season. Despite the Browns offense having a difficult time with consistency through the air, oddsmakers are projecting this interconference showdown as the highest scoring game on the ledger.
The Browns offense did do a good job of capitalizing on the defense’s takeaways in their Week 3 win over the Washington Football Team. Baker Mayfield and company turned three Dwayne Haskins interceptions into touchdowns on the ensuing possession. However, it seems clear coach Kevin Stefanski is hiding the often-erratic Mayfield as much as possible. The 2018 first overall pick put the ball up just 23 times on his way to 156 yards passing. However, the two-headed rushing attack of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt – the duo combined for 154 yards and two touchdowns Sunday – continues to make “hiding” Mayfield possible.
The Cowboys clearly have some defensive issues to address after allowing a combined 77 points to the Falcons and Seahawks the last two games. Dallas is now 1-2 despite Dak Prescott already racking up 1,188 passing yards and eight total touchdowns (five passing, three rushing). One silver lining for Dallas ahead of a matchup against the Chubb-Hunt two-headed attack is that it has done a solid job against the run – the Cowboys have yielded just 3.7 yards per carry and 11 receptions to running backs through three games.
The oddsmakers have only made the Cowboys a modest home favorite, apparently giving some weight to their defensive struggles thus far.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals (-1) – 1 p.m. ET
This could turn out to be one of the more intriguing battles of the week, despite each squad’s lackluster record. Two young quarterbacks that often play with a fearless, improvisational style facing two relatively shaky defenses sets the stage for what could be a wire-to-wire battle. Oddsmakers clearly agree, with this game sporting a narrow spread.
The Jaguars arrive with extra rest after playing the Thursday night game in Week 3. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, that game turned into an abject disaster. Gardner Minshew and company were trampled by the Dolphins to the tune of a 31-13 score. Minshew did throw for an impressive 275 yards without the services of top receiver D.J. Chark (chest). Yet he also had an interception and didn’t notch any touchdown tosses. James Robinson continued to impress as well by posting an 11-46-2 line on the ground and team-leading 6-83 tally through the air. Meanwhile, the defense allowed Miami’s Ryan Fitzpatrick to complete his first 12 passes on his way to an 18-for-20 effort through the air.
The Bengals were able to carve out a 23-23 tie with the Eagles. Cincy ultimately made Philadelphia surrender for all practical purposes. The Eagles opted to punt from its own 49 and concede the tie with 18 seconds remaining in overtime after making a key defensive stop. Meanwhile, Joe Burrow continued to ascend the NFL learning curve briskly by throwing for 312 yards and two touchdowns, displaying an impressive connection with Tyler Boyd (10-125).
Los Angeles Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7.5) – 1 p.m. ET
Before the season, Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert likely didn’t think he’d have a chance to square off with Tom Brady in his third NFL start. However, that’s how this spot sets up, as Tyrod Taylor will miss another week. Herbert will catch the future Hall of Famer riding some strong momentum after his best performance as a Buccaneer yet in a 28-10 Week 3 win over the Broncos.
The good news for Los Angeles coming out of its 21-16 loss to the Panthers is that Herbert once again looked very much like he belonged. The Oregon product threw for 330 yards, one-upping the 311 he’d managed in Week 2 against the Chiefs. The Bolts are 0-2 with the rookie at the helm, but both defeats have been narrow. Just as important, Herbert has quickly gotten the lay of the offensive land in L.A. – a whopping 24 of his 35 completions Sunday went to Keenan Allen (13) and Austin Ekeler (11).
The Bucs had plenty to be optimistic about with respect to their overall performance against Denver. Brady’s 297 yards and three touchdowns are at the top of that list. The defense was just as impressive, battering Jeff Driskel and Brett Rypien for six sacks, hitting the duo a total of 10 times and picking them off once apiece.
SATURDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Chris Godwin has been ruled out for this contest with the hamstring injury he suffered in Week 3, while Scotty Miller is questionable heading into Sunday with hip and groin injuries. However, the Buccaneers remain strong seven-point favorites.
Minnesota Vikings at Houston Texans (-3.5) – 1 p.m.
This contest shapes up as one of several potential shootouts in Week 4, and with good reason. Both defenses have been shoddy throughout the first three games, leading to each team’s surprising winless records. The deficiency on that side of the ball was directly responsible for each squad’s loss to the Titans and Steelers, respectively.
