Impressions from Week Four of the 2015 NFL Season

I’m 0-4 when it comes to predicting Thursday Night games. I’m 4-0 when predicting Sunday Night games. That has nothing to do with anything, but I find it interesting.

It really does seem like teams are making really bad decisions in regards to their starting kickers. Josh Scobee and Kyle Brindza have both been released due to their inefficiency. Zach Hocker missed a game-winning field goal at the end of regulation against Dallas last night, which was only a 30 yard kick. It didn’t effect the end-result, but really? 30 yards? That’s hard to look past. Those who are secure with their kickers show why, but everyone else is on a very thin tightrope.

Joe Philbin’s been fired. Will someone be next? Chip Kelly? Jim Caldwell? It’s been a season of wasted potential thus far. A lot of former elite teams are no longer getting it done consistently. New Orleans, Baltimore, San Francisco, Indianapolis, to name a few thus far. It’s been an upside-down season. And according to some, it’s been a really ugly season. How many teams in the NFL could actually be considered “good”? Some would argue that the total could be counted on a single hand. Of course, we’re only four weeks in, so all of this is basically pessimistic fortune-telling. It’s still intriguing to see things go so haywire so fast.

[Baltimore @ Pittsburgh]

  • (Watched, incorrect)

Scobee doobie doo, where are you? We need some help from you, now.

He missed two field goals that could’ve won the game. Then, in overtime, head coach Mike Tomlin became too scared to try him again. Twice. Yeah, he missed two field goals earlier, but what are the chances of him missing two more? Instead, he opts for a quarterback run with Mike Vick, then a stick route for Antonio Brown, who he overthrew. Where’s Le’Veon Bell? Where’s DeAngelo Williams? Where’s Will Johnson? Why don’t you run with that thick offensive line you have? Once? Just once? Le’Veon Bell had 100 and somethin’ yards on the night. Use him! C’mon!

Baltimore, on the other hand, looked pretty ugly in the passing game. Pittsburgh’s secondary looked good all night. Their running game came to life, however, as Pittsburgh’s defensive line didn’t pull their weight much. Once Steve Smith left the game, Baltimore basically only had the run to live off of. What does Flacco have on offense? Aiken? Williams? May as well run it forty times a game.

Pittsburgh gave this game away. Lots of very poor play-calls. The worst part is, Mike Vick didn’t even play badly! Not one turnover. The defense ended up being the star of the night, much like I should’ve expected. Both teams’ defense played pretty well. I’d be a tad optimistic about that if I were Baltimore. But, uh, their offense has zero weapons. Pittsburgh just has a choking habit.

[New York (Jets) vs. Miami] (London game)

  • (Watched, correct)

FitzMagic struggled a little this game. Thankfully, Chris Ivory is a good running back who plays like a bull. It was Miami’s offense who truly struggled in this game. Their first touchdown drive came with the help of two pass interference calls, which gave them fifty-somethin’ yards. Kudos to you, Tannehill.

Miami all-around just looked really bad. I had heard rumbles around comment sections that Miami looked absolutely putrid, but hey, I can’t take everyone’s word to heart. But upon looking at them play… yeah, they were right. They had some good plays on defense, but their offense looked so pitiful, it was almost like watching their opponent’s offense in 2014. When it mattered most, Tannehill threw two interceptions to keep Miami from coming back. Miami’s offensive struggles? New York’s defensive superiority? Both? Probably.

Miami fired head coach Joe Philbin after the loss. Immediately afterwards, interim head coach Dan Campbell, who used to be the tight ends coach, stated that Miami needed a culture change. Not to speculate, but Philbin’s firing may have been desired by many within the organization if they’re going to come out and say things like that an hour after his release. I can only wonder how Miami will play going forward.

Also, FitzMagic’s interception was bullshit. Bowman clearly pushed Smith down. Damn refs. Smearing FitzMagic’s quarterback rating like that.

[New York (Giants) @ Buffalo]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

If anyone can make me look like a complete idiot, it’s Eli Manning. A two-score blowout of Buffalo on the road? W-what? How does that even happen?

I’ll tell you how that happens: penalties. Buffalo committed 17 penalties during the game. 17. You can give 17 penalties to Jacksonville and even they’ll find a way to beat Buffalo. Not only that, but Buffalo’s offense just went kaput. Taylor couldn’t get anything going. The running game was putrid. New York’s defense has really stepped up their game… against inconsistent offenses. Nevertheless, they’ll take the win.

