As the NFL season finally begins to find a semblance of some normalcy, we land on some really interesting matchups in Week 4. However, we must chop down the list to just a few candidates, lest we drag on for thousands of words about Arthur Smith’s offense traveling to London.
But normal is relative. Can the Arizona Cardinals somehow pull off another impressive upset? Will some lowly team provide an emphatic upset in the form of a 20-point win against a better opponent?
What Are the Best Games of the Week 4 NFL Schedule?
Even the “bad” games this week are interesting. The Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers face off as 0-3 squads, as do the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears.
The Houston Texans don’t look like our Texans anymore. C.J. Stroud is playing some unbelievable ball, but can that makeshift OL protect against T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints are also interesting. Two former top draft picks who fell out of favor at QB. That is if Derek Carr does not somehow play through his shoulder ailment.
It should be a good slate. But there are some winners.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills ( 1 p.m. ET)
What To Watch: The Miami offense
As Metallica frontman James Hetfield once crooned, “Nothing else matters.”
There will be a million different factors that will ultimately decide which of these two seemingly elite rosters will come out ahead in the end.
Nobody on planet Earth can defend against the Miami Dolphins’ offense.
They are too fast and far too skilled to man up against, and their scheme continues to find creative ways to open the middle up for Tua Tagovailoa to exploit with anticipation and precision.
They certainly didn’t score 70 without Jaylen Waddle by accident.
The Buffalo Bills’ defense ranks second in EPA and ninth in success rate. However, they’ve faced the Aaron Rodgers-less New York Jets, the Las Vegas Raiders, and the Washington Commanders.
While it’s clear that the Broncos’ defense is far from what it was a season ago, much of the talent is still there from a year ago. The Patriots’ defense struggled with Miami’s speed. The Dolphins have a .392 EPA per play mark, a 55.6% success rate, and are averaging two-thirds of a point added per dropback.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns ( 1 p.m. ET)
What To Watch: Browns pass rush vs. Ravens OTs, Deshaun Watson’s shoulder/Ravens injury woes, and the Browns secondary against Baltimore’s passing attack
Myles Garrett trails only Maxx Crosby and Watt among players with more pressures than him (18) through three games (Aidan Hutchinson has played four). Za’Darius Smith hasn’t produced ridiculous pressure numbers, but his presence has helped free up Garrett, along with Jim Schwartz’s scheme.
Meanwhile, Morgan Moses has been outstanding at right tackle so far for Baltimore. But Ronnie Stanley’s status is unknown, and that’s bad news for Lamar Jackson.
Watson didn’t participate much on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday this week because of soreness in his throwing shoulder.
But if he plays Sunday, he might be able to avoid many unnecessary hits.
Ravens pass rushers David Ojabo and Odafe Oweh each missed practice this week and will not play on Sunday.
The Browns receive yet another gift from the Ravens’ injury bug. The historically producing defense won’t face Odell Beckham Jr. or Rashod Bateman on Sunday, meaning it will be the Zay Flowers and Mark Andrews show.
Cleveland is running a lot of man and trusting their playmakers to do just that on the back end, and it’s worked beautifully so far in 2023.
New England Patriots at Dallas Cowboys (4:25 p.m. ET)
What to Watch: Cowboys red-zone offense, Ezekiel Elliott’s return, Matt Judon and Josh Uche vs. Chuma Edoga
The Dallas Cowboys currently rank tied for 27th in the red zone. However, they’re a hilariously bad three of 11 in their past two games.
They’ve moved the ball with relative ease between the 20s, but once the field becomes condensed, the Cowboys’ ferocity disappears. And it’s not an Ezekiel Elliott issue because Dallas has remained great in short-yardage situations. Not a single Cowboys receiver has a TD yet.
Elliott’s return is already big news. Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas that Elliott will be considered for the Ring of Honor for his six seasons of service.
But the entire thing is farcical until Jimmy Johnson’s name is added to the Cowboys Ring of Honor. Elliott does not yet have a TD, but it would be poetic to see him score from the goal line as the Cowboys struggle to punch the ball in themselves.
With Tyron Smith out yet another game at left tackle, Chuma Edoga is slotted to replace him on the left side yet again. That is… less than ideal for the backup, considering he’ll face a healthy dose of complementary pass rushers.
Matt Judon will bring violence and power, while Josh Uche will assault Edoga with speed and precision. Either way, it’s not good news for Dak Prescott being able to push the ball downfield in Week 4.