Week 4 was filled with comebacks, blowouts, undefeated teams losing, winless teams winning, and the usual heroics of every NFL week. After Week 4, we still have undefeated teams, we still have winless teams, we still know Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense will not be stopped, and we learned the Chargers are actually capable of making second half comebacks instead of giving them up. Let’s not waste any time:
Games of the Week
1) San Diego Chargers (2-2) – You didn’t think I would miss an opportunity to discuss my Chargers on a winning note first did you? Philip Rivers has been completely rejuvenated under Mike McCoy. This offense has had no trouble producing through Week 4, despite not having a go-to receiver other than Antonio Gates. Of course Rivers’s one interception on Sunday turned into six the other way. Otherwise, Rivers played a very solid game with a 401 yards, three touchdown performance. The Chargers defense shut out the Cowboys offense in the second half, a big time win for the Chargers who needed to find some confidence in the second half of games. In the Chargers first four weeks, they have faced three currently .500 or better teams. In the next four weeks, they play only one – Indianapolis
2) Dallas Cowboys (2-2) – The Cowboys played a remarkable first half defensively, while Tony Romo played cleanly and efficiently on the offensive side of the ball. The second half was a whole different story: the Cowboys gave up 17 points in the second half and were ineffective on offense despite their almost late-game drive that was shut down by the Chargers defense. The Cowboys secondary has been getting ripped this season, ranked 23rd in opponent passing yards per game. After giving up 400+ yards to Rivers in Week 4, Week 5 against Peyton Manning will be a true test of the mettle of this defense. Don’t expect much, because Manning hasn’t found a defense thus far this season that he couldn’t eviscerate
3) Seattle Seahawks (4-0) – I’m confident no one expected the Seahawks to be trailing 20-6 in the inception of the fourth quarter. They answered back by doing what only the best teams in the NFL can: win under unbelievable circumstances. The Seahawks defense allowed a massive 20 points in the second quarter, but shut out the Texans every other quarter. The Seahawks found true traction offensively in the fourth quarter behind Marshawn Lynch and an unbelievable interception return from Richard Sherman with only 2:40 remaining in regulation. The Texans failed twice to score in overtime and the Seahawks capitalized. The Seahawks are 4-0 behind the league’s number one defense. It wasn’t the way the Seahawks intended, but this was a huge win on the road. The Seahawks continue to prove themselves as the top dogs in the NFC
4) Houston Texans (2-2) – Tough, tough loss. Defensively, they held the Seahawks at bay until Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown at the 7:43 mark of the fourth quarter. Matt Schaub’s pick-six was not the defense’s fault, not to mention it’s the third game in a row this a Schaub interception has gone for six the other way. This is a game the Texans should have won, especially when after all the collapsing in the fourth quarter, they still had two opportunities to score in overtime. From the beginning of the second half, the Texans were held scoreless – including overtime. A costly interception that will haunt Matt Schaub for the rest of the season. This team still has plenty of promise, but with the Colts and Titans playing well this season, they will need to win these kind of games.
