The Week 4 NFL slate is stacked with great matchups. Our NFL Nation reporters bring us the keys to every game, a bold prediction for each matchup and final score predictions.
Additionally, ESPN Stats & Information research provides a stat to know, and the Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game projection. ESPN Fantasy‘s Kyle Soppe and ESPN Chalk‘s Mackenzie Kraemer hand out helpful nuggets as well. It’s all here to help get you ready for a loaded weekend of NFL football.
Let’s get into the full Week 4 schedule, starting with two matchups of undefeated teams.
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 81.4 | Spread: KC -6.5 (54.5)
What to watch for: Patrick Mahomes hasn’t played in a dome as a pro, and playing indoors at Ford Field should make Kansas City’s offense somehow more dangerous. If Lions cornerbacks Darius Slay and Rashaan Melvin are not at full strength, Mahomes and the Chiefs could be extra special on Sunday. — Michael Rothstein
Bold prediction: Travis Kelce will catch a couple of touchdown passes. Kelce has only one this season, and Detroit has done a nice job of defending tight ends, giving up only seven completions. But the Lions have also given up 93 yards on those passes, and they haven’t faced a tight end with Kelce’s ability. — Adam Teicher
Stat to know: According to ESPN’s coverage analysis using NFL Next Gen Stats research, Mahomes is averaging 12.5 yards per attempt with six passing touchdowns when facing zone coverage this season, both of which are the best in the NFL. But the Lions have used man coverage on 68% of their snaps this season, the third most of any team this season.
What to know for fantasy: Mahomes had the greatest fantasy season ever by a quarterback last season. But if he scores 28.5 points Sunday, he will actually be ahead of where he was through four games in 2018. See Week 4 rankings.
Teicher’s pick: Chiefs 33, Lions 24
Rothstein’s pick: Chiefs 38, Lions 27
FPI prediction: KC, 70.2% (by an average of 7.4 points)
Matchup must-reads: Lions’ Diggs: Mahomes could ‘break every record’ … Why WR Jones’ reemergence means good things for the Lions’ offense … Hardman gives Chiefs another speedy toy for Mahomes … In facing Kelce, Lions can learn from containing Ertz
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 73.5 | Spread: NE -7.5 (42.5)
What to watch for: Josh Allen has yet to turn in four quarters of mistake-free football this season, but he’ll need to against the Patriots. A large part of his game is his ability to improvise. Whether he’ll be able to make smart improvisational decisions against an opportunistic New England defense will determine how successful the Bills’ offense will be Sunday. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
Bold prediction: Sony Michel will lead the way on offense for New England, as the Patriots’ running game will find its groove after three outings in which the attack has trended more toward the pass. Michel, who has totaled only 108 rushing yards over three games, will top the 100-yard mark in a close contest that will be decided in the fourth quarter. — Mike Reiss
Stat to know: New England has won 17 consecutive games against first- or second-year starting quarterbacks. And the Patriots’ man defense could spell trouble for Allen. According to ESPN coverage metrics powered by NFL Next Gen Stats data, the Patriots use man coverage at the second-highest rate in the league (68%), and Allen averages just 6.6 yards per attempt versus man, compared with 8.0 yards per attempt versus zone.
Betting nugget: Last season, New England was 1-5 outright as a single-digit road favorite, including 0-3 outright when favored by 6-9 points on the road. Read more.
Reiss’ pick: Patriots 20, Bills 17
Louis-Jacques’ pick: Patriots 21, Bills 13
FPI prediction: NE, 75.3% (by an average of 9.5 points)
Matchup must-reads: Belichick’s expanded oversight boosts Patriots’ D … Allen’s knack for extending plays a blessing and curse for Bills … Patriots holding on during roller-coaster ride at wide receiver
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 69.1 | Spread: ATL -4 (46)
What to watch for: How the Falcons’ receivers perform against the Tennessee secondary will be key. If Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew was able to connect downfield on the Titans, surely Matt Ryan can do the same. Keep an eye on Calvin Ridley, who vowed not to let a hip injury hold him back. He had only one target last weekend, and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter wants to get him more involved. — Vaughn McClure
Bold prediction: Outside linebacker Harold Landry will have two sacks. He has been relatively quiet, having posted only one sack through three games, but he’ll get home against the Falcons with Ryan waiting for the deep routes to develop with his receivers. — Turron Davenport
Stat to know: Julio Jones has a receiving touchdown in seven consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL. A.J. Green (nine in 2012), Antonio Brown (eight in 2018) and Wes Welker (eight in 2012 and ’13) are the only players with eight-game streaks over the past 10 seasons.
