Everything you need to know as kickoff approaches...
Key game-time decisions
All players questionable unless noted
Both QBs were limited all week. We'll update on the status as game time approaches (kickoff at 1 p.m. ET). UPDATE: Garoppolo's shoulder will be evaluated Sunday morning before a decision is made between him or Brissett, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.
Dez is a "major long-shot" to play, per Rapoport. Smith didn't practice all week and will likely be a game-time decision depending on how his back feels in pregame warmups. UPDATE: Bryant and Scandrick are not expected to play, per Rapoport.
Both of Matthew Stafford's targets were full-go Friday and should play Sunday in Chicago. UPDATE: Jones and Ebron are expected to play, according to Rapoport.
Jeffery was limited all week, as he's been most of the season but hasn't missed a game. Cutler and Langford will both miss this week. Jordan Howard should get the majority of RB snaps. UPDATE: Jeffery is expected to play, per Rapoport.
Graham was full-go Friday, suggesting he'll be fine to play Sunday. Prosise was a full participant all week.
Marcus Mariota's most reliable target was limited on Thursday and Friday after missing last week's game. UPDATE: Walker is expected to play, according to Rapoport.
Clay was limited on Thursday and Friday. With Sammy Watkins on IR, Clay's role could increase. Darby was limited all week. UPDATE: Clay is expected to play, per Rapoport.
Thomas returned in limited action on Friday. UPDATE: Thomas is a longshot to play, according to Rapoport.
Austin was full-go Friday. Britt was added to the report on Friday. UPDATE: Austin is expected to play, per Rapoport.
Snead was limited and is a game-time decision after missing Week 3. The Saints' defense remains a walking wounded. UPDATE: Snead is expected to play, according to Rapoport.
Elvis Dumervil said this week he expects to make his season debut. UPDATE: Dumervil is expected to play, per Rapoport.
Cushing was limited all week. He was expected to be out six weeks but is hopeful to return after just a two-week absence. With J.J. Watt out for the season, Houston could use Cushing's presence back in the middle of the defense.
Big Blue's secondary is hobbling into Minneapolis. The Giants will be without two safeties and are at risk of losing two cornerbacks.
*We could be in for rain in six of our 10 outdoor games this week. We will update Sunday prognostications for all non-dome contests as we drift closer to game time. *
Colts at Jaguars (LONDON) -- 60 degrees
Raiders at Ravens -- 73 degrees
Lions at Bears -- 65 degrees -- chance of rain (25 percent)
Bills at Patriots -- 58 degrees -- chance of rain (42 percent)
Seahawks at Jets -- 67 degrees -- chance of rain (41 percent)
Browns at Redskins -- 74 degrees
Broncos at Buccaneers -- 85 degrees -- chance of thunderstorms (48 percent)
Cowboys at 49ers -- 68 degrees -- chance of rain (22 percent)
Saints at Chargers -- 72 degrees
Chiefs at Steelers SNF -- 65 degrees - chance of rain (27 percent)
What to Watch For
Jalen Ramsey hasn't been shy about his play versus established stars, whether taking on Aaron Rodgers or Steve Smith. He'll get another shot to boast after taking on T.Y. Hilton and Andrew Luck in London. Hilton busted out last week with 174 yards and the game-winning score on eight receptions. For his career, Hilton is averaging 18.3 yards per catch against the Jags. This is not the secondary he and Luck have toyed with over the years. Ramsey and company have given up just 201.7 pass yards per game this season (7th best in the NFL). Thanks to a turnover-prone offense, the Jacksonville's defense has allowed the 8th fewest yards per game but 26th most points.
If Blake Bortles is going to get right this year, it needs to start in London against a secondary decimated by injury. Vontae Davis returned last week, but with a limp pass rush (just four sacks this season) Bortles should have time to throw against an Indy defense giving up the 27th most passing yards per game and 25th highest passer rating. Bortles has been particularly pathetic on deep routes due to shaky decision making and regressing mechanics. The Jags' passer owns the lowest passer rating (28.4) in the NFL on passes of 15 or more air yards. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns need to help change that rating, or Gus Bradley could pay the price as the latest coaching victim of the London series.
Say what? Stat of the week: Luck has 14 straight wins versus the AFC South. Luck is tied with former Colt Peyton Manning for the longest winning streak by a starting QB vs. his own division, since 1991.
