With the first month of the 2016 season officially in the books, here’s a look at the top five games for NFL Week 4.
Get ready for another fun weekend of amazing as football as NFL Week 4 is filled with plenty of great games to keep fans entertained through Monday.
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From division rivals squaring off to possible early playoff previews between teams, Week 4 is filled with all sorts of action that could end up making or breaking teams. While the Buffalo Bills look to spoil the final game for the New England Patriots without their beloved quarterback, the Atlanta Falcons look to pickup right where they left off in 2015 against the Carolina Panthers by handing them a second-straight loss.
And if that does happen, it will be crazy to think how the Panthers may have to climb out of a 1-3 deficit to the season, but let’s wait and see how Sunday turns out first for Ron Rivera‘s squad. With two tough losses already, Rivera knows the last thing his team can afford is to have three losses heading into the second weekend of October.
There may not be as many games each weekend now thanks to some teams officially starting their bye week, but that shouldn’t stop football fans from still enjoying the set of games on the table. Without further ado, here’s a look at the top five games for NFL Week 4.
Sep 25, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) calls a play during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
5. Rams vs. Cardinals
A few weeks ago, it seemed like it would be the Arizona Cardinals sitting on top of the NFC West instead of the Los Angeles Rams, but it’s funny how things work out sometimes. While the Rams are a surprising 2-1, the Cardinals have been one of the biggest disappointments of the young season with their 1-2 start.
As bad as it sounds, the last thing Arizona can afford is to start off the season 1-3 with the way the NFC is shaping out, and a win over Los Angeles is just what this team needs to get back on track. At the beginning of the season, the Cardinals were considered one of the top teams to beat in the NFC when considering the level of talent on both sides of the football.
Instead, Arizona already has two tough losses against the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills, and they hope that number doesn’t jump to three with Sunday’s critical matchup against the Rams. For a team that averaged 4.5 points over their first two games, it’s amazing to see a team like Los Angeles sitting on top of the division heading into Week 4.
If the Rams are going to have any chance of keeping it that way, the offense is going to need to play at an even higher level than they did against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3 since the Cardinals will be playing with an extra chip on their shoulders for a strong bounce-back game.
Sep 25, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) argues a no call in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Bank of America Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Panthers 22-10. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
4. Falcons vs. Panthers
Who would have thought at this point in the 2016 season, the Carolina Panthers would be entering Week 4 with a losing record? In their defense, it’s not easy to go against two of the league’s top defenses over the first three games.
The beginning of the schedule certainly hasn’t been friendly for the Panthers as they’ve already lost two tough matchups to the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings. In fact, the loss against Minnesota may have been the biggest surprise of all when considering how dominant Carolina had been at home in the five games beforehand.
Now, the Panthers face another tough task on the road against a red-hot Falcons team coming off back-to-back road wins themselves against the Oakland Raiders and the New Orleans Saints. What’s even better for Atlanta is Carolina’s poor start has resulted in them sitting in the driver’s seat of the NFC South with a 2-1 record.
The good news for Cam Newton and the Panthers is the Falcons’ defense ranks near the bottom of the league as it’s shown over the first three games. When looking at the intensity between these two rivals over the last few years, don’t be surprised if this turns into one of the highest-scoring contests from Week 4.
Sep 25, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at New Era Field. Bills beat the Cardinals 33-18. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
3. Bills vs. Patriots
Every football fan knows there’s nothing Rex Ryan loves more than coming through with a big win against the New England Patriots. And after the Bills turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of Week 3 with their impressive win over the Cardinals, this team has every reason in the world to feel confident about Sunday’s key AFC East matchup.
Division games always bring out the best in teams, and that should be the case once again when the Patriots and Bills square off in the first of two meetings for the 2016 season. New England may have won both of these meetings in 2015, but Buffalo hopes to take advantage of Bill Belichick‘s final game without Tom Brady until the quarterback returns from suspension.
When looking at the four game the Patriots would have to play without Brady, many expected this team to finish 2-2 at best, but that obviously won’t be the case as the team has exceeded all expectations with a 3-0 start. As crazy as it sounds, New England’s impressive start may be driving Ryan even more crazy than normal, and could even help motivate the head coach even more to help the Bills pull off another impressive win.
Sep 11, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) in the huddle with wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (87) and tight end Will Tye (45) during the game at AT&T Stadium. New York won 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
2. Giants vs. Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings entering Week 4 with a 3-0 record despite all of the hurdles between losing Teddy Bridgewater and Adrian Peterson is nothing short of amazing, and they hope to keep that success going Monday night against the New York Giants.
On paper, the Giants are loaded with weapons for Eli Manning to throw to in the passing game as Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, and Sterling Shepard have all made quite the impact early on in the season. However, New York’s offense will face their toughest challenge yet with the way Minnesota’s defense is playing.
Mike Zimmer has done an amazing job with getting the Vikings near the top of the league in defense since taking over as head coach, but this may be his best squad yet. The fact that Minnesota has managed to contain Aaron Rodgers and Newton over the last two weeks shows just how dangerous this defense can be, and they’re only going to get better with each week.
While this matchup seems like the perfect game to see Manning throw multiple interceptions, it should also be noted the quarterback also has a history of thriving when he’s playing the underdog role against very talented teams.
Sep 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) passes against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
1. Chiefs vs. Steelers
It’s still way too early to be making any bold predictions, but chances are Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers is going to be a possible early preview of two teams that could meet in the playoffs.
After a disappointing performance against the Houston Texans in Week 2, the Chiefs found their groove again last weekend against the New York Jets after forcing six interceptions on Ryan Fitzpatrick. Everybody knows what Kansas City is capable of as a defense, but this type of dominant performance is almost unheard of.
Sadly, it will be difficult for the Chiefs to match that kind of performance against the Steelers after Ben Roethlisberger and company were embarrassed in Week 3 on the road by the Philadelphia Eagles. For a team many expected to set numerous records on offense, Pittsburgh failed to find the end zone once against Philadelphia, proving to the rest of the league they are capable of being stopped.
While the Steelers should be able to find the end zone this time around, it’s going to be a challenge once again as the Chiefs’ defense is right up there with the Eagles when it comes to being one of the best in the league. Either way, expect a close finish to this one between two of the top contenders in the AFC.