As The Middle Of The Season Approaches, Teams Begin To Take On Their True Identity.
Week 4 of NFL action started to show who are the contenders, and who are the pretenders. Although there are still may questions to be answered in this young season, here is what to take away from the week 4 action.
Miami Dolphins 7 @ Cincinnati Bengals 22
Ryan Tannehill has outworn his welcome in South Beach- To be fair it isn’t all his fault, but after having a great season in 2014, Tannehill just hasn’t produced the way the Dolphins thought he would. This team is a mess right now and there is a chance the Dolphins could be looking to move on from him if his production doesn’t improve.
The Bengals offense lives and dies through A.J. Green- This isn’t a knock, since Green is one of the best receivers in the NFL today. In the Bengals two wins, Green has 22 catches for 353 yards and two touchdowns. In their two losses, he has 10 catches for 115 yards and zero trips to the end zone. Pretty obvious the Bengals need Green to be on the top of his game to remain competitive in the AFC North.
Indianapolis Colts 27 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 30
If the offensive line keeps playing the way they are, the Colts $140 million dollar investment will only been seen in a hospital room- Andrew Luck did everything he could to win the game for the Colts in London. He mounted a late and furious comeback, but it just wasn’t enough. Luck was sacked six times in this game, and he won’t be pulling off many W’s if the offensive line has him running for his life the entire game.
Change of scenery did the Jags good- All the Jaguars needed was to take a little vacation to London. This was a big victory for the Jaguars because it was a team win. There was offensive and defensive highlights in this contest. Going into the bye week on a high note should do wonders for them going forward. The early bye week can sometimes be discouraging, but the Jags are banged up and welcome the bye week with open arms.
Carolina Panthers 33 @ Atlanta Falcons 48
Word is in, the Panthers miss Josh Norman- Might be the most obvious takeaway from the action in week 4. The Panthers are off to a disappointing 1-3 start this year, and the main difference is the absence of Josh Norman in the defensive backfield. The most obvious point? Julio Jones wouldn’t have had 300 yards receiving against Josh Norman.
Nothing new with the Falcons; all offense, no defense, no problem- Once again, the Falcons high-powered offense won them another game. They now have a two game lead in the NFC South, and with that offense, they may just have what it takes to win the South. Imagine if they learn to play defense. Next week will be an interesting match up as the Falcons take on the Denver Broncos. Top offense vs. top defense will be fun to watch.
Oakland Raiders 28 @ Baltimore Ravens 27
The Raiders are one of the few teams who were supposed to be better this year that have actually lived up to the hype- Yes, it’s true the Oakland Raiders are relevant again. They have actually lived up to the hype, and the offense is thriving. The defense showed signs of life in this contest, and if they can come through, this will be a scary team. Most impressive part of the Raiders 3-1 start is that all three victories have been on the road.
The Ravens could reach the next level if they started like they finished- Seems like harsh words for a team that just suffered their first loss of the season and are tied for first place. The Ravens have played fairly well, but in three of their four games this season, they have had to play from behind. This time, it resulted in a loss.
Detroit Lions 14 @ Chicago Bears 17
Golden Tate’s struggles are directly effecting the Lions- What is up with Golden Tate? He has struggled mightily to start the season. With the running game suffering due to injuries, Tate needs to step up. It even appeared Tate was benched for portions of this contest, even though head coach Jim Caldwell insist he wasn’t.
Jay Cutler has played his last game in a Bears uniform- Brian Hoyer has filled in nicely in his two starts for the injured jay Cutler. So well in fact, that the Bears at this point would be crazy to go back to Jay Cutler. Hoyer has thrown for over 300 yards and scored two touchdowns in both of his starts. Yes, in the game against Dallas last week most of his stats came when the game was all but over already, but he hasn’t thrown an interception yet, and with Cutler’s track record with turnovers, Hoyer has been a welcomed change at quarterback in the Windy City.