Rob Ninkovich feels this is a must-win game for Marcus Mariota and the Titans, because if they lose, Mariota could be replaced.
What to know for fantasy: Since Week 13 of last season, Derrick Henry has run for 11 touchdowns. No other player has more than seven. And over that stretch, only Christian McCaffrey has more fantasy points among running backs. See Week 4 rankings.
Betting nugget: Atlanta has failed to cover in 12 consecutive games against AFC opponents, including the Week 3 loss against Indianapolis. The Falcons are 5-21 ATS in their past 26 games against AFC opponents, including 4-14 ATS under Dan Quinn. Read more.
Davenport’s pick: Falcons 28, Titans 20
McClure’s pick: Falcons 31, Titans 17
FPI prediction: ATL, 54% (by an average of 1.4 points)
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 55.9 | Spread: BAL -6.5 (45)
What to watch for: The Ravens’ offensive line could have problems against the Browns’ pass rush, which is the best Baltimore has played this season “by a long way,” according to coach John Harbaugh. Lamar Jackson is averaging 99 yards rushing per game in his five regular-season starts at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium, but how will the pass rush affect that part of his game? — Jamison Hensley
Bold prediction: Two of Baker Mayfield‘s former Oklahoma teammates, Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews, score touchdowns as Jackson prevails in a shootout of former Heisman Trophy-winning QBs. — Jake Trotter
Stat to know: The Ravens have blitzed on 47% of opposing QB dropbacks this season, the highest mark in the NFL. And they boast the NFL’s fourth-best pass rush win rate, beating blocks within 2.5 seconds 58% of the time, per NFL Next Gen Stats research.
What to know for fantasy: Nick Chubb has the chance to join Todd Gurley as the only players since 2009 to have at least 17 carries and three receptions in each of their teams’ first four games of a season (Gurley did it in 2018). See Week 4 rankings.
Betting nugget: Last season, Baltimore failed to cover in all five divisional games in which it was the favorite, including both tries against Cleveland. Read more.
Trotter’s pick: Ravens 31, Browns 27
Hensley’s pick: Ravens 28, Browns 27
FPI prediction: BAL, 72.7% (by an average of 8.4 points)
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 54.7 | Spread: HOU -4 (47.5)
What to watch for: The Texans haven’t allowed a player to rush for more than 100 yards since Week 17 of the 2017 season, the third-longest active streak in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Can Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, who has more than 100 rushing yards in two of three games this season, break that streak? — Sarah Barshop
Bold prediction: Carolina quarterback Kyle Allen will follow his four-touchdown pass performance against Arizona with three against Houston, which has given up only five touchdown passes in three games. He’ll also top 250 yards passing against a defense that is stingy against the run. — David Newton
Stat to know: The Panthers’ defense is using zone coverage on 72% of its snaps in 2019, the second-highest rate in the NFL. And the unit is giving up a league-low 4.6 yards per play this season in that coverage, per ESPN’s coverage metrics powered by NFL Next Gen Stats data.
What to know for fantasy: Allen has made two starts in his NFL career, resulting in seven total touchdowns and a pair of top-7 fantasy finishes at the position. See Week 4 rankings.
Newton’s pick: Texans 24, Panthers 21
Barshop’s pick: Texans 24, Panthers 16
FPI prediction: HOU, 75.4% (by an average of 9.5 points)
Matchup must-reads: Three NFL players from a tiny town of 300? Meet the Bassfield Boys … Too soon for Kyle Allen to challenge Cam Newton like ‘Play 60’ kid … Watt on sacks: ‘I knew it was just a matter of time’ … Olsen reestablishing himself as a top tight end
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 45.5 | Spread: IND -6.5 (45.5)
What to watch for: The Colts had eight sacks in their first two games of the season, but as pass-rusher Justin Houston noted, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan did a good job of getting a rid of the ball quickly to cause the Colts to go sackless in Week 3. Don’t be surprised if Derek Carr and the Raiders try to do the same thing Sunday. — Mike Wells
Bold prediction: The Raiders will ride rookie running back Josh Jacobs, whose touches have fallen from 24 to 12 to 10 in three games, to establish the run game early and set up the play-action passing game. — Paul Gutierrez
Stat to know: Carr quietly has the third-highest completion percentage (73.5%) in the NFL this season, but he is also averaging just 7.1 yards per attempt (20th in NFL) and 6.4 air yards per attempt (31st).
