The NFL regular season is already a quarter of the way through. Week 4 provided us with some of the most exciting football yet. One possession games, last second field goals and overtime wins were all staples of Week 4.
Unfortunately, injuries were also a factor this week. A lot of high-level players went down with injuries, so even if your team got a win this week, questions might be looming.
In Atlanta, it seems like the scare was a brief one. After a hip injury kept Julio Jones on the sideline for the most of the game on Sunday, the Falcons have since reported that they expect the All-Pro wide receiver to be ready to go after the Falcons’ Week 5 bye.
In Oakland, they will have to keep their playoff hopes afloat without Derek Carr for a few weeks. After a great start to the season, the Raiders have dropped two straight and lost Carr against a tough Denver defense. Carr fractured a bone in his back and is expected to miss about a month.
In Seattle and Minnesota, the news is grim. Rookie running back Chris Carson was emerging as the best backfield option in Seattle. However, in the second half he suffered a broken leg and has been placed on injured reserve. Breakout star and Rookie of the Year candidate Dalvin Cook tore his ACL for the Minnesota Vikings during a big run against the Lions Sunday.
All key pieces, we are hoping for speedy recoveries for these dominant forces in the NFL.
From the trainer’s table to the playing field, here are my Tuesday Takeaways.
Week 4 Winners
Carolina Panthers – It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s just Super Cam, and he is just plain nasty. The former MVP faced questions all week that he had lost his form, his grip on the team and that the Panthers were pretenders even at 2-1. They suffered a disappointing home loss to the Saints, and then had to travel to Brady’s house at Gillette Stadium.
Analysts and experts predicted a blowout win for the Pats who had an epic comeback win in Week 3 and looked to be fully recovered from a Week 1 embarrassment against the Chiefs.
Cam Newton flipped the script on Sunday when he returned to MVP form. He had a better completion percentage, more yards and more touchdowns than Brady. Additionally, Newton showed up when it mattered most. After the Patriots trailed by 14, but tied it at 30 with just three minutes remaining, the game was setting up for another Patriots comeback.
Newton stayed poised and led the Panthers on a time consuming drive late in the game. A Graham Gano 48-yard field goal as time expired gave Carolina the win and landed them a spot on our Week 4 winners.
Houston Texans – Talk about a coming out party. Deshaun Watson has arrived. With 5 touchdowns against a division rival, the Texans have found themselves a leader. They have had a stout defense for years, but the quarterback position has been a question mark.
Watson was dynamic on Sunday. His arms and legs were equally effective, and the Tennessee Titans had absolutely no answer. He accounted for over 300 yards, and racked up 57 points. The point total was the largest in franchise history, as well as the highest margin of victory.
The running game with Lamar Miller was working well, and Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was in the mix as well. The AFC South is one of the most wide open divisions in the league. With three teams sitting at 2-2, Houston has to love their position especially with Watson getting better every week.
Week 4 Losers
Miami Dolphins – Things are going south in a hurry in South Beach. After a fortuitous Week 2 win, the Dolphins have slipped up in their last two games. They have been outscored 40-6 in their last two games. Granted, both were on the road, but it is not looking good with Jay Cutler running the show in Miami.
The offense has been hard to come by. Jay Cutler’s quarterback rating has dipped below 30, an abysmal mark for a starting QB. The running game hasn’t been effective either. Jay Ajayi hasn’t been able to get going, and with Jay Cutler joining the team so close to the season, the Dolphins offense has yet to get on the same page.
The New Orleans Saints picked them apart in London in Week 4. With a 20-0 win, the game was never in doubt.
Averaging less than 9 points a game, changes need to happen fast in Miami. They made the playoffs last season with pretty much the exact same team. If Jay Cutler can’t lead them to a win at home next Sunday, Miami will be in a free fall.
Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens started the season with an impressive 20-0 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. From there, it has been a bumpy road. They traveled to London and lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 44-7. In Week 4, first place was on the line in the AFC North, and the Ravens were hosting their biggest rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Ravens fell behind 19-0, and went on to lose, 26-9. The inconsistency is alarming for Joe Flacco and the offense. If the Baltimore defense isn’t making plays, the whole team suffers.
At 2-2, they are not out of the division and playoff race, but the results are alarming at this point. With no clear cut choice at running back, step number one will be to become more balanced offensively. In Week 5, they go up against the Oakland Raiders without Derek Carr, and will need to take advantage.
Week 4 Top Plays
We have to start with a Hall of Fame walk-off touchdown in Week 4. Depending on your brand of football, the San Francisco-Arizona game was either wildly entertaining or painfully boring. During regulation, each side tallied four field goals. Tied at 12, the two teams went to overtime. The San Francisco 49ers were in great position to pull off an upset after an eight minute drive that resulted in a field goal.
Trailing 15-12, Arizona had to act fast to come back and win. They went with their most reliable connection to get the job done. Carson Palmer threw it up and one of the best wide outs to ever play the game came down with it. Larry Fitzgerald for the win!
Up next is a spectacular game-sealing interception. Usually a wide receiver has an advantage for a jump ball late in the game. However, Denver’s stingy defense has athletes at every position. Without Derek Carr in the game, Oakland still had a chance to win late. EJ Manuel chose to go up top to the number one target in Oakland, Amari Cooper.
Unfortunately, Cooper didn’t come down with it. The acrobatic play by Justin Simmons sealed the win for Denver.
Week 5 Must-See Match Ups
Detroit Lions vs. Carolina Panthers – Two first place teams will square off in the NFC. Can Cam Newton back up his performance or will Matthew Stafford continue to solidify his MVP candidacy at home?
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Arizona Cardinals – The battle of the birds and the battle of the Carson’s. Carson Wentz is putting up big numbers in Philadelphia while Carson Palmer is nearing the end of his run in Arizona. This is a pivotal game for both teams.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers – In a rematch of an NFC Playoff game a year ago, the Packers and Cowboys are ready for this rivalry. Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott have incredible command of their respective offenses. Look for Ezekiel Elliott to the be the difference maker as Dallas has the much more diverse offense heading in to this match up.
Houston Texans vs. Kansas City Chiefs – The quest to remain undefeated continues during prime time on Sunday night. The Chiefs are 4-0 and are the only undefeated team left in the league. The Texans are in first place in the AFC South and are coming off of an impressive win at home that saw them put up 57 points.