Partner Content | NFL Week 4 takeaways: Chiefs earn statement win, Justin Herbert rebounds in big way

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From a Super Bowl LV rematch to a battle between MVP favourites, Week 4 had no shortage of marquee matchups.

In what was almost certainly the last battle between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, the significantly younger QB led his team to a dominant win. Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills were down double digits to the Baltimore Ravens but fought their way back to move to 3-1.

Those are the games that will grab the headlines, but plenty more went down in an eventful week. Check out our NFL Week 4 takeaways for more.

NFL Week 4 takeaways

It was a fine week for the favourites, even if there were some nervous moments.


Of the 15 games on the schedule prior to Monday Night Football, the underdogs only brought home six wins.

That number probably understates the lack of surprises as the favourites to fall were not among the NFL’s elite, but rather teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions.

It was also a week where offences thrived — just two games included fewer than 40 points scored. The Lions and Seattle Seahawks best embodied the offence-first style that ruled the day as they gave the scoreboard a workout.

Before we break down Week 4’s action, let’s take a quick look at the lines of some key Week 5 games.

Early Week 5 lines

  • The Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos will meet in a Thursday Night Football matchup between teams with new quarterbacks whose offences haven’t clicked yet. Home-field advantage helps Denver open as a 3-point favourite.
  • The Los Angeles Chargers are also 3-point favourites on the road against a Cleveland Browns team with plenty of roster talent but Jacoby Brissett playing the role of substitute teacher behind centre.
  • Despite Cooper Rush’s efficient play, the Dallas Cowboys open as nearly touchdown underdogs on the road against the defending Super Bowl champs.
  • If the Cincinnati Bengals want to win the AFC North, a win over Baltimore in Week 5 is essential. But the Bengals are 3.5-point underdogs in their date with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5) will look to stay undefeated in a road date with the Arizona Cardinals, who improved to 2-2 with a Week 4 win over Carolina. The game has the second-highest total of the week behind the Monday Night Football clash between the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders.

Odds as of 8.04 a.m. ET on 10/03/2022.

NFL Week 4 takeaways: Stock up

Chiefs: After a shocking loss to the Colts, it was worth wondering if the Chiefs were missing Tyreek Hill. They’d put up dominant numbers against Arizona’s porous defence, but Mahomes and the offence struggled to recreate that magic in the next two games.

Kansas City rewrote its narrative on Sunday Night Football. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into the primetime game with 27 points allowed in three contests before the Chiefs hung 28 on them in the first half.

The defence could’ve done a better job against a chasing Tom Brady, but this team will live and die with its high-powered offence. Mahomes looked like he could take them a long way in his 249-yard, three-touchdown performance.

He also provided a vivid reminder that he can do things that other quarterbacks simply can’t.

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Tennessee Titans: The Titans looked cooked after they were upset by the New York Giants in Week 1 and dominated by the Bills in Week 2. Derrick Henry appeared to lack explosiveness and the passing offence seemed like it badly missed A.J. Brown.

Since then, Tennessee has beaten the Raiders and bullied a Colts team that upset the Chiefs last week.

Henry, the Titans’ offensive centrepiece, has rushed for 199 yards and two touchdowns in his last two starts and produced 89 receiving yards. That’s impressive considering he’s never produced more than 206 yards through the air in any season.

Justin Herbert’s ribs: In Week 3, Herbert looked like a diminished player fighting through a rib injury. On Sunday, he looked like himself.

The Houston Texans are a tonic that soothes many ailments, but the third-year star was firing off lasers left, right and centre — like this touchdown throw to Gerald Everett:

Injuries to star left tackle Rashawn Slater and top pass rusher Joey Bosa limit the Chargers’ ceiling for now, but they’ll be able to play with the big boys if they get healthy later in the season.

Herbert’s otherworldly arm talent is one of the biggest reasons why and it seemed to be back on Sunday.

Stock down

Detroit’s defence: Geno Smith and the Seahawks deserve credit for putting up 48 points. That is a hard task in any context.

That said, the Lions deserve plenty of criticism for letting that happen. Seattle has a few notable playmakers, but the team is starting a career backup behind centre and two rookies at offensive tackle. There isn’t an above-average player on its interior line and the receiver depth is non-existent.

The Lions have conceded 141 points in four games. They may be plucky and likeable, but they won’t be a winning team until they make a stop or two.

Denver: While Denver was an underdog in Las Vegas, the Broncos’ excellent secondary gave them a good shot to effectively end the season of a pass-heavy Raiders squad.

Instead, they let Josh Jacobs — running behind a below-average offensive line — shred their defence for 144 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

On offence, Denver continues to be a mess, and its own running game is in trouble as Javonte Williams left the game with a knee injury and Melvin Gordon has become a fumbling machine.

A struggling Russell Wilson and Denver won’t have much time to prepare for Thursday when they host a Colts team that gave Mahomes headaches in Week 3.

The Jaguars hype train: To be clear, there’s no shame in losing to the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s how Jacksonville did it that raises some red flags.

The Jaguars got off to an excellent 14-0 start and ran into a brick wall. A defence that has looked dangerous for much of the year got torched by Miles Sanders, who ran for a career-high 134 yards, letting the Eagles back in the game in a hurry.

