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Insiders predict: NFL week 4 winners

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Sean M. Haffey // Getty Images

Insiders predict: NFL week 4 winners

Week 3 in the NFL saw seven quarterbacks that did not begin the season atop the depth chart make starts. For the Giants, the beginning to the Daniel Jones era got off to as thrilling of a start as possible, as he engineered a 75-yard, game-winning drive to complete a comeback against the Buccaneers and give the Giants their first win of the season. The Panthers were victorious in Cam Newton’s absence thanks to Kyle Allen’s four touchdown passes and perhaps now Carolina can allow Newton to take his time coming back from a Lisfranc injury if Allen continues to look comfortable. Saints backup Teddy Bridgewater rarely threw the ball downfield, but was victorious nonetheless thanks to stars like Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas making big plays around him.

Much of the playoff picture later this season could be determined by which backup quarterbacks continue to ride the wave of early success and keep their teams afloat. With that in mind, here are some key games on the Week 4 slate including backups and regular starters alike.

Chiefs @ Lions: While the Kansas City defense has looked vulnerable at times this season, Patrick Mahomes II continues to look unstoppable. The Chiefs are hoping to remain undefeated, while the Lions have quietly put together two quality wins after their Week 1 tie with the Cardinals.

Patriots @ Bills: One of these teams expected to be 3-0. The other? The Bills are one of this season’s early surprises. It’s the week’s only matchup between two 3-0 teams with first place in the AFC East on the line.

Vikings @ Bears: The NFC North is shaping up to be a hyper-competitive division, with the Packers and Lions yet to lose, and the Vikings and Bears each 2-1. Both quarterbacks face nightmare defensive fronts, but whichever can do a better job protecting the ball will likely come out victorious.

Cowboys @ Saints: Teddy Bridgewater won at the Seahawks but dinking and dunking down the field may not be enough to keep up with the Cowboys prolific offense. Can a Saints team without Drew Brees hand Dak Prescott—who is putting up MVP-like numbers early on this year—his first loss of the year?

Insiders predicts are based on the team that is favored to win, which is based on consensus betting odds and spread on Vegas Insider as of Sept. 24, 2019. Team stats were gathered from NFL.com.

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Al Bello // Getty Images

Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) @ Green Bay Packers (3-0)

- Game time: Thursday, Sept. 26, 8:20 p.m. EST

The Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles turn around on short rest this week. The Packers and their surprisingly dominant defense hope to move to 4-0, while the Eagles try to stop the bleeding and halt a two-game losing streak. The task will be tall for Philly, as Green Bay looks like one of the NFL’s best teams.

Big money paid to Green Bay's Preston and Za’Darius Smith in the offseason has already paid dividends—the pass rushing tandem combined for five of the team’s six sacks in the 27-16 victory over the Broncos. For context, last year’s starting edge rushers (Nick Perry and Clay Matthews) combined for only five sacks all season. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers hasn’t produced the gaudy numbers we’ve grown accustomed to, but the two-time NFL MVP has been solid and kept his offense out of trouble each week.

The Eagles are off to a disappointing 1-2 and are staring another loss right in the face. An injury-plagued offense isn’t helped by the short week. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson is doubtful with an abdominal issue, while wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and running back Corey Clement are both questionable. The Packers will play their third-consecutive home game on Thursday night which is obviously helpful with just a few days of rest; they are slight favorites.

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Quinn Harris // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Green Bay Packers

- Favored to win: Green Bay Packers
- Spread: -4.5
- Odds: -210

- Philadelphia Eagles team stats:
- Offense: 365.0 yards per game (#13 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 265.3 ypg (#12)
--- Rushing offense: 99.7 ypg (#17)
- Defense: 350.7 yards per game (#16 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 293.7 ypg (#29)
--- Rushing defense: 57 ypg (#2)

- Green Bay Packers team stats:
- Offense: 286.7 yards per game (#28 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 197.3 ypg (#27)
--- Rushing offense: 89.3 ypg (#24)
- Defense: 328.3 yards per game (#13 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 197.3 ypg (#5)
--- Rushing defense: 131 ypg (#25)

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Frederick Breedon // Getty Images

Tennessee Titans (1-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (1-2)

- Game time: Sunday, Sept. 29, 1:00 p.m. EST

The Atlanta Falcons are not off to a promising start, but the NFC South remains wide open with three teams knotted at 1-2, and the first place New Orleans Saints sitting at 2-1 but without starting QB Drew Brees for the next several weeks. The Falcons dug themselves into an early 20-3 first-half hole Week 3 that they could not escape from despite a valiant effort to keep things close but eventually falling 27-24 to the Indianapolis Colts. Quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown an uncharacteristic six interceptions through three games this season—the former NFL MVP threw seven total last season.

