THURSDAY, OCT. 8
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears – 8:20 p.m. ET
This is officially a battle of 3-1 teams, but the way the two squads have looked on their way to those strong starts has been different. That was apparent again Sunday when the Buccaneers’ offense, and Tom Brady in particular, continued to get closer to hitting on all cylinders in a 38-31 win over the Chargers. Meanwhile, the Bears couldn’t come close to carrying over their momentum from a Week 3 comeback victory over the Falcons, looking mostly out of sorts in a 19-11 loss to the Colts.
The Bucs won’t be coming into this road matchup at full strength, however. Chris Godwin, who already missed Week 4 with a hamstring injury, is very likely to be sidelined for this game. O.J. Howard suffered an Achilles rupture in the contest against the Chargers and could be sidelined the rest of the season. LeSean McCoy exited Sunday’s game with an ankle injury and may well remain out for Thursday as well. Backfield mate Leonard Fournette, who didn’t play in Week 4, is uncertain to suit up versus the Bears as the week begins. And last but certainly not least, Mike Evans, who led the Bucs with a 7-122-1 line in Sunday’s contest, is being evaluated Monday for a right ankle injury.
As for the Bears, Mitchell Trubisky may not have to stew in the backup role he was forced into for much longer if Nick Foles doesn’t get on the right track soon. The veteran finished with a cosmetically decent total of 249 yards and a touchdown with an interception against Indianapolis, but he gained plenty of those yards against a late-game prevent defense. Chicago looked lost on offense for the majority of the contest, and the going doesn’t figure to get any easier versus an aggressive Buccaneers defense.
With Brady having thrown for 666 yards and eight touchdowns over his last two games alone and Foles struggling to achieve consistency, oddsmakers have upped Tampa Bay’s projected advantage as road favorites as the week begins.
SUNDAY, OCT. 11
Arizona Cardinals at New York Jets – 1 p.m. ET
This interconference battle features two teams trending in the wrong direction, even as the rest-of-season prognosis for the Jets continues to be much worse. New York suffered its fourth loss in as many games to open the season Thursday night, falling to the previously winless Broncos by a 37-28 score and getting quarterback Sam Darnold injured in the process. The Cardinals dropped their second in a row, dropping a 31-21 decision to the Panthers.
Kyler Murray fell way short of 200 passing yards in Sunday’s loss, although he did throw for three touchdown passes after tossing three Week 3 interceptions. However, with DeAndre Hopkins playing on a bad ankle and the defense unable to slow a Christian McCaffrey-less Panthers offense, Arizona suffered a double-digit defeat. RB Kenyan Drake also suffered a chest injury late in the contest, although he was reportedly back to working out without restrictions Monday at the team facility.
The Jets could be in dire straits if Monday’s report that Darnold is likely to miss time with a sprained AC joint is accurate. The third-year quarterback’s ability to throw in Wednesday’s practice will apparently determine his Week 5 status. The one piece of good news for New York is that they do have a very capable veteran backup in Joe Flacco. Running back Le’Veon Bell may also be ready to return from his hamstring injury for this contest, but the question of whether coach Adam Gase’s offensive schemes will be able to produce enough on-field results remains.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens – 1 p.m. ET
Joe Burrow and an improving Bengals squad continued to make strides in Sunday’s 33-25 win over the Jaguars, a victory that gave Cincy its first victory of the season after a Week 3 tie with the Eagles. For their part, the Ravens took care of business against an overmatched Washington Football Team, 31-17, with Lamar Jackson compiling three total touchdowns.
Burrow rattled off his third straight 300-yard passing effort against Jacksonville, continuing what has been an excellent start to his career. The first overall pick was greatly aided by a spectacular effort by RB Joe Mixon, who broke out for 151 rushing yards and two touchdowns while adding six catches and another score through the air. Burrow’s rapport with fellow rookie Tee Higgins encouragingly persevered as well, with the latter finishing with a 4-77 line.
