HIGHS AND LOWS: NFL WEEK FOUR


Photo Credits: Craig Melvin | Buffalo Bills

By: Edwards Kemedjio | October 14, 2021


Week five of the National Football League is a wrap and what a spectacle it was. Shootouts, divisional battles, late game heroics, atrocious kicking, this week had it all. There was even a game in London for crying out loud. This season got off to a fast start and hasn’t slowed down yet. Thankfully, another week of football means another week of Highs and Lows. Let’s narrow our focus just a bit.


HIGHS


A New Rule


The top dog in the AFC is no longer the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s the Buffalo Bills. It was fun while it lasted, but the Chiefs look like a Big 12 program masquerading as a professional franchise. The misdirection and trickery is fun to watch, but it doesn’t make up for a suspect wide receiving core outside of Hill, and a defense that is getting torn to shreds every time they step on the field. Patrick Mahomes is still the league’s best QB (for now), but even he can’t cover up for all his team’s issues. Mahomes has already been intercepted as many times as he was all of last season. Following the 38-20 loss to Buffalo in an AFC Championship rematch, the Chiefs sit at 2-3, bottom of their division for the second straight week and it’s because they aren’t a good football team at the moment.


The Bill, on the other hand, are looking like the best team in their conference. Sean McDermott and his squad immediately stepped up to fill the void Tom Brady left in the AFC East last year and this team looks elite. They currently sit at the top of the league in scoring offense and defense, and their defense is first in yards allowed as well. The Bills followed up their opening week loss with four consecutive blowouts, including two shutouts of 35 points or more. They dominated on Sunday Night against the reigning AFC Champions and showed the league that they’re the team to beat in the AFC.


J Herbo


Justin Herbert is the truth. The Los Angeles Chargers quarterback is having a fantastic start to the season, and his performance in Sunday’s shootout against the Cleveland Browns was arguably the best of his young career. In the Chargers 47-42 win against the Browns, Herbert had 398 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 122.0. This is against a Cleveland defense that is currently fourth in yards allowed and tenth in passing. If not for what Lamar Jackson did on Monday Night Football he would have had the game of the week.


Herbert himself on the season is now fourth in passing and third in touchdowns, but his performance on money downs is what is setting him apart. In a tightly contested contest, the chargers went 9-16 on third and fourth down, including a perfect 3-3 on fourth. Charger Head Coach Brandon Staley has shown no hesitation leaving his offense on the field in scoring position. His faith in a second year starter is a testament to how good Justin Herbet is playing right now. Just a few weeks ago against the Chiefs the Chargers were in field goal range with the game on the line and Staley put the ball in Herbets hands on fourth down, a game winning decision. Herbert has long since silenced any of his critics from the draft and is playing at a top 5 quarterback level right now.


MVP Race


It’s early in the season, but this is shaping up to be the most entertaining MVP race in quite some time. Obviously as the weeks progress the ture candidates will separate themselves, but with over a quarter of the year finished, I thought I’d bring you my list.


  1. Tom Brady | 1767 yds/ 15 TD/ 2 INT


The GOAT is still GOATing. Tom Brady continues to defy logic and at age 44 is having one of the best statistical years of his career. His consistent elite play has led Tampa Bay to a 4-1 record and his reign over the league has no end in sight.


  1. Lamar Jackson | 1519 yds/ 8 TD/ 3 INT | 341 yds/ 2 TD rushing


While Brady tops my list, Lamar Jackson is the MVP in the purest sense of the term. No player is more valuable to their team than Jackson, and he’s been proving all year. When you look at the injuries to his team and the deficits they’ve faced, the fact that they’re still 4-1 all comes. back to Lamar. 5th in passing and 8th in rushing, his dominance to start the year has been extraordinary.

  1. Kyler Murray | 1512 yds/ 10 TD/ 4 INT | 110 yds/ 3 TD rushing


Winning is the ultimate statistic, and Kyler Murray has led his team to a 5-0 record on the season, the only unbeaten team left. As a dual threat he is the only passer who rivals the name above him on this list, and he has. If not for a quiet game against the 49ers he would be higher on this list, but he has as much a claim to the top spot as anyone else in the league.


