So last week’s stance was entitled “The Cream Rises to the Top”. Well, the cream curdled in week 4 with what everyone seems to be calling “Correction Weekend”. Several great games and a number of the pretenders to the throne proving that they are the real deal. Let’s get into it.
Not so fast
Green Bay, Indianapolis, Houston, Baltimore, Los Angeles all lost home which reeled them in back to the pack in their respective divisions. Throw in Dallas losing at New Orleans and, in comparison to last week, many divisions have been thrown wide open. I predicted divisional winners last week and I have to stick with my predictions but there were a number of impressive performances which will make people sit up and take a second look at some teams.
Particularly impressive was the Cleveland Browns dismantling of the Baltimore Ravens, notching up 40 points, and the Carolina Panthers grinding out a 16-10 victory over the Houston Texans. Oh, and somehow the Buccaneers put 55 points on the board against the Rams. I’ll write that again. The Bucs, 55 points, on the Rams. Let that sink in.
Hopefully this is not a one-off weekend and we do have double figure teams with a good shot at playoff football. Of course, some sides, seemingly remain impervious to challenge – both the Chiefs and Patriots rode out rough periods versus the Lions and Bills respectively to stay unbeaten.
Performance of the week
Okay, somewhat unusually, this week the award is going to a losing side – the Detroit Lions. They have not received the due recognition for their early season form and they ran the Chiefs close on Sunday, very close. Matt Patricia has them competitive and they are going to play for him and fight for every yard and point in a tough NFC North. Their inherent bad luck continued (the fumble on the 1 yard line returned 100 yards was a case in point. But they had a ‘never say die’ attitude which will serve them well in the coming weeks, and I’m backing them for the playoffs.
For some it looks over before it began
Step forward Washington, Denver, Arizona, Miami, and of course whoever loses tonight between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Not a win between them. I think you can also throw in the Jets (on a bye this week) and the Falcons (what is going on there..?). That’s a quarter of the league. For all but the Falcons there are issues at QB and leadership of the offense and for some they look in the midst of a roster reset. I’d like to see the Redskins give it to Haskins from this point on – look at how it has injected new life to the Giants having Daniel Jones running the show. Although his debut was a bit of a horror show (3 INT) this was the first instalment of an intriguing match up for the next decade – Jones vs Haskins.
London baby yeh
This weekend sees the first NFL fixture at the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium when the Oakland Raiders take on the Chicago Bears – and I will be there (if my tickets every arrive). Incredibly lucky to be going and I think it will be an amazing atmosphere in this new stadium, purpose built to accommodate the NFL. There is probably a whole other post about the farce which has been the Ticketmaster mis-handling from the ticket selling through to the (non) posting out of tickets (almost £20 in admin and postage fees for them not to be tracked…..just saying).
However, let’s focus on the game and both sides come to London of the back of big victories – the Raiders surprising the Colts, and the Bears with a divisional win over the Vikings. It is going to be HUGE! The NFL London games are always a great atmosphere and I think the combination of fans of both these franchises and the UK NFL fan base will have the stadium rocking. All i hope is that the match and the score live up to expectations.
Look ahead to week 5 match ups – my 4 to watch
Uh-oh 1 out of 4 last week as I fell victim to the ‘Correction Weekend’! I need to get back on track here, let’s see where we can pick up points.
LA Rams @ Seattle Seahawks – off the back of their astonishing defeat by Tampa Bay surely LA will want to show their divisional rivals a clean pair of heels. Unfortunately i think Seattle is the sort of side which can scent blood in the water, Seahawks by 3
Chicago Bears @ Oakland Raiders (London) – love this fixture, and as mentioned earlier both sides will be feeling good coming to the UK. I just think the Raiders are going to be epic on Sunday, even in the face of the Bears D. Raiders need to erase the memory of London game last year too (Seattle 27-3 Oakland). Raiders by 6
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Carolina Panthers – both sides are 2-2, both sides have excellent running game, both sides on a backup QB. Lots to like about the way they are going about their business. Just feel Carolina are a more efficient outfit and their D is going to be able to smother and contain Fournette and Minshew. Panthers by 10
Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys – both were knocked off their perch last week and both will be seeking to bounce back. This match up has so much recent history and rivalry and I’m certain this will be another classic. Think Dallas’ loss against New Orleans was more of a blip than the Packers, so I’ll take the Cowboys by 7
Same time next week!