Cam Newton was sacked eight times in Week 3 and has taken 22 QB hits this season, most in the NFL. His 12 sacks are tied for the most entering Week 4 (Andy Dalton). He'll get a reprieve against a toothless Falcons pass rush that has just three sacks for the season, but the loss of left tackle Michael Oher (concussion) stings. With the benefit of time to throw, expect a ton of targets towards Kelvin Benjamin. The Colossus receiver had no catches on one target last week. With mismatches against a Falcons secondary that gives up an average of 313 pass yards per game, Newton will force the ball to KB13 Sunday in the Dome.
After facing three inept defenses to open the season, Matt Ryan and Kyle Shanahan have their first true test. The Panthers' D ranks third in total yards allowed (273.3 per contest) and fifth in pass yards given up per game (183.0). The Falcons boast improved weaponry, with the backfield duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman forming a dynamic duo. Freeman's quick cutting and bulldozing style will need to be in full force against the Panthers' fierce front. Coleman has been a wonder in the open field through three games, but can he find space with speedy linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis tracking? Many believe the Falcons' No. 1-ranked offense (448.0 YPG; 34.7 PPG) are a mirage buoyed by weak competition. If Ryan carves up the Panthers on Sunday, that argument will float into the wind.
Derek Carr's nifty pocket movement often goes overlooked as a quality trait that allows the big-armed quarterback to find Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree downfield. He'll need it Sunday against the pocket-pushing Ravens defense. Baltimore hasn't gotten consistent edge pressure this season; the return of Elvis Dumervil should help. The Ravens have continued their six-game streak of two-plus sacks, dating back to last season, because they push the pocket, knocking quarterbacks off their spot. Getting sacked a league-low two times, Carr has guided a high-power Raiders offense that is a good mix of pass (8th ranked) and run (2nd).
The Ravens have struggled to move the ball (fewer than 25 points in eight straight games), and the Raiders defense gives away yards as if they were a non-profit dealing in free missed tackles (476.0 YPG allowed). Something has to give. The Ravens' rushing attack has been dismal, averaging 82.3 yards per game on the ground. Terence West's 45 yards last week were the most by any Baltimore back this season. After plummeting 33.8 rushing yards per game from 2014 to 2015 and continuing to struggle, are we yet allowed to question whether offensive coordinator Marc Trestman's scheme and play calling are a big reason behind the rushing woes? If Baltimore can't get the rushing attack on track versus a Raiders D giving up 136 yards on the ground per game it might never happen.
Say what? Stat of the week:Latavius Murray has one TD in each of first three games of 2016, becoming just the third Raider ever with a rushing TD in each of first three games to open a season -- Marcus Allen (1982) and Frank Hawkins (1984).
Matthew Stafford has played the best football of his pro career this season under offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. The quarterback is calm in the pocket, making quicker decisions and been wicked accurate. This week he should build on those strides against a banged-up, young Bears secondary and an almost non-existent pass rush. Marvin Jones is clearly the Lions No. 1 receiver (led the NFL with 408 yards receiving entering Week 4), but expect a good week from Golden Tate. Last week the Bears couldn't handle Cole Beasley out of the slot. Tate will be a more dynamic menace this week.
The best thing to watch from the Bears' offense will be the progress of young offensive players. Jordan Howard looked like Chicago's best back during preseason and training camp and should get to prove it. Kevin White hasn't shown off the speed, after-catch-ability or strength at the point of the catch that we saw in college. Against a Lions defense missing several key players and lacking depth, keep an eye on how the young players perform. These are the games either -- or both -- could leap out and provide hope this won't be merely the 'Chuck it to Alshon and Pray' show the rest of 2016.
J.J. Watt will miss the first game of his career, but the Texans defense still boasts a pass rush led by underrated Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney and a strong group of corners. Houston gets a good matchup against a Marcus Mariota offense that struggles stretching the field and is tied for fewest points per game in the NFL at 14.0 (tied with Houston). The Titans have the clear advantage on the ground with DeMarco Murray (6.0 yards per rush) and Derrick Henry. The Texans have been susceptible to the rushing attack, giving up 125.7 yards on the ground, while locking down the passing attack (151.3 pass YPG, fewest in the NFL). The Titans will pound away with Murray and Henry against stacked boxes to loosen up the Texans secondary.