Jackson and teammates seemed to essentially be on cruise control for most of their two-touchdown in over the WFT. Baltimore’s defense surprisingly allowed 314 passing yards to Dwayne Haskins, however, this came one week after the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes torched them for 385 yards and four touchdowns. Given Burrow’s body of work thus far, that could spell some trouble against an improving Cincinnati offense.
The Ravens’ elite ground attack does have a highly appealing matchup versus a Bengals defense surrendering 158.5 rushing yards per game. Jackson is also 3-0 in his career against Cincy thus far, and considering coach John Harbaugh’s team is at home, oddsmakers have made Baltimore the slate’s heaviest favorite to begin the week.
Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers – 1 p.m. ET
The rest difference between these teams may have a notable impact on this contest. The Eagles were able to garner their first win of the season Sunday night at the expense of the 49ers, 25-20. Meanwhile, the Steelers unexpectedly got their bye week early through no fault of their own. Scheduled Week 4 opponent Tennessee’s COVID outbreak forced the postponement of the contest until Oct. 25.
The Eagles have to be given their due after managing to notch the cross-country win in Week 4 despite playing with a decimated receiving corps. Alshon Jeffery (foot), DeSean Jackson (hamstring), Jalen Reagor (thumb) and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (calf) all sat out Sunday night, but the beleaguered Carson Wentz managed to score two total TDs and benefited from some strong play by his defense. The state of Philly’s pass-catching weapons will be one to monitor throughout the week, considering the matchup against the Steelers defense is tough enough as it is when a unit is at full strength.
The Steelers will return to action looking to extend their undefeated start to 4-0. Pittsburgh’s most recent success came at the expense of the Houston Texans in Week 3. They’ll unsurprisingly be at close to full health with the extra down time, and the lack of a Week 4 game did give receiver Diontae Johnson extra time to recover from a concussion suffered against Houston.
With Philly still likely to be short-handed offensively to some degree, oddsmakers are making them a significant underdog to start the week.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans – 1 p.m. ET
The Texans hit rock bottom in a 31-23 loss to the Vikings, and in response Houston ownership – the McNair family – fired head coach and GM Bill O’Brien. O’Brien had been Houston’s HC since 2014.
Romeo Crennel will move forward as Houston’s interim head coach.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, were unable to parlay their extra few days of rest following a Thursday night Week 3 loss to the Dolphins into a win on Sunday. Joe Burrow and his Bengals tripped up Jacksonville, 33-25.
Jacksonville’s defensive problems are increasingly threatening to derail their season. Sunday, the Jags couldn’t stop the pass or the run, and they’ve now allowed over 30 points in three straight contests. The good news for Jacksonville was mostly on offense, as Gardner Minshew threw for 351 yards against Cincy and rookie RB James Robinson continued his impressive season with 107 total yards on 21 touches. Meanwhile, D.J. Chark returned from injury to post an 8-95-2 line, while versatile rookie Laviska Shenault, Jr. had his best game yet with five receptions for 86 yards.
Houston’s outlook isn’t necessarily that much brighter than Jacksonville’s, despite their advantage at the all-important quarterback position. Deshaun Watson has been notably quiet on the rushing front thus far, but he’s enjoying a solid year through the air with 1,092 yards and a 6:3 TD:INT ratio despite adjusting to life without DeAndre Hopkins and two new receivers. New running back David Johnson has been somewhat of a mixed bag early but has also been victimized by poor run blocking.
Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans – 1 p.m. ET
The Bills’ undefeated train rolled on in Week 4, even if it experienced a couple of speed bumps along the way in a 30-23 win over the Raiders. The Titans were idle, as a COVID breakout among players and personnel that only now seems to be abating forced the postponement of their scheduled contest with the Steelers.
