The Andrew Preview: NFL Week Four

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The Patriots take on the Dolphins this week after a number of very good AFC East match ups this season.

1. The NFL is investigating a confrontation between Green Bay Packers safety Nick Collins and a fan that occurred during Monday night’s game between the Packers and the Bears. A Milwaukee news station aired footage of Collins arguing with a fan as he leaves a field, followed by Collins throwing his mouthpiece into the crowd. Collins claims that the fan spit on him and used a racial slur. Still, the Packers safety apologized and said that he simply “los[t] his cool.” Green Bay Coach Mike McCarthy indicated that he believed Collins’ account of the incident and that he “support[s] Nick one-hundred percent.” Collins was involved in two plays late in the game that helped put the Bears in position to win the game and may have contributed to his frustration. First, a late game interception by Collins was wiped out by a pass interference call, and Collins’ tackle of Bears running back Matt Forte resulted in another penalty for unnecessary roughness putting. The NFL is engaged in an ongoing review of the incident.

2. With the first three weeks in the books, there is still some quarterback shuffling going around. In the final week that the Steelers will be playing without Ben Roethlisberger, coach Mike Tomlin named Charlie Batch the starter for this Sunday’s match up against the Ravens. Batch entered the season as the fourth string quarterback for Pittsburgh, but following Big Ben’s suspension and injuries to Dennis Dixon and Byron Leftwich, Batch had his chance to show his stuff this Sunday. He certainly took advantage of it, throwing for three touchdowns in the Steelers’ trouncing of Tampa Bay. Also, the Buffalo Bills cut former “quarterback of the future” Trent Edwards in favor of backup Ryan Fitzpatrick. Firtzpatrick threw for more yards in Week Three than Edwards had managed in the first two weeks of the season combined. The Jaguars, facing quarterback issues of their own, picked up Edwards  off of waivers. Edwards is expected to compete with Jacksonville QB David Garrard who has been underwhelming so far this season.

3. The agent of veteran kicker John Carney confirmed that his client would be returning to the New Orleans Saints. Carney, at 46, is expected to sign a one-year deal with the defending Superbowl Champs. The Saints entered the market for a kicker this week after incumbent Garrett Hartley missed a twenty-nine yard gimme in overtime that would have won the game for New Orleans. Instead, Hartley’s shank allowed the Falcons to march down into field goal range themselves and get the victory. Carney was a kicking consultant for the Saints last year, after being on their active roster for the majority of 2009. The twenty-two year veteran kicked his first NFL field goal in 1988.

Undefeated Teams

Chicago Bears
Kansas City Chiefs
Pittsburgh Steelers

A whopping five teams suffered their first losses this week, whittling us down to a mere three undefeated teams. The Packers lost to the Bears; the Texans lost to the Cowboys; the Dolphins lost to the Jets; the Saints lost to the Falcons, and the Bucs lost to the Steelers. Parity is king in the NFL this year. Just for reference, this time last season there were still seven undefeated teams.

2008 Detroit Lions Memorial Winless Teams

Buffalo Bills
Cleveland Browns
Carolina Panthers
Detroit Lions
San Francisco 49ers

Three teams managed to get their first win this week. The Cowboys beat the Texans; the Vikings beat the Lions, and the Rams beat the Redskins. This leaves us with five winless teams, and again, for frame of reference there were seven winless teams this time last season.

Three Big Match Ups

1. Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 1 P.M. EST on CBS – One of the big questions entering the 2010-2011 season was how the Steelers would fare without Ben Roethlisberger. Well, if the first three weeks of the season are any indication, Big Ben should get suspended every year. Though it’s included a bout of quarterbacking by committee, the admirable play from the Steeler backups and a strong defense have led Pittsburgh to an undefeated record entering the last week of Roethlisberger’s suspension. With tight wins against Atlanta and Tennessee, and a thrashing of the formerly undefeated Bucs this past week, the Steelers have shown that they can win without their star quarterback. However, they’ll face their first division foe this week, and the Ravens are no pushovers. Baltimore grinded out a tough win against the Jets, lost a close one to the Bengals, and beat their division rival Browns by a touchdown. Though Ravens RB Ray Rice is questionable for Sunday’s game with a bruised knee, expect a revitalized Ravens offense to balance their typically stout defense and give the Steelers a run for their money.

2. Washington at Philadelphia, 4:15 P.M. EST on FOX – With three teams each having only one win apiece, the NFC East aint what it used to be. Still, the Philadelphia Eagles have looked to be the class of the division in the early goings. Despite a tough loss to a talented Packer team in Week One, the Eagles have won two in a row and look unstoppable. Andy Reid was vindicated in his decision to name Michael Vick as his starter after the former Falcons quarterback helped deliver a beatdown of the woeful Jaguars to the tune 291 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a 25-point margin of victory. Philly will look to establish their dominance in the NFC East by beating their division rivals. Still, the Shanahan Redskins are not the woeful Washington warriors of old. The Skins already have one win the division over the Cowboys, and it took an impressive comeback from the Texans in overtime to beat them in Weak Two. Moreover, you can expect Washington quarterback Donovan McNabb to be very motivated to show his old team what they’re missing after having traded him in the offseason. With the animated fans in Philadelphia, it should be an entertainingly contentious homecoming for the former Eagle, and accordingly, a great game.

3. New England at Miami, Monday, 8:30 P.M. EST on ESPN – The AFC East has put on some pretty good games these first three weeks of the season, with even the winless Bills doing their part. The Jets and the Pats put on quite a show in Week Two, and Miami and New York followed it up with another nail-biter in Week Three. Let’s hope the third leg of this round robin is just as exciting as the Fins take on the Patriots at home. The Dolphins went on the road and pulled off a pair of close victories over Buffalo and Minnesota to start the season. Unfortunately, they lost their home opener to the Jets in Week Three in a heartbreaker. However, this loss gives them all the more reason to go after another all-important division victory against the Pats. New England, for its part, also has a victory over Buffalo, a loss to the Jets, and a win over one of last season’s playoff teams on its 2010 resume. These teams appear pretty evenly matched, and it should make for a quality match up in the Monday night spotlight game. Expect Brady and Moss to be ready to put on a show while Chad Henne, Ronnie Brown, and the wildcat offense will aim to do the same.

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