Thursday, September 27, 2018

Week 4 NFL Preview

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As the NFL wraps up the first quarter of the 2018 season, three undefeated teams remain – the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (3-0), LOS ANGELES RAMS (3-0) and MIAMI DOLPHINS (3-0). But while a fast start is helpful, it does not guarantee you a trip to the postseason. Since 1990, when the current 12-team playoff format was adopted, 102 of the 138 teams (73.9 percent) to start 3-0 have qualified for the postseason. Last season, the Falcons and Chiefs both qualified for the postseason after starting 3-0.
Fourteen teams enter Week 4 with a sub-.500 record, but hope still remains. Since 1990, 74 teams with a losing record after the first three games made the playoffs, including the 2017 New Orleans Saints, who became the first team in the Super Bowl era to win its next eight games immediately following an 0-2 start.
As the league enters the quarter turn, quarterbacks across the NFL continue to shine. Entering Week 4, league-wide passing numbers continue to trend at a record pace, as the marks for completions (2,248), completion percentage (65.5 percent), touchdown passes (168) and passer rating (93.2) are all the highest in NFL history through the first three weeks of a season.

Through Week 3, nine quarterbacks have a passer rating of at least 100 (min. 60 attempts), tied with the 2015 and 2008 seasons for the most in NFL history through three weeks of a season. There have been 42 individual performances, including 15 last week, with a passer rating of 100 or higher (min. 15 attempts) through Week 3, the most in league annals through the first three weeks of a season. Kansas City’s PATRICK MAHOMES has a 137.4 passer rating through Week 3, the third-highest mark in NFL history by a quarterback through the first three weeks of a season, trailing only TOM BRADY (141.8 in 2007) and RANDALL CUNNINGHAM (141.2 in 1992).
Six quarterbacks have completed at least 70 percent of their passes (min. 60 attempts) through the first three weeks of the season, the second-most in league history through Week 3, trailing only the 2015 season (seven). New Orleans’ quarterback DREW BREES leads the NFL with an 80.6 completion percentage, the highest ever by a quarterback through Week 3. Oakland’s DEREK CARR (76.6 percent) has the fourth-highest completion percentage through the first three weeks of a season in league history.
As familiar faces continue to excel across the league, a new wave of quarterbacks is set to take the stage. Four rookie QBs are expected to start in Week 4 – Arizona’s JOSH ROSEN (first-career start), Buffalo’s JOSH ALLEN, Cleveland’s BAKER MAYFIELD (first-career start) and the New York Jets’ SAM DARNOLD. This marks the fourth time in the Super Bowl era (excluding the 1987 season) that at least four rookie quarterbacks will have started a game in the first four weeks of a season, joining the 2016 (four), 2012 (five) and 1971 (five) seasons.
Below are highlights of the Week 4 schedule:
Week 4 kicks off on Thursday night as the MINNESOTA VIKINGS square off against the LOS ANGELES RAMS at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (8:20 PM ET, FOX/NFL Network/Amazon Prime) in a battle of 2017 NFC division winners. The Rams, who enter the game at 3-0 with the third-ranked offense in the NFL (439.3 net yards per game), look to begin the season 4-0 for the first time since 2001. Minnesota quarterback KIRK COUSINS ranks fourth in the NFL with 965 passing yards, the most by a Vikings’ quarterback in the team’s first three games of a season in franchise history.
Amazon Prime will stream the 11 Thursday Night Football games broadcast by FOX, which will also be simulcast on NFL Network and distributed in Spanish on FOX Deportes, once again securing the league's "Tri-Cast" model of broadcast (FOX), cable (NFL Network, FOX Deportes), and digital (Amazon Prime Video) distribution.
TAMPA BAY’s league-leading offense (473.3 net yards per game) faces off against KHALIL MACK and the CHICAGO BEARS at Soldier Field on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). Buccaneers wide receivers MIKE EVANS (367 receiving yards and three touchdown catches) and DE SEAN JACKSON (312 receiving yards and three touchdown catches) are the only pair of teammates in NFL history with at least 300 receiving yards and three touchdown catches each in a team’s first three games of a season. The Bears enter Sunday’s matchup with an NFL-leading 14 sacks and rank fifth in the league in total defense, allowing 289 net yards per game. Mack has recorded at least one sack and one forced fumble in each of his first three games with the Bears.
MIAMI, who is aiming for its first 4-0 start since 1995, travels to Gillette Stadium for an AFC East showdown with the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Last week, wide receiver ALBERT WILSON (52-yard touchdown pass and 74-yard touchdown catch) became the fourth player in NFL history to both throw and catch a touchdown pass of at least 50 yards in the same game. Dolphins quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL is 10-1 in his past 11 starts and ranks fourth in the NFL with a 121.8 passer rating. Patriots quarterback TOM BRADY has 494 career touchdown passes, the fourth-most in league history.
Sunday Night Football features a key early-season divisional matchup between the BALTIMORE RAVENS and the PITTSBURGH STEELERS at Heinz Field (8:20 PM ET, NBC). Ravens linebacker TERRELL SUGGS had 1.5 sacks in Week 3 and has 128 sacks in his 16-year career with Baltimore, the fifth-most sacks by a player with a single team since the individual sack became an official statistic in 1982. Steelers wide receiver JU JU SMITH-SCHUSTER, who had nine catches for 116 yards in Week 3, aims for his fifth consecutive game with at least 100 receiving yards. Smith-Schuster (356 scrimmage yards) and running back JAMES CONNER (352) rank first and second in the AFC, respectively, in scrimmage yards this season. ​

(All times eastern)
Bye: Carolina, Washington
Thursday, September 27
Sunday, September 30 (cont’d)
Minnesota at Los Angeles Rams, 8:20 PM (FOX/NFLN/Amazon)
Miami at New England, 1:00 PM
Philadelphia at Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Seattle at Arizona, 4:05 PM
Sunday, September 30
Cleveland at Oakland, 4:05 PM
Cincinnati at Atlanta, 1:00 PM
San Francisco at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 PM
Tampa Bay at Chicago, 1:00 PM
New Orleans at New York Giants, 4:25 PM
Detroit at Dallas, 1:00 PM
Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 8:20 PM (NBC)
Buffalo at Green Bay, 1:00 PM

Houston at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM
Monday, October 1
New York Jets at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Kansas City at Denver, 8:15 PM (ESPN)

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