We’re back, people. Your weekly look-around the NFL for the best performances, worst chokes, and most questionable prognostications.
If I didn’t mention your team this week, no worries. Good, bad, or meh, I’ll be getting to everyone in due time.
NFL Week 4
- Dallas is in deep, deep trouble.
With the transition to head coach Mike McCarthy, Cowboys fans hoped for a lightbulb moment that would shine into the darkness of the Boys near constant underperforming. What they’ve gotten is just more of the same futility. Dallas is sporting a tremendous passing offense, with Dak Prescott leading the league in passing yards (1690, unreal) but Zeke Elliot is struggling to break out (3.9 yards per carry) and that defense can’t stop anything. The Cowboys offense is second only to Seattle in points scored, but they’ve allowed a league-high 146 points through four weeks. Sounds a lot like the Buccaneers team that sent Jameis Winston packing in the offseason. I’m not sure what the problem is on defense, on paper it’s a talented roster that just hasn’t found any rhythm. Trouble is brewing when the Browns, I repeat, the Browns come to Jerry World and hang 49 points and 307 rushing yards on that defense. Look, the Browns aren’t as bad as you think, and OBJ had himself a DAY, but that’s still absurd. Listen, Dallas has the offensive horses to dig out of this mess, but I could easily see them winning the NFC East at 7-9.
- Tom Terrific had his Buccaneers coming out party
Not gonna lie. It looked bad for Tom-pa Bay there for a minute. The Chargers and their rookie QB were having a field day, up 24-7 close to halftime, when Ndamukong Suh stripped Joshua Kelley, and Devin White recovered. Three plays later, Tom Brady hit Mike Evans to keep the game alive, and anyone who’s watched football for the past two decades knows what happened next. Brady went off. He always does when he gets a second chance at a game. At the end of the day, Brady hit five different targets for touchdowns as the Buccaneers came from behind to win. I know I said that Brady couldn’t improve that defense, but maybe, just maybe, he’s got this team ready to rebound. If he can really get out of the bad interception habit. He’s had four pick sixes in the last six games, dating back to last season. He’s on pace for sixteen INTs this year, which would be a career high.
- Odell Beckham Jr. is back
It was starting to get a bit sketchy there for OBJ. Trade rumors swirling. Not much in the way of highlight reel fodder. Then the Browns went into Jerry World. And on a night that the Browns would hammer the run game to the tune of 307 yards, Beckham would have the best all-purpose game of his career. The flashy wideout caught two touchdown passes (including one from Jarvis Landry), but that wasn’t the real story here. The revelation was Beckham’s two rushes for 73 yards and another touchdown on a night when Browns rushing leader Nick Chubb went down in the first quarter. OBJ. Stepping up and doing whatever it takes to help the Browns get a win? Maybe, just maybe, the Browns are for real. Maybe.
- The Texans have had enough
If you ask me, the writing should have been on the wall the moment that Deandre Hopkins hopped on a plane to Arizona, but that’s just me. Houston wanted to see how things went early in the 2020 campaign before making a call on the future of head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien. Seems fair. Maybe. But the Texans early slate of games wasn’t exactly conducive to a winning record. In the first quarter of the season Houston played three playoff teams and two currently undefeated squads. First up, the Chiefs. Ouch. Bad start, but understandable. Kansas City has to start the season against someone. Next up, Baltimore. O.K. more bad luck. Next up, the Steelers, who barely missed the playoffs in 2019…without Big Ben…and are currently undefeated, leading the AFC North. (Grits teeth). Next was the straw that broke the camel’s back, a loss to Minnesota, who have struggled early this season, but were a wildcard team a year ago. I’m not saying that Bill O’Brien never had a chance, but this might be one of the most “understandable” 0-4 starts in the history of the NFL.
- Adam Gase can’t possibly make it through this season
Speaking of coaching hot seats… Back to back 0-4 starts. A roster that’s going backwards in almost every possible way. Le’veon Bell hurt. Sam Darnold looking more and more like a bust by the week. The Broncos sacked Darnold six times in week four, and you’ve got to assume that the dam is going to burst at any moment. Darnold has more interceptions than touchdowns at this point, and the defense allowed a patchwork Broncos team led by (checks notes) Brett Rypien to throw three interceptions but still put up thirty-seven points for a brutal home loss. Only Dallas has allowed more points than the Jets (131), but the Jets have also scored a paltry 65 points all season long, second worst in the league. It all adds up to a shockingly bad -66 point differential at the quarter pole, worst in the league. There’s a decent chance that the Jets and Giants will go to tiebreakers to see who gets to pick first in next year’s draft. Adam Gase can’t possibly be in the Jets war room when they’re on the clock.
