Can you believe we’re a quarter of a way done with the NFL regular season yet? While I love football just as much as the next person, I always thought following such a short schedule makes the school semester fly by. That’s probably just me though.
As more events happen as the year goes on, it gets much more difficult to pick out only five takeaways every week. There is a ton going on, but I do try and pick out the ones that I feel 1) are most important and 2) mean the most in the long run. So what did Week 4 bring us?
1. PHILLY GETS THEIR WINGS BACK IN GREEN BAY
Exactly one week ago, one of my major takeaways was how the injuries to the Philadelphia Eagles were the main cause of their slow start. Despite this, I picked them to upset an undefeated Green Bay team on the road, and thank you sweet Jesus they pulled through with a clutch 34-27 victory.
Holding off Aaron Rodgers, who had a vintage game, the Eagles were able to utilize its two-headed monster at running back with Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders. The duo combined for over 150 rushing yards and simply ran roughshod all over a Packer’s D which until that point had looked like an elite unit. Not everything was rosy for Philadelphia, as cornerback Avonte Maddox was knocked out cold after a scary helmet-to-helmet hit in the fourth quarter. Thankfully, Maddox appears to have escaped major injury, but it’s another loss for a team that is losing more bodies than the Philadelphia crime family.
The Eagles return back home next week to take on a well-rested Jets squad that will most likely have Sam Darnold back and may be able to pull off an up- sike.
2. ARE WE SURE THE RAVENS ARE GREAT?
I understand this may be an overreaction that will come back to bite me on my behind, but let’s dissect this. I’m not saying the Ravens are a BAD team, but did we all jump the gun on them being in the same class as the Chiefs and Patriots in the AFC?
Lets briefly recap their year, shall we? They dismantled Miami to start the year (like any other team would do). One six points separated themselves from Arizona the following week, and then they have lost consecutively to the high-powered Chiefs offense and then Cleveland this past Sunday. While their offense has been humming, the same can’t be said about the other side of the ball, which has given up an average of 30 points per game over the last three weeks.
Lamar Jackson and the offense will keep this team in contention, but it’s worth keeping an eye on if they can score enough to compensate for their leaky D.
3. OH MY-LANTA!
Sunday brought us a matchup between the two hardest to read teams in the league when the Titans of Tennessee traveled to the ATL to take on the Falcons. What transpired was a convergence of shock and familiarity when the Titans won handily 24-10. Forget Tennessee’s nice win for a moment, and realize the unfortunate reality that this Atlanta team is past its peak.
Matt Ryan had a big game throwing for nearly 400 yards, and I’m still a fan of their secondary. Everything else though has been nauseating. Devonta Freeman’s play has left them with no running game, they have a bottom-3 pass rush unit in the league, and most of all, Dan Quinn looks lost out there. His play-calling has been shoddy, to say the least, and he simply seems like he doesn’t have the same fire leading this team then in the past.
When we talk about the first coach being fired this year, the likes of Jay Gruden and Doug Marrone come to mind. If the Falcons fall to 1-4 next week at Houston, Dan Quinn could very well be a sneaky wild-card to throw into that mix.
4. A BRUCE ARIANS SPECIAL IN LOS ANGELES
This was a game that left my jaw on the floor. I mean, I know the Rams’ defense isn’t perfect, but 55 points!!?!? AT HOME?!?!?!?
In what is most likely the best game of Jameis Winston’s career, the Buccaneers met the high-powered Rams in what many (including yours truly) thought was going to be a mauling. To Tampa Bay’s credit, Bruce Arians made sure his team wasn’t still reeling from the devastating loss to the Giants a week earlier. Winston threw four TDs, Chris Godwin had a god-like performance, and they just kept their foot on the gas pedal, leading the entire game.
Was this simply an aberration? Probably. If they hang another 50 on New Orleans next week I’ll eat this article. However, never doubt the magic Bruce Arians can make happen when all things align.
5. SHOULD DREW BREES RETURN AS A BACKUP?
I’m kidding, I’m kidding. What’s scary about this Saints team is that they look almost, if not just as, good without him as evidenced by a 12-10 win over previously undefeated Dallas Sunday night.
Obviously, you would prefer to have a top-5 QB in the game in for your team, but Teddy Bridgewater is doing what is needed of him: move the ball down the field and limit turnovers. He had a fluke interception in the first quarter, but after that, he did a superb job managing the game the rest of the way. The Saints failed to score any touchdowns, but Will Lutz nailing all four of his field goals was enough for the victory thanks to a stifling New Orleans defense.
Both of these teams are still at the top of the NFC, but the Saints showed that they have a slight edge over everybody else.
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PICK
LOS ANGELES RAMS (3-1) vs. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (3-1) (-1.5)
Despite the Seahawks impressive start to the season, I find it hard to believe that if the Rams weren’t just emasculated by Tampa Bay, they’d be favored by at least a point on the road. Nonetheless, this should be a heck of a game that could have major playoff implications down the road. Russell Wilson has been sensational this season, while Jared Goff has gotten off to a very slow start. Los Angeles has won the past three games versus Seattle, with Todd Gurley running amuck every single time. Toss in those nuggets with the extra motivation from Goff to bounce back and put the Bucs loss behind them, I like the Rams to pull out a close win.
THE PICK: Rams (+1.5)