Week four sees the NFL return to Wembley as the Jaguars host the Colts in the first of three International Series games in the UK this season. That is just one of five games that will be on our screens from Sunday through Monday night. Five Live Sports Extra will also have coverage of two games, the conclusion of the Panthers at Falcons followed by the Broncos at the Buccaneers.
After this week we will be a quarter of the way through the season and things are really starting to take shape. There are some big games this week and a few jobs could be on the line including the London game.
Colts at Jaguars (Sunday 2.30pm, BBC)
Last Meeting: Colts 16 Jaguars 51 (13/12/15)
Overall Record: Colts 21 Jaguars 9
So we have our first London game of the season. I’m sure many of you will be at the game but for those that aren’t it will be shown on BBC Two.
Last time the Jaguars played at Wembley it was against the Bills in what may not have been the best quality match. It was however a very entertaining one with lots of turnovers and lots of points. We could well be in for a similar thing on Sunday. Blake Bortles hasn’t been able to solve the issues that saw him lead the league in picks in 2015 and has thrown six already this season. Andrew Luck is one of the most talented players to come into the league in a long time but he has his own turnover issues himself.
The Jaguars have a very talented but young team. Many people were picking them as a dark horse this season but an 0-3 start is way below anybody’s expectations. This has led to the pressure being piled on to Gus Bradley. A loss on Sunday could see him follow in the footsteps of Joe Philbin who was fired after the Dolphins lost their week four game at Wembley.
The Colts moved to 1-2 thanks to T.Y. Hilton who scored a 63-yard touchdown with just over a minute to go against San Diego. They will be hoping to carry that momentum into this game and get themselves right back into the AFC south race.
Although it is still early, we will already be one quarter of the way through the season after this weekend. A loss for either team could leave them with too much to do to make the postseason.
Raiders at Ravens (Sunday 6pm, Sky Sports)
Last Meeting: Ravens 33 Raiders 37 (20/9/15)
Overall Record: Raiders 2 Ravens 7
The Ravens are perhaps the most surprising of all the 3-0 teams. They haven’t exactly been convincing but they have done enough in all three weeks. They still would not be considered favourites for the division, but they are a game clear of the Steelers and two clear of the Bengals.
Joe Flacco completed 21 straight passes in last week’s win against the Jaguars, just one shy of the NFL record and he could take advantage of the Raiders defence that has disappointed through three weeks.
Latavius Murray has a touchdown in each of his three games this season. However, he has seen his role scaled back as DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard have done enough to warrant more touches for the team. It may see Murray’s personal stats diminished but if the Raiders are going to make a run into the postseason then keeping Murray healthy could be a huge boost to their chances.
With both teams looking unlikely to win their divisions, both will be in the hunt for a wild card. This could be an important games in the race for a playoff spot as the winner will gain a key tie breaker.
Broncos at Buccaneers (Sunday 9.25pm, Sky Sports)
Last Meeting: Buccaneers 23 Broncos 31 (2/12/12)
Overall Record: Broncos 6 Buccaneers 2
Trevor Siemian was in a quarterback battle with Mark Sanchez heading into the season. He won that competition relatively easily and has settled straight into the role as quarterback of the defending champions. Last week he threw four touchdowns to lead the Broncos to a third straight win and picked up the AFC offensive player of the week award.
We’ve seen that the Broncos formula can work and Siemian may well be an upgrade on the quarterback play of Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler last season. The Buccaneers defence has given up more points per game this season and Siemian could be in for another big game in week four.
Jameis Winston has had a bit of a mixed start to the season. He opened up with a great performance and then threw four picks in week two. He bounced back personally in week three but couldn’t lead the team to a win.
Winston has shown glimpses since he first came into the league that he has the talent to get right to the top of the game. He needs to find more consistency if he and the Bucs are really going to take a step forward. It is going to be tough for him against the fierce Broncos defence but it wouldn’t be a shock to see Winston turn it on and hand the Broncos their first loss of the season.
Chiefs at Steelers (Monday 1.30am, Sky Sports)
Last Meeting: Steelers 13 Chiefs 23 (25/10/15)
Overall Record: Chiefs 11 Steelers 20
The Chiefs come into this game on the back of a fantastic defensive performance in week three. They picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick six times and gave up just three points to the Jets. The defence will have to put in another big performance against one of the league’s best offences.
That offence will now include arguably its best player in Le’Veon Bell who has been suspended for the first three games. DeAngelo Williams has filled in admirably but Bell will take over as the lead back straight away. The Steelers suffered a huge loss to the Eagles last week where the offence was shut down and they will need to bounce back this week. However, the Chiefs may not be the ideal team to face after that performance.
The Chiefs could also see their top running back return to action. Jamaal Charles has missed the first three games but looks set to return in week four. The Chiefs may play it safe with a bye week coming up in week five but if Charles is ready to go it will be a big boost to Kansas City.
Giants at Vikings (Tuesday 1.30am, Sky Sports)
Last Meeting: Giants 17 Vikings 49 (27/12/15)
Overall Record: Giants 12 Vikings 15
Once again they big story around the Giants is Odell Beckham Jr. His tantrums on the side lines during last week called for some people, including his own coach, to say that his actions are a distraction for the team. Of course, the Giants aren’t going to get rid of Beckham, but he will need to set a better example as one of the team’s leaders.
This season has been a classic Eli Manning season. At times he’s looked great and makes you think he can be one of the best in the league. Then you get games like last week where he costs the team with some brutal interceptions. He isn’t likely to change the way he plays now and that play has given the Giants two Super Bowls, but he needs to have more of the good games and less of the terrible ones if the Giants are going to come out of a surprisingly competitive NFC east.
When the Vikings made the trade for Sam Bradford the general feeling was that it was a mistake. Since then he has put in two good performances. He has protected the ball and done enough for the team to get the wins. With what may well be the best defence in the league, it is all he needs to do. We’ve seen from the Broncos what a top defence can so and the Vikings look like they can be a big factor in the postseason. A win this week and Vikings fans will be dreaming of a first Lombardi Trophy.
Follow Author Dave Gray on twitter at djg23
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