  1. Justin Herbert | 1576 yds/ 13 TD/ 3 INT


See above.


  1. Derrick Henry | 640 yds/ 7 TD rushing | 125 yds/ 0 TD receiving


We all know this is a quarterback’s award, but Henry is a man on a mission. Coming off two consecutive rushing titles and a 2000 yard season, Henry is leading the league in rushing yards by a and touchdowns by a wide margin. His 128 yards per game ranks tenth in league history for a single season, just three yard behind Adrian Peterson’s 2012 MVP year. Henry is the best back in the league, and deserves to be on this list.



LOWS


What Happens in Vegas


Two weeks ago the Raiders were 3-0 and Derek Carr was hearing early MVP talk. Today, they’ve lost two straight, Derek Carr is back to his regular self, and their 100 million dollar coach was forced to resign, because of his Hotmail account.


In the days leading up to Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears, the spotlight was put under Jon Gruden for an email sent in 2011, when Gruden was an employee at ESPN. While the email in question wasn’t a blatant indictment of racist behavior, it did make use of a stereotype while describing NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. In the email Gruden wrote that "Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires."


Gruden probably would have got off from this transgression with a statement written by a PR intern, but following the team’s 20-9 home loss to the Justin Fields led Bears a treasure trove of Gruden’s emails from 2010 to 2018 were revealed where Gruden did a clean sweep of insulting just about every minority group there is. Gruden didn’t waste time following this, and resigned from the Raiders in the middle of Monday Night Football. He released a statement upon his resignation saying. “I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”


The Raiders promoted assistant coach Rich Bisaccia, who will now serve as Interim Head Coach, but the damage is done and the Raiders are left reeling just a few weeks after a red hot start to the year.


Professional Grade Kickers


Week five was the worst day of kicking since the Reagan administration. When Rams kicker Matt Gay missed the extra point following his team’s first touchdown of the day, he pioneered a NFL-wide kicking expedition that had us questioning their roster spots by the time it was complete. Gay’s kick was the first of 13 total extra points missed in week five, the most in a single week in NFL history. It wasn’t just extra points that were the issue. Week five featured 27 total missed kicks, including 13 missed field goals and one that was blocked. According to ESPN, that’s the most missed kicks since 1987. It was the first time in history that ten field goals and ten extra points were missed in the same week.


To give you an idea of how wild this week was, longtime Packers kicker Mason Crosby entered the fourth quarter against the Bengals, having made 27 straight field goals. With the game on the line, he shanked a 36-yarder for his first miss of the year. This was the first of five consecutive missed field goals in the fourth and overtime by both Crosby and Bengals kicker Evan McPherson. Crosby eventually redeemed himself with a 49 yarder in overtime, but his day encapsulated a nightmare week for NFL kickers.


Dangeruss Proposition


Since drafting him in 2012, the Seattle Seahawks have never taken the field without their superstar quarterback Russell Wilson. This will no longer be true come Sunday when they take the field with former West Virginia standout Geno Smith under center. In their 26-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Wilson left the game after injuring his middle finger. The injured finger required surgery, and Russell Wilson is looking at over a month before he can think about coming back.


What seemed unimaginable on Wednesday is now the Seahawks reality, but only the beginning of their problems. The Thursday Night loss put them at 2-3, tied for last place in their division. They are now three games back of the undefeated Arizona Cardinals, and with Geno Smith at the helm that gap will most likely grow. Defensively, they currently sit last in the league in yards and first downs allowed, and 22nd in points. This is trending towards a throwaway year for Pete Carroll’s squad, especially considering they don’t have a first rounder in the upcoming draft. It’s on Geno’s shoulders to keep the team afloat.


Five weeks of football, five weeks of jam packed action, five weeks of Highs and Lows. A heavyweight battle between the Chargers and Ravens awaits in Week Six, and I’ll have my eyes glued to the TV with the rest of you.


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