2018 NFL Week 4
I don’t know about you, but football is really coming in handy at the moment.
I’m going to keep the preamble short this week, but I’ll start by saying this isn’t my full-time job. I spend a majority of my week working for a well-known online news organization. Which means I get a full load of politics, natural disasters and workplace shootings every week.
However, the past 14 days have been just awful. From the damage caused by Hurricane Florence to the big storyline dominating the Beltway over the past few days, every day seems to bring a new low.
It’s ugly. It’s discouraging. It causes agita.
I know it’s a cliché that sports provide a distraction from real life, but whatever. I need a cliché right now. I’m a very simple man.
Some ice cream would help, too.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
NFL’S TOP 10
1) Rams – I had to open my big mouth. The fan in me didn’t want to rank the Rams No. 1 last week, but I did it anyway. And sure, they went out and got an impressive win over the Chargers, but they also lost starting cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters for at least a little while. With the Vikings coming to town on Thursday night. I’m sticking with them for now, but their reign at the top is likely coming to an end.
2) Chiefs – This team has set a franchise record with 118 points through three games. Here’s another stat (courtesy KC Star) that will blow your mind: Patrick Mahomes’ impressive 115.5 passer rating vs. the 49ers on Sunday was his worst this season. At some point, the firepower will cool a bit. But until then, let’s just keep enjoying this.
3) Panthers — Carolina managed to gain 230 yards rushing against a Bengals defense that came into the game allowing just 70.5 per game. The Panthers defense managed to pick off Andy Dalton four times and the offensive line allowed just one sack despite being short three original starters. This team is still finding itself and it’s easy to see them hitting their true stride in a few weeks.
4) Eagles — The weather was damp and Carson Wentz was making his first start on his surgically repaired knee. And while he didn’t look like the MVP candidate from last season, I’d say it was a good start.
5) Dolphins – Will I regret this in a couple weeks? Maybe. But the Dolphins are sitting at 3-0 after Sunday’s comeback win over the Oakland Grudens. If they beat the Patriots on the road on Sunday (doubtful), then you have to take them seriously. Fun fact: The Dolphins are 16-5 in one-score games under head coach Adam Gase.
6) Ravens – As I predicted, Baltimore handled a Broncos team that struck me as a bit of a fugazi. I’m ranking the Ravens this high because of this stat: The offense has scored touchdowns on all 12 of its red-zone possessions this season. If you can get this kind of production, you’re doing something right.
7) Vikings – Every team gets a mulligan. Week 3 was the Vikings’ mulligan. If you’re a team as talented as this one, there’s no reason to lose to the Bills. I can guarantee they’re going to come out on fire on Thursday night.
8) Patriots – Really? A 1-2 record? Wow. Now, it’s tempting to point and laugh, but control yourselves. We’ve all seen this movie before. The Patriots will get it together soon.
9) Jaguars – I had them very high last week. I’m punishing them for that dud of a performance vs. the Titans. Bortles looked like Bortles again.
10) Chargers – Another 1-2 team in the top 10? Yes, because the Chargers’ two losses are against the Chiefs and Rams, the two best teams in the league. This team is still very talented and will get back to .500 this week vs. the Jimmy G-less 49ers.
WHAT’S THE CHATTER?
It’s about time: Eric Reid is back in the NFL, having signed a 1-year deal with the Panthers. As you know, Reid and Colin Kaepernick spearheaded the movement to kneel during the national anthem.
And while Kaepernick is still out of a job, there was at least a tad of logic in why teams didn’t want him in their quarterback room, as weak as that logic might be.
But Reid? There was absolutely no reason for him to be unemployed. And the Panthers will be a better team for bring him aboard.
What a shock: Guess which team is last in the NFL in sacks? Yep, the Raiders. Insert snarky Khalil Mack comment here.
He’s back: Titans QB Marcus Mariota tried to miss the Week 3 game against the Jags with an elbow injury, but he was forced back into service when backup Blaine Gabbert suffered a concussion. Well, head coach Mike Vrabel says Marcus is recovered enough to start this week. And I’m not sure that’s a good thing considering how the offense looked last week.
Surgery coming: Rams CB and prized offseason acquisition Aqib Talib will have surgery on his injured ankle. Ugh. And he was placed on IR with a designation to return. Ugh.
Flags a flyin’: People are screaming over the number of roughing the passer penalties we’ve seen this season. People screamed last season when quarterback after quarterback went down with injuries. People just enjoy screaming.
LeSean McCoy: The Bills running back says he’ll play this week after injuring his ribs in Week 2. Hmmm, he might need to tend to his off-the-field issues as well. Just google it if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
Welcome, kid: Ravens first-round pick Hayden Hurst hasn’t been around since having surgery on a stress fracture in his foot on Aug. 24. But he’s practicing now. It might be too soon for him to debut on Sunday night, but the team and the fans must be excited to see what he can do.
Believable?: We all saw Buccaneers safety Chris Conte get stiff-armed out of the stadium by Steelers TE Vance McDonald on Monday night. Now he says he was playing with a torn PCL in his knee. I’m not saying he’s lying, but …. Actually, I’ll leave it at that.
Consider it, coach: Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says the team won’t make any major personnel changes, despite ranking 30th in total offense. Really?
WHAT TO WATCH IN WEEK 4
Vikings at Rams: Thursday night special near downtown Los Angeles. During rush hour. I’ll be surprised if the stands are 25 percent full by kickoff. Minny is no doubt anxious to get people to forget about their Buffalo stinkbomb. The Vikes have a good chance to take advantage of the Rams’ sudden weakness at cornerback. Look for Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs to get off early.
Bengals at Falcons: Two tough road games for Cincinnati in the NFC South. And A.J. Green has a groin injury. Meanwhile, Matt Ryan and Co. are trying to rebound from a tough loss to the Saints.
Lions at Cowboys: Can’t wait to hear Skip Bayless’ excuse when Dak Prescott doesn’t pass for more than 200 yards again.
Dolphins at Patriots: It’s the litmus test. Beat the Patriots and the Dolphins are for real. Lose if Foxborough and the Dolphins are the clowns we know they are. Isn’t the NFL lovely?
Seahawks at Cardinals: Rosen! Rosen! Rosen! Rosen!
Jets at Jaguars: Sam Darnold should throw 3 picks and get sacked 5 times in this one. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jags offense does worse.
Ravens at Steelers: Sunday night slobberknocker time! The Steelers love bringing pressure and the Ravens are doing a good job of keeping pressure off Joe Flacco. I’m going with the Ravens on the road.
Chiefs at Broncos: I wonder how far Pat Mahomes can throw the ball in that thin Denver air. I’m tuning in hoping to see a pass to Tyreek Hill travel 80 yards in the air.