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We can't play up this matchup enough. Not only is the feisty, talkative Smith going against his former team, it's a genuinely great matchup. The Carolina Panthers' defense is coming off a home thrashing in Week 3, so we know they'll be motivated to bounce back. The Panthers have heard all Smith's talk leading up to the game and will be amped to slow him down. However, Joe Flacco's new favorite target should have a big role in the short and intermediate passing game. If he can exploit the Carolina's secondary, Smith could get his revenge.
Kyle Fuller vs. Jordy Nelson
The Bears' rookie cornerback gets his toughest test so far this season. Fuller leads the league in interceptions and has looked fantastic in the Bears' system early in the season -- cheap football jerseys where would they be without him? However, he'll face a massive test in Nelson, who can get open against the NFL's best CBs. Aaron Rodgers is coming off a frustrating outing and will look to his favorite receiver often once again. If Fuller can slow Nelson it could disrupt a Packers' offense that has yet to get on track in 2014. This matchup will go along way in deciding the NFC North outlook after Sunday.
49ers DL Justin Smith vs. Eagles C David Molk
In reality it's the entire 49ers' defensive line verses the Eagles' mash unit up front. But let's highlight two key players. Smith continues his dominating ways (three sacks, 12 tackles and ranks No. 5 on Pro Football Focus' 3-4 defensive ends list). Meanwhile, Molk, an undersized seventh-round pick in 2012, will get his first start for the Eagles. Philly likes Molk's athleticism, but how he holds up against power attacks like Smith and others the 49ers will send remains to be seen. If the 49ers can pester Nick Foles with interior pressure, it could disrupt Chip Kelly's entire operation. If not, Foles could pick apart a banged-up Niners' secondary.
Did You Know?
Since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, 83.1 percent of teams (59 of 71) that started the season 4-0 went on to make the playoffs (Bengals, Eagles and Cardinals are all 3-0).
The only team to ever make the playoffs after starting the season 0-4 was the 1992 Chargers (Bucs, Raiders, Jaguars are all 0-3).
For the first time since 1982, each of the first three weeks of a season has seen at least one 17-plus point comeback win.
cheap football jerseys authentic Carolina Panthers (2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Steve Smith has 18 receptions, 290 yards and one TD, with two 100-yard games this season for Baltimore. Playing with the Panthers in 2013, Smith did not have more than 69 yards in any game (15 games played).
The last time these two teams met (Week 11, 2010), Baltimore won handily, 37-13. The Panthers' starting QB in that game? Brian St. Pierre. (And you thought we couldn't get a Brian St. Pierre reference in.)
The Panthers have lost seven consecutive games against the AFC North by a combined score of 199-82. Carolina's last win versus an AFC North team came in Week 6, 2006 (over Baltimore).
Buffalo Bills (2-1) at Houston Texans (2-1)
Harbinger of bad tidings? The last two times the Bills started 2-0 or better, they finished the season below .500: 2008: 7-9; 2011: 6-10.
Note to Ryan Fitzpatrick: Bills cornerback Corey Graham, is allowing a 28.5 passer rating, thirrd-best in the NFL. Meanwhile fellow cornerback Stephon Gilmore is allowing opposing QBs a 147.9 passer rating, tied for third-worst cheap football jerseys china in the NFL (min. 25 percent of snaps). Choose your targets wisely, Mr. Fitzmagic.
Tennessee Titans (1-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
Andrew Luck is 4-0 versus the Titans in his career, but his stats haven't been great with just two touchdowns and four interceptions. Last season Luck did not throw a touchdown pass in either game against Tennessee. (If Pep Hamilton reads this we could be in for more Trent Richardson. Sigh.)
A positive trend for Titans receiver Kendall Wright: In his two games versus the Colts last season, Wright went for nine receptions, 80 yards in Week 11 and six receptions, 77 yards in Week 13. He has yet to record 50 receiving yards this season.
Green Bay Packers (1-2) at Chicago Bears (2-1)
For the third straight season, the Packers start 1-2. The previous two seasons they've gone on to win the NFC North with an 11-5 record (2012) and 8-7-1 record (2013). However, history indicates Green Bay's luck is about to run out. No team in NFL history has been under .500 in three straight seasons -- after three games -- and made the playoffs in all three seasons.
Kyle Fuller has 18 tackles, two forced fumbles and leads the NFL in interceptions with three. The last rookie to lead NFL in interceptions was Jairus Byrd, who tied for the most with nine in 2009. (Clearly, this means Fuller will get 14 in 2014.)