The Tennessee Titans are also hoping to climb back to .500 after dropping two-straight contests (both within their division). Tennessee looked strong Week 1, thumping the Browns in Cleveland 43-13, but the offense has since been stale. The o-line has given up a league-worst 19 sacks, nine of which came last week in their 20-7 loss to backup QB Gardner Minshew and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Titans fared much better against AFC opponents last season (4-0) than the Falcons (1-3), but Atlanta is still the favorite. The Falcons will be without a crucial member of the secondary, Keanu Neal, who suffered a torn Achilles Sunday. 

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Justin Casterline // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Atlanta Falcons

- Favored to win: Atlanta Falcons
- Spread: -4
- Odds: -200

- Tennessee Titans team stats:
- Offense: 307.3 yards per game (#27 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 194.7 ypg (#28)
--- Rushing offense: 112.7 ypg (#12)
- Defense: 308.7 yards per game (#6 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 189.7 ypg (#3)
--- Rushing defense: 119 ypg (#21)

- Atlanta Falcons team stats:
- Offense: 369.7 yards per game (#10 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 295.3 ypg (#6)
--- Rushing offense: 74.3 ypg (#27)
- Defense: 311.3 yards per game (#7 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 211.3 ypg (#8)
--- Rushing defense: 100 ypg (#12)

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Maddie Meyer // Getty Images

New England Patriots (3-0) @ Buffalo Bills (3-0)

- Game time: Sunday, Sept. 29, 1:00 p.m. EST

It’s no surprise the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots are sitting at 3-0, but few would have had them squaring off against the undefeated Buffalo Bills for sole position atop the AFC East when they looked at Week 4 on the schedule. Quarterback Josh Allen and the surging Bills play host to the NFL’s most dominant team of the early 2019 season. Win or lose for Buffalo, Sunday’s matchup will go a long way in determining if this early season success is something Bills Mafia can be excited about.

While the Patriots haven’t faced a team of any real magnitude thus far, their sheer annihilation of the competition is enough to make them the Super Bowl favorites. Forty-two-year-old Tom Brady and the offense are off to an even better start than last season, but it’s their #1 defense that has been most impressive. The Pats are allowing less than 200 yards and six points per contest.

Can the Bills really challenge New England, who is looking to earn an 11th-straight division title in the AFC East? Buffalo will need a near-perfect performance from the second-year quarterback out of Wyoming, and another stellar performance on the ground—the Bills rushed for 175 yards and two scores Week 3 in their 21-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

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Billie Weiss // Getty Images

Insiders predict: New England Patriots

- Favored to win: New England Patriots
- Spread: -7
- Odds: -335

- New England Patriots team stats:
- Offense: 408.3 yards per game (#5 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 311.3 ypg (#2)
--- Rushing offense: 97.0 ypg (#20)
- Defense: 199.0 yards per game (#1 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 162.3 ypg (#1)
--- Rushing defense: 36.7 ypg (#1)

- Buffalo Bills team stats:
- Offense: 391.3 yards per game (#8 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 240.0 ypg (#19)
--- Rushing offense: 151.3 ypg (#5)
- Defense: 299.7 yards per game (#5 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 211.7 ypg (#9)
--- Rushing defense: 88 ypg (#8)

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Charlie Crowhurst // Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) @ Detroit Lions (2-0-1)

- Game time: Sunday, Sept. 29, 1:00 p.m. EST

Another matchup of undefeated teams...technically. The Detroit Lions squandered an 18-point lead Week 1 to the Arizona Cardinals, but escaped with a 27-27 draw. The Lions followed that with narrow three-point victories in each of the last two weeks, taking down the Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively. Week 4 will be their biggest challenge yet as they welcome a fire-charged Kansas City Chiefs offense and the prodigious Patrick Mahomes II.

