Week 4 in the NFL kicked off Thursday night in St. Louis as veteran running back Frank Gore led the San Francisco 49ers past the Rams 35-11. After losses to the Seahawks and Colts the previous two weeks by a combined score of 56-10, and news that star defensive end Aldon Smith would need time away to rehabilitate after a recent DUI, the season was beginning to unravel for the 49ers. The offense had been particularly shaky of late, but they returned to the run heavy attack they are known for and gashed the Rams for 219 yards on the ground. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was dynamic and efficient, and the 49ers got their season back on track with a convincing win.
The loss is the Rams’ third in a row, and they fall to a disappointing 1-3 on the season. After a hot start to the season the offense has struggled in the last two games, and the defense has allowed a 150+ yard rusher in back to back contests. Head coach Jeff Fisher says he’s disappointed and that the Rams have work to do.
The 0-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the 1-2 Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. After giving quarterback Josh Freeman the dreaded vote of confidence on Monday, Bucs head coach Greg Schiano changed his mind on Wednesday and named rookie Mike Glennon the starter. A former Pro Bowler, Freeman has really struggled this year; he’s completing just 45.7% of his passes and conjured up just a 59.3 quarterback rating, the worst in the league. The Bucs will turn to Glennon, a third round selection in April’s draft, in an effort to kick-start their disappointing season. Glennon says he’s worked his whole life for this opportunity and he is excited.
The 0-3 Jacksonville Jaguars host the 2-1 Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. The Jags are coming off a 45-17 beat down at the hands of the Seahawks, and will look to improve a run defense that is the worst in the league, giving up 167.7 yards per game. The other side of the ball it isn’t much better, but Blaine Gabbert returns to lead a unit that is currently last in the league in total offense. Head coach Gus Bradley says he wants to build on the success in the second half of last week’s game.
The Colts have a dynamic young quarterback in Andrew Luck, but are trying to establish themselves as a team with a powerful run-based attack. Fresh off an impressive win over the 49ers, they will look to get more touches for recently acquired running back Trent Richardson and top 100 yards rushing for the third consecutive week. Colts GM Ryan Grigson says getting Trent Richardson was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up.
In what could be the game of the weekend, the 3-0 Miami Dolphins travel to New Orleans to face the 3-0 Saints on Monday night. After out-dueling Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan the past two weeks, Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins are confident and optimistic about their next early season challenge. In his second season, Tannehill is completing over 66% of his passes and has led Miami to touchdowns in 7 of 8 red zone trips – including a one yard touchdown pass to Dion Sims to beat the Falcons with just 38 seconds on the clock. Tannehill says the game has really slowed down for him this year.
Other key matchups around the league include the 2-1 Houston Texans hosting the 3-0 Seattle Seahawks in what Ed Reed is calling a “Super Bowl preview”, the 1-2 Atlanta Falcons host the 3-0 New England Patriots on Sunday night, and the 2-1 Detroit Lions host the 3-0 Chicago Bears in an NFC North battle.
The Carolina Panthers and the Green Bay Packers are on bye this week; don’t forget to adjust your fantasy football lineups accordingly.