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Bucs, Bears in 1st place? Who would have thunk it?

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At left, in a June 12, 2018, file photograph, Indianapolis Colts’ Adam Vinatieri (Four) smiles on the NFL soccer workforce’s coaching camp, in Indianapolis. At proper, in a Dec. 17, 2017, file photograph, former New Orleans Saints kicker and Corridor of Fame enshrinee Morten Andersen walks on the sector earlier than an NFL soccer recreation in New Orleans. Vinatieri wants one subject objective to interrupt Morten Andersen’s NFL document (565). (AP Photograph/File)

There isn’t any means anybody outdoors of Tampa or Chicago would have predicted the Bucs and Bears would each be first-place groups once they sq. off in Week Four.

Positive, it’s nonetheless lots early in the schedule. But there’s no denying each groups are forward of schedule.

Though the Buccaneers (2-1) come off a 30-27 house loss to Pittsburgh final Monday night time, their offense behind backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been dynamic. Fitzpatrick began the three video games that starter Jameis Winston was suspended and made a robust argument for maintaining the job. Fitz leads the NFL with 1,230 yards passing and is second with 11 TD passes. He’s the one participant in league historical past to throw for 400-plus yards in three consecutive video games.

Winston definitely has been impressed and guarantees to not make any waves.

“It’s about the team’s success. I’m not a selfish player, it’s about our team,” Winston stated. “We’re out here doing big things, and we’ve got to continue doing that.”

Chicago (2-1) is doing massive issues on protection. The commerce with Oakland for Khalil Mack has made a huge effect in the Windy Metropolis, making up for a mediocre offense.

Mack is tied for the league lead with 4 sacks, with at the very least one in every recreation, and leads the NFL with three pressured fumbles.

“What he has done is completely elevated everybody else on defense,” coach Matt Nagy stated. “When that happens, that’s rare, to have one guy affect a team like that.”

Week Four started with Jared Goff throwing for 465 yards and 5 touchdowns and getting an ideal quarterback score in a 38-31 victory over Minnesota. The Rams are Four-Zero, whereas the Vikings are 1-2-1 and haven’t gained since opening day.

On byes are Carolina and Washington.

Baltimore (2-1) at Pittsburgh (1-1-1)

Basic NFL matchup, Half I.

The Steelers have gained 9 straight video games on Sunday nights, twice over the Ravens. However Baltimore has a rekindled offense, with Joe Flacco off to a scorching begin, helped by a trio of latest receivers. Newcomer Michael Crabtree leads the Ravens with 15 catches and wishes six to succeed in 600 for his profession.

Pittsburgh doubtless will get again prime blocker David DeCastro for Ben Roethlisberger, whos is 21-Three in regular-season prime-time video games at residence, throwing for 55 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Roethlisberger has thrown a TD cross in 45 straight house video games, the third-longest streak in NFL historical past.

If this comes right down to kicking, Baltimore has an enormous edge. The Ravens’ Justin Tucker has hit eight straight area objectives from 50-plus yards and owns the perfect FG proportion (90.Zero) in NFL historical past. Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell has hit simply considered one of 4 area objectives; the three misses match his whole 2017 complete.

Kansas Metropolis (Three-Zero) at Denver (2-1), Monday night time

Basic NFL matchup, Half II.

One other prime-time showcase value watching, this can be a collection of streaks. The Chiefs have taken 5 straight following seven straight losses. The offense is a buzzsaw: Kansas Metropolis is the third NFL staff to attain 38 or extra factors in its first three video games (2007 Patriots, who have been 16-Zero; 1967 Colts, who went 11-1-2).

Patrick Mahomes has established an NFL document with 13 TDs via three video games and 0 interceptions to steer the league with a 137.Four passer score. The second-year QB credit the depth of expertise round him.

“Guys everywhere,” Mahomes stated. “Knowing that I have those weapons, whenever someone has to get a break — we say if you’re tired, get a break, because I know I can trust the next guy coming in.”

The Chiefs might be scored on, although, and Denver had the NFL’s third-ranked dashing recreation with rookies Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay, the primary undrafted participant to eclipse 100 scrimmage yards in his first two NFL video games.

Plus, linebacker Von Miller , tied for the league lead with 4 sacks, is a Chiefs nemesis: Miller has eight sacks, 11 tackles for loss towards Kansas Metropolis.

Miami (Three-Zero) at New England (1-2)

Basic NFL matchup, Half III.

Sure, the Patriots have so dominated the AFC East that we overlook there are different groups in the division. That is the one staff Tom Brady has fallen to probably the most, 10 occasions. In fact, he has crushed the Dolphins 21 occasions.

Certainly, the final time the Dolphins gained at New England was 2008, when Brady was sidelined by a knee damage.

Miami already has seven interceptions; it had 9 all of final season.

In the meantime, the Patriots have struggled to seek out any consistency. They ranks 25th on offense — aside from Rob Gronkowski, Brady has little consolation with any receivers — and 28th on protection. Invoice Belichick was outcoached by his former defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia, final Sunday night time.

However the Patriots have began slowly earlier than after which develop into unstoppable.

Philadelphia (2-1) at Tennessee (2-1)

Philly likes enjoying AFC South squads: The Eagles have gained seven straight video games towards them, the workforce’s longest lively profitable streak towards any division.

This might come right down to the operating recreation, notably if Titans QB Marcus Mariota nonetheless is scuffling with a proper elbow damage that has affected his grip. The Eagles rank first in run protection after ending first final season and in addition lead the NFL in time of possession (36:03).

