By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports
Each week I’ll bring you this week’s NFL schedule with my predictions followed by some great notes and stats directly from the National Football League Communications Department.
Our Sports Animal NFL programming for Week 4
(Sun) 10am – 12:30pm: The NFL Report with John Wilkerson and two rotating Sports Animal hosts
(Sun) 12:30pm – Cleveland Browns at Dallas Cowboys
WEEK 4 NFL SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, SUNDAY & MONDAY, OCTOBER 1, 4-5
(All times Eastern)
Thursday, October 1
Denver at New York Jets, 8:20 PM (NFLN)
Sunday, October 4
Los Angeles Chargers at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM (CBS)
Baltimore at Washington, 1:00 PM (CBS)
Arizona at Carolina, 1:00 PM (FOX)
Indianapolis at Chicago, 1:00 PM (CBS)
Jacksonville at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM (CBS)
Cleveland at Dallas, 1:00 PM (FOX)
New Orleans at Detroit, 1:00 PM (FOX)
Seattle at Miami, 1:00 PM (FOX)
Minnesota at Houston, 1:00 PM (FOX)
New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 PM (FOX)
New England at Kansas City, 4:25 PM (CBS)
Buffalo at Las Vegas, 4:25 PM (CBS)
Philadelphia at San Francisco, 8:20 PM (NBC)
Monday, October 5
Atlanta at Green Bay, 8:15 PM (ESPN)
Pittsburgh at Tennessee
Week 3 Prediction Record: 11-5
Season Record: 32-16
NFL USHERS IN OCTOBER, SET TO CLOSE FIRST QUARTER
OF HIGH-OCTANE SEASON
As the NFL enters October and closes the first quarter of the 2020 season, teams are scoring points and touchdowns at unprecedented levels. Translation: NFL teams are never out of games.
Last week, three teams overcame deficits of at least 10 points to win: the CHICAGO BEARS (16 points), PITTSBURGH STEELERS (11 points) and TENNESSEE TITANS (12 points). In 10 of 48 games this season, a team has overcome a deficit of at least 10 points to win, tied with the 1987 season (10) for the second-most such games through the first three weeks in NFL history. Only the 2011 season (11) had more.
In 18 games this season, teams have come back to win or tie after trailing in the fourth quarter. And on three occasions, a team has come back to win after trailing by at least 17 points at any point. That’s one game per week on average. So, looking ahead to Week 4, in which game will a team erase a deficit of at least 17 points? Stay tuned.
STRATOSPHERE-LEVEL SCORING: Through the first three weeks, NFL teams have combined to score 281 total touchdowns, 273 offensive touchdowns (passing and rushing combined) and 2,446 total points, all the most in NFL history through Week 3.
Five of those 281 touchdowns belong to AARON JONES, who has helped the GREEN BAY PACKERS (40.7 points per game) establish the NFL’s most prolific offense through three weeks. Five other teams are averaging at least 30 points per game: the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (37.0), BUFFALO BILLS (31.0), BALTIMORE RAVENS (30.3), KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (30.3) and ATLANTA FALCONS (30.0).
Two of those clubs meet on Monday Night Football in Week 4 when the Falcons travel to Green Bay (8:15 PM ET, ESPN).
Buffalo, meanwhile, faces an early season road test Sunday at Las Vegas (4:25 PM ET, FOX). Bills quarterback JOSH ALLEN, the first player with at least 10 touchdown passes (10) and two rushing touchdowns (two) in his team’s first three games of a season in NFL history, has Buffalo off to a 3-0 start for a second straight season. With a win this week, the Bills will be 4-0 for the first time since 2008.
In Seattle, RUSSELL WILSON leads the NFL with 14 touchdown passes in 2020 and surpassed PATRICK MAHOMES (13 in 2018) for the most by a player through his team’s first three games of a season in league annals. The Seahawks – winners of nine consecutive games in the Eastern Time Zone – head to Miami this week to face the Dolphins Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). Wilson needs three touchdown passes against the Dolphins to surpass Denver’s PEYTON MANNING (16 in 2013) for the most touchdown passes through a team’s first four games of a season in NFL history.
Points don’t go on the board – and more importantly, teams don’t win games – without clutch kicking. Tennessee kicker STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI connected on a 55-yard field goal with 1:44 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Titans a 31-30 win at Minnesota in Week 3. Gostkowski, who kicked a game-winning field goal with 25 seconds remaining in Week 1 and a 49-yard game-winning field goal with 1:36 remaining in Week 2, is the first kicker to convert a game-winning field goal in the final two minutes of regulation in each of his team’s first three games of a season since the 1970 merger.