Not all the news was bad for Minnesota on Sunday. They got their previously moribund passing game – and rookie Justin Jefferson specifically – kicked into high gear. Kirk Cousins threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 9.3 yards per attempt. Jefferson produced a 7-175-1 line. And Dalvin Cook continued to produce on the ground with a massive 181-yard, one-touchdown haul that saw him average 8.2 yards per carry. However, the injury-hampered defense struggled again and gave up 444 total yards.
The Texans had a 14-3 first-half lead against the Steelers and a 21-17 halftime advantage, giving them a rare taste of a 2020 lead. That didn’t hold, however, as Pittsburgh shut out Houston in the second half while scoring 10 points to notch the comeback win. After an encouraging start on the ground in Week 1 against the Chiefs, David Johnson has found running room at a premium in the two subsequent games. Johnson rushed for just 23 yards on 13 carries Sunday, although Pittsburgh’s run defense is currently the NFL’s toughest. Brandin Cooks continues to struggle with a quadriceps injury as well, making it difficult for him to get acclimated to Houston’s offense.
New Orleans Saints (-3) at Detroit Lions – 1 p.m. ET
The Saints will get no relief from the turmoil surrounding their team after dropping a 37-30 decision to the Packers on Sunday night. Drew Brees did answer some of the questions about what his prolific right arm has left by throwing for 288 yards and three touchdowns. However, the defense was no match for Aaron Rodgers as the Packers QB threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Lions were able to tough out a 26-23 road win in Arizona, with Kenny Golladay’s return making an impact.
Brees heavily relied on running back Alvin Kamara in the passing game, connecting with him for 13 receptions and 139 yards and two touchdowns. Emmanuel Sanders was better than in Week 2 with a 4-56-1 line, but the Saints offense is still hurting with Michael Thomas out.
Matthew Stafford already started benefitting from getting his No. 1 receiver back in the lineup Sunday. Stafford connected with Golladay on six occasions, including for a 15-yard touchdown reception late in the first half. Golladay’s presence helps boost the upside of Detroit’s entire offense, especially for a game in which they’ll be tasked with keeping up with the Saints. With respect to that task, the Detroit defense is a concern after allowing 92 points over the first three games.
SATURDAY NIGHT UPDATE: The Saints will be missing several key players for this contest. Thomas and Jared Cook (groin) have both been declared out, as have been starting cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) and Janoris Jenkins (shoulder). The multiple confirmed absences have lowered New Orleans’ projected advantage to three points.
Seattle Seahawks (-4.5) at Miami Dolphins – 1 p.m. ET
The Seahawks apparently can’t be bothered with comfortable victories. They prevailed in yet another heart-stopper in Week 3 against the Cowboys with a late Russell Wilson touchdown pass to DK Metcalf sealing the win. Meanwhile, the Dolphins made quite the statement in their first victory of the season against the Jaguars. Their 31-13 shellacking of Jacksonville came on the road and saw Ryan Fitzpatrick misfire on only two passes.
Wilson continued to play at an MVP-caliber level in Week 3 against Dallas. He threw for a season-high 315 yards and tossed five touchdowns for the second straight game. Both Metcalf and Tyler Lockett hit the 100-yard mark while combining for four scores overall. Running back Chris Carson suffered a knee sprain on a controversial tackle late in the contest, but Seattle still has Carlos Hyde and Travis Homer to attack a Miami defense that yielded 133.7 rushing yards per game thus far.
The Dolphins impressed on both sides of the ball with their efficient Week 3 victory. Fitzpatrick has had plenty of past success in coordinator Chan Gailey’s offense, so seeing him get increasingly more comfortable with each game isn’t surprising. What’s more noteworthy about the Week 3 win is that second-year back Myles Gaskin may have taken a step forward to becoming a true lead back. Gaskin logged 22 carries, and although he only averaged 3.0 yards per tote, he added another five receptions and proved capable of being a full-time, three-down back if needed.
New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams (-13.5) – 4:05 p.m. ET
The Giants began post-Saquon Barkley life in depressing fashion last week, getting manhandled, 36-9, by a 49ers team also missing plenty of key players.
