As the NFL season approaches the Week 4 quarter pole, just five teams remain without a blemish on their record: Denver, Baltimore, and New England in the AFC; Philadelphia and Minnesota in the NFC.
For these undefeated teams, charging out to the 4-0 mark would represent a major step towards securing an eventual postseason berth, while a loss would bring them right back to the pack.
The Eagles have the week off with a bye, and as the Patriots have yet to finalize their quarterback situation heading into a divisional tilt with the Buffalo Bills (1-2), lines for that game have been posted sporadically at best.
But the three other 3-0 teams will take the field this week, and each faces a tough test against close competition according to online sportsbook Bovada.
The Ravens face the Oakland Raiders (2-1) at 1pm on Sunday, and Bovada has Baltimore as 3.5-point favorites. Both teams have experienced the opposite ends of the “feast or famine” philosophy this year, excelling on one side of the ball while faltering on the other.
For the Raiders putting points on the scoreboard seems to come naturally, and the offense is flourishing under Derek Carr, scoring 26.7 points per game. Unfortunately for Raider Nation, the scoreboard stays lit up when Oakland’s defense lines up, as that unit has surrendered 26.3 points per game.
In Baltimore, the offense led by Joe Flacco is only mustering 19.0 points per game, but head coach Jim Harbaugh has the defense playing with ferocity, and the Ravens are only allowing a minuscule 14.7 points each week.
At 4pm the defending Super Bowl champions play their first game of the year as favorites, when the Broncos head to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers (1-2). The bookmakers have finally seen the light, giving Denver a 3-point cushion after tabbing Denver and its world-beating defensive front as underdogs in the first three weeks.
Those games came against a trio of tough outs in the Panthers, Colts, and Bengals, however, and one can’t blame the books for lacking faith in quarterback Trevor Siemian. The kid has proven himself so far though, powering the Broncos to 28.0 points per game while managing the weight of post-Peyton expectations.
The Bucs, meanwhile, have disappointed early on, giving up 40 points to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2, before somehow letting the woeful L.A. Rams offense score 37 last week.
The Vikings play on Monday Night Football, and Bovada has this season’s Cinderella story as 4-point home favorites over the New York Giants (2-1).
Playing without starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater since the preseason, and superstar running back Adrian Peterson since Week 2, the Vikings have relied on a monstrous defense to keep their season alive.
Minnesota has given up just 13.3 points per game, including consecutive dominant outings against star quarterbacks. Last Sunday the Vikes stifled Cam Newton and the Panthers while allowing only 10 points, and two weeks ago they held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 14 points.
The Giants could very well be 3-0 themselves – after blowing a 21-9 second quarter lead to the NFC East rival Washington Redskins – and quarterback Eli Manning has excelled so far with 925 yards through the air.