Runnin’ Up The Gut: NFL Football Week 4 Recap & Analysis

Welcome to another edition of “Runnin’ Up The Gut”, and with Week 4 in the record books, we’ve got quite a bit to cover! With that, here we go!

Two of the three undefeated teams going into Week 4 went down this week, with Kansas City remaining as the only team in the NFL yet to lose. The Chiefs?? Who saw THAT coming????? Will it last? So…our opening question is:

Are the Kansas City Chiefs truly the best team in the NFL right now?

 It is possible to extend another week, with the Chiefs playing Indianapolis this next week. As I’ve said in the past, the Colts aren’t exactly heralded for their defense, and they certainly aren’t known for having a good rush defense. The Chiefs go into this next week with the statistical third-best rushing offense in the league right now, with an average of 160.7 yards per game. On the other side of the ball, they’ve only allowed an average of 75 rushing yards per game. The Colts may have a hard time against the Chiefs if they are allowed to dictate the pace of the game. Are they the best team in the NFL right now?

No. Week 1 resulted in a win over San Diego which was, quite frankly, ugly. Week 2 saw a win over Cleveland where the Kansas City offense didn’t score a single touchdown. It may sound good at first to be able to win a game without finding the end zone, but what does that REALLY say? It says that either both teams have inept offenses, or awesome defenses. In the current NFL, neither one screams “awesome team”. For example, the New York Jets had, statistically, the top defense in the NFL, but with their offense not being quite as dominant, they find themselves in a race in the AFC East against the New England Patriots. A high-octane offense without a good defense will not work either, as is shown with the Indianapolis Colts.  The simple fact of the matter is, the Browns have hardly any offensive weapons, and with their defense giving up an average of 344.5 yards per game, the defense is hardly anything to cheer for either. What does this say for the fact that the Chiefs didn’t score a single touchdown on them? Simply put, the Chiefs are not the best team in the NFL currently, and while their undefeated streak may or may not continue this week after they play the Colts, there is still major room for improvement. Perhaps a less one-dimensional attack will help…heck, their defense is doing something right, having only given up 38 points.

After seeing the Patriots dismantle the Dolphins last night, there were two key statistics that stood out. One, the Patriots became the first team in NFL history to have a interception for a touchdown, a rushing touchdown, a passing touchdown, a blocked field goal for a touchdown, and a kickoff return touchdown, all in one game. The second statistic was Randy Moss’ numbers: a goose-egg, the first time since November 19, 2006 that this has happened. So, with that in mind, I felt a burning need to pose this question:

Is Randy Moss still among the elite in the NFL?

Randy Moss has not had the most elite of seasons thus far in 2010, as he has had 9 receptions for 139 yards and 3 touchdowns. Wait, 9 receptions, 3 touchdowns?? He also has an average of 15.4 yards per reception, which isn’t bad at all. Is he still among the elite, despite only 9 catches and 139 yards in 4 games? Yes. Would you still consider Champ Bailey one of the best, if not the best, cornerback in the NFL today, even though he only has 8 tackles and 1 interception? Last season, he had 74 tackles, 15 pass deflections, and only 3 interceptions. Why? Because he’s that good. He’s that skilled. You don’t see quarterbacks often throwing in his direction, because he’s proven he can create a turnover at the drop of a hat. Statistics do not always reflect a player’s skill, and Champ Bailey is a perfect example of that. What does that have to do with Randy Moss? Simple: he’s in the same category. No defensive coordinator is ignorant enough to leave Randy Moss in single coverage, no matter what the defensive scheme may be, because they all know that Moss is skilled enough to change the game with a catch. 9 catches, 3 touchdowns? That means that every 3 times he catches a ball, he’s going to score, if we look at that trend. Just because Randy Moss isn’t helping your fantasy football team with eye-popping numbers or in the running for receiving title doesn’t mean he’s not still among the elite in the NFL.

On a personal note, I have a bet going with a friend of mine this season regarding the St. Louis Rams. She believes the Rams are Super Bowl-bound, and at the beginning of the season, I bet her that they would not make it. In fact, I was so confident in this statement that I said if they did, I would shave my head bald. After seeing how they played these past few weeks, I thought that maybe I needed to start picturing myself as a bald man. So, here’s the question:

Are the Rams on the cusp of breaking out?

Not quite. They are getting better, however. In fact, they are in a three-way tie for control of the NFC West. Last week, their 20-3 win over the Seahawks turned some heads, no doubt, but possibly more than it should have. The Seahawks had a phenomenal Week 1, but have done nothing since. If we look at the Rams’ past few weeks, there’s a scary thought that creeps up, if one truly thinks about it: they could be 4-0 right now. They lost to Oakland by 2, and to Washington by 4. Granted, the Raiders don’t have too much going for them, but with their past track record, neither did the Rams, on paper. Washington, on the other hand…is saying a little bit. Their defense, when focused, is dangerous, and for the Rams to keep up with them…says something. With their pitiful performance last season, the only direction for the Rams to go was up, and they are really doing so in a big way. Sam Bradford proved last week that he knew what he was doing, as he has for the past 4 weeks. In fact, he is the only quarterback in the NFL right now that has thrown for at least one touchdown every week. Add that to having Steven Jackson (when healthy) to fall back on, and the Rams have a pair of building blocks to work upon. Why are they not quite on the cusp of breaking out yet then? Because other than Washington, they haven’t had a big win yet. If they were to prove they can hang with a team that is considered among the elite, such as New England, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and so forth, that would raise their confidence, and would motivate the Rams to get even better. That is the key: confidence. The Rams have set things in motion to do very well, now it’s just a matter of believing they can do so. We’ll see what happens…

Other quick blurbs from readers and friends’ questions and comments throughout the past few days to address:

Arian Foster: The NFL’s leading rusher wasn’t even projected as a factor in preseason planning! Now, he leads the league with 537 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. At this pace, he could finish with over 2100 yards…and we all thought it would be Chris Johnson to do so. That’s scary! That’s also the reason the Texans lead the league in rushing yardage per game right now. So, to answer the question posed last week to me by my friend Chris, yes, I believe Arian Foster is for real.

Cincinnati Bengals: In my initial NFL preview, I said that the addition of Terrell Owens would either tear the team apart from the egos of his and Chad Ochocinco’s, or it would make them that much better. The question from Susan was, how dangerous is the Cincinnati passing game now? Well, looking at the fact that they have an average of 257.8 passing yards per game, with a quarterback who has had Tommy John surgery, I’d say that the passing game is excellent in Cincy right now. Scary part? I don’t think they’ve even hit their peak yet…they can get better. With Owens adjusting, and rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham being utilized more, things are looking very good for the Bengals.

L.T.: Soon after I posted about Shonn Greene last week, I was shot an email asking about my thoughts on LaDainian Tomlinson. As I said before, if he had any shot of reviving his career, it would be with the Jets, and last week, with his 133-yard, 2 touchdown performance, I believe Tomlinson is on the verge of reclaiming his status as one of football’s best backs. This, however, comes at the cost of the fall of Shonn Greene. As I’ve said before, this running back situation is an interesting one to keep an eye on…

That wraps up another edition of “Runnin’ Up The Gut”. The season has had twists and turns already, but that’s what makes the game so exciting. Next week, I’ll be back once again to give another analysis and answer questions from happenings throughout the week, and to pose some new questions for discussion.

Tags: , , , ,