By Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y) and Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland)
Week 4 is done and dusted! It goes so quick! Before you get ready for the waiver wires in fantasy and don your NFL shirt to go to the Wembley game, here are the main stories to take away from last weekend’s action!
The New Monsters of The Midway
We knew going into the game at Soldier Field on Sunday that the strength of both the Vikings and Bears lied on the defensive side of the field. We left the game without a doubt that one of those defences is far superior to the other and that defence belongs to the Chicago Bears.
The loss of Vic Fangio has not led to any drop off as Chuck Pagano is marshalling a defence that is the most loaded in the league. On pace for 32 takeaways, 2nd in the league for sacks and 2nd in the league for pts allowed per game this unit as awesome.
Khalil Mack is obviously the star but bear in mind they did this Sunday without Roquan Smith and Akiem Hicks, the sky is literally the limit for these monsters.
He probably will not win it, but, Christian McCaffrey should be considered for MVP honours. Remember what MVP stands for? Is there any single player more valuable for their team than the Panthers running back?
Playing in a ridiculous 98.3% of the offensive snaps so far on the season, McCaffrey once again was the offence on Sunday. A career high of 37 touches produced 93 rushing yards on 27 carries and 86 further yards through the air on 10 catches. The all important touchdown was also produced inevitably by CMC as the Panthers improved to 2-0 without Cam Newton.
Carolina is proving it can survive without their grandma impersonating quarterback, they will keep everything crossed they don’t have to deal with life without #22.
Step Away From The Kliff Edge
Remember when we were excited to see what Kliff Kingsbury would bring to the NFL? A promise of an air raid offence, ran at speed that defences would have no clue of how to stop it.
Well that was the advert at least.
The reality? How do I put this politely? A bit of a snooze fest. Yes the Cardinals run a lot of plays, that is backed up by the fact Kyler Murray is averaging 42.5 pass attempts per contest so far in his short (no pun intended) NFL career. The problem is the lack of explosiveness, it’s all a bit too safe, a bit too dink and dunk.
Of course the problem for the Cardinals is that’s all well and good until you get behind on the scoreboard as was the case again this weekend. They are not built to play from behind and the supposed revolution is certainly yet to materialise.
Feed The Chubb
It took 4 weeks but the “real” Browns showed up in Baltimore. Powered behind a career day from Nick Chubb, Cleveland dominated the Ravens by a score of 40-25 to take the early lead in the AFC North.
Chubb gashed the Ravens for 165 yards and 3 scores on the ground and unsurprisingly with that level of production on the ground, Baker Mayfield looked the best has all season in this one. Jarvis Landry also has a career day with 167 yards receiving as the much talked about group finally produced.
All of a sudden things are looking up in NorthEast Ohio and the talk of Freddie Kitchens being in over his head and Baker Mayfield being overrated will be silenced for a week.
If the Browns continue with this formula they should be the team to beat in the division, as the saying goes “feed the Chubb and he will score”.
Vontaze- Far From Burfict
In quite possibly the shortest ever takeaway….. Goodbye and don’t ever come back! How on Earth this guy was made a team captain I will never know. His shot on Jack Doyle was disgusting and the league has rightfully acted by suspending him for the remainder of the season. Fingers crossed he never sees a field again!
Clever Trevor earns his Spurs
Staying with the Raiders, when the Green Bay Packers traded WR Trevor Davis to the Raiders after Week 2 the transaction barely made a ripple. Now it’s making a king size bar of Fruit and Nut.
In the first quarter of the Raiders Week 4 victory over the Colts Davis returned a punt one yard but remained on the field. Chucky must have been impressed by Davis’s running ability when he faced him in the 2019 pre-season, as he gave the former Cal star the handoff on first down. The result a spectacular 60 yard rushing touchdown and a 14-0 lead. Brought in as a return specialist Davis is no replacement for AB but he has an excellent opportunity to impress.
The development continues for Davis at Tottenham Hotspur’s new ground on Sunday against an opponent he will be very familiar with from his former NFC division. Davis may be a gadget player, but if he continues to make highlight package plays then we could see his role expand. Not a bad debut to make in Silver and Black.
Kerryon impressing please
Sid James, if he would have been a Detroit Lions fan, would have plenty of reasons to unleash his trademark cackle in years past at a moribund running game in the Motor City, but it’s all change now.
Once considered a laughing stock, and even cursed since the shock retirement of Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders, Detroit went a stupendous 70 games without a 100-yard game on the ground from an individual player. That was finally called to a halt in 2018 when Kerryon Johnson finally reached the century mark. Week 4 2019 saw Johnson have his third 100+ yard game in just 14 career contests.
