Yahoo Sports NFL senior writers Terez Paylor, Kimberley A. Martin and Charles Robinson select games this week that will leave us buzzing heading into Monday.
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
Buffalo was my surprise team before the season, and now that they're off to a 3-0 start, I'm feeling really good about that pick. Now the Bills have an opportunity to show the entire league they're for real against the defending champs, and the player who has the most to gain is quarterback Josh Allen, who can shut a lot of people up by playing well against the NFL's best defensive mind (Bill Belichick).
On the flip side, if Allen plays poorly — and the Bills lose — it will be chum for those who do not believe in him or his team. Bills fans are dying for this team to be good, and with the game being played in Orchard Park, I expect a raucous environment. Should be a lot of fun.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson and the Ravens ran into their first big test of the season following their 2-0 start, but they came up short, losing 33-28 to Patrick Mahomes and the hosting Chiefs.
Now they return to M&T Bank Stadium where they’ll host the Cleveland Browns in an ever-important AFC North matchup. The Ravens currently lead the division, and with a win on Sunday, they’ll remain on top.
Meanwhile, the Browns hope to rebound from last week’s last-second loss to the Rams. If they’re to have a chance, they’ll need better production from Baker Mayfield, who has struggled during the early stretch of the season, and better play-calling from Freddie Kitchens, who has delivered some head-scratchers rather than the creative wizardry we saw down the stretch of last season as he took over as interim OC.
The Browns enter this game with plenty of motivation, and a defense that ranks top 10 in the league relishes the challenge of proving they can contain Jackson. However, the Ravens have motivation of their own. Safety Earl Thomas said he and his teammates have grown tired of hearing all the hype surrounding the Browns. A victory at home would go a long way to quieting such chatter.
Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints
There are quite a few interesting games this weekend, but I love the early measuring stick matchups. That’s what this is for the Cowboys, even with Drew Brees being sidelined for the Saints.
Dallas has scored at least 31 points in every game of its 3-0 start, but that’s against competition that is now sitting at a putrid 1-8 to start the season. Even without Brees, the 2-1 Saints don’t fit the roll call of cream puffs dispatched by the Cowboys thus far.
New Orleans will be a test in the Superdome, where the crowd always delivers a playoff-level feel early in the season. If Dallas is truly an upper-level NFC contender, this is a game it should gut out. But the Saints are still dangerous with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. They also enter this one knowing that a 3-1 start would set the table nicely for a very winnable slate heading into the Week 9 bye and Brees’ potential November return. All of which means someone is going to come out of this one feeling very good about themselves.
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