Now that we’ve hit the quarter-pole in the season, we have enough information to make reasonable conclusions about how we think teams and players will do for the rest of the season.
For example, we can safely assume that the Lions are out of the doldrums. We can also safely assume that the Patriots’ defense is not very good. We can also safely assume that the Eagles are not any sort of Dream Team, unless Vince Young has a disturbed subconscious. Not that we needed this season’s performance to tell us this, but we can safely assume that Rex Grossman is not the quarterback of the past, present, or future of any team.
Since we’re through four weeks of the year, which is ¼ of the season, and it’s October 4th, I’m going to review four games today. Life is full of patterns.
RAVENS 34, JETS 17
TRIUMPH: Ravens TE Ed Dickson was thrown to 12 times in this game, twice as much as any other Raven. Keep in mind that Anquan Boldin was only targeted twice, as he was sippin’ a margarita on Revis Island.
TRAGEDY: Santonio Holmes caught just three of the 12 passes directed his way, but I can’t imagine that most of them were his fault, given how Mark Sanchez performed. With all of the passing that the Jets appear to want to do this year, I can’t imagine Holmes is kept down much longer.
TREND: After getting rocked by Darren McFadden last week, the Jets returned to their run-stuffing ways, not allowing Ray Rice and Co. to come to a boil by allowing a mere 3.1 yards per carry.
TRAIL MIX: In this game, Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez combined to go 21-56 with 282 yards, 0 TD, and 2 INT. In his first career start for an 0-3 team, Curtis Painter went 13-30 for 281 yards, 2 TD and 0 INT. The Jets and Ravens both won playoff games last year with these quarterbacks.
BEARS 34, PANTHERS 29
TRIUMPH: I’m going to consider it a triumph for the Bears’ playcalling that Jay Cutler was allowed to throw the ball only 17 times.
TRAGEDY: The Bears’ normally stout run defense was run on for a strong 7 yards per carry from an offense operating out of the shotgun for more than half the game. The fact that DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for just 18 carries is still puzzling.
TREND: Steve Smith has corralled at least 6 passes for at least 150 yards in three of the first four weeks of this season. He met either of those conditions just once last year. I guess Cam Newton’s kinda good.
TRAIL MIX: Matt Forte followed up a 9 carry, 2 yard performance in Week 3 with 25 carries for 205 yards in Week 4. Normally I’d find that odd, but Forte bookended a 22 carry, 166 yard game last year with two games in which he averaged 10 carries and 18 yards.
LIONS 34, COWBOYS 30
TRIUMPH: Laurent Robinson had 7 receptions for 116 yards in this game and was the Cowboys’ most targeted receiver. However, don’t expect him to have anything close to that the rest of the season, as the team has a bye week next and will likely have Miles Austin return to prominence.
TRAGEDY: The Cowboys bottled up Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson for the first half of the game, as the two connected for 3 passes for 38 yards. While the end result for Johnson looked good (8 receptions, 96 yards, 2 TD) due to their furious comeback, Stafford completed less than 50 percent of his passes.
TREND: The Lions have come back from 20+ point deficits in consecutive weeks. The Bills came back from 18+ point deficits in weeks 2 and 3. The Vikings gave up 17+ point leads in weeks 2 and 3. See a theme here? The overemphasis on passing in the NFL appears to have spawned a trend of streaky performances within games, and no lead appears to be safe.
TRAIL MIX: The Lions have won 8 straight games, giving them the longest active winning streak in the league. From Week 10 of 2007 to the start of this streak, they had gone 5-47.
BUCCANEERS 24, COLTS 17
TRIUMPH: Pierre Garcon, who had 149 yards and 0 touchdowns in the first three weeks of the season, had 142 yards and 2 touchdowns in this game: on two receptions.
TRAGEDY: Somehow, Curtis Painter managed to average 9.4 yards per pass attempt despite completing only 43% of his passes. This isn’t bad for him, certainly, but it’s more a tragedy relative to the Bucs’ tackling on Garcon’s two scores.
TREND: The Colts have allowed the fifth-most rushing yards in the league this year, but this shouldn’t surprise you, as they were in the bottom ten in the league in each of the last three years.
TRAIL MIX: The Colts haven’t started 0-4 since Peyton Manning’s rookie year in 1998. Peyton Manning just signed a 5 year, $90 million contract. The most-hyped quarterback prospect since, well, Manning, is Andrew Luck, who would be the consensus first overall pick in next year’s draft. What if the Colts get that pick?