I originally put Karlos Williams on a pedestal for his performance against Miami. But, uh, as I mentioned above, Miami is Miami. Albert Haynesworth could’ve gotten at least 80 yards against them. He was awful against New York. It seems I was too taken by a one-game performance, much like I was with Matt Jones of Washington (more on him later).

One of two games that hit me like a ton of bricks. I was not expecting New York to be any hassle for Buffalo. But hey, Buffalo could bounce back, right? Right?

[Carolina @ Tampa Bay]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Carolina must feel really good about their current record. 4-0 against teams that are currently 1-3, 1-3, 1-3, and, hey, 1-3. I’d like to see them go toe to toe against a more balanced team, like Arizona or Atlanta. Unfortunately for me, they have a bye next week, but their opponent after that is Seattle at Century Link Field. That should prove very interesting.

What’s even more interesting is seeing Jameis Winston’s up-and-down season unfold in front of me (or his stats, anyway). Four interceptions were thrown in the game against Carolina. His first pass was a pick-six, much like his first ever pass in the NFL. He’s been inconsistent, but he’s a rookie. And has a crummy offensive line.

Carolina’s defense played very well, as expected, generating a lot of good field position and a few points for the offense. I heard the game was super rainy, too, so I’m willing to forgive a relatively lackluster outing by both quarterbacks in this game. I’m kinda wondering why Carolina didn’t give more to Jon Stewart, though, who only had ten carries on the day. I would think with the weather, you’d want to run the ball more. Nothing new really came up this game. Tampa Bay’s still bad. Carolina’s defense is still dangerous.

[Oakland @ Chicago]

  • (Watched the first quarter and a half, incorrect)

See? Didn’t I say that if Jay Cutler played they had a chance? They took that chance and won it. A great win by an ailing Chicago team.

Now, not to make excuses, but I honestly thought Jimmy Clausen was going to start in this game. Even if I knew Cutler would start, though, I still would’ve picked Oakland. I just would’ve felt less secure with my pick. Chicago, like I said before, had the disadvantage of starting the season against Green Bay, Arizona, and Seattle on the road. I even commented how good they looked against both Green Bay and Arizona. They kept the game close in both cases. Chicago deserved this win over Oakland. They really aren’t as bad as their record may indicate.

Oakland just got outplayed. It was a really close match-up, but they couldn’t clinch it when it mattered. Amari Cooper was a non-factor after his touchdown catch, leaving the slack to Michael Crabtree. Latavius Murray played badly against a Chicago defense that is actually pretty okay against the run. He also lost a fumble, which hurt their chances quite a bit. They had to play perfectly, and they just couldn’t get it done.

At the end of the day, though, I see this as a victory for both teams. Neither looked particularly bad. I’d be optimistic for the future of both franchises. Especially Oakland. If they stay consistent, they can be a real force. And to think, Chicago didn’t even have Alshon Jeffery!

[Kansas City @ Cincinnati]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

7 fucking field goals! Kansas City scored 0 touchdowns and 7 field goals! I have never seen so many god damn field goals in one game in my entire life! Is that a record? Let me check if that’s a record. It’s tied for second! The record is 8, set by the late Rob Bironas back in 2007.

Exciting as 7 field goals are, it also goes to show the efficiency of Cincinnati’s defense. They’re giving up points, sure, but they can do that when Cincinnati’s already up by a touchdown or two. Kansas City just can’t seem to find the endzone, despite Jamaal Charles’ YPA being about 7 yards a carry. He only ran it eleven times, by the way. Andy Reid and his god damn fetish for passing the ball. He’s killing Alex Smith’s already weakish arm.

Speaking of arms, Andy Dalton didn’t throw it much. But boy, did he throw it. He finished the day throwing 24 passes, with 17 completions and 321 yards. That’s a 13.4 yard average per completion, which is mind-blowing. Y’know what else is mind-blowing? His average yards per completion on the season is 10.2. He’s completing 67.2 percent of his passes. He’s thrown 9 touchdowns to 1 interception. He’s been sacked twice on the season. His current quarterback rating is 123.0. Only Aaron Rodgers is above him in that category.

BUT HEY, HE HASN’T PLAYED IN PRIMETIME, YET!!!

[Houston @ Atlanta]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

uh wow

Houston kinda sucks. That tends to happen when you don’t have a starter-quality quarterback.