Detroit Lions (2-1) at New York Jets (1-2)
The Lions have had the ball with third-and-4-plus-yards to go 36 times this season. Only one of those plays has been a designed run. (Joique Bell ran once / Matthew Stafford has scrambled twice and kneeled down once.) On third-down-and-6-plus-yards, the Lions are the only team to pass 100 percent of the time (excluding kneels). With the Jets' stiff run D and wobbly secondary, don't expect these stats to change.
Geno Smith has never lost back-to-back home games as starting quarterback. Despite being 7-3 as a starter at home, Smith has thrown nine touchdowns to 11 interceptions. Side note: Geno is also the worst QB in the NFL throwing on first down (zero TDs, four INTs).
Miami Dolphins (1-2) vs. Oakland Raiders (0-3) (IN LONDON)
Since 1997, the only Raiders coach to defeat the Dolphins is (trumpet noise) Lane Kiffin. For Kiffin, only three more NFL wins would follow.
Ryan Tannehill must reverse this trend: The Dolphins' quarterback is averaging 5.03 pass yards per attempt this season, which is the fewest in the NFL. Over the last 30 years, only Philadelphia's Bobby Hoying (4.29 yards per attempt in 1998), Cincinnati's Akili Smith (4.69 yards per attempt in 2000) and Washington's Mark Rypien (4.75 yards per attempt in 1993) have completed a season with fewer yards per attempt than Tannehill is currently at. In the seasons that followed, Hoying, Smith and Rypien would go on to start a combined eight NFL games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)
Unnerving stat for Bucs fans: If the defense continues at this pace, their opposing passer rating of 117.2 would be the worst in NFL history, more than six points higher than the 2008 Lions (only 0-16 team in NFL history).
For the fifth time since drafting Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, the Steelers started 2-1. They have made playoffs each previous occasion, including two Super Bowl wins: 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2011.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) at San Diego Chargers (2-1)
Toby Gerhart has 34 rushes and 82 yards this season, averaging 2.41 yards per rush -- second worst in the NFL (min. 20 attempts). Only two of those 34 rushes have been for 10-plus yards. Last season in Minnesota, Gerhart had 36 rushing attempts, 11 of which went for 10-plus yards.
Last week Donald Brown had 31 rushes for 62 yards (2.0 yards per rush). The running back had never previously rushed the ball more than 18 times. He became the third player in NFL history to have more than 30 rushes in a game and average 2-or-fewer yards per rush (Edgerrin James, Cardinals, 1.5 YPC 2006; Eddie Prince, Giants, 1.5 YPC 1951).
Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) at San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
Nick Foles is the only player in NFL with 300-plus passing yards in all three games this season. Four quarterbacks have started a season with four 300-yard games (five total seasons): Drew Brees, 2013; Peyton Manning, 2009 and 2013; Kurt Warner, 2000; and Steve Young, 1998. Each quarterback took his team to the playoffs in those seasons, and Manning took his team to the Super Bowl each of those two seasons.
In 2014 the 49ers are rushing on 44.8 percent of plays (10th in NFL). Last season San Francisco rushed on 52.5 percent of plays (most in NFL). Frank Gore has just 35 rushes for 139 rushing yards (4.0 yards per carry) and a touchdown in 2014. He has earned 100-plus yards rushing in three of the last four meetings against Philadelphia.
Atlanta Falcons (2-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-2)
The Falcons scored 93 points (46.5 PPG) in their two wins (NO and TB), but scored just 10 points in the loss at Cincinnati. That loss came to the former defense of now-Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
Last week Minnesota's rookie linebacker Anthony Barr compiled five tackles, a sack, two QB hits and a pass defensed. Neither of the two pass rushers selected ahead of Barr -- Jadeveon Clowney (No. 1 overall pick, injured) or Khalil Mack (No. 5 overall pick) -- have a sack this season.
New Orleans Saints (1-2) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
Tony Romo is completing 67.4 percent of his passes this season, which is on pace to be the second highest of his career (69.5 percent in 2010). Yet his passer rating is 86.1, which would be a career worst.
The Saints have lost five straight road games (seven of last eight). New Orleans has not lost more than six in a row since losing 14 straight from 1998-2000.
New England Patriots (2-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)
The Patriots' defense is allowing 272.7 yards per game cheap football jerseys wholesale (third in NFL). The last time the Patriots had a top-five defense was 2007, when they lost in the Super Bowl to the Giants, 17-14. Since 2003, the Patriots have had a top-nine defense (total yards) four times and have gone to the Super Bowl three of those years and the AFC Championship the other season.
The Chiefs are the only team in the NFL without a takeaway. Only two teams in NFL history have gone four games in a row without a takeaway: the 2013 Steelers and 2005 Texans. No team has ever gone the first five games of the season without a takeaway.