By Brendan DeVenney
The Dolphins get shutout, the Jets win another game, Deshaun Watson electrifies the Texans, and New England falls again. Those are some of the few storylines that Week 4 of the NFL season brought to us. Setting the ongoing story of the national anthem protests aside, let’s look at what happened around the NFL this weekend.
Let’s first start off by looking at the London Game this week, where we saw New Orleans shutout Miami, 20-0! It was the first time the Dolphins have been shutout since 2013 where the Bills defended home field, 19-0. Jay Cutler, thus far in his first three games wearing the orange and teal, has not lived up to the hype. He completed 20 of 28, throwing for only 164 yards and, obviously, zero touchdowns. Cutler has not been himself in a very long time, and this experiment down in South Beach may be over sooner than we expected.
We now head to New York where by a God-given miracle, the New York Jets are 2-2! They got their second win of the season by knocking off another surprising team in Jacksonville, 23-20! This game saw two struggling franchises put on some interesting football. Blake Bortles, who is somehow currently leading the top team in the AFC South right now at 2-2, only threw for 140 yards and one touchdown. That’s mainly because you saw the rookie in Leonard Fournette rush for 86 yards on 24 carries, and also catch for 59 yards and Jacksonville’s only offensive touchdown. Their other TD came from an 81-yard fumble recovery returned for a touchdown by the second year linebacker in Myles Jack. But even with that awful offensive play by Jets’ QB Josh McCown and his receiver Bilal Powell, it wouldn’t cost them the game. McCown, a year out from playing starter and backup for the Browns, actually didn’t play that poorly, throwing for 224 yards on 22 for 31. New York was also complimented by a solid run game from Powell, running for 163 yards and a first quarter touchdown. Who knows what’s happening in New York, but they’re doing anything but tanking this season.
Now down to Texas, where Houston needs so many reasons to have some type of hope. Well, Deshaun Watson, the rookie out of Clemson, is giving Houstonians just that. The National Championship quarterback put up 57 points on Tennessee in Houston’s second win of the season! The Texans rolled to a 57-14 win over the Titans and Watson made Bill O’Brien look like a genius at what he does. Watson threw 25 of 34 passing for 283 yards and 4 touchdowns. He connected with former Notre Dame WR Will Fuller just four times but twice for a score, and hit up with fellow Clemson Tiger DeAndre Hopkins for 107 receiving yards and the games second touchdown. Lamar Miller also ran the ball efficiently for Houston, running for 75 yards and six points. It was an electrifying show at NRG Stadium on Sunday as Watson might just be the next superstar QB in the NFL.
However, one superstar quarterback that couldn’t pull out a win on Sunday was veteran Tom Brady. In a rough start to the season for New England, the Patriots find themselves sitting at 2-2 heading into their Thursday night affair at 2-1 Tampa Bay. New England went into a dogfight with now 3-1 Carolina on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The Panthers were up 17-16 at halftime, but then jolted out to 23-16 lead in the second half, putting the pressure on Brady. Cam Newton of Carolina had himself a must needed stellar performance, throwing for 316 yards on 22 for 29 passing and 3 touchdowns. If you had him on your fantasy team, lucky you. New England’s defense of Malcolm Butler, Patrick Chung, Trey Flowers, and Devin McCourty, among others, just had no answer for Carolina’s offense. And that’s the reason New England lost the game. Brady didn’t have any help from the other side. The five-time Super Bowl champ threw for 307 yards on 32 for 45 passing and 2 touchdowns, but it just wasn’t enough.
Some other headlines surrounding Week 4 included Buffalo improving to 3-1 on the season with a 23-17 upset of the defending NFC Champion Falcons. Bills QB Tyrod Taylor didn’t even have an impressive outing, only throwing for 182 yards on 12 for 20 passing and a touchdown. Basically to some this one up, Buffalo played the field goal game with three three-point field goals from Stephen Kauschka (including a 56-yarder), while Atlanta constantly coughed up the ball. Matt Ryan threw two interceptions, and Tevin Coleman, Andre Roberts, and Ryan himself all fumbled the ball. You’re not going to win a ballgame when you give the ball up five times.
Also, after Week 4, we have one more undefeated team remaining, and that is the 4-0 Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs were able to survive the Washington Redskins (2-2) at home, 29-20, on Monday Night Football. Washington had the lead, 17-14, late in the third quarter, but then both teams would play the field goal game in the fourth with Harrison Butler nailing three huge second half field goals to eventually put Kansas City up 23-20 with 8 seconds left in regulation. And then with 4 seconds to go, the Redskins would fumble and Justin Houston of Kansas City would return the fumble for the game clinching touchdown. Alex Smith had a phenomenal night on national television, throwing for 293 yards on 27 for 37 passing, with one touchdown. Kareem Hunt ran for 101 yards and Travis Kelce caught for 111 yards and a score. It was a good night if you had any three of those guys starting for your fantasy team.
Bottom of the Pile Club
After Week 4, we have four winless teams left. Cleveland, after losing to Cincinnati 31-7, LA Chargers, after losing to Philadelphia 26-24, NY Giants, after losing to Tampa Bay 25-23, and San Francisco, after losing Arizona 18-15. I look at those four games and three of them were close, with LA, San Fran, and the Giants not playing like losing teams. The Browns on the other hand just seem to be getting worse as the season progresses.
The biggest injury of the week comes out of Oakland where quarterback Derek Carr suffered a fracture in his back against Denver in the Raiders 16-10 loss. This sets the Raiders back even further now at 2-2 getting ready to face Baltimore next week, and that won’t be an easy game without your starting quarterback.
Minnesota’s running back Dalvin Cook will miss the rest of the year with torn ACL he suffered in the Vikings’ 14-7 loss against the Lions. Before his injury he had ran for 354 yards on the year and just 2 touchdowns.
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. is back on the inactive roster after he dislocated his right pointer finger in the Giants’ loss to the Buccaneers. This comes weeks after returning in Week 2 after he suffered an injury to his right leg in Week 2 of the Preseason.