Steve Smith Gets To Face The Panthers & Other Things You Need To Know About Week 4 In The NFL
The 2014 NFL season is nearing the end of its first quarter. Week 4 brings the first byes of the year, a fiery old friend facing his former team for the first time and several key games. Here's what to look forward to this week:
Sunday, Sept. 28
Bye Weeks Could Ruin Your Fantasy Football Season
Your fantasy football team could be screwed this week. Know why? One or more of your key players plays for Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis, Arizona or Seattle — all of which are on bye. Have A.J. Green? Not this week, you don't. Peyton Manning? Out of luck. Larry Fitzgerald? Nope. Marshawn Lynch or the Seattle defense? Not about that action this week, boss.
In the event that your opponent has one of those fantasy juggernauts mentioned above, you're in for a great week. Just know that sooner or later, you will have to guide your team around these off-weeks, which last through Week 12 (Nov. 24).
The Bears Could Drop the Packers to 1-3
Green Bay at Chicago | Soldier Field; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
The Packers' early season schedule is brutal. After difficult losses at Seattle and Detroit sandwiched around a close victory over the Jets at home, Green Bay (1-2) needs a break. It won't happen this week: they travel to Chicago (2-1) for what could be their third road loss of the season already.
Pack quarterback Aaron Rodgers must find a way to invigorate his 28th-ranked offense against the Bears without putting his defense back on the field too quickly. Green Bay's sometimes shaky defense will have an extra day of rest on Chicago, which won Monday night, but that may not be enough to stop Jay Cutler's aerial assault — plus it gives him another day to grow out his dangerously handsome stubble.
Steve Smith Can't Wait To Play the Panthers
Carolina at Baltimore | M&T Bank Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
The NFL guarantee of the week: Steve Smith will be fired up to play the Panthers for the first time ever. After 13 seasons with Carolina (2-1), the veteran wide receiver moved on to Baltimore (2-1) this past offseason. Smith has 290 receiving yards and one touchdown, and now gets to face a defense that was torched by the Steelers last Sunday night.
Always a vocal competitor, Smith is likely to let his former teammates know how much they miss him with every catch during Sunday's contest. Let's hope NFL Films has a mic — with a censor button — on him.
The Raiders Have Traveled a Lot of Miles Looking For a Win
Miami vs. Oakland | Wembley Stadium, London; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Oakland (0-3) is one of three NFL teams (Tampa Bay and Jacksonville are the others) still looking for its first win this season, but the Raiders are losing in globe-trotting fashion — actually, more like in Washington Generals' fashion. The Raiders began their season by flying to New Jersey to lose to the Jets, then traveled back to the Bay Area to get routed by the Texans, and then flew back across the US to drop a close one to the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. last Sunday.
This week, Oakland faces Miami (1-2) in London, where Raiders' fans and soccer hooligans can riot together like one happily dysfunctional international family. If the NFL can succeed in expanding its brand to Europe after sending crappy teams like the Raiders and Dolphins across the Atlantic, maybe it deserves a seat on the UN Security Council, too.
The Eagles-Niners Game Should Be Fun To Watch
Philadelphia at San Francisco | Levi's Stadium; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Undefeated Philadelphia (3-0) travels to the West Coast to meet slightly-disappointing San Francisco (1-2) on Sunday afternoon for what shapes up as the day's most entertaining game. Dynamic Colin Kaepernick running his offense against the dicey Eagles defense; Darren Sproles and Shady McCoy unleashing fury on the under-performing 49ers, and Chip Kelly and Jim Harbaugh renewing their rivalry for the first time since they were at Oregon and Stanford, respectively.
Turnovers will likely determine if the Eagles keep flying high or if the 'Niners strike gold. An aggressive wagerer might find his or her own fortune in the seemingly reachable 50 1/2 over/under number for the game.
How ugly is this week's Thursday night game? Just don't let it ruin your football appetite for Sunday's pigskin smorgasbord.
Thursday, Sept. 25
N.Y. Giants at Washington | FedEx Field at 8:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS/NFL Network
Sunday, Sept. 28
Buffalo at Houston | NRG Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Tennessee at Indianapolis | Lucas Oil Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Detroit at N.Y. Jets | MetLife Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh | Heinz Field; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Jacksonville at San Diego | Qualcomm Stadium; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Atlanta at Minnesota | TCF Bank Stadium: 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Fox
New Orleans at Dallas | AT&T Stadium; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC
Monday, Sept. 29
New England at Kansas City | Arrowhead Stadium; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN
On Bye Week:
Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis, Arizona, Seattle