Week Four features the only classic pro football rivalry in the Footprint. That's reason enough to tune in.
Two of our teams have byes (Indy and Miami) and several others have critical games. We will quickly break it down for you.
As Always, SPF teams in CAPS with (Week 3's T.I. Poll Ranking)
Washington (2) @ Dallas (1) - This game has been the battle for the south for decades. Cowboys v Indians. The eastern half of the south vs the western half.
This year's game feels bigger than one's in the recent past. The Cowboys are expecting nothing less than Super Bowl, while the Redskins are effectively operating under the radar.
The current wisdom is that the Redskins are a solid tier below the rest of their NFC East division mates. SPF expects them to try and prove otherwise.
A Redskin win or close loss would significantly change this season's dynamic.
Atlanta (10) @ Carolina (8) - Is this a battle of two franchises going in opposite directions? Carolina should win this game, but all signs point to Atlanta being on the right track for the future. Carolina remains a conundrum which is why they lie low in the T.I. Poll despite their otherwise fine record.
This is a rivalry that needs to be renewed with some meaning, but it seems we are a year away.
Houston (12) @ Jacksonville (8) - Houston looks like road kill this season. Their home stadium doesn't allow for any comfort knowing that it is hurricane-damaged. The Jags absolutely must win this game with authority. No more stumbles allowed for Del Rio and crew.
Green Bay @ Tampa Bay (3) - This week is a great test for Gruden's Bucs. A wounded Packer team comes to town after losing to Dallas last week. Winning this game establishes the Bucs as part of the upper echelon of the NFC.
Simply put, can the Bucs show the same mettle that the Cowboys did against a good NFC team?
Minnesota @ Tennessee (4) - The Vikes got the Panthers number last week, but SPF has a little more respect for the Titans. Expect the Vikings to be punished on offense with each Titan hit. Expect the Vikings defense to be challenged by imaginative play calling.
A win here for the Titans would solidify the growing belief that they might be the AFC's best team right now.
San Francisco @ New Orleans (7) - The Saints need this win. They must have it to stay in the race. Despite dropping their last two, they are still 1-0 in NFC South play. This is the second season that the Saints have made a habit of digging an early season hole. They need to exit the hole against a Niner team that is growing in confidence.
Cleveland @ Cincinnati (11) - Last year, the early season shootout between Ohio's two teams set in motion each team's respective fates. The Browns went on to a 10 win season while the Bengals went into free fall.
Both teams are winless so something has to give. The chance that this game will become the same springboard for the winner seems unlikely, but the winner at least can win the battle of state pride.
Buffalo @ St Louis (13) - Trent Green? Is Scott Linehan really placing his tenuous coaching career in the hands of this oft-injured vet? Now you see why SPF believes the Rams are tanking this season to facilitate a move back to LA.