If he remains injury free Johnson can establish himself as a top 10 NFL RB. 26 carries at almost five yards a carry against the Chiefs will be pleasing Coach Beardtricia. Johnson had been having a rough start to the season, failing to reach a ground-based half-century between weeks 1-3.
This game may not have resulted in a Lions win, but it shows Kerryon is reliable and on his way, if the climate controlled dome wind goes in his direction, for a 1,000 yard plus rushing season.
Somebody is melting away their window of opportunity
There is a QB who is second in the NFL in passing yards, has recorded four consecutive 300+ yard performances, is third in TD passes thrown and is completing over 70% of his passes. This is the same QB who leads the league in interceptions thrown and has managed a maximum of 24 points in four games to date. Stand up, or in the case of a rookie led offensive line, sit down on your backside Matt Ryan.
There is no denying Ryan is a savvy veteran passer who knows how to move the ball, is accurate, and calm in the face of pressure, but 1-3 is not what Falcons fans were expecting. Ryan was one period of greatness from a Super Bowl win just three years ago, and expectations were high coming into the 2019 season.
Ryan is being let down by a sub-par running game especially Devonta Freeman who is yet to find the end-zone through the ground or in the air, and is averaging a six-year career low 3.3 yards a carry. The Falcons have winnable games coming up, but they need the running game to mirror Ryan’s consistent output.
The irony of Matty Ice needing to warm up the rest of the team is not lost, but he needs to cut out the interceptions and quickly. When you have Julio Jones catching the ball you know there is a game-breaking threat available on any play.
The weapons are in place for a team to be performing better than the 1-3 record they currently boast at the quarter point, let’s just hope Ryan goes full Elsa in October.
More tanks than an aquatic superstore
The narrative before the season was that the Miami Dolphins would be tanking for Tua (Tagovailoa) and nothing has been done on the field to contradict that position. The only problem is there are three other teams vying for absolute dreadfulness and possibly a shot at the number one pick in the 2020 NFL draft.
The single most disastrous team in the NFC is the Washington Redskins, who gave their rookie QB Dwayne Haskins his first NFL regular season outing in Week 4. Poor Haskins looked out of place and frankly befuddled by a Giants defense that scares nobody. Three interceptions in relief of Case Keenum will be a hard debut game to forget for Haskins.
In the AFC the Bengals and the Broncos are also winless. At least Joe Flacco is helping Denver to be competitive. Devastating last second field-goal losses in Week 2 (v Chicago) and this past week against Jacksonville will be hard to cope with. In Ohio the Bengals are back bungling. The red rifle Andy Dalton has suffered 19 sacks in four contests and seems to be struggling making reads and avoiding pressure. Dare it be mentioned, but is it time to give fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley a shot in the stripy helmet before the mid-point of the season?
The Dolphins are still favourites to finish the season 0-16, but this is going to be a bizarre race to the finishing line with a Redskins team that will be matching Miami week by week for on-field inadequacy.
The fact they play each other in Week 6 will be entertaining, with the winner losing their grip on the keys to the tank.
Singing the praises of two superb secondaries
When you make Tom Brady look like a backup and hold a potential league MVP to no touchdowns then you need to be recognised for doing your job well.
Both the Buffalo Bills and the New Orleans Saints secondaries excelled in Week 4, one in a six-point loss and one in a two-point win. Perhaps the biggest single difference maker was the Saints third-year corner Marshon Lattimore who punished Cowboys number one WR Amari Cooper all day. Cooper caught a season low 62.5% of balls thrown his way, had his lowest yards per target (6) and was held under 10 yards a catch for the first time in 2019.
Often corners and safeties get recognised for big plays such as the Rams Marcus Peters who returned the pigskin to the house against the Buccs on Sunday just a few plays after being burnt alive by Mike Evans for a 60 plus yard score. However, it is the performance that might not show up on the individual’s defensive stat sheet, but is instead reflected in the game’s final outcome that is the true definition of excellence.
Between the Saints and the Bills secondaries we could be looking at a couple of All Pro’s and at least four Pro Bowl nods. When you hold Tom Brady under a 50% completion rate you deserve a cheer, and was it not for the injury to Josh Allen this could have been a week where secondaries clearly decided the fate of their team.
It’s no surprise the Bills and the Saints are both 3-1. This is a passing premium league, so if you can neutralise the primary threat you stand a good chance of being alive when it comes to January.