Tennessee Titans 20 @ Houston Texans 27
Titans got the trade of the off season- DeMarco Murray won the rushing title in 2014, then had an off year in the Chip Kelly style of offense. With Kelly gone, the Eagles decided to trade Murray away, so someone would take on his contract. The Titans stepped to the plate and all they had to do was move down 13 spots in the 4th round of this years draft. Murray has been productive through week 4 with 340 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, as well as 156 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Has to be the move of the off season so far.
With all the talk being about Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller this off-season, it been another player who has been the Texans’ MVP- The Texans are off to a 3-1 and there has been a new face that has been dazzling. It hasn’t been guys that have been with the team like J.J. Watt or DeAndre Hopkins. Hasn’t been prized free agents Osweiler or Miller. although both have played well. It’s rookie Will Fuller who has been all the Texans hoped he would be and more sporting 323 yards and a pair of scores receiving. He also had a punt return in week 4 for a touchdown that broke a 20-20 tie in this contest.
Buffalo Bills 16 @ New England Patriots 0
Rex Ryan has now out coached Bruce Arians and Bill Belichick in back to back weeks- After seemingly being on the hot seat after losing to the New York Jets, Rex Ryan has out performed two great coaches and has a pair of wins to show for it. The Bill shut out the Patriots this week, and Rex may have saved his job. For now.
The Patriots made it through Tom Brady’s suspension in first place- Yes, the Patriots may have lost this past week, but with their star quarterback suspended for the first four weeks of the season, the Patriots still find themselves in first place in the AFC East. With the Jets struggling and the Bills starting off up and down, could the Patriots front office have asked for much more? Oh, and Brady is playing with a chip on his shoulder. Probably not a good sign for the rest of the league.
Seattle Seahawks 27 @ New York Jets 17
Jimmy Graham is finally getting his groove back- After a down 2015 with the Hawks, most people felt that Jimmy Graham would never return to a shadow of his New Orleans days. After back to back 100 yards games though, it looks as though Jimmy Graham may be the answer to a Seahawks offense that was struggling this season offensively. If Russell Wilson hits his late season groove similar to last year and Graham is part of it, look out.
The mistakes need to stop for the big green turnover machines- May be corny, but it is true. With the Jets defense vastly under performing, and the offense giving the ball away like Oprah giving away cars on an anniversary show, not only will the Jets not beat the tough teams on the schedule they are in the middle of playing, they won’t beat anyone.
Cleveland Browns 20 @ Washington Redskins 31
Nothing new with the Browns- Week 4 followed the Browns 2016 trend. Flashes, keep it close, don’t finish. Mix in the middle turnovers and some bad luck, and you have a recipe for the Cleveland Browns. Have to say still wondering how the referees in this game or the NFL officials that backed the refs sleep at night after awarding the Redskins the ball after the Duke Johnson fumble. Typical Browns luck.
If the Redskins running game can find consistency, the whispers about Kirk Cousins will disappear- The quarterback gets all the glory and receives most of the blame. It’s the nature of the business. After the first two games not only were fans calling for Cousin’s head, but some of his teammates were as well. Two victories later, things have settled down, but on Sunday Cousins didn’t exactly light up the stat sheet, only throwing for 183 yards. No one really seems to care though as the Redskins ran the ball at will and picked up a victory. if the Redskins can establish the running game, Cousins doesn’t have to try and do too much and make senseless mistakes.
Denver Broncos 27 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7
Paxton Lynch looked good in his NFL debut- Broncos starting quarterback Trevor Siemian hit the turf hard in this contest and didn’t return, giving rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch a chance to play in this contest. He looked pretty good throwing for 170 yards and a touchdown with a passer rating of 94.1 in the Broncos blowout win. He didn’t play enough for the Broncos to consider starting him over Siemian, but he did prove he is the quarterback of the future.
Chris Conte needs some bench time to reevaluate himself- The Buccaneers pass defense has been nothing to write home about all season, and a major part of that is the play of Chris Conte. Take week 4 alone, if he wasn’t chasing after a receiver that had gotten behind him, he was committing a pass interference penalty. He has been the weakest link to a struggling unit. The Buccaneers need to do something about their pass defense, and fast. Benching Chris Conte may be a good start.
