Just when we thought we had a good idea of what to expect in the NFL this season, Week 3 arrived and turned everything upside down. There was no shortage of surprises throughout the league with six teams that were favored by three points or more all losing on Sunday. Now the focus shifts to Week 4 with plenty of question marks surrounding what to expect after all of the fallout. Here is a look at what we expect in the key matchups of the week.
New Orleans Saints vs Miami Dolphins (in London)
Odds: New Orleans -3
Just when it seemed like the Saints were done, they went on the road and shocked the Carolina Panthers with a 34-13 win. A New Orleans defense that had been torched in each of the first two weeks held Cam Newton to 167 passing yards with three interceptions. Meanwhile, the Saints offense came alive with 220 yards and three touchdowns against a Panthers defense that hadn’t allowed a touchdown in either of the first two weeks. Meanwhile, the same Miami team that upset the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2 had no answer for the lowly New York Jets in a 20-6 loss in Week 3. Now both teams head to London for their Week 4 matchup. If the Saints can play at the level they did in Carolina, they should be able to beat Miami in London.
Carolina Panthers @ New England Patriots
Odds: New England -8.5
It was hard to put too much stock in Carolina’s first two wins, over the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills. The Panthers did just enough to beat both of those teams but fell apart in their blowout loss to New Orleans in Week 3. Newton and the Carolina passing game was completely out of sync and their defense was exposed by the toughest offense they have had to face so far. It won’t get any easier for the Panthers this week as they go on the road to face a New England side that just reminded the NFL they can never be counted out following a last-minute 36-33 comeback win over the Houston Texans. But the Patriots defense has been putrid so far this season. They are dead last in yards allowed. Maybe a matchup against a struggling Panthers offense is just what they need.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens
Odds: Pittsburgh -3
After back-to-back wins to open the season, these AFC North contenders laid eggs in Week 3. Pittsburgh lost 23-17 in overtime to the Chicago Bears while Baltimore was blown out in a 44-7 loss to Jacksonville. Both teams played well below expectations and now the question is which team can bounce back with the stronger performance in this divisional showdown.
The Steelers have the talent to contend in the AFC but have to play better on the road. It seems like they’re vulnerable any time they step away from Heinz Field. Meanwhile, Baltimore’s defense looked dominant in each of the first two weeks but fell apart against the lowly Jaguars. These two teams normally play close, hard-fought games and that should be the case in Week 4 again.
New York Giants @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Odds: Tampa Bay -3
The Giants offense finally came alive in the second half of its Week 3 showdown against the Philadelphia Eagles but it wasn’t enough as they dropped to 0-3 with a 27-24 loss. Since 1980, only five teams that have started 0-3 have made the playoffs. The Giants will go on the road to face a Tampa Bay side that is coming off a loss to Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings. The Giants are desperate for a win in order to avoid a 0-4 start.
Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos
Odds: Denver -2.5
The Raiders were rolling with back-to-back wins over the Titans and Jets to open the season. Then they hit a wall in Washington with a 27-10 loss to the Redskins in which they were completely dominated in the one-on-one matchups. Now their bright start to the season will be forgotten if they’re 2-2 after this week. That could very well be the case as they’re going to Denver to face a tough defense in a divisional showdown.
Washington Redskins @ Kansas City Chiefs
Odds: Chiefs -7
The Redskins moved to 2-1 with a dominant performance against the Raiders while the Chiefs improved to 3-0 by handling the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chiefs have arguably been the most impressive team in the NFL so far; their +36 point differential is the second-best in the league. The story of this contest will be Chiefs rookie runner Kareem Hunt. He’s already picked up 401 rushing yards in three games and is on pace to set the single-season rushing record. If the Redskins can’t slow him down, they’ll have a tough time winning on the road in this spot.