Sports

2013 NFL Week 4 Preview: Saints-Dolphins, Redskins-Raiders, Chargers-Cowboys, Steelers-Vikings and More

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It’s going to be tough to follow up some of the exciting finishes we saw in the NFL last week, but there are plenty of quality matchups in week 4. Let’s take a closer look at all the games on the schedule for this weekend.

Baltimore at Buffalo – The Bills need to bounce back quickly from what was an ugly game last Sunday against the Jets, but that won’t be easy, as they take on a Baltimore defense that’s coming off an impressive game against Houston last week. The Ravens aren’t clicking on offense just yet, so Buffalo will have a chance to stay close and give themselves a chance to win, but they need E.J. Manuel to be more accurate throwing the ball, and they need a whole lot more productivity out of C.J. Spiller.

Cincinnati at Cleveland – Is Brian Hoyer for real? We’ll find out when the Browns take on a tough Cincinnati defense, as outside of Josh Morgan Cleveland doesn’t offer Hoyer much support. Meanwhile, the Bengals are flying high after a big win over the Packers, but they can’t afford to take the Browns lightly, especially on the road. If cornerback Joe Haden can contain Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green, Cleveland has the kind of defense that can keep the game close and low scoring, which would at least give Hoyer and the Browns a chance.

Chicago at Detroit – This is a big opportunity for both teams to make a statement against a division foe. Two of the three teams the Bears have beat this year are winless, and a road win against the Lions would relax some of the skepticism there is regarding their 3-0 start. Meanwhile, Detroit has its two wins against winless teams, and could assert itself as a legitimate contender in the NFC North with a win. Both teams have given up plenty of points this season, meaning there could be some offensive fireworks in this game, especially with both quarterbacks off to fast starts this season.

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New York Giants at Kansas City – Based on what we’ve seen in the first three weeks, this is a huge mismatch. The Giants can’t block anybody and the Chiefs have a terrific pass rush. The Giants are turning the ball over at a terrifyingly high rate and the Chiefs have forced nine turnovers and committed none through three games. If those trends continue, this game could end up being as ugly as the Giant’s loss to Carolina last week. If the Giants can avoid turnovers and find a way to get the ball out of Eli Manning’s hands before he gets crushed by Kansas City’s linebackers, they have the weapons to score a lot of points and the Chief’s offense could have trouble keeping up, but that seems like a remote possibility based on New York’s first three games.

Pittsburgh at Minnesota – It was so nice of the NFL to schedule such a marquee matchup for the fans in London. Barring a tie, one of these teams will get their first win. The Steelers might have the advantage because at least their defense has been good the first three weeks. The Vikings are having trouble stopping people and outside of Adrian Peterson they aren’t doing much on offense, as Christian Ponder continues to turn the ball over too often. If Pittsburgh can get its offense going a little bit, they’ll have the advantage, but if not, this game is a coin flip, although with both teams at 0-3, it’s a rather meaningless coin flip.

Arizona at Tampa Bay – Mike Glennon will make the first start of his career, which makes him responsible for preventing the Bucs from going 0-4. Tampa Bay has the kind of defense that can slow down Arizona’s wide receivers, and if that’s the case, Glennon will have a chance to win without having to put too many points on the board, although the rookie wasn’t all that impressive in the preseason, and there’s no way to tell if he’ll be ready.

Indianapolis at Jacksonville – No one was more impressive than the Colts last week, and they just need to make sure they keep their foot on the gas and don’t have a let down in Jacksonville. This is a good chance for the Colts to get Trent Richardson integrated with the offense a little more and fine tune some things in preparation for their showdown with Seattle next week.

Seattle at Houston – Speaking of the Seahawks, after their dismantling of the Jaguars last week, they head to Houston, where they’ll get a stiff test from the Texans, who are trying to bounce back from their embarrassing effort in Baltimore last week. Things don’t get much easier for the Texans after this game, as they have road trips to San Francisco and Kansas City coming up in the near future, so they need to find a way to get back on track offensively, which will be tough to do against the top defense in the league. Meanwhile, Seattle’s offense hasn’t exactly been overwhelming, and they’ll be tested by a tough Houston defense, so don’t expect too many points to be scored in this game.

New York Jets at Tennessee – One of these teams will surprise a lot of people by moving to 3-1 on the season. Both the Jets and Titans have great defenses, which means this game could come down to which quarterback avoids critical mistakes. Jake Locker has yet to throw an interception this season, but the same can’t be said about Geno Smith, meaning the advantage could go to Tennessee, who also has the home-field advantage.

Philadelphia at Denver – The Eagles need to get their act together offensively after their five turnover performance against the Chiefs last Thursday, as the Philadelphia defense has little chance of slowing down Peyton Manning and the Denver offense. If the Eagles play on offense the way they did in week 1, this could be one of the highest scoring games in the league the entire season, but if not, it’ll probably be another Broncos runaway.

Washington at Oakland – Despite a long road trip, this is a great opportunity for the Redskins to get their first win of the season, as the Raiders may have to go back to Matt Flynn as their starting quarterback. Washington avoided a slow start last week, and if they can do the same this week they should be able to put themselves in position to get the win, despite their atrocious defense.

Dallas at San Diego – The Cowboys were quite impressive last week against the Rams, but now they need to show some consistency and prove that they can do that two weeks in a row. San Diego doesn’t have the kind of defense that should be able to stop Dallas, especially if they can run the ball like they did last week. However, Phillip Rivers will certainly put up more of a fight than the Charger’s defense, meaning the Cowboys will have to find a way to slow him down if they want another easy victory.

New England at Atlanta – There’s quite a lot of pressure on the Falcons this week, as they can’t afford to fall to 1-3 on the season. So far this season, Atlanta’s offense has been all about Julio Jones, and they’re going to need more than that to ensure victory against Tom Brady and the Patriots. Of course, the Patriots have also underperformed offensively early in the season, at least compared to what we’re accustomed to seeing from them. Just like the Falcons need more guys to step up, the Patriots are hoping that Kenbrell Thompkins can continue to break out after last week’s two-touchdown performance. Whichever team can get more out of its skill players should have the advantage.

Miami at New Orleans – This week’s schedule saved the best game for Monday night, as a pair of 3-0 teams face off. Both teams look like they’re for real, but as good as Ryan Tannehill has played this season, is he ready to keep pace with Drew Brees if this turns into a shootout? Miami’s defense has been serviceable, but nowhere near as impressive as the Saints have looked on defense, and that could end up being the difference in the game.