After an exciting week of close games and tight finishes, the NFL heads into Week 4. Last week, eight games were decided by six points or fewer, including two overtime contests. All eight of those games were decided in the final two minutes or OT.
Two teams – Atlanta and Kansas City – remain undefeated after three weeks.
The chances of making the playoffs after a 3-0 start are good but far from certain. Since 1990, when the current 12-team playoff format was adopted, 100 of the 136 teams (73.5 percent) to start 3-0 have qualified for the postseason.
However, last season only one of the five teams to start 3-0 – New England – advanced to the playoffs.
There are currently 18 teams with a 2-1 record or better – Atlanta (3-0), Baltimore (2-1), Buffalo (2-1), Carolina (2-1), Dallas (2-1), Denver (2-1), Detroit (2-1), Green Bay (2-1), Jacksonville (2-1), Kansas City (3-0), Los Angeles Rams (2-1), Minnesota (2-1), New England (2-1), Oakland (2-1), Philadelphia (2-1), Pittsburgh (2-1), Tennessee (2-1) and Washington (2-1) – and 10 of them did not make the playoffs in 2016 (Baltimore, Buffalo, Carolina, Denver, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Tennessee and Washington).
Those 10 clubs are all candidates to be turnaround teams in 2017. Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.
Don’t count out any teams yet. Since 1990, 73 teams with a losing record after the first three games made the playoffs. That includes two teams last season – Detroit and Miami. So, entering Week 4, hope is still very much alive for everyone.
As the NFL approaches the quarter mark of the season, Week 4 kicks off with the Green Bay Packers hosting the Chicago Bears on Thursday night (8:25 PM ET, CBS/NFL Network/Amazon Prime). The game marks the return of the “Tri-Cast” distribution model of broadcast (CBS/NBC), cable (NFL Network) and digital (Amazon Prime) which will be used for 10 Thursday Night Football games and a Christmas Day contest this season.
Also this week, the NFL continues its London Series with a second consecutive game in the United Kingdom. On Sunday (9:30 AM ET, FOX), the Miami Dolphins will face the New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium. Among the key games this week:
CHICAGO BEARS (1-2) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (2-1) (Thursday, CBS/NFLN/Amazon Prime, 8:25 PM ET)
This game marks the 195th meeting (including the playoffs) between the two clubs, the most in NFL history. The all-time series is tied 94-94-6. This is the first time the teams will meet with both clubs coming off an overtime victory.
Chicago running back JORDAN HOWARD rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns, including the 19-yard game-winner in overtime, in the Bears’ 23-17 victory over Pittsburgh last week.
Bears rookie running back TARIK COHEN added 102 scrimmage yards against the Steelers, including 78 rushing yards, and ranks third among rookies with 283 scrimmage yards.
Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS passed for 313 yards and three touchdowns as he led to the Packers to a come-from-behind 27-24 overtime victory over Cincinnati last week.
Packers wide receiver GERONIMO ALLISON had six catches for 122 yards against the Bengals and helped set up the game-winning field goal with a 72-yard reception in overtime.
BUFFALO BILLS (2-1) at ATLANTA FALCONS (3-0) (Sunday, CBS, 1:00 PM ET)
Buffalo quarterback TYROD TAYLOR threw two touchdown passes in the Bills’ 26-16 victory over Denver in Week 3. Taylor completed 76.9 percent of his passes (20 of 26) and tossed TDs to wide receiver ANDRE HOLMES and tight end CHARLES CLAY.
Bills rookie cornerback TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE, the team’s first-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft (No. 27 overall), had a career-high seven tackles and four passes defensed against the Broncos, including his first career interception.
The Falcons are the NFC’s only unbeaten team at 3-0 after last week’s 30-26 win at Detroit. Atlanta quarterback MATT RYAN threw two touchdown passes in the victory – his 22nd consecutive game with a TD pass – and has a 114.5 passer rating since the start of the 2016 season, the highest mark in the NFL.
