Tuesday, October 4, 2016

2016 - 17 NFL Week 4 Review

London Game - Jacksonville 30, Indianapolis 27 - Even though I had predicted a Jacksonville upset win, I was still a little surprised that the Colts actually let this happen, given the high stakes. Indianapolis is, presumably, the toughest challenge that the Houston Texans will receive within the division in the race for the title, but the Colts certainly are not looking good at all thus far. They have not been able to get any consistency, and this loss drops them down to 1-3, placing them in a last place tie with the Titans and Jaguars, and with Jax now holding a tiebreaker advantage, at least for the time being. For Jacksonville, this was a huge win that restores some hope for a season that was quickly spiraling out of control prior to this first victory of their season.

Houston 27, Tennessee 20 - While the Colts blew a chance to separate themselves a bit from some fellow divisional opponents, the Texans had the same opportunity and took care of business.  They did not blow out the Titans, but they were able to pull out the win, something that the Colts failed to do out in London. The Texans right now hold a two game lead over everyone else in the AFC South, and this was a nice rebound from the embarrassment that they suffered at the hands of the Patriots. As for the Titans, they will have to endure losses like this, but genuinely seem to be getting better and more competitive week after week, don't they?

Seattle 27, NY Jets 17 - This game pretty much went as most people surely would have expected, as the Jets dropped their second straight. They might have enjoyed home field advantage, but the Seahawks just proved to be too much for them, with a stifling defense, and an offense that, while not exactly explosive, is very effective at what they do: grinding it out and controlling the ball, the clock, and the tempo of the game. The Jets were simply powerless to stop this rising behemoth of the NFC, who are beginning to resemble their formerly powerful selves of a few years ago, when they were Super Bowl championship material. As for the Jets, this is another setback, and they are treading dangerously close to this being a disappointing season once again, after the tremendous promise that they showed last season.

Washington 31, Cleveland 20 - In a weekend of upsets, you might think that the Brownies could catch a break and get their first win of the season, right? Wrong. Cleveland could not pull it off, and they were beaten by a rejuvenated Washington team that seems to be feeling their oats, suddenly. The Browns, by virtue of this loss, their fourth straight to start the season, are now the only team remaining in the league without a victory. For Washington, this brings them right back into the NFC East race, tied with the Giants and one game behind Dallas, although the Eagles remain unbeaten for now.

Chicago 17, Detroit 14 - The Bears finally managed to stop their bleeding in a season that was already getting uncomfortably close to a disaster, even though this is only week four. They were winless, flirting with an 0-4 start, and having lost their starting quarterback and just looking atrocious. This was not the type of win that would restore any hopes of a playoff run, but it is nonetheless their first win, and against a divisional opponent. For Detroit, this third straight loss after some really promising glimpses earlier in the season has to be most disheartening, as it looks more and more like the Lions will suffer through another disappointing season. They really were the better team going in, and should have found a way to win this game against a reeling ball club.

Buffalo 16, New England 0 - On a weekend filled with upsets and surprises, this was, by far, the biggest! I mean, the possibility of a tough, defensive-minded Buffal team traveling to New England and beating the Patriots was not exactly unthinkable, especially Since Tom Brady was still not at quarterback, and Gronk is still out. However, that the Bills completely dominated, even shutting the Pats out before their home fans just seemed so remote as to be virtually unthinkable. Yet, this is how it happened. Rex Ryan always seems to give Belichick and New England tough games and, sometimes, even stunning losses. But few losses that the Pats have suffered in recent seasons can be more shocking than this one! To get blanked, at home, when the team has an opportunity to take a three-game lead against everyone else in the division, essentially locking it up after only four weeks, with their best talent on the verge of coming back? Hats off to the Bills for an amazing performance and coming through in the clutch in a real must-win situation! The Bills are now 2-2, and only one game behind the first place Pats.

Oakland 28, Baltimore 27 - Traditionally, the Raiders have often struggled when they have to travel east to play, and they were facing an undefeated team this weekend in Baltimore. Yet, somehow, they managed to pull off a tremendous road victory. They had the late lead, and perhaps in years past, their defense would have buckled under the pressure, would have given in. Not this year, as the Raiders managed to hold Baltimore scoreless at the end, securing their biggest and best win of the season to date. A disappointing result for Baltimore, although that was a fantastic 3-0 start, and they are still in pretty good shape.

