Seahawks (2-2) at Bengals (4-0)
1 p.m.Line:Bengals by 3
Could this be the year that the Bengals finally break through to become more than a team that is good enough to make the playoffs but never advances? (Cincinnati is 0-6 in the playoffs under Coach Marvin Lewis, who is in his 13th season.) So far in 2015, this sort of progress seems entirely possible.
Leading the leap forward has been Andy Dalton, who has gone from a good quarterback to a very good one, a player who can make the big plays that win games. Dalton has completed 67.2 percent of his passes through four games for 1,187 yards, with nine touchdowns and only a single interception. His 123.0 passer rating dwarfs his previous career high, 88.8, in 2013. Dalton’s evolution mirrors the team’s growth. Coincidence? Probably not.
The Seahawks, the defending N.F.C. champions, were 0-2 out of the gate, but their defense looks to be back to form after the return of safety Kam Chancellor. Chancellor’s impact could not have been more apparent than it was at the end of Monday’s game against the Lions, when he forced Calvin Johnson to fumble the ball just before he could cross the goal line for what would have almost certainly been a decisive touchdown. Opponents are averaging just 3.86 yards per play when Chancellor has been on the field, and 6.02 when he has not.
On offense, quarterback Russell Wilson returns to his hometown to face a tough Bengals defense after being sacked six times by the Lions in Week 4. He may be without the injured Marshawn Lynch once again.
Rams (2-2) at Packers (4-0)
1 p.m.Line:Packers by 9
The Rams are perplexing, and have been for a couple of seasons, losing games they should have won or, as they did last week against Arizona, pulling out victories when they should have lost. The Rams handed the Cardinals their first loss of the season, and they will be trying to do the same thing this week in Green Bay, where the Packers have won 11 in a row and have looked unbeatable at times.
If the Rams win, you can bet that their pass rush will have played a significant role. St. Louis has a front four that seems capable of rattling Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has not thrown an interception at Lambeau Field since 2012.
The Rams’ offense is suddenly dangerous, too. Running back Todd Gurley is showing signs of being the player he was in college before blowing out his knee. Add to that a corps of explosive receivers capable of making big plays, and you have a recipe for an upset.
Saints (1-3) at Eagles (1-3)
1 p.m.Line:Eagles by 4
It is never a good sign when a hashtag calling for your firing goes viral. But that is precisely what happened to Eagles Coach Chip Kelly last week when #FireChipKelly took the Internet by storm after a loss to the Redskins. Speculation about Kelly’s future and questions about his competence are running rampant in the news media. The NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin directed a shout-y monologue at Kelly, essentially imploring him to make some changes to his system for the sake of the team’s future, and the Philadelphia-area writer Buzz Bissinger went so far as to call Kelly “a fraud.”
“I think he should be fired after the season,” Bissinger said in a radio interview. “I think it’s clear now the gimmick is over and coaches have figured it out.”
Not working in Kelly’s favor is the fact that quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints looked as if they might be getting things back on track. Sure, their thrilling overtime win in Week 4 came against a mangled Cowboys team, but this one does not appear to be a lock for the Eagles as much as it seemed just a couple of weeks ago.
Broncos (4-0) at Raiders (2-2)
4:25 p.m.Line:Broncos by 5
While the Raiders-Broncos rivalry has been one of the most competitive of the last few decades — with the Raiders holding a 60-49-2 advantage, including playoff games — the Broncos have owned the series in the Peyton Manning era, outscoring Oakland, 222-85, in the course of six rather easy victories.
While the Broncos appear poised to compete for the A.F.C. title, the Raiders present an interesting matchup. Quarterback Derek Carr has made tremendous strides, and Amari Cooper is on a pace to have one of the best rookie seasons any wide receiver has had. If Cooper continues at his current pace, he will finish the season with 96 catches and 1,356 yards. Still, Cooper is not happy with his performance thus far.
“There’s always room for improvement,” he said.
Redskins (2-2) at Falcons (4-0)
1 p.m.Line:Falcons by 7 ½
Although the Falcons have jumped out to a 4-0 start, looking like a different team under their new coach, Dan Quinn, not everyone in Atlanta is happy. Specifically, the star wide receiver Roddy White seems disturbed to be doing more blocking than catching in a system installed by the Falcons’ new offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan.
“For me, at the end of the day, I want to catch passes,” White told ESPN, adding forcefully and coarsely that blocking was “not what I want to do.”
White later tried to dial back his comments, but he was excused from practice Wednesday for personal reasons and rumors were swirling that the team might be trying to trade him.
On the other side of the field, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, fresh off a game in which he directed the winning drive in the waning moments, praised Shanahan, formerly Washington’s offensive coordinator, for his role in his development.
“I learned a lot about football in the two seasons with him,” Cousins said.