Tennessee @ Buffalo
We’ve reached the quarter pole of the season, which means we can accurately predict teams’ records simply by multiplying them by 4. Take these teams for example, the Titans are currently 3-1, which means they’re on track for 12-4. Wow, what a year for Tennessee. The Bills, on the other hand, sit at 1-3 right now, which means they’re looking at a 4-12 record come season's end. Ouch. Sorry Buffalo, that does not sound pleasant. Ok I’ll admit, while that math is accurate, it doesn’t always bear out that way. In fact, there were only a handful of teams that finished last season with a record that’s divisible by four. How many you ask? Well let me count them, I’ll be right back ... You guys aren’t going to believe this, there were 4! That can't be a coincidence! What does it mean?!? Probably that attempting to project a team’s final record by multiplication is a dumb idea. You can glean certain things from the first month of the season though. Like, for instance, the Bills are really lousy.
Miami @ Cincinnati
It’s a clash between division leaders in the AFC. Though, while the Bengals look like they might have staying power, it now seems clear that the Dolphins position atop the East is not sustainable, and may be a thing of the past as early as Sunday afternoon. Last week the Patriots decimated Miami physically, mentally, and emotionally. Yes, emotionally. I saw Ryan Tannehill crying at one point. Everybody else kept telling me it was just sweat, but then why was it under his eyes?!? That’s not how I sweat! Not me! Anyway, the Dolphins are surely shook after suffering their first loss of the season and now find themselves facing another tough opponent this Sunday. Look for the Bengals to win and for Ryan Tannehill to be “eye sweating” (Psssshh!) at some point in the first quarter.
Baltimore @ Cleveland
It appears Baker Mayfield hasn’t achieved full savior status yet in Cleveland. While he has certainly been an upgrade at QB, he doesn’t seem to be able to keep the Browns from losing games they should win, a franchise hallmark for the last ... um 35? 40? 50 years? These nightmare losses are fully cemented (impacted?) as part of the Browns identity; so turning the tide is a major undertaking. In other words, as intriguing as Mayfield is, he can’t change things over night. Especially if it’s like a Tuesday when there’s not even a game that night. What do you want the guy to do?!? Meanwhile, I guess the Ravens are good again ... maybe. It sounds weird to say, but I’ll believe in them if they can go on the road and handle the Browns. I just hope they wash their hands afterward.
Green Bay @ Detroit
We see this every season. The Packers experience some early season setbacks, tie the Vikings, lose on the road, but then rebound with a shut out against a lowly team quarterbacked by Josh Allen. I’m telling you, we see it every season, look it up. And because of that, we should all know what to expect next, Green Bay goes to Detroit and beats the Lions on a Hail Mary. Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme.
Jacksonville @ Kansas City
Oooh baby, this is a tasty match-up! The unstoppable force (Chiefs offense) meeting the immovable object (Jags defense). And on the other side of the ball, the easily stoppable force (Jags O) meeting the perpetually movable object (Chiefs D). Though maybe I’m short-changing the Jacksonville offense, considering they put up 500 yards and 31 points in their win over the Jets last week. Those numbers are almost identical to what they accomplished in their win over the Patriots in Week 2. So there may be hope for them yet, and as I hinted at earlier, they’re going against a defense that has given up 29 points per game, and the most yards in the league this season. How is KC 4-0?!? Oh right, they have an ambidextrous supernova playing quarterback for them. Be that as it may, I think Jacksonville can slow Mahomes down enough to let Bortles & Co. take advantage of the Chiefs’ shoddy D.
Denver @ New York Jets
The Jets started the season with a 47 point barrage in a win over the Lions; in their 3 games since they’ve scored 12, 17, and 12 points, respectively. You simply must put up more points than that if you want to win games in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. So how do they turn it around and recapture the magic of their opener? How the hell should I know? I’m pretty clueless when it comes to football. Didn’t they return a couple interceptions in that first game? Yeah, they should do that again, that would help. Did you know that in the history of the NFL no team has lost a game in which they’ve had multiple pick-sixes? If you said, “Uh yeah, obviously,” we’ll guess what, I made that up! It might not even be true! But if I were the Jets I’d still go ahead and try to score a couple times on defense and take my chances; couldn’t hurt.
Atlanta @ Pittsburgh
Oh boy, it’s been a tough couple weeks to be a Falcons season ticket holder (despite those sweet-ass concessions deals). First you drop an overtime game at home to your hated rival New Orleans 43-37, then you lose to the Bengals 37-36 (again in Atlanta) on a touchdown with :07 left. The team is putting up huge point totals only to have victory snatched away from them in the game’s waning moments. Just when these Atlanta fans think they’ve locked up a win and can relax for once their world crumbles. It reminds me of Sidney Prescott in the Scream franchise. All she wants is to live a regular life after the death of her mother and the first Scream, but every time she starts achieve some semblance of normalcy a new Scream Guy (or Girl, don’t think I’ve forgotten about you Laurie Metcalf!) pops up and ruins everything. Yep, it's the exact same situation. The good news for Falcons fans is that this game is in Pittsburgh, so they can’t have their hearts ripped out right in front of them for a third straight week. The bad news? Atlanta has a home game against the Bucs in Week 6. In other words, they’ll be right baaaaack!
