NFL Week 4 capsules
Falcons (2-1) vs. Jaguars (1-2), in London: Atlanta rookie Bijan Robinson entered the week leading all running backs with 14 receptions. The Falcons rarely threaten over the top, relying on QB Desmond Ridder to manage the game with high-percentage passes and Robinson to pair with Tyler Allgeier to move the chains. TE Kyle Pitts had a career-high nine receptions for 119 yards in his previous International Series game. In the franchise’s ninth game at Wembley Stadium, the Jaguars look to former Falcons WR Calvin Ridley to spark the offense. RB Travis Etienne had 138 yards from scrimmage last week and Atlanta is giving up 117.7 rushing yards per game.
Dolphins (3-0) vs. Bills (2-1): No team has ever produced more yards in the first three games of the season than Miami (1,651) and the Dolphins are on pace to set the NFL scoring record with an average of 43.3 per game entering Week 4. But Buffalo has won eight of the past nine meetings in the AFC East rivalry and the Bills’ defense is out to prove a point this week. Buffalo’s defense became the first since the Chicago Bears (1985) with nine sacks and four INTs in a game. The Bills have drilled the Las Vegas Raiders and Washington Commanders by a combined score of 75-13 since the Week 1 overtime loss to the New York Jets. QB Josh Allen averaged 317.7 yards and three TD passes (zero interceptions) in his past three games in the matchup. Tua Tagovailoa had three TDs and zero INTs in two starts against the Bills in 2022.
Broncos (0-3) vs. Bears (0-3): Good luck finding two NFL teams more eager to get back on the field than these winless clubs. The Bears have lost 13 straight games dating back to last season, surrendering at least 25 points in each contest. Denver allowed 70 points to the Dolphins in a 50-point blowout loss at Miami in Week 3 and has a 6-20 record since Thanksgiving 2021. Broncos QB Russell Wilson hasn’t played poorly with 300-yard games in back-to-back starts. The Bears are trying to unlock Justin Fields from a mystifying start. Fields was sacked 13 times and had a 67.7 passer rating in the first three games.
Vikings (0-3) vs. Panthers (0-3): Rookie QB Bryce Young found his energy during a week on the mend from an ankle injury and showed some spark in Panthers’ practice this week. Carolina had 27 points in a loss at Seattle with Andy Dalton running the offense, matching the point total Young produced in the first two games. Head coach Frank Reich plans to work the ball to lead receiver Adam Thielen (20 receptions), who spent 10 seasons with the Vikings before being released in the offseason. Minnesota has six receivers with a TD catch — QB Kirk Cousins leads the NFL with 9 TDs — but still hasn’t scored in the first quarter. A faster start could be salve for a team wounded by turnovers, namely seven lost fumbles, though Cousins would realize a huge benefit from a more stable running game. Minnesota’s offensive line woes have hindered the ground game to just 66.3 yards per game.
Browns (2-1) vs. Ravens (2-1): Cleveland’s No. 1-ranked defense had Titans QB Ryan Tannehill seeing ghosts last week when he wasn’t sprinting the opposite direction of DE Myles Garrett. The Browns allowed just one offensive touchdown in three games while leading the NFL in both scoring defense (10.7 points allowed per game) and total defense (163.7 yards allowed per game). The scoring average would be even lower if the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t score two defensive touchdowns in the Week 2 matchup. If the offense catches up in Cleveland, watch out. The Browns are minus-5 in turnover differential and have split the past four games with the Ravens. When QB Lamar Jackson has time, he can deliver from the pocket. He leads the NFL in completion percentage on passes thrown beyond the sticks. Health was a major hurdle last week with seven starters, four on offense, out in the tie with the Colts. That forced Jackson to run more often, which tends to work out, too. He posted his 13th career 100-yard game. Jackson is 5-1 in his past six starts against the Browns.
Texans (1-2) vs. Steelers (2-1): The Texans blitzed the Jacksonville Jaguars for a 37-17 win last week and rookie QB C.J. Stroud went 20-for-30 passing for 280 yards and two touchdowns. Dealing with Pittsburgh’s defense, which has eight takeaways, presents a greater challenge. Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans called pass rusher T.J. Watt “probably the most impactful defensive player in the league.” Watt has a league-high 6.0 sacks and two fumble recoveries (tied with Colts defensive end Kwity Paye) through three games. Houston’s hope is to use a page from Ryans’ previous team – he was defensive coordinator of the 49ers prior to taking over the Texans – and make Pittsburgh one-dimensional. The Steelers rank 30th in the NFL in rushing offense (67 yards per game), but they surpassed 100 yards for the first time against Las Vegas with 105. Najee Harris is averaging 4.0 yards per carry but has only 35 in three games.
Colts (2-1) vs. Rams (1-2): On the road for the third time in four games, the Rams are planning for two quarterbacks but expecting rookie Anthony Richardson to get the call after sitting out last week in concussion protocol. The Colts harassed Lamar Jackson with blitz pressures last week and have 12 sacks and a plus-2 turnover differential, numbers that mean something when you start a rookie QB. Indianapolis is also finding its footing with a rushing attack that featured Zack Moss (145 yards from scrimmage at Baltimore) again. With no such running game (84 yards per game), the Rams are exposing QB Matthew Stafford to heavy fire. He has been sacked seven times with four interceptions this season.
