The newness of the 2021-22 NFL season has begun to wear off, and though there’s plenty of time left in the 17-game regular season, the matchups are starting to become more important.

The four NFC West teams haven’t played each other at all yet this season, but that will change on Sunday as the undefeated Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals, as well as the 1-2 Seattle Seahawks and 2-1 San Francisco 49ers square off as the NFC West pecking order continues to be established.

In other big games, the 3-0 Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, and Las Vegas Raiders will all face real tests in the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, and Los Angeles Chargers. How many teams will emerge from this week with a 4-0 record, and which ones will suffer their first loss of the season?

While the actual game probably won’t be the closest one of the week, the NFL world will be watching as Tom Brady returns to New England on Sunday Night Football as a visiting quarterback for the first time.

Read on for my full Week 4 Picks, and if I got anything wrong in your eyes, feel free to debate me on Twitter @SakSports.

Picks Record

Week 1: 6-10

Week 2: 12-4

Week 3: 11-5

Overall: 29-19 (60%)

It was a pretty solid showing for my Week 3 Predictions. I hit on an upset (Saints over Patriots) and posted a respectable 11-5 record. I knew the Chargers would play the Chiefs close, but didn’t have the confidence to pick Los Angeles over Kansas City. Giants over Falcons was a slightly homer pick, but the end result was close enough that picking either team wouldn’t have been outlandish. I was wrong on Buccaneers-Rams, essentially a pick ’em, and did not see upsets coming from the Bengals and Vikings.

In Week 3 I incorrectly predicted:

  • Giants over Falcons
  • Chiefs over Chargers
  • Steelers over Bengals
  • Buccaneers over Ravens
  • Seahawks over Vikings

See Also: 2021-22 NFL Season Predictions

Thursday Night Football

Photo: Cincy Jungle

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)

Line: Cincinnati Bengals (-7.5)

Two of the best college football quarterbacks in recent memory, Trevor Lawrence and Joe Burrow, square off on Thursday Night Football. Jacksonville’s special teams unit came away with an impressive 109-yard touchdown on a missed field goal return last week, but offensively and defensively, have a ways to go after an 0-3 start. The Bengals have looked better than expected, and after upsetting the Steelers last week, they should easily be able to handle the Jaguars.

Bengals win 27-13, Bengals win ATS

Sunday Games

Photo: FanSided

Carolina Panthers (3-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1)

Line: Dallas Cowboys (-4.5)

This is the first big test for the 3-0 Carolina Panthers, as the New Orleans Saints didn’t really bring their A-Game in Week 2. Without Christian McCaffrey, it will be difficult for Carolina, but a strong defensive effort could negate the star running back’s absence. I do think the Panthers defense will give Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense more trouble than they bargained for, but when all is said and done, Dallas edges out a narrow victory.

Cowboys win 24-23, Panthers win ATS

New York Giants (0-3) at New Orleans Saints (2-1)

Line: New Orleans Saints (-7.5)

The Giants sprinkled in some positive signs in otherwise disappointing losses to Washington Football Team and the Atlanta Falcons. But New York has worlds of improvement to make, and couldn’t beat two teams currently in the bottom half of the league. New Orleans is the best team the Giants will have faced all season, and should win handily in their first real home game at the Superdome.

Saints win 33-13, Saints win ATS

Tennessee Titans (2-1) at New York Jets (0-3)

Line: Tennessee Titans (-7.0)

Like their MetLife Stadium co-tenants, the Jets are a bad team facing a much superior one this Sunday. Zach Wilson and the Jets have bottomed out at #32 on my Power Rankings for the past two weeks, and after failing to score even once in Denver, it could be another ugly afternoon and the hands of Derrick Henry and the Titans.

Titans win 34-10, Titans win ATS

Washington Football Team (1-2) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2)

Line: Washington Football Team (-1.5)

Taylor Heincke hasn’t been horrible as Washington’s starting quarterback, but the team was completely overwhelmed in a 43-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills last week. But I trust Washington to do what the Giants couldn’t: take care of Matt Ryan and a relatively weak Falcons squad.

