Previewing NFL Week 4

The list of unbeaten teams was cut by one Thursday night when the Packer lost to the Eagles.

That leaves three AFC teams and three NFC teams at 3-0 plus Detroit is unbeaten at 2-0-1.

Barring ties, the list of unbeatens will shrink Sunday with the 3-0 Bills and 3-0 Pats and Lions and 3-0 Chiefs playing each other. The 3-0 49ers have a bye and the Rams figured to beat Tampa Bay to go to 4-0.

That leaves Dallas going for 4-0 at New Orleans, a tough place to play even with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback for the Saints.

Flve teams are 0-3 in the AFC and two of them, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, will meet. Miami figures to fall to 0-4 against the Chargers and the 0-3 Broncos are favored against the 1-2 Jaguars and the 0-3 Jets have a bye.

Washington, the only 0-3 team in the NFC, goes to the Giants and the Washington Post reported Jay Gruden may be fired if the Redskins lose. Arizona, the other winless team in the NFC at 0-2-1 plays Seattle.

Game of the Week

The Patriots play in Buffalo with each team at 3-0 in what may be and Bills biggest home regular season games in years. The stadium figures to be rocking. And the Patriots often lose a road game early. Last year they lost in Jacksonville in the second game. And the three teams they have beaten are 0-9. The problem is the Patriots have owned the Bills in the Tom Brady era, losing to them just four times so a New England victory will be no surprise.

Game of the Weak

Two division rivals, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are in the same boat at 0-3. The loser falls to 0-4 and their season will be almost over although their hopes are already on life support. Only 1.8 per cent of 0-3 teams make the playoffs. Only one 0-4 team, the 1992 Chargers, has done it.

This season is the 50th anniversary of the Steelers hiring Chuck Noll. Now they’re back in rebuilding mode. The league didn’t expect both teams to be winless because it is a Monday night game. Pittsburgh, usually a top attraction, has three more prime time games left. Including a Monday night game against Miami. It is Miami’s only prime time game.

Five things to watch for:

–Is the new pass interference rule going to continue to be a fiasco? It was supposed to overturn bad non calls but director of officials Al Riveron didn’t do that in the Thursday night game. The only good is that may lead the league to drop the rule after one year.

–Patrick Mahomes vs. Matthew Stafford would seem like a good duel except that Stafford is questionable with a hip injury and Mahomes continues to be a scoring machine. If he throws two touchdowns against the Lions, it will be the 15th game in a row he’s done that and would tie Peyton Manning’s record. But as Troy Aikman pointed out last week, his numbers have to be kept in perspective because all the rules now favor the passing game and the quarterback.

–Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook can become just the fifth player in NFL history to rush for 100 yards and get a rushing touchdown in each of the team’s first four games when the Vikings play the Bears. Three of the previous four are in the Hall of Fame – Jim Brown, O.J. Simpson and Emmitt Smith. The fourth is DeMarco Murray.

–Two rookie quarterbacks, Daniel Jones and Gardner Minshew, both won last week, Jones in his first start and Minshew in his second. And Kyle Allen won his first start of his second season. Now that teams have had more chance to study them on film, it will be interesting to see how they do this week. Minshew plays at Denver, Allen at Houston and Jones is home against the Redskins.

–Frank Gore can enhance his Hall of Fame credentials if he gets 88 yards and becomes just the fourth player to rush for 15,000 yards. The other three. Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders, are in the Hall of Fame. But Gore has done it on four teams and has never been viewed in the same elite class with the other three players. He’ll make it as a kind of lifetime achievement award.

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