It’s time to wrap up one of the more unique weeks in NFL history where the first major COVID scare impacted four games.
We saw the Titans-Steelers clash postponed to late October, the Chiefs-Patriots pushed back 24 hours and the Vikings-Texans plus Lions-Saints games both going ahead as scheduled after a few nervous moments.
On top of the action on the field there were a handful of dramatic finishes plus the first coach getting fired in Bill O’Brien.
Read on for the regular Week 4 NFL recap before you go anywhere else.
1 – Good Coaching is More Important than Ever
In a week with four games that went through a COVID scare, we got to see just how important having a strong leader for a head coach is, most notably with the Saints.
It would have been very easy for them to be below par after one of their players returned what turned out to be a false positive after making the trip to Detroit.
Few would have blamed them for rolling over after going down 14-0 early in Detroit considering they wouldn’t have been sure the game was going ahead until the morning of.
But Sean Payton kept things rolling and they found their groove, eventually getting home by six to win and cover against the Lions.
We’ve already seen a few teams have disrupted preparations and when there is a scare in the lead up to a game, the teams with good coaches like the Saints, will find ways to get around it.
2 – A Scoring Correction is Coming
It’s been an offensively dominated season as the defences have struggled to catch up with some of the new players and concepts that have been rolled out.
With the disrupted offseason the teams went through, many likened the start of this season to the 2011 campaign where the offences got off to a hot start due to the NFL lockout.
As the season progressed and defensive cohesion grew, the scoring came down and at some point, backing unders is going to start to yield a very good return if timed correctly.
The totals are starting to catch up to the higher scoring games as well, the average number in Week 1 was 46 points and it has risen to 49.6 for this week with eight games going over and another two hitting the number exactly.
Eventually there will be a regression, it all comes down to when the defences start to catch up to things.
Then again, when guys like OBJ are doing this, you realised not every play can be stopped.
3 – Road Teams Proved to be a Winning Play
Home field advantage has taken on a different meaning this season with most stadiums being closed to crowds.
Over the last two weeks we have seen away teams really start to see some success as they deal with much less hostile environments than we have seen in previous years.
Overall, home teams went 6-9 head to head and just 4-10-1 against the spread in Week 4 to bring their record on the season to 31-32-1 straight up and 29-34 at the line.
When you consider road favourites went 6-1 in both categories this week it’s a good reminder that the gap between the haves and have nots is bigger than normal this season with home field advantage mattering less.
4 – Florida Tom Brady is Doing Fine
We all had a good laugh when Tom Brady struggled through Week 1 but since then, the
Patriots (sorry old habit), Buccaneers quarterback has shown gradual improvement each and every week.
There are still a few moments where you can tell he’s battling but there’s a lot to like about what we are seeing every week.
Perhaps the most impressive thing is who he is throwing to, his final seasons with the Patriots were marked by an unwillingness to work with young receivers but with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and now OJ Howard injured, he’s finding ways to spread the ball around.
Guys like Scotty Miller, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Cameron Brate are contributing as we are seeing Brady’s favourite receiver going back to being “the open guy” more often than not.
In New England they are looking for the “next” Tom Brady and while Jarrett Stidham wanted to try and emulate the GOAT, Bill Belichick would probably be happier if he didn’t emulate Brady’s last pass for his old team.
We’ll get to see Brady in another feature match this Friday when he heads to Chicago to face the Chicago Bears, who will be quarterbacked by Nick Foles
5 – A Texans Turnaround is No Sure Thing
Bill O’Brien the coach bet on Bill O’Brien the General Manager over the last season and a half and lost in a big way with the 0-4 Texans firing both versions of their football czar overnight.
Normally here we would be saying “get ready for a Houston resurgence now that the coach was fired” but coaching was never the main problem (unless it was a playoff game).
The lack of cohesive plan building the roster around the one remaining truly special offensive talent they have with Deshaun Watson is what will cost this team and force whoever takes over long term into a bigger rebuild than there should have been.
If they beat the Jaguars next weekend (and they really should), it won’t be because they are responding to a different voice running the show, just because they are the better team.
Over the last few seasons O’Brien has ripped apart a team that should have been contending for a Super Bowl with MVP candidate Deshaun Watson but now they are facing an uphill battle to even get back to 8-8.