Another wild week in the NFL has been closed out. This go around it was mostly on the field headlines, which is a good thing for the NFL as a league, the players, and the fans. Week to week it gets no clearer who the front runners are in this 2014 season. Teams gain some ground only to fall back or vice versa. A quarter way through the year it is clear that the Super Bowl trophy is up for grabs and any so called expert that says they know who will end up there, is out of touch with reality.
Let me get the least shocking news out of the way first. The Raiders have gone and fired another coach. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. They have had what seems like 42 coaches over the past 20 years. The only reason any coach takes the Raiders job is because that is their best option to make a quick buck. No one goes into that situation thinking it will bolster their coaching resume. Oakland would be better off to do their hiring through a temp agency like Randstad. Or maybe they should give a high school coach a shot at it. My vote would be for the high school coach that never punts and does onside kicks most of the time. That would make the Raiders at least interesting once again.
The Atlanta Falcons are awesome at home and they are atrocious on the road. They got beat soundly by a Minnesota team that lost its best player, Adrian Peterson, to suspension and was starting a rookie QB. The Falcons are going to have to win every single home game they play to have a remote chance of getting into the playoffs. I don’t know who they can beat on the road at this point. They have the Giants, who have improved over their first two losses with back to back wins, next week on the road. They also have the Bucs on the road in a few weeks. Other than those two games, I can’t see them getting a win away from Atlanta. They even have to play the Lions in England. That game is so far from home, they should just forfeit or send the practice squad to save the effort of the starters. As a side note that is really not a side note at all, the offensive line is now fully destroyed by injuries. They were not the best unit by any stretch, but now that center Joe Hawley and tackle Lamar Holmes are done for the year, Matt Ryan will be running for his life.
I am pretty amazed at all the Tom Brady hating going on after the Patriots got outclassed by the Chiefs on Monday Night Football 41-14. The big media has been in love with Brady for a long time now, but it appears that love affair is about to come to a nasty end. I still find Tom Brady to be on his game. The problem is with the so called weapons he has around him. Gronk is not back to 100% yet but has been decent. Other than that, he has no running game to depend on and no receivers that scare even the worst secondaries in the NFL. I know Brady has done great things with average wideouts in the past, but now these guys are well below average. Julian Edelman is the best they have to offer….really? This guy would not start on 90% of the NFL teams out there and the only reason he gets any credit at all is because of Brady! A post game reporter had the nerve to ask Bill Belichick about possibly benching Brady. Belichick didn’t even respond verbally to such an insane question. The look he gave said it all. Tom Brady is not what he once was, but is far from ready for the scrap heap. The Pats have gathered receivers from the aforementioned scrap heap. That is the issue with the offense, not Tom Brady.
Apparently three NFC Title game appearances are not enough for some NFL players. According to Deion Sanders, several 49ers players are ready for Jim Harbaugh to be shipped off. No players were named in the report of course but it sounds like the coach’s message may be wearing on the San Fran ballers. Harbaugh is an intense guy and I can imagine that can take a toll after three plus years. But if the reports are true, it is surprising given all the success that has been enjoyed by the team with Harbaugh. Even if the team is not fully happy with their coach, it just shows how teams can still win, even with a little bitterness inside the locker room. Great teams can overcome things like that but over time these situations do get worse and implode. I would not put money on Harbaugh being in charge of the Niners in 2015. He is at odds with upper management and if the players truly are tired of him, it will be time to move on after this year. By the way, Harbaugh and his team got a big win over the Eagles to get back to .500 at 2-2.
The Ravens appear to be a very solid team even without Ray Rice. They sit at 3-1 after completely out playing Carolina in a 38-10 victory. The Panthers got waxed by Steve Smith for three scores. Smith was released by Carolina after last year to save some cap money. That move certainly looks not so well thought out after a few weeks into the season. Smith is the best wide out on the Ravens roster and is 3rd in the entire league in receiving yardage. Cap space should be saved for great players with high value. The Panthers had a great receiver that was earning his paycheck but they chose to just toss him aside.
Other games of note from week four saw the Packers getting right with a much needed win against the Bears. The Texans went to 3-1 as JJ Watt put on a clinic of athleticism. The Cowboys are now 3-1 after beating a Saints team that is worse on the road than even Atlanta. Tampa Bay had a last minute touchdown to nip the Steelers.
With the way teams are playing up and down, this season could see tight divisional races up to the last couple of weeks. Any given Sunday, each game is up for grabs…except for Raiders and Jaguars games of course.