What to know for fantasy: Oakland’s Darren Waller ranks second in the NFL, across all positions, with 26 catches this season, and he is facing a Colts team that has given up more tight-end receptions than any other team since the beginning of last season (121). See Week 4 rankings.
Gutierrez’s pick: Raiders 21, Colts 20
Wells’ pick: Colts 27, Raiders 16
FPI prediction: IND, 75.1% (by an average of 9.4 points)
1 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 14.5 | Spread: LAC -15 (43.5)
What to watch for: Keenan Allen probably will rack up huge receiving yards in this one. He had 183 yards and two touchdowns on 13 catches last weekend against the Texans, and now he has to be licking his chops facing the Dolphins’ banged-up secondary. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Allen eclipse 200 yards. — Cameron Wolfe
Bold prediction: Chargers running back Austin Ekeler goes for more than 100 rushing yards for the first time as a pro. The Dolphins are giving up a league-worst 208 rushing yards per game. Melvin Gordon’s holdout is over, but Sunday’s game will be Ekeler’s opportunity to put up big numbers against a lackluster Miami run defense. — Eric D. Williams
Stat to know: The Dolphins are trying to avoid becoming the third team to lose four consecutive games by 25-plus points in same season. It hasn’t been done since the 1954 Redskins.
What to know for fantasy: Ekeler is RB3 for the season, and his 77.8 points are 3.2 more than Gordon has ever scored through the Chargers’ first three games of a season. See Week 4 rankings.
Betting nugget: Miami is the first team since the 1970 merger to be a home underdog of at least 14 points twice before the end of September. Read more.
Williams’ pick: Chargers 27, Dolphins 17
Wolfe’s pick: Chargers 34, Dolphins 13
FPI prediction: LAC, 86.2% (by an average of 15.1 points)
Matchup must-reads: Gordon’s return should help Chargers in time … Wins? Not so much, yet. Aggression? Rosen will bring it for Dolphins … Are the Dolphins really doing this? How they could tank and win … All hail the NFL’s coolest jersey: Chargers embrace powder blues
1 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 10.0 | Spread: NYG -2.5 (49)
What to watch for: Landon Collins makes his return to New Jersey to face his former team for the first time. He has been vocally critical of Giants general manager Dave Gettleman and the way his situation was handled, even calling him a “liar.” Don’t think for a second Collins won’t want to stick it to his former team with a huge performance. — Jordan Raanan
Bold prediction: Daniel Jones‘ mobility will be a problem for Washington’s defense. He will buy enough time to throw for 250 yards and two touchdown passes in his first home start. But Redskins quarterback Case Keenum will top him with 275 yards and three scores. — John Keim
Stat to know: The Redskins have given up more than 30 points in three consecutive games, and four straight would tie the team’s single-season record, set in 1954. Meanwhile, the Giants are 8-3 with a plus-65 point differential (241-176) in their past 11 home games against Washington.
Victor Cruz and Rob Ninkovich both pick the Giants to defeat a depleted Redskins team Sunday afternoon.
What to know for fantasy: Jones was QB2 in Week 3 and now faces a Redskins defense that has allowed all three opposing quarterbacks this season to complete over 70% of their passes and throw for three scores. See Week 4 rankings.
Betting nugget: Over the past two seasons, the Giants are 1-7-1 ATS at home. Since 2017, New York is 1-3 outright as a home favorite (0-3-1 ATS). Read more.
Keim’s pick: Giants 28, Redskins 27
Raanan’s pick: Giants 28, Redskins 22
FPI prediction: NYG, 55.3% (by an average of 1.9 points)
4:05 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 56.9 | Spread: LAR -9 (49.5)
What to watch for: The Rams are well aware that their offense has performed below standard. They’ll attempt to get on track against the Bucs, though that could prove difficult against a Todd Bowles defense that ranks third against the run, giving up only 69.7 rushing yards per game. — Lindsey Thiry
Bold prediction: Ronald Jones will notch his first career 100-yard rushing performance. He is coming off an 80-yard performance last weekend against the Giants in which he averaged 5.7 yards per carry. The Rams surrendered 128 rushing yards to Christian McCaffrey and 96 to Nick Chubb, so it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. — Jenna Laine
Stat to know: Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston leads the NFL with 10 completions into tight windows (less than one yard of separation) this season, and his 187 passing yards on such throws are the second most, according to NFL Next Gen Stats research.