AFC UNBEATENS SQUARE OFF IN NASHVILLE: Gostkowski’s TENNESSEE TITANS (3-0) host the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (3-0) in another AFC Showdown this week (1:00 PM ET Sunday, CBS). Last year’s Comeback Player of the Year RYAN TANNEHILL meets potential 2020 Comeback Player of the Year candidate BEN ROETHLISBERGER, who can help the Steelers match the best start in franchise history and give Pittsburgh its first 4-0 record since 1979. In fact, the Steelers have followed up each of their last two 4-0 starts – 1978 and 1979 – with Super Bowl victories. Pittsburgh also began 4-0 in 1973. The Titans bid for a 4-0 start for only the second time in franchise history (2008).
Don’t underestimate the importance of any early season intraconference game. The NFL shifted this season to a 14-team playoff format, with an extra Wild Card berth in each conference. Prior to 2020, there were two first-round byes in each conference. Now, there’s only one.
ON IN OCTOBER: The NEW ORLEANS SAINTS, who travel to Detroit and meet the Lions on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX), have won 12 consecutive games in the month of October. The last time they lost a game in the month was Week 7 of the 2016 season (Oct. 23, 2016).
- The NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, who visit the Chiefs in an AFC showdown Sunday (4:25 PM, CBS), also carry a 12-game October winning streak into Week 4. Since the NFL merged with the American Football League in 1970, only three other teams have had October winning streaks longer than 12 games.
The NFL’s longest October winning streaks since 1970:
|New England Patriots||12*||2017-present|
|New Orleans Saints||12*||2016-present|
BELICHICK VS. REID, EPISODE XI: When the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS meet the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS), two of the top six winningest coaches in NFL history will be on opposite sidelines. New England’s BILL BELICHICK and Kansas City’s ANDY REID rank third and sixth, respectively, on the league’s all-time wins list, including postseason.
The coaches with the most wins in league history, including postseason:
|1||Don ShulaHOF||Baltimore Colts, Miami Dolphins||33||347||173||6||.666|
|2||George HalasHOF||Chicago Bears||40||324||151||31||.682|
|3||Bill Belichick||Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots||26||306||140||0||.686|
|4||Tom LandryHOF||Dallas Cowboys||29||270||178||6||.603|
|5||Curly LambeauHOF||Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cardinals, Washington Redskins||33||229||134||22||.631|
|6||Andy Reid||Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs||22||225||142||1||.613|
Belichick and Reid first met on Sept. 14, 2003, when the Patriots defeated the Eagles, 31-10, at Lincoln Financial Field.
- While Belichick owns a 7-3 advantage in the head-to-head series, including a 24-21 win over Reid’s Eagles in Super Bowl XXIX, Reid has won three of the six meetings since taking the reins of the Chiefs.
- In their last meeting (Week 14, 2019), Kansas City secured a 23-16 victory at New England en route to a Super Bowl LIV title.
- In recent memory, Belichick has narrowly defeated Reid’s Chiefs in two postseason thrillers, a 27-20 win in the 2015 AFC Divisional Playoffs and a 37-31 overtime triumph in the 2018 AFC Championship game, before New England won Super Bowl LIII.
- Within the exclusive company of the six coaches who’ve won the most games in NFL history, only Pro Football Hall of Famers GEORGE HALAS and CURLY LAMBEAU (49) have more meetings than Belichick and Reid (10).
The most head-to-head meetings among the six coaches with the most wins in league history, including postseason:
|George HalasHOF vs. Curly LambeauHOF||Halas led, 30-16-3 (1921-53)||49|
|Bill Belichick vs. Andy Reid||Belichick leads, 7-3-0 (2003-present)||10|
|Don ShulaHOF vs. George HalasHOF||Shula led, 5-4-0 (1963-67)||9|
|Don ShulaHOF vs. Tom LandryHOF||Shula led, 5-3-0 (1967-87)||8|
|George HalasHOF vs. Tom LandryHOF||Halas led, 2-1-0 (1960-64)||3|
|Don ShulaHOF vs. Bill Belichick||Shula led, 2-0-0 (1992-93)||2|
BELTWAY GAME ON TAP THIS WEEKEND: The BALTIMORE RAVENS this week make the 45-mile trek to FedExField for a Sunday matchup with the WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (1:00 PM ET, CBS).
- NFL franchises from the two cities have been meeting since 1953, when the Baltimore Colts secured a 27-17 win over Washington at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.