Despite injuries to their top receiver (Tyreek Hill), starting running back (Damien Williams), and veteran left tackle (Eric Fisher), the Chiefs’ gunslinger outlasted Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens in a battle of the young QBs. Mahomes picked up where he left off last season as he’s thrown for 10 touchdowns, nearly 1,200 yards, and not a single interception. He may be aided by the return of Hill and Williams this week although the team has yet to disclose an update.

The MVP campaign trail for Mahomes makes a stop in Detroit this week with a Super Bowl-hopeful Kansas City team looking to keep things in motion. While the Lions have been a surprise through three weeks, oddsmakers aren’t giving them much of a shot as home underdogs. Quarterback Matthew Stafford will need to get the offense going early and keep the pedal on the gas against a rather average KC defense. Running back Kerryon Johnson, who looked great as a rookie last season before a season-ending injury, has been stymied early in 2019. Detroit will need to get him involved against a rushing defense that allows 137.7 yards per game. 

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Jamie Squire // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Kansas City Chiefs

- Favored to win: Kansas City Chiefs
- Spread: -6
- Odds: -270

- Kansas City Chiefs team stats:
- Offense: 487.0 yards per game (#2 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 392.3 ypg (#1)
--- Rushing offense: 94.7 ypg (#22)
- Defense: 395.7 yards per game (#24 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 258 ypg (#19)
--- Rushing defense: 137.7 ypg (#27)

- Detroit Lions team stats:
- Offense: 367.7 yards per game (#12 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 269.0 ypg (#11)
--- Rushing offense: 98.7 ypg (#18)
- Defense: 394.7 yards per game (#23 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 269.3 ypg (#22)
--- Rushing defense: 125.3 ypg (#22)

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Robert Reiners // Getty Images

Oakland Raiders (1-2) @ Indianapolis Colts (2-1)

- Game time: Sunday, Sept. 29, 1:00 p.m. EST

After the initial shock of being without now-retired quarterback Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett and the Indianapolis Colts have weathered the storm nicely. It was future Hall of Fame kicker Adam Vinatieri who was the biggest question mark for Indy after missing seven kicks over the past three games (dating back to last year), but his kicking woes seem behind him for now. The 46-year-old went a perfect 5 of 5 in Sunday’s 27-24 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

The Raiders earned a big prime-time victory over the Denver Broncos Week 1, but have lost their last two contests by double digits as head coach Jon Gruden looks for redemption in season #2 with Oakland. The Colts are touchdown favorites at home even without starting safety Malik Hooker and likely without star wide receiver T. Y. Hilton who were both injured Sunday.

In the two Raiders losses, quarterback Derek Carr has thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns (3) and hasn’t looked all the way right. Rookie running back Josh Jacobs has been strong for Oakland, ranking #8 in rushing yards and currently averaging over five yards per carry, so expect to see a heavy dose of him. Tight end Darren Waller has also been a security blanket for Carr—Waller currently leads the team in receptions and receiving yards. 

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Michael Hickey // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Indianapolis Colts

- Favored to win: Indianapolis Colts
- Spread: -7
- Odds: -300

- Oakland Raiders team stats:
- Offense: 322.0 yards per game (#26 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 217.0 ypg (#24)
--- Rushing offense: 105.0 ypg (#16)
- Defense: 398.7 yards per game (#25 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 286.3 ypg (#24)
--- Rushing defense: 112.3 ypg (#19)

- Indianapolis Colts team stats:
- Offense: 347.7 yards per game (#19 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 198.0 ypg (#26)
--- Rushing offense: 149.7 ypg (#6)
- Defense: 358.3 yards per game (#18 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 244.3 ypg (#13)
--- Rushing defense: 114 ypg (#20)

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Sean M. Haffey // Getty Images

Los Angeles Chargers (1-2) @ Miami Dolphins (0-3)

- Game time: Sunday, Sept. 29, 1:00 p.m. EST

Yet again, the Dolphins make modern-day history in terms of the point-spread. Nearly 17-point underdogs at home, Miami has become a team that seemingly can’t cover a spread regardless of just how large it is. They are 0-3 against the point spread this season, and given their current form, getting 16.5 points still may not be enough although they are facing a 1-2 team.