Betting nugget: Los Angeles is 7-1 ATS in its past eight games, including 3-0 this season. The team’s only non-cover came in the Super Bowl. Read more.
Laine’s pick: Rams 30, Buccaneers 14
Thiry’s pick: Rams 28, Buccaneers 13
FPI prediction: LAR, 80.7% (by an average of 12.0 points)
Matchup must-reads: Goff’s security blanket: Rams receiver Cooper Kupp … NFL sack leader Barrett becomes Bucs’ unexpected star … Bucs focused on finishing to avoid another giant letdown vs. Rams … McVay: Gurley not on load management program
4:05 p.m. ET | Fox
Matchup rating: 31.5 | Spread: SEA -5 (48)
What to watch for: Larry Fitzgerald hasn’t had a 100-yard game against Seattle since 2017, but that could change Sunday. Fitzgerald has gotten off to his best start (18 receptions, 253 yards, two touchdowns) through three games since 2015, and it’s one of the best stretches to start a season in his career. He needs five catches Sunday to move into second on the NFL’s all-time receptions list. — Josh Weinfuss
Bold prediction: Quinton Jefferson, who has been Seattle’s best defensive lineman this season, will have pair of sacks. Kyler Murray has been sacked more times (16) than all but one quarterback, despite facing blitzes on only 24.2% of his dropbacks, which is 18th most among QBs, according to ESPN charting. — Brady Henderson
Stat to know: Murray has 137 pass attempts through his first three career games, the most by any player since the 1970 merger. Mike Glennon‘s 181 attempts is the most through a player’s first four games.
What to know for fantasy: Seattle’s Chris Carson has lost more fumbles this season (three) than all of 2018 (two), but he is one of only two backs with a 20-plus-yard rush in all three games (Dalvin Cook is the other). See Week 4 rankings.
Betting nugget: Over the past two seasons, Arizona is 5-0 ATS when it is an underdog of 3-7 points. Read more.
Henderson’s pick: Seahawks 26, Cardinals 21
Weinfuss’ pick: Seahawks 28, Cardinals 17
FPI prediction: SEA, 60.5% (by an average of 3.8 points)
4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 79.0 | Spread: CHI -2.5 (38)
What to watch for: With a pair of sometimes-suspect quarterbacks — Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins and Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky — the game probably hinges on which defense does a better job stopping the run. The Bears have allowed only one 100-yard rusher in regulation over their past 37 regular-season games. That player was a Viking: Latavius Murray in Week 17 of the 2017 season. — Jeff Dickerson
Bold prediction: Dalvin Cook, the league’s leading rusher, won’t crack 100 yards rushing for the first time this season but will cross the century mark in yards from scrimmage with an increased role in the passing game. Minnesota’s game plan will be predicated on short passes and screens, and we’ll see Cook get his first receiving touchdown of the season. — Courtney Cronin
Stat to know: Cook is the fifth player in NFL history to rush for 110-plus yards and a touchdown in each of his team’s first three games of a season. The other four? All Hall of Famers (Jim Brown, O.J. Simpson, Emmitt Smith and Curtis Martin).
Victor Cruz expects the Bears to simplify their offense and make it easy for Mitchell Trubisky against the Vikings’ defense.
Betting nugget: Regarding Chicago, teams coming off victories on Monday Night Football have failed to cover seven consecutive games and are 12-20-1 ATS since 2017. Read more.
Cronin’s pick: Vikings 20, Bears 17
Dickerson’s pick: Vikings 16, Bears 12
FPI prediction: MIN, 52.2% (by an average of 0.8 points)
4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Matchup rating: 38.7 | Spread: DEN -3 (38)
What to watch for: The Broncos are the only team to still not have a sack — and the only team to still not have forced a turnover — this season. The Jaguars, meanwhile, were tied for the league lead in sacks after three games, and Denver’s Joe Flacco is one of only six quarterbacks who have been sacked more than 10 times in three games. — Jeff Legwold
Bold prediction: The Jaguars will intercept Flacco at least twice. Flacco has struggled against Jacksonville overall (five touchdowns and seven interceptions, along with a 3-3 record), but it’s particularly true in the past two meetings: no TD passes, four INTs and just 242 yards. The Jaguars’ pass rush got cranked up last weekend (nine sacks) and might be even better than the unit Flacco played in 2017. — Mike DiRocco
Stat to know: Jacksonville quarterback Gardner Minshew has 65 completions through 88 career pass attempts. Per Elias Sports Bureau research, he needs only six completions in his first 12 attempts in Week 4 to set the NFL record for most through 100 pass attempts.
