If your team is on the wrong side of .500, it’s officially time to panic. In honor of the late, great Yogi Berra, this is your reminder that “it gets late early out there.”
Here’s Week 4’s top 10 NFL matchups:
Pro Football – Thursday
Baltimore at Pittsburgh: The 0-3 Ravens would’ve really been in trouble if Ben Roethlisberger hadn’t sprained his MCL in St. Louis, but they’re still in for quite the challenge as they look to break through with a much-needed win against backup Michael Vick. As long as he can throw the deep ball and keep plays alive with his feet, the Steelers still pose a significant threat offensively given their arsenal of weapons. The Ravens face a must-win for the second week in a row, so yep, there’s pressure. No team has made the playoffs after a 0-4 start.
Pro Football – Sunday
N.Y. Jets vs Miami Dolphins: This one’s in London, chaps and babes. The Dolphins haven’t recorded a sack since Week 1, while the Jets come off a home loss to desperate Philadelphia that was marred by mental miscues. Chris Ivory should return to the backfield after sitting against the Eagles with a quad injury. New York missed his physical presence and failed to take much pressure off QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Houston Texans at Atlanta Falcons: J.J. Watt and the defense won a game for the Texans, but the running game re-emerging against Tampa Bay provided the biggest boost. Arian Foster may return here, but even if he doesn’t, Alfred Blue has gotten himself going enough to ensure he’ll get some carries. The Falcons are 3-0 solely because the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys couldn’t find a way to cover him. Collectively, Houston’s secondary will be the best Matt Ryan has faced this season.
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Panthers have survived the preseason injury to Kelvin Benjamin and a nasty concussion to the team’s best player, linebacker Luke Kuechly. Odds are good he’ll get through protocol to participate in this one, which is bad news for Tampa’s Jameis Winston. The No. 1 pick didn’t respond well to missing tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and had a brutal time in the home opener against Tennessee.
N.Y. Giants at Buffalo Bills: Eli Manning finished off Washington with a heave to Rueben Randle and will have Victor Cruz back in the fold for this trip to upstate New York. The Giants will be more rested having played on Thursday, not to mention as healthy as they’ve been all season since left tackle Ereck Flowers will be back and MLB Jon Beason has returned.
Cleveland Browns at San Diego Chargers: After losing at home to the Raiders, you’ll undoubtedly hear more talk that Johnny Manziel should be out there leading the Browns. The Chargers have their own issues, namely an offensive line that simply can’t get healthy, which has led to uneven offense. Philip Rivers will have to hope that top target Keenan Allen can consistently win against Joe Haden.
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers: Colin Kaepernick’s Sunday couldn’t have started off worse, so his ability to get the 49ers off confidently and without turnovers is going to be crucial given Aaron Rodgers’ presence on the other side. The Packers have found way to move the ball without Jordy Nelson and despite a banged up offensive line, a testament to Rodgers’ brilliance.
Minnesota Vikings at Denver Broncos: While the driving force of this year’s Broncos is undoubtedly the defense, there’s no question Peyton Manning has grown into his new role and has delivered when it’s mattered most. Teddy Bridgewater has to prove he can be the same quarterback on the road that he’s been the past few games.
Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints: Brandon Weeden couldn’t come through down the stretch against the Falcons, but he wasn’t the reason the Cowboys lost their first game of the season. It sounds like Drew Brees will try and play after missing the loss at Carolina with a shoulder injury, but it’s likely to be a game-time decision whether he can actually make it back.
Pro Football – Monday
Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks: The Legion of Boom is back intact, but considering they just saw the Alshon Jeffery-less Bears, facing off against Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and the Lions other weapons will offer a much stiffer challenge. The Lions have to hope that Matthew Stafford can get a little healthier this week.
Tony Mejia is a national sports writer and senior contributor at VegasInsider.com. He’s also the owner and operator of Antony Dinero, the most successful documented volume handicapper in the industry. View his analysis daily at VegasInsider.com. Email: [email protected].