The Chargers come into Week 4 on the heels of a 27-20 loss to the Texans that had some positives in it. Oft-injured receiver Keenan Allen put together an incredible performance, catching 13 of the 17 passes thrown his way for a career-high 183 yards and two touchdowns. Allen also became the first player in franchise history to record at least eight catches in the first three games of a season.

There will be no shortage of opportunities for Allen and company to continue to put up prolific numbers. It’s telling that the Dolphins may have looked the best they have all season last Sunday, in a game in which they lost 31-6 to the Cowboys. Miami has a point differential of -117, which is astounding and will likely only continue to grow in the wrong direction this week.

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Meg Oliphant // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Los Angeles Chargers

- Favored to win: Los Angeles Chargers
- Spread: -16.5
- Odds: -1200

- Los Angeles Chargers team stats:
- Offense: 408.3 yards per game (#5 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 296.7 ypg (#5)
--- Rushing offense: 111.7 ypg (#13)
- Defense: 363.7 yards per game (#19 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 251.7 ypg (#17)
--- Rushing defense: 112 ypg (#18)

- Miami Dolphins team stats:
- Offense: 222.3 yards per game (#31 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 177.3 ypg (#30)
--- Rushing offense: 45.0 ypg (#31)
- Defense: 499.3 yards per game (#32 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 291.3 ypg (#28)
--- Rushing defense: 208 ypg (#32)

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Patrick Smith // Getty Images

Washington Redskins (0-3) @ New York Giants (1-2)

- Game time: Sunday, Sept. 29, 1:00 p.m. EST

The New York media is known to blow things out of proportion from time to time, and it wasted no time crowning new Giants starting quarterback Daniel Jones the king of Gotham. Jones was handed the keys to the floundering offense, taking over for two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning, and he did not disappoint. Facing an 18-point halftime deficit, Jones led the Giants to a thrilling 32-31 comeback victory over the Buccaneers by throwing for 336 yards, two touchdowns, and he rushed for a 7-yard, game-winning touchdown with 1:16 left in the fourth quarter which completed an eight play, 75-yard drive.

With that being said, they only hung on to earn their first win of the season thanks to Bucs kicker Matt Gay missing a 34-yard chip-shot field goal as time expired. Either way, a win is a win and the Giants are flying high into their NFC East meeting with Washington, despite losing star running back Saquon Barkley to an ankle injury which should sideline him for a significant amount of time.

With no Barkley, it’s likely that Jones will have plenty of opportunity to make his impact felt once again this week against a winless Washington team that looked lackluster in a 31-15 loss to the Bears at home on Monday night. Many are calling for the team to make a switch at quarterback much like the Giants. Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins is yet to be given an opportunity, but the cries to see him given a chance will only grow louder if veteran Case Keenum can’t right the ship against the Giants this week.

Keenum was intercepted three times by the Bears, including one that was run back for a touchdown and the team has five total giveaways in the loss. As wild as it may seem, a rebuilding Giants team without its star running back and offensive focal point, and a still-raw Jones at quarterback will be favored to win and get back to .500 after what seemed like it would be a disastrous start to the season. 

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Michael Reaves // Getty Images

Insiders predict: New York Giants

- Favored to win: New York Giants
- Spread: -3
- Odds: -150

- Washington Redskins team stats:
- Offense: 336.3 yards per game (#22 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 288.3 ypg (#9)
--- Rushing offense: 48.0 ypg (#30)
- Defense: 402.7 yards per game (#26 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 260.7 ypg (#20)
--- Rushing defense: 142 ypg (#29)

- New York Giants team stats:
- Offense: 408.0 yards per game (#7 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 290.7 ypg (#8)
--- Rushing offense: 117.3 ypg (#9)
- Defense: 460.3 yards per game (#31 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 332.3 ypg (#32)
--- Rushing defense: 128 ypg (#23)

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Patrick Smith // Getty Images

Cleveland Browns (1-2) @ Baltimore Ravens (2-1)

- Game time: Sunday, Sept. 29, 1:00 p.m. EST

All the optimism that Browns fans carried into the season is already wavering, and the job security for coach Freddie Kitchens may be wavering along with it. Kitchens’ decision to call a draw play on 4th & 9 late in Cleveland’s 20-13 loss to the Rams on Sunday night only fueled discussion that he may not be the man to turn the much-maligned franchise around.

