Week 4 is in the books and only one team remains undefeated. The Arizona Cardinals stand alone as the league’s last perfect team. On the other end of the spectrum, only the Lions and Jaguars have yet to taste victory. With a quarter of the season already gone, we’re starting to see a bit of clarity among the various teams. There are still 13 games left to be played, but for some teams time is running out fast. Also, after next week, teams will start having bye weeks, which are great ways to jumpstart a season. Whenever there’s a competition, there will be winners and losers. So, as usual, let’s jump right into it.
Winner #1 Arizona Cardinals
Not only are the Cardinals the only team yet to experience a loss, but the manner in which they won their last game was impressive. Arizona marched into LA and absolutely dominated the “media darling” Rams. It may be that the Rams were looking ahead to their next matchup against Seattle, but that doesn’t change the fact that Arizona was far better on Sunday. Cardinals QB Kyler Murray looked like a frontrunner for the MVP award with his performance. His ability to use his legs to create big plays caused problems for the Rams defense all game long. The win was a statement of intent, as all of a sudden Arizona looks like legitimate super bowl contenders. The win also allows them to stand atop the grueling NFC West division. If this team can stay healthy, they could make a deep playoff run.
Loser #1 New Orleans Saints
A week after their bounce back win over the Patriots, the Saints got to play their first true home game of the season. Week 1 was played in Jacksonville due to hurricane Ida, making this their home-opener. Even better, they got to play a Giants team that hadn’t played particularly well. Yet when the dust settled, it was the Giants who emerged victorious. Saquan Barkley scored the game winning TD in overtime to give New York a stunning victory. The loss hurts even more when you consider that the Saints held an 11-point lead in the 4th quarter. The Saints look to be a fringe playoff team, and losses like this have a tendency to be costly when looking at the final standings.
Winner #2 Dallas Cowboys
Coming into this game there was a lot of talk about how good Carolina’s defense was this season. They ranked near the top in all the important defensive categories and looked to threaten the Dallas offense. Instead, what we saw was perhaps the Cowboys finest performance so far this season. The final score flatters Carolina more than it should. Dallas had their way with the Carolina defense, running all over them at times. Ezekiel “Zeke” Elliott had over 100 yards rushing and appears to be back to his “peak” self. Dak Prescott had a wonderful day throwing 4 TDs in an efficient passing day. On the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys might’ve found their foundation. Both Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs continue to impress with their standout play. For the first time in a while, the Cowboys might be a dangerous team to go against.
Loser #2 Tennessee Titans
Tennessee started the season off with an embarrassing blowout loss to the Cardinals at home. It appeared that was just a bad day, as they won back-to-back games over Seattle and Indianapolis in impressive fashion. Then this Sunday happened with the Titans inexplicably losing to the Jets in OT. The Jets, behind rookie QB Zach Wilson, hadn’t won a game this season and yet somehow found a way to win over the Titans. The defense was a mess and at times made Wilson look like a 10-year veteran. Offensively the titans struggled to move the ball with any consistency. I understand that Tennessee was without their top two targets in A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, but they should have still won this game. The good news for the Titans is that their division is so bad that they should still easily win the AFC South.
Winner #3 Los Angeles Chargers
On Monday night we were treated to an AFC West battle to see who would, at the moment, reign supreme. The Chargers took that mantle, and it was fully deserved. The Chargers raced out to a 21-0 lead and never looked back. They outplayed the Raiders in all facets of the game and laid down the gauntlet. Justin Herbert was spectacular, throwing 3 TDs on the big stage. His running mate Austin Ekeler also got in on the fun, running for over 100 yards and chipping in on a few TDs. The Chargers have set themselves up pretty nicely early on in the season. Winning over the Chiefs and the Raiders should be a huge confidence booster. More than that, it also gives them the tiebreaker over both teams. Owning the tiebreaker can certainly come in handy late in the season.
Loser #3 Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons
The time of being a starting QB appears to be running out for Ben Roethlisberger. Against Green Bay, the Pittsburgh offense offered very little. Big Ben threw the ball 40 times and only managed 232 yards and a TD. He also threw a pick and was sacked twice. It’s becoming more clear that Big Ben’s better days are behind him. In fact, his average days might be behind him also, as he seems to have fallen over the proverbial cliff. He doesn’t seem able to push the ball downfield anymore. Part of that can be attributed to his bad offensive line, as he’s constantly under duress. This doesn’t bode well for the Steelers season, as it is sinking fast. To make matters worse, the Steelers lack a capable backup, forcing them to stick with Big Ben.
Another game, another late 4th quarter lead blown. Such is life for the Falcons and their fans as they watched Washington become the latest team to snatch victory when defeat seemed secured. Atlanta was up 8 points with under 5 minutes to go, but let Washington score 12 unanswered points in the final 3 minutes of the game. It’s just another chapter in Atlanta misery that seems to be growing by the week. On the bright side, Matt Ryan showed some signs of life by throwing 4 TDs. He, like Big Ben, has not looked particularly good early this season and questions about his starting spot have come up. At least for this week, those questions can stop for Ryan, but he does seem to be the face of all those blown leads. Perhaps Atlanta should start looking for that next QB sooner rather than later.