Betting nugget: Regarding Denver, since 2015, teams that are 0-3 are 12-2 ATS in their fourth game when playing a team that has won a game that season. Read more.
DiRocco’s pick: Jaguars 17, Broncos 14
Legwold’s pick: Broncos 21, Jaguars 17
FPI prediction: DEN, 59% (by an average of 3.2 points)
Matchup must-reads: Why Jaguars have leverage with Jalen Ramsey, and how that could change … Fault for Flacco sacks falls on more than just Broncos’ O-line … Doug Marrone: O-line not ‘giving Leonard a chance’ … Callahan’s injury forcing changes in Broncos secondary
8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
Matchup rating: 78.5 | Spread: DAL -2.5 (47)
What to watch for: Last weekend, Teddy Bridgewater proved the Saints can win without Drew Brees by relying heavily on Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. But the Cowboys’ defense proved last season that it has the talent to shut down those guys. Dallas is the only team to keep them both at 72 yards or fewer since Kamara’s first game in 2017. The Saints must find a way to create some big plays this time. — Mike Triplett
Bold prediction: Dak Prescott will be sacked more than two times. Why is that bold? Prescott has been sacked only twice this season. But in their past five home games dating to last season, the Saints have put up 19 sacks, including six of Houston’s Deshaun Watson. — Todd Archer
Stat to know: Prescott leads the NFL in Total QBR this season at 90.4 and ranks second in passing touchdowns with nine (behind Patrick Mahomes). The only other Cowboys quarterback with nine passing TDs through three games is Don Meredith, in 1966. Prescott is completing an NFL-best 75% of his passes, up from 68% last season, thanks in part to seeing pressure on just 18% of his dropbacks, per NFL Next Gen Stats research.
What to know for fantasy: So far this season, 60.1% of Kamara’s points have come as a pass-catcher (65.2% in Week 3, the first game under Bridgewater). See Week 4 rankings.
Betting nugget: Bridgewater is 13-2 ATS in his career as an underdog, the best ATS mark by any quarterback with at least 10 starts as an underdog in the Super Bowl era. Read more.
Archer’s pick: Cowboys 30, Saints 28
Triplett’s pick: Cowboys 24, Saints 20
FPI prediction: NO, 55.0% (by an average of 1.8 points)
Matchup must-reads: Can Saints, Cowboys win before big paydays force roster cuts? … Kellen Moore’s path to Cowboys coordinator mirrors Jason Garrett’s … Pollard, Elliott give defenses even more to think about
What to watch for: Pittsburgh’s offense failed to capitalize on the defense’s five takeaways in Week 3. But now the Bengals are in a three-way tie with the 49ers and Dolphins for last place in the league with eight turnovers through the first three weeks. The Steelers will have another opportunity to make more defensive plays Monday, but it’ll be up to the offense and quarterback Mason Rudolph to get more than a handful of points out of them. — Brooke Pryor
Bold prediction: Pittsburgh will not give up a sack. The Bengals’ pass rush has been hot and cold this season, and the Steelers have given up only four sacks this season, tied for seventh fewest in the NFL and the best of any AFC team. — Ben Baby
Stat to know: The Steelers’ James Conner is averaging 32.3 rushing yards per game this season after averaging almost 75 last season. Over the past two seasons, the Steelers are 1-7 when Conner rushes for 60 yards or fewer and 7-0-1 when he rushes for more than that.
Betting nugget: Mike Tomlin is 17-6 ATS in his career against Cincinnati, though Ben Roethlisberger started all of those games. Read more.
Baby’s pick: Bengals 17, Steelers 14
Pryor’s pick: Steelers 17, Bengals 14
FPI prediction: PIT, 65.1% (by an average of 5.4 points)
Published at Fri, 27 Sep 2019 23:34:08 +0000