Washington wins 24-20, Washington win ATS

Houston Texans (1-2) at Buffalo Bills (2-1)

Line: Buffalo Bills (-16.0)

Josh Allen and the Bills fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1, but have since beat Miami and Washington by a combined score of 78-21. Houston is next up on Buffalo’s wrecking path, and with Davis Mills at quarterback, there’s not much hope at all for the Texans. Sometimes it’s hard to live up to such a wide spread, but I foresee no problems with the Bills beating the Texans by at least 16 points in Buffalo.

Bills win 38-13, Bills win ATS

Detroit Lions (0-3) at Chicago Bears (1-2)

Line: Chicago Bears (-3.0)

As of Thursday morning, it’s anyone’s guess who the Bears starting quarterback will be: Andy Dalton, Justin Fields, or Nick Foles. On paper, the Bears have a better roster, and with a fully healthy Dalton or a version of Fields that wasn’t embarrassed by the Browns defense last week, Chicago would be a safe pick. With uncertainty under center, I’ll actually opt for a feisty Detroit Lions team that played both the 49ers and Ravens to one-score finishes.

Lions win 24-21, Lions win ATS

Indianapolis Colts (0-3) at Miami Dolphins (1-2)

Line: Miami Dolphins (-2.0)

Carson Wentz and the Colts have been off to an unfortunate 0-3 start, but have only been outscored by 24 points in total against the likes of the Seahawks, Rams, and Titans. While Indianapolis’ offense has left a lot of room for improvement, I think the Colts will be fortunate to finally play a team that didn’t make the playoffs last season (even if Miami was close.) The Dolphins gave the Raiders a good fight last week, so this could be a close one, but I think the Colts finally break through for their first win of the season.

Colts win 26-23, Colts win ATS

Cleveland Browns (2-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-2)

Line: Cleveland Browns (-2.0)

Don’t count out Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense, who have scored the eighth-most points in the NFL through three weeks. They nearly outdueled the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2, and downed Seattle last week by two scores. But while the Vikings have played better than their 1-2 start suggests, the Browns are a legitimate Super Bowl contender, and should be able to take care of business even on the road. While Cleveland’s offense usually produces the highlights, it was the Browns defense that shined last week in a 26-6 win over the Bears.

Browns win 27-20, Browns win ATS

Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)

Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-7.0)

After a subpar 1-2 start, the Chiefs need this matchup against the Eagles. Kansas City could easily be 0-3 if not for a late comeback against Cleveland in Week 1. Kansas City’s offense has been above average as usual, but uncharacteristic turnovers in the past two weeks have invited their competition to steal the lead. The Chiefs defense needs a significant tune-up as well, but luckily for them, Jalen Hurts and the Eagles offense have put up just the 23rd-most point in the NFL, while the Chiefs have scored the 5th-most points in the league. Expect a bounce back game from Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.

Chiefs win 33-23, Chiefs win ATS

Photo: Rams Wire/USA Today

Sak Sports Blog Game of the Week: Arizona Cardinals (3-0) at Los Angeles Rams (3-0)

Line: Los Angeles Rams (-4.5)

For the second week in a row, the highlight game of the week includes Matthew Stafford and the undefeated Los Angeles Rams. After beating the defending Super Bowl Champions by 10 points, the Rams have rightfully earned the top spot on this week’s Power Rankings. Los Angeles has scored the third-most points in the NFL, and holds an impressive +33 point differential, beating their opponents by 11.0 points per game through three weeks.

However, Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals are off to an impressive 3-0 start of their own: with an NFL-high 34.3 points per game and a +38 point differential. As these two NFC West teams clash for the first time this season, something will have to give between the two high-powered offenses, and one team will improve to 4-0.

I’m hoping for a back-and-forth, “early Game of the Year”-type matchup in Los Angeles, and do expect a good battle. However, on the defensive side of the ball, the Rams are a bit more talented. Additionally, the Cardinals have appeared slightly more vulnerable, with a narrow loss to the Vikings in Week 2 and a Week 3 win against the Jaguars that shouldn’t have been as much of a sweat, even if the final result was a two-score win. After beating three straight playoff teams from last year to start the season, the Rams down an opponent worthy of the 2021-22 postseason to improve to 4-0.