5) New England Patriots (4-0) – The winning culture in Belicheckville (Yeah, I said it) continues to thrive without some of their biggest offensive playmakers. Tom Brady continues to show that even with a tremendously young receiving core, he can lead them to regular season victories. Julian Edelman and Brady continue to connect while Kenbrell Thompkins is finding great success in the offense now after Week 4. Big win on the road for this Patriots team, building tons of confidence for a young team who needs it to play at a high level. The first four weeks for the Patriots have featured four opponents with sub .500 records. In the next four weeks, the Patriots will face three teams with plus .500 records (including undefeated New Orleans). Plenty of comfort room for some struggles though, especially with the likes of Gronkowski to be returning soon and hopefully Amendola
6) Atlanta Falcons (1-3) – It’s hard to look at this performance and say the Falcons weren’t competitive though. Matt Ryan, despite his one interception, played a very solid game and connected with Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones the whole game. The rushing attack continues to struggle without the presence of Steven Jackson and the passing attack misses the presence of a 100% Roddy White. The fifth ranked run defense for the Falcons gave up 132 yards on the ground and Tom Brady killed them through the air. The Falcons first four weeks have featured two currently undefeated teams through Week 4. The Falcons get the next three weeks against sub .500 opponents, expect a bounce back as the defense reaffirms itself and the team gets healthier. It’s been a tough stretch of games, but they’re due for some W’s
7) New Orleans Saints (4-0) – This offense is playing at a whole other level right now. This is the reincarnation of the 2009 Saints, of the 2011 Saints. The return of Sean Payton combined with the ability of Drew Brees is shining brightly once again. I can’t say enough about how undervalued Darren Sproles is on this Saints team by fans. This guy is absolutely pivotal to the success of this unique and powerful attack. 114 yards receiving and one touchdown plus 28 yards on the ground with another touchdown. He really does it all for this Saints squad. No one can stop Jimmy Graham right now, who netted two touchdowns and 100 yards receiving again. The Saints have had the luxury of playing three of their first four games at home, so now the road tests will start. This was a big win though after facing two downtrodden teams in the two previous weeks.
8) Miami Dolphins (3-1) – Yikes. Three interceptions from Ryan Tannehill and a lost fumble in Week 4 against the Saints. This was supposed to be the marquee matchup this week as two undefeated teams faced one another, but the Saints clearly established who was better. Miami’s run game didn’t even look too bad, but the Saints made sure the passing attack would see less success. Tannehill played a very poor game and was sacked four times with little help from the offensive line. The defense had no answers for Brees and the Saints who threw all over them. This was a beatdown of epic proportions, but the Dolphins play less fearsome competition than the Saints in weeks to come.
Ups and Downs
9) Cleveland Browns (2-2) – Well, the Browns receive an unrelenting amount of media attention saying they are taking the “NBA approach” and tanking for the rest of the season. Except, the Browns are undefeated since their trade of Trent Richardson (I like how I worded it too). The Browns were supposed to be mailing it in and have found great success behind backup quarterback Brian Hoyer who was 25-for-38 for 269 yards and two touchdowns in Week 4. The Browns defense forced two turnovers and held A.J. Green down the entire day, allowing only 53 yards. Only 63 yards given up on the ground as well. Willis McGahee didn’t see great production, but he didn’t need it when Hoyer played so efficiently. Jordan Cameron and Hoyer have found a very successful connection making the passing attack very threatening. We imagined it was a fluke last week against the then winless Vikings, but they did it against a quality divisional opponent. Next week they face Buffalo in what should be a game the Browns have a real shot in winning
10) Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) – Until the 4:54 mark when the Bengals allowed the Browns first touchdown of the second half, the defense kept this game within reach for Dalton and the offense. However, they couldn’t overcome the Browns defense and find rhythm. The rushing attack wasn’t there and Dalton struggled to connect with anyone as the Browns defense worked to eliminate A.J. Green, who was targeted 15 times and had only 7 receptions. The Bengals have been an up-and-down team through Week 4, and are now 0-2 on the road. They host the 4-0 Patriots in Week 5 in Cincinnati. Like their game against the Packers, Week 5 will be a game that helps us gauge if the Bengals are legit or not this season.
