Week Four is almost in the books, and as is probably the case in your fantasy league, the haves are starting to pull away from the havenots in the NFL. Five teams remain undefeated on the season, while three teams (pending tonight’s action) are still winless. Of note in the NFL, the Patriots amazing winning streak continues.
As for fantasy, 32 players will make this week’s story, which is about an average number of players on a weekly schedule. However, many of those that are to be mentioned here are probably not the players that you thought would be here entering this week’s contests. There are defenses, there are kickers, there are backup RBs, tough week to figure out who is going to play well. On to the games!
at Pittsburgh 28, Cincinnati 17
These are the games that the Bengals are going to have to win if they want to take the next step and be considered a playoff contender. Rudi Johnson (123 rushing yards, TD) played well in a losing effort, but the rest of the Cincinnati offense was held in check by a tough Pittsburgh defense. No single player gets an official mention for the winners, but Ben Roethlisberger is now 2-0 as a starter and is doing just enough to win, but more importantly is not losing games. Jerome Bettis was the TD vulture, rushing for less than 10 yards but scoring twice.
Indianapolis 24, at Jacksonville 17
The Jaguars had been winning ugly, and in this matchup, they were hoping to do the same. Jacksonville kept things close, but in the end the Colts offense was too much for them to stop. The home team was doing well, keeping the score close into the fourth quarter as Byron Leftwich (318 pass yards, TD) led the team to the touchdown and game tying two point conversion. Unfortunately, from there Peyton Manning (220 passing yards, 2 TD) took over, leading the Colts on a game winning drive that ended with Edgerrin James (108 total yards, TD) scoring from three yards out. Three and a half minutes remained, which was plenty of time for Leftwich and company to rally the troops. Facing a fourth and one at the Colt-45, Fred Taylor came up short and that was the ball game.
at Houston 30, Oakland 17
Houston, we have back to back victories! For the first time in franchise history, the Texans have won two games in a row, and they did it in impressive fashion, holding the Raiders scoreless in the second half. Jonathon Wells “Fargo” (105 rush yards, TD) stole the show as apparently he was the man to replace injured Domanick Davis (putting the wood to those Tony Hollings owners). Andre Johnson (6 catches for 115 yards, TD), Kris Brown (3 FG, 3 pat), David Carr (228 passing yards, TD), and the Houston D (5 turnovers, return TD) also played well enough to get a mention in this space. Amos Zereoue (117 rush yards, 2 TD) gets a mention here in a losing effort.
New England 31, at Buffalo 17
What else can be said except that the streak continues. The Patriots went into Buffalo looking to keep things going and as is usually the case in Buffalo, this one was a tough win to notch. A wild first half came to a close with both teams taking advantage of the other’s mistakes in putting up 17 points a piece. After a scoreless third quarter, New England took the lead with just under four minutes to play, Tom Brady (298 pass yards, 2 TD) tossing one to Daniel Graham for the score. Buffalo went to work in an attempt to tie things back up, but on fourth and one, Bledsoe was met in the backfield while faking a handoff, fumbled the ball, and 68 yards later the NE D (7 sacks, 2 turnovers, return TD) was in the endzone for the score that put the game out of reach. David Patten (5 catches for 113 yards, TD) and Corey Dillon (102 total yards, TD) performed well for the winners while Eric Moulds (10 catches for 126 yards, TD) had a nice game in a losing effort.
Philadelphia 19, at Chicago 9
The Eagles were facing a depleted Bears team in this one, but playing on the road is always difficult in the NFL. In the end, David “Green” Akers (4 FG) made more kicks than he missed (4 of 6) and was the offensive hero in this one. Brian Westbrook (178 total yards) and Terrell Owens (8 catches for 110 yards, TD) also did well for an Eagle team that dominated the game everywhere except on the scoreboard. The Bears were able to do little on offense, however, David Terrell (9 catches for 116 yards) did well enough to get into this week’s story. How about that, the guy does well, puts up a zoot, then does well again. I hate fantasy players like that.
at Cleveland 19, Washington 13
Two struggling teams met in this game, both desperate for a win to turn things around. And when struggling teams get together, that usually makes for having to painfully watch struggling offenses. Both teams had trouble putting points on the board, the Skins were able to take a 10-3 lead into the half. The game turned on the second half’s first play, Clinton Portis fumbled and three plays later the Browns tied the score. Washington was able to regroup and retake the lead at 13-10, but the Browns offense finally kicked in, most of the work including the final three yards of an 80 yard drive courtesy Lee Suggs and Cleveland was back on top. The Redskins would mount one last drive, but this time Laveranues Coles fumbled to essentially end the contest.