The Rams, meanwhile, were within striking distance of escaping Buffalo with a 3-0 mark. However, Josh Allen and the Bills mounted a comeback for a 35-32 win via a Tyler Kroft touchdown reception preceded by a questionable pass interference call.
Three weeks in, new Giants head coach Joe Judge probably feels the NFL equivalent of wanting to pull the covers back up over his head and go back to sleep when it comes to his first season. At minimum, Judge may wish he was back in New England. He’s already lost Barkley for the season and receiver Sterling Shepard for several weeks with a toe injury. Meanwhile, there’s been no evidence of a Year 2 bump in performance for quarterback Daniel Jones yet. His play is dragging down the offense as a whole for the moment.
The Rams offense, in contrast, is clicking on all cylinders. Jared Goff has looked much better in the early going. Cooper Kupp stepped to the forefront with a 9-107-1 line Sunday, while Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds, rookie Van Jefferson and Tyler Higbee have also made significant contributions. Darrell Henderson has maximized the opportunity afforded by rookie RB Cam Akers’ rib injury, rushing for 201 yards at a clip of 5.7 yards per carry.
With the Giants in dire straits, oddsmakers have made L.A. the second-heaviest favorite of the week.
Buffalo Bills (-3) at Las Vegas Raiders – 4:25 p.m. ET
Josh Allen continued to play at an MVP-caliber level in Week 3, leading to a 35-32 win over the Rams in which the third-year quarterback punctuated the game-winning drive with his fourth touchdown pass of the contest. While Buffalo moved to 3-0, the Raiders suffered their first loss by dropping a 36-20 decision to the Patriots in Foxboro.
Allen now has thrown for no fewer than 311 yards in any of his first three games and has back-to-back four-touchdown performances through the air. The absence of rookie RB Zack Moss (toe) on Sunday didn’t have a major impact thanks to the work of Devin Singletary, who garnered 121 total yards. Allen’s quick chemistry with offseason addition Stefon Diggs has been critical to the team’s success and helped overcome some unexpected defensive lapses that have led to the Bills allowing a robust 380.7 yards per game thus far.
The Raiders do have the look of an increasingly improving team in the early stages of the third season of coach Jon Gruden’s second tenure. The defense allowed the Patriots to score 23 second-half points Sunday on the way to Las Vegas’ first loss. However, the overall play of Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller has been a bright spot. Getting speedy rookie Henry Ruggs (knee/hamstring) for this potential high-scoring affair would be key.
The Bills are road favorites by a modest margin, with the 50-point-plus projected total reflecting the offensive firepower each team has demonstrated.
Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) at Chicago Bears – 4:25 p.m. ET
At least on paper, this shapes up as one of the marquee matchups of the week. The Bears remain undefeated thanks to another trademark Nick Foles miracle Sunday against the Falcons. Meanwhile, the Colts are a solid 2-1 and come into this contest with an impressive +39 point differential.
Whether Chicago is deserving of its undefeated record in terms of its overall play is up for debate. However, the point is the Bears have now found a way to notch comeback wins with both Mitchell Trubisky and Foles at the helm. The latter authored a comeback from a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit Sunday versus Atlanta after Trubisky was rather abruptly benched. Foles was officially named the starter by coach Matt Nagy on Monday.
The Colts essentially enjoyed an unofficial bye week Sunday while facing the talent-starved and injury-hampered Jets. Indy appeared to be a bit too relaxed on a couple of occasions early, but the Colts still throttled New York by a 36-7 score. Philip Rivers put together another highly efficient outing, completing 81.0% of his passes. Coach Frank Reich has Rivers playing some of the best ball of his last couple of seasons, with the veteran completing 78.3% of his throws through three games. Rookie running back Jonathan Taylor is already helping mitigate the loss of Marlon Mack for the season with an Achilles injury.
Oddsmakers are giving Indy plenty of respect, as the Colts were slight road favorites as of Friday.
Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers (-8.5) – 8:20 p.m. ET
The Eagles could be in some real trouble both from an on-field and mental perspective. Sunday’s 23-23 tie with the Bengals saw Carson Wentz throw another two interceptions, giving him six through three weeks. Then, coach Doug Pederson essentially had to concede a tie rather than go for a fourth down after his team’s 11th penalty of the day, a false start, took them out of fringe field-goal range.
