The Cowboys bounce back, the Texans turn heads and the Bengals blunder continues in Week 4 of the 2023/24 NFL season.
Falcons 7 - 23 Jags
There’s really only one hope for the Falcons this year, and his name is Bijan Robinson.
Bijan Robinson today— Not Bijan (@InBijanWeTrust) October 1, 2023
• 14 carries, 105 yards
• 5 catches, 32 yards pic.twitter.com/JmJUwQfbAZ
To be completely fair, Atlanta’s defense didn’t make things easy for Trevor Lawrence, but unless Robinson can score 5 touchdowns a week, they’ll struggle to see the win column for a while (especially if Desmond Ridder doesn't stop throwing picks).
On the other hand, it’s nice to see the Jags find a victory after two losses in a row. Lawrence looked far more composed despite heavy pressure and the defense was about as solid as it gets. Buffalo will be a tough matchup next week, but they should log a few more wins after that.
Dolphins 20 - 48 Bills
Now, we all thought this would be a shootout, and it was, but not for long... Back and forth touchdowns led to a 14-14 scoreline at the end of the first quarter, but from that point on, the difference between the Bills and Dolphins became glaringly obvious.
Buffalo went on to hold the record-breaking Miami offense to just one more score, while Josh Allen continued to break down their secondary for another 4 touchdowns and 2 field goals, with Stefon Diggs as the star of the show.
While Tua and Tyreek struggled to connect, De’Von Achane provided the only glimpse of hope for the Fins. The run game is certainly improving in Miami, but if teams can shut down Hill and Waddle, McDaniels might struggle to make things work.
Commanders 31 - 34 Eagles
Washington leading 17-7 just before the half was a shock to say the least, but nobody can argue that they just got lucky.
Sam Howell was playing near perfect football while the Commanders defense stood up to the test of Jalen Hurts. And it went right down to the wire, as Howell took the game to OT by throwing a touchdown pass as the clock hit zero.
SAM HOWELL AND JAHAN DOTSON TIE IT UP AT THE BUZZER ⌛️😱 pic.twitter.com/vyd8keDD5u— PFF (@PFF) October 1, 2023
Despite the Eagles winning with an overtime field goal, Washington taking them to OT on the road raises some questions… Maybe this Philly defense isn’t all it’s hyped up to be? Or maybe Sam Howell is just that good?
Either way, Nick Sirianni’s side is now 4-0. Long live the tush push.
Buccaneers 26 - 9 Saints
I won’t lie, I thought Baker Mayfield had become an NFL journeyman, but he may have found his place in Tampa Bay.
Mayfield threw for 246 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 INT and that’s without Mike Evans for half the game. Although it can’t be too difficult when your O-line gives you this kind of time…
Baker Mayfield to Deven Thompkins Passing TD (7/1) pic.twitter.com/CVJIfy41h0— NFL TD Videos (@NFLTDVideos2023) October 1, 2023
The issue in New Orleans is simple. Don’t bring your injured quarterback into an early-season game if he’s not 100%. Derek Carr was nowhere near his usual standards, completing 23-of-37 for just 127 yards. Who’d have thought that a shoulder injury on a QBs throwing arm would lower his passing ability?
And guess what happened late in the fourth… Carr injured his shoulder again and Jameis Winston came on, only to throw an interception on his first play. Carr being out is simply not an option for the Saints.
Vikings 21 - 13 Panthers
Don’t let the victory fool you, the Vikings are in serious trouble.
Kirk Cousins did everything he could to throw this game, with a pick six in the opening drive and another INT just before the half to increase the Panthers lead to 13-7.
If not for Justin Jefferson always being open to grab a couple of touchdowns, and Harrison Smith forcing a fumble for a scoop-and-score at the end of the third, we’d be hearing rumours of a Cousins trade by now. 12 completions should never be enough to win an NFL game.
Ravens 28 - 3 Browns
And this is why you wait until gameday to place your bets. If I’d have known Deshaun Watson was going to be ruled out while Dorian Thompson-Robinson led the offense, I wouldn’t have put a single penny on the Browns. Lesson learnt.