Houston's offensive averages are skewed by last week's dismal shutout to the Patriots, but the concerns about Brock Osweiler's offense are legit. The quarterback has more interceptions than touchdowns (4 INTs; 3 TDs) and leads the least efficient red zone offense in the NFL -- touchdowns on just 14.3 percent of RZ drives (it doesn't help when your lead back is a 220-pound speedster). Osweiler indignantly scoffed at critiques this week who called him out for slow reads, zeroing in on his targets and molasses decision making. The QB will have a chance to shut them up this week against a solid Titans defense that ranks T-3rd in RZ percent. Finding DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller deep early will open up the Titans defense for the underneath routes, but will Brock take shots this week or be content to check the ball down again?
Bill Belichick's best game-day coaching attribute is his uncanny ability to take away what an opponent does best and force second and third options to win a game. We know the Bills want to run the ball. If Rex Ryan had his way, it's probably all they'd do. Led by Jamie Collins, the Pats are giving up just 90.3 rush yards per game. With Belichick scheming to shut down LeSean McCoy (who has been fantastic thus far) will Tyrod Taylor be able to win a road game? Taylor has thrown for fewer than 120 yards in two of three games and doesn't have the weapons on the outside to scare the Patriots -- especially with Sammy Watkins ruled out. Last season the Patriots sacked Taylor 10 times in two games (eight in Week 2 alone) and forced a 3-to-3 TD-INT ratio.
Rex Ryan's defense swarmed to the ball last week in a huge home win. The embattled coach needs a similar performance Sunday in Foxborough. Jerry Hughes, Kyle Williams, and the Bills defensive front have been nearly unblockable to start the season. Whichever quarterback Belichick unfurls Sunday, stopping the run will be key for the Bills. Ryan's crew has given up 98.0 yards per game rushing (T-14th) but faces the NFL's most prolific ground game. The Pats have the highest run percent (54.0) in the NFL this season with Tom Brady out. LeGarrett Blount leads the NFL in carries (75), rushing yards (298) and tied for most rushing TDs (4). Blount didn't record his 75th carry last season until his seventh game last season.
Say what? Stat of the week: Bill Belichick has gotten the better of Rex Ryan over their careers*:
Belichick: 11 wins; 27.3 PPG; 360.8 total YPG; 14 turnovers; 0-1 playoffs
Ryan: 4 wins (including playoffs); 19.8 PPG; 331.4 total YPG; 29 turnovers; 1-0 playoffs
*This will be the first time a Ryan-coached team will face the Pats without Brady at QB.
For the third straight week in this spot, we wonder how much Russell Wilson's mobility will hinder the Seahawks offense. Whereas the last fortnight RW3 was dealing with an ankle injury, this time around it's a banged up knee. Prior to going down last week, Wilson looked plenty healthy, slinging deep balls to Doug Baldwin. Against a Jets secondary that has proved to be susceptible to the big play, if Wilson is healthy enough to get the ball down the field, there will be chances for big plays. Facing a fierce Jets front, however, will put Wilson's mobility to the test. The Jets have given up plays to tight ends, so expect Wilson to target Jimmy Graham early, especially when under duress.
Ryan Fitzpatrick comes off one of the worst performances in NFL history and gets to face an even stouter secondary. His best hope might be that the Seahawks come out sleepy, thanks to the early start for West Coast team. Eric Decker's absence makes matters more difficult for Fitzpatrick. The quarterback will need to rely on Matt Forte both on the ground and as a security blanket in the passing game. Against Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and a Legion of Boom giving up just 162.7 pass yards per game to start the season, Fitzpatrick can't force the balls into tight windows like he did last week. Otherwise, it'll be a repeat performance of the Kansas City disaster.
Say what? Stat of the week: Thirty-year-old Matt Forte has 67 carries through three games this season. It marks the most carries through three weeks in a season since his rookie year (2008).
Yes, the Browns won't win a lot of games, but there are several worse teams to watch than Hue Jackson's squad. Terrelle Pryor was the most entertaining player that the majority of the country didn't see last week. The receiver's size and speed give him a matchup advantage, even against a physical corner like Josh Norman this week. Pryor taking snaps at quarterback last week was a mixed bag, but it makes for exciting plays. Will Jackson unleash more QB Pryor or was that a one-time, surprise element because Cody Kessler started his first game? Against a Washington defense that doesn't often win up front, Pryor could do damage if Kessler can find his accuracy down field.
