Week four of the NFL season is already upon us, and it’s officially the quarter mark for teams that are playng their fourth game this weekend. Here are some tidbits to watch for as teams take the field this weekend:
1. Brett Favre and the Jets have an interesting game vs the Cardinals at home. Favre is not going to be 100 percent due to his ankle, and the team is coming off an ugly loss to the Chargers Monday night. How Favre and the team responds vs a much improved Cardinals team is going to be interesting.
2. How bad can things get for the Rams and Chiefs? Both are at home Sunday, and both are underdogs vs the Bills and Broncos, who both come into town at 3-0. It’s going to be a long season for the two clubs, yet while the Rams likely will at some point cut ties with Scott Linehan, it looks as if Herm Edwards will get a free pass since he’s admitted from day one that the Chiefs are rebuilding.
3. Unless there’s an unlikely tie – there will be a team in Ohio with a win come about 4pm Sunday. The Browns and Bengals are both 0-3, and both need a win in the worst of ways. Look for the Browns to rediscover the running game of Jamal Lewis vs a Bengals team awful vs the run. On the other hand, the Bengals will attack the Browns somewhat weak secondary. If Derek Anderson struggles, there will be a quick hook and we’ll see the first meaningful NFL action of former first round pick Brady Quinn.
4. Can the Falcons beat someone good on the road? That will be an interesting question in their Sunday showdown with the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina was run over by the Vikings last week, while the Falcons are a surprising 2-1 and playing well with new coach Mike Smith and rookie QB Matt Ryan. If they are to pull the road upset, they need a big day from brusing back Michael Turner and a defense led by stud John Abraham.
5. The best team in the AFC right now very well may be the Tennessee Titans, who entertain the Vikings Sunday. Tennessee has a solid defense, powerful running attack, and stability at QB with veteran Kerry Collins stepping nicely for Vince Young. If the Titans keep winning, and signs point to it Sunday, it will be hard for Jeff Fisher to give the ball back to Young even when he’s healthy.
6. No question that the “over” game of the week should take place at the SuperDome between the 49’ers and Saints. Both teams have shown flashes of high powered offenses, and the Niners defense is playing well, and should give the Saints a tough test. Speaking of tests, Niners QB J.T. O’Sullivan has passed them all at this point, and should be able to have a big day vs a suspect Saints pass defense.
7. Donovan McNabb goes home with a banged up offense vs a Bears team that has blown two double digit leads the past two weeks. Philly’s defense dominated the Steelers last week, and should bring the heat on Kyle Orton. The question will be can the Bears match the firepower of McNabb, who is sure to throw a lot (see Brian Griese), vs a Bears secondary that allowed a lot of yards last week.
8. The Cowboys are the best team in the league right now, but Sunday is a classic trap game vs division rival Washington. The Skins have been known to give them trouble over the years, and have looked much better in winning two straight. Even with that, the Cowboys will look to get Terrell Owens back involved more with the passing game, and Marion Barber and Felix Jones are a solid 1-2 punch at RB.
9. Matt Schaub is another QB that could be on a short leash if the Texans don’t get the offense turned around. Houston had a bunch of chances in the red zone last week vs the Titans, and didn’t do much, only scoring 12 points in a blowout loss. The team invested a lot to get Schaub, so if he keeps falling flat, they may have no choice but to go to Sage Rosenfels.
10. What can the Steelers do to protect their franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger? They had better figure it out, as the Ravens are going to bring the heat Monday night at home vs him and the team, and with no Willie Parker, Ben may be running for his life. In his last four games vs Baltimore, Ben’s been sacked an average of one of every six pass attempts. Not good for a team that feels they have a shot to contend in the AFC.