- In each of the two seasons the Ravens have won the Super Bowl (2000 and 2012), one of their losses was in Washington. On Dec. 9, 2012, Baltimore lost at Washington, 31-28 in overtime, before defeating San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII. Twelve years earlier, on Oct. 15, 2000, Baltimore lost at Washington, 10-3, before defeating the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.
- Baltimore’s JOHN HARBAUGH (130) and Washington’s RON RIVERA (80) are two of nine active head coaches with 80-or-more career victories. Each coach is a former assistant under ANDY REID.
30 IN ‘20: Through the first three weeks of the 2020 NFL season, there has been an average of 51.0 points per game scored (both teams combined), the highest total through Week 3 since 1970. Six teams – the GREEN BAY PACKERS (40.7 points per game), SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (37.0), BUFFALO BILLS (31.0), BALTIMORE RAVENS (30.3), KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (30.3) and ATLANTA FALCONS (30.0) – are averaging at least 30 points per game this season, tied for the fourth-most teams in a single season through Week 3 since 1970.
Only two seasons have had six teams average at least 30 points through their first four games of a season, and 2020 has a chance to join or surpass them.
The seasons with the most teams averaging at least 30 points per game through their first four games:
|*Through 3 games|
— NFL —
SLINGING IT IN SEATTLE: Seattle quarterback RUSSELL WILSON enters Week 4 as the league’s leader in touchdown passes (14) and passer rating (139.0). His 14 touchdown passes are the most by a player in his team’s first three games of a season in league annals.
With at least three touchdown passes on Sunday at Miami (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Wilson will surpass PEYTON MANNING (16 touchdown passes in 2013) for the most touchdown passes by a player through his team’s first four games of a season in NFL history. Three of the previous five players with at least 14 touchdown passes through four games went on to win league MVP that season.
The players with the most touchdown passes through their team’s first four games of a season in NFL history:
|PLAYER||TEAM||SEASON||TOUCHDOWN PASSES IN TEAM’S FIRST FOUR GAMES|
|Patrick Mahomes#||Kansas City||2018||14|
|Kurt WarnerHOF#||St. Louis Rams||1999||14|
|*Through three games|
|#Won MVP that season|
Last week, Wilson passed for five touchdowns and zero interceptions in Seattle’s Week 3 victory. Having also passed for four touchdowns in Week 1 and five touchdowns in Week 2, Wilson became the first player with at least four touchdown passes in each of his team’s first three games of a season in NFL history.
With at least four touchdown passes on Sunday, Wilson will become the third player in league annals with at least four touchdown passes in at least four consecutive games, joining PEYTON MANNING (five games in 2004) and Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (four games in 1984).
The players with the most consecutive games with at least four touchdown passes in NFL history:
|Peyton Manning#||Indianapolis||2004 (Week 8-12)||5|
|Dan MarinoHOF#||Miami||1984 (Weeks 13-16)||4|
|Drew Brees||New Orleans||2011 (Weeks 15-17)||3|
|Patrick Mahomes#||Kansas City||2018 (Weeks 6-8)||3|
|Russell Wilson||Seattle||2020 (Weeks 1-3)||3*|
|#Won MVP that season|
— NFL —
BUFFALO BRILLIANCE: Entering Week 4, Buffalo quarterback JOSH ALLEN ranks second in the NFL in passing yards (1,038), touchdown passes (10) and passer rating (124.8). He is the fourth player with at least 1,000 passing yards, 10 passing touchdowns and a passer rating of 120-or-higher through his team’s first three games of a season in league history.
With at least 300 passing yards and two touchdown passes on Sunday at Las Vegas (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Allen will become the third player with at least 300 passing yards and two touchdown passes in each of his team’s first four games of a season in NFL history, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer STEVE YOUNG (six games in1998) and PEYTON MANNING (five games in 2013).
The players with the most consecutive games with at least 300 passing yards and two touchdown passes to begin a season in NFL history:
|Steve YoungHOF||San Francisco||1998||6|
Additionally, Allen can become the second quarterback with at least 300 passing yards and a passer rating of 100-or-higher in each of his team’s first four games of a season in NFL history, joining PEYTON MANNING (five season-opening games in 2013).
— NFL —
CATCH MY DRIFT: Indianapolis quarterback PHILIP RIVERS leads all qualified passers with a 78.3 completion percentage this season, the third-highest mark through the first three weeks of a season in league history (minimum 50 attempts).
With a completion percentage of 75-or-higher on Sunday at Chicago (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Rivers will become the sixth quarterback with a completion percentage of 75-or-higher in four consecutive games (minimum 20 attempts) in NFL history.