Play calling will almost always be questioned when an offense with great talent isn’t producing but quarterback Baker Mayfield must be feeling some pressure as well. He completed just half of his passes on Sunday night, and threw one touchdown with one interception for a quarterback rating of 64. Facing a defense anchored by Aaron Donald is never an easy task, but the Browns offense has inspired little confidence this season, including in their 23-3 win over the Jets this season.

If Kitchens and Mayfield can’t get the Browns offense rolling, they can certainly find themselves in a big hole against the Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday. Lamar Jackson has shown flashes of brilliance this season, and he nearly led the Ravens offense to victory at the Chiefs last week. They fell just short of keeping up with the reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes II, falling 33-28.

Jackson is yet to throw an interception this season, and it’s hard to imagine the Browns controlling this game without the Ravens making a critical error at some point. For that reason, the Ravens are a full touchdown favorite in this showdown between AFC North playoff hopefuls. 

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Peter Aiken // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Baltimore Ravens

- Favored to win: Baltimore Ravens
- Spread: -7
- Odds: -300

- Cleveland Browns team stats:
- Offense: 330.3 yards per game (#24 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 241.3 ypg (#18)
--- Rushing offense: 89.0 ypg (#25)
- Defense: 315.3 yards per game (#10 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 213.3 ypg (#10)
--- Rushing defense: 102 ypg (#14)

- Baltimore Ravens team stats:
- Offense: 511.7 yards per game (#1 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 295.0 ypg (#7)
--- Rushing offense: 216.7 ypg (#1)
- Defense: 350.7 yards per game (#16 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 290.3 ypg (#27)
--- Rushing defense: 60.3 ypg (#3)

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Streeter Lecka // Getty Images

Carolina Panthers (1-2) @ Houston Texans (2-1)

- Game time: Sunday, Sept. 29, 1:00 p.m. EST

Both the Panthers and Texans come into Week 4 off of road victories, though the fashion in which Carolina won was more surprising. With quarterback Cam Newton sidelined with a reported Lisfranc injury in his foot, Kyle Allen took his second career start by storm and threw for 261 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions in a 38-20 win over the Cardinals. The Carolina offense as a whole was brilliant, with running back Christian McCaffrey adding 153 yards and a score on the ground in the comfortable win.

For Houston, Week 3 saw another strong outing from quarterback Deshaun Watson who tallied 351 yards passing with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 135.8 quarterback rating. The Texans pass rush also showed up big, sacking Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers five times, including two from star defender J. J. Watt in the 27-20 win. Houston getting their pass rushing chops back could spell bad news for the Panthers, who will see Allen start again in the absence of Newton.

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Meg Oliphant // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Houston Texans

- Favored to win: Houston Texans
- Spread: -5
- Odds: -230

- Carolina Panthers team stats:
- Offense: 369.3 yards per game (#11 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 256.3 ypg (#13)
--- Rushing offense: 113.0 ypg (#11)
- Defense: 295.3 yards per game (#4 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 166.3 ypg (#2)
--- Rushing defense: 129 ypg (#24)

- Houston Texans team stats:
- Offense: 351.0 yards per game (#17 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 236.0 ypg (#21)
--- Rushing offense: 115.0 ypg (#10)
- Defense: 385.7 yards per game (#22 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 277.7 ypg (#23)
--- Rushing defense: 108 ypg (#15)

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Mark Wallheiser // Getty Images

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2) @ Los Angeles Rams (3-0)

- Game time: Sunday, Sept. 29, 4:05 p.m. EST

Halfway through the Buccaneers meeting with the Giants last Sunday, Tampa Bay appeared to be well in control. They had an 18-point lead heading into the locker room, and quarterback Jameis Winston and his top receiver Mike Evans seemed unstoppable, connecting for three touchdowns in the first 30 minutes. From there, everything crumbled.

The Bucs would score only three more points, and the Giants' new starting quarterback Daniel Jones led a rally that was capped off with an eight play, 75-yard touchdown drive to win the game and send the Buccaneers to 1-2 on the season. While Jones’ debut grabbed the headlines, it was still heartbreaking for Tampa Bay considering that they had an opportunity to win the game as time expired. Matt Gay, who had connected on his first four field goals on the day, missed a 34-yard chip shot to ensure that the game will be remembered for Jones’ heroics rather than the Bucs own mishaps.

