One thing we learned about each NFL team in Week 4 of 2021 season: Cardinals, Cowboys are for real in NFC


Week 4 of the 2021 NFL season is officially in the books and even though it didn’t seem like it, there were other games that didn’t involve Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. The Giants and Jets actually won a game on the same day, the Cardinals remain unbeaten, and the Dallas Cowboys made a statement by dominating the previously unbeaten Carolina Panthers. 

Sixteen teams logged wins. Sixteen others fell short. But what did we learn about each of the 32 after another week of action? We’re so glad you asked. As Week 5 draws near, we take a look below at one thing we took away from each team thanks to the latest weekend of football:

At least for now, they are the real class of the NFC West. All that Rams talk couldn’t stop Kyler Murray and Co. from moving up and down the field in Week 4.

Their defense is no good, but we already knew that. Let’s go with this: Cordarrelle Patterson’s hot start wasn’t a fluke. His usage and production have only gone up as the surprising centerpiece of their offense.

It’s been more apparent pretty much every other week, but Marquise Brown is emerging as a true No. 1. What an extension he had for the deep touchdown in Baltimore’s big win.

The preseason hype was every bit justified. Yes, they just beat up on the Texans, but boy are they making it look easy on both sides of the ball.

Despite the hot start to the season, they’re still unproven under pressure. Both Sam Darnold and their offensive line — already a shaky unit — folded in crunch time to let Dallas steal a victory.

Justin Fields looked much better in start No. 2, but their offense might be in for more trouble now that David Montgomery, whose rushing really helped in Week 4, is dealing with a knee injury.

Zac Taylor can’t be written off yet. We’re as guilty as any of doing just that, and there’s still time for a collapse, but he’s sure got Joe Burrow and Co. playing with fight and more cohesion early on.

It’s not Kevin Stefanski’s offense, but rather the defense that’s carrying them. Myles Garrett and Co. held the explosive Vikings in check on the road, picking up the slack for Baker Mayfield.

Besides the fact they might be NFC championship material? Ezekiel Elliott is truly an X factor for this offense. Zeke didn’t get a ton of love coming into 2021, but even with Tony Pollard faring well, he’s held his own as a regular playmaker.

They lost by 20 and things could easily get worse before they get better. The Steelers, up next, are beatable, but Drew Lock might be forced to start for Teddy Bridgewater, and their defense wasn’t nearly as lockdown against the Ravens.

They fight each week, but this team is not opportunistic enough. Three different red-zone trips against the Bears in the first half, and they somehow managed to come away with zero points there, finishing 1-for-5 inside the 20.

Maybe it’s just the Steelers defense, but Randall Cobb looks like he’s still got it. We know one thing: Aaron Rodgers certainly trusts him as a top target out of the slot.

Davis Mills’ first start may have been a tease. Even that wasn’t magnificent, of course, but it was worlds better than his Week 4 outing, in which he was picked off four times in a 40-point loss.

Their defense still lives. Carson Wentz and Jonathan Taylor each had nice second-half contributions against the Dolphins, but Indy’s “D” was the real MVP, completely shutting down Miami out of the gate.

How can we put this politely? Urban Meyer is in turmoil, for reasons that go well beyond the football field.

Their defense remains a total sieve, but Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill remain the game’s most dangerous combo. They shredded the Eagles with ease whenever they needed to.

While Derek Carr again showed second-half fight, their offensive strategy needs some work. Josh Jacobs was too often the focal point of the passing game early against the Chargers, and the whole unit took way too long to get going.

Justin Herbert belongs in the MVP conversation. It’s a crowded one, no doubt, but he was ultra-efficient out of the gate in prime time — enough to let Los Angeles basically go on cruise control for much of a Monday night win over the Raiders.

This will sound pretty broad, but it’s still true: They are, in fact, vulnerable. After opening 3-0 and garnering MVP buzz for Matthew Stafford, they had almost no answers for the Cardinals after starting slow in Week 4.

An extension of last week: Their offense is one of the worst in the NFL. Yes, the Colts were stingy on Sunday, but with both Tua Tagovailoa and Jacoby Brissett, they’ve been wholly unexplosive.

The ground game still matters a ton for them. Kirk Cousins had been slinging it through the first three weeks, but facing pressure and little help from Dalvin Cook and Co. against Cleveland, he couldn’t do much.

He may not have won Sunday night’s anticipated battle with Tom Brady, but Mac Jones is clearly the best QB of his class to date. His poise and efficiency against the Buccaneers defense was outstanding.

Through four games, they might be the most unpredictable team in the NFL. They struggled mightily on defense against a wayward Giants team, complete with a late-game meltdown to lose in overtime.

Daniel Jones might still be something. On a bad team this year, he’s actually played some of his best football, and his efforts were a huge reason for New York’s OT upset against New Orleans.

Their 0-3 start clouded his potential, but Quinnen Williams can change their defense, as he did Sunday by headlining a suffocating performance against the Titans.

Jalen Hurts is still flashing promise, notably keeping pace with Patrick Mahomes for a decent chunk of Sunday’s game, but Nick Sirianni warrants skepticism for three straight games of questionable calls.

After missing several open deep shots and once again struggling to operate new coordinator Matt Canada’s preferred offense, Ben Roethlisberger might actually be in danger of losing his job later this year.

This is Trey Lance’s show now. Not because Jimmy Garoppolo fell off Sunday, but because he’s hurt once again. Kyle Shanahan may have no choice but to stick with the rookie if/when he gets his extended look.

Russell Wilson is saving them. And that’s not exactly new, is it? But it’s still notable. Their third-down defense was solid against San Francisco, but No. 3 is still the main reason they’re competitive.

Once again, their ground game is underrated. Tom Brady gets all the headlines, but even he got in on the rushing attack against the Patriots, with Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones contributing key carries in a tough win.

They’re asking a lot of Ryan Tannehill, whether it’s with a shaky O-line, an unreliable receiving duo that was down two injured stars, or something else. Derrick Henry can only do so much for you on the ground.

Washington Football Team

He may not be extremely reliable, but Taylor Heinicke is going to keep them in the division hunt. What else can you say after his gutsy big-play finish against the Falcons, with some beautiful throws to Terry McLaurin?

You may have noticed that the NFL launched its Crucial Catch campaign during Week 4. Each year, all 32 NFL teams raise awareness during their Crucial Catch game featuring on-field and in-stadium Crucial Catch elements. Crucial Catch games also present a chance to honor cancer survivors and those currently battling cancer. Since 2009, the NFL has raised more than $23 million for the American Cancer Society. You can purchase Crucial Catch gear just like coaches and players were wearing on the sidelines and can join the fight against cancer by donating to the American Cancer Society.

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