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Week 4 in the NFL has a tough act to follow.
In Week 3, the league record for longest touchdown was tied, the Las Vegas Raiders won a second overtime thriller and Aaron Rodgers led another last-second comeback… oh yeah, did we also mention there was a 66-yard game-winning field goal?
It was a football fan’s dream.
But if one slate has the chance to follow up the masterclass that was Week 3, it might be the 16 games scheduled for this upcoming week.
Week 4 features the first true test for a surprise unbeaten, a battle for first place in the wild NFC West and a Sunday nighter sure to go down in the history books — for more reasons than one.
Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming week:
Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams:
Sunday, Oct 3 at 4:05PM ET | Live Stream
Spread: Rams -6.0
Over/Under Total: 54.5
Moneyline: Cardinals (+210), Rams (-250)
Before the season even began, the NFC West was touted as the best division in football. Through three weeks, it’s hard to question that label.
It contains two undefeated teams, the San Fransisco 49ers, who are a last-second Mason Crosby field goal away from 3-0, and the Russell Wilson-led Seattle Seahawks, who should never be counted out.
It’s a double dose of NFC West matchups in Week 4, but when the Arizona Cardinals head to SoFi Stadium to take on the Los Angeles Rams, first place will be on the line.
Through three weeks, the Arizona offence has been downright scary. The Cardinals have scored over 30 points in all three of their wins, and are tied for the league lead in points per game at 34.1.
A major reason why has been the play of their third-year pivot Kyler Murray, who sits third in the league in passing yards with 1,005. But even more so than his arm, it has been his legs that have been giving opposing teams nightmares. He has only run for 70 yards, but his ability to escape trouble and keep plays alive is a treat to watch. He is also always a threat around the goal line, with three rushing touchdowns this season to go along with his seven passing majors.
Waiting for Murray this week is his stiffest test yet in Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and the rest of the Rams’ defence.
— NFL (@NFL) September 26, 2021
Murray is definitely in the way-too-early MVP discussion, but the man who many believe to be the favourite for the award at this point will be standing across the field from him on Sunday.
It is fair to say the Matthew Stafford experiment in Los Angeles has been a success and then some. Sean McVay must be sleeping much easier these days with Stafford at the helm. And so too is Cooper Kupp, who leads the league in both receiving yards and touchdowns as Stafford’s go-to target.
Another thing working in the Rams’ favour? McVay’s record against the Cardinals. During his first four years as a head coach, the offensive genius is a perfect 8-0 against his division foe, and 4-0 against current Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Can the Cardinals get the monkey off their back? Or will the Rams take a stranglehold on the NFC West and send another loud statement to the rest of the league?
Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos
Sunday, Oct 3 at 4:25PM ET | Live Stream
Spread: Broncos -1.0
Over/Under Total: 44.0
Moneyline: Ravens (+105), Broncos (-125)
If you just look at the Denver Broncos’ record, it would be fair to assume they have been one of the five most impressive teams so far. After all, they are one of just two remaining undefeated teams in the AFC.
However, their three wins have come against the New York Giants, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets - not exactly a murderers' row of opponents.
So when the Broncos welcome the Baltimore Ravens to Mile High Stadium this week, the NFL community will get a chance to see just how legit this Broncos squad truly is.
Teddy Bridgewater, the new starter in town, has been perfectly fine for the Broncos, but it is their defence that has truly impressed. They are allowing a league-low 8.7 points per game, including a Week 3 shutout of the Jets. Again, it was the Jets, but holding an NFL team to zero points is impressive, regardless of the opponent.
Now, Von Miller and company get to deal with trying to corral Lamar Jackson and the rest of the Ravens’ offence, which is easier said than done.
Coming off their dramatic Week 2 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore had a bit of a letdown game in Week 3 against the Lions. But Jackson did just enough to set the stage for the longest kick in NFL history - here it is again, because why not?
— NFL (@NFL) September 26, 2021
The Ravens will need a much better performance if they hope to hand Denver its first loss this weekend, especially from their young receiver Marquise Brown, who dropped multiple touchdowns over the weekend.
Otherwise, the Broncos will move to 4-0 and officially be labelled as a legitimate contender in the AFC.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New England Patriots
Sunday, Oct 3 at 8:20PM ET | Live Stream
Spread: Buccaneers -7.0
Over/Under Total: 49.0
Moneyline: Buccaneers (-290), Patriots (+240)
The sports world will be talking about this game ad nauseam this week, but can you really blame us?
The greatest player in NFL history, returning to the scene of his greatest triumphs, with the chance to set the NFL passing yards record against his former team and coach — it’s almost too good to be true.
So when Tom Brady’s return to New England dominates the headlines, try to remember just how special of a moment it very well could be. Brady spent 20 seasons with the Patriots, winning six Super Bowls and creating countless memories for the New England faithful. Now he’s doing the same for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has them looking to become the first back-to-back Super Bowl champs since, you guessed it, Brady and the Patriots back in 2003-04.
This promo for Brady’s return to New England is too perfect 🤣
— PFF (@PFF) September 27, 2021
Therefore, when he runs out of the tunnel at Gillette Stadium for the first time in opposing colours, tears will be shed. There will also be the possibility for more later on, as the 44-year-old quarterback will almost certainly set the NFL record for passing yards with the world watching. He needs just 68 yards through the air to pass Drew Brees’ mark of 80,358 career passing yards, which is practically a guarantee with how Brady has been playing.
The only disappointing thing about this game is that it could very well be a blowout. The Patriots are 1-2 and coming off a rough loss against the New Orleans Saints last week. It was also a tough outing for Mac Jones, who many hoped would be the heir apparent to Brady in New England, as he threw three interceptions in the 28-13 loss.
On the other side, you know Brady and the Bucs will be out for blood after getting handled by the Rams in Week 3.
But if there was one man who could pull off the upset, it would be the man in the hoodie, Bill Belichick. Did we mention he knows Brady pretty well?
Regardless of the score, just the pre-game warmup will be worth the price of admission in this one. Plus, as we’ve seen for over 20 years now, magic just seems to follow No. 12.
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