Welcome back. We’re a quarter of the way through the 2015 NFL season and things are beginning to take shape. One week wonders are turning into trends and surprise starts are starting to become reality. It’s just about time to stop waiting for things to return to “normal” and start believing what we’re seeing. Andy Dalton might be good. The Miami Dolphins might be really, really, really bad. Colin Kaepernick might lose his job. Week 4 gave us some matchups that weren’t exciting at first glance, but ended up with 8 games decided by 3 points or less or went to overtime. Looks can be deceiving.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The return of the Michael Vick experience. As expected, it’s not what it used to be. That being said, he did his job and led the Steelers to a sizeable lead — but the Steeler defense imploded and the kicker went 0-2, allowing the unfreezable Justin Tucker to kick the game-winner in OT. Steelers lose (no one deserved to win this one), 23-20.
New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins
This one was played across the pond in London’s Wembley stadium. The Brits packed the house while the Jets tore it down. Ivory racked up 166 yards and score while demolishing Dolphin defenders. The Dolphins fell to 1-3, but it looks so much worse than that. So much so, that Joe Philbin was fired on Monday. Yikes. Jets roll, 27-14.
Houston Texans vs. Atlanta Falcons
This one was expected to be close, but ended up as the week’s biggest blowout. The Atlanta Falcons asserted themselves as the superior squad early and continued the blow the doors off of Houston as the game progressed. Devonta Freeman had another phenomenal 3 touchdown effort as the Falcons moved to 4-0. Atlanta houses Houston, 48-21.
New York Giants vs. Buffalo Bills
This one was billed all week (see what I did there?) as an offensive affair, but it turned out to be a bit one-sided. Penalty after penalty negated Buffalo’s big plays and allowed New York to maintain a comfortable lead. Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t do a whole lot against the Bills D, but he didn’t need to. Giants win, 24-10.
Oakland Raiders vs. Chicago Bears
A team on the rise vs. a team on the decline. Smokin’ Jay was back under center for the Bears – which is technically an upgrade over Jimmy Clausen, I think. No matter who you were rooting for, this one wasn’t pretty. The teams traded blows until the clock finally ran out with Chicago’s Robbie Gould knocking the game-winning field goal with just 2 seconds on the clock. John Fox and the Bears get their first win, 22-20.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs must have felt like they were having deja vu, because this was a similar script to last week when they lost to Green Bay. Though Cincy wasn’t quite as dominant, the Chiefs were playing from behind and doing what they do worst: throw the ball. The Bengals offense got the job done on the ground and through the air on their way to a 36-21 win.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
No Luck? No problem. Well, sort of. It came down to the wire, but the 40 year old Matt Hasselbeck got it done. The Colts have looked shaky at best this year and the Jaguars weren’t able to capitalize on a rare opportunity to play the Colts with Luck on the bench. The Jags kicker missed 2 late field goals that would have won the game. It certainly could have changed the way the AFC South played out this year. Colts survive, 16-13.
Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This was not one of the close games this week. Super Cam and company had their way with the Buccaneers from the opening kickoff. It was a field day for the Panther defense as they picked off rookie quarterback Jameis Winston 4 times. Once again, Cam Newton was a one man show on offense and Tampa couldn’t contain him. Panthers smack the Bucs, 37-23.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins
Finally, the Eagles have a good matchup where they can get Chip Kelly’s offense rolling… err, maybe not. They ran the ball 18 times for 89 yards as Washington forced them to go through the air. It looked like Philly would get their second win anyway until Captain Comeback Kirk Cousins led Washington down the field and made a perfect throw to Pierre Garcon for the game-winning touchdown with 26 seconds left in the game. You can’t make this stuff up. Skins win, 23-20.
San Diego Chargers vs. Cleveland Browns
I know what you’re thinking: Game of the Week! Football at its finest! Surprisingly, it was not the case. I know, you’re baffled. A messy, injury filled game, this was a battle between a couple of potential cellar dwellers this year. It came down to the final seconds and as San Diego’s rookie kicker missed the game-winning field…. but the Browns were offsides. So Cleveland of them. Lambo didn’t miss his second attempt and the Chargers squeak this one out, 30-27.
St. Louis Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals
One of the week’s most anticipated games this week featured the red hot Arizona Cardinals matched up against the tremendous defense of the Rams. St. Louis may have found their stud on the offense in this game as rookie Todd Gurley gashed the Cardinals for 146 yards on the ground including a 52 yarder that led to the eventual game-winning touchdown. The Rams D was too much for the Cards in this one as the improve to 2-0 vs the NFC West. Rams win, 24-22.
Denver Broncos vs. Minnesota Vikings
Peyton has not looked good in 2015 and this matchups against the Vikings didn’t change that. He threw a pair of interceptions that kept Minnesota in the game as Denver had to lean on their defense to hold Adrian Peterson in check. Though Peterson had a long touchdown run on 4th and 1 to give the Vikings a chance, they couldn’t get it done on the final drive as the Denver pass rush forced Bridgewater to fumble the game away. Broncos hold on, 23-20.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers
Expected to be a complete blowout, this one was a little closer than expected. Green Bay was never in trouble, but they didn’t quite look like the explosive offense we saw against the Chiefs. It’s almost as if they didn’t want to run it up on San Fran. The 49ers looked completely inept again as they fell to the Packers, 17-3.
New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys
This Sunday night matchup looked a lot more intriguing when they wrote the schedule. What we actually got was a struggling Saints team against a Dallas team with half its roster on the injury report. Nonetheless, they played the game anyway and it was “exciting” down to the end (How exciting can this game really be?). In overtime, C.J. Spiller decided he was all done playing football for the night and took a short pass from Brees 80 yards to the endzone to send everybody home. Saints get the W in prime time, 26-20.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions
This game had blowout written all over it. So naturally it was the opposite. The Lions have struggled on both sides of the ball in the first 3 weeks, but their defense came to play in Seattle. Russell Wilson was under pressure all night long and eventually gave up a fumble that was returned for a Detroit touchdown to keep the Lions in the game. And that’s when things got wild. The Lions nearly took a safety on a muffed punt, then drove the entire field only to fumble on the ½ yard line when Kam Chancellor punched the ball out of Calvin Johnson’s gigantic hand. To top it all off, Russell Wilson rolled out on 3rd and short to complete a risky pass that went for 50 yards to seal the game. Nothing went according to the script here, but Seattle found a way to win while the Lions found a way to lose. 13-10, Seahawks.