What We Learned from Week Four of the NFL Season

Posted by Brad On October – 5 – 2011
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The Comeback Kids do it again

The Comeback Kids.  The Detroit Lions came back from 20 down to win in overtime last week.  This week they came from being 24 points down in the third quarter to rally for a win against the Cowboys.  The Lions were aided by two Matt Stafford TD passes to Calvin Johnson and 2 Tony Romo INT’s that were returned for TD’s. 

The Lions are off to a 4-0 start and have won their last eight games.  Calvin Johnson is on pace for 32 TD catches on the season and Matt Stafford is healthy.  Mental note to all defensive coordinators in the league:  Don’t comment on Calvin Johnson’s place on your teams depth chart.  Just imagine how good the Lions would be with a semblance of a run game? 

St. Louis could win the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.  And make the biggest trade in the history of the sport as they dished off the first pick for a boatload of whatever they wanted.  Teams would line up at the Rams doorstep to pry the pick away from them with offerings of Ricky Williams/Herschel Walker proportions. 

The Rams are really bad right now in most every facet of the game.  They are dead last in the NFL stopping the run and their passing game is non-existent.  Sam Bradford has zero weapons, Steven Jackson has been sporadic at best, the offensive line is struggling, and the defense is just flat out bad.  It is becoming a realistic option that the Rams could be drafting first overall for the second time in three years.

The Green Bay Packers are the best team in the NFL and it’s not even close.  Aaron Rodgers went ahead and threw for 4 more TD passes on the young season.  The Pack is rolling and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight.  They have separated themselves from ‘the pack’ and may be looking at history if the defense can hold up and the injury bug doesn’t hit.

At this point, the Packers are racking up style points in their convincing wins.  The defense really hasn’t clamped down but they haven’t needed to.  With Aaron Rodgers rolling along throwing to whoever is out there, it’s beginning to look like they are destined for a February date at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Steelers are in trouble.  With Baltimore’s crushing defeat of the Jets, it’s beginning to look like they are the class of the AFC North.  The Steelers look old on defense and haven’t been able to stop the run or pressure the QB. 

Their offensive line is atrocious and in need of a serious talent infusion.  This weekend’s matchup with the 3-1 Tennessee Titans will be full of injury question marks with Ben Roethlisberger in a boot, James Harrison out after surgery for a broken orbital bone, and Rashard Mendenhall an ailing hamstring.  The Steelers are quickly losing their identity and are in jeopardy of missing the Playoffs if they can’t find answers quickly.

Finally, the Bills took one on the chin.  It looked like we would be talking about the 4-0 Bills until Andy Dalton led the Bengals on a 4th quarter comeback.  The Bills have been the biggest surprise in the NFL, as they were being anointed the winners of the first quarter of the 2011 season.  Sunday’s loss to the Bengals brought us back to reality on the Bills, which still remains they are a threat to the Jets Playoff chances.

The Sanchize is struggling.  Sunday night’s matchup with the Ravens was a defensive battle as neither teams offense could get it going.  As I stated above, the Jets appear to be in a dogfight with the Bills for what could come down to the final Wild Card spot.  Mark Sanchez has thrown 5 interceptions and 3 fumbles through four games and looks to be digressing.  He couldn’t find a rhythm in this game and rhythm as the Baltimore defense pestered him into mistake after mistake.  Sanchez is the key to this cog and the Jets need him to be better than he’s been thus far in 2011.

Tom Brady to Wes Welker is a lethal combination.  Ok maybe we knew that before this week but can anyone stop it.  Welker has 40 catches for 616 yards and 5 TD’s.  That would put him on pace for 160 catches, 2,464 yards, and 20 TD’s in 2011.  Not a bad season for a “slot receiver.”  The Pats rolled over the Raiders after their tough loss to the Bills last Sunday.  With the Brady to Welker combination clicking the offense is in good shape.  Anyone up for a Wes Welker reprisal of Troy Brown to play defensive back on the worst passing defense in the NFL?  Barring that this season could be for not, if New England runs into Aaron Rodgers in the Super Bowl. 

Sparano's days in South Beach are numbered

This may be the last week we see Tony Sparano trolling the Miami sidelines.  Despite what the South Florida Sun Sentinel says, we think Sparano is gone before the Dolphins take the field in week six.  After all, Ross was the guy who set the stage for Sparano’s exit for Jim Harbaugh in their courtship of Harbaugh. 

The Dolphins have clearly packed it in on their coach who has been criticized for his micromanaging of players by former players (Jason Taylor included).  The team, players, coaches, and ownership know Sparano is a lame duck so there is no point in carrying him past the bye week.  If the decision to keep him as HC is made through the bye week, it adds further proof of Stephen Ross’ and Jeff Ireland’s ineptness.

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