Another week has passes us by in the National Football League. In Week 4, we saw some teams continue to impress in the early goings of this season as well as a vengeful Tom Brady make his season debut. Some teams continued to falter, further hurting their playoff chances. Here is what caught my eye in the week that was in the NFL…
Tom Brady is back with a vengeance
If you are a fan of the Cleveland Browns (like I am) Sunday was not the day for you. Cleveland, who dropped to 0-5 and remain the NFL’s last remaining winless team, had to face Tom Brady, who made his season debut. Brady missed the first four games due to a suspension stemming from Deflategate, was dominant in his first action since the 2016 AFC Championship Game. Brady finished the afternoon 28/40 for 406 yards and three touchdown passes, which were all to Martellus Bennett. He threw for 271 yards in the first half. He was also to get Rob Gronkowski going, as Gronk caught five passes for 109 yards, finally looking 100 percent. Bennett, who the Pats acquired in the offseason from the Chicago Bears, caught six passes for 67 yards with three of those catches going for scores. New England weathered the storm without Brady and now get him seemingly better than ever. Look out NFL, Tom Brady is back and is taking no prisoners.
Falcons hand Broncos first loss
Denver was one of three remaining unbeaten teams heading into Week 5. That is no more thanks to the Atlanta Falcons traveling to Mile High Stadium and handing Denver their first loss, 23-16. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones didn’t have the rapport they did a week ago, but that did not matter on this day. Ryan finished 15/28 for 267 yards and a touchdown toss. Jones was held to two receptions for 29 yards, but you won’t hear him complain. Devonta Freeman rushed 23 times for 88 yards and a score. Tevin Coleman, who’s availability was questioned heading into the contest due to sickle cell trait, rushed for just 31 yards but caught four passes for 132 yards, including a 31-yard catch and run from Ryan. Atlanta’s defense was ranked 30th coming into Denver, was made to look like a brilliant defense thanks to the Broncos starting rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch, who made his first-career NFL start. He finished 25/35 for 223 yards, a late touchdown and an interception. He was sacked six times and looked lost on the field, often misfiring or overthrowing his targets. Atlanta wasn’t being taken seriously despite being 3-1 heading into the game, but now they get some credit. If they can travel to Seattle this Sunday and defeat the Seahawks, they will be even more legitimized.
And then there was one
Atlanta defeated Denver and Detroit defeated Philadelphia to give those teams their first win of the season. Houston was not so lucky against Minnesota, as the Vikings improved to 5-0 and the last unbeaten team in 2016. Minnesota is 5-0 for the first time since 2009. The defense was once again masterful, limiting quarterback Brock Osweiler to 19/42 passing for 184 yards a score and a pick. Minnesota sent constant pressure to Osweiler and sacked him four times. They held Lamar Miller to 20 rushing yards on eight carries. The defense gets a ton of credit and rightfully so. Comparing the numbers from this year’s Vikings defense and that of the 1985 Bears defense, which is considered one of if not the best defense of all time, through the first five games is staggering. Minnesota is 5-0 and have allowed 12.6 points per game, sacking the opposing quarterback 19 times with 12 takeaways. Chicago’s ’85 defense led the team to a 5-0 record, allowing 17.6 points per game with 12 sacks and 17 takeaways. That speaks volumes to how good this Vikings defense is. Not only is the defense good, the offense does its part as well. Sam Bradford finished 22/30 for 271 yards and two touchdowns. What’s even more impressive is he was turnover-free again. Minnesota is just the second team since 1933 to start 5-0 without throwing an interception. The other team was the 1969 Rams. Minnesota is for real this season, ladies and gentlemen.
Philip Rivers deserves so much better
Time and time again, Philip Rivers does all he can to put the San Diego Chargers in position to win football games. This past Sunday, Rivers threw for 359 yards, four touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. After trailing by 10 in the fourth quarter, Rivers found tight end Antonio Gates for a touchdown with 6:30 left in the game. That cut the deficit to three. Rivers and company would get the ball back and Rivers would yet again put his team in position to tie the game. However, a fumbled snap led to a turnover and essentially another Chargers loss. All four of San Diego losses have come in unexpected fashion. They blew a 17-point, fourth quarter lead against Kansas City, fumbled on the final drive against Indianapolis, blew a 13-point fourth quarter lead to New Orleans and now this disastrous ending. On the season, Rivers has thrown for 1,469 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.
On the flip side, Derek Carr deserves a ton of credit. He led this team to their fourth victory of the season, passing for 317 yards, a pair of scores and a pick. He is the leader of this team and is proving why he is the franchise quarterback. So far, he has to be in the MVP discussions.
Carolina will not make the playoffs
Yes, there are still 11 games left to play, but Carolina is done. On Monday night, the Panthers fell to 1-4 after a 17-14 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Carolina was without reigning MVP Cam Newton who missed the game with a concussion. Derek Anderson threw for 278 yards, but had a pair of interceptions and a fumble. The Panthers are the seventh team in NFL history to start 1-4 after making the Super Bowl a season prior. If Newton can’t be on the field, their chances of making the postseason diminish. Even if he is on the field, the defense needs to play better. The loss of cornerback Josh Norman continues to haunt this team.
The Bucs got a game-winning field from Roberto Aguayo, who had previously missed from 33 and 46 yards. Aguayo is 4-8 on the season in the field goal department. This was the kicker the Bucs traded up to the second round to draft. So far, they aren’t getting what they paid for him.
The rookies lead the Cowboys, yet again
Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed 15 times for 134 yards and two touchdowns. He is currently the NFL’s leading rusher with 546 yards, better than 23 other teams in the league. Fellow rookie and starting quarterback (for now, anyway) Dak Prescott finished 18-of-24 for 227 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for a touchdown. He is now up to 155 pass attempts without an interception. Dallas beat Cincinnati 28-14 behind the rookie duo. Dallas is also the first team in NFL history to have a 1,000-yard passer and a 500-yard rusher through the first five games of the season.