Rams win 33-27, Rams win ATS

Seattle Seahawks (1-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-1)

Line: San Francisco 49ers (-2.5)

The NFC West hasn’t played any intradivison games through three weeks, but in Week 4, the four teams all square off in two games. This is a big early season matchup, with either the Rams or Cardinals set to up their record to 4-0. If Seattle loses, they would be 1-3 behind a 4-0 team and two 3-1 teams in their own division. The 49ers, likewise, would like a divisional win to keep up with the Rams and Cardinals.

Based on how the teams have been playing this season, the 49ers at home are a safer bet. However, despite a 2-1 start and just a narrow loss to the Green Bay Packers, I suspect San Francisco isn’t quite the powerhouse they used to be before their injury-plagued 2020 season. The Seahawks haven’t exactly looked like themselves either, so maybe this is an emotionally-biased pick, but I just can’t see Seattle falling to 1-3. The 49ers are a better opponent than the Vikings were last week, so that means the Seahawks will have to step up their game to pull off a road upset.

Seahawks win 27-24, Seahawks win ATS

Baltimore Ravens (2-1) at Denver Broncos (3-0)

Line: Denver Broncos (-1.0)

In a runner-up candidate for Game of the Week, Teddy Bridgewater and the Denver Broncos are put to their first real test. A 3-0 start is a 3-0 start, but Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are a much more formidable opponent than the Giants, Jaguars, or Jets were though three weeks.

Baltimore’s defense has been far from shutdown, allowing the 7th-most points in the league so far. The Broncos, on the other hand, have allowed an NFL-low 26 points with an NFL-best +50 point differential. I don’t think this game will be about Bridgewater vs. Baltimore’s defense, but rather Jackson vs. Denver’s defense. Denver has put up a solid 25.3 points per game so far, so assuming Baltimore’s defense can’t crack down on that, the Ravens may have to simply outscore them. Can they do so against Denver’s stout defense?

While it may seem like I’m building a case to pick the Broncos, I do think the Ravens find a way to edge out a victory. A win for the Broncos would be very impressive and is quite possible, but I just think Baltimore hands Denver their first loss of the season. If so, it will be anything but easy.

Ravens win 23-20, Ravens win ATS

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-1)

Line: Green Bay Packers (-6.5)

This is a Super Bowl 45 rematch, and even more impressively, features the same two quarterbacks 11 seasons later. The Steelers impressed me with a Week 1 upset over the Bills, but looked listless in 26-17 and 24-10 losses to the Raiders and Bengals, respectively. The Packers season has played to the opposite tune: a “how did that happen?” 38-3 loss to the Saints followed by victories over the Lions and 49ers. With the way these two teams are trending, I don’t see any reason not to pick Green Bay.

Packers win 30-20, Packers win ATS

Sunday Night Football

Photo: Los Angeles Times

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) at New England Patriots (1-2)

Line: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7.0)

From a football standpoint, there’s plenty of more intriguing games taking place in Week 4. But in terms of drama and storylines, all eyes will likely be on Tom Brady’s return to New England for the first time since his departure. Even juicer, Brady is set to break the all-time regular season passing yards record against the Patriots. You just can’t write this stuff (unless the NFL projected the amount of passing yards Brady would have through three weeks, in which case, maybe they did write this stuff.)

But looking purely at the two teams football abilities, there’s not much to say here. The defending Super Bowl champions are coming off a narrow loss to a good Rams team, and should be able to easily handle Mac Jones and a Patriots team that has only managed to beat the Jets so far this season.

Buccaneers win 36-17, Buccaneers win ATS

Monday Night Football

Photo: Getty Images

Las Vegas Raiders (3-0) at Los Angeles Chargers (2-1)

Line: Los Angeles Chargers (-3.0)

Like Ravens-Broncos, this game was in consideration for my Game of the Week. Just like the Broncos, the Raiders are off to an unlikely 3-0 start, but have already downed quality opponents in the Steelers and Ravens. The Chargers have dropped one close game to the Cowboys, but beat Washington and more importantly, Kansas City last week.

Coming in to the season, I was higher on the Chargers than the Raiders, projecting Los Angeles to be a playoff team. Through three weeks, even with some impressive wins from Las Vegas, my mind hasn’t exactly changed: I still think Justin Herbert and the Chargers have the better team.

Chargers win 27-24, PUSH ATS

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