Taking a look at the NFL Week 4 schedule
We’ve just about reached Week 4 of the NFL and 28 of the league’s 32 teams have reached that point. We’ve got another Monday Night Football doubleheader and my guy Zachary Cohen has previewed both Rams vs. Bengals and Eagles vs. Buccaneers. For the other 28 teams, preparations and recovery are ongoing for the next opponent.
Now that we’re through three weeks, we can make some stronger assessments of teams. Small sample sizes are open to a lot of interpretation and don’t always paint an accurate picture, but three data points can be enough to start really dialing into the numbers and see what’s working and what isn’t. Keep in mind, though, that there are some noteworthy strength of schedule differences thus far that could have an impact over the next few weeks as teams face comparable, superior, or inferior competition.
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Here are some Week 4 thoughts:
(odds as of 9/24, 8:30 p.m. PT)
Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET
The Lions are a consensus road favorite now against the Packers. Green Bay was victorious over the Saints, but it wasn’t pretty and the injury report continues to be problematic for the Pack. The travel isn’t daunting at all on a short week here for the Lions, who bounced back nicely against the Falcons after a lackluster showing, especially on defense, against the Seahawks.
Early lines had Green Bay in the same range that they were against the Saints in the -1.5 range and nobody would consider the Lions and Saints equals at this point, so the line adjustment makes sense.
Sunday, 9:30 a.m. ET
Despite an awful performance in all three facets of the game - offense, defense, and special teams - against the Texans, Jacksonville’s line did not move from what the lookahead number was coming into the week. This is effectively a home game for the Jags at Wembley Stadium, where they’ll play their next two games. The Falcons have the long travel across the pond and some soul searching to do before they get there after having no luck offensively against Detroit. If Desmond Ridder is throwing 38 times, something is terribly wrong and something was terribly wrong for Atlanta, as they managed a whopping 2.8 yards per play.
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
The first game for AFC East supremacy between the Dolphins and Bills will be this week. The second one won’t be until January 7. We’ll see if that game matters for either team, but the Dolphins just hung 72 points on the Broncos in a 50-point win. The Bills didn’t set any records or have as noteworthy of a performance, but they played a very complete game with a 37-3 win over the Commanders. This line was 3.5 and moved to 2.5. I have to think Buffalo will get some love under the key number of 3.
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
Despite a thoroughly impressive performance against the Cowboys, the Cardinals didn’t get any love in terms of a market adjustment against the 49ers. This line was -14 on the lookahead and is exactly the same as of Sunday night. The 49ers are on extra rest and extra prep off of Thursday Night Football last week. The Cardinals don’t have far to go for this game and they’ve honestly looked way better than people expected. Maybe Jonathan Gannon does have some coaching chops. The team gave him the Gatorade shower and everybody looked genuinely happy for him, so it seems like the Cardinals are just playing with house money and are playing free and easy.
Early play I like for Week 4
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
I’m not sure if it matters if Bryce Young or Andy Dalton get the nod for the Panthers here. The Vikings are 0-3, but they’ve given away a very winnable game against the Bucs, lost to the reigning NFC champs, and lost to a Chargers team bursting with offensive upside and potential. The Panthers are clearly the weakest team that they’ve faced to this point and Carolina has played two teams weaker than the Vikings.
Turnover luck has not been on Minnesota’s side and a season’s worth of regression is hitting like a tidal wave, but the Vikings have managed 5.9 yards per play or better in each of their first three games, so they are moving the ball. The Vikings don’t have Justin Herbert, nor do they have Keenan Allen, who had 18 catches for 215 yards last week. Carolina threw the ball 58 times last week and still fell short of 400 yards. They’ve had 520 yards in Young’s two starts. I just don’t see how they can keep up.