Los Angeles Rams 17 @ Arizona Cardinals 13
The Rams are rolling and it isn’t a fluke- The defense has been good for the most part, and the offense is doing just enough to keep them in games. After a rough opening day loss to the 49ers, the Rams have been taking care of business. They may not have the firepower to keep up with the Seahawks in the long haul, but their defense will be strong enough to keep them competitive throughout the season.
Things went from bad to worse for the Cardinals- After a immensely disappointing start to 2016, the Cardinals find themselves in a world of trouble after just four games. True the Cards have plenty of time to turn their season around, but with the Seahawks and Rams rolling the last place Cardinals are seeing their Super Bowl dreams diminish in front of their eyes. Doesn’t help that Carson Palmer saw his week 4 game cut short by a concussion, and if he has to miss time, it could bury the Cards.
New Orleans Saints 35 @ San Diego Chargers 34
The Saints defense forced late turnovers to give the Saints the win- Week 4 saw Drew Brees put up numbers outside his norm, was bailed out by the defense late in this contest. When you see the Saints scored 35 points, normally Brees would have over 300+ yards passing, but he only threw for 207 yards in this contest. The Saints could pull out some games this season if the defense finds the way to give the offense scoring opportunities, especially since the defensive play as a whole is causing the offense to need 35+ points to pull out a victory.
The Chargers have to find a way to close out games- The Chargers are 1-3 this season, and could very easily be 4-0. They had leads in every one of their games in the closing minutes in ball games, and blew all of them. Not a good stat, as made obvious by their record. If they don’t figure out how to close out games, it’s going to be a long season.
Dallas Cowboys 24 @ San Francisco 49ers 17
No Dez, no problem- Even without the presence of Dez Bryant on the outside, the Cowboys are finding ways to win. Unlike last year, no Romo, no Dez, no problems. The emergence of Dak Prescott and his fantastic ability to protect the football has been the reason why the Cowboys are playing great football. Dak has a true test this week in the Bengals, but there is a chance that Dez could play this week.
The media is on alert, Colin Kaepernick is waiting in the shadows- After an impressive opening day victory, the 49ers have dropped three straight. Blaine Gabbert threw for under 200 yards with one score and one pick in week 4, and it’s only a matter of time before Kaepernick will see the field as a starting quarterback once again. Wonder if anyone will talk about anything other than his anthem protests?
Pittsburgh Steelers 43 @ Kansas City Chiefs 14
The Steelers were not happy about last week- Le’Veon Bell came off of suspension to provide the Steelers with more firepower, and after the disappointing loss last week at the Eagles, the Steelers were all business. Ben Roethlisberger threw five touchdown passes, two to Antonio Brown, and the Steelers looked untouchable against a decent Chiefs squad. Watch out AFC, after a week off against Philly, the Steelers look as dangerous as ever.
After the defense showed up huge last week, they didn’t show up at all in week 4- What a difference a week can make. After producing eight turnovers against the New York Jets a week ago, the defense apparently decided to take week 4 off. To be fair it wasn’t just the defense that took week 4 off, it was the entire team, and the Chiefs got waxed as a result.
New York Giants 10 @ Minnesota Vikings 24
Odell Beckham Jr. needs to get his emotions in check- Two weeks in a row now the cameras have caught OBJ throwing temper tantrums. This is a huge distraction to the team and needs to stop. OBJ says he isn’t having fun playing football anymore? Try letting your play talk for you rather than throwing fits and whining about it. The New York media and fans eat people who act like this up, especially when their teams isn’t winning.
New week, same takeaway- Week 4 for the Vikings just reconfirmed what was already stated last week. This is a Super Bowl caliber team. The Vikings are the best team in the NFC, even without Adrian Peterson. Next week they face another tough test, but the game that has to be circled on the schedule right now is in week 7. A date with the Philadelphia Eagles after their bye week is going to be a great game. Who would have thought this game could be a preview of the NFC Championship game?