Dallas 24, San Francisco 17 - Watch out, because the 'Boys suddenly are on fire! After dropping their home opener against division rivals, the New York Giants, Dallas has now won three games in a row, beating Washington on the road, then dominating the Bears on national television and now, beating the 49ers in San Francisco (well, in Santa Clara). This used to be the rivalry that surpassed all other rivalries back in the 1990's, and although both teams have dropped off since then, this was a pretty tough and intense game. The 49ers had been blown out for two games in a row, and their defense was particularly worrisome, having allowed a lot of points. They looked tighter this weekend, although the Cowboys also came to play, and managed to tough it out for a solid road win, as they improve now to 3-1.

New Orleans 35, San Diego 34 - Once again, San Diego held a big lead, only to watch it disappear. Once again, it was a series of seemingly unlikely mistakes that doomed them, as a once very promising start to the season has given way to a grimmer reality, as they lose at home to the previously winless New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees was solid in his return to San Diego, where his professional career began. It was an emotional return for him, as he was not sure he would even be able to play again. But here he is, a Super Bowl champion and MVP, leading his team to an important first victory of the season.

Los Angeles 17, Arizona 14 - The Rams got blown out in their home opener out in San Francisco. Strangely, however, the Rams have not lost since then, while the 49ers have not won since. And the Rams keep winning games that you kind of expect them to lose. They won a shootout last week at Tampa Bay, finally showing some offense. Then this weekend, a tough, grinding win against the Cardinals at Arizona. Now, that is a huge victory, as the Rams keep pace with the Seahawks in a first place tie. As for the Cardinals, they have already matched their total number of losses during the 16-game regular season last year, and that after only four games so far. Something is wrong out in the desert. Palmer is making mistakes, and that defense is not nearly as intimidating as they probably should be by now. This was a team with serious hopes for a championship, and they were one of the elites last season. Right now, they just need to stop the bleeding, before anything else. Tough loss for Arizona, great win for the Rams. 

Pittsburgh 43, Kansas City 14 - Wow! Pittsburgh was in a hurry to put that Philadelphia debacle behind them, as they blew out the Chiefs, taking a huge lead early and never letting up on the gas. Kansas City lost their second game this season, although this time, they really took a pounding. They seem to be tough at home, but they also tend to struggle away. Granted, Pittsburgh is never an easy place for a road team to win at, although the Chiefs surely could have done better than what passed for their effort in this one. Hugely disappointing for Kansas City, as they fall farther behind both Denver and Oakland in the AFC West. A solid win for the Steelers, who are right back on top of their division.

Denver 27, Tampa Bay 7 - This outcome had seemingly no surprises, as the game pretty much went exactly as expected. The undefeated Broncos proved to be the heavyweights, just pounding on an outmatched opponent unable to cope with their power. Denver's defense is looking more and more elite, as they notch another impressive road win in very convincing fashion. No fireworks, but the offense had more than enough to get the job done. Tampa Bay has shown some real glimpses at times, although this is a game that proved forgettable for them, dropping them to 1-3. Still, they are the only team to have knocked off first place Atlanta, so there's that. As for the Broncos, this win, coupled with the losses by the Chiefs and San Diego, puts them in solid position, although the Raiders impressive start has them nipping at their heels.

(MNF) Minnesota 24, NY Giants 10 - The Vikings jumped out ahead, 14-0. Not a good thing for the Giants to allow, seeing as though they were the road team playing against an undefeated team with what appears to be an incredible defense. Still, New York made a game of it, closing to within 17-10 in the fourth quarter, before the Vikings scored a touchdown to seal the deal, as the final nail on the coffin. The Giants, after an impressive 2-0 start, have now dropped their last two games, and essentially find themselves having gone from being in a first place tie with the Philadelphia Eagles, to being in last place, within a surprisingly short span. The Cowboys are 2-1, and Washington, like the Giants, are also 2-2, but right now hold the tiebreaker advantage. New York desperately needs a win right now. As for Minnesota, they are starting to resemble a potentially serious contender this season, and might just be the hottest team in the league!

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