NFL Week 4 truths and myths

The NFL still doesn’t make any sense. It’s difficult to tell what’s real and what’s fake. So let’s play a little game of three truths and three myths in an attempt to make sense of a crazy Week 4 in the NFL…

Myth: Advanced stats are useless for football View the GIF

Another week, another batch of unexpected results. The Bills going on the road and beating the Falcons? The Rams going into Jerry World and stealing a win off the Cowboys? The supposedly struggling Panthers knocking off the defending champs? Did anyone see these results coming? Well, maybe if you were paying attention to the best football stat out there: Football Outsider’s DVOA.

Coming into the week, DVOA had the Panthers (17th) ranked ahead of the Patriots (23rd), the Bills (7th) ahead of the Falcons (9th) and the Rams (3rd) ahead of the Cowboys (15th). If you made all your Week 4 picks based on the DVOA, you would have gone 13-2 this week (before the Monday nighter).

There’s a prevailing thought that advanced stats aren’t all that useful for football because there are so many moving parts that are hard to quantify, but the crew over at Football Outsiders have developed quite the stat.

Truth: The NFC is wide open

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

After Week 3, there appeared to be a clear hierarchy in the NFC. The Falcons were on top. The Packers and Cowboys were battling it out for second and third, and the Seahawks were right behind them. Then Week 4 happened and now nothing makes sense. The Rams are a factor all of a sudden. Same goes for the Panthers. The Vikings defense is playing at a top-five level. The Saints figured out how to play a little defense over the last two weeks. The Lions are 3-1. So are the Eagles. The Cardinals are too talented to write off. And did you see the Redskins last Sunday night? The playoff race in the NFC is going to be crazy.

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Myth: Cam Newton was broken before the Patriots game

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

I’d like to formally apologize to Cam Newton for what I wrote about him last week. The headline was “Cam Newton is broken,” which was not accurate. I wrote that before I had really studied his film from the first three games of the season. After doing so, I switched my stance on Newton. Despite what the numbers say, he’s actually played fairly well. Yes, he had a few bad misses but, for the most part, he’s been accurate and made good decisions. His shoulder looks just fine to me, as well. He’s made some ridiculous throws under pressure over the first month of the season.

</div> <p>So, sorry for doubting you, Cam. That performance in New England is a sign of things to come.</p> <h3 class=”presto-h3″>Truth: Blake Bortles is going to keep the Jaguars out of the playoffs</h3><asset-img UniqueId=”713259″ /> <p>Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports</p> <p>There was some hope for Blake Bortles after an impressively efficient performance against the Ravens in London. Apparently, Bortles left that efficiency back in England as he was back to his old ways on Sunday against the Jets. The Jags defense did its part (as it has done all season) but Bortles was useless. He averaged a robust 4.0 yards per attempt and completed 42.9% of his passes. We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: This is a playoff team that’s being held back by a bad quarterback. The Jaguars made a colossal mistake by doubling down on Bortles and deciding not to bring in any competition for him.</p> <p>No, Ryan Nassib doesn’t count.</p> <h3 class=”presto-h3″>Myth: The Broncos defense is worse after losing Wade Phillips</h3> <p><p><asset-img UniqueId=”1506960064044″ /></p> </p> <p>Another apology is order. I just assumed the Broncos defense would take a step back after losing defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to the Rams. I was flat-out wrong about that. If anything, the defense is as good as it’s ever been because of the improvements up front. Over the last three weeks, the Broncos have gone up against the three best run-blocking lines in the league and have dominated those matchups. This unit wasn’t capable of doing that a year ago. You’ll remember the Sunday night game in Oakland last year when the Raiders owned the line of scrimmage and ran all over the Broncos. That did not happen yesterday, and it isn’t likely to happen in 2017.</p> <h3 class=”presto-h3″>Truth: The Bears are better off starting Mitch Trubisky</h3><asset-img UniqueId=”713257″ /> <p>Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports</p> <p>Reports suggest the Bears have already decided to start the rookie, and it’s about time. What Trubisky may lack in mastery of the playbook he makes up for with his ability to throw on the run. Chicago needs his mobility right now. The receiving corps is just too limited to consistently make plays in a traditional dropback passing scheme, which is really the only system that fits Mike Glennon’s skill-set.</p> <p>Trubisky isn’t going to come in and tear up defenses from the pocket right away, but he proved in preseason he’s fully capable of moving the offense on throws from outside the pocket.</p> </body></html>

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