NFL Quick Hits: Week Four
Well everyone, I rolled the dice, and I came up empty. The Bills fell to the Patriots (again).
To be fair to myself, it was a hard-fought, close game that the Bills were in. My thinking was in the right place, it just did not pan out.
Still, that doesn't remove the sting of a week of predictions where I went 8-7. Not terrible by any means, but big wins by the Bucs, Raiders, and New Orleans put a blemish on my hot start to the season.
There were some big statlines this week from several players you may not have been expecting. We'll take a look at those, my take on the Titans' quarterback situation, and the hit that landed a Raiders linebacker with a season-long suspension.
Offensive Player of the Week: Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
I was sooooooo close to picking Fournette and his 200+-yard outburst here, which don't get me wrong is outstanding, but he didn't contribute any points.
I'm going with Chubb since he found the endzone three times to go along with his 165 yards on the ground.
One his touchdowns came on an 88-yard burst, meaning he has an 85+-yard touchdown run in each of his first two seasons.
Chubb has somewhat quietly compiled a legit case so far in his career to be in the discussion for the NFL's best running back. Chalk that up to playing in a market like Cleveland if you want. However remember that in the beginning of the 2018 season, we were hailing the Browns for having a backfield duo of Carlos Hyde and Duke Williams, with Chubb just an afterthought.
Defensive Player of the Week: Shaquil Barrett, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I have to admit, this one may be cheating slightly because I am taking into consideration a little bit Barrett's entire body of work this year.
The Bucs' defense is, in a word, garbage, allowing 30 points in all but one of their games so far. However, Barrett has been stellar.
Through four games, Barrett leads the league with nine sacks. On Sunday against the Rams, Barrett did it all, getting a sack, an interception, and forcing the fumble that Ndamukong Suh returned for a game sealing touchdown.ESPN
The Buccaneers have a really low ceiling as a team in large part to the defense, but don't blame Barrett at all for that.
Runners Up: Ndamukong Suh (game-sealing fumble scoop for TD against the Rams), Erik Harris (seven tackles, pick-six against the Colts), Vonn Bell (ten tackles, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery vs. Cowboys).
Rookie of the Week: A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
Honestly this week was a little bit of a tough one for rookie performances. The only one that really stood out was A.J. Brown's torching of the Falcons secondary, mainly in the first half.
Brown is turning out to be a fantastic second-round pickup in the Titans draft. The downside, as is the case with wide receivers, is that his production is largely based on the wildly inconsistent Marcus Mariota (more on him later).
Brown was only targeted three times, but bossed the banged-up Falcons secondary in catching all three for 94 yards and two scores.
Runner Up: Devin Bush (Seven tackles, three tackles for loss, one pass defended in big win vs. Bengals)
Winner of the Week: Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans
Bit of a disclaimer here, I have been a Titans fan my whole life. However, I think that gives me some good insight on to Mariota's situation.
To fully understand the issues with Mariota, you have to take his whole career so far into account. Despite having good weapons around him, Marcus has struggled a lot with consistency and injuries.
The latter is out of his control, but the inconsistent play is alarming. Part of this is due to the Titans going through several offensive coordinators does not help though.
So having two straight games against the Colts and Jaguars where Marcus looked lost and could not convert third downs has been alarming.
A large contingent of Titans fans have been calling for Ryan Tannehill to be bumped up to starter. With all that being said, Mariota needed to have a good game Sunday against the Falcons.
He did not light up the stat sheet (18/27 for 227 yards and three touchdowns), but he managed the game, converted, made big plays and got touchdowns.
I will say this about Mariota: The criticism has been a bit harsh.
He has zero interceptions through the first four games of the season, which is huge, since interception woes have plagued him the past couple of years. The only quarterbacks this season so far to have not thrown an interception while starting at least one game this season are Mariota, Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, and Kyle Allen. Sam Darnold is in there too, but he literally only played one game before getting mono.
Also, take a look at the league leaders in passer rating. Mariota is right up there, just a hair behind Gardner Minshew and a few other quarterbacks people absolutely gush over.
The bottom line is: Mariota is a good quarterback, fantastic on his day even. The problem is that his day normally comes once every three weeks.
Now the big question is if this level of play can be sustained for more than one week, or if he will revert back to having poor games.
Runners Up: Leonard Fournette (200+ yards rushing against the Broncos), Eddy Pineiro (Bears kicker had three field goals and an extra point, proving to be reliable kicker, which we're not sure the Bears have ever heard of)
Loser of the Week: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Oakland Raiders
Seriously, Vontaze Burfict is a dangerous man. Burfict's lineage of reckless, dangerous, and straight up dirty plays reads like a rap sheet, going all the way back to his high school days.
Its a shame too, because I remember reading articles when he was still in college at Arizona State that had him as possibly going number one overall in the NFL Draft.
to his credit, Burfict does have the capacity to be a good-to-very good linebacker in the league, but he just can't control himself. Now after the latest injustice, a straight-up dumb and extremely dangerous late hit on Colts tight end Jack Doyle, Burfict is done for the year, a smart choice on the NFL's part given Burfict's extensive history.
Runners Up: Altlanta Falcons Passing Attack (400+ yards passing, only got mustered ten points), Josh Allen (three picks in close game against Patriots), Dwyane Haskins (three picks in first start), Houston Texans O-Line (DeShaun Watson sacked six times, hit ten times)
Best Uni Matchup of the Week: Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints
The Sunday primetime slot had the prime threads of week four. Since the Cowboys opt for their white uniforms at home most of the time, and then proceed to wear white on the road, the dark blue uniforms don't get as much air time as they should. This is a shame, because those are honestly up there with the most solid unis in the league.
On the flip side, why haven't the Saints made these their normal white uniform set-up yet? The throwbacks are much better then the away uniform with black numbers and black pants. Make these the default away uniforms, New Orleans.
Runners Up: Chiefs at Lions, Titans at Falcons, Bengals at Steelers, Redskins at Giants
Most Barf-y Uni Matchup of the Week: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Here you have two separate situations.
On one hand, you have Seattle's grey alternates, which were born from an era around the time the Seahawks received their uniform design update in in the early 2010s where Nike was making grey uniforms for any football team that set foot on the field.
Seriously, Nike went a little grey-happy, regardless if it made sense with the team.
On the other hand you have the Cardinals, whose uniform template was created back in the mid-2000s when Reebok was still making the league's uniforms. Aside from the Panthers, the Cardinals are most in need of a uniform design update.
Maybe the Cards keep this design to hold on to the last shred of success the team had, almost winning the Super Bowl. It's time to let go., Arizona.
Together, this game was an aesthetically hot mess.
Runners Up: Buccaneers at Rams, Browns at Ravens