A quarter through the NFL season and things are starting to take shape. We have disappointments (Carolina and New York Jets) and pleasant surprises (Atlanta, Minnesota, Dallas and Philadelphia). One team stands undefeated and nine teams have one lose. Rookie quarterbacks have started to make their marks and Cleveland is ready to host open try-outs for the quarterback position, seriously you can sign up if you’d like.
Arizona vs San Francisco: Drew Stanton filled in admirably for the injured Carson Palmer and led the Cardinals to a 33-21 victory over San Francisco. Stanton tossed two touchdown passes and more importantly didn’t turn the ball over. Running back David Johnson shredded the 49ers to the tune of 157 yards and two touchdowns. San Francisco is turning to Colin Kaepernick to try to salvage what season the team has left.
New England vs Cleveland: Tom Brady returned and all is right in Foxborough. After not playing for almost a year, Brady dropped 400 yards and three TDs in a 33-13 victory over Cleveland. All-together, the Patriots offense seemed to be in full swing with Brady at the helm. In addition, the two tight end sets that New England used with Aaron Hernandez is being implemented again with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. Cleveland used its fifth quarterback on the season and it’s probably time for the Browns to start preparing for next year’s draft.
Philadelphia vs Detroit: The Eagles showed a lot of guts fighting back from a 14-point deficit, but with 2:34 left in the 4th quarter and deep in Lion territory, running back Jordan Matthews coughed up the football which led to a Matt Prater game-winning field goal.Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz battled however a late interception by him sealed Philly’s fate.
Chicago vs Indianapolis: Indianapolis moved to within one game of 1st place in the AFC South with a 29-23 victory over the Bears. Both quarterbacks had strong games with the Bears’ Brian Hoyer dropping 397 yards and two TDs, while Andrew Luck countered with 322 yards and two scores as well. The silver-lining for Chicago is that they seem to have found a workhorse in rookie Jordan Howard at the running back position
Tennessee vs Miami: Tennessee clawed its way to the second road victory of the season by defeating Miami 30-17. Second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota contributed 4 TDs, while running back DeMarco Murray went over the century mark for the third time this year. Dolphins’ head coach Adam Gase promised to abandon the four-headed monster at running back, however it was more of the same as Miami’s rushing attack failed to hit the century mark for the 5th time this season.
Baltimore vs Washington: Washington went on the road and earned a tough victory over Baltimore 16-10. Washington can credit the defense for this win; three sacks, nine tackles for loss, eight quarterback hits and a forced fumble helped hold the Ravens to 10 points. The Redskins have now won three in a row and have a huge division matchup with the Eagles next week.
Houston vs Minnesota: The Minnesota Vikings keep losing key offensive players (WR Stephon Diggs was out with a groin injury) but it didn’t matter as the defense continues to pound every team into submission. The Vikings held the Texans to 214 yards of offense and pressured Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler all day. Sam Bradford continued to play solid for Minnesota and has now gone four straight games without turning the ball over. The Vikings will enter the bye next week undefeated and sporting a comfortable 1.5 game lead in the NFC North.
Pittsburgh vs New York Jets: Two teams going in opposite directions as the Steelers moved to 4-1 while the Jets dropped to 1-4. Last week it was the turnovers that did the Jets in. This week it was the defense. Steeler signal called Ben Roethlisberger threw for 380 and four TDs; could have been seven if it weren’t for the Sammie Coates drops. To be fair, Coates was playing with a lacerate hand so he had an excuse.
Green Bay vs New York Giants: Green Bay kept pace in the NFC North with a 23-16 victory over the Giants. Aaron Rodgers did just enough to lead the team to victory. The Giants seem to be spinning out of control after they suddenly find themselves in the cellar of the NFC East.
Atlanta vs Denver: The story of this young season has got to be the play of the Atlanta Falcons. Going into Mile High, the Falcons were 6.5 point underdogs but were able to cover the spread and then some with a 23-16 victory. In the process, the Falcons may have given the league an example of how to neutralize the Broncos defense. Atlanta used its running backs in the slot instead of lining up in the back field. That created one-on-one matchups with linebackers and Devonta Freeman and Tevin Colemand took full advantage combining for seven catches and 167 yards. The duo also rushed for 122 yards which kept the Broncos from keying on the passing game. Rooking quarterback Paxton Lynch didn’t look horrible in his first career start but he will need to learn to get the ball out quicker if he wants more snaps under center.
Cincinnati vs Dallas: The Dak Prescott train keep rolling with Dallas moving into sole possession of 1st place in the NFC East. Prescott (227 passing yards, two total TDs) continued his NFL record for most attempts without an interception and Ezekiel Elliott (134 rushing yards) became the first Cowboy since Emmitt Smith to rush for 130+ yards in three straight games. Reports out of Dallas is that Tony Romo is healthy and will be back to full strength soon. Do we have a quarterback controversy brewing? If Prescott continues to play like this, Romo may have to be a team player and hold the clip board when he returns.
Buffalo vs Los Angeles: Buffalo extended its win streak to three with a 30-19 victory over the Rams. The key for the Bills has been defense; teams are averaging just 12 points per game during their win streak. The Rams will travel to Detroit next week in a game that may have Jeff Fisher coaching for his job.
San Diego vs Oakland: Oakland moved into a two-way tie with Denver in the AFC West. Derek Carr (317, two TDs) threw some beautiful balls and Amari Cooper did his best Tim Brown impersonation (138 yards, one TD catch). San Diego fumbled the ball five times (lost two) and literally handed the game to Oakland on a plate by muffing the snap for a game-tying field goal late in regulation. The Chargers travel to Denver while the Raiders have a huge rivalry matchup with Kansas City.
Tampa Bay vs Carolina: The Panthers just haven’t seemed to get the same breaks this year that they did during last season’s Super Bowl run. Playing the game without Cam Newton, the Panthers dropped to 1-4 after a 17-14 loss to Tampa Bay. This was an ugly game that no one seemed to want to win as the Panthers turned the ball over four times and the Bucs Roberto Aguayo missed two field goals. Aguayo definitely had the last laugh however as he drilled a 38-yarder with no time left for the win.
- David Johnson (ARI) – 157 rushing yards, 3 catches, 28 yards in a win over San Francisco.
- T.Y. Hilton (IND) – 10 catches, 171 yards and 1 TD in a win over Chicago.
- Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) – 171 total yards, 2 TDs in a win over the Bengals.
Honorable Mention: Sammie Coates (6 catches, 139 yards, 2 TDs); Tom Brady (406 passing yards, 3 TDs), Greg Olsen (9 catches, 181 yards), Martellus Bennett (6 catches, 67 yards, 3 TDs)
- Brock Osweiler (HOU) – 19/42, 184 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT in a loss to Minnesota.
- Ryan Tannehill (MIA) – 12/18 191 yards, 2 INTS in a loss to Tennessee.
- Lamar Miller (HOU) – 20 rushing yards in a loss to Minnesota.