Nick Kostos breaks down the five story lines to watch in Week 4 of the NFL season.
Tampa Bay and new starting QB Mike Glennon
The Buccaneers entered the season with playoff aspirations, but an 0-3 start has left the organization feeling desperate. With his seat getting warmer, coach Greg Schiano benched starting quarterback Josh Freeman in favor of rookie third-round pick Mike Glennon. Freeman had lost eight of his last nine starts and was completing less than 50 preseason of his passes on the season, and overslept for the team picture, a major no-no when you’re looked to as a leader. This was absolutely the right decision by Schiano, who could have lost the locker room if he kept trotting an apathetic and ineffective Freeman onto the field. On Sunday, the Bucs host the Cardinals, and all eyes will be on Glennon in his first NFL start as he attempts to save Tampa Bay’s season.
Either the Jets or Titans will start 3-1
Before the season, almost no one gave the New York Jets or Tennessee Titans a chance to make the AFC playoffs. Well, fast forward to Week 4, and the winner of their game on Sunday in Nashville will improve to 3-1. The Titans are coming off a last-minute victory over the Chargers, as quarterback Jake Locker directed the game-winning drive in impressive fashion. The Jets, thought to be one of the worst teams in football, have been very competitive, only losing to the Patriots by three points in Week 2. Their defense has been stout, and rookie quarterback Geno Smith has shown tremendous poise in the pocket. It’s stunning to think that one of these two teams will be 3-1 and a front-runner for an AFC wild card spot.
Can the 0-3 Giants, Redskins and Steelers save their seasons?
Three of the NFL’s most historic franchises — the Giants, Redskins and Steelers — have all started the season at 0-3, and absolutely must win on Sunday if they harbor any hope of making a run at the postseason. The Giants have the tallest order, playing at 3-0 Kansas City in front of what’s sure to be a raucous and bloodthirsty crowd at Arrowhead Stadium. Washington visits the Raiders, and the Steelers take on the 0-3 Vikings in London. Can these teams finally break into the win column, or will their miserable September continue with a slide to 0-4?
Sunday Night showdown between the Patriots and Falcons
Thus far this season, the prime-time slate of NFL games has severely disappointed. That should change this Sunday night when the Falcons host the Patriots. For 1-2 Atlanta, this is close to a must-win game, with division rival New Orleans sitting at 3-0. The Patriots are 3-0, but haven’t looked like the perennial juggernaut we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing. Can the Patriots prove that they’re an elite team, or will the Falcons improve to 2-2 and flash the form that made them the NFC’s top seed in 2012? It’ll be fascinating to watch.
Monday night battle of undefeated teams: Dolphins and Saints
Perhaps no team has been more impressive over the first three games than the Miami Dolphins. Miami won their first two games on the road, and then staged a last-minute, come-from-behind win over the Falcons last week, as quarterback Ryan Tannehill continued along the path to superstardom. For the Saints, they’ve played fantastic football since coach Sean Payton returned to the sidelines, getting the job done on both sides of the ball, a far cry from a season ago where their defense resembled a moldy piece of Swiss cheese. Can Tannehill match Saints quarterback Drew Brees pass for pass? Which team will move to 4-0? I can’t wait to find out.