DTR performed just as anyone would have guessed - zero touchdowns and three interceptions. I mean, where was he trying to throw this…
On the other hand, Lamar Jackson may be getting back to his old ways as he rushed 9 times for two scores and threw a couple more. Is the MVP version of No.8 returning?
Raiders 17 - 24 Chargers
Given the up and down performance from Justin Herbert, the defense gets full credit for the win here. But more specifically, Khalil Mack.
Yesterday, Mack became the 5th player in NFL history to record 6+ sacks in a single game - while tacking on another 4 QB hits and 5 TFLs. And for the second week in a row, the Bolts gambled on a late 4th down in their own half and fell short. But thanks to the defense, they got away with it once again, this time by snagging an interception in the end zone.
Meanwhile, with Jimmy Garoppolo in concussion protocol, Aiden O’Connell took over as the Raiders QB and gave the performance we all expected… Plenty of targets for Adams, plenty of check-downs to Jacobs, 0 passing TDs, 3 fumbles and an interception to seal the loss.
Steelers 6 - 30 Texans
Another rookie making headlines is C.J. Stroud.
The no.2 overall pick is playing top tier football and the numbers don’t lie. Stroud’s 1212 total passing yards are the second most ever by a QB in his first four career starts, and he’s also thrown zero interceptions. If he can continue linking up with Nico Collins like this, Houston could actually have a winning record for once…
NICO COLLINS IS JUST LIKE THAT pic.twitter.com/biTd2NYRKg— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) October 1, 2023
Plus, he’s backed up by a solid defense that kept Pittsburgh to just 2 field goals. And sure, Kenny Pickett may have gone out injured, but it was at the end of the third quarter and he was 15-of-23 for 114 yards and a pick before he went down.
The Steelers are in a bad spot and there are plenty more losses on the cards. Could this really be Mike Tomlin’s first losing season in 16 years?
Bengals 3 - 27 Titans
The bad times are stopping for Cincy and I’m 100% here for it.
The Bengals were unbelievably toxic during their success last season and karma has finally caught up to them. In only four weeks they’ve had 2 games with just 3 measly points on the board, and there are a few reasons why…
The O-line can’t protect Burrow, the run game doesn’t exist, there’s zero creativity on offense and the defense can get torched by Ryan Tannehill of all people. I’m calling it now - the Bengals won’t make the postseason.
Meanwhile, Derrick Henry could be back. After an underwhelming start, the King returned for 133 total yards and a touchdown on Sunday. The Titans will need this form to continue if they stand any chance at winning.
Cardinals 16 - 35 49ers
Christian McCaffrey will be the 2023/24 MVP.
The 49ers running back has now found the endzone for a franchise-record 13 consecutive games and reached that mark with 177 total yards and 4 touchdowns last night. It goes without saying, but this guy is seriously special.
Christian McCaffrey is a monster!— BallTalkSource (@BallTalkSource) October 1, 2023
Let’s be real would Brock Purdy really be successful without this running game 👀
And by the way, ignore what that Tweet says about Brock Purdy. Sure, he has a top-tier run game to rely on, but he went 20-of-21 for 283 yards and a touchdown. In all honesty, that doesn’t happen if Burrow is at the helm. Purdy is playing more consistent football than anyone in the league, and soon enough he’ll have a ring to prove it.
On the other hand, the Cardinals are anything but consistent. Seeing them defeat Dallas may have conned some of you into believing they’re good, and they’re not bad, but last week was a fluke. Don’t expect to see Joshua Dobbs in the playoffs.
Patriots 3 - 38 Cowboys
Speaking of the Cowboys… Talk about a bounce back!
After falling to Arizona last week, they really had something to prove vs the Pats. Bill Belichick’s famously good defense was torn apart by Dak Prescott. While Mac Jones threw a pick six, another interception and gave up a fumble touchdown as the Micah Parsons & Co. swarmed the backfield.
