Every-Thing Sports

NFL Week Four: Good, bad & ugly

NFL Week Four: Good, bad & ugly
Bill Wippert, buffalobills.com

FrankGore

Week four of the NFL season was a wild one. There were a few unexpected results of different varieties on different levels. This week marks the end of the first quarter of the NFL season. Here's some of my observations:

The Good

-Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones won his second straight start this week in a 24-3 win over division rival Redskins. "Danny Dimes" didn't have a great game (two picks and only one touchdown), but did enough to help his team win by going 23/31 for 225 yards, along with five runs for another 33 yards. Jones is showing some of the same promise he showed in the preseason. He might be as good as his draft position (#6 overall)...might is the key word here.

-Chiefs quarterback Pat Mahomes did it again. Every week he shows us something we haven't seen, rarely see, or a "wow" play. This time, he took off on a scramble, but stared down a ref mid-play, and still managed to run for a first down! While he didn't throw a touchdown pass this week (first time in his career), he led a comeback win in Detroit. Wonder what he'll do next week?

-I've been watching Bills running back Frank Gore for the better part of about 20 years now. He was a stud at the University of Miami. Sans his knee injuries there, we may have never heard of Willis McGahee or Clinton Portis. At 36, he ran for 109 yards in a loss against the Patriots, but moved himself into fourth place all-time behind Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders. Kudos to the ageless wonder. I've enjoyed watching him play. Hopefully, he gets a gold jacket whenever he decides to hang up his cleats.

The Bad

-The Ravens fell to 2-2 after giving up over 500 yards on defense for the second week in a row. The Browns also put up 40 points in Baltimore which hasn't happened in several years. The Ravens were leading the AFC North. Now they're tied with the team they just lost to and gave them a confidence boost.

-The Bills forced Tom Brady into one of the worst games of his career...and still lost. Brady was 18/39 for 150 yards, no touchdowns and threw an interception. Not only that, but Bills quarterback Josh Allen was knocked from the game by Jonathan Jones after a helmet to helmet hit. Disappointing way to lose your first game of the season to a division rival and defending champs.

-The Rams gave up 55 points in a home loss to the Bucs. Their quarterback Jared Goff threw the ball 68 times (the third highest total in NFL history) in the loss. The Bucs aren't an offensive juggernaut and the Rams' defense is thought to be better than this performance. This is why they play the games.

The Ugly

-Add Mitchell Trubisky to the list of quarterbacks that have been sidelined due to injuries this season. It was a non-throwing (left) shoulder dislocation and slight labrum tear, but it'll still keep him out for an undisclosed amount of time. It occurred on the sixth play from scrimmage. Backup Chase Daniel came in and secured a 16-6 win for the Bears over the Vikings.

-Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict was suspended for the rest of the season after his helmet to helmet hit on Colts tight end Jack Doyle. Burfict has been warned, and suspended/fined, several times previously for similar offenses, hence the heft of this suspension. Burfict is a guy that can't seem to get himself together, and it may have cost him his career. Doyle said he thinks the hit was worse than what it looked.

-Broncos outside linebacker/defensive end Bradley Chubb suffered a partially torn ACL in their loss to the Jags. He was injured on a play in which he was attempting to shed a block on a run to his side of the field. There was no contact, as he seemed to plant and barely twist is leg when the injury occurred. The fact that he came back and played after the injury is crazy!

With one fourth of the season down, we now have a clearer picture of the division and playoff races. There are several good surprise teams (Bills and Lions come to mind first), and several expected awful teams (Cards and Dolphins). With 25% of the season done, there's still a long way to go. Too early to tell who's a favorite to win it all, but we can certainly see who won't have an ice cream sandwich in a Houston July's chance. Looking forward to seeing the dust settle in a few more weeks.

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Astros on the hunt. Composite Getty Image.