Getting pushed around a bit by a quality offensive line isn’t the end of the world, but great teams protect and build on multiple-score leads. Despite their eye-opening win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 3, the Jaguars are a 2-2 team with promise, not an AFC powerhouse.

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Upset of the week

Cardinals over Panthers: Sunday’s game lacked a stunning upset, so we’ll give this award to the underdog that earned the most decisive victory.

Arizona isn’t going to attain Super Bowl contender status by beating the Panthers, but 10-point road wins aren’t easy to come by. Kyler Murray bounced back nicely after throwing an early pick-six, and a defence that’s been shaky all year held firm — an effort that included a remarkable appearance from J.J. Watt.

His miraculous return to action led to one of the most important plays of the day.

This team’s offence should improve significantly after DeAndre Hopkins returns from his six-game suspension. If the defence has another gear, a playoff appearance isn’t out of the question in a mediocre NFC.

NFL Week 4 takeaways: Prop watch

Rashaad Penny (17 carries, 151 rushing yards, 2 TDs): Even though Penny was arguably the NFL’s best running back in the second half of 2021, he seemed likely to decline significantly this year.

Without Wilson, the Seahawks seemed likely to spend most of their time behind, leading to more passing situations and limiting Penny’s upside. On top of that, the team drafted Kenneth Walker II in the second round of the draft.

Those who shunned Penny in prop markets and fantasy football looked right to do so until this week.

The 2018 first-round pick reminded the football world of his explosiveness on Sunday, putting up 151 yards on the ground and ripping multiple long touchdowns:

Penny should still be bet on strategically as the Seahawks will struggle to move the ball against top-notch defences — but he should be on the radar for rushing and touchdown props in softer matchups.

Justin Jefferson (10 receptions, 147 yards, 0 TDs): The preseason hype for Jefferson was massive, and he rewarded it in Week 1 with a 184-yard effort.

New Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell appeared to have unleashed him in the Cooper Kupp role and the sky seemed to be the limit for him.

Jefferson couldn’t replicate that production over the next two games, totalling 62 yards — his worst two-game stretch since the first two games of his career.

Week 4 served as a reminder, though, that Jefferson is still someone we should be excited about in any matchup. The New Orleans Saints aren’t a great team, but Marshon Lattimore is a great corner. He provided limited resistance on Sunday.

Austin Ekeler (13 carries, 60 rushing yards, 2 TDs, 6 receptions, 49 yards, 1 TD): After compiling 1,558 total yards and 20 touchdowns last season, Ekeler averaged just 73 yards per game and no scores in his first three contests.

The Texans were the perfect get-right opponent this week, and Ekeler showed off his abilities as a multi-purpose weapon with three touchdowns.

Ekeler touchdown props tend to have significant juice, but his Week 4 performance shows they are worth entertaining. He’s also an appealing play on total yardage props because he’s both a threat on the ground and through the air.

It was a rough week on our prop and TD-specific picks in Week 4, with Wilson falling just short and Kenny Pickett blowing up any chance of Mitch Trubisky coming close to clearing this total.

NFL Week 4 takeaways: Think tank

Pickett has an eventful debut: The 2022 quarterback class didn’t impress draft analysts and the fact that Pickett was the only signal-caller taken in the first round is pretty solid evidence that this won’t be a group to remember.

That said, Pickett’s debut was encouraging for Pittsburgh Steelers fans. No outing that included three interceptions and no touchdowns can be called clinical, but the rookie moved the ball effectively and pushed it downfield far more aggressively than the incumbent Trubisky.

Pickett also produced two touchdowns on the ground — a surprising development for a guy who averaged 1.9 yards per carry in college.

The Steelers have a solid group of skill position players and it will be interesting to see how Pickett can utilize them in the weeks to come.

So does Bailey Zappe: While transitioning to Pickett was always the plan in Pittsburgh, the New England Patriots were not looking to give Zappe the keys to their offence.

After Brian Hoyer left with an injury, the fourth-round pick looked solid in his NFL debut. He completed 10 of his 15 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown and took the Green Bay Packers to overtime.

With a few different breaks, he might’ve led New England to a win over Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field.

Mac Jones remains the man in New England, but Zappe’s surprising display of competence against a quality defence raises the team’s floor as long as he’s needed.

Beasts of the (NFC) East: Entering the season no one saw the NFC East as one of the league’s elite divisions. But its four squads walk away from Week 4 with a combined 11-5 record.

The Eagles are among the NFC’s best teams and the Cowboys’ defence is good enough that they’re undefeated with Rush at quarterback. Somehow, the New York Giants are 3-1.

While the Washington Commanders remain hopeless, this group is far better than expected. New York may fall by the wayside as its schedule gets more difficult, but the Eagles are for real — and the range of outcomes for the Cowboys is massive.

It wasn’t long ago that wild-card teams licked their lips at the idea of travelling to face the NFC East winner. Those days are clearly over.


Nick Ashbourne writes about sports betting for NorthStar Bets. NorthStar Bets is owned by NordStar Capital, which also owns Torstar, the Star’s parent company. Follow him on Twitter: @NickAshbourne

Disclaimer This content was produced as part of a partnership and therefore it may not meet the standards of impartial or independent journalism.

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