Ah ... the byes are here.
Who doesn't love bye weeks, which have been giving your favorite team a week off since 1990? Fans of the Bengals, Broncos, Browns, Cardinals, Rams and Seahawks all will have to watch someone else play in Week 4 -- or they can catch "Movies for Guys Who Like Movies" Sunday on TBS, featuring "Tango and Cash", "Commando" and Ben Affleck in "Daredevil" ... OK, maybe not the latter. Or maybe they can just stress out over having to play Cecil Shorts and Trent Richardson in their fantasy lineup because A.J. Green and Marshawn Lynch are off.
Speaking of those, we had to make quite a few regarding the slate of games below. And, of course, we'd love to hear about the ones you've made about this week's matchups and our picks ... @HarrisonNFL is the place.
Oh, and before we get going, we have to ask: Can you believe that in 1993, teams each had two bye weeks?
Alright. Let's get to it ...
Elliot Harrison went 11-5 on his predictions for Week 3, giving him a record of 30-18 so far this season. How will he fare in Week 4? His picks are below. And listen to the latest edition of the Dave Dameshek Football Program for additional analysis on this week's picks.
So Smith will say the right things, maybe get in a few scraps, catch eight balls for 99 yards and a touchdown, play two more years for Baltimore, then sign a one-day "contract" to retire as a Carolina Panther. Of course, that's in the future. Sadly for the host Ravens, they'll have to deal with the absence of another pass catcher in the here and now, as tight end Dennis Pitta is out for the rest of the season. With some mixture of Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro running the ball, it's safe to say Baltimore won't put up 264 rushing yards on the Panthers' defense like Pittsburgh did last week. The question is, can Cam Newton make his throws in the intermediate passing game for Carolina? That offense has been abysmal on third down (it ranks 29th in the NFL). #CARvsBAL
Now, neither team is good at run defense, starting with the Bears, who rank 26th. At least they make up for it by allowing 5.05 yards per carry. Green Bay, meanwhile, ranks 30th in said department, which means Chicago running back Matt Forte should shine in this one. Still, all things being even, I think Aaron Rodgers will rebound -- he's 5-2 in games at Soldier Field, including that 2010 NFC Championship Game. #GBvsCHI
Speaking of Houston's defense, we'd like to see EJ Manuel take some early shots against the home team, even if said shots don't connect. Love Fred Jackson (who was outstanding for the Bills last week) and C.J. Spiller, but they would be much more effective if safeties and linebackers weren't going unchallenged by Buffalo and compressing the field. #BUFvsHOU
Things have gotten ugly with Miami's defense -- and apparently, the starting quarterback was ready to tell us he was the starting quarterback before the coach was. Maybe Joe Philbin was trying to keep that Oakland defense on its heels with his top secret -- or "Top Secret!" -- plan. Having to prepare for both Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore must have induced serious worry ... or not. As for the "host" Raiders -- a designation that won't mean as much as it usually does, given that this game will be played in London -- they're getting decent football from Derek Carr, but all the drives that stall in opponents' territory have to, uh, unstall. #lesskowski #MIAvsOAK
That's where Ben Roethlisberger, who played brilliantly in Carolina on Sunday (73 percent completion rate, two scores, no picks), comes in for the host Steelers. If the Bucs can't stop Pittsburgh's ground game -- which topped two bills last week -- the Steelers will repeatedly hit Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton on play-action ... and Tampa Bay will remain winless. #TBvsPIT
That said, can Minnesota get enough pressure on Ryan to keep this from becoming a track meet? Or can the ground game -- behind Matt Asiata and rookie Jerick McKinnon -- produce enough to slow things down? Either way, I anticipate the Falcons moving Julio Jones around in the formation, in order to create big plays, of which he should have a few against this Vikings secondary. Taking the visitors here. #ATLvsMIN
This is simply a bad matchup for the Niners' secondary, which struggled in the second half last week against the Drew Stanton-led Cardinals and didn't fare much better against the Bears the week before. The key to San Francisco's Week 1 victory -- the team's only win thus far -- was an ability to force turnovers (four total that day). Since then, the 49ers have one takeaway. Not that it's all kittens and rainbows for the Eagles, either; their defense has struggled mightily. Getting LeSean McCoy -- who was completely stifled by the Washington front seven last week -- going in San Francisco to take some time off the clock would help with that matter. #PHIvsSF
On that note, the Saints' run defense has probably been the brightest spot for coordinator Rob Ryan's unit heading into his triumphant return to Dallas, where he can reminisce about fielding a mediocre Cowboys D (although it was a few million ranch acres better than the current iteration). Still, DeMarco Murray will rush for 90-something yards against New Orleans. #NOvsDAL
Here's your stat of the day, and it's a big reason New England will have to run the rock: Tom Brady has attempted 17 passes that have traveled more than 20 yards in the air -- and he's completed one. Wow. Kansas City's defense, meanwhile, has given up just five passing plays of 20-plus yards, tied for least in the NFL. So if you like 5-yard ins and none-yard outs, this is the game for YOU.
After leading the Giants to their first win of the season, can Eli Manning do it -- that is, play efficiently -- two weeks in a row? As for the host Redskins, can Kirk Cousins shake off the fourth-quarter interception to Malcolm Jenkins and the late incompletion to Pierre Garcon and realize he played really well in Washington's Week 3 loss to the Eagles? Interesting note on Manning: He's only had one career start in Washington in which he topped 280 passing yards -- and only once has he thrown more than one touchdown. And that's out of 10 tries there. Expecting Alfred Morris to get plenty of run Thursday night -- and beyond -- with opponents now respecting the Redskins' passing game. #NYGvsWAS