Week 4 of NFL action will feature a number of must-win games for a few teams around the league.
The Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans are still winless, and they’ll both have tough games this weekend. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons will need to come up with a big home win against the streaking Cincinnati Bengals or risk falling behind in the NFC South.
Here’s a look at the complete slate of games for Week 4.
Houston Texans (0-3) vs. Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
The Texans visit the Colts in big trouble.
They suffered a tough loss the New England Patriots in Week 1, but they just haven’t played well enough in their two losses after. A defense that got defensive end J.J. Watt back from injury has been mediocre at best so far.
They’ve allowed 24.7 points per game to opposing offenses, and head coach Bill O’Brien is yet to get a talented offense to produce consistently. Granted, some growing pains should’ve been expected with quarterback Deshaun Watson taking his first snaps since last October but this feels like a must win game for them.
They’ll have to contend with Andrew Luck, and a Colts’ defense that has shown improvement in three games. The Colts are happy to have their signal caller back after missing all of the 2017 season, but he’s also yet to play to his full potential.
Look for the Colts to try to get Luck going early by trying to get the ball out of his hands quickly. The Colts have done a rather good job of protecting Luck thus far, only allowing five sacks so he might be due for a big performance in front of a home crowd.
Houston should play much better than they have recently, especially against the Tennessee Titans in Week 2, but it still might not be enough to earn their first win.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) vs. Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
The Bengals are off to a surprisingly good start this season, while Dan Quinn is yet to get his Falcons really flying.
Bengals’ running back Joe Mixon has emerged as an every-down threat this season, and quarterback Andy Dalton has had little trouble getting the ball to his big receivers. With already 10 touchdowns this season for the “Red Rifle,” he and this unit have the ability to match the Falcons’ high-powered offense.
The Bengals will be boosted by knowing that all-pro wide out A.J. Green is a go for Sunday.
Despite throwing for a career-high five touchdowns last week against the Saints, Matt Ryan still couldn’t stop the Falcons from falling to 1-2.
Atlanta’s offense has clicked in two of the three games so far. Their defense will have another tough test ahead of them so that could be where this game is decided.
Cleveland Browns (1-1-1) vs. Oakland Raiders (0-3)
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) September 28, 2018
Ouch. Not quite the return to coaching Jon Gruden would’ve liked. Three games into his Raiders’ tenure and he’s now got to lift a team from the bottom of the AFC West basement.
It’s clear that Gruden, a proclaimed offensive guru, is still yet to figure everything out with Derek Carr and his offense.
Carr has only recorded two touchdowns to his five interceptions. The Raiders released wide receiver Martavis Bryant before the season just to re-sign him weeks later.
They’ve also had leads going into the fourth quarter in each of their last two games just to see their defense cough them up. Gruden will hope newly promoted Browns’ quarterback, Baker Mayfield, doesn’t perform the same magic he did in his last game leading the Browns to a win over the Jets.
Mayfield will get to show everyone what he can do in his first full start as the Browns’ quarterback. Mayfield spoke about what his week has been like going into Sunday as the starter.
Even though Jackson said Mayfield is starting too early, Tyrod Taylor didn’t quite transcend the offense in his time under center.
Look for an improved performance from Gruden’s defense in this one. It’s up to “Chucky” and his staff to come up with creative ways to put Mayfield under pressure. The Khalil Mack saga is done now, and the Raiders’ must find ways to replace his defensive output.
— NFL (@NFL) September 28, 2018