Photo: NY Post
Packing In A Perfect Record
The first team asked to put their perfect record on the line in week 4 was, of course, the Green Bay Packers. They took on an Eagles team filled with high upside players who maybe just haven't found their full stride yet, coming in off two tough losses in the weeks prior. It was pretty evident both teams had a gameplan. Eagles were going to spread the ball around, but lean more towards the legs of their agile run game when they needed a sure fire play.
The Packers, well… you live and die by the arm of Aaron Rodgers. Accumulating over 420 passing yards in the game and leading the team with 46 rushing yards just simply wasn't enough as Rodgers threw a crucial pick on a late drive in the redzone. Philly walked away with a 34-27 victory, hopefully jump starting them in a better direction. Green Bay, however, walked away with their first loss of the season, and some concern as their star wideout Davante Adams left with an apparent injury in the fourth quarter.
Lions Prove They Can Hang, But Lose Grip In Final Moments
For all you Lion King fans out there, this headline will be all too familiar. Unfortunately, it does help reference the storyline of this game in some respects, focusing on the closing moments. Throughout the entire game Mahomes and Stafford stood toe to toe (metaphorically obviously as they both are quarterbacks) and slung passes relentlessly; upping the score seemingly with every drive. The Lions continued to show a run heavy offence relying solely on Kerryon Johnson and his 125 yards in the game to establish the run.
Whereas Mahomes and the Chiefs were able to find their most success on the ground was in a committee of running options. McCoy 56, Mahomes 54 and Williams 13 proved to be the perfect strategy as one of Williams two rushing touchdowns came on the game winning one yard run. Perhaps the most interesting stat of this whole game though is Mahomes throwing for 0 touchdowns. The Lions defence was able to hold Mahomes to no successful receiving touchdowns, all while missing top corner Darius Slay Jr. Taking a perennial playoff team to the very last drive is definitely something the Lions should look to build from, even if it meant taking a loss in the progress.
Patriots Continue Winning In Buffalo, Hand Bills More Than Just A Loss
To nobody's surprise the New England Patriots showed up in Buffalo to silence Bills mafia. And they did just that. While Tom Brady finally showed his human form, struggling to find any consistency in the passing game (150 yards, 0TD/1INT), the defence had assured him that this was their game to win. From the first quarter of the game they pressured Allen into 2 interceptions, as well as returned a blocked punt for a touchdown to set the tone on the game. Buffalo’s defensive efforts in this game however, should be given it's much deserving appreciation.
To hold one of the best offenses in the game to a lowly 224 total yards is impressive. They constantly found themselves in the backfield, frustrating the flow of Brady’s throws and left him no receiver to get comfortable with. Unfortunately the Patriots defence were willing to play that much harder, and wanted it just a little bit more in the end. The departure of Josh Allen on the first drive of the fourth quarter, and the eventual interception thrown by his replacement Matt Barkley late in the game, sealed the fate for a 16-10 New England victory. Too bad Belichick couldn't claim the phrase 'Bill's Mafia' for his league leading defense.
Other Undefeated Teams Update:
LA Rams- Loss 55-40 to Tampa Bay Buccaneers Dallas Cowboys- Loss 12-10 to New Orleans Saints SF 49ers- Bye Week
Remaining Undefeated Teams in Week 5:
Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) vs IND New England Patriots(4-0) @ WSH San Francisco 49ers (3-0) vs CLE
Minnesota Pass Game Ice Cold & Causing Panic
Apparently it doesn't have to be the winter months in Minnesota to influence some cold climate amongst the Vikings. After a 2-2 start to the season, there have already been tons of rumblings about the poor start to the Minnesota passing game. Both star wideouts Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have shown frustration on and off the gridiron at the teams early struggles through the air. The frustration has run so high for Diggs that he has since reportedly requested a trade from the team due to the incompetence of his quarterback.
The frustration has shown in the games of both receivers, as they've only accumulated for less than 400 yards combined (209 & 179) through 4 games. With numbers like that out of your top two options in the pass game, it's no surprise the Vikings sit 31st in offence. The concern for panic truly comes from the lack of connection that appears between passer and reciever. Minnesota elected to spend big money and bring in Kirk Cousins after a near successful playoff run two years prior. Fast forward to now, and the Vikings front office may be realizing the mistake in their ways.
The team did not improve on their great playoff run the year prior and certainly have not shown any signs of being a Super Bowl candidate in the Kirk Cousins era. Diggs and Thielen now struggle to keep themselves in the conversation of most dynamic receiving duo because Cousins cannot effectively get them the ball. These struggles are leading to the Vikings throwing away an excellent start to the season by running back Dalvin Cook, not to mention the consistency that is on the defensive side of the ball. If Cousins isn't able to find his talented receivers, and the team continues to produce a below average product, I'd expect Thielen to follow suit with Diggs’ trade request.
Believe in Minshew Mania
How could you not believe in someone who's not only modeling his facial hair after Uncle Rico, but also his quarterback style? From the moment Gardner Minshew cemented himself as the starter in Jacksonville, the hype has been uncontrollable, and he has taken it all with a moustache filled smile. The kid is showing each week he can take on more responsibility with the ball. Once again he mounted a comeback after being down early. He showed his elusiveness in the pocket, and made some precision passes while being rushed out of the pocket. He rarely takes his eyes away from the downfield options. Minshew is now utilizing Leonard Fournette to the maximum potential as the running back is coming off a 225 yard night on the ground from 29 touches in their 26-24 win in Denver. With such a dominant run game established, Minshew can flex off his "over them mountains" type power to hit receivers right in the numbers no matter where they are on the field. Once Uncle Rico teaches him the true secret to THE BEST side arm throw seen on film (move over Mahomes) Minshew’s ceiling will be sniffing around the elite talent area.
Game To Watch
Arizona Cardnials @ Cincinnati Bengals
Now why in the world would anybody care about these two bottom of the barrel teams? For one reason and one reason only… there will be a winner. Both teams enter the contest winless and hungry. The 0-3-1 Cardinals are looking for some answers ahead of their week five meeting with the 0-4 Bengals. Both sides have struggled to stop opposing defences from getting to their quarterback and have not been able to find a steady offensive gameplan as a result. I expect both offenses to try to find the endzone as early and as often as they can, leaving reason to believe this game will be high scoring with a plethora of turnovers.
My prediction is Kyler Murray, with something to prove being the recent number 1 pick, will lead his Cards to their first victory of the season and the first dominant performance of his young career
31-17 Cardinals victory