Let’s call last week an anomaly in what should be a solid season for Dallas. On the other hand, Mac Jones is about as unpredictable as it gets. Who knows what’s in store for New England…
Broncos 31 - 28 Bears
This was a tough pill to swallow for Chicago.
Justin Fields was playing by far his best game this year - throwing 4 touchdowns to create a 28-7 lead in the third quarter. But it all fell apart when he fumbled for a Broncos TD and threw an interception on the Bears final drive of the game…
JUSTIN FIELDS FUMBLE. BRONCOS SCOOP AND SCORE— NFL Retweet (@NFLRT) October 1, 2023
TIE GAME IN CHICAGO pic.twitter.com/q9Aob0bzoD
I hate to have to say this, but all credit to Russell Wilson for three consecutive scoring drives to mount a comeback win. Could this be the game he needed to get back to his old-self, or is this just a fluke? I’m not entirely sure, but with the Jets and Chiefs next up on the schedule, it’ll be a few weeks until they get another shot at winning.
Colts 23 - 29 Rams
Puka Nacua remains the headline story in LA, and for good reason.
Stafford’s favourite target has now set the all-time NFL record for most receptions through a receiver’s first 4 career games and he was the undisputable MVP in this matchup… 9 catches, 163 yards and the walk-off touchdown in overtime.
A solid Stafford, a playmaking Puka and a dominant Donald can all add up to a victory on any given week. It’s tough to predict the Rams right now, but they certainly have a shot at a winning record, especially when Kupp returns.
As for the Colts, Anthony Richardson showed flashes of the scary dual-threat quarterback he could be in a few years. His running ability has never been in doubt, but yesterday he made some throws that displayed his true potential as a passer.
Anthony Richardson to Mo Alie-Cox Passing TD (2/1) pic.twitter.com/FLJdBaxaL4— NFL TD Videos (@NFLTDVideos2023) October 1, 2023
Chiefs 23 - 20 Jets
Things started as we all thought they would - Mahomes slicing and dicing, while Pacheco dominated on the ground. (Also, I’ve never seen a better description for his run-style than this…)
Pacheco punishing the ground for being underneath him pic.twitter.com/Bk0IewPDpU— Zirksee🍽️ (@Zirksee) October 2, 2023
But, for some reason Mahomes started throwing the ball to Jets DBs, while Zach Wilson turned up to bank a couple of touchdowns, and suddenly it was a three-point game with Wilson driving down the field to try and win it.
With a fairytale ending on the cards for New York, Wilson fumbled a snap at midfield, the Chiefs recovered and after a few plays, knelt out the game.
Zach Wilson’s first real mistake tonight.— JPAFootball (@jasrifootball) October 2, 2023
Comes at a really bad time. Fumble.
So, Zach Wilson proved he can actually play ball and Mahomes looked a little shaky, but at the end of the day, the Chiefs won and the Jets lost. Same stuff, different day.
Seahawks 24 - 3 Giants
I know the buck stops with the quarterback, but it's tough to blame this one Daniel Jones. Sure, he threw a pick six, another interception and fumbled twice, but the offensive line is the real problem.
Jones was sacked 10 times - 4 shy of the NFL record - and was hit or disrupted on over half of his 45 drop backs. And this is against the 4th worst defense in the league... That being said, he didn't make things easy for himself. Even with plenty of time in the pocket, he still made throws like this:
As for Seattle, Geno Smith didn't exactly have much work to do. He threw for just 110 yards, including a nice TD to DK Metcalf, but it was Kenneth Walker who carried the load with 17 rushes for 79 yards and a score.
The Giants defense even made Drew Lock look like a star...
If I'm Pete Carroll, I'm taking this win with a pinch of salt. It was less about the Hawks playing well, than the Giants being downright awful. But one thing's for sure - Devon Witherspoon is an elite CB... 7 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 QB pressures and a 97-yard pick six. Keep your eye out for No.21.
So, are things finally looking up for the Jets? Is it all over for the Giants? Or did Buffalo expose the flaws in the McDaniel's offense?
(Header Image Credit: Cary Edmondson - USA TODAY Sports)