THE TOP STORYLINES:
The Upstart Lions Are Still Undefeated…
The Detroit Lions (4-0) became the first NFL team to ever overcome 20-point deficits and win in back-to-back games. They did it last week against the sinking Minnesota Vikings and pulled it off again with a shocking 24-point rally to upend the Dallas Cowboys by a count of 34-30. With his team leading 27-3, Tony Romo threw two picks that were returned for scores, and an inspired Matthew Stafford (240-2-1) and Calvin Johnson (8-96-2) to lead a Detroit offense took care of the rest. Did you know that “Megatron” has scored twice in each of his first four games? Dallas’ 24-point lead was the largest one ever blown during a loss in team history. For all the flak Tony Romo is taking on Dallas-area sports talk radio, he did amass an otherwise fantasy friendly 331-3-3 stat line. It seems like Romo can make Dallas fans smile and cry during the same game.
…And So Are The Packers
The Packers carved up the Denver Broncos 49-23 thanks to a record-setting performance from Aaron Rodgers. He became the first NFL triggerman to pass for 400-plus yards (408) and four touchdowns, and rush for two scores. Did you know the Packers have been taking special pride in being one of the few teams not to hold organized workouts during the Lockout? Did you know Green Bay and Detroit will play in the early Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field? Do you think both teams could be undefeated? I don’t care about the records; I’m looking forward to the matchup. Forget about the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings – the NFC North is all about Green Bay versus Detroit.
The Surprising 3-1 49ers upend the Dream Team
Maybe it’s time to put the kibosh on the Philadelphia Eagles Dream Team talk. Battling back from a 20-point deficit, the San Francisco 49ers stunned the Eagles on their home field by a final of 24-23. Embattled San Francisco triggerman Alex Smith played well, compiling 291-2-0. Philadelphia wasted an outstanding performance from Michael Vick, who passed for a career-high 416 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 75 yards. This one had been a must-win for reeling Eagles, who must travel to Orchard Park to face the dangerous Buffalo Bills in Week 5. Speaking of the Bills…
Buffalo’s Magic Fizzled Out
Could the Buffalo Bills extend their streak of magic comebacks and pull out their third straight win? Nope. They fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with a last-second 23-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals courtesy of a Mike Nugent 43-yard field goal. Although Buffalo is still a good team with some top fantasy stars, the “magic” took the weekend off (they blew a 17-3 halftime lead) and understandably so. The Bills had to rally to down the Oakland Raiders (Week 2) and the New England Patriots (Week 3), so they probably were emotionally spent and overdue for a letdown. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s streak of impressive games ended with an unremarkable 199-0-0 effort, and Stevie Johnson posted a mortal 4-58-0 stat line. Look for Fitzpatrick and company to bounce back next week when the porous Philadelphia Eagles defense comes to town in Week 5.
Bears “ground” the Panthers but Cam & Smith Are Still Hot
Following two straight weeks of criticism about a run-deficient offensive attack, the Chicago Bears went back to basics, relying on a run-heavy game plan to hold off the pesky Carolina Panthers 34-29. Matt Forte toted the rock 25 times for a career-high 205 yards, which was the most rushing yards amassed by a Bear surpassed only by Gale Sayers and the late Walter Payton. Forte also caught four balls for 23 yards. Marion Barber chipped in five carries for 17 yards and one score. Cutler owners won’t like this: he passed just 17 times, amassing 102 yards with no scores and one pick. By the way, return specialist extraordinaire Devin Hester notched his 11th career punt return for a touchdown. He is the NFL’s all-time return leader with a combined 15 returns for scores.
Cam Newton threw for 374-1-1 and amassed 8-35-2 on the ground to post his third stellar fantasy outing in the last four weeks (the rain game in Week 3 shouldn’t count). Steve Smith compiled 8-181-1, which was his third 150-yard game of the season. He had no 100-yard games in 2010. In addition, Smith became Carolina’s all-time receiving yardage leader.