[Jacksonville @ Indianapolis]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Hahaha! I wasn’t worried about this pick when I heard Hasselbeck was starting! N-no siree! I wasn’t worried when I saw Jacksonville go up by a touchdown early in the second quarter, either! N-nope! I had confidence that Hasselbeck w-w-would get it done! Total faith!

In all seriousness, though, this game is another example of how NFL teams seem to be bad at choosing kickers. Jason Myers missed two field goals against Indianapolis out of four attempts. Both of the field goals he missed would’ve won Jacksonville the game. Starting to get a sense of deja vu, Pittsburgh? He’s 7-10 on field goals on the season, with 4 of those completed field goals coming between 20-29 yards. He’s 2-5 when kicking between 40-60 yards. Impressive.

If this is how Indianapolis is going to play without Andrew Luck, I can only be optimistic about how they play with Andrew Luck. If this is how Jacksonville is going to play against Indianapolis’s defense, I can only be optimistic that they won’t win another game this season. Maybe at home, but certainly not on the road. Both of these teams were ugly. It doesn’t make me look forward to this Thursday Night’s game.

[Philadelphia @ Washington]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

And Philadelphia’s offensive line continues to be a problem. Sam Bradford’s been sacked seven times and continues to face a great amount of pressure. DeMarco Murray had one run for 30 yards, but then had 7 carries for 6 yards. Ryan Mathews was a non-factor. Everyone else was almost a non-factor. At least Bradford had a good fantasy day.

Washington’s pass rush came alive and sacked Bradford five times during the game. Their offense, while sporadic, got it done in the final thirty seconds of the game. Kirk Cousins played alright, but also more conservatively, and it payed off in an aggressive outing to finish off the final drive. Alfred Morris helped a little, but was essentially swallowed up by Philadelphia’s defense. Matt Jones, after a great performance against St. Louis (more on them later), has gone 49 yards on 18 carries. So much for being a one-two punch.

I was pleasantly surprised, but at the same time not surprised at all. Philadelphia is not going to win many games with their offensive line. All they can rely on now is their defense to keep their opponent to as few points as possible. Washington? They seem to be good at home, I guess.

[Cleveland @ San Diego]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Philip Rivers and Josh McCown both did exactly what I told them to do. Unfortunately, Cleveland’s special team squad didn’t remember that they aren’t supposed to move beyond the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped for a field goal try. Whoops.

I was genuinely shocked at how close this game was. Either San Diego’s defense is worse than I thought it was, or Cleveland’s offense is better than I th—no, it’s probably the former.

One thing I didn’t know: Joe Haden was ruled out for this game about an hour before the game started, when he was initially ruled as probable.  That’s a little odd. Did he just not want to play with Josh McCown starting? I know I wouldn’t. They almost won, though! If Joe Haden would’ve played, they may have actually won it! He’s a good corner, probably!

San Diego, though, doesn’t exactly look like an elite team. I expected them to do very well this year now that Philip Rivers is 100% healthy. Then again, he’s without Antonio Gates and a hunk of his starting offensive line-up. Maybe when they return, they’ll be a potent offensive powerhouse. That doesn’t answer my questions about the defense, however. I’d be more optimistic about Cleveland than San Diego coming out of this game.

[Minnesota @ Denver]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

Another close game! If not for Denver’s punishing defense, this game may have gone the other way. Minnesota, if not for their Week One pummeling, looks to be a really solid team. They aren’t the best offensively, but they have a top five defense with a ton of solid players. Enough to make Peyton Manning struggle, too.

Ronnie Hillman had a great touchdown run to boost Denver into the lead in the first half. Besides that, 10 carries, 31 yards. Peyton Manning threw 1 touchdown to 2 interceptions. C.J. Anderson had 11 carries for 43 yards. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders did most of the work in the pass game (which isn’t surprising), but neither had a touchdown reception. That went to Owen Daniels.

Lots of sacks in this game. 9 combined between both teams. 7 went to Denver, in a game that made Minnesota’s offensive line look really thin. That would be the biggest issue going forward with Minnesota, but they have such a shiny defense! The same could be said about Denver, along with a declining Peyton Manning. But they, too, have a shiny defense!

[Green Bay @ San Francisco]

  • (Did not watch, correct)

And people thought San Francisco could upset Green Bay. Please.

Colin Kaepernick improved upon last week’s trainwreck of a performance, but he still couldn’t get much going on offense. I don’t blame him. He was sacked 6 times. Carlos Hyde had 20 yards on 8 carries. No one could get open, probably. Not on him. He basically had to transform into Cam Newton and do it all himself.