With the Astros' surge from 10 games out of first place to within two games of Seattle, catching and going past the Mariners has naturally become the top objective. It's no given to happen but it's right there. In the final series ahead of the All-Star break, while the Mariners are in the midst of four games with the lowly Angels, the last two World Series champions renew (un)pleasantries at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros enter the weekend five games ahead of the Rangers. They lead the season series with the reigning champs four wins to three. While the Astros can't quite finish off the Arlingtonians by sweeping them in this three game set, shoving them eight games back (even further back of Seattle and the current Wild Card teams) and clinching the tiebreaker would seem close to a death blow. Taking two out of three would be fine for the Astros. If the Rangers win the series, they are clearly still in the American League West and Wild Card races coming out of the All-Star break.

Last year the Rangers had the best offense in the AL. So far in 2024 they rank a mediocre eighth in runs per game. Nathaniel Lowe is the lone Ranger (get it?!?) regular playing as well as he did last season. Corey Seager has been fine but not at the MVP runner-up level of last year. Marcus Semien is notably down, as is 2023 ALCS Astros-obliterater Adolis Garcia. Stud 2023 rookie Josh Jung has been out with a broken wrist since ex-Astro Phil Maton hit him with a pitch in the fourth game of this season, though fill-in third baseman Josh Smith has been the Rangers' best player. 21-year-old late season phenom Evan Carter largely stunk the first two months this season and has been out since late May with a back injury. Repeating is hard, never harder than it is now. Hence no Major League Baseball has done it since the Yankees won three straight World Series 1998-2000.

Chasing down the Division at a crazy clip

From the abyss of their 7-19 start, the Astros sweep over the Marlins clinched a winning record at the break with them at 49-44. Heading into the Texas matchup the Astros have won at a .627 clip since they were 7-19. A full season of .627 ball wins 101 games. If the Astros win at a .627 rate the rest of the way they'll finish with 92 wins, almost certainly enough to secure a postseason slot and likely enough to win the West. Expecting .627 the rest of the way is ambitious.

With it fairly clear that Lance McCullers is highly unlikely to contribute anything after his latest recovery setback, and Luis Garcia a major question mark, what Justin Verlander has left in 2024 grows more important. With the way the Astros often dissemble or poorly forecast when discussing injuries, for all we know Verlander could be cooked. Inside three weeks to the trade deadline, General Manager Dana Brown can't be thinking a back end of the rotation comprised of Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss should be good enough. The Astros have 66 games to play after the All-Star break, including separate stretches with games on 18 and 16 consecutive days.

All-Star MIAs

Viewership for Tuesday's All-Star game at Globe Life Field in Arlington will be pretty, pretty, pretty low in Houston. One, All-Star Game ratings are pitiful every year compared to where they used to be. Two, the Astros could be down to zero representatives at Tuesday's showcase. Kyle Tucker was rightfully named a reserve but had no shot at playing as he continues the loooong recovery from a bone bruise (or worse) suffered June 3. Being named an All-Star for a ninth time was enough for Jose Altuve. He opts out of spending unnecessary time in Texas Rangers territory citing a sore wrist. This despite Altuve playing four games in a row since sitting out the day after he was plunked and highly likely to play in all three games versus the Rangers this weekend. Yordan Alvarez exiting Wednesday's rout of the Marlins with hip discomfort and then missing Thursday's game seem clear reasons for him to skip, though he has indicated thus far he intends to take part. Yordan is the most essential lineup component to the Astros' hopes of making an eighth straight playoff appearance.

Ronel Blanco should have made the American League squad on performance, but pretty obviously his 10 game illegal substance use suspension was held against him. As it works out, Blanco will pitch Sunday in the last game before the break which would render him unavailable for the All-Star Game anyway. Blanco is eligible to pitch, but given the career high-shattering innings workload Blanco is headed for, no way the Astros want him on the mound Tuesday. Just last year the Astros kept Framber Valdez from pitching in the game.

While waiting, and waiting, and waiting on Tucker's return, the Astros have also been waiting on Chas McCormick to get back to something even faintly resembling the hitter he was last year. McCormick routinely looks lost at the plate. He has four hits (all singles) in his last 32 at bats with his season OPS pitiful at .572. During the break the Astros should seriously weigh sending McCormick to AAA Sugar Land and giving Pedro Leon a try in a job share with Joey Loperfido.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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