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Sorting the Sunday Pile: Patriots progressing perfectly so far

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

Could things be going better for the Patriots right now? Fresh off handing Matt Ryan his sixth loss in the Georgia Dome with a 30-23 beatdown on Sunday night, New England finds themselves undefeated in as an enviable position as anyone in the NFL.

Not like that's new. The difference here, though, is the way the Patriots are improving. Their rookie receivers -- most notably Kenbrell Thompkins, who caught another touchdown pass Sunday night -- are growing by leaps and bounds.

Week
Brady Pass Yards
Brady Comp Pct
Dobson
Thompkins
Boyce
Week 1 @ Bills
288
55.8%
0 catches, 0 yards, 0 TD
4 catches, 42 yards, 0 TD
0 catches, 0 yards, 0 TD
Week 2 vs. Jets
185
48.7%
3 catches, 56 yards, 1 TD
2 catches, 47 yards, 0 TD
0 catches, 0 yards, 0 TD
Week 3 vs. Bucs
225
69.4%
7 catches 44 yards, 0 TD
3 catches, 41 yards, 2 TD
0 catches, 0 yards, 0 TD
Week 4 @ Falcons
316
64.5%
1 catch, 10 yards, 0 TD
6 catches, 127 yards, 1 TD
1 catch, 24 yards, 0 TD

The improvement is critical. It was just two weeks ago on Thursday night against the Jets that Tom Brady spoke about working on his body language and spent the entire game screaming angrily at his wide receivers for not properly running their routes.

Now the Pats look like something much closer to a well-oiled machine on offense. Brady is starting to find a rapport with Kenbrell Thompkins, who's really developed a nose for the end zone, scoring three times in the past two weeks.

The development of these young guys helps the Patriots out in the long- and short-term too. For the immediate future it -- quite obviously -- makes them a better and tougher team. But perhaps even more importantly, winning games now with these younger players allows the Patriots some flexibility in bringing their veterans back. They can afford not to rush Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola back with Thompkins, et al, playing well.

And in the long term, the Patriots will benefit from having Thompkins, Dobson and Boyce get better early in the season. Once guys like Gronk, Amendola and Shane Vareen return, the Patriots might very well find themselves with a silly amount of depth at wideout, resulting in a bevy of weapons for Tom Brady.

Houston Has a ...
So the Texans need to be concerned. They're 2-2 and just suffered the worst possible kind of loss. It was a back-breaking, heart-shredding overtime defeat to the Seahawks that came because Houston squandered a 20-3 halftime lead.

And the defining moment of that game -- a miserable arm-punt of an interception from Matt Schaub that Richard Sherman returned for a score -- led to some serious overreaction in the Texans parking lot.

Schaub isn't the "guy" for Houston to win forever. They're going to need another quarterback at some point, even if they just paid their current guy. But he's probably not worth setting jerseys on fire.

Still there's enough to be worried about here. The Texans looked great in the first half and dominated the way they're supposed to, by using a strong running game and impressive defense to stifle the Seahawks. J.J. Watt got bloody in this game but it was Russell Wilson who was the most banged up early. Seattle's offensive line couldn't save him and he was struggling badly. Seattle was dominated until Schaub handed them the keys to get right back into the game.

Houston's built to be fairly consistent but you have to wonder how they'll bounce back after getting kicked in the stomach and waking up to see themselves trailing the Titans and Colts.

R. Bush, Volume 35
Look, I've written about this a million times this season. But I want you to remember that I said it when you start talking about Reggie Bush and the Lions. When he plays, they are absolutely devastating on offense.

Jim Schwartz once said that, instead of pornography, he used to view Jahvid Best videos.

"Some people watch adult videos on their computer," Schwartz said. "I go to YouTube and watch Jahvid Best highlight clips. That's what gets me going."

Well, all due respect to Best, but Bush is a better version. You saw a perfect example on Sunday when he ripped off a "USC Reggie Bush" type run.

What Bush does on a week-to-week basis in this offense is simply mind-blowing. The Lions made it their priority to go out and ink Bush during the offseason and it's paying massive dividends already.

Dominating in Denver
There are so many currently undefeated teams that no one's sweating who might be the last squad to lose. But make no mistake: the Broncos might keep the '72 Dolphins champagne on ice for a while.

The Broncos have now scored 179 points through four games. That's 38 more than the 2007 Patriots scored through four games and puts Denver on pace for an insane 716 points.

Peyton Manning has 16 touchdowns and no interceptions, a better pace than Brady in 2007. Maybe one day Manning will throw an interception.

It's not like Denver's playing a bunch of world-beating defenses or anything. The Ravens are better than they looked in Week 1 but the four victims for Denver have a total of four wins. The Raiders and Eagles are a disaster on defense and Peyton took advantage, once again distributing all over the place to Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker.

In two weeks the Jaguars are a dead team walking.

Giant Problems
Sometimes you can't see the cracks in the foundation. The Steelers and Giants -- a combined 0-4 after another week of embarrassing losses -- were teams picked by many to make the playoffs in 2013. Though neither team is mathematically eliminated, they're not likely going to the postseason. But this isn't a case like the 2011 Colts where everything fell off a cliff thanks to one injury. It's just all of a sudden these two teams stink.

Perhaps, though, it's closer. Look at the issues they have: neither team can block for their franchise quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in sacks this season through four weeks.

Making matters worse for these two teams is that having no line isn't a result of refusing to invest. The Giants signed Will Beatty to a big deal this offseason. They drafted Jordan Pugh in the first round. Pittsburgh's got four first- or second-round picks on its offensive line. Maurkice Pouncey is hurt, but David Gilbert/Mike Adams/David DeCastro aren't living up to their draft status.

Allocating assets in that fashion and then generating no real production from that position is going to result in struggles. And that's exactly what you're seeing from this winless group of typical contenders.

It was fitting that the Steelers basically had their season ended when Roethlisberger was sacked against the Vikings.

FAT GUY TOUCHDOWN!

Nick Fairley pulled off our favorite football feat ...

Gloriously, it resulted in this ...

Jumping Jordan
Browns tight end Jordan Cameron is quickly becoming the "next Jimmy Graham" (or whatever high-jumping, athletic tight end you want to use) with even more of a nose for the end zone. Cameron, a fourth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, has a whopping five touchdowns on the season in just four games.

He caught another 10 passes this weekend, giving him 30 on the year, which means that 16.7 percent of his catches are touchdowns on the year. That's in large part because Cameron's such a ridiculous red-zone target.

Cleveland, by the by, is tied for first place in the AFC North. No this is not a drill. Sound the alarms and hide your family in the shelter. Their defense is shutting down opponents, and there was no better example than Joe Haden shutting down A.J. Green on Sunday afternoon. Green finished with seven catches for 51 yards and was ineffective for the most part. Cleveland's ground game doesn't look any different without Trent Richardson and with Josh Gordon and Cameron in the passing game, this is a dangerous Browns team.

GIF O' THE WEEK
Knowshon Moreno celebrates a touchdown run with rock, paper and scissors. So awesome.

Worth 1,000 Words

Potent Quotables
"Piss poor" - Geno Smith on his four-turnover game Sunday.

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