This Green Bay defense looks really good. Then again, they went up against Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle (road team), and Kansas City (road team). None of these teams have particularly potent offenses. Still, one has to respect holding an opponent to just 3 points. Even if your starter is Jimmy Clausen.

Again, I’m at a loss for words, as nothing new was really shown this game. Aaron Rodgers is still a god. San Francisco is still mediocre, with bits of talent on both sides of the ball. Nothing more.

[St. Louis @ Arizona]

  • (Did not watch, incorrect)

St. Fuckin’. Louis.

I can’t figure it out, man. Are you a good team or a bad team? Is your defense elite or jelly? Is your offense a tornado or a fat guy’s moist spit? It drives me absolutely insane trying to figure this team out. Inconsistent as all hell. They lose to Washington on the road, but then beat Arizona on the road??? What?!?! St. Louis fans have got to be one of the most tortured fans in all of the NFL. If not, the world. God damn.

Arizona just had an off-day. Maybe.

[Dallas @ New Orleans]

  • (Watched final quarter, correct)

It’s a beautiful thing when you correctly pick a game you know could go either way. I decided to follow my heart instead of my brain and look where it got me: a correct pick. I’m so glad I’m focusing on this instead of college homework.

From what I saw of the final quarter, Dallas was being ultra-conservative with Brandon Weeden as the starter. And then when they needed to win, they drove down the field like it was nothing. Gee, maybe you should’ve been more aggressive from the start, huh?

Drew Brees played a near flawless night, which is starting to become a rarity now a days, even with a still-injured shoulder. I don’t remember a lot of deep passes, though. Probably because his shoulder was injured. At least they got some good runs in there.

The defense played as well as it could’ve, seeing as they lost about 400 players during the game. Sean Lee got injured (no surprise), Lance Dunbar got injured (and is out for the year), Randy Gregory got injured. Oprah’s handing out health insurance packages like she’s rich or something. Dallas is sinking slowly into mediocrity with all of these damn injuries. It’s unfortunate, too, because they’re a great team when they aren’t broken.

More of a moral victory for New Orleans, I don’t really see them becoming a threat to any degree. Atlanta and Carolina are clearly better than New Orleans, and the NFC has plenty of other good to okay teams that would cook New Orleans for dinner. As much as I’d like to see Drew Brees win twelve more games straight, it’s not likely with the lack of weapons on offense and inconsistent defense. Oh well. At least they beat Dallas.

[Detroit @ Seattle]

  • (Watched, correct)

Two things became incredibly apparent to me upon watching this game:

1. Matt Stafford is struggling with the deep pass. Twice Calvin Johnson was open deep down the field and twice Stafford either overthrew him or put it where he couldn’t reach it. Calvin Johnson’s stats are very ugly for someone of his caliber, but his quarterback isn’t giving him any help at all.

2. Seattle’s offensive line is made of fucking paper. I can’t remember a single play where Russell Wilson wasn’t running around like Ben Roethlisberger in his early days as Pittsburgh’s starter. They really, really, need to do something about that.

This game was just ugly all around. The weaknesses of both teams were made apparent during the game. By now, if you know football at all, you know that Seattle’s offensive line is really bad and Detroit’s offensive flexibility is really bad. Neither team can really run the ball, as Detroit’s offensive line isn’t great, either. Seattle has the benefit of Russell Wilson, who can scramble and make plays when he needs them. Stafford dumps the ball off two yards downfield and lets five defenders tackle the outlet receiver. Both teams’ offenses looked gross, with a few magical plays for Seattle.

Detroit’s defense kept the game close, though. After the second forced fumble and its return for a touchdown, I thought Detroit may have had a chance. Detroit may have put the game away had Calvin Johnson not lost the ball after Chancellor punched it out at the goal line. It was a sick end to what looks to be a sick season for Detroit. The worst part, they have the initials “WCF” embroidered in their uniforms, in honor of their late owner, William Clay Ford, Sr. A pity they’re playing so poorly.

A few shocking results, but nothing as bad as weeks prior. Week Four proved to be one of high drama and interesting new variables, with back-up quarterbacks starting, kickers performing badly, and winners continuing to show they deserve their undefeated status. With Week Five on the horizon, it should prove just as interesting, now that two new kickers will be entrenched in the starting role, and the Dolphins will be taking calls from a new head coach.

I can’t wait. Can you?

  • Week Four Pick ‘Em record: 10-5
  • Overall Pick ‘Em record: 39-24

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