They need not dwell, as things get much harder this week when they visit the 3-0 Rams in Los Angeles. A 20-13 road win over the Browns on Sunday night certainly wasn’t the most convincing performance, but the reigning NFC Champions are unbeaten nonetheless and while their prolific offense is yet to regain its 2018 form, the L.A. defense is the third-ranked unit in the league so far this season and is coming off of two strong performances against the Saints and Browns. It’s no surprise the Rams are a double-digit favorite and their fans will be hoping that the lowly Giants exploiting the Bucs defense could mean a get-right game for Sean McVay’s offense. 

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Kirk Irwin // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Los Angeles Rams

- Favored to win: Los Angeles Rams
- Spread: -9.5
- Odds: -500

- Tampa Bay Buccaneers team stats:
- Offense: 361.0 yards per game (#14 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 239.3 ypg (#20)
--- Rushing offense: 121.7 ypg (#8)
- Defense: 330.7 yards per game (#14 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 261 ypg (#21)
--- Rushing defense: 69.7 ypg (#6)

- Los Angeles Rams team stats:
- Offense: 358.0 yards per game (#16 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 234.3 ypg (#22)
--- Rushing offense: 123.7 ypg (#7)
- Defense: 285.7 yards per game (#3 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 192.7 ypg (#4)
--- Rushing defense: 93 ypg (#11)

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Abbie Parr // Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks (2-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (0-2-1)

- Game time: Sunday, Sept. 29, 4:05 p.m. EST

Russell Wilson may be the best example of a short-statured, mobile quarterback excelling at the higher level of football but the Cardinals have one of their own in that same mold who is hoping to prove worthy of being the first-overall pick in last April’s draft.

Kyler Murray has been given plenty of opportunities to throw the ball through the first three games of his career, as one might have expected in coach Kliff Kingsbury’s wide-open, college-style offense. Murray’s 137 attempts are the highest in the league, but the production has not put him amongst the top in terms of yards (830) and quarterback rating (79). In short, the learning curve of playing quarterback in the NFL is steep and Murray will have ample opportunity to become better in the efficiency category.

Seattle’s defense isn’t what it used to be, but they have still hovered around the top 10 in the league in terms of yards surrendered through the first three weeks of the season. They have found themselves in some high-scoring contests though, and despite their 2-1 record, they have allowed more points (79) than any other team with a winning record aside from the New Orleans Saints (82).

For a neutral fan, this game could provide some fireworks and the brand of football that both Murray and Wilson play is fun to watch. The Seahawks seem worthy favorites, but they’ve shown to be a volatile team that could give Arizona the opportunity to capitalize and earn their first win of the season.

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Abbie Parr // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Seattle Seahawks

- Favored to win: Seattle Seahawks
- Spread: -4.5
- Odds: -220

- Seattle Seahawks team stats:
- Offense: 390.7 yards per game (#9 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 280.0 ypg (#10)
--- Rushing offense: 110.7 ypg (#15)
- Defense: 318.3 yards per game (#11 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 250.7 ypg (#16)
--- Rushing defense: 67.7 ypg (#4)

- Arizona Cardinals team stats:
- Offense: 328.0 yards per game (#25 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 243.7 ypg (#15)
--- Rushing offense: 84.3 ypg (#26)
- Defense: 443.3 yards per game (#30 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 286.3 ypg (#24)
--- Rushing defense: 157 ypg (#30)

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Hannah Foslien // Getty Images

Minnesota Vikings (2-1) @ Chicago Bears (2-1)

- Game time: Sunday, Sept. 29, 4:25 p.m. EST

The Vikings needed a strong response after their NFC North divisional loss to the Packers, and they got just that in their convincing 34-14 win over the Raiders. Even with a modest performance in the passing game from Kirk Cousins (174 yards, one touchdown), it was once again the ground game that made the Minnesota offense formidable. As a team, they tallied 211 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Running back Dalvin Cook had 110 of those yards to go along with a score, following up his career-high 154-yard day a week earlier in Green Bay.

The Vikings have the second-best rushing attack in the league as they average 193.7 yards per game on the ground. As they take the road to visit the fearsome Bears front seven, this will prove to be a battle of strengths in the trenches.