Kirk Cousins was less terrible last week but still had too many maddening moments. Washington's quarterback should be in for a 'get right' game Sunday against the Browns. Cleveland is one of three to allow 25-plus point in every game this year (the Redskins are also on that list). The Browns have only three sacks this season (T-28th). Theoretically, Cousins should have time to find his plethora of targets down the field. Four Washington pass-catchers have 13-or-more receptions this season. We told you this summer to keep an eye out for Jamison Crowder making the leap. With rookie Josh Doctson remaining out, Crowder has produced with a team-high 16 receptions for 175 yards. He could be in for a big day versus a Browns D that will be preoccupied with DeSean Jackson going deep.
Say what? Stat of the week: Last week Terrelle Pryor became the first player in NFL history with a stat line of 3-plus completions, 20-plus rushing yards, 120-plus receiving yards and one rushing TD in a single game.
Jameis Winston has thrown 110 passes in the last two contests. If he throws 50-plus times against the Broncos defense, it could be a long, long day for Buccaneers fans. The trouble for Tampa's offense is that without Doug Martin, they don't have the personnel to pound the ball up the gut. Dirk Koetter will need to get creative with quick screens and short passes to supplement the ground game Sunday. In the last six contests, the Denver defense has allowed a combined passer rating of 67.4 to Cam Newton (faced twice), Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, and Andy Dalton. Winston, who leads the NFL with eight giveaways, has a tough deck stacked against him to get out of a two-game funk.
While C.J. Anderson has seen his productivity dip each of the past three games (4.6 yards per carry; 3.7; 2.6), Trevor Siemian made strides forward. After being restricted to short dump offs in his first two starts, Gary Kubiak let his young passer sling it around in Week 3. Siemian weren't 8-of-8 on 10-plus air-yard passes last game (he's completed 81.8 percent of such attempts this season). Simian proving he can hurt defenses that stack the box, daring him to throw, should open the middle up for Anderson to get on track. Against a Bucs defense ranked 20th against the pass and 14th against the run, Siemian could be in for back-to-back big weeks.
Say what? Stat of the week: Siemian has the NFL's highest fourth-quarter passer rating this season (146.9) -- 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 146.9 passer rating in fourth-quarter; 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 79.3 passer rating in first three quarters. The next-best fourth-quarter passer rating this season is 41.1 points behind Siemian (105.8, Andrew Luck).
Todd Gurley is averaging 2.9 yards per rush this season on 21.0 carries per game. Often hit in the backfield, the second-year pro sometimes has to work miracles just to earn a 1-yard loss. Sunday he get's the worst run defense he's faced thus far. The Cardinals have been gashed on the ground to the tune of 133 yards per game on the ground (28th). Arizona has allowed opponents to convert 45.2 percent of third downs this season (27th). Those are good signs for a breakout Gurley game. The second-year pro hasn't broken the 100-yard barrier in five games dating back to last year -- just once in his last 11 contests.
What the fizzle happened to the Cardinals dangerous deep passing attack? For the season Carson Palmer is completing just 43.6 percent of 10-plus air yard passes, with 8.0 pass yards per attempt, a 1-4 TD-INT ratio, and 47.6 passer rating (last year he had a 106.8 passer rating while completing 55.4 percent of such passes.) Michael Floyd has been inconsistent (three drops), and John Brown hasn't been himself after dealing with a concussion to start the season. The Rams are susceptible to balls down the field -- as the Bucs showed last week -- if Palmer can finally find his range
Say what? Stat of the week:Rams scored 35-plus points in Week 3 for the first time since Week 13, 2014.
This game will mark Drew Brees' first back in San Diego -- which seems odd considering he's been in New Orleans for 11 seasons (2-0 vs. Chargers in that span). Brees has been lights out this season, throwing for 354 pass yards per game with eight touchdowns to one interception. The Saints offense dips on the road but will face Chargers defensive backfield that will be without Brandon Flowers. Jason Verrett got torched by T.Y. Hilon a week ago, but previously held Jeremy Macklin and Allen Robinson in check (he'll likely travel with Brandin Cooks). If Willie Snead returns from a toe injury, he could be Brees' go-to target Sunday afternoon with Flowers missing.
The Saints defense is terrible and missing a handful of key starters makes it even worse. After Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman scamper all over New Orleans last week, expect a big game for Melvin Gordon. The Chargers second-year back has at least one touchdown in each of his first three games this season. With injuries to the San Diego backfield, Gordon played a career-high 84 percent of the snaps last week. He'll be counted on heavily again this week in both the run and passing game. Gordon should surpass the 100-yard mark for just the second time in his career against a defense giving up 149.3 rush YPG.