New York Giants 14, at Green Bay 7
This game didn’t end up being the high scoring affair many thought it would, but offense certainly ruled the day with 704 yards of total offense combined. Neither team was able to score in the first half, leading to an exciting second half. Brett Favre was hit hard and forced to leave the game, however he snuck back onto the field on fourth and 5 and tossed a 28 yard touchdown pass for the Pack’s only points of the game. Favre would not return after that play. The Giants were able to get things going as well, Player of the Week Tiki “Tent” Barber (182 rush yards, TD) ripping a 52 yards touchdown run to tie things up. Late in the fourth the Giants’ long lost tight end Jeremy Shockey scored and New York’s winning season continues.
Atlanta 27, at Carolina 10
Simply put, this one was a street fight. Unsportsmanlike penalties, roughing calles, and all out brawls were the norm in this one. In the end, it was the Falcons that kept their undefeated season going. The nip and tuck affair took a bad turn for Carolina early in the fourth quarter. With the score 13-10 in favor of the birds, Atlanta’s Kevin Mathis picked off Jake Delhomme and went untouched for 35 yards. The Falcons would later add some insurance to put the game out of reach. De’shaun Foster (105 total yards, TD) the only fantasy player to get a mention for his efforts in this one.
at Arizona 34, New Orleans 10
If someone could figure out the New Orleans Saints, could you please let me know? How a team can look so good one week, then so bad the next is beyond me. Just a pathetic effort from the entire team, offensively and defensively, where no Saint marches into this week’s story. On the other side of the ball, what a day for Emmitt Smith (127 rush yards, TD, passing TD). He rushed for a score, threw for another, and in general the Cardinals simply had their way with the visitors in this easy first win of the season.
New York Jets 17, at Miami 9
We continue talking about bad teams here with the Miami Dolphins. As usual, this division battle was tight throughout, but as is usual this season, Miami would turn the ball over on numerous occasions insuring they would not win. Curtis Martin (110 rush yards, TD) continued his rejuvenation tour and the Jets D (6 turnovers, return TD, 4 sacks) was more than happy to play the turnover game, many of which were gifts from Jay Fiedler. The game can be summarized in one play, Fiedler under pressure and about to be sacked he decided to try and lateral the ball to….an offensive lineman. I don’t need to tell you it was unsuccessful and the Jets landed on the ball. Let’s move on.
at San Diego 38, Tennessee 17
Playing without Steve McNair, the Titans are a different team, especially on the road. The Chargers took advantage, pulling away at the end for the nice win. Ladainian Tomlinson (147 rush yards, TD) and Drew Brees (206 pass yards, 3 TD) both played well in a victorious effort. Billy Volek (278 pass yards, 2 TD) got the start for the visitors, and when Tennessee scored midway thru the fourth quarter to bring the Titans within a touchdown, it looked like a comeback was in the making. But on the second play of the Chargers’ next drive, Brees went short to Reche Caldwell “Banker” (3 catches for 110 yards, TD)…Samari Rolle went for the pick and missed, and Caldwell was able to catch the ball one handed. From there, his legs did the rest and 58 yards later he was in the endzone for the score that put the game away. Derek Mason (12 catches for 94 yards, TD) also gets a mention here in a losing effort.
Denver 16, at Tampa Bay 13
A back and forth affair this one, both teams playing it close to the vest, but it was a game where the Broncos never trailed. Denver got up early, but the Bucs kept coming back. Tampa’s only TD of the game came on a Michael Clayton catch where he fell to the ground and was touched by a defender, but not before he was up again…so he was able to complete the bizarre play running into the end zone without his helmet. Jason “Returns” Elam (3 FG, 1 pat) and Gramatica would then engage in a kicking battle, with Elam getting the last boot to win the game late in the fourth quarter. No Bucs (again) mentioned here.
St.Louis 24, at San Francisco 14
The Rams scored early and often in this one, scoring twice in the the first quarter, then putting up 10 more points in the second in racing to the 24-nil half time lead. From there they coasted as the Niners finally put up some garbage time fantasy points in the fourth quarter. “Tiny” Tim Rattay (299 pass yards, 2 TD) and Eric Johnson (10 catches for 113 yards) the only players to be mentioned here in this lopsided match.