The Minnesota Vikings further cemented their standing as alpha dog in the NFC with an overpowering win in Carolina during Week 3. Meanwhile in the AFC, the New England Patriots shutdown the Houston Texans and took over the top spot from Pittsburgh. Carolina, Arizona, Cincinnati and the New York Jets all lost during Week 3 and all fell out of the Power 12. Our NFL Radio voters this week were James Lofton, Bruce Murray, Brady Quinn, Alex Marvez, Gil Brandt, Jim Miller, Pat Kirwan, Vic Carucci and Brian Lauvray.
Minnesota Vikings (3-0)
Week 4 opponent: New York Giants, Monday 8:30 (Sirius 81, XM 225/Internet 818)
Another week and another very impressive victory for the Vikings. As an encore to their dismantling of Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay, Minnesota traveled to Charlotte and proceeded to dismantle Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. The Norsemen now host the surprising New York Giants on the Monday Nighter.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-0)
Carson Wentz has exceeded all expectations in his first three NFL starts. Statistically, Wentz is probably playing the best football any rookie QB ever has started a career off with. With the bye this week and the very erratic Lions defense up in Week 5, Wentz and Philly could be looking at 4-0 before their divisional showdown with Washington.
Seattle Seahawks (2-1)
Week 4 opponent: @ New York Jets, Sunday 1:00 pm (Sirius 81, XM 81/Internet 828)
There’s not a better opportunity for Pete Carroll to “kick the wheels” on Trevone Boykin’s arm and mobility than a game on the East Coast against these New York Jets. The ‘Hawks’ internal clocks will be feeling like it’s 10:00 a.m. Pacific time and the over-under is hovering around 40 as of this writing. A total that seems optimistic considering how unpleasant both defenses are to play against. Russell Wilson is absolutely a “warrior” or “ironman” or any other plaudit you wanna toss around, but a sprained MCL against New York’s front four? That’s testing fate. Give Trevone Boykin the start and just run the wheels off of Christine Michel and/or Thomas Rawls if he’s capable of going.
Green Bay Packers (2-1)
A week after resembling a flaming dumpster against the very active and very nasty Vikings defense, Green Bay’s offense found its rhythm (and plenty of points) against a Detroit Lions defense that was in the giving mood. With an extra week to get things even more synced up, the Packers appear to be heading in the right direction and have a very favorable schedule over the next month or so.
Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
Week 4 opponent: @ San Francisco 49ers, Sunday 4:25 pm (Sirius 82, XM 82/Internet 801)
The Cowboys, after feasting on the hapless Chicago Bears, now face an up-and-down 49ers team that have a lot to prove at home after getting whupped by the Seahawks last week. Young gunslinger, Dak Prescott, and the rest of the ‘Boys have been a nice little feel good story thus far, but between now and November 6th will tell us far more about their fortunes for the season. Between now and 11/6 (wherein Dallas will play the Cleveland Browns) the Cowboys face Cincinnati, Green Bay and Philadelphia.
NFC Fantasy Spotlight: Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit Lions
“Marvelous” Marvin faces the paper-soft Chicago Bears secondary in Week 4. Jones, who *lit* up the Green Bay Packers last week to the tune of 205 yards and two touchdowns, should be in 100% of rosters this week. Through three weeks his lowest output has been a “mere” 85 yards against Indianapolis in Week 1. Roll with Marvin Jones until Matthew Stafford’s cannon of an arm falls off, folks.
New England Patriots (3-0)
Week 4 opponent: Buffalo Bills, Sunday 1:00 pm (Sirius 93, XM 229/Internet 819)
Oh what fools we were to bump the Pats to 2nd in last week’s Power 12. The Pats keep on rolling and after putting Houston’s offense into the icebox, New England’s offense, led by whatever a Jacoby Brissett is, throttled the mighty Houston defense with an impressive blend of power running and smart play-action passing calls. Bill Belichick’s won the Coach of the Year honors three times in his career and yet this may somehow be his greatest coaching job ever. Belichick now faces Rex Ryan and his Buffalo Bills.
Denver Broncos (3-0)
Week 4 opponent: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, 4:05 pm (Sirius 84, Internet 809)
I actually voted the Broncos into the #1 slot in the AFC this week. It’s nothing against the Pats, I’ve just been more impressed with Denver’s resume to this point than New England’s. Both teams are very good should be colliding in the AFC playoffs at some point come January 2017. After hanging 312 yards against a better-than-advertised Bengals defense (in Cincy no less), the emerging Trevor Siemian now gets a not-so-hot Tampa Bay defense to play around with in Week 4.
Baltimore Ravens (3-0)
Week 4 opponent: Oakland Raiders, Sunday 1:00 pm (Sirius 82, XM 82, Internet 802)
The surprising and undefeated Baltimore Ravens have taken down the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars by a total of 13 points. Not exactly a murderer’s row there, guys. The Ravens, playing with confidence and some fire, now get a markedly tougher challenge as they host the high-flying Oakland Raiders. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree should press Baltimore’s secondary in the way that Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson should have in last week’s game against Jacksonville. Lest we forget, Baltimore’s very easy beginning of the season is matched by their brutally tough closing stretch of: @ New England, Philadelphia, @ Pittsburgh and @ Cincinnati.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-1)
Week 4 opponent: @ Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday 8:30 pm (Sirius 83, XM 226/Internet 815)
The Chiefs defense showed up last week against the New York Jets. New York’s typically effective offense was absolutely neutered by a pressuring and harassing KC scheme that saw Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Forte never get going. Will the Chiefs and their defense be able to slow down a Pittsburgh offense that just laid an egg against Philly last week? Who knows, what’s more interesting to me is to see if Alex Smith and Spencer Ware can press the Steelers’ defense into a shootout. It’s a Sunday Nighter in October and this game has fun written all over it.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)
Week 4 opponent: Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday 8:30 pm (Sirius 81, XM 225, Internet 825)
What happened there, Pittsburgh? We were so impressed by your first few weeks that we put you in the #1 slot and you go and do THAT?! All due credit to Jim Schwarz’s defensive scheme to vaporize Ben Roethlisberger’s non-Antonio Brown targets. Brown got his, as is his wont, but beyond his 140, touchdown-free yards there was no one else for Roethlisberger to throw to. LeVeon Bell’s return this week couldn’t come at a better time for Pittsburgh’s offense. The Heinz Field crowd will be extra loose following a long afternoon of tailgating, so anticipate a deafening roar to welcome Bell back.
Oakland Raiders (2-1)
Week 4 opponent: @ Baltimore Ravens, Sunday 1:00 pm (Sirius 121, XM/Internet 823)
Oakland travels east of the Mississippi for the third time in four weeks, a rough stretch of scheduling to be sure, but should in theory be able to keep things close enough against Baltimore’s so-so offense. The Raven O has struggled mightily at times this season and their only legit deep threat right now is Mike Wallace. The over-under is 45 for this game and that seems high. Despite the potential wattage of Derek Carr connecting with Amari Cooper, this game has :low-scoring” and “ugly” written all over it.
AFC Fantasy Spotlight: Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers
The New Orleans Saints are currently allowing 5.0 ypc to enemy running backs and an absolutely awful 149 rushing yards per game.While these numbers are inflated due in some part to Devonta Freeman’s big game last week, make no mistake: the Saints rushing defense is very bad. While game flow could alter the plan of attack for San Diego, look for Melvin Gordon to get plenty of snaps early. Gordon, fwiw, has been a man on fire through the first three weeks of the season.