The Pittsburgh Steelers made a bold move Sunday when Coach Mike Tomlin pulled struggling quarterback Mitch Trubisky in favor of rookie Kenny Pickett.
Other changes this week are born of necessity. The Miami Dolphins are 3-1, but quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will not play against the Jets as he deals with a concussion or perhaps two. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott still can’t grip a football well enough to play after he had hand surgery, so Cooper Rush will start again against the Los Angeles Rams. And Bailey Zappe will make his first career start for the New England Patriots against the Detroit Lions with Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer hurt.
Elsewhere, keep an eye on Atlanta’s Marcus Mariota, Houston’s Davis Mills, Carolina’s Baker Mayfield and Washington’s Carson Wentz as other quarterbacks whose jobs may not be entirely secure.
With so many games coming down to the wire — through four weeks, 50 of 64 games have been within one score in the fourth quarter — Tomlin might not be the only coach to try for a quick midgame fix. Last year, three teams (the Patriots, Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles) rebounded from 1-3 starts to reach the playoffs, and the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers advanced to the conference championship games after 2-3 starts. It’s not too late.
Here’s a quick look at the schedule for Week 5.
All times Eastern
Colts (1-2-1) at Broncos (2-2), 8:15 p.m., Amazon Prime: Nathaniel Hackett’s Denver team leads the league in penalties with 37. But both of its victories have come at home, so the Broncos have that going for them in the battle of teams led by veteran quarterbacks (Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson) who switched from their longtime teams in the offseason. Indianapolis running back Jonathan Taylor will not play because of an ankle injury.
Giants (3-1) vs. Packers (3-1) in London, 9:30 a.m., NFL Network: For the first time in 32 NFL games in London, there’s a matchup of two teams with winning records. But Aaron Rodgers, who has more turnovers (five) this season than he did all of last season (four), thinks the way Green Bay is winning — going into overtime against Zappe, who had a higher passer rating than Rodgers in the Packers’ escape against New England — “may not be sustainable.” With Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor hurt, New York is in need of help at quarterback. There’s only so much Saquon Barkley can do.
Steelers (1-3) at Bills (3-1), 1 p.m.: Pittsburgh is now Pickett’s team, which means he will face a stretch of games that, after Buffalo, features Tampa Bay, Miami and Philadelphia. Last week, he became the first quarterback with multiple rushing touchdowns in the first game of his career.
Chargers (2-2) at Browns (2-2), 1 p.m.: Los Angeles’s Justin Herbert is tied with Andrew Luck for the most games (19) with 300-plus passing yards in a quarterback’s first three seasons. Maybe his injured ribs are feeling better because he passed for 340 yards and two touchdowns (113.2 passer rating) last week.
Texans (0-3-1) at Jaguars (2-2), 1 p.m.: Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence lost four fumbles last week, the most in a game by any quarterback since at least 1991, according to NFL research.
Bears (2-2) at Vikings (3-1), 1 p.m.: Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson has the third-most 100-plus-yard receiving games (17) in a player’s first three seasons since at least 1950. Randy Moss and Odell Beckham Jr. each had 19. The Bears are doing something no team has done since 1977: averaging fewer than 100 passing yards per game (97.5).
Lions (1-3) at Patriots (1-3), 1 p.m.: Something has to change for one of these teams. Detroit’s three losses have been by three, four and three points. As for New England, let’s go to CBS analyst Tony Romo: “The Patriots — they can turn this around. They could run off four or five in a row. I really see this team being able to do that.”
Seahawks (2-2) at Saints (1-3), 1 p.m.: Seattle’s win in Detroit was the first game in NFL history with a 48-45 final score, so maybe its mantra should be “let Geno cook.” Geno Smith leads the league with a 77.3 percent completion percentage, and his passer rating of 108.0 ranks third.
Dolphins (3-1) at Jets (2-2), 1 p.m.: In an oddity that nonetheless worked out for the best, Zach Wilson, who recovered from a knee injury to make his season debut and take his job back from Joe Flacco last week, became the first quarterback in Jets history with a touchdown catch. Veteran Teddy Bridgewater is expected to make his first start for the Dolphins in place of Tagovailoa.
Falcons (2-2) at Buccaneers (2-2), 1 p.m.: Forget whether there’s any kind of injury to Tom Brady’s shoulder, because he wouldn’t tell anyone if there were. Tampa Bay’s defense was a concern after it gave up its most points (41) in the past three seasons Sunday night against Kansas City, and the running game needs to help a quarterback who shouldn’t be passing 52 times a game whether his shoulder is aching or not. Against Atlanta, Brady will try to avoid his first three-game losing streak since 2002.
Titans (2-2) at Commanders (1-3), 1 p.m.: Washington has trailed at halftime in 23 of 37 regular season games under Coach Ron Rivera. Pressured on 31.7 percent of his drop-backs in the first three games, Wentz was pressured on 40.9 percent last week against Dallas.
49ers (2-2) at Panthers (1-3), 4:05 p.m.: Under Matt Rhule, the Panthers have a 1-26 record when an opponent scores 17 or more points, and they have lost 24 of those games in a row. The former Baylor and Temple coach finds himself on the coaching hot seat just as, conveniently, several major college jobs have opened.
Eagles (4-0) at Cardinals (2-2), 4:25 p.m.: Beware the second quarter, when the Eagles — now a Super Bowl favorite — have caught fire, outscoring opponents 85-14 over four games. With Jalen Hurts operating the same offense for the second year in a row (giving him a “mental Rolodex,” according to Coach Nick Sirianni), Miles Sanders became the first Eagles player to rush for more than 125 yards and score two touchdowns since LeSean McCoy in 2013, and A.J. Brown is the only player in the league with at least five receptions and 65 yards in each game this season.
Cowboys (3-1) at Rams (2-2), 4:25 p.m.: There’s no quarterback controversy, but there’s no reason to rush Prescott back to action, either, because Rush is the first Cowboys quarterback to win each of his first four career starts.
Bengals (2-2) at Ravens (2-2), 8:20 p.m., NBC: Paging Joe Mixon. The third-leading rusher in the NFL in 2021, the Cincinnati back has tumbled to a tie for 21st in the league with 224 yards on 82 carries (with one touchdown), and Cincinnati is averaging 3.1 yards per run.
Raiders (1-3) at Chiefs (3-1), 8:15 p.m., ESPN, ESPN Deportes: In the 67th game of his career, Patrick Mahomes became the fastest quarterback in history to pass for 20,000 yards, passing Matthew Stafford’s 71-game mark and doing it with his customary razzle-dazzle. In four games without Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs’ offense has scored 15 touchdowns and been forced to punt 12 times.