Atlanta running back DEVONTA FREEMAN rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown in the victory over the Lions. Freeman has scored a touchdown in all three games this season and is currently tied for the NFL lead with four rushing TDs.
LOS ANGELES RAMS (2-1) at DALLAS COWBOYS (2-1) (Sunday, FOX, 1:00 PM ET)
The Rams lead the NFL averaging 35.7 points per game this season and have scored at least 40 points twice, including last week’s 41-39 win at San Francisco on Thursday night. Under head coach SEAN MC VAY, Los Angeles’ 107 points scored are the third-most by a team with a rookie head coach in the first three games of a season.
Los Angeles running back TODD GURLEY rushed for 113 yards and scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) in last week’s victory at San Francisco. Gurley, who is tied for the NFL lead with six touchdowns this season, tied the franchise record for the most TDs in the team’s first three games of a season (Pro Football Hall of Famers ELROY “CRAZYLEGS” HIRSCH in 1951 and MARSHALL FAULK in 2000).
Dallas quarterback DAK PRESCOTT threw touchdown passes to wide receivers DEZ BRYANT and BRICE BUTLER and added a rushing TD in the Cowboys’ 28-17 win at Arizona on Monday night.
Cowboys defensive end DEMARCUS LAWRENCE had a career-high three sacks against the Cardinals and leads the NFL this season with 6.5 sacks.
OAKLAND RAIDERS (2-1) at DENVER BRONCOS (2-1) (Sunday, CBS, 4:25 PM ET)
Since the start of the 2015 season, Raiders defensive end KHALIL MACK leads the NFL with 28 sacks and Broncos linebacker VON MILLER is tied for second with 27.5 sacks.
Since the start of last season, Oakland quarterback DEREK CARR has completed 421 of 651 passes (64.7 percent) for 4,547 yards with 34 touchdowns and eight interceptions for a 97.4 passer rating, the second-best mark in the AFC during that span (TOM BRADY, 114.1).
Mack tied the club’s single-game franchise record (Pro Football Hall of Famer HOWIE LONG) with five sacks against the Broncos on December 13, 2015.
The Broncos lead the NFL in rushing defense, allowing just 59.7 rushing yards per game. Denver is one of only two teams this season (Minnesota) which has not allowed a rushing touchdown.
Miller has recorded a sack in four of the past five meetings between the teams. He has 76.5 sacks since entering the NFL in 2011, the most in the league during that span.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (2-1) at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (3-0) (Monday, ESPN, 8:30 PM ET)
Washington quarterback KIRK COUSINS completed 25 of 30 passes (83.3 percent) for 365 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 150.7 passer rating in the Redskins’ 27-10 victory over Oakland on Sunday night.
Redskins running back CHRIS THOMPSON had six catches for 150 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. Thompson, who finished the contest with 188 scrimmage yards, has recorded back-to-back games with at least 100 scrimmage yards for the first time in his career.
Kansas City rookie running back KAREEM HUNT rushed for 172 yards and a touchdown (69 yards) in the Chiefs’ 24-10 victory at the Los Angeles Chargers. Hunt, who finished the game with 183 scrimmage yards, leads the league with 538 scrimmage yards, the second-most by a player in his first three career games in NFL history (BILLY SIMS, 562). Hunt sealed the victory over Los Angeles with a 69-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. He is the first player in NFL history to record a touchdown of at least 50 yards in each of his first three games to begin a career. Hunt’s six touchdowns this season are tied with Sims (1980 Detroit) and DUTCH STERNAMAN (1920 Decatur Staleys) for the most by a player in his first three career games.
The Chiefs have scored a 50+ yard touchdown in nine consecutive regular-season games, the longest streak in NFL history. During that span, the Kansas City players to record at least one 50+ yard touchdown are TYREEK HILL (six), Hunt (three), TRAVIS KELCE and ALBERT WILSON.