Say what? Stat of the week:Philip Rivers is one of two QBs this season with 5-plus TDs and 0 INTs (Carson Wentz). Rivers hasn't thrown a pick in 99 pass attempts this season. He has not gone four straight games without INT since Weeks 14-17, 2012.
Dez Bryant (likely) won't play, but Dak Prescott has plenty of targets at his disposal against a 49ers defense that has been outscored 83-45 in two games since its opening-night shutout. Jason Witten appears the big beneficiary against a Niners defense that got torched by Greg Olsen (5-122-1) and Jimmy Graham (6-100-1) the past two weeks. Expect another heavy workload for Ezekiel Elliott against a San Francisco team giving up 122.7 yards per game on the ground. Since the 1970 merger, no Cowboys rookie had more rush yards in his first three games than Elliott (274 rush yards, T-2nd most in NFL).
Blaine Gabbert's 68.6 passer rating puts him 30th out of 32 qualifying QBs and he's completed just 55.2 percent of his passes. He'll get a slight reprieve this week against the worst defense he's faced this season. The Cowboys lack a consistent pass rush and give up 288.3 yards per game through the air. Despite ranking 23rd versus the pass, Dallas has mitigated the big plays through the air versus better talent (Odell Beckham, Desean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery), which doesn't bode well for a breakout game from Torrey Smith. Chip Kelly will lean on Carlos Hyde early in hopes pace of play and battering the Cowboys with zone runs will soften an already slim defensive front.
Say what? Stat of the week: No Cowboys rookie QB has ever won three games in a row -- Quincy Carter (2001) is only Dallas rookie QB to win three games total.
Marcus Peters has been lights out in 2016, morphing into the NFL's most dangerous corner while totaling four interceptions and six passes defensed the past two weeks. Playing in the Chiefs zone scheme allows Peters to jump passes and make game-changing plays. It will be interesting to see if the Steelers keep Antonio Brown on the opposite side of the field this week to avoid Peters. When the teams met last season (with Landry Jones at quarterback), Peters didn't fair that well against the NFL's best receiver -- four receptions on four targets for 99 yards and an 118.8 passer rating on nine snaps converging Brown. The focus this week is on Le'Veon Bell's return, but Peters' matchup against an unsteady Steelers pass attack (that will be without Eli Rogers) warrants attention.
The Steelers' defense is allowing 332.0 passing yards per game this season and has just one sack. Meanwhile, Alex Smith is running the Chiefs offense with heady precision, distributing the ball to a plethora of weapons. Travis Kelce leads the Chiefs in receptions (17) and receiving yards (197) this season (Smith has a passer rating of 121.6 with targeting Kelce). Also keep an eye on shifty receiver Tyreek Hill. The 5-foot-10 rookie has seen more run in recent weeks and can line up all over the formation. After watching Darren Sproles torch the Steelers last week, Andy Reid could scheme more chances for the elusive Hill in primetime.
Say what? Stat of the week: The last time Bell returned from a suspension, he had 132 scrimmage yards (62 rushing, 70 receiving) and 2TDs -- Week 3, 2015 against the Rams.
Odell Beckham Jr. (280), Sterling Shepard (233) and Victor Cruz (195) have combined for 708 receiving yards this season (most among receiving triplets). With a banged-up running back rotation, expect the Giants to air the ball out often Monday night. Will Eli Manning have enough time to target them against one of the stiffest defenses in the NFL? Mike Zimmer's athletic D front has battered opponents to the tune of 15 sacks while holding passers to just 211 yards a game through the air. The best bet for Manning might be getting the ball out quick and allowing his playmaking receivers to gobble up yards after the catch. That's a task easier typed than done against the Vikes' rangy linebackers and hammerhead safety Harrison Smith.
The Vikings can't run the ball. Don't expect that to change against a stingy Giants defensive front, allowing just 77.3 rush yards per game. Sam Bradford will need to pick apart a banged-up New York secondary. With injuries to corners Eli Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and free safety Darian Thompson, Janoris Jenkins should travel with Vikings No. 1 receiver, Stephon Diggs, when he's not in the slot (Diggs has taken 40 percent of his snaps from the slot). Tight end Kyle Rudolph has been a Bradford favorite. Rudolph has 14 receptions for 166 yards and 2 TDs this season. Only Greg Olsen has more than Rudolph's 26 targets. With space down the seam against Big Blue's linebackers and safety, the tight end should see his target average increase Monday night.
Say what? Stat of the week:Vikings are the only team since 1970 to go 3-0 in the first three weeks despite scoring three or fewer offensive touchdowns.