NFL Approaches Quarter Mark With Key Week 4 Games
Seven teams -- Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, New England, New Orleans and Seattle -- remain undefeated as the NFL enters Week 4.
"We've started the season 3-0 and there aren't a bunch of those 3-0 teams out there," says Broncos head coach JOHN FOX, whose team has scored 127 points, tied for the second-most in the first three games of a season in NFL history.
Of those seven, more than half of them -- Chicago, Kansas City, Miami and New Orleans -- did not make the playoffs last year. But that's the unpredictability of the NFL. Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four clubs made the playoffs that were not in the postseason the previous year.
"We are really motivated right now to play well," says Chiefs linebacker JUSTIN HOUSTON, who leads the NFL with 7.5 sacks. "We have to continue to play well and win games. We are really feeling good right now with being 3-0 at this point."
And there is a lot of football left to be played. While a strong start to the season is a good thing -- 75.4 percent of teams (86 of 114) that started 3-0 since 1990 made the playoffs -- it is hardly a guarantee of future success.
"Every game is kind of independent of the next," says Bears rookie head coach MARC TRESTMAN. "We're just trying to play every game. We're going to next week with that as one of 13 games left and we'll see where we are."
Since 1990, 60 teams with a losing record after the first three games made the playoffs. So, entering Week 4, hope is still very much alive for everyone.
"It's three games and we have 13 more opportunities," says wide receiver RODDY WHITE of the 1-2 Atlanta Falcons. "We have a long way to go. We have to find a way to win games and win them consecutively."
The Week 4 schedule kicks off on Thursday night when the St. Louis Rams host the San Francisco 49ers in an NFC West showdown on NFL Network (8:25 PM ET). The 49ers have won the NFC West each of the past two seasons but the Rams posted a 4-1-1 record in division games last year, including a 1-0-1 mark against San Francisco.
Also in Week 4, the NFL returns to London. For the first time, there will be two regular-season games in the UK with the first of those two games coming Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings meet the Pittsburgh Steelers (CBS, 1:00 PM ET) at London's Wembley Stadium.
Among the other key games on the schedule this week:
Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-2)
(Sunday, CBS, 1:00 PM ET)
The Bengals and Browns will meet in a key AFC North matchup. Both teams are coming off thrilling Week 3 victories.
Cincinnati won a wild 34-30 game over Green Bay last week. The Bengals scored the game's first 14 points, allowed 30 unanswered points and then finished by reeling off 20 consecutive points. Cincinnati is one of only three teams in NFL history to win a game after allowing 30 unanswered points (1951 Green Bay and 1999 Dallas).
"This win is no bigger than next week," says Bengals head coach MARVIN LEWIS. "That's what the NFL is -- a lead in to the next game. This is all for nothing if we don't take care of business the next week and the next."
The Browns recorded their first victory of the season with a 31-27 come-from-behind win at Minnesota. Quarterback BRIAN HOYER threw three touchdown passes, including the game-winner from seven yards out to tight end JORDAN CAMERON with 51 seconds remaining. It was Cameron's third touchdown of the game.
"This group responds to any challenge," says Cleveland head coach ROB CHUDZINSKI. "They really take to heart and work on the things we're coaching them to do. It's one game and we're looking ahead to the next game."
Hoyer is the first player since Pro Football Hall of Famer OTTO GRAHAM to throw at least three touchdown passes in his first NFL game with Cleveland.
Chicago Bears (3-0) at Detroit Lions (2-1)
(Sunday, FOX, 1:00 PM ET)
The top two teams in the NFC North standings will meet at Ford Field on Sunday. Both clubs recorded wins in Week 3.
Chicago forced five turnovers and scored twice on defense in a 40-23 win at Pittsburgh. Safety MAJOR WRIGHT had a 38-yard interception-return touchdown and defensive end JULIUS PEPPERS returned a fumble 42 yards for a score. Since the start of 2012, the Bears have scored 12 touchdowns on defense (10 interceptions, two fumbles), the most in the NFL.
"We emphasize taking the ball away," says Peppers. "So we had a good night."
The Lions won for the first time in Washington (27-20) last week, recording the team's first road victory over the Redskins since October 13, 1935 when Detroit defeated the Boston Redskins. Quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD passed for 385 yards and two touchdowns and wide receiver CALVIN JOHNSON had seven catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.
"NFC North games mean an awful lot," says Detroit head coach JIM SCHWARTZ. "It's a chance for you to win a game and a chance to put a loss on one of your opponents without having somebody else have to help you do it. They're certainly important."
Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) at New York Giants (0-3)
(Sunday, FOX, 1:00 PM ET)
The Kansas City Chiefs return to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the New York Giants. The Chiefs look to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2003, while the Giants (0-3) are in search of their first victory of the 2013 NFL season.
Kansas City is 2-0 against NFC East opponents this season, defeating the Cowboys 17-16 in Week 2, followed by a 26-16 victory in Philadelphia over the Eagles on Thursday Night Football in Week 3. Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid made his initial return to face the team he captained for 14 seasons.
The Chiefs forced five Philly turnovers in the contest, including a pick-six by Chiefs safety Eric Berry in the fi rst quarter. LB Justin Houston continued his sack tirade, recording 4.5 sacks of QB Michael Vick, including a sack, strip and fumble recovery in the fourth quarter to seal the team's win.
