Week 4 of the NFL season is here, and Sunday’s games included several key matchups that will undoubtedly affect eventual postseason seeding. Let’s go around the league and determine whose stock is up and whose stock is down, starting with the Eagles defeating their former head coach.
NFL Week 4 Stock Up/Stock Down: Early slate
Stock up | Philadelphia Eagles
Following the Dolphins’ Thursday night loss to the Bengals, the Eagles were the only undefeated team in the NFL heading into Sunday’s Week 4 action. And after an impressive victory over the upstart Jaguars, Philadelphia is clearly the best team in the NFC and in contention for the top spot in the entire league.
The Eagles were able to take it easy in a dominant Week 3 win over the Commanders, but that wasn’t the case against Jacksonville. Philadelphia went down 14-0 in the first quarter thanks to an Andre Cisco pick-six and a Jamal Agnew touchdown catch.
But the rest of the game was a different story. Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders, and Kenneth Gainwell all scored second-quarter rushing touchdowns to give Philly a 20-14 halftime lead. A Jake Elliott field goal and another Sanders score in the fourth quarter gave Philly 29 unanswered points until Agnew scored again with 7:19 remaining in the game.
After the Eagles failed on a fourth down that would have sealed the game, the Jaguars had a chance at a game-tying drive. But Haason Reddick forced a strip-sack on Trevor Lawrence, and Javon Hargrave’s recovery ended Jacksonville’s hopes.
The Eagles spoiled Doug Pederson’s return to Philadelphia, and everything is working for the Birds right now. As if things couldn’t get any better, the Eagles (currently) face one of the league’s easiest schedules over the rest of the season.
Stock down | Baltimore Ravens
Bills-Ravens was the marquee matchup of Week 4, and while it didn’t disappoint, the game played out differently than many may have projected — and it didn’t go well for Baltimore.
Following two J.K. Dobbins touchdowns, the Ravens were up 20-3 with 3:39 remaining in the first half. But Buffalo scored 17 unanswered — including an Isaiah McKenzie receiving TD and a Josh Allen run for a score — to make it 20 all entering the fourth quarter.
Baltimore took the ball all the way to Buffalo’s 2-yard line with a 14-play, 93-yard drive that took nearly 10 minutes off the clock. On a 4th-and-goal with 4:15 left in the game, the Ravens opted to go for it instead of taking three points in a tie game.
Win expectancy models backed up that decision, but Lamar Jackson was intercepted by Jordan Poyer. Josh Allen and the Bills managed their own extended drive, a 12-play, 77-yard affair that ended with a game-winning field goal as time expired.
The Ravens can’t feel good about giving away a game to their primary AFC competition, and Jackson played his worst game of the year. Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Cleveland are all 2-2, setting up a critical Week 5 game between the Ravens and Bengals.
Stock up | Austin Ekeler and the Chargers’ offense
Austin Ekeler was leading all running backs in receptions heading into Week 4, but he wasn’t getting anything done on the ground (2.5 yards per carry). That all changed in the Chargers’ victory over the Texans on Sunday.
Ekeler scored touchdowns in the rushing attack and added a third via the air as L.A. beat Houston 34-24. But he wasn’t the only successful part of the Chargers’ offense on Sunday. Tight end Gerald Everett also scored a touchdown, while Mike Williams, Everett, Ekeler, and Michael Bandy all managed at least 40 yards receiving.
The Chargers, who were up 27-7 at halftime, tried to give this game away in the second half. But this roster, which has been decimated by injuries, managed to hang for a much-needed win.
Stock down | Jonathan Taylor and the Indianapolis Colts
The Colts staved off disaster with a victory over the Chiefs in Week 3, but they’re back in the cellar following a loss to the Titans in Week 4. At 1-2-1, Indy is going nowhere fast.
This game may have been the worst performance of Jonathan Taylor’s career. He managed only 42 yards on 20 carries and fumbled on Tennessee’s 23-yard line when the Colts were driving down by seven points.
Matt Ryan took three more sacks. And Indy’s previously elite run defense gave up 114 yards to Derrick Henry. Nothing is going right for Frank Reich’s squad, and their chances at a playoff spot are already almost non-existent.
Stock up | Cowboys QB Cooper Rush
Don’t look now, but Cooper Rush is 3-0 as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback this season. Dak Prescott is reportedly eyeing Week 5 as a potential return date, but Rush’s performance has to make Dallas feel secure that they have a competent backup signal-caller.
Rush completed 15 of 27 attempts for 223 yards and two touchdowns in Washington’s 25-10 victory over the division rival Commanders. This wasn’t a caretaker performance. Rush managed 0.27 expected points added per play and put up 9.3 total EPA.
Despite what owner Jerry Jones might try to stir up, there won’t be a Cowboys quarterback competition once Dak returns to action. But Rush has cemented himself as an average-to-above-average No. 2 quarterback, and that’s a lucrative role in the NFL (just ask Chase Daniel).
Stock up | Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons probably aren’t good. But boy, are they fun to watch! Atlanta did this last year, too. It’s likely just pure luck, but they’ve been able to win games they probably shouldn’t have.