Philly also lost de facto No. 1 receiver DeSean Jackson for the second half with a hamstring strain. That comes in the wake of Jalen Reagor’s thumb injury, which cost him Sunday’s contest. Alshon Jeffery has yet to fully practice following last year’s foot surgery. Dallas Goedert also exited early with an ankle injury against the Bengals and is now on IR.
Meanwhile, after a Week 2 injury debacle, the 49ers came out of their second consecutive MetLife Stadium game Sunday almost unscathed. Running back Jerick McKinnon – who was subbing for Raheem Mostert (knee) and Tevin Coleman (knee) – exited the game late with a rib injury. Mostert will again be out against Philly and Coleman is on injured reserve. Nick Mullens starts again for the 49ers with Jimmy Garoppolo still banged up. Mullens threw for 343 yards in the 36-9 victory over the Giants.
Monday, Oct. 5
New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs (-11) – 7:05 p.m. ET
News came Saturday morning that Patriots QB Cam Newton had tested positive for COVID-19. In response, the NFL said it would postpone the game and most sportsbooks took down their markets on the contest. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the game would take place Monday, with a 7:05 p.m. ET kickoff.
Kansas City had been around a 7-point favorite before Saturday’s news, but when FanDuel Sportsbook reposted their odds for the game Sunday they had New England as an 11.5 point underdog.
The Patriots are coming off a 36-20 win over the Raiders, while the Chiefs are fresh off a 34-20 Monday night win over Baltimore. Brian Hoyer, who is very familiar with coordinator Josh McDaniels‘ offense, is slated to serve as the New England starter.
Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers (-5) – 8:50 p.m. ET
A team that seems to find new ways to lose each week meets one that doesn’t seem to allow anything deter them from a win. Atlanta snatched a 30-26 loss from the jaws of a 26-10 fourth-quarter advantage over the Bears on Sunday by allowing a fresh-off-the-bench Nick Foles to throw three TD passes over a 4:27 period in the fourth quarter.
Atlanta was playing without Julio Jones (hamstring) in Sunday’s game. However, the Falcons’ problems mainly center on their defense. Matt Ryan has thrown for 961 yards and generated a 7:2 TD:INT through three games.
Offseason addition Todd Gurley has been mostly effective when given the chance. He’s averaging 4.0 yards per carry and has scored a pair of rushing TDs through two games. Calvin Ridley has opened the season with three straight 100-yard efforts. Hayden Hurst, while quiet Sunday, had a strong first pair of games. Jones is trending toward playing Monday night according to late Saturday reports, while Ridley, who is dealing with ankle and calf injuries, is also looking like he’ll suit up.
Aaron Rodgers was also without a key weapon due to a hamstring injury in the form of Davante Adams, but no matter; the future Hall of Famer threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns while connecting most often with Allen Lazard (6-146-1). However, Lazard is now ruled out of this game after undergoing core-muscle surgery this week, making Adams, who’s a game-time decision for Monday night, even more important for this game.
Week 4 Opening odds vs. current odds
|Matchup||Lookahead line||Current line (Oct. 5)|
|Denver at New York Jets||Broncos -2.5||Jets -1|
|Arizona at Carolina||Cardinals -5||Cardinals -3|
|Baltimore at Washington||Ravens -13||Ravens -14.5|
|Cleveland at Dallas||Cowboys -5.5||Cowboys -3.5|
|Indianapolis at Chicago||Colts -2||Colts -3.5|
|Jacksonville at Cincinnati||Bengals -3||Bengals -1|
|LA Chargers at Tampa Bay||Buccaneers -5||Buccaneers -7.5|
|Minnesota at Houston||Texans -3||Texans -3.5|
|New Orleans at Detroit||Saints -5.5||Saints -3|
|Seattle at Miami||Seahawks -7||Seahawks -4.5|
|New York Giants at LA Rams||Rams -10||Rams -13.5|
|Buffalo at Las Vegas||Bills -1.5||Bills -3|
|Philadelphia at San Francisco||49ers -3.5||49ers -8.5|
|New England at Kansas City||Chiefs -7.5||Chiefs -11|
|Atlanta at Green Bay||Packers -5.5||Packers -5|