- Golden Tate and Jalen Ramsey have some issues
Moments after the game ended, the fireworks began at midfield. It started with the two men, who had already shown some in-game sparks, and quickly engulfed the better part of both rosters. No one seems sure who actually threw the first punch, but this much is clear, these guys do not get along. There’s some family drama, as Tate’s sister Breanna has two children with Ramsey, and apparently that’s the crux of the discord. Whatever the cause, it’s not unlikely that the league will have something to say about a personal altercation that brought dozens of maskless and helmetless players and coaches face to face after the game was over.
- New England’s defense is a freeform nightmare
There’s a reason everyone in the NFL started looking around nervously when the Pats signed Cam Newton. Everyone knew that if Newton could mesh, even partially, into New England’s offense, things could get scary in Foxboro. What we saw on Monday night was proof positive that New England can reinvent themselves to stop anybody. That sixteen-point loss isn’t the story out of Arrowhead on Monday night. The Chiefs should have steamrolled a Pats team that travelled the same day with no viable quarterback. But Bill Belichick’s defense stifled Mahomes and the Chiefs for huge chunks of the clock and K.C was able to produce only two field goals before halftime. Mahomes managed only 229 passing yards the entire game. But for an uncharacteristic Devon McCourty drop and a too-early whistle, Mahomes would have had two interceptions on the day as well. Kansas City started off well enough, but in the second quarter, Belichick and the crew switched up the vibe and Mahomes struggled. He looked…dare I say…human. Average, even. For big stretches, you could forgive New England fans for having hopes of actually winning a road game in Kansas City. With Cam Newton in the Covid protocol and an obviously problematic backup situation, New England might not catch the Bills for the AFC East crown, but remember, there will be three wildcard teams per conference. Does anyone want to face this defense in January?
- Aaron Rodgers isn’t playing around
I’m just going to leave this right here, courtesy of his appearance on the Pat McAfee show, because the “bad man” isn’t playing any games this year. Defense or no defense, these Packers might go undefeated:
“I sometimes laugh when people talk about down years for me because a lot of times down years for me are career years for most quarterbacks.”
My dude just shaded literally every quarterback in the history of the league with very few exceptions. Get that man the first golden jacket ever awarded before retirement. And lookout if you need to play the Pack at Lambeau.
- The Rams look like…the Rams
I don’t want to freak anyone out, but the Rams look like they might be good again. I harbored suspicions that Todd Gurley’s reduced production was dragging the Rams precision offense back to down earth, and seeing what Los Angeles is doing with Darryl Henderson at running back has confirmed my suspicions. Through week four, the Rams are in the top ten in rushing yardage, and suddenly they’re back in the mix, playing in the NFL’s toughest division. L.A.’s lone loss was a close road loss to the undefeated Bills, and their wins are ALL against the NFC East, but the play action is working, Goff looks like Goff and the defense still has this guy named Aaron Donald. Listen, there’s still a lot of season left, including six brutal divisional matchups for the Rams, but don’t be surprised if they’re in the playoff mix.
- The Colts are under the radar, but probably not for long.
Philip Rivers is in town, but that might not be what makes the Colts interesting. Yes, the Colts have navigated a relatively easy first quarter, losing a divisional road game to the Jags, then cruising through the Vikings, Jets and the previously undefeated Bears to keep pace in the AFC South. What jumps off the screen to me is the defensive secondary, where Indy leads the league in interceptions (7), passing yards allowed (637), opponent passer rating (68.4), first downs allowed (35) and big plays (no plays longer than 40 yards allowed). Before you scoff at the competition, remember that Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew is in the top ten in passing yardage and completion percentage, and the Colts absolutely mangled Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins, holding him under a hundred yards passing and grabbing three picks. Tennessee might have the lead in the AFC South at the moment with their unexpected bye week, but don’t be shocked to see this revamped Colts team, led by a stingy defense, contending all season long for the divisional title.
For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.
Image Source: AP Images