The NFL’s move to a 17-game campaign means that the end of Week 4 is no longer the exact quarter-season mark. Still, four weeks of action gives us plenty of time to assess which teams, players, and coaches are thriving — and which are not.
Who performed above expectations on Sunday, and who’s already looking ahead to Week 5? Here are the winners and losers from Week 4.
Winners and Losers From NFL Week 4
Winner | Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs
Sunday’s AFC East showdown between the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins was supposed to be the game of the week, but Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs ensured it wasn’t much of a contest.
Allen missed on just four of 25 attempts while tossing four touchdowns, three of which went to Diggs. The Bills blasted the Dolphins 48-20, and Buffalo has now scored 123 points over its last three games.
The HAT TRICK for Stefon Diggs 👀
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) October 1, 2023
But the Bills’ defense was just as impressive. Facing a Miami offense that posted 70 points without Jaylen Waddle in Week 3, Buffalo largely held the Dolphins in check. Tyreek Hill and Waddle combined for just seven receptions and 104 scoreless yards.
With the New England Patriots and New York Jets looking dead in the water through four weeks, the Bills and Dolphins control the AFC East. This will be a season-long battle, but Buffalo now has an early divisional lead.
Loser | Bears HC Matt Eberflus
Losing 41-10 to the Kansas City Chiefs in a nationally broadcast Week 3 game apparently wasn’t enough embarrassment for Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus.
No, Eberflus — already squarely on the hot seat entering today’s game — decided that blowing a 21-point lead to the similarly winless Denver Broncos would be his next course of action.
Tied at 28 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, Eberflus passed up on a 36-yard field goal, instead deciding to try to convert a 4th-and-1. Running back Khalil Herbert failed to convert, and Denver drove down the field for a game-winning field goal.
Bears go for it on 4th-and-1 in tie game late fourth quarter.
ESPN Analytics model would have preferred a FG! pic.twitter.com/tBARpMecX8
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) October 1, 2023
“We had a decision to make there. I loved the way our offense was running the ball at that time, and we had a really good chance to seal the deal right there, and it was a decision we made at that moment,” Eberflus said after the game.
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Oh, and did we mention the Bears blew a game in which Justin Fields threw for 335 yards and four touchdowns?
Loser | Riverboat Ron Rivera
Ron Rivera has officially lost his “Riverboat” nickname.
The Washington Commanders kept clawing back against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, eventually tying the game at 31 after Jahan Dotson caught a 10-yard touchdown with no time remaining in regulation.
But instead of going for the win by attempting a two-point conversion (which any statistical model would have told Rivera to do), the Commanders head coach opted for a PAT to send the game to overtime.
Spoiler alert: Washington went three-and-out in overtime, allowing Philadelphia to kick a game-winning field goal on their first OT drive.
Winner | Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens suffered an agonizing overtime defeat to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3, but everything clicked for Lamar Jackson and Co. in Week 4.
Even though they were dealing with myriad injuries (and suffered even more on Sunday), the Ravens dominated the Cleveland Browns, who had boasted the NFL’s best defense through three weeks. Lamar only attempted 19 passes, but he completed 15 for 186 yards and two touchdowns in Baltimore’s 28-3 win.
Baltimore’s defense also made the most of Deshaun Watson’s absence, intercepting rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson three times.
Loser | The Rest of the AFC North
While the Ravens picked up a win to move to 3-1, the rest of the AFC North lost on Sunday.
Cleveland didn’t have Watson, but its defensive performance against Baltimore was anything but inspiring. The Pittsburgh Steelers were dominated by the Houston Texans and may have lost Kenny Pickett. And the Cincinnati Bengals couldn’t get anything going and are expected to be without Tee Higgins.
– Bengals had no games with 0 offensive TDs in 2021 & 2022 seasons
– 24-point defeat is T-3rd largest margin of defeat in Joe Burrow’s career
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) October 1, 2023
Baltimore is atop the division at 3-1. The Browns and Steelers are both at .500, while the Bengals are bringing up the rear at 1-3.
Winner | 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey
Christian McCaffrey remains the single most elite option in fantasy football. We haven’t seen a running back capable of putting up CMC’s level of fantasy production since LaDainan Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk were in the NFL.
McCaffrey was utterly dominant for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, posting 106 rushing yards, 71 receiving yards, and four total touchdowns in a win over the Arizona Cardinals. He’s now scored 18 touchdowns in 18 games as a 49er.
San Francisco’s offense was already incredibly difficult to stop before the club acquired McCaffrey at last year’s trade deadline. Now, the undefeated 49ers look entirely unstoppable.
Winner | Chargers EDGE Khalil Mack
Do you think Khalil Mack has a little extra motivation when he faces the Las Vegas Raiders, the team that drafted him in 2014 but then traded him to the Chicago Bears in 2018?
Mack destroyed the Raiders’ offensive line en route to six sacks in the Los Angeles Chargers’ 24-17 win. He’s now posted nine sacks in three games against the Raiders since joining the Chargers’ roster — he has five sacks in his other 18 games with the Bolts.
Loser | Mac Jones and the Patriots Offense
It might officially be Zappe Time in New England. Mac Jones was dreadful for the Patriots on Sunday, completing just 12 of 21 attempts against the Dallas Cowboys while tossing two interceptions, one of which was returned for a pick-six. The Cowboys scored another defensive touchdown after strip-sacking Jones.
DaRon Bland pick-six! 2nd defensive TD of the half for the @DallasCowboys 🤠
— NFL (@NFL) October 1, 2023
Zappe entered the game in the third quarter when Dallas was already leading 31-3. It’s too early to say whether Zappe will start when the Patriots face the New Orleans Saints in Week 5.
But Bill Belichick — who suffered the worst loss of his NFL head-coaching career on Sunday — can’t be pleased with how Jones has performed through the first month of the season.
Winner | Texans QB C.J. Stroud
The Houston Texans could be a force to be reckoned with. It might be a little early to declare the Texans 2023 contenders, but we’ve seen more than enough to label C.J. Stroud an above-average NFL quarterback.
Stroud, the second overall pick in April’s draft, put up 240+ passing yards for the fourth consecutive game as the Texans routed the Steelers in a 30-6 win. Stroud, who still has not tossed an interception, has posted the second-most passing yards by a quarterback through four starts in NFL history.
Winner | Rams WR Puka Nacua
A flash in the plan? Or, as RedZone host Scott Hanson proposed on Sunday, another Jeremy Lin who might simply fade away?
Not so fast, said Puka Nacua.
PUKA NACUA WALK-OFF TD IN OT 😳
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) October 1, 2023
Nacua maintained the scorching start to his NFL career in the Los Angeles Rams’ overtime win against the Indianapolis Colts. The fifth-round rookie paced the Rams with nine catches, 163 yards, and a game-winning touchdown.
Nacua now has the most receptions (39) by a player in his first four NFL games. He’ll hold a valuable role in L.A.’s offense even when Cooper Kupp returns from injured reserve.
Winner | Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Don’t look now, but Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in first place in the NFC South.
Mayfield had another efficient game, completing 25 of 32 attempts for 246 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception against the Saints’ elite defense. Mayfield was ninth in the NFL in QBR entering Week 4 and now has seven touchdowns against two picks this season.
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Tampa Bay always looked too talented, at least on the defensive side of the ball, to tank in 2023. Mike Evans’ hamstring injury is a concern for the club’s offense, but head coach Todd Bowles has to be happy with how the Bucs have navigated the first four games of the season.