The first bye week is always tough, and with six teams sitting it out Week 4 needed players to step up and entertain us poor football fans. They didn’t disappoint as we saw upsets, big games and standout debuts from big names and surprise starters alike. See the best of the best from the NFL as we present the lucky few who made the NFL Ireland team of the Week!
Offense | Defense
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
Let’s be honest, Rodgers has been poor this season. The team needed the refs and some sketchy secondary play to see off the Jets in their lone win before this season, but the QB wasn’t worried, telling fans and reporters to RELAX ahead of their trip to divisional rivals the Chicago Bears this weekend. The Super Bowl winner obviously saw something the rest of us hadn’t, as he threw 22 of 28 for over 300 yards, 4 TDs and no interceptions in a dominant 38-17 victory at Soldier Field. Now everybody can relax, except Packers opponents.
Running Back: DeMarco Murray – Dallas Cowboys
Here at NFL Ireland we like to spread the love around. The Team of the Week is about casting our eyes far and wide to find someone who has been not just great, but great with a story, so we’re reluctant to shower praise on any one individual too much. That said, 149 yards and two TDs against the Saints is enough to grab our attention, and so for the second time in 3 weeks Murray makes the grade as our RB. He’s the best runner in football right now, and it’s not even close.
Tight End: Martellus Bennett – Chicago Bears
With Murray repeating, we might as well keep the ball rolling. Making his second appearance in as many weeks in our team of the week, Bennett was phenomenal against the Packers, catching 9 balls for a whopping 134 yards while his blocking helped Matt Forte to hit a season-high 122 yards on the ground. On this form, Bennett looks a complete tight end.
Wide Receiver: Steve Smith – Baltimore Ravens
When Steve Smith was cut by the Panthers in March, he promised that if he returned to the Bank of America Stadium in another team’s colours there’d be ‘blood and guts everywhere’. The 35 year-old veteran was as good as his word (figuratively speaking), torching his former team for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Smith is averaging over 107 yards per game since his arrival in Baltimore, and after last week the receiver-needy Panthers must be kicking themselves for letting him go.
Wide Receiver: Keenan Allen – San Diego Chargers
After kicking off the season with three fairly anonymous performances despite the Chargers posting big numbers, last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year exploded against the Jaguars, grabbing ten balls for 135 yards. That’s more yards than in his first three games combined! As Philip Rivers continues to spread the ball around Allen might not always see so many targets, but it was great to see that his ability, and reliability, are back.
Offensive Line: New York Giants
Against a Redskins line that had racked up 10 sacks in the first three games of the season, the Giants improved markedly to keep Eli Manning upright and unhurried. After being written off in Week 1, the Giants offense, and the line in particular, are starting to put it all together under new coordinator Ben McAdoo. If they can continue to keep Eli’s shirt clean like they did here, we’ll be talking about the Giants offensive line as a strength once more, rather than a weakness.
Defense | Offense
Defensive Line: Houston Texans
Expect to hear this a lot this season: J.J. Watt is the best player in the NFL right now. He was all over E.J. Manuel in the Buffalo backfield and, while he didn’t notch up a sack, he got a pick-six for his second touchdown of the season. Jared Crick and Tim Jamison combined for the team’s two sacks, rounding off a dominant day for the Texans line.
Linebackers: Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs linebacker group trod all over the Patriots on Monday Night Football. Tamba Hali, Josh Mauga and Justin Houston combined for 3 sacks and two forced fumbles, breaking the brittle Pats offensive line time after time and helping shut out Tom Brady and co. completely in the first half. For a defense that struggled down the stretch last season, this was a complete performance.
Cornerback: Sean Smith – Kansas City Chiefs
Keeping up the theme, Smith had a great night in coverage against the Patriots, while also adding a pick in the middle of the third quarter to ice any comeback aspirations. The Chiefs secondary will need performances like this from their no.1 corner if they are to stay relevant this season.
Cornerback: Brandon Flowers – San Diego Chargers
Another player on the repeat list, having made this team just last week, Flowers improved on his Week 3 performance by allowing just three yards into his area of coverage, while also adding an interception. The Chargers defense looks like a unit to be taken seriously this season, and leading the sea change has been the excellent free agent cornerback signing.
Free Safety: Husain Abdullah – Kansas City Chiefs
Rounding out the impressive performances from the KC D this week is free safety Husain Abdullah. His eight tackles contributed to a solid run defense but the cherry on top was a fourth quarter 53-yard pick six. Even though he suffered an unjust penalty after the play for praying in the endzone, he won’t mind too much if he’s running home interceptions again this season.
Strong Safety: Mike Adams – Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have some problems in the secondary, but Mike Adams wasn’t one of them this week. He hauled in two interceptions to keep Charlie Whitehurst and the Titans offense in check and ensure a solid win and keep the Colts close to the Texans in the AFC South.
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