Buffalo’s Josh Allen continued to perform as one of the league’s best quarterbacks against Las Vegas. Allen turned in another mistake-free performance and threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns, pushing his TD:INT ratio to an elite 12:1. His chemistry with offseason acquisition Stefon Diggs continued to thrive as well. Buffalo’s No. 1 wideout brought in six of seven targets for 115 yards in the road win. It’s also worth noting the Bills should have rookie RB Zack Moss (toe) back for this Week 5 game after he seemed on the verge of active status for Week 4.
The Titans’ most recent time on the field resulted in a narrow 31-30 win over the Vikings back in Week 3 to push Tennessee’s record to 3-0. The key components of the offense thus far have unsurprisingly been Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry, although the former has had to operate without top receiver A.J. Brown (knee) for the last two contests. Brown appears to be on track for a Week 5 return. That could bode well against a Bills defense that has been somewhat vulnerable with 280.2 passing yards allowed per game.
Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs – 1 p.m. ET
The Raiders once again gave a superior team a tough game before dropping a 30-23 decision at home to the Buffalo Bills in Week 4. The Chiefs saw their Week 4 contest versus the Patriots get postponed until Monday night due to the COVID diagnosis of both New England’s Cam Newton and KC’s practice-squad QB Jordan Ta’amu.
Las Vegas’ Derek Carr put up some nice numbers through the air against Buffalo, but ultimately couldn’t grab the win. The veteran QB was also operating without two explosive rookie receivers in Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards. The Raiders have yet to beat the Chiefs during the concurrent tenures of Jon Gruden as head coach and Patrick Mahomes as KC’s starter, losing the last three games by margins of 32, 18 and 31 points.
Los Angeles Rams at Washington Football Team – 1 p.m. ET
The Rams got a bit more than they likely bargained for from the visiting New York Giants in Week 4, finally toughing out a 17-9 win that was uglier than it was good. The WFT ended up in the loss column for the third consecutive week in an unenviable matchup versus the Baltimore Ravens, which upended them 31-17 despite a career-high 314 yards from Dwayne Haskins.
Los Angeles had largely seemed to rediscover its 2017-18 offensive swagger in the early going this season, but Sunday’s contest was a step back in that regard. Jared Goff managed just 200 passing yards and a 57.4 QBR against New York. Coach Sean McVay opted to split up the ground attack between Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson almost right down the middle. Neither was the answer against the G-Men, as L.A. averaged just 2.5 yards per rush overall.
Haskins unsurprisingly enjoyed his greatest success when throwing to top wideout Terry McLaurin. The second-year speedster finished with a 10-118 line. Then, rookie Antonio Gibson continued to see a greater share of responsibility on offense. He logged a career-high 17 touches, four receptions and 82 receiving yards, while also contributing a 13-46-1 line on the ground. Gibson’s expanding profile could pay dividends against a Rams team that’s already allowed 603 total yards and three total TDs to running backs over the first four games.
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons – 1 p.m. ET
The Panthers continued their climb to respectability after an 0-2 start with a 31-21 win over the Cardinals on Sunday that featured another strong performance from QB Teddy Bridgewater and an effective effort by a seemingly improving defense.
The absence of Christian McCaffrey (ankle) may be preventing Carolina’s offense from operating at maximum efficiency, but the version they’re currently rolling out without him isn’t lackluster by any stretch. That’s largely thanks to Bridgewater and RB Mike Davis. Bridgewater has now thrown for at least 269 yards in three of his first four games as a Panther. Davis finished with 111 total yards and a rushing TD against Arizona. His above-average pass-catching skills have enabled coach Matt Rhule to keep his playbook largely intact despite McCaffrey’s absence, which has helped the likes of Bridgewater and the talented wideout trio of Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel to continue acclimating without disruption.
Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers – 4:05 p.m. ET
The Dolphins fought hard against one of the hottest offensive teams in the league in the Seahawks before falling at home, 31-23. The 49ers, meanwhile, were surprisingly upended by the visiting Eagles on Sunday night despite getting TE George Kittle back into action and explosive WR Deebo Samuel making his 2020 debut after foot surgery.
