The NFL season is flying by as we are entering week four already! Thursday Night Football saw the Cincinnati Bengals take down the previously undefeated Miami Dolphins so we can now look ahead to the full slate of games. The TWSN game preview crew looks at each game below.
Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints
The first London game of the year features the Minnesota Vikings taking on the New Orleans Saints! The Vikings have had good history in London, currently sitting at a 2-0 record with the chance to be the first-ever team to have a 3-0 London record. The last time Kirk Cousins was in London, he was with the Washington Redskins at the time in 2016 facing the Cincinnati Bengals. That game, Cousins put on a spectacular performance, completing 38 passes for 458 yards and two touchdowns. The Saints secondary is tough to throw against, allowing only 183.7 passing yards per game. Their run defense, on the other hand, has not been stellar, allowing the seventh most rushing yards with 418. While Dalvin Cook is questionable, the Vikings still have a great backup in Alexander Mattison that could expose this area.
Other than his three-interception performance against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Vikings have been good with not turning the ball over. The Saints, on the other hand, not so much. Jameis Winston is clearly not at 100%. Dealing with back issues, and taking six sacks against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led to Winston looking frantic against the Carolina Panthers last week. He tried to force the ball before he should’ve, resulting in two interceptions, adding to a total of five so far. Through three games, the Saints have also fumbled the ball four times. The Vikings are currently tied for the fifth most takeaways with four and are tied for the seventh most sacks with seven. Outside of Chris Olave, the two other top receivers for the Saints in Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry are questionable to play, and Alvin Kamara did not look at full strength last week coming back from a rib injury. This Saints’ offense could be extremely limited.
Given all the injuries the Saints have, and the fact that they have failed to start early against teams like the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers, that does not put together a recipe for success against the Vikings. London games can be unpredictable, but the Vikings have the upper hand in this one. — Marissa Myers
Chicago Bears @ New York Giants
Believe it or not, both of these teams find themselves with a 2-1 record. Not a bad start considering the low expectations many seemed to have for both squads entering the season. Even with David Montgomery questionable, Chicago will look to deploy another run-heavy approach this Sunday. They’ve seen lots of success running the football over the past two weeks, and there appears to be a lack of faith in Justin Fields throwing the football. Lucky for Chicago, the Giants don’t boast an extremely explosive offense that will make this one a shootout.
With that being said, the Giants have the upperhand in many areas. They’re at home, they’ve looked like the better team so far this season, and from what I’ve seen so far, I’ll put more faith in New York’s coaching staff. I don’t envision the Bears creating the same dominating pressure Dallas did last week, and for those who play fantasy football, this could be a huge Saquon Barkley day. Tons of volume coming his way in a favorable matchup. I’m taking the Giants in this spot. — Aidan Maher
Cleveland Browns @ Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons will be facing a Browns offense led by Jacoby Brissett who is coming off a stellar performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brissett threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns, his top target in the game was Amari Cooper, who made up 101 yards and one of those touchdowns. Cooper will face a Falcons secondary with A.J. Terrell, who is still one of the top cornerbacks in the league. The Falcons pass defense hasn’t been great outside of Terrell, but the Browns wide receivers outside of Cooper haven’t made much of an impact yet. Other than Cooper, the Falcons will have to account for David Njoku who has the second most receiving yards with 128. And of course, there is Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, who remain the focal point on offense.
The run game has been just as important for the Falcons offense. Through three games, Cordarrelle Patterson has a total of 302 yards and two touchdowns, and just last week put up 141 yards. They will even have to account for Marcus Mariota who has 92 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns himself. The Falcons finally got Kyle Pitts involved as he had his first game this season with 87 yards on five receptions. The Falcons have been able to have more offensive success than most thought coming into the season. An even bigger surprise is the offensive line, a unit that has given up the third-fewest pressures with 15, although six have turned into sacks. The Browns pass rush, even with Myles Garrett, has struggled, only getting 23 pressures which is the seventh fewest. Now, Garrett is questionable to play after being in an accident, and after missing last week, Jadeveon Clowney is still questionable as well.
In addition to Garrett and Clowney, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Denzel Ward are battling injuries as well. Those are key defensive players, and with that, the Falcons just could end up upsetting the Browns in this matchup. — Marissa Myers
Washington Commanders @ Dallas Cowboys
The NFC East is shaping to be a race for second place. The Philadelphia Eagles have run with the division so far and left Washington and Dallas in it’s wake. After knocking off the previously undefeated Giants last week, the Cowboys have been able to find a rhythm without Dak Prescott. They will need to continue to play like this if they want to have a chance at the playoffs. An up-and-down Commanders team is a good place to start.
The Commanders started strong with a win over Jacksonville, but could not complete the comeback against a pesky Detroit Lions team and were dominated by the Eagles. Washington may be one of the hardest teams to truly place in the NFL, with flashes of excellence and pangs of disappointment. If they can play their brand of football for four quarters, it should be a victory in week four and the inside track for a revitalization of their season. Losing to this Cowboys team will be another knife in the back of a team with a lot of potential. However I see Wentz getting it done. Give me the Commanders to win this game. — Tyler Paluzzi
Seattle Seahawks @ Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions are coming into this game off a loss, a game that they should’ve won, and now will look to rebound against the Seahawks. The Lions offense has come out and surprised many, they currently have the third most offensive yards with 1,227 only behind the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills. Against a Seahawks defense that has allowed 57 completions for 721 yards, and 471 rushing yards, the Seahawks will have their work cut out for them. They may get lucky facing a lessened rushing attack with D’Andre Swift battling an injury, but don’t overlook Jamaal Williams, who had 87 yards and two touchdowns last week.