The Bears defense ranks as one of the best in the league and they have been fierce in getting after the quarterback (11 sacks) and producing turnovers (six takeaways). Five takeaways came on Monday night, including three interceptions off of Washington quarterback Case Keenum, one of which was run back for a touchdown by safety HaHa Clinton-Dix. Between the Vikings, Bears and Packers, the NFC North is shaping up to be a division full of disruptive defenses and much like this game, the difference may be in which offense can avoid making a critical mistake under pressure. It’s all but a toss up, with the Bears favored by just a field goal on their home field. 

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Rob Carr // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Chicago Bears

- Favored to win: Chicago Bears
- Spread: -2.5
- Odds: -150

- Minnesota Vikings team stats:
- Offense: 358.3 yards per game (#15 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 164.7 ypg (#31)
--- Rushing offense: 193.7 ypg (#2)
- Defense: 327.3 yards per game (#12 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 225.7 ypg (#11)
--- Rushing defense: 101.7 ypg (#13)

- Chicago Bears team stats:
- Offense: 275.0 yards per game (#29 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 178.7 ypg (#29)
--- Rushing offense: 96.3 ypg (#21)
- Defense: 313.7 yards per game (#8 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 245 ypg (#14)
--- Rushing defense: 68.7 ypg (#5)

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Sam Greenwood // Getty Images

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) @ Denver Broncos (0-3)

- Game time: Sunday, Sept. 29, 4:25 p.m. EST

The Jaguars are dealing with some off-field drama this week and unfortunately for them, it’s all due to arguably their best player’s desire to pack up and leave town. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey called in sick to work on Monday, sending a clear message that he is serious about his request to be traded that he issued to the team earlier this season. With Ramsey’s status up in the air, Jacksonville is already planning to play without their star defensive back on Sunday when they travel to Denver.

There is reason for optimism on the offensive side of the ball, however. Backup quarterback Gardner Minshew has taken the league by storm since replacing the injured Nick Foles in Week 1. Minshew has been very efficient, posting a 73.9 completion percentage, 692 yards, five touchdowns, only one interception, and a quarterback rating of 110.6. After years of searching for their next franchise quarterback, early signs suggest that they could have just stumbled into one with Minshew. Minshew’s two touchdowns last Thursday night helped Jacksonville beat their AFC South foe Tennessee 20-7 to earn their first victory of the season.

The Broncos are still looking for that first notch in the win column, having fallen victim to another strong performance from the Green Bay Packers defense in a 27-16 loss at Lambeau Field on Sunday. While Denver quarterback Joe Flacco faced plenty of pressure on Sunday, it has been his defense’s inability to generate any of their own that has been the team’s biggest hurdle this season. Gone are the days of Von Miller wreaking absolute havoc in opponents' backfields. Right now, Denver remains the only team in the league to still not register a single sack this season. The Jaguars have some added rest having played on Thursday and while the Broncos are favored because they are at home, it’s hard to muster a great deal of confidence in Denver based on what they have shown early in this 2019 campaign. 

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Nuccio DiNuzzo // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Denver Broncos

- Favored to win: Denver Broncos
- Spread: -3
- Odds: -170

- Jacksonville Jaguars team stats:
- Offense: 333.7 yards per game (#23 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 243.0 ypg (#16)
--- Rushing offense: 90.7 ypg (#23)
- Defense: 364.7 yards per game (#20 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 254.7 ypg (#18)
--- Rushing defense: 110 ypg (#17)

- Denver Broncos team stats:
- Offense: 342.0 yards per game (#20 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 230.7 ypg (#23)
--- Rushing offense: 111.3 ypg (#14)
- Defense: 314.0 yards per game (#9 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 204.7 ypg (#6)
--- Rushing defense: 109.3 ypg (#16)

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Richard Rodriguez // Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys (3-0) @ New Orleans Saints (2-1)

- Game time: Sunday, Sept. 29, 8:20 p.m. EST

It has been a long time coming for Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to make a meaningful NFL start again, but last Sunday’s trip to Seattle provided an opportunity for the New Orleans backup to prove that he belongs in the limelight again. With Drew Brees sidelined due to an injury on his throwing hand, Bridgewater threw a pair of touchdown passes and was helped out by a touchdown from his defense and special teams en route to a 33-27 road win in one of the tougher environments to visit in the league. Bridgewater is three years removed from a horrific knee injury that nearly ended his playing career, but now he will run the Saints offense that has the necessary supporting cast to limit the impact of Brees’ absence.