There are some rumblings in South Florida regarding Miami’s QB position with Tua Tagovailoa waiting in the wings. However, Ryan Fitzpatrick hasn’t necessarily been a problem, and his play Sunday was good enough to win had the defense been able to muster a couple of extra stops. The veteran signal-caller did throw a pair of interceptions, but he also compiled 315 passing yards, plus another 47 and a rushing touchdown on the ground. The ground attack once again featured Myles Gaskin as the leader of the ground attack, although game script moved away from the run.
The 49ers’ stumble against the Eagles featured a surprising benching of Nick Mullens that came close to working. C.J. Beathard stepped in and completed 14 of 19 passes for 138 yards while nearly completing a Hail Mary attempt as the clock hit zeroes. Kittle was absolutely dominant in his return with 15 receptions for 183 yards and a touchdown, and there’s a chance that starting QB Jimmy Garoppolo makes his return from an ankle injury for this contest.
Even with the uncertainty regarding San Fran’s QB situation, oddsmakers are still making the Niners clear favorites to start the week.
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots – 4:25 p.m. ET
The Broncos were able to notch their first win of the season to kick off Week 4 on Thursday night. With Brett Rypien and not Jeff Driskel under center, Denver was able to edge the Jets by a 37-28 margin in a surprisingly high-scoring game.
Drew Lock (shoulder) reportedly has a chance to return for this contest, which would certainly be favorable news. Rypien did have plenty of positive moments in his start against New York, but he nearly derailed the potential victory with three interceptions. Meanwhile, RB Phillip Lindsay (toe) looks to be a much surer proposition, as coach Vic Fangio mentioned after the Week 4 win that Lindsay remained out for that contest only due to an abundance of caution. One good sign coming out of Week 4 irrespective of who’s under center is the continued strong play of WRs Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick, who combined for eight receptions, 174 yards and two touchdowns.
New England will be looking to bounce back from an error-filled 26-10 loss to the Chiefs in which Bill Belichick pulled Brian Hoyer from the game in favor of Jarrett Stidham. Cam Newton is likely to miss the game against Denver due to his positive COVID-19 test.
Indianapolis Colts at Cleveland Browns – 4:25 p.m. ET
The Colts continued to demonstrate strong play on both sides of the ball in a 19-11 win over the Bears in Week 4. Indianapolis didn’t need too much from QB Philip Rivers, as the defense held Chicago to 269 total yards. The Browns were involved in one of the most entertaining battles of the day, finally emerging from Dallas with a 49-38 win that saw Odell Beckham seal Cleveland’s hard-fought victory with a 50-yard rushing touchdown in the contest’s closing minutes.
Indianapolis got another efficient performance from Rivers in Sunday’s win. The veteran QB threw for 190 yards and a touchdown, avoiding interceptions for the second consecutive game. Rookie RB Jonathan Taylor finished with a solid 17-68 line on the ground. The pass catchers didn’t produce remarkable numbers with the conservative game plan they operated in, but with Rivers at the controls, there’s no doubt Indy can turn it on through the air when necessary.
It’s difficult to ascertain whether the Browns’ Week 4 offense can be replicated this season. Beckham also had a receiving touchdown on a pass from Jarvis Landry in addition to his aforementioned rushing score. Cleveland was able to compile over 500 yards of offense even with RB Nick Chubb exiting the contest with an MCL sprain that will now sideline him for approximately the next six weeks. Kareem Hunt and D’Ernest Johnson are now set to carry the load for the Browns, while Baker Mayfield may need to step up his production through the air.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys – 4:25 p.m. ET
The Giants almost pulled off quite the remarkable upset in a Week 4 visit to the Rams, nearly stealing one from Los Angeles before coming up just short, 17-9. New York continues to struggle to put together a semblance of a competent, consistent passing game. QB Daniel Jones totaled under 200 yards for the second straight contest. Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ concerns squarely center on the defensive side of the ball. Dallas surrendered over 500 yards of total offense to the Browns in a wild 49-38 home loss Sunday despite Cleveland losing Nick Chubb early in the contest to a serious MCL sprain.