The Lions will get pressure on Geno Smith, they have blitzed the most in the league, which they have turned into 38 pressures, seven sacks, and 12 quarterback knockdowns. Just last week against the Atlanta Falcons, Smith was pressured 32.6% of the time and took two sacks. The Seahawks will see DK Metcalf matching up against Jeff Okudah, who has been great to start the season so far. Okudah last week against Justin Jefferson allowed only three receptions for 34 yards. If the Seahawks want any chance, they need to figure out how to get their run game with Rashaad Penny and Kenneth Walker going, as they currently are one of the bottom rushing attacks in the NFL.
The Lions must clean up the little things, you know, like penalties, missing kicks, and third down attempts that derailed their opportunity for a win last week. That being said, I think they do just that and prove to be too much for the Seahawks to handle. — Marissa Myers
Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts
Both teams picked up massive wins last week to avoid entering this game winless. With that being said, the Titans beat the Colts both times last season and Indianapolis surely remembers that fact. Running back Derrick Henry is going to need a big game here if the Titans want to win this matchup. Even if Jonathan Taylor is banged up for the Colts, they may be the better team. The Titans aren’t the same team that secured the number one seed last year in the AFC.
With this being a divisional rivalry game, expect it to be close. Tight end Jelani Woods came up huge for the Colts last week when they needed it most. The rookie impressive veteran quarterback Matt Ryan, who spoke about him after the game. I think Ryan may give Woods some extra looks this week to really see what he has in him. Give me the home team to come out with a win. The Colts get back on track here and grab the upper hand on the Titans going forward. — Matt Levine
Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens
The last time these two teams faced was in the 2020 Divisional Round of the playoffs, where the Bills came out victorious with a 17-3 win. Both Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson have improved as players since then and are both playing at an MVP level. Allen currently leads the NFL in passing yards with 1,014 while Jackson has 749. Allen has also thrown the second most touchdowns with nine, while Jackson leads the NFL with 10. With Jackson, he likes to hold on to the football, leaving opposing defenses to have to cover for longer durations. Factor in that he has the rushing ability as well and that puts a lot of stress on defenses. With how long Jackson is able to extend plays, he currently averages 10.77 air yards per attempt, the second most in the league behind Jameis Winston.
For the Bills defense, they will need to have the same game plan defensively that they did against the Los Angeles Rams, that being don’t blitz. When Jackson has not been blitzed, he completes only 53.6% of his passes. On the other hand, when he is blitzed, he completes 81% of his passes. This does play into the Bills hand though, as they have blitzed only six times, the least in the NFL, and still have gotten 27 pressures and 11 sacks. It helps when you have Von Miller and Greg Rousseau off the edge. The Bills defense has been stout, the Ravens not so much. They have given up 353.3 yards per game, the most in the NFL. The way the Bills offense operates, they are more efficient and are wearing defenses out with how long they are on the field. The Bills currently have an average drive time of 3:27, tied for first in the NFL, and have the fourth-highest drive score percentage of 46.7%.
It will be a great battle between two of the league’s best quarterbacks. The Ravens have issues on the defensive side, as showcased in their game against the Miami Dolphins, they wear out as the game goes on. This should play right into the strength of the Bills offense to open up big plays to get the victory. — Marissa Myers
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The New York Jets will have Zach Wilson for the first time all season. It is a welcomed sight for Jets fans across the nation, who have seen the most potential this offense has had in years sputter under Joe Flacco. Jets fans have hope on the defensive side of the ball too, with DJ Reed, Sauce Gardner, and Quinnen Williams being among the best in the game. However, they sit at 1-2 because of a lack of offensive consistency and defensive chemistry. If the Jets can communicate better this week against the Steelers, it may allow them to bloom as a team
The Pittsburgh Steelers come into this game with fans calling for Mitch Trubisky’s head. Following a shocking season opening win over the Bengals, the offense has dropped back-to-back duds against the Patriots and Browns. A loss to a Jets team that has yet to find it’s identity may be the last straw before rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett gets his call into the spotlight. I think it happens, give me the Jets to grab another win. — Tyler Paluzzi
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Philadelphia Eagles
Talk about two teams that have far exceeded expectations. The Philadelphia Eagles have looked like the best team in the entire NFC. The defense is taking care of business while AJ Brown is seemingly the final piece to the Eagles’ offensive puzzle. With their undefeated record on the line, many are wondering if they can continue their upward ascent or if this week they will be caught too comfortable against a surprise from Jacksonville.
For the Jaguars, it does seem that Urban Meyer was that bad. In his second season and first under former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, Trevor Lawrence has looked like the generational talent he was billed as. The Jaguars won their first two games before dismantling a Los Angeles Chargers team considered one of the best in the league. This will be another prove-it game for the Jaguars, and especially for Doug Pederson against the teamhe won a Super Bowl with. — Tyler Paluzzi