Cleveland (1-1-1) at Oakland (Zero-Three)

There are good vibes by Lake Erie and dangerous ones in the Bay Space.

The Browns obtained their first win in 18 video games by beating the Jets, and prime general draft selection Baker Mayfield led the best way to take over as beginning quarterback. Their protection has been comparatively stout, led by the No. decide in the 2017 draft, Myles Garrett.

Oakland’s choice to commerce its greatest participant, Mack, after which the Zero-Three begin has worn skinny any luster on Jon Gruden’s return. The Raiders are final in the NFL with three sacks, and tied for final with one takeaway. They have been outscored 37-Three in fourth quarters and are the second staff in the final 20 years to start out Zero-Three when main all three at halftime.

Detroit (1-2) at Dallas (1-2)

The Lions received off the schneid with that surprisingly dominant win towards New England. They have the top-rated passing offense, however additionally they are a sieve towards the run on protection.

With Dallas struggling a lot throwing the ball, search for RB Ezekiel Elliott to be very busy in this one. Elliott is tied with the 49ers’ Matt Breida for the NFL dashing lead with 274 yards.

San Francisco (1-2) at Los Angeles Chargers (1-2)

Accidents in all probability have ruined the 49ers’ season. After giving Jimmy Garoppolo his massive payday, they are going to be with out him for the rest of this yr after he tore his ACL towards KC. C.J. Beathard, who was in over his head final yr in going 1-5, steps in.

The Chargers have gained the previous 4 conferences and have a harmful offense behind QB Philip Rivers and a ramped-up operating recreation. Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler type the one pair of operating backs on the identical staff with 250 or extra scrimmage yards this season.

Cincinnati (2-1) at Atlanta (1-2)

Accidents are starting to wreck the Falcons’ season, too. They misplaced free security Ricardo Allen with a torn Achilles tendon and he joins starters Keanu Neal (knee), a robust security, and linebacker Deion Jones on the sidelines. Jones underwent foot surgical procedure and is out till no less than Nov. 18.

Plus, defensive ends Takkarist McKinley and Derrick Shelby are nursing groin accidents.

That is Cincinnati’s third street recreation already, and Atlanta’s third successive residence recreation. The Bengals come in with out beginning RB Joe Mixon (knee), however are stunningly profitable in the pink zone. They have factors on their final 29 occasions contained in the 20-yard line (21 TDs, eight FGs), the longest lively streak in the NFL.

Buffalo (1-2) at Inexperienced Bay (1-1-1)

On a excessive after their beautiful win at Minnesota as 16 ½-point underdogs, the Payments get one other NFC North journey. Hey, it’s all the time good to do these in September.

Buffalo’s rookie quarterback Josh Allen wasn’t intimidated by Minnesota’s staunch and bodily protection. Inexperienced Bay’s doesn’t come near resembling that group, and standout runner LeSean McCoy (ribs) vows he can be again.

Aaron Rodgers figures to throw a bunch this week, with Davante Adams now his prime goal.

New York Jets (1-2) at Jacksonville (2-1)

Coming off a loss that simply might linger, and with security Jamal Adams saying the Jets weren’t ready for Mayfield when he changed Tyrod Taylor in Cleveland’s victory, New York takes on ticked-off Jacksonville.

The Jets have gained 4 straight in this collection, however these video games have been principally towards weak Jaguars groups. After the Jags struggled a lot vs. Tennessee, they might take it out on rookie Sam Darnold with a sack-happy protection. And Darnold displayed pleased ft towards the Browns.

New Orleans (2-1) at New York Giants (1-2)

If Eli Manning will get safety, the Giants are aggressive. That occurred in final week’s win at Houston, and the Saints have been disappointing defending the move.

The thrill degree ramps up in the operating recreation as Giants rookie Saquon Barkley and the Saints’ Alvin Kamara, final yr’s Offensive Rookie of the Yr, face off. Additionally intriguing: Saints WR Michael Thomas leads the league with 38 catches and 398 yards receiving. His catch complete is an NFL greatest in a staff’s first three video games. New York’s Odell Beckham Jr. has a good 24 receptions, even when that pales in comparison with Thomas.

Seattle (1-2) at Arizona (Zero-Three)

Two groups with messed-up offenses, though the Seahawks appear to be an indomitable drive in comparison with Arizona.

The Cardinals rank lifeless final in all offensive classes and have scored a complete of 20 factors. Now, rookie Josh Rosen will begin, and whereas Seattle’s protection not has legion-like growth, it may be tough and ranks eighth towards the move.

A win will tie Pete Carroll with Mike Holmgren for probably the most teaching victories in Seattle historical past (90).

Houston (Zero-Three) at Indianapolis (1-2)

Houston in all probability is probably the most disappointing group in the NFL, having gotten again J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Deshaun Watson for damage, but not profitable in any respect. Certainly, the Texans’ final victory got here in November 2017.

They not often fare nicely with Indy, which has a 25-7 edge in the collection. The Colts’ subsequent win might be No. 300 since shifting from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984.

Adam Vinatieri wants one subject aim to interrupt Morten Andersen’s NFL report (565). Vinatieri additionally wants three field-goal makes an attempt to cross Gary Anderson (672) for second all-time, and one recreation performed to cross George Blanda (340) for No. Four.

Can’t kick about that.

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Extra AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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