Saints (2-1) vs. Buccaneers (2-1): RB Alvin Kamara returns from a three-game suspension with the Saints welcoming Baker Mayfield to New Orleans for the first time. The Bucs swept the series in 2022 but have a new look without Tom Brady. Mayfield has done his part and established a strong rapport with WR Mike Evans (17 receptions for 297 yards, three TDs) while waiting for a bigger boost from the ground game. The Bucs won’t hold much back with an early bye in Week 5. New Orleans might not have its new QB under center this week as Derek Carr (shoulder) is week-to-week. Jameis Winston couldn’t hold a 17-0 lead at Green Bay last week but is anxious for another shot at his former team. Winston has eight TD passes in four career home starts for the Saints.
Eagles (3-0) vs. Commanders (2-1): First-year starting QB Sam Howell crashed from a 2-0 start in a 37-3 loss to the Bills in Week 3. Howell and the Commanders lost 32-31 at Philadelphia last season and have dropped three of the past four in the series. One new face the Commanders will greet is first-round pick Jalen Carter, who has six pressures on six double-team pass-rushing opportunities and gets more attention from offensive linemen every week. The Eagles have had no reservations handing the ball off this season (185.7 yards per game) and are giving up just 48.3 yards per game on the ground. The Eagles are 3-0 for the second consecutive season for the first time since 1992-93. Jalen Hurts had six touchdowns (five passing) in his last two starts against Washington.
Chargers (1-2) vs. Raiders (1-2): The Raiders have three quarterbacks on their roster, and any of them could take the field on Sunday afternoon at the Los Angeles Chargers. Jimmy Garoppolo started and finished the first three games of the season for Las Vegas, but he was placed in concussion protocol following a 23-18 loss to the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said that Garoppolo was still in protocol on Wednesday and did not practice but has been participating in meetings. If he’s not cleared, 37-year-old journeyman Brian Hoyer would make his 41st career start. Hoyer has 12 consecutive losses as a starter and the Raiders are tied for 29th in the NFL in points per game (15.0). The Chargers are second in the NFL in total offense but have only one win because they’ve allowed 29 points per game. The Chargers prevented another agonizing last-minute loss by intercepting a pass in the end zone with under 10 seconds left. Austin Ekeler, the No. 1 running back for Los Angeles, returned to practice on Wednesday but was limited after missing the past two games with an ankle injury.
Cowboys (2-1) vs. Patriots (1-2): Dak Prescott starts for the 101st time in his career going for a duplication of his previous performance against the Patriots. Prescott passed for more yards than a Bill Belichick defense has ever allowed (445 yards, three TDs) in the 35-29 win over New England in 2021. The Cowboys’ passing game isn’t clicking on all cylinders leading to a huge workload for Tony Pollard, the NFL leader in total touches through three games. He’ll get a chance to prove his value as Ezekiel Elliott returns to Dallas as a backup with the Patriots. New England has gone 16 games in a row without scoring 28 points but the Patriots snuck past the Jets last week with a 15-point effort.
49ers (3-0) vs. Cardinals (1-2): Fresh off of his first career win, QB Josh Dobbs gets a close-up with the clamp-down defense of the 49ers. San Francisco’s hard-hitting back seven vows to treat Dobbs like a running back after he rushing for 55 yards in a healthy diet of RPO calls that slowed down the Cowboys’ pass rush. Dobbs leans heavily on TE Zach Ertz, who has just 83 yards on 14 receptions. The 49ers have allowed 42 points this season and only 12 total in the second half. QB Brock Purdy hasn’t thrown an interception and is 10-0 in games he has started and finished, including the playoffs. San Francisco is two wins shy of the franchise streak for consecutive regular-season wins and currently have 13 victories in a row, which includes two over the Cardinals last season by a combined scored of 76-23.
Jets (1-2) vs. Chiefs (2-1): Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is 5-0 on SNF with 14 TDs and threw five TD passes the last time he faced the Jets. New York’s offense continues to be reshaped without Aaron Rodgers as QB Zach Wilson reacclimates to the leading role and the Jets work through offensive line issues that are stunting the running game (91.3 yards per game). Chiefs TE Travis Kelce has two TD catches and leads the team with 11 receptions despite missing Week 1 with a knee injury and rookie WR Rashee Rice leads the WR corps with 10 grabs. Kansas City surrendered only 40 points in the first three games — 20 in the fourth quarter — and the Chiefs have 8.0 sacks. The Jets, averaging 14 points per game in 2023, look to establish big-play back Breece Hall (147 yards from scrimmage in Week 1) and Dalvin Cook to open up passing lanes for Wilson downfield.
Giants (1-2) vs. Seahawks (2-1): Seattle has formed a dynamic 1-2 punch at running back alongside QB Geno Smith with Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet combining for 277 rushing yards and 11 receptions. The Giants’ run defense was gouged for 138 rushing yards per game and six TDs in the first three games. Teams that load up to stuff the run must contend with DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who’ve caught 37 of Smith’s 71 completions this season. QB Daniel Jones would enjoy the return of RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), who had 38 touches in the first two games. Without Barkley last week, Jones was under attack. Trouble has found the Giants when they fall behind. Jones has been sacked 12 times and has only one completion over 30 yards.
–Field Level Media