Which 3-0 NFL Team Is Likeliest to Lose in Week 4?
Seven NFL teams currently boast a 3-0 record heading into the fourth week of the season. These teams range from the surprising Kansas City Chiefs to the dominant Seattle Seahawks.
All seven of these teams have earned their undefeated standings and look to be sure-fire contenders for the remainder of the season. However, at some point, something has to give. For one of these teams, that could be this week.
So, which 3-0 team is likeliest to relinquish its undefeated record in Week 4?
That would be the New England Patriots.
The Patriots' Sunday Night Football matchup pits them against the 1-2 Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome, where quarterback Matt Ryan has a career record of 34-5.
On the surface, it may seem odd that a one-win team is likeliest to unseat an undefeated team this week. However, looking deeper into the matchup, it makes complete sense.
Atlanta has opened the season with a very tough schedule. The two losses it has suffered came at the hands of the New Orleans Saints and the Miami Dolphins—two of the seven current undefeated teams.
Despite the losses, the Falcons took their opponents down to the wire on both occasions.
Against the Saints, Atlanta drove down the field and Ryan attempted a game-winning touchdown pass with less than a minute left in the game. It was tipped and intercepted by Roman Harper.
Last week, the Dolphins drove down the field against the Atlanta defense late in the fourth quarter. With only 38 seconds left in the game, quarterback Ryan Tannehill tossed a one-yard touchdown pass to Dion Sims to seal the game for Miami and give the Falcons another heartbreaking loss.
With that said, Ryan has been off to a hot start for the Falcons. Through three games, he has completed 81 of 119 pass attempts for 909 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 100.4.
The weakness of the Falcons has been their defense. It is currently allowing 24.7 points per game, which ranks 19th overall. It is also giving up an average of 375 yards per game, which is good for 23rd overall.
The Patriots are far better in these statistical categories, raking second and eighth, respectively. However, their opposition has been far from impressive.
During the first two weeks of the season, the Patriots struggled somewhat, winning games against the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets by a total of five points before dismantling the inept Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3.
These three teams rank 20th, 26th and 31st in the league in total points scored, respectively. Not necessarily the toughest competition.
Perhaps what's even more surprising has been the ineffectiveness of Tom Brady throughout these contests. Brady has completed 73 of 127 pass attempts for 653 yards, five touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 79.4. His passer rating ranks him just 24th in the league.
The lack of success that Brady has experienced so far in 2013 is not entirely his fault.
Same injury report as yesterday. Amendola and Gronkowski were limited. I remain at full strength.— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) September 26, 2013
To add insult to injury, newly acquired weapon Danny Amendola and versatile running back Shane Vereen have been shelved due to injuries of their own. That leaves Brady with two rookie wide receivers in Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, along with the inexperienced Julian Edelman to work with.
Without experienced targets on the Patriots offense, Brady has been visibly frustrated.
Stevan Ridley and the running game have not helped Brady either. Ridley has been forced to carry the entire load after the loss of Vereen. He has not been able to rise to the challenge, as he has carried 36 times for 121 yards, averaging a mere 3.4 yards per carry.
He has yet to score this year, but has lost one fumble so far.
That leads us to the impending matchup on Sunday Night Football.
Which undefeated team is most likely to lose in Week 4?
On the defensive side of the ball, the Falcons will be able to take advantage of the one-dimensional Patriots offense.
Without a solid running game, Atlanta will be able to concentrate on rushing the passer, which will continue to make life difficult for Brady and his supporting cast. Constantly pressuring Brady will allow ball hawks such as former Patriot Asante Samuel to flourish.
If Atlanta's offense can get off to a fast start and get an early lead, it could be difficult for the Patriots to rebound given their inexperience.
This matchup looks to be in favor of the Falcons across the board. Between the firepower of Atlanta and the injury-riddled Patriots offense, the writing is certainly on the wall.
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