NFL Week Four Takeaways
Biggest storylines after this past Sunday
Crazy to think we’re already a quarter of the way through the NFL regular season. Week four featured an exciting and impactful slate of games. As teams have started to really take shape, more and more newsworthy events are coming out. Below I will name three of my biggest storylines following week four.
It’s time to give Arizona their respect
Everyone, including myself, may have been sleeping on the Arizona Cardinals. Yes Arizona was previously 3–0; however, their wins against Tennessee, Minnesota, and Jacksonville didn’t bring ‘best team in football’ praise. The Titans and Vikings are quality wins, but each have their own set of issues resulting in a combined record of 3–5. Many thought the Cardinals were a solid team entering week four. A 37–20 win over the Los Angeles Rams has those same people now heaping Super Bowl potential onto Arizona.
I can’t say that I blame them.
The Rams had looked like the best team in football so far. Yet, Arizona easily controlled the game. Led by a high powered offense which ranks in the top six in total yards per game (most), passing yards per game (third-most), rushing yards per game (sixth-most), and points per game (most), this team currently looks unstoppable. Kyler Murray is leading the way as an MVP candidate, as he’s compiled 1,382 total yards and 12 total touchdowns this season.
But perhaps the most impressive thing about Arizona is their balance. While their offense will make all the headlines, their defense has been much improved. The Cardinals currently are allowing the ninth-fewest points per game, and the eleventh-fewest passing yards per game. They also have the third-most takeaways this year with nine.
A month into the season, and there’s only one undefeated team remaining: Arizona. I think it’s finally time we give Kyler and company some respect. Expect the Cardinals to be a real force this postseason.
It’s officially over in Pittsburgh
From an explosive offense to a not so explosive one. The Pittsburgh Steelers appear to be heading nowhere fast, as a loss to Green Bay currently has them at 1–3 on the season.
I’ll be honest, after their week one win against Buffalo, I thought Pittsburgh was being underrated. Man was I wrong. The Steelers offense is horrible, and most of the blame is on their aging quarterback. Pittsburgh is currently averaging the fourth-fewest points per game with 16.8, while Ben Roethlisberger looks completely washed. He’s averaging the fourth-fewest yards per attempt in the league with 6.1.
The Steelers offense simply strikes no fear into opponents. They can’t run the ball once again, and Ben can’t throw it downfield. It’s not even just the low YPA for Roethlisberger either. It’s the pure lack of ability to convert on key plays. Multiple times this season on a third or fourth and long, he’ll just check the ball down to his running back. It’s just giving up on any chance of converting a big play due to his lack of arm strength.
Despite almost everyone realizing it’s over for Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh has little to no options. They could try to run the ball more with their first round pick Najee Harris, but 55.3 yards per game for Pittsburgh has a team is unappealing. This leads to Big Ben having the second-most pass attempts in the NFL this season, but ranking just 17th in passing yards.
Realistically the Steelers should bench Ben Roethlisberger. It’s tough to say for an all-time great, but he’s simply a hinderance to any offensive success. The problem is the backup options of Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins can’t be much better. Pittsburgh instead, will be forced to invest heavily in college QB scouting because this is it for Big Ben. We’ve officially arrived at a lost season for the Steelers.
Dallas has the ability to be a threat
The Cowboys have this thing where one year they’re explosive and dominant, and another year they’re missing out on the postseason. Well this season it appears to be the former.
Dallas sits with a 3–1 record following a 36–28 win over the Carolina Panthers. Their offense is still a force, ranking in the top-five in total yards per game (third-most), rushing yards per game (second-most), and points per game (fourth-most). It’s their defense however, that is starting to get noticed. After being terrible last season, Dallas ranks sixth in rushing yards allowed per game this season. They’ve also been very opportunistic, forcing the second-most turnovers (10) so far.
While their wins over the Chargers, Eagles, and Panthers have been impressive, perhaps it’s their lone loss that is actually the most noteworthy. Dallas lost a 31–29 thriller to Tampa Bay in week one of the season. The Cowboys played well that game, and certainly had a great chance to win. However, Brady at home pulled out the victory.
That game showed Dallas can compete with the best of the best, and that’s all you need in the postseason. The Cowboys are for real this year, and no team should be looking forward to facing them.