Michael Lavery looks back on a fantastic week four in the NFL.
It is that time of the week again. When Sunday’s madness has finally concluded, and the Monday/Tuesday mood is either elation or deflation. We shift from anticipation and excitement ahead of the games, to debriefs and breakdowns once they have finished. Some come away happy, others, not so much. Another entertaining week in the National Football saw upset victories and a brutal blowout – and of course the return of Tom Brady to New England (Just in case you hadn’t heard). With all that said, here are the key points from week four, enjoy!
Cardinals Shock Rams in Huge Win. They’ve done it again. Another week where we are all in disbelief of the Cardinals performance. The Arizona Cardinals put the League on notice this weekend after delivering a beat down on the Los Angeles Rams in Sofi Stadium. Kliff Kingsbury went to all corners of his playbook on Sunday as his team’s offense dominated on the ground and in the air. Kyler Murray, as he so often has done this season played a fantastic game – but not in the usual standard you have come to expect by running for a ton of yards. Murray managed the game fantastically. He delivered on tight window throws when he had to and spread the ball around well, keeping the Rams defense on their toes for the entire game. He found seven different receivers on the day with AJ Green (5 for 67 yards 1TD), DeAndre Hopkins (4 for 67 yards) and Maxx Williams (5 for 66 yards 1TD) all having close to identical stat lines. The run game was alive and kicking for the Cardinals as well. Chase Edmonds rushed for 120 yards on 12 attempts, but the scoring plaudits went to James Conner who had 50 yards on 18 attempts with two touchdowns. I feel like I’ve said this plenty this season already, but this is a statement win for the Cardinals. They are now the only undefeated team in the NFC and will be a tough opponent in the postseason if they can stay injury free.
New York Teams…. Won? So last week I wrote about how both New York franchises are in dire straits. I mean, they still are – But literally one week after I write: “New York is one of the two biggest markets in football and to have two teams which might be contending for the number one overall pick is a sad state of affairs and one that doesn’t look to be ending any time soon.” – They both won!
Now I don’t believe this is the turning point for these franchises nor do I believe any of their problems to date have been solved. I simply put this down to some weird glitch in the Matrix where these teams happened to get wins on the same weekend. It is funny in a way because, whilst it looks like they will still be in the top three or four, both teams may have just sacrificed their chances at the number one overall pick next season with the Jaguars looking like strong favourites to go back-to-back at first overall.
The Jets shocked pretty much everyone when the beat the Tennessee Titans 27-24 after overtime. Granted, the Titans had their number one and two receivers (Julio Jones and AJ Brown) out for this game and they also had a whole host of problems along their offensive line to contend with. But it’s the Jets – the Titans really shouldn’t have lost this game and it will be a sore one to get over in the days to come. Credit to the Jets however for digging deep and pulling out a performance that earned themselves the victory. Their defence registered seven sacks on the day as the stifled what little passing offence the Titans had left. Despite Derrick Henry running for 157 yards and a touchdown, the Jets defence bent but did not break on the way to their first victory.
The Giants win came on the road, in one of the hardest stadiums to play at on the road and over 400 days since fans were last in said stadium, on the road. That’s right, Daniel Jones and the New York Giants went to New Orleans and spoiled the homecoming party for Saints fans following their long-awaited return to the recently renamed, Caesars Superdome. In another overtime victory it was the team from the Meadowlands who prevailed. Saquon Barkley’s six-yard run in overtime took the ball into the coloured paint and secured the win for the G-men.
The Dallas Cowboys are a good football team.
Since losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the opening night of the season, the Dallas Cowboys have won three straight games. The narrowly beat a decent Chargers team before trouncing the Eagles and finally taking care of business in week four against a very solid Carolina Panthers defence. Dak Prescott threw for less than 200 yards but still delivered four touchdown strikes to four different receivers. The power running back tandem in Dallas has been working incredibly well this season and this week it was the turn of Ezekiel Elliot to take the plaudits. A monster game from Elliot saw him rush for 143 yards on 20 attempts and score one touchdown. On the other side of the ball, Trevon Diggs continues to intercept any ball that comes within a five-yard radius of him – he had another two snags on the day bringing his season total to an amazing five in four games. In terms of the NFC big picture, it would be naïve to exclude the Cowboys from the conversation of the first or second seed heading into the playoffs.
Buffalo Blowout – Again! For the second time this season, the Buffalo Bills defence shutout an opposing teams offence. Week two against the Dolphins and this weekend against the Texans. Now, this is no judgement against the Texans – they were playing a rookie QB in inclement weather, in Buffalo. That’s a tough gig for a seasoned vet never mind a rookie. The point here is, two shutouts in four weeks is impressive. The all-time season record for shutouts in a season is held by the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers who have five. The Bills have got the Dolphins again, the Jets twice and the Jags once still left on their schedule. Now… I’m not predicting it will happen, I’m just saying that the Bills have a schedule stacked in their favour if ever there was going to be a time when this record was equaled or broken. A fun one to keep an eye on!
Week five sees the NFL finally returning to London having missed last year due to the pandemic. The first of the two games at Tottenham Hotspur stadium is between the New York Jets and the Atlanta Falcons. I am more than excited to get to London and be around the NFL party atmosphere once again. If you’re going to the game, enjoy! If you’re going to be about London, hopefully we bump into each other. I’ll be rambling and documenting my weekend on Twitter @Michaellavery98 for those that care – And for those not going, enjoy the comfort of your warm homes and another “Seven hours of commercial free football!”