Rookie QBs the story of the NFL's opening four weeks
October 04, 2016 3:00 AM
by Dennis Ball
The first four games are in the books. One-fourth of the entire regular season is finished.
The Patriots didn’t fall apart without Tom Brady and still lead the AFC East. The Texans lead a weak AFC South by two games even though they haven’t played really well. The AFC North is a dog fight as usual. In the West, Denver is still tough as nails on defense and getting by just fine with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.
The shocking news would be found over in the NFC where the Eagles are undefeated with a rookie QB. In fact, rookie QBs are shocking the entire league with 7 wins under their belts. Carson Wentz is 3-0 with Philly and Dak Prescott has also added 3 wins for the Cowboys. Paxton Lynch’s contribution of one win for the Broncos makes it a magnificent 7 by the rooks.
The Atlanta Falcons have a two-game lead on last year’s NFC champion, Carolina Panthers. Matt Ryan is tearing up opposing defenses and the Panthers’ front 7 hasn’t put pressure on any offense. Another big shocker is the new team in LA on top of the NFC West, tied with the Seahawks and 2 games ahead of the widely heralded Arizona Cardinals.
Let’s not get too carried away with the results this early. There’s plenty of time left to separate the pretenders from the contenders.
Cardinals -3 at 49ers: The Cards already trail the Seahawks and Rams by 2 games. Cards’ backers have to be concerned with the regression (and possible concussion) of Carson Palmer. I think the Cards have to rebound right here or face the humiliation of being buried deeply in a division they should be leading. Cards should find a way to take advantage of the feared torn achilles to NaVarro Bowman. It may be Drew Stanton under center but it’s definitely desperation time in Arizona. CARDS.
Texans +6 at Vikings: Week one of play calling for Bill O’Brien is off to a fast start. He will need all the tricks in his bag against what could be the best defense in the league. Will Fuller turned the game around for the Texans last week and might be the rabbit O’Brien needs to pull out of his hat. TEXANS.
Titans +4 at Dolphins: Miami is on my “no way I can put any dough on them” list. Tannehill consistently makes bad decisions and is inaccurate with his long passes. When you throw questionable protection and a weak rushing attack on top of the QB mess it creates a toxic environment for the poor fish. TITANS.
Patriots -10.5 at Browns: Brady’s suspension is over and the Pats are 3-1. I think any Pats’ fan or any member of the Pats’ organization would have taken that record prior to the first snap of the season. I think we found out last Sunday there’s a limit even to the genius of Bill Belichick. Browns have no wins yet they keep playing tough. BROWNS.
Jets +6.5 at Steelers: The Jets used to be able to put Darrelle Revis on an island. Now he has an injury on top of the normal aging process. Jets’ fans will want to put Ryan Fitzgerald on an island somewhere in the South Pacific after this game. If the Steelers were scary on offense without Le’Veon Bell, what does that make them now! STEELERS.
Skins +4 at Ravens: I think the Skins have more offensive weapons. The Ravens defense might be better but all the new rules favor the offense. Ronnie Staley was sorely missed last week in Baltimore. SKINS.
Eagles -2.5 at Lions: Something looks awry with this line. It seems like the number should be a little taller. You’re supposed to stay away or go the other way when it looks like a trap. So I might go lightly here but I think I’m going to sidestep a trap. LIONS.
Bears +5 at Colts: The Lions made Brian Hoyer look like Bart Starr. The Colts aren’t any better than the Lions so I guess I’ll go with Bart Starr. I feel sorry for Andrew Luck. He must feel a little like a piñata. Jaguars sacked him 6 times in London. You have to give Luck credit, he stands in the pocket, stone-faced and takes it like a Buckingham Palace guard. BEARS.
Falcons +6.5 at Broncos: Matt Ryan and company have made me a believer. Atlanta should be able to push the ball into the end zone enough to stay close. Sooner or later the good fortune of the rookie QBs has to run out. Lynch might be under center for the entire game this week. FALCONS.
Bills +3 at Rams: Both teams are on a roll and feature pretty good defenses with defensive-minded head coaches. Should be a dog fight to the end so I will take the dog in a toss-up. BILLS
Chargers +4 at Raiders: This appears to be a game featuring two organizations going in opposite directions. The Raiders finding ways to pull games out late. The Bolts found ways to blow fourth quarter leads in all three of their losses. You know things aren’t going really well when you’re head coach is embarrassed to speak at the post game presser. RAIDERS.
Bengals PK at Cowboys: I believe Ezekiel Elliott will find the running lanes less than single lane this week. This should create greater pressure on Dak Prescott. BENGALS.
Giants +7 at Packers: Packers coming off their bye. The Giants playing on a shorter week. It doesn’t seem fair to the G-men. But the amount of talent on the visitors’ side of the field makes it difficult to swallow the points. GIANTS.
Bucs +6 at Panthers: Cam Newton is in concussion protocol. The Panthers fierce pass rush has gone into the secret witness protection program. But things are just as bleak on the other side with Dirk Koetter questioning the decision making of Winston. Bucs have other issues as well with Doug Martin banged up, along with Gerald McCoy and Noah Spence. PANTHERS.
Last week: 7-6-1
Season: 31-29-1 (1 pass)
(MNF result not included)