The quarterbacks with the most consecutive games with a completion percentage of 75-or-higher in NFL history (min. 20 attempts):
|Alex Smith||Kansas City||2016-17||4|
|Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay||2014-15||4|
|Tom Brady||New England||2007||4|
|Kurt WarnerHOF||St. Louis Rams||2001-02||4|
— NFL —
20 YEARS APART: Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY passed for 297 yards and three touchdowns in the Buccaneers’ Week 3 victory, the 286th regular season start of his career, the second-most in NFL history. Los Angeles Chargers rookie quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT passed for 330 yards in his second career start last week and became the fifth quarterback with at least 300 passing yards in each of his first two career starts in league annals.
If Herbert (22 years and 209 days old on Sunday) and Brady (43 years and 63 days old on Sunday) meet as starting quarterbacks when the Buccaneers host the Chargers on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), it will mark the first game since at least 1950 featuring an age gap of at least 20 years between opposing starting quarterbacks. The older quarterback won the three most recent meetings featuring the largest age gaps between opposing quarterbacks.
The games with the largest age gaps between opposing starting quarterbacks since 1950:
|QUARTERBACKS (AGES)||AGE GAP||DATE OF GAME|
|Tom Brady (43 years, 63 days) vs. Justin Herbert (22 years, 209 days)||20 years, 219 days||Oct. 4, 2020|
|Tom Brady (42 years, 79 days) vs. Sam Darnold (22 years, 138 days)||19 years, 306 days||Oct. 21, 2019|
|Tom Brady (41 years, 149 days) vs. Sam Darnold (21 years, 208 days)||19 years, 306 days||Dec. 30, 2018|
|Tom Brady (42 years, 68 days) vs. Daniel Jones (22 years, 136 days)||19 years, 297 days||Oct. 10, 2019|
|Warren MoonHOF (44 years, 8 days) vs. Ryan Leaf (24 years, 195 days)||19 years, 179 days||Nov. 26, 2000|
— NFL —
LIGHTS, KAMARA, ACTION: New Orleans running back ALVIN KAMARA leads the league with 438 scrimmage yards and six scrimmage touchdowns (three rushing, three receiving), and has scored two touchdowns in each game this season.
With at least two touchdowns on Sunday at Detroit (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Kamara will become the third player with at least two scrimmage touchdowns in each of his team’s first four games of a season in NFL history, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer JIM BROWN (five games in 1958) and CALVIN JOHNSON (four games in 2011).
The players with the most consecutive games with at least two touchdowns to begin a season in NFL history:
|Alvin Kamara||New Orleans||2020||3*|
Kamara also scored two touchdowns in his final two regular-season games in 2019. With at least two touchdowns on Sunday, he will become the sixth player with at least two touchdowns in six consecutive games in NFL history.
The players with the most consecutive games with at least two touchdowns in NFL history:
|LaDainian TomlinsonHOF||San Diego Chargers||2006||8|
|Priest Holmes||Kansas City||2003-04||6|
|Larry Johnson||Kansas City||2004-05||6|
|Alvin Kamara||New Orleans||2019-2020||5*|
— NFL —
TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE: Cleveland running backs NICK CHUBB (292 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns) and KAREEM HUNT (204 rushing yards and three total touchdowns) are the only pair of running-back teammates each with at least 200 rushing yards this season. The pair has also combined for seven scrimmage touchdowns through three games.
If Hunt scores a touchdown on Sunday at Dallas (1:00 PM ET, FOX), the pair will become the third set of running-back teammates each with at least four scrimmage touchdowns through their team’s first four games of a season in the Super Bowl era.
The running-back teammates each with at least four touchdowns through their team’s first four games of a season in the Super Bowl era:
|James Brooks (5) & Larry Kinnebrew (4)||Cincinnati||1985|
|Jim Braxton (7) & O.J. SimpsonHOF (5)||Buffalo||1975|
|Nick Chubb (4) & Kareem Hunt (3)*||Cleveland||2020|
|*Through three games|
— NFL —
DK MORE THAN OK: Seattle wide receiver DK METCALF ranks third in the league with 297 receiving yards and is one of three players with a touchdown reception in each of the first three weeks of the season.
With at least 90 receiving yards and a touchdown reception on Sunday at Miami (1:00 PM ET, FOX), Metcalf will become the third player with at least 90 receiving yards and a touchdown reception in each of his team’s first four games of a season in NFL history, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers MARVIN HARRISON (1999) and RANDY MOSS (2007).
The players with the most consecutive games with at least 90 receiving yards and a touchdown reception to begin a season in NFL history:
|Randy MossHOF||New England||2007||4|
— NFL —