NFL – Week4 Preview

Strap yourselves in and get ready for another roller coaster ride that is a week in the National Football League. The twists and turns that must leave coaches and players stressed out to the eyeballs as some of the things I love most about covering this league, especially from the Sky Sports NFL studios for more than seven hours live on Sunday nights.

Here are three games that I think will serve up intriguing storylines in the coming days.

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

What we knew all along has become crystal clear in recent days and weeks as story after story has made its way into the public domain. The relationship between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady was well and truly broken by the time the greatest head coach-quarterback partnership in NFL history drifted apart.

Brady has flourished – seemingly on a personal and professional front – without Belichick, winning his seventh Super Bowl ring and throwing for big yardage and multiple touchdowns every weekend. Belichick, on the other hand, looks grumpier than ever as he squelches around in a puddle of mediocrity.

Quick Stats on Buccaneers at Patriots

  • Belichick may have to look on as Brady breaks the NFL’s all-time passing yards record. TB12 is on 80,291 yards and needs 68 more to move past Drew Brees (80,358).
  • With a win against his old club, Brady can become the fourth quarterback in NFL history to beat 32 teams. He would join Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.
  • Brady has 115 wins at Gillette Stadium – the most of any quarterback in a single venue. He has 20 more victories than the next-closest on the list in John Elway, who won 95 games in Denver at Mile High Stadium. Brett Favre is third on the list with 90 wins at Lambeau Field.

Arizona Cardinals (3-0) at Los Angeles Rams (3-0)… Battle of the Undefeateds

The Rams have it all going on right now and much of the American media focus is falling on Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Jalen Ramsey. But there is another 3-0 team in the NFC West who are worthy of our attention and very few expected the Cards to be in this position.

The most fascinating aspect of this game, for me, is the challenge presented to the Rams defense by Kyler Murray. The Rams will quickly learn that they are not facing Tom Brady this week. Murray has some bumpy moments in games, but he is electric and the weapons around him are producing so far this season.

Quick Stats on Cardinals at Rams

  • Through three weeks, the Cardinals boast the second-ranked offense in the NFL, averaging 432.3 yards per game.
  • Kyler Murray is the first player in NFL history with 6+ passing touchdowns and 3+ rushing touchdowns in his team’s first three weeks. He has thrown seven touchdown strikes and scored on the ground in every game this season.
  • Do the Rams have Murray’s number? The quarterback is 0-4 against LA, averaging just 187 passing yards per game and posting a passer rating of 75.8. He has been sacked 11 times in those four losses.

Cleveland Browns (2-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-2)… Similar styles on display

Both teams like to pound away on the ground and then hit big passes off play-action. Quarterbacks Kirk Cousins (Minnesota) and Baker Mayfield (Cleveland) are infinitely better when supported by strong rushing attacks.

This is a game between playoff contenders from each conference. The Vikings may have started the year 0-2 before beating Seattle last weekend, but they could easily have been 3-0. Fine margins went against Mike Zimmer’s men. The Browns have also settled into a nice rhythm following their opening day loss to Kansas City.

Quick Stats on Seahawks at Vikings

  • Both quarterbacks are completing 74 percent of their passes and have ratings north of 100 (Bakery Mayfield 102.1, Kirk Cousins 118.3) but they differ in touchdown passes. Cousins has thrown for eight scores and no picks, while Mayfield has tossed two touchdowns and two interceptions.
  • The Browns have recorded 12 sacks this season – second-most in the NFL, but nine of those came in Week 2 against Chicago. Minnesota have allowed just five sacks in three games to rank fifth-best in the league.
  • Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen is one of four players with a receiving touchdown in every game this season, the others being Cooper Kupp, Ja’Marr Chase and Mike Williams.

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