NFL Week 4 Preview: Big matchups offer opportunity for separation

There are eight matchups in the NFL this week in which teams with records of 2-1 or better are pitted against each other. That should provide a slightly clearer picture of contenders as the league reaches its quarter pole. Of those seven games, four are divisional clashes, including Raiders-Broncos on Sunday afternoon. Which teams can create some separation as these races begin to heat up? (All games Sunday unless otherwise noted.)

Game of the Week: Redskins (2-1) at Chiefs (3-0), 6:30 p.m., Monday. This game features two of the NFL’s most electric playmakers this season in Washington RB Chris Thompson (12.9 yards per touch this season) and Kansas City rookie RB Kareem Hunt (league-leading 401 yards rushing).

Bears (1-2) at Packers (2-1), 6:25 p.m., Thursday. Chicago turned to its run game in overtime for a victory over Pittsburgh that was desperately needed, and kept the Bears within a game of the NFC North lead. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers is completing 66 percent of his passes through three games.

Saints (1-2) at Dolphins (1-1), 7:30 a.m. The Miami offense went missing last week in a perplexing 20-6 loss to the rebuilding Jets. Perhaps they can rebound in London against a New Orleans defense that is giving up 437.7 yards per game, the second-worst mark in the league.

Jaguars (2-1) at Jets (1-2), 11 a.m. Jacksonville’s defense has been a surprising force, and it struck again last week while limiting Baltimore to only 186 total yards in a 44-7 victory. The Jets were equally impressive in shutting down the Dolphins last week.

Steelers (2-1) at Ravens (2-1), 11 a.m. Baltimore QB Joe Flacco was awful in a blowout loss to the Jaguars in London (8-of-18 for 28 yards, two INTs) and Ben Rothlisberger wasn’t much better for the Steelers in their loss to the Bears. Whichever QB can rebound will have his team in first place in the AFC North.

Detroit (2-1) at Minnesota (2-1), 11 a.m. The Lions are an overturned-on-replay-review, last-second touchdown away from being undefeated. Now they are faced with slowing the league’s second-leading rusher in Minnesota rookie Dalvin Cook (288 yards in three games).

Bills (2-1) at Falcons (3-0), 11 a.m. With the Patriots looking mighty vulnerable on defense, does Buffalo have a shot to win the AFC East? The Bills could make a big statement with a win over an Atlanta team that is undefeated but far from perfect.

Panthers (2-1) at Patriots (2-1), 11 a.m. Carolina rookie RB Christian McCaffrey has yet to make a big impact in the run game (25 carries for 73 yards), but he’s averaging 9.6 yards per catch on 18 receptions. Brandin Cooks (10 catches for 256 yards) has been a major deep threat for Patriots QB Tom Brady.

Titans (2-1) at Texans (2-1), 11 a.m. If Tennessee RB DeMarco Murray (115 yards in a victory over the Seahawks) can continue to be a big-play threat in the running game, the Titans’ offense, led by Marcus Mariota, could be tough to handle.

Cincinnati (0-3) at Cleveland (0-3), 11 a.m. One of these teams will reach the season’s quarter pole with a victory. The Bengals would like to see a spark from rookie RB Joe Mixon. No Cleveland wide receiver has more than nine catches this season.

Rams (2-1) at Cowboys (2-1), 11 a.m. Los Angeles QB Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, has blossomed under first-year head coach Sean McVay. A victory over the Cowboys would make a statement that the Rams are real contenders for the NFC West crown.