Marcus Mariota only completed seven (yes, seven) passes on the day, but the Falcons still managed to beat the Browns 23-20. Atlanta rushed for 202 yards against Cleveland’s defense, and four different Falcons posted at least 20 yards on the ground.
This probably isn’t the way the Falcons want to win. Kyle Pitts and Drake London totaled three catches and 42 yards on Sunday. This isn’t a sustainable path to victory in the NFL.
But Atlanta is routinely an entertaining team to watch, and they’ll probably continue to keep games close as the season progresses.
Stock down | The Detroit Lions’ defense
Speaking of interesting teams, the Lions certainly aren’t going to be boring. Even without Amon-Ra St. Brown, D’Andre Swift, and DJ Chark, Detroit still managed 45 points on Sunday.
The only problem? They gave up 48! To Geno Smith and the Seahawks!
Props to Smith, who continued his impressive season by posting 320 yards and two touchdowns in Week 4. But it’s a problem that the Lions showed no signs of slowing down Seattle’s offense.
Jared Goff nearly brought the Lions back, and Detroit might have had a chance had they recovered a late onside kick or stopped the Seahawks from achieving a first down on their final drive.
Nonetheless, the Lions allowed 235 yards on the ground and nearly 600 yards of total offense. It’s not going to matter how explosive Detroit’s offense is — even at full strength — if they can’t stop anybody on the other side of the ball.
NFL Week 4 Stock Up/Stock Down: Late slate
Stock up | Patriots QB Bailey Zappe
Yes, the Patriots lost to the Packers in overtime in Week 4. But no one expected the game to be that close (the spread was 9.5 points), and no one expected rookie Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe to play as well as he did.
New England was already without starting QB Mac Jones, who missed today’s game with an ankle injury. Then, backup Brian Hoyer suffered a concussion after taking a hard hit in the first quarter.
Enter Zappe, who broke the FBS records for passing yardage and touchdowns at Western Kentucky in 2021. While he didn’t emerge with the victory against the Packers, Zappe completed 10 of 15 attempts for 99 yards and a touchdown. That’s about as well as anyone could have hoped for the fourth-round rookie.
The Patriots face the Lions in Week 5, and if neither Jones nor Hoyer is available, Zappe will draw the start. He got off to an auspicious start, and he could be gunning for his first NFL win next week.
Stock down | Denver Broncos
After eking out wins over the Texans and 49ers in Weeks 2 and 3, the Broncos came crashing back to Earth in Week 4. Russell Wilson played his best game of the season, but it still wasn’t enough as Denver fell 32-23 to Las Vegas.
The Broncos gave up more than 200 rushing yards to the Raiders, who were the only 0-3 team heading into this game. Patrick Surtain II played well, but Davante Adams still ended up with nine receptions for 101 yards.
Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy both caught touchdowns from Wilson, and it was nice to see KJ Hamler reel in a 55-yard pass. But Denver’s running game was a nightmare (85 total yards), and it could get worse.
Javonte Williams left Sunday’s game and was almost immediately ruled out, a foreboding sign for his near-term availability. And Melvin Gordon fumbled for the fourth time this season.
The Broncos are now 2-2. In the AFC West, they’re much closer to the Raiders than they are to the Chiefs and Chargers. Denver doesn’t appear to be anywhere near the AFC contender they thought they’d be after acquiring Wilson.
Stock down | Panthers QB Baker Mayfield
The final score in the Cardinals-Panthers game was 26-16, but it was never really that close. Arizona outgained Carolina by 118 yards and held a 16-point lead with 7:37 remaining the game.
Baker Mayfield got the Panthers in the end zone in the fourth quarter, but he was dreadful aside from that drive. He completed 22 of 36 attempts for 197 yards and one touchdown while generating -20.4 total EPA, an absolutely insane number.
Mayfield had nine passes deflected, including at least five at the line of scrimmage. One of Baker’s interceptions came when he threw behind DJ Moore in the first half, and another occurred after J.J. Watt tipped a pass to Dennis Gardeck, who nearly ran it back for a pick-six.
Mayfield was supposed to represent a massive improvement over Sam Darnold, but he’s already proven he’s not the answer for the Panthers. Matt Rhule could consider turning to P.J. Walker, but that’s just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
Stock up | Panthers LB Frankie Luvu
It wasn’t all bad for the Panthers on Sunday. Linebacker Frankie Luvu is starting to make a name for himself, and he scored as many touchdowns as Carolina’s offense did in Week 4.
Luvu picked off Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray early in the second quarter, running it back 33 yards for the first score in the game. He also led the Panthers with eight tackles, including one for a loss.
In his first season as a full-time starter, Luvu has been everywhere. The former undrafted free agent has put himself on the fringes of the Defensive Player of the Year discussion, and he might be one of Carolina’s only bright spots over the rest of the season.
Stock up | Packers EDGE Rashan Gary
Rashan Gary is also in the DPOY discussion after playing another excellent game in Week 4. The former first-round pick posted two sacks, seven tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery in Green Bay’s win over New England.
Gary got a strip-sack on Zappe, and his play against Patriots right tackle Isaiah Wynn essentially led to Wynn’s benching. The Packers’ defense hasn’t played up to its talent level this season, but that’s not on Gary, who has been on a path of destruction through four games.