You know the drill by now. Let’s look at the biggest winners and losers from Week 4.
Winner: Chicago Bears (Won 48-10 vs TB)
Coming into this week, the Bears were seen by many as a team with a great defense, but a lackluster offense. However, some, including myself, knew that the offense was due to breakout under new head coach Matt Nagy at some points. Boy did it ever. The Bears offense scored 38 first-half points en route to a 48-10 win. It was a flawless effort, to say the least. After being the target of heavy criticism through the first three weeks, second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky threw for 354 yards, 6 touchdowns, and completed 73% of his passes. It’s no surprise that the rest of the offense flourished around him; running back Tarik Cohen had 174 combined yards and a touchdown, receiver Taylor Gabriel had 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns, while tight end Trey Burton and receivers Allen Robinson and Josh Bellamy each had a touchdown as well. What makes it even more impressive is that arguably their best player on offense in running back Jordan Howard was limited to 25 rushing yards on 11 carries. Yes, the Bucs defense is awful, but if the Bears put up just half of those points, that’ll be more than enough to win given the talent they have on defense. Speaking of the defense, it dominated again as they forced three turnovers and held the Bucs to a 25% third down conversion rate. The Bears are in first place in the NFC North, and there isn’t a doubt in my mind they’re the best team in that stacked division.
Loser: New York Giants (Lost 33-18vs NO)
After a promising win at Houston last week, the Giants took a step back this week with a tough loss at home against the Saints. The seemingly explosive Giants offense looked lost against an awful Saints defense, as Eli Manning constantly refused to throw the ball down the field, despite the Saints being notoriously bad at stopping big plays. They also ran the ball just ten times with Saquon Barkley, who was subbed out on numerous occasions. That proved costly for the Giants, as backup Wayne Gallman fumbled when subbed in for Barkley, which led to the Saints taking the lead in the second quarter- a lead they would never surrender. The defense tried to play a bend, but don’t break approach against the Saints offense all game long. It worked in the first half- the Saints were held to four field goals despite being in the Red Zone- but it didn’t last as New Orleans scored three Alvin Kamara second-half touchdowns. The injury-riddled Giants defense needs the offense to live up expectations for them to succeed. However, due to Eli Manning’s conservative approach and mismanagement of personnel, it’s unlikely that happens. It looks like another season of mediocrity for the Giants.
Winner: Tennessee Titans (Won 26-23 OT vs PHI)
Look out, here come the Titans. After an awful week one loss to the Dolphins in which the Titans saw four offensive starters get injured, it was fair to wonder if the Titans would live up to the preseason hype as a contender in the AFC South. It hasn’t been pretty, but the Titans are 26-23 after squeaking out three close wins and have now defeated the defending division champion Jaguars and the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles. This game against the Eagles wasn’t a flashy win, but like all Titans wins this season, it got the job done. Marcus Mariota finally looked healthy after suffering an elbow injury, throwing for 344 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 46 yards and a touchdown. 2017 5th overall pick Corey Davis finally broke out as the number one receiver on this team, as he had 9 catches for 161 yards and the game-winning touchdown in overtime. The defense gave up 432 yards of total offense, but they had four sacks and a Harold Landry strip sack led to them coming back from a fourteen point deficit in the second half. This looks like a very well coached team under first-year head coach Mike Vrabel, and with a winnable game coming up at Buffalo, the Titans sure look like a playoff team.
Loser: Pittsburgh Steelers (Lost 26-14 vs BAL SNF)
The Steelers seemed to be on the come up after finally getting in the win column last week. Instead, they came out flat in a 26-14 loss to the division rival Ravens and are in a rough position. The defense got gashed for 451 total yards, couldn’t stop Baltimore on third down, and had no answer for any play the Ravens ran. Outside of a couple second-quarter touchdown drives, the offense did close to nothing and looks completely out of sync without Le’Veon Bell, who is going to end his holdout during their Week 7 bye. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, they have two tough games coming up at home against the Falcons and a road game at the Bengals before that, and there’s a good chance they will be 1-4-1 when he comes back. We may seeing the end of Roethlisberger’s run with the Steelers unless something changes dramatically in a hurry.
Winner: Green Bay Packers (Won 22-0 vs BUF)
The Packers have been known to rely on quarterback Aaron Rodgers, healthy or not, to carry them into the playoffs. However in this game, it was quite the opposite. Rodgers wasn’t horrible- he threw for 298 yards and a touchdown- but he completed just 55% of his passes. Meanwhile, the running game was finally a plus for them, as Green Bay running backs rushed for 110 yards while Aaron Jones rushed for 5.9 yards a carry. The defense also finally showed up, with six sacks, three forced turnovers, while shutting out the Bills. They allowed just 145 total yards and held Buffalo to a 18% third down conversion rate. The Bills may be one of the league’s worst teams, but considering division rival Minnesota just lost by 21 points to them at home, this win is impressive and proves they may be capable of winning when Rodgers isn’t 100% perfect.
Loser: Miami Dolphins (Lost 38-7 at NE)
At 3-0 and two games up in the division, the Dolphins had a chance to make a statement in New England on Sunday. They didn’t even need to win the game (they were 6.5 point underdogs), but they were expected to keep the game close. Instead, they reminded the whole world that this is the Pats’ division to win, and no one will interfere with that. Miami’s offense mustered just 172 total yards, Ryan Tannehill threw for 100 yards and an interception, Miami had 56 rushing yards, and the Dolphins even fumbled a snap. If not for a garbage-time touchdown, they would’ve been shut out. It didn’t get much better on defense, as the Dolphins let New England run for 175 yards, while also allowing Tom Brady to have 274 passing yards and three touchdowns. They also allowed running back James White to have 8 catches for 68 yards and a touchdown out of the backfield, so it’s safe to say their weak linebacking core in getting exposed. The Dolphins are in first place still, but with two tough games (at CIN, vs CHI) coming up, that won’t last. This game proved what many suspected- that the Dolphins were more of a product of other team’s misfortunes than a legitimate playoff contender capable of competing with the “big dogs” in the AFC.