With the bye week rotation beginning, the biggest games to look forward to in week of the 2013 NFL Season are obviously the Sunday night showdown between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, the big and physical matchup in Houston between the Texans and the Seattle Seahakws, and the NFC North showdown between the undefeated Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions.
One win-less team should have at least one W on its record after this weekend, as the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Minnesota Vikings, while the New York Giants are very close to having an 0-4 start after they play the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.
Seattle Seahawks (3-0) at Houston Texans (2-1), 1:00 PM
Two teams with the best defense in the nation when it comes to stopping teams from gaining yards on them. The big difference is the number of turnovers, and the Seahawks rain supreme here, with a plus 6 difference so far compared to the -3 from Houston. This will be closer than the last two wins for Seattles, but without Andre Johnson healthy, the Texans won’t be able to beat Seattle.
Chicago Bears (3-0) at Detroit Lions (2-1), 1:00
The big question for the Detroit Lions is going to be whether or not Reggie Bush plays after the injury to Nate Burleson. The Lions have lost nine of their last 10 to the Bears, but the 3-0 start might be misleading, as Chicago had plenty of trouble, especially in the first two games. Henry Melton is injured, which means the defense will struggle with the pass rush, but the Lions’ risky passing game combined with the ball hawks on the Bears’ end means a win for Chicago.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-2), 1:00
Despite their win over the Minnesota Vikings, the Browns are still one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Cincinnati Bengals have issue in their passing game and stopping the run, but they’re playing the right team to help them ease through it. The main thing to watch will be pass protection, as Dalton finds life very easy (84.6% completion vs Packers) when not under a blitz, while the Browns pass protection has been an issue until last week against Minnesota. With Cincinnati having the better front seven, they should come out of this encounter with their hand on top.
Baltimore Ravens (2-1) at Buffalo Bills (1-2), 1:00
The run defense for the Baltimore Ravens has been incredible, allowing only 75 yards per game and only two runs of over 10 yards this season. Even if EJ Manuel isn’t making a mess of his rookie season by throwing interceptions and the Ravens have their own running problems (77 yards per game), C.J. Spiller isn’t healthy and the Bills don’t have the defense to make the Ravens play badly.
New York Giants (0-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-0), 1:00
No one would have thought that these would be the records for both teams entering the fourth week, but this isn’t some statistical hiccup. The Giants have been horrible, with Eli Manning throwing 8 interceptions so far this season, as he can’t get any protection from his offensive line. The Chiefs haven’t turned the ball over once this season, playing cautiously and relying on their strong defense, which alone should be enough to keep the Giants win-less.
Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3) at Minnesota Vikings (0-3), 1:00
A matchup that usually would draw a lot more interest of the positive kind. This time it’s about who gets out of the jam they’re in. The difference between two teams, who have done awfully at holding on to the ball this season? The Vikings have been very close in their games, losing twice on very close calls. The Steelers, however, have been bad for most of the games they’ve been in except for some garbage time points, so Minnesota has the edge in this one.
Arizona Cardinals (1-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3), 1:00
Mike Glennon will play for the first time in his NFL career against a defense that hasn’t been very successful this season in stopping teams, allowing 370 yards per game. While the Bucs’ offense has been a mess with Freeman, their defense, thanks to the addition of Darrelle Revis among others, has been the bright spot in a bad season. If they can be the next team to shut down Larry Fitzgerlad, the Cardinals shouldn’t have anyone else to help Carson Palmer score touchdowns.
Indianapolis Colts (2-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3), 1:00
The Jags did stun the Colts last season and have a pretty good record against them in the last few years, but this Jags team is historically awful, on the direct path to an 0-16 season. It doesn’t matter than Blaine Gabbert is back – the Jags can’t stop anyone on defense (allowing 168 rushing yards per game), and the Colts are uber-confident after their win in San Francisco, discovering what a dangerous ground game they have with Trent Richardson added into the mix.
New York Jets (2-1) at Tennessee Titans (2-1), 4:05
The Jets are surprisingly not at the bottom of the AFC East, with Geno Smith making plenty of mistakes, but nailing it on big throws so far and enjoying some strong performances from his running backs. However, the Titans aren’t the Bills, and will have a much easier time against the lackluster Jets receiving core, while their Jake Locker, Chris Johnson combination will be enough to keep on their winning ways.
Dallas Cowboys (2-1) at San Diego Chargers (1-2), 4:25
Will the sea-saw continue for the Cowboys? Their key to making Romo look efficient is having DeMarco Murray continue to pile on the yards. The Chargers are allowing 130 yards per game on the ground, which means we’ll see a lot more of that, while Dallas will continue to send a minimal pass rush (especially now that Spencer in injured), working out very well for them in stopping big plays from happening against them. Philip Rivers is back to himself, but unlike previous years, he doesn’t have the overall talent around him to make it work.
Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) at Denver Broncos (3-0), 4:25
It’s almost an unfair fight between the Broncos and anyone else in the NFL this season. While Michael Vick might move away from his horrendous performance against the Chiefs, we’re going to see the same aggressive and risky offense we’ve gotten used to seeing from both teams, as the Eagles simply don’t have a good enough defense to rely on to hold on to a small lead. Denver are allowing only 43 yards per game, facing the league’s best rushing team. Their defense and the weakness of the Eagles’ defense will be enough to keep them undefeated.
Washington Redskins (0-3) at Oakland Raiders (1-2), 4:25
The Oakland Raiders have been doing a good job in making quarterbacks not named Peyton Manning look bad against them, but there’s on huge cloud of doubt regarding the availability of Terrelle Pryor, giving Matt Flynn a chance to start and the Redskins’ awful defense, the worst in the NFL, a chance to catch their first break of the season. However, Oakland have the ability to put the ball in the air and make Griffin uncomfortable, enough to win.
New England Patriots (3-0) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2), 8:30
The first game of the season in which the New England Patriots will really be tested, after the weak opposition they faced in previous weeks. The Atlanta Falcons are struggling, but no one is quite sure what the reason is, although an injured Stephen Jackson can’t be helping. The Falcons never lose two games in a row (at least not in the last couple of years), and have the defense and offensive tools to make Tom Brady sense defeat for the first time this season.
Miami Dolphins (3-0) at New Orleans Saints (3-0), Monday Night Football, 8:30
Ryan Tannehill has been excellent in the start of his second season, leading fourth-quarter game winning drives against both the Colts and the Falcons while outdeuling Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck. Against the Saints he might enjoy success in terms of individual numbers, but very few teams can keep up with New Orleans inside the Superdome, where Drew Brees usually reigns supreme, and will against a strong Dolphins defense as well.