New York Giants @ Carolina
The Panthers are coming off the dreaded early bye week. They’ve only played 3 games, they don’t really need the break yet. It’s like having the first lunch in middle school, the one that starts at 10:30am. You’re not even hungry yet, and now the rest of the day is just going to seem even longer. I’m sure Carolina would’ve preferred a later bye week, but nonetheless they had to force down their pre-11 chicken nuggets. The upside is that they should be well rested for this match-up against a lackluster Giants team. Look for Cam Newton to have a big day; he’s been in a great mood ever since his mom brought him McDonald’s on the bye week. Lucky!!!
Oakland @ Los Angeles Chargers
If you plan on attending this game, beware. The atmosphere figures to be very tense, and fights are likely to breaking out all over the place. And this is all going to be amongst Raiders Nation, because there won’t be any Charger fans in attendance. Despite the home field disadvantage the Chargers should be able to put up points aplenty against an Oakland defense that has shown itself to not be opposed to allowing offenses to do pretty much whatever they want. But what do the Chargers want? A win? Sure, if we're talking about this game maybe. But what do they truly desire? To be loved. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem possible until their move back to San Diego is official. What’s that? They’re actually staying in LA? Hmm. Guess they better get used to life as a spinster.
Minnesota @ Philadelphia
This is a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship game, and oh what a difference a year, er 8 and a half months, makes. When they met last January these teams had a combined 6 losses for the whole season. When they meet on Sunday they’ll already have a combined 4 (and a tie) in 2018. So what gives? The Vikings’ defense has looked like a shell of its former self, surrendering 27.5 points per game. To be fair though they've faced the Packers and the Rams ... and the 49ers ... and the Bills. Ok, so I guess being fair is pointing out that something is wrong here. Meanwhile, the Eagles have struggled to regain the dynamism they had on offense last season, despite Carson Wentz's return to take over from Nick Foles at quarterback. One thing the Eagles can still hang their hat on is that they haven’t lost a legit home game since Week 14 of 2016. Their lone loss in Philly last year was a 6-0 defeat in the final game of the season when they had nothing left to play for. Unfortunately, if either of these teams have nothing left to play for at the send of this season it will likely mean that they’re out of playoff contention. Either that, or the teams have experienced some kind of existential breakdown where they feel that all games are meaningless, much like life itself. Let’s hope that’s not the case.
Arizona @ San Francisco
I can’t in good conscience advise that you watch this game. Look around, there are three other games you can watch in the afternoon (or even baseball), choose any of them and consider yourself better for it. And if you live in either of these markets and have no other option, I would recommend taking a nap, or just turning the TV off and staring blankly across the room. I have to admit that CJ Beathard did a better job in his first start filling in for Jimmy Garoppolo than I had expected. Though, I had expected him to receive the snap, hand the ball to the nearest defensive lineman, and wave as they ran towards the other end zone. So really, it was a low bar to clear. Now Ceej gets to come home and perform in front of a rocking ... chair ... crowd in Levi's Stadium. No, that wasn’t a typo, I expect the crowd to have the same energy level as someone in a rocking chair. Be that as it may, I think the home team will get a narrow victory.
Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle
Well well well, look who finally has to leave California, the unbeatable Los Angeles Rams. So far this season they’ve played three home games and a quick trip to Oakland. The toughest element they’ve had to deal with so far is the patch of dirt at the Raiders/A’s coliseum. But now these Hollywood pretty boys have to trek alllll the way up the coast to Seattle and deal with the 12th man and a harsh weather forecast of ... 58 degrees and cloudy. Hmm, well that’s kind of chilly. Definitely colder than it’s been in LA. So yeah, deal with that Rams! And good luck catching any deep balls when you have those clouds in your eyes. Ha ha! Sorry fellas, but this is what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.
Dallas @ Houston
This Sunday night match-up might look lousy on paper, but did you consider that it might be even lousier when it's actually played out in reality? Maybe SNF analyst Cris Collinsworth can polish this up for us:
Wow, that's quite the scoop! Those are the kind of exclusives you only find here at HCM.
Washington @ New Orleans
I got news for ya folks, if the season ended today these teams would be two of your four division champs in the NFC. Also, if the season ended today it would break the record for shortest NFL season ever. My point being that, barring an unexpected and abrupt end to the year, we still have a long way to go before things get sorted out. So I guess I shouldn’t have written that first sentence at all. Too late now, my delete button is still broken. I had the whole offseason to fix it and I didn’t get it done. What happened you ask? Life happened, that’s what. Actually, if I’m being honest I just forgot. I also forgot that this game was in New Orleans, that makes it a lot easier to pick. Alright, that one’s done, what’s next? Oh, that’s it. Well alright, see ya next week ... but maybe not the one after that.