Sep 22, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates following an NFL win over the Arizona Cardinals during a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Cardinals 31-7. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
New York Jets at Tennessee Titans: Defense rules the day
Jake Locker has probably been the biggest surprise of any of the quarterbacks so far in 2013. His game-winning touchdown pass against San Diego was proof of it. Geno Smith on the other hand has surprisingly played well for the New York Jets despite his obvious rookie shortcomings. Both quarterbacks though should expect the going rough in week four. Rex Ryan will make life difficult for Locker and the Tennessee Titans offense while Smith better learn to get the ball out faster against one of the better pass rushes in the league.
Final score: NYJ 13, TEN 16
Philadelphia Eagles at Denver Broncos: Chip Kelly ready to score
Points, points, points everywhere! Two of the top offenses in the NFL prepare to square off as the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning draw the Philadelphia Eagles and the fast-paced frenzy attack of Chip Kelly. Neither defense is especially suffocating with the Broncos fresh off allowing 21 points to Oakland and the Eagles wearing down late against a conservative Kansas City team. Offense it the clear identity of both teams and they will look to prove that . Denver must find a way to harass Michael Vick given their pass rush deficiencies while Philadelphia must find a way to clamp down on Manning’s receivers. Neither job is easy, which is why the scoreboard should get a workout in this one.
Final score: PHI 35, DEN 38
Washington Redskins at Oakland Raiders: Robert Griffin III breakout
A game that features two quarterbacks with the ability to run but are dealing with injury concerns. Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins is still working his way back from the torn ACL suffered in January and it has shown in his unwillingness to run as much as he used to. Terrelle Pryor for the Oakland Raiders meanwhile comes off a concussion suffered in week three against Denver. So it should be interesting if either team asks the quarterback to run by design rather than just scramble. Based on projections it seems RGIII is closer to a breakout having topped 300 yards passing every week. Neither defense is much to write home about either. Pryor will have home field, but Griffin has the better offense.
Final score: WAS 28, OAK 27
Dallas Cowboys at San Diego Chargers: Philip Rivers needs protection
Tony Romo has enjoyed a brief resurgence of the Dallas Cowboys running game but the real story is the effective job Monte Kiffin has done for the defense, particularly the pass rush. Fresh off knocking around Sam Bradford, they will get a crack at Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers. Rivers has played much better so far this season, tossing eight touchdowns to just one interception and not fumbling at all. A big part is him being able to get the ball out of his hands and getting good protections when needed. That will be tested by Dallas. If he can withstand the pressure, their 23rd ranked pass defense could become exposed and Rivers should take advantage.
Final score: DAL 30, SD 31
New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons: Brady vs. Ryan
At last somebody competent at their job might actually challenge the New England Patriots defense. After drawing two rookie quarterbacks and Josh Freeman in the first three NFL game, the Pats must go into the Georgia Dome against Matt Ryan and his high-flying Atlanta Falcons attack. That is the bad news. The good news is Tom Brady could get some help on offense with the return of Rob Gronkowski. Whether it is enough to silence the raucous Atlanta fans remains to be seen. Ryan and his outstanding receivers won’t let it get quiet easily.
Final score: NE 27, ATL 34
Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints: Tannehill in for a Brees lesson
Two of the more surprise success stories of 2013. The Miami Dolphins sit at 3-0 led by young gun Ryan Tannehill, proving their off-season spending spree was worth every penny while the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees welcome back Sean Payton in their return to contention. The big story for them though is the remarkable job Rob Ryan has done for the Saints defense, ranked dead last a season ago and suddenly in the top ten heading into week four of the NFL season. That unit plus a very loud Superdome should make life difficult for Tannehill, never mind the fact he must try to keep up with Brees and his always dangerous offense. With it being the first time on national TV for the upstart Dolphins, this is a tough challenge for them to overcome.
Final score: MIA 20, NO 35