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NFL Week 4 Recap — The Broncos Are The NFL’s Best Team & Other Things We Learned

Denver Broncos v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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First losses and injuries were the biggest news of Week 4 of the 2016 NFL season. Here’s what we learned this week:

The Steelers Whupped The Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs v Pittsburgh Steelers
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A week after being thoroughly dominated by the Eagles, the Steelers were the ones doing the dominating on Sunday. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 300 yards and five touchdown passes, and Pittsburgh clobbered the Kansas City Chiefs, 43-14, in prime time. The marquee match-up of two AFC contenders never materialized, as Roethlisberger and the Steelers led 22-0 by the end of the first quarter.

Le’Veon Bell carried 18 times for 144 yards in his first game back for Pittsburgh (3-1) after a three-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Kansas City (2-2) committed two turnovers, allowed four sacks and was completely outplayed the entire game.

The Broncos Are Still The League’s Best Team

Denver Broncos v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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The AFC started the day with three undefeated teams: New England, Baltimore and Denver. By the end of the fourth Sunday of the 2016 season, only the defending-champion Broncos were left with a perfect record.

Despite the loss of starting quarterback Trevor Siemian to a shoulder injury at the end of the first half, Denver (4-0) pounded the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 27-7, on Sunday. Broncos’ rookie quarterback Paxton Lynch finished the game for Siemian, throwing for 170 yards with one touchdown.

The game was suspended for weather-related reasons for more than an hour, marking the second consecutive week Tampa Bay (1-3) has had to pause a game at home due to storms.

Jameis Winston completed 17 of 35 passes for 179 yards and two interceptions for the Bucs. He became the fourth consecutive quarterback who failed to throw for 200 yards passing against the Denver defense this season.

Tyrod Taylor completed 27 of 39 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown, and the Buffalo Bills shut out the mistake-prone New England Patriots, 16-0, in Foxborough, Mass. on Sunday. Dan Carpenter kicked three field goals for Buffalo (2-2), which handed the Pats their first shutout loss at home since 1993.

Rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett fumbled three times and was sacked three times for New England (3-1). Pats’ running back LeGarrette Blount, the NFL’s leading rusher coming into the game, was held to 54 yards on 13 carries. It was the Patriots’ last game without suspended quarterback Tom Brady, who is expected to return from his four-game ‘Deflategate’ suspension next Sunday against the Browns.

Derek Carr threw for 199 yards and four touchdown passes, including the game-winner to Michael Crabtree with 2:12 to play, and the Oakland Raiders beat the Baltimore Ravens, 28-27, on Sunday. Ahead for most of the game, Oakland (3-1) fell behind with a little more than three minutes left, only to have Carr rally the team to its third road win of 2016.

Baltimore (3-1) trailed 21-12 with 11 minutes left, but they scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to take the lead. Carr rallied his team, and knocked the Ravens from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Idle Philadelphia and Minnesota, which plays Monday night against the Giants, are the only undefeated teams left in the NFC.

The Panthers Are In Trouble…

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons
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While the Broncos still look super, the defending NFC champion Panthers do not. Julio Jones had 12 receptions for a team-record 300 yards, and the Atlanta Falcons beat the Carolina Panthers, 48-33, on Sunday. Matt Ryan threw for 503 yards and four touchdowns for Atlanta (3-1) against the shoddy Carolina defense.

Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton left the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion. He completed 14 of 25 passes for 165 yards with one touchdown before exiting. If Newton is out any extended period of time, Carolina (1-3) risks falling well out of the NFC South race before the season’s mid-point.

…And So Are The Cardinals

Los Angeles Rams v Arizona Cardinals
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Case Keenum threw two touchdown passes to Brian Quick, and the Los Angeles Rams beat the Arizona Cardinals, 17-13, on Sunday. After going weeks without a touchdown earlier in the season, Los Angeles (3-1) got them when it mattered most this week, leaving Arizona (1-3) beaten and battered.

Cardinals’ quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 288 yards and a touchdown, but he left the game after being sacked by Aaron Donald late in the fourth quarter. Arizona had five turnovers in the game, including two interceptions thrown by backup QB Drew Stanton in the closing minutes. It’s still early, but the Cardinals may have a very difficult time making it back to the NFC playoffs this season.

The Texans Won Without J.J. Watt

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans
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Will Fuller’s 67-yard punt return for a touchdown gave the Houston Texans a 27-20 win over the Tennessee Titans in their first game without defensive star J.J. Watt. Houston (3-1) picked up the win after giving up a 14-point, first-half lead late.

Tennessee (1-3) had a chance to tie, but their final drive ended when Marcus Mariota’s pass to Andre Johnson was broken up. Texans’ defender Jadeveon Clowney played an inspired game, something he’ll need to do more of as the team moves forward without Watt.

Other Scores

Thursday, Sept. 29
Cincinnati 22, Miami 7

Sunday, October 2
Jacksonville 30, Indianapolis 27 (London)
Washington 31, Cleveland 20
Seattle 27, N.Y. Jets 17
Chicago 17, Detroit 14
Dallas 24, San Francisco 17
New Orleans 35, San Diego 34

Bye Week
Green Bay, Philadelphia

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