Big Blue will need to amp up its passing attack if it hopes to keep up with Dak Prescott’s seemingly indefatigable right arm. Jones does still have some weapons to work with despite having lost RB Saquon Barkley for the season with an ACL tear and WR Sterling Shepard for the time being due to a toe injury. WR Darius Slayton and TE Evan Engram remain Jones’ most explosive healthy weapons.
After throwing for 450 and 472 yards in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively, Prescott upped the ante with a mammoth 502-yard performance against Cleveland. While the numbers certainly pop off the page, there’s also the byproduct of a Cowboys defense that can’t seem to slow down anyone at the moment. The matchup against the Saquon-less Giants may line up as more favorable than recent ones, Dallas’ defense tends to make any opponent look elite at the moment.
Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks – 8:20 p.m. ET
The Vikings shook off a missed day of practice this past week due to COVID precautions related an outbreak on the Titans, their Week 3 opponent, to go into Houston on Sunday and pull out a 31-23 victory. Meanwhile, the Seahawks handled their business on the road as well. Seattle took a cross-country trip to South Florida and emerged with a 31-23 victory.
Minnesota encouragingly saw Kirk Cousins continue to right his ship in the win over Houston. The veteran QB threw for 260 yards and a touchdown, connecting with top wideouts Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson on a combined 12 occasions, 217 yards and his one score (Thielen). The successful encore effort by Jefferson was especially gratifying to a Vikings offense that appeared to have some trouble adjusting to the loss of Stefon Diggs this offseason. Meanwhile, RB Dalvin Cook continued his red-hot start to his season, compiling 130 rushing yards and a pair of scores on 27 carries.
The ‘Hawks once again rode the right arm of QB Russell Wilson to a win Sunday. Despite WR Tyler Lockett posting a season-low 2-39 line, Wilson still found his way to 360 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, RB Chris Carson showed no ill effects from a knee sprain against the Cowboys in Week 3, rushing for 80 yards and a pair of scores. Seattle’s formidable air arsenal may be the most formidable challenge for the Vikings — Minnesota comes into this matchup allowing 291.8 passing yards per contest.
Los Angeles Chargers at New Orleans Saints – 8:15 p.m. ET
The Chargers continued to thrive under rookie QB Justin Herbert in a Sunday visit to the Buccaneers. While the defense was unable to keep up with Tom Brady in a 38-31 loss, it increasingly appears Herbert has a firm grip on the starting job, irrespective of coach Anthony Lynn’s public statements about the issue. Meanwhile, the Saints worked around a late Saturday night COVID scare to storm back from an early deficit and upend the Lions, 35-29.
Herbert has shown impressive adaptability over his first three starts. Sunday, he was operating without WR Mike Williams (hamstring) and lost RB Austin Ekeler to hamstring and knee injuries early. Undeterred, the rookie found the little-known Jalen Guyton and Tyron Johnson for long TD passes. Herbert threw for three scores overall but threw a late interception on a long pass. The other big story coming out of the game was the loss of Ekeler, who’ll be out the next 4-to-6 weeks.
The Saints’ Drew Brees continued to answer his recent critics with his solid play, despite still being without top wideout Michael Thomas (ankle). Sunday, he threw for 246 yards and a pair of TDs to Tre’Quan Smith. The connection between Emmanuel Sanders and Brees also continued to blossom. The veteran wideout forged a 6-93 line. Thomas looks like he’s a pretty fair bet to return for this contest. That could be very good news for New Orleans against a Chargers secondary that just allowed 369 yards and five touchdown passes to Brady.