On offense, Chiefs WR Donnie Avery was a critical target for QB Alex Smith. He caught seven passes for 141 yards (20.1 avg.). Smith totaled 273 yards on 22 completions for an 87.0 QBR. RB Jamaal Charles had 20 carries for 92 yards with one touchdown. Through three games, the Chiefs offense has yet to turn the ball over. The club currently owns a +9 turnover differential.
The Giants come to Kansas City after suffering an embarrassing 38-0 defeat last Sunday against the Panthers in Carolina. Eli Manning was sacked 7 times, while the Panthers recorded 194 rushing yards and QB Cam Newton threw three touchdown passes in the game.
The Chiefs are 2-10 in the all-time series against the Giants, with both wins coming at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are 2-4 at home vs. the New York Giants.
Kansas City's most recent win against the Giants came on Sept. 10, 1995 when the Chiefs defeated New York 20-17 in an overtime thriller decided by a Lin Elliot 23-yard field goal.
In the last meeting between the clubs on Oct. 4, 2009, the Giants visited Arrowhead Stadium and left with a 27-16 victory.
The Chiefs are 12-3 in the club's last 15 contests played against NFC opponents and 2-0 this season against the NFC East. Kansas City defeated Philadelphia and Dallas in consecutive week
New England Patriots (3-0) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
(Sunday, NBC, 8:30 PM ET)
On Sunday night, the two active quarterbacks with the best starting records will meet in Atlanta (minimum 50 starts). New England's TOM BRADY is 139-39 (.781) as the Patriots' starter and Atlanta's MATT RYAN has compiled a 57-24 (.704) record with the Falcons.
Both clubs advanced to the Championship Game a year ago and hope to take the next step by playing in the Super Bowl.
The Patriots improved to 3-0 after last week's 23-3 win over Tampa Bay. Brady, who has now thrown a touchdown pass in 51 consecutive games, connected with rookie wide receiver KENBRELL THOMPKINS on two TD passes.
"I feel good, we're 3-0," says New England defensive tackle VINCE WILFORK. "You can't ask for anything better."
The Falcons look to bounce back from a last-second defeat in Miami (27-23) in Week 3. At home, Atlanta has won 12 of its past 13 regular-season contests.
"I'm looking forward to having a big week," says Falcons rookie cornerback DESMOND TRUFANT. "I can't wait. I know we're all looking forward to it. We've got a bad taste in our mouth right now, so we're just looking forward to getting back to grinding."
Miami Dolphins (3-0) at New Orleans Saints (3-0)
(Monday, ESPN, 8:40 PM ET)
Two 3-0 teams will be showcased on Monday night when the Saints host the Dolphins.
Miami defeated Atlanta in Week 3 with a come-from-behind 27-23 victory. Quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL threw a one-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end DION SIMS with 38 seconds remaining to give the Dolphins the victory.
"We are focusing on an excellent New Orleans team we have to get ready for," says Miami head coach JOE PHILBIN. "We have to do a lot of preparation and a little extra work to get familiar with their schemes and personnel."
Last week, Saints quarterback DREW BREES extended his streak of consecutive 300-yard passing games to eight, the second-longest in NFL history (Brees holds the record with nine). Tight end JIMMY GRAHAM had nine catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns for New Orleans, his second consecutive 100-yard game.
"It's early but we're pleased with the start," says Saints head coach SEAN PAYTON. "As there is every week, there are some things we want to look at and clean up and get corrected."
Brees has won eight consecutive starts on Monday Night Football and has a 120.6 passer rating in those contests, completing 194 of 273 passes (71.1 percent) for 2,467 yards (308.4 per game) with 24 touchdowns and five interceptions.
NFL 2013 Week 3 Results
Kansas City 26, PHILADELPHIA 16
BALTIMORE 30, Houston 9
NEW ENGLAND 23, Tampa Bay 3
MIAMI 27, Atlanta 23
DALLAS 31, St. Louis 7
SEATTLE 45, Jacksonville 17
CAROLINA 38, NY Giants 0
NY JETS 27, Buffalo 20
Detroit 27, WASHINGTON 20
Indianapolis 27, SAN FRANCISCO 7
TENNESSEE 20, San Diego 17
Chicago 40, PITTSBURGH 23
CINCINNATI 34, Green Bay 30
Cleveland 31, MINNESOTA 27
NEW ORLEANS 31, Arizona 7
DENVER 37, Oakland 21
NFL 2013 Week 4 Schedule
(All times local)
Byes: Carolina, Green Bay
San Francisco at St. Louis 7:25 PM (Thursday - NFLN)
Arizona at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM
NY Jets at Tennessee, 3:05 PM
Philadelphia at Denver, 2:25 PM
Baltimore at Buffalo, 1:00 PM
Washington at Oakland, 1:25 PM
Cincinnati at Cleveland, 1:00 PM
Dallas at San Diego, 1:25 PM
Chicago at Detroit, 1:00 PM
Seattle at Houston, 12:00 PM
Indianapolis at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
NY Giants at Kansas City, 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh at Minnesota (London), 6:00 PM
New England at Atlanta, 8:30 (NBC)
Miami at New Orleans, 7:40 PM (Monday - ESPN)