Are you ready for some football? Clearly, we all are. Even if television ratings are slumping a bit (for a bunch of reasons), I have been enjoying the on-field product. Like most, I was skeptical of games without any fans, but it’s been pretty much the same. WWE is obviously hurt by it. MLB definitely has a different bland feel. NBA is all but the same in terms of atmosphere. For the NFL, I hardly find myself looking in the stands anymore. Keep in mind I say this as a fan who attends games at Lambeau Field every year as my family holds season tickets. Why am I babbling about this you ask?
Simple. Because this week was about more than just the on-field product, as you will see here as I break down the five biggest stories from NFL Week Four.
1. Houston, We Have A Problem – Well, a lot of critics predicted. A lot of pundits talked about it for weeks, and certainly, a lot of fans complained about it after the Houston Texans’ disastrous first month. Bill O’Brien has been let go from his head coaching position, as well as his spot in football decision making. That second part was clear from the second it was made official. BAD IDEA. Either way, the Texans started out 0-4, and there was not a whole lot more to add. He was gone. Now you add in the reported issues with players on the team, including JJ Watt, and that buries him even further. Making it even worse is if you rewind a year. Yikes. Talk about a downfall. The Texans actually had something going for them and could have been a post season favorite for years to come. Not with BOB! Sorry Bob. Deshaun Watson gets a fresh start at quarterback and can hopefully lead his teams to many wins, as he racks up millions of dollars.
2. Pack Is Back – I may as well keep my streak alive of talking about the Green Bay Packers every single column. The squad has a bye week coming up, so it may be tough to squeeze them into Week Five. I digress. The Packers made quick work of the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night. No real surprise there. The Falcons are basically now eliminated from the playoffs the first week of October. Sitting at 0-4, they are another team you can cross off the list for potential Super Bowl teams. If you read last week’s column, you know the list is only going to grow from this point forward. Enough about ATL though. They’re toast, as is Dan Quinn, sitting on the head coach hot seat. The Packers are more important, and they have to be considered an early favorite. My personal favorite going all the way is the Seattle Seahawks. However, if Aaron Rodgers gets his team to full health and can avoid their usual playoff disappointment, what’s not to like right now? Pack is back ladies and gentlemen…
3. New England Patriots Stumble – All was going well for the Tom Brady-less Patriots thus far. The team somehow picked up Cam Newton out of the dumpster and regained his confidence. The team had jumped out to a a nice 2-1 start, and people were seriously wondering if Bill Belichick was better off without Tom Brady. A ridiculous notion if you ask me, but hey! People say stupid crap. Speaking of stupid, Cam Newton ended up catching Covid leading up the big showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs, and New England decided to trot out Brian Hoyer as their starting QB. Well, that wasn’t going to go well…and it didn’t. The Chiefs won the game handily, after it was delayed due to Covid concerns across the league. Hoyer was eventually benched, but the damage was done. The Chiefs roll on and begin 4-0 once again. An impressive feat that has gone under the radar. Jarrett Stidham replacing Hoyer only did so much. The team needs Cam Newton back as soon as possible. The Buffalo Bills are currently leading the AFC East with a 4-0 record, so the division will no longer be a cakewalk in Foxborough.
4. Titans Trouble Continues – Last week, I wrote about the Covid problems for the Tennessee Titans. Fast forward one week and BOOM! Not only has it gotten worse, we are getting more details that have led to the outbreak in the first place. It appears people are A) not being honest about symptoms and B) not following protocol which was laid out in the beginning of the season and re-iterated last week after the first big COVID outbreak. Here is where it gets tricky. I plead guilty to this just as much as the next guy. I want to go to the bars. I want to go out to my usual hangout spots. I want to quit wearing this stinkin’ mask everywhere I go. I want go back to the gym. I am right there with everybody else growing tired of this crap. That being said, I can’t. The rules are in place for a reason. For the greater good, we need to just suck it up and deal with it. Maybe for another few months? Maybe for a year? Maybe longer? I was born with a hole in my heart. Not many know that, but I have had two open heart surgeries. I am a HUGE risk even going to work every day, but I still do…and do it as safely as possible. That’s just the way it is. It sucks, but that is life. Hopefully, the Titans skip those group meetings, stop the ‘private’ workouts in large groups and at least try to follow the rules. Maybe? Pretty please? If not for yourself but for others’ health…
5. Browns/Cowboys – If there is one game that sums up 2020, it is this past Sunday’s Browns vs. Cowboys game. Wow, what a disaster! Dallas has one win this season, and this is only because the Atlanta Falcons have a fetish for blowing leads. Otherwise, they’d be 0-4, and Mike McCarthy would already be out of a job in the Big D! Trust me, I know how Mike operates as head coach. Have fun with him now Texas fans. On the flip side, there sits the laughable Cleveland Browns, the punchline of the NFL for years and years and years. Even when it looks like they may be finally building up a good roster, it falls apart. Sunday, everything came together as the Browns put up a whopping 49 points on the supposed Super Bowl contending Cowboys. The score would have been much uglier, if they didn’t let their foot off the gas and allow a late Dallas run. It didn’t matter though. Browns 49, Cowboys 38 as the final. Absolutely unreal. I am loving this season.
QUICK TAKES: My pre-season NBA Finals pick Los Angeles Lakers are about to be crowned champs in The Bubble. Better late than never, am I right? Congrats to them. Back to football, another victory for the Bucs! A good come from behind win over the Chargers. This wasn’t a “gimmee” either. This was EARNED. Tough QB situation going on in Washington right now. I had them pegged as a surprise team this season. Not looking too bright. The Rams sit at 3-1 after the first month. My other surprise team for this season. That one is looking spot on. Tough loss for the Chicago Bears but also predictable. There will be a few games like that, in which you let your guard down a little and get shell shocked. Good bounce back for the Baltimore Ravens. The Jets suck, and the Lions suck. That is all.
By Justin Watry (Twitter: @JustinWatry)