11) Washington Redskins (1-3) – For once, you can say the Redskins defense contributed after their Week 4 victory against the Raiders. Unfortunately, a Raiders team playing without Terrelle Pryor, who has breathed life into the offense, was the opponent. I won’t nitpick though, it was the first win for an ailing team. RGIII played efficiently, but it was nothing spectacular. This a big win for a team that had next to no confidence coming into Week 4. Panic must’ve set in after the Raiders netted a very quick 14 points in the first quarter, but the Redskins defense shut out the Raiders the rest of the game. The Redskins get a bye next week, something they will gravely need since their next four opponents are as follows: Cowboys, Bears, Broncos and Chargers. A good way to go into the bye though…
12) Oakland Raiders (1-3) – It’s hard to truly evaluate this team without Terrelle Pryor. Without Pryor, this is just another suspect Oakland squad. Flynn didn’t play poorly, but Pryor’s athleticism and ability helps an offense with few weapons function. It shows in its greatest form in the offensive line allowing seven sacks on Flynn who lacks the movement of Pryor. Defensively, they allowed one of the most repugnant offenses through Week 3 to find rhythm against them in Week 4. The loss of McFadden during the game forced the offense to struggle, especially considering the Raiders have heavily relied on rushing yards to fuel their competitiveness (ranked third in rushing yards per game prior to Week 4). The Raiders have the misfortune of playing in a division that has three teams playing at very high levels right now, including two undefeated squads. They’ll need to be hoping for a speedy return from Pryor
13) Minnesota Vikings (1-3) – The Vikings can finally breath a sigh of relief after netting their first win of the season. It’s still a long way up from here. Adrian Peterson looked phenomenal in Week 4, running for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Even without starting quarterback Christian Ponder, backup Matt Cassel led the Vikings to 248 yards through the air and threw two touchdowns. Greg Jennings flourished with Cassel behind center after having a quiet season thus far with Ponder starting. It’s not a huge win against a putrid Steelers squad, but a win is a win for a team that had fought three straight weeks and came out the loser. The Vikings schedule isn’t easy this season, so it will only get tougher from here. A little confidence goes a long way though
14) Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4) – One team had to leave Sunday with a one in their win column, Pittsburgh wasn’t that team. Adrian Peterson ran all over the Steelers, and they couldn’t handle Greg Jennings either. The Steelers were held to under 100 rushing yards again. This injury-plagued team is in a funk and even Big Ben has no confidence in the team. It’s a season that looks over for the Steelers after only Week 4. 3-6 in Red Zone attempts on Sunday, they had opportunities… just couldn’t capitalize
15) Chicago Bears (3-1) – While the Lions played very well, the Bears were their own worst enemy in Week 4. Three interceptions and a lost fumble for Jay Cutler, the kind of performance that makes a fantasy owner cry. Forte had a solid outing, but after the Lions scored 27 points in the second quarter, they had to abandon the run. The Bears had a busy fourth quarter, but it was too late to mount a real threat when they were so far behind. The defense was wrecked by Reggie Bush, but unfortunately they never had good field position to make a stand. We know the Bears offense is capable of weeks like this, but this was an important divisional game that will bear weight as the season goes on. The Saints are on the schedule for Week 5, so the Bears will need to clean up their act to keep up with Drew Brees and company
16) Detroit Lions (3-1) – The Lions played great at every capacity in their Week 4 matchup against the Bears. Defensively, they sacked Cutler three times, picked him off three times, and Ndamukong Suh forced a fumble on his second sack of the day. There isn’t enough you can say about how potent this offense is when Reggie Bush is healthy. His eighth year in the NFL and he is still electrifying. On only 18 carries, Bush ran for 139 yards and a touchdown. When Bush is out there, Stafford has a lot of pressure taken off of him and they can get their looks when they get them instead of having to force them. Turnovers were the story of the game and the Lions were on the right side
17) Arizona Cardinals (2-2) – This wasn’t a good game for the Cardinals. Palmer didn’t look good and the rushing game struggled again. There was very sloppy play that led to 90 yards from nine penalties. They struggled to reach the red zone and when they did they couldn’t finish. Patrick Peterson’s two big interceptions changed the game for the Cardinals and turned an awful game into a squeak-by win. At the end of the day, the game is 60 minutes long and you have to be on your game for all 60. The Buccaneers slipped in the closing minutes and the Cardinals took the W.
18) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4) – It’s the kind of a loss only a Buccaneers team filled with rumors and controversy could suffer through. Schiano called Mike Glennon to be the starter and benched Josh Freeman and then requested he be in the booth upstairs instead of on the sidelines. The relationship is officially torn, first because of Freeman’s unsanctioned interview, and now the responding move from Schiano. Schiano’s move to start Glennon almost bought him a little job security until his team blew it with three minutes remaining, with two back-breaking interceptions from Glennon. Doug Martin averaged a horrendous 1.7 yards per carry on 27 carries for only 45 yards on Sunday. This team just doesn’t have it right now. All signs are pointing to Schiano’s exit very, very soon
The Rest of ‘Em
19) Tennessee Titans (3-1) – Tennessee absolutely wrecked the Jets in Week 4, but the biggest storyline is the loss of Jake Locker. According to ESPN, it’s been said that Locker may miss anywhere from 4-8 weeks. This is a big deal for a team whose quarterback who has played very efficiently this season and has helped this Titans offense play at a high level to complement their defense. No interceptions and a quarterback rating of 99.0 so far this season, it’s a huge loss. The rushing game struggled against a powerful Jets run defense, but the Titans defense forced four turnovers. The Titans face the Chiefs, the Seahawks and then the 49ers in the next three weeks. Not a good time to lose your starting quarterback
20) New York Jets (2-2) – Besides Week 4, the Jets have hung around in every game. The Titans made sure they capitalized off of the turnovers they stole from Geno Smith. The defense continues to play well for the Jets, but Geno and the offense need to start helping them if this team wants to stick around in the AFC. Look, Geno Smith is a rookie and he is going to make rookie mistakes and I hope for their sake they understand that this isn’t the time to think of yanking him. Despite the mistakes, the Jets are still 2-2 and the offense hasn’t been bad (other than giveaways). They face Atlanta on Monday night next week and then the ailing Steelers in Week 6. Their schedule is relatively friendly so they still have plenty of opportunity while Geno grows
21) Denver Broncos (4-0) – Another masterpiece from Denver, another wrecking ball-like performance from Peyton Manning. This offense continues to prove they are lethal. They average an unbelievable 44.0 points per game, but let’s not call them the Super Bowl champions just yet. In the first four weeks, they’ve had 3 home games and faced no plus .500 teams. The four teams they’ve faced through Week 4 combine for a 4-10 record collectively. They’ll face two plus .500 teams in their next four weeks leading up to their bye week, but after the bye week they face seven currently over .500 teams in their final eight games. Enjoy the easy ones now because the ending will be their true proving ground.
22) Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) – For a team that is reeling right now, this was the worst team they could have asked to face. Manning and the Broncos offense eviscerated the Eagles defense. The Eagles defense allowed 31 points in the second half and had no answer for Manning and the Broncos. For once, Vick and the Eagles turnovers weren’t the issue. They just couldn’t stop the Broncos on defense or on special teams. The Eagles get two currently winless teams the next two weeks, hopefully some games they can win and build confidence on. If they lose these, this team is falling into a dark, dark place.
23) San Francisco 49ers (2-2) – Was this big win? No. Was this a big win in terms of reaffirming their confidence? Yes. The 49ers needed a game in which they found their groove like this Thursday night win against the Rams in Week 4. Kaepernick played well, Frank Gore looked 10 years younger, Anquan Boldin saw action for the first time since Week 1, and the defense stepped up. The reason you can’t get too excited was because it was against the Rams. The defense held the Rams to only 18 rushing yards, but the Rams had the NFL’s worst rushing yards per game in the league coming into it. They held the Rams to only 11 points, but the Rams rank 25th in points per game. The 49ers offense dropped 35 on the Rams, but the Rams are 28th in the league in points allowed – averaging over 30 points a game given up. I’m not trying to say the 49ers are bad, I’m saying you can’t buy into this win too much after how badly the past two weeks went
24) St. Louis Rams (1-3) – They are who we thought they were. They’re St. Louis and they’re still bad. As stated in the 49ers piece, the Rams are ranked dead last in the run. This team is desperately missing former running back Steven Jackson and his ability to establish the running game. Sam Bradford is really struggling to keep the team above water with little help offensively and a squad on defense who has proven to be lackluster. A game against Jacksonville next week should help them re-establish some momentum before heading into Houston for their Week 6 matchup
25) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4) – Speaking of the Jaguars, the team has only scored 31 points through Week 4. That’s an average of only 7.8 points per game, barely over a touchdown. This offense is on life support right now, and the team looks like it is closer to having the plug pulled than recovering. Jacksonville ranks dead last in offensive yards per game and ranks in the bottom three of passing yards per game and rushing yards per game. The defense has also allowed the third most points per game to opponents through Week 4/ An offense that ranks near the bottom in every category and a defense that can’t keep teams at bay means only one thing: this horrible season will only get worse.
