Though the NFL had managed to contain COVID-19 outbreaks for three and a half weeks, news broke last week that the Tennessee Titans had multiple players and coaches test positive for the virus.
The NFL immediately sprung into action and tested the team’s previous opponents, the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings did not have any positive results — a good sign.
Due to the outbreak within the Titans organization, the league had to give the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Titans an early bye week and move their game to week seven, which also caused a Steelers-Baltimore Ravens game to be moved one week back. A few more Titans tested positive as the week progressed and then a bombshell dropped on Saturday night: New England Patriots quarterback (QB) Cam Newton tested positive for the virus.
The Patriots’ game against the Kansas City Chiefs was immediately postponed. Luckily no one else from the team tested positive, so the game was not canceled but instead moved to Monday night.
Newton missing the game really downgraded the matchup, and after struggling early on, the Chiefs were able to win fairly easily in the first game of the Monday night doubleheader. QB Patrick Mahomes threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns, while the Patriots’ offense looked below average without Newton. The Chiefs moved to 4-0 with a 26-10 win.
The rest of the teams in the league were thankfully not affected by the coronavirus and were able to play their scheduled games. This includes the Philadelphia Eagles, who are in first place in the NFC East. Nope, you didn’t read that wrong.
After their win on Sunday night against the San Fransisco 49ers, the Eagles officially took sole possession of the division lead at 1-2-1. Suddenly Doug Pederson playing for a tie against the Cincinnati Bengals last week doesn’t seem so bad.
The Eagles headed into their Sunday night matchup against the 49ers without players like wide receivers (WR) DeSean Jackson, Jalen Reagor and Alshon Jeffery, to name a few. The 49ers were also dealing with their fair share of injuries on both sides of the ball.
Tight end (TE) George Kittle did return from injury in this game and absolutely dominated the Eagles all game. Kittle finished with 15 receptions for 183 yards and a touchdown. Even with that contribution on offense, 49ers QB Nick Mullens threw two interceptions, including the game-sealing pick six.
Eagles QB Carson Wentz and the offense weren’t spectacular, but WRs Greg Ward Jr. and Travis Fulgham caught some timely balls, and it was enough for the Eagles win 25-20. The 49ers dropped to 2-2, and will look to get QB Jimmy Garoppolo and running back (RB) Raheem Mostert back as soon as possible.
The final game that I want to talk about is the Las Vegas Raiders-Buffalo Bills game. The newly-relocated Raiders were looking to move to 2-0 in their new stadium, but the undefeated Bills had something to say about that.
QB Josh Allen has been on an absolute tear to start this season, and the new addition of WR Stefon Diggs has been one of the more underrated moves of the offseason. Once again, Diggs showed out with six receptions for 115 yards, which brings his total yards to 403 through the first four games of the season.
Raiders’ RB Josh Jacobs has slowed down after his three touchdowns in the opening game of the season, but only managed 48 yards on 15 carries. QB Derek Carr threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns, and kept the Raiders close in this game until the end.
At the end of the day, the Raiders couldn’t get timely stops in the fourth quarter, giving up 13 points to lose 30-23 to the Bills. The Bills are now undefeated and have a two-game lead in the AFC East. The Raiders moved to 2-2, and still sit in second behind the undefeated Chiefs in the AFC West.
- Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott threw for 502 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-38 loss against the Cleveland Browns. The Cowboys gave up 307 rushing yards to a Browns team that was missing RB Nick Chubb for the majority of the game. The Browns moved to 3-1 as the Cowboys put up huge empty numbers once again and dropped to 1-3 and third in the NFC East.
- QB Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints fell down 14-0 to the Detroit Lions, but fought back and scored touchdowns on five straight to pick up a key win and avoid falling to 1-3. The Lions gave up another huge lead and lost 35-29 to drop their record to 1-3.
- QB Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won three straight games after Brady threw five touchdowns to five different receivers on Sunday afternoon versus the Los Angeles Chargers. Justin Herbert had his breakout game, but it wasn’t enough as he lost his third straight start as the Chargers QB. Bucs win 38-31 and move to 3-1. The Chargers drop to 1-3.
- The Seattle Seahawks stay undefeated against the Miami Dolphins. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson looked somewhat beatable for the first time this year, but still managed to pull out a gritty 30-23 win on Sunday. Dolphins drop to 1-3, and fans can only wonder how much longer they have to wait for rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa to step up.
With the future of the season in jeopardy this week, I thought about what I’d do without football and I couldn’t come up with much. It seems like the NFL has a plan for outbreaks, which is encouraging to see.
Week four was full of great games and interesting storylines, just like every other week. The NFL season is already flying by, hopefully everyone is enjoying the games thus far. Until next week.
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