Last Sunday’s test is followed up by yet another significant one, as the 3-0 Cowboys come to town fresh off of a 31-6 beat-down of the lowly Dolphins. Dallas has the second-best point differential in the NFL through three weeks (+53), trailing only the Patriots (+89) who also had the benefit of running up the score against Miami. Quarterback Dak Prescott is putting up MVP-like numbers early on, trailing only reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes II for the league lead in touchdowns and quarterback rating. Running back Ezekiel Elliott is also off to a hot start and is fourth in the league in rushing yards with 289.

The New Orleans defense can be opportunistic, but they are far from impenetrable. So, Bridgewater could just find himself in a shootout with the Cowboys’ explosive offense. Brees would likely be favored in that scenario when playing on his own turf, but without the Super Bowl winner under center the Saints will be home underdogs aiming to prove to oddsmakers they are a heavy hitter regardless of who is at quarterback.

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Ronald Martinez // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Dallas Cowboys

- Favored to win: Dallas Cowboys
- Spread: -3
- Odds: -145

- Dallas Cowboys team stats:
- Offense: 481.3 yards per game (#3 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 302.3 ypg (#4)
--- Rushing offense: 179.0 ypg (#3)
- Defense: 336.0 yards per game (#15 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 246 ypg (#15)
--- Rushing defense: 90 ypg (#10)

- New Orleans Saints team stats:
- Offense: 339.7 yards per game (#21 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 242.0 ypg (#17)
--- Rushing offense: 97.7 ypg (#19)
- Defense: 436.3 yards per game (#28 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 301.7 ypg (#30)
--- Rushing defense: 134.7 ypg (#26)

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Joe Sargent // Getty Images

Cincinnati Bengals (0-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3)

- Game time: Monday, Sept. 30, 8:15 p.m. EST

While no team appears poised to run away with the AFC North, this matchup of winless teams will all but eliminate at least one team from contending for the division. An 0-4 start would likely be too much to overcome for either of these franchises which have their fair share of struggles to deal with if they are to get their seasons on track.

Pittsburgh faces a life after Ben Roethlisberger. The former Super Bowl winner is out for the season after suffering an elbow injury which was thought to require Tommy John surgery. Mason Rudolph took over under center on Sunday, and threw for 174 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in a 24-20 loss to the 49ers. Rudolph’s performance (81.4 quarterback rating) was far from terrible, but also fell short of inspiring confidence that his entry into the starting lineup could be the spark that Pittsburgh needs to turn its season around.

Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, a 21-17 road loss to the Bills sent them to 0-3 for the second time in the last three seasons. The absence of star wideout A. J. Green certainly isn’t helping matters. He is recovering from an ankle injury suffered early in the preseason, and while he is no longer in a walking boot and is expected to make a return in the first half of the season, that likely won’t be until October.

In short, both teams are injured and desperate for a victory. And while the Bengals have been competitive in their first two road games this season (21-20 loss at Seattle in Week 1, 21-17 loss to Buffalo last Sunday), the Steelers still maintain the edge with home field advantage and a seemingly capable Rudolph aiming to build on his partnership with the explosive JuJu Smith-Schuster.

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Thearon W. Henderson // Getty Images

Insiders predict: Pittsburgh Steelers

- Favored to win: Pittsburgh Steelers
- Spread: -4
- Odds: -210

- Cincinnati Bengals team stats:
- Offense: 350.3 yards per game (#18 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 308.3 ypg (#3)
--- Rushing offense: 42.0 ypg (#32)
- Defense: 406.3 yards per game (#27 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 237.7 ypg (#12)
--- Rushing defense: 168.7 ypg (#31)

- Pittsburgh Steelers team stats:
- Offense: 269.3 yards per game (#30 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 205.3 ypg (#25)
--- Rushing offense: 64.0 ypg (#29)
- Defense: 442.0 yards per game (#29 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 302.7 ypg (#31)
--- Rushing defense: 139.3 ypg (#28)

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