26) Indianapolis Colts (3-1) – I don’t think anyone expected the Colts to have any trouble stomping the inferior Jaguars team in this Week 4 matchup. They didn’t disappoint after dropping 37 on them. It’s not really worth analyzing a win over the Jaguars since I don’t believe it really taught us anything more or less than we learned from the 49ers game. As an upper echelon team, you’re expected to win these games and they did. The Colts had a soft Week 4 and will face a murderer’s row of opponents in the next weeks to follow. Those teams? The Seahawks, the Chargers (Can’t I use them just this once?), the Broncos, and their divisional rival Houston Texans
27) Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) – Despite two turnovers from Alex Smith, the Chiefs barely flinched while handing the Giants their fourth loss of the season in the Week 4 matchup. Winning is becoming the culture in Kansas City and the Chiefs have yet to struggle. My only gripes with this game was that the running game saw little productivity for a game in which they led for so long and that they allowed Victor Cruz to find success against them in the secondary. Both are nitpicks and unnecessary, but I can’t just pat a team on the back and say great win! Still undefeated and going up against a strong Titans team in Week 5 who just lost their starting quarterback
28) New York Giants (0-4) – Nothing is changing except the number of the week in which they play. Another loss, another rough defeat, and another blow to the Giants’ confidence. Eli Manning threw one interception and lost two fumbles in another turnover plagued performance behind an awful team performance. Victor Cruz was targeted 16 times and nabbed 10 receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown – the lone bright spot in this performance. Besides the ailing offense, the Giants have given up 30 points to their opponent every week so far this season. I’ll keep saying it: the NFC East leading Cowboys still only have a 2-2 record. Mathematically, the Giants are nowhere near out. Realistically, this team looks like it’s allergic to winning
29) Baltimore Ravens (2-2) – Joe Flacco was sacked four times, threw five interceptions, and registered one of the worst regular season performances of his career. It’s hard to really pick on anything else in this game when the quarterback struggles so mightily to hold onto the football. Flacco was absolutely dominated by the Buffalo Bills defense. They almost found traction in a late game comeback, but the Bills held on for the victory. After a big time win against Houston last week, this was a very puzzling loss. The Ravens are proving to be a very up and down team this season and they perform much better at home. They go into Miami next week, but I expect a bounce back game from Joe Flacco and the offense
30) Buffalo Bills (2-2) – The AFC East continues on as one of the toughest divisions thus far this season, despite the Bills and Jets being completely discredited before the season began. The game ball goes to the defense in this one, as previously stated, five interceptions and four sacks on Flacco and completely shutting down the offense. Unfortunately, the Ravens almost mounted a comeback thanks to the ineffectiveness of the Bills offense. They don’t look menacing with an offense like this, but as I said about Geno Smith, Manuel is a rookie and needs time to grow. A 2-2 record with a rookie quarterback is nothing to scoff at
31) Green Bay Packers = BYE WEEK
32) Carolina Panthers = BYE WEEK
Week 4 Top Performers:
QB – Drew Brees: 30-for-39 with 413 yards & 4 TDs (Week 3: Peyton Manning)
RB – Adrian Peterson: 140 yards and 2 TDs + 60 yard TD run [Honorable Mention: Reggie Bush] (Week 3: DeMarco Murray)
WR – Victor Cruz: 164 yards and 1 TD + 69 yard TD catch (Week 3: Antonio Brown)
TE – Tony Gonzalez: 149 yards and 2 TDs (Week 3: Jimmy Graham)
Defense – Robert Mathis: 3 sacks, 4 QB hits, & 4 tackles (Week 3: Justin Houston)