Another week in the NFL has come and gone. Week 4 is now in the books, and with it we have an even clearer picture of the NFL landscape in 2018. The Rams and Chiefs are currently the class of their respective conferences, while the Bills and Cardinals find themselves at the bottom. There was action. There was drama. There was also some damn good football. Let’s talk about it.
Here are thirteen takeaways from Week 4 of the 2018 NFL season.
The Rams are the NFL’s best team
Starting out 4-0 is impressive on its own, but the Rams have been ever better than their record. Through four weeks of play, Los Angeles looks like the best team in the NFL—and I’m not sure it’s particularly close. Jared Goff has grown significantly over the past two seasons, and the Rams defense has improved drastically from 2017. This team will be tough to beat all season long.
Buffalo’s upset win over the Vikings was a fluke
It was fun to see the Bills (1-3) get that upset win over Minnesota (1-2-1) in Week 3, but I think we all knew the truth: the Bills are bad. Buffalo proved that with a 22-0 loss to the Packers (2-1-1), who aren’t exactly known for their defense. Josh Allen is always going to be a high-variance QB, and on a team with little to nothing in the way of offensive weapons, it’s going to be mostly bad.
The Bucs collapsed against the Bears
I definitely saw this one coming, but a lot of you didn’t believe me when I said Fitzmagic was over after Week 3. Well, here’s your proof: Tampa Bay (2-2) getting absolutely manhandled by the Bears (3-1) to the tune of 48-10. Nothing worked on offense for the Buccaneers, and the team even trotted out Winston to try and save the day. The defense is also legitimately worse than the Falcons’, and they don’t have any injury excuses.
The Bears have one of the NFL’s best defenses
Speaking of defenses, Chicago has a great one. The trade for Khalil Mack turned this unit from fringe top-10 to elite almost overnight. Mack is simply one of the best players in the NFL at any position, and he’s been dominant through four weeks for the Bears. The jury is still out on Mitchell Trubisky and the offense, but this defense will keep them in just about any game. Chicago could be the best team in the NFC North.
Miami was a fraud
Another outcome we should’ve known was coming. A 3-0 Miami team heads to face a reeling 1-3 New England squad with a chance to bury them and take control of the division. How did the Dolphins respond to such a challenge? By laying an absolute egg, to the tune of 38-7. They’ve played a cupcake schedule to this point and really aren’t as good as their 3-1 record.
The Titans know how to win ugly
This is like the reverse outcome of what happened between Miami and New England. I expected the Titans (3-1) to be shown up by an Eagles (2-2) team that now has a healthy Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery. Well, that didn’t happen. Marcus Mariota played well and the defense did enough to hold Philadelphia in check and take it to overtime. Tennessee doesn’t look great doing it, but they keep finding ways to win—and that’s all the matters in the NFL.
Houston avoids 0-4, but they’re still struggling
One of Week 3’s desperate teams looking to avoid the almost-certain playoff death that accompanies an 0-4 start, the Texans (1-3) managed to pull it off in overtime against the Colts (1-3). Deshaun Watson was sharp and benefited from a nice performance from rookie WR Keke Coutee. That defense is still a major problem, however—and the offensive line is struggling mightily in both pass protection and run blocking.
The Colts are...decent?
Indianapolis is probably better than their 1-3 record, which is a surprise based on what I thought they were to start the season. Andrew Luck had a vintage performance, throwing for 464 yards and 4 TDs. The backfield is still a mess, but the defense is steadily improving. They’ve been close to wins against several good teams this season, and I expect them to remain competitive throughout the 2018 season.
Josh Rosen looked good in his first start with Arizona
While Josh Rosen couldn’t keep the Cardinals from falling to 0-4 against the Seahawks (2-2), he had a much better performance than the box score showed. Arizona isn’t likely to compete for a playoff spot, but their defense is still solid enough to keep them in games if the offense can step up to the challenge. With Rosen at the helm, they’ve got a chance.
The Steelers are reeling
If Falcons fans want a reason for optimism this week, look no further than the Steelers’ (1-2-1) most recent performance at home against the Ravens (3-1). You’ll see a maddeningly inconsistent Roethlisberger, a run game that could get absolutely nothing going, and a defense that is in competition for the worst in the league. Pittsburgh is just as desperate as Atlanta for a win on Sunday.
Baltimore’s offense has really improved in 2018
If somebody told me that the Ravens’ offense had improved measurably in 2018, I probably would’ve assumed it was because Lamar Jackson was starting at QB. That hasn’t happened, but maybe it’s because Flacco is concerned about his job security. While Baltimore’s run game is hit or miss, the passing game has been much better—John Brown has been a huge addition to the receiving corps. The defense is still one of the NFL’s top units, and the Ravens look like a playoff contender through four weeks.
Oakland edges out Browns in OT, still bad
While the Browns (1-2-1) have looked a lot better with Baker Mayfield under center, they still seem to have difficulty winning games—particularly in overtime. Their misfortune helped the Raiders (1-3) avoid an 0-4 start, but make no mistake: they’re still a bad team on the whole. Marshawn Lynch has been excellent, however, and this offense is still capable of good days.
Baker’s Bonus Take: Patrick Mahomes is legit
The Chiefs (4-0) had a real test on Monday night against the Broncos (2-2). Denver’s crowd was rowdy, and the defense cooked up a scheme that frustrated Patrick Mahomes for most of the night. But Mahomes responded like a true franchise QB: he rallied, made adjustments, and brought Kansas City back late in the game. The Chiefs have an exploitable defense, but that has so far been little more than a footnote with Mahomes at the helm. Let’s see if Kansas City can keep up this pace through the remainder of the season, but one thing is certain: they’re a lot of fun to watch.
What are your thoughts on everything that happened in Week 4? Were you surprised by the Bucs’ reversion to an awful team on Sunday? Who do you think the best and worst teams in the NFC and AFC are after four weeks?