Week 3 is in the books, and the football world turns its attention toward the NFL Week 4 matchups. Some weeks, picking the “most intriguing” games is difficult. You have to look hard for the matchups, history, storylines, or players that make some meetings more attractive than others. Other weeks, a few matchups are so tantalizingly juicy that there is no question what the most fascinating contests will be. The three most intriguing matchups of NFL Week 4 definitely fall in the latter category.
Honorable Mention: Carolina Panthers vs. Dallas Cowboys – Sunday, October 3, 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX
The NFL Week 4 slate brings so many incredible matchups. The intrigue can’t be boiled down to just three games. That’s why this NFC showdown between the 2-1 Dallas Cowboys and the 3-0 Carolina Panthers gets an honorable mention this week.
This game doesn’t get quite the love that the others get because it isn’t a division battle (or the most interesting game of the last two years). That said, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys and Sam Darnold and the Panthers both have questions to answer.
Primarily, the Cowboys have to show they can beat a good team with their undermanned defense. The Panthers still have to prove that the Darnold-aissance is more than a product of an easy schedule.
The winner of this game will seem like they are for real. The loser will continue to hear the questions swirl.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams – Sunday, October 3, 4:05 p.m. EST, FOX
Battle for the NFC West showcases two of the NFL’s five undefeated teams after three weeks. It also is chock-full of bold-faced names like Matt Stafford, Kyler Murray, Cooper Kupp, DeAndre Hopkins, Aaron Donald, J.J. Watt, Jalen Ramsey, and Chandler Jones.
The two undefeated teams in the league’s best division go head-to-head for an early-season leg up. As good as the Arizona Cardinals had been, the Los Angeles Rams are a little more tested this season and better coached.
It will be a good game, but the Rams are the better team right now and should come away with a W. If the Cardinals can pull it out, though, it will establish them as not just a possible playoff team but a Super Bowl contender.
Las Vegas Raiders vs. Los Angeles Chargers – Monday, October 4, 8:15 p.m. EST, ESPN
If the NFC West isn’t the best division in football, the AFC West is, and the Monday Night Football matchup between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers will show some of the best the NFL has to offer.
It’s hard to imagine the Kansas City Chiefs not being a factor in the division come Week 18 this season. They’re still a great team, despite back-to-back losses. The other teams in the division need to prove they’re worthy of fighting KC for the AFC West title, and the team that wins Monday will be the first to throw their hat in the ring.
If nothing else, this NFL Week 4 capper should be a barn-burner. It isn’t always pretty with the Raiders and Chargers, but it is always must-see TV.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New England Patriots – Sunday, October 3, 8:20 p.m. EST, NBC
Like you didn’t know.
The game of the week… game of the season… game of the century will be Tom Brady’s return to New England to face his old team and his former coach, Bill Belichick.
Will this be an exciting, back-and-forth game? Probably not. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a loaded all-star team and the defending Super Bowl champs. The New England Patriots are a young squad that lost their franchise QB last season and are rebuilding with a rookie signal-caller.
However, Brady and Belichick defined the last two decades of NFL football. Their nine Super Bowls appearances, six Super Bowl wins, and sheer domination for such an extended period of time is something that we may not see again in our lifetimes.
This game is a celebration of football in the 2000s, and don’t be surprised if the old defensive-coordinator-turned-hall-of-fame-head-coach can pull a few tricks out of his bag to make life difficult for his former partner in crime.
There’s a good chance that this NFL Week 4 matchup also represents the last time Brady and Belichick will step on a field. That alone is worth tuning in for.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference