Weekend Preview - Week 4

by Tej Seth|September 28, 2023
Photo: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

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Welcome to another edition of the Friday Morning Weekend Preview!

This year at SumerSports.com, we are excited to bring you an analytical look at the NFL twice a week on Mondays and on Fridays. In this preview of another football weekend, we will be laying out which games you should consider watching, what a win or a loss could mean for your team’s playoff chances, and more.

Be sure to check out the SumerSports podcast feed, follow us on Twitter @SumerSports, and sign up for our newsletter for more content like this.

Playoff Leverage

Last week had some major shifts in playoff probability as the Colts and Lions saw a 10% positive jump while teams like the Ravens and Jaguars saw a similar negative fall. Going into Week 4, we can see what each team has on the line with a win vs. a loss.

There is no team with more on the line in Week 4 than the Bengals. After an 0-2 start, they grinded out a win with an injured Joe Burrow on Monday Night Football against the Rams and now have a chance to get back to .500 against the Titans. A win would put the Bengals above a 50% chance to make the playoffs. 

The rest of the AFC North also has a high leverage week with the Browns and Ravens facing off in a game that’ll send the winner to a roughly 75% chance to make the postseason with the loser going down to 50% (and that’s not even mentioning what it’ll do for their division winner odds).

On the NFC side, the Buccaneers and Saints both sit at 2-1 in a big divisional matchup with the Saints being able to jump up to an 80% playoff probability with a win. Seahawks-Giants has a lot in play for Seattle as they could go to 3-1 and establish themselves in the second tier of NFC teams behind the 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys.

Games to Watch

Last week, the watchability scores identified Chargers-Vikings as the most watchable game of the week and it delivered. As we look ahead to Week 4, we can use a combination of team strength (using Elo), spread, projected points, and quarterback play to see which games we could be watching during the full slate.

We get our first London game of the year with Falcons-Jaguars in a game that has interesting storylines but a low Watch Score.

The early slate is yet again packed with highly watchable games with none other than Dolphins-Bills in a massive AFC East showdown. Also at that time, Rams-Colts should be a high-scoring competitive game while Bengals-Titans and Ravens-Browns will be big tests in the AFC. While Broncos-Bears having that high of a watchability score might seem off for two 0-3 teams, the game should have a ton of points scored.

Raiders-Chargers is the game to watch in the afternoon slate while Sunday Night football would have been a great game with Aaron Rodgers starting but now looks like it could get out of hand quickly. However, we do have a strong Monday Night game in Seahawks-Giants.

Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills

Dolphins-Bills has everything that you could want in a football game. The teams split the series in the regular season last year before the Bills defeated Skylar Thompson and the Dolphins in the playoffs. The quarterbacks are both playing at a high level right now. This game has a lot on the line in terms of not only being the top two teams in the AFC East but two of the top three teams in the entire AFC.

The matchup to watch in this game will be the Dolphins pass offense against the Bills pass defense. The Dolphins have the best passing offense in the league coming off three straight dominant performances. The Bills have the third best pass defense in the league so far this season but have been susceptible to explosive plays; it’ll be a true strength on strength matchup. The Dolphins run game has been very good even though their EPA/rush has been dinged because of fumbles.

On the other side of the ball, the Bills offense has recovered nicely since having four turnovers in Week 1 to have the third best offense in terms of EPA/play. Josh Allen currently ranks 6th in EPA/play among quarterbacks and James Cook has been a very good lead back ranking eighth in rushing efficiency. The Dolphins defense ranks 16th in EPA/play allowed but 31st in success rate allowed meaning they haven’t given up many explosive plays but offenses have stayed ahead of schedule. The Bills could lean on the run early and then open up the pass to take advantage of that in this game.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Los Angeles Chargers

Both the market implied total for this game and the advanced stats point to this game having a lot of points. Under offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and with a fully healthy Justin Herbert, the Chargers offense has been very good this season ranking fourth in EPA/play. They have fully leaned into this pass game having a +5.7% pass rate over expected. Keenan Allen has turned back the clock this season ranking fourth in yards per route run. Although they won’t have Mike Williams for the rest of the season, this game against the 28th ranked Raiders pass defense shouldn’t cause too much trouble.

The Raiders have ranked 19th in offensive EPA/play with an above average pass offense but the worst rush offense in the league. Davante Adams has still proven to be one of the best receivers in the league ranking fifth in yards per route run with a quarterback change while Jakobi Meyers has also played well at receiver. The Chargers defense has the 26th ranked pass defense and has given up the second most explosive plays in the league so we could see a big day from the Raiders receivers making that the matchup to watch.

Kansas City Chiefs @ New York Jets

It is rare we will see the worst offense in the league in a primetime game, but because of the Aaron Rodgers injury, the Sunday Night football game this week is Patrick Mahomes vs. Zach Wilson. The Jets haven’t been able to get anything going on offense with the 32nd ranked passing attack and the 28th ranked rushing attack. The Chiefs defense has been very good with the fifth best EPA/play allowed and the third best success rate allowed. They have been very good against the pass game, especially with Chris Jones back.

It took the Chiefs offense two weeks longer than it usually does, but they are back in the top of the rankings with the eighth best EPA/play. Patrick Mahomes has the fifth best EPA/play in the league, and Isiah Pacheco has been good on the ground as well. This game will be watchable not only because of the Mahomes-Kelce connection but another star in the crowd that will surely make the broadcast. The matchup to watch in this game will be the Chiefs offensive line against the Jets very deep defensive line.

Seattle Seahawks @ New York Giants

We are back to only one Monday Night football game this week, but it should be a good one in Seahawks-Giants. After a Week 1 loss to the Rams, the Seahawks have bounced back in a big way, especially on offense. While Seattle has the fifth best offense in terms of EPA/play, their run game has ranked first in the league. The Giants defense has faced a very tough schedule to start, and this will be another big test for them.

On the other side of the ball, the Giants offense has gotten off to a slow start ranking 26th in EPA/play. Their passing game has been underwhelming as they don’t have a wide receiver that ranks in the top 50 in terms of yards per route run so far this season. However, Seattle’s pass defense is the 29th best and can be taken advantage of. The matchup to watch in this game will be the Giants pass catchers against a Seattle secondary that’s getting healthier but still could give up big plays.

Sumer’s Week in Review

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