It's not easy being the most unpredictable team in a league the thrives on being unpredictable, but that's exactly what the Tennessee Titans have turned into this year.
The idea of the Titans scoring 24 points this week didn't even seem remotely possible after the loss in Jacksonville, a game where Marcus Mariota was sacked nine times and the Titans offense was only able to muster seven points, but remember these are the unpredictable Titans, which means anything is possible.
A wild Week 4 Sunday is in the books and there's a lot to go over. Fortunately Will Brinson, John Breech, Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough break everything down on the latest episode of the Pick Six Podcast. Listen to the full show below and be sure to subscribe right here to get daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.
In the win over Atlanta, the Titans scored 24 points in the game's first two quarters and Mariota wasn't sacked a single time. Thanks to the protection, Mariota was able to dice up the Falcons in a highly impressive first half where he threw for 183 yards and three touchdowns.
Two of those scores went to A.J. Brown, who was basically a human highlight reel in the first half. Just check out his 55-yard touchdown catch below.
That score put the Titans up 7-0 in the first quarter.
Brown's second touchdown catch was all Mariota. With just under three minutes left in the first quarter, the Titans quarterback threw an absolute dime that Brown caught for an 11-yard score.
After watching Mariota struggle in Jacksonville, Titans coach Mike Vrabel was especially pleased with the way his quarterback responded in Atlanta.
"Accurate, he stood in the pocket, a lot timing and a lot of anticipation," Vrabel said, via Paul Kuharsky. "Players were trusting what we were doing. We talked about discipline in the passing game with the post-safety looks. A lot credit to the O-line, not giving up any sacks today and I thought they protected very well."
Mariota finished the game 18 of 27 for 227 yards, with 94 of those yards going to Brown and 91 going to Corey Davis.
The only thing more surprising than the play of the Titans' offense might have been the play of their defense. In that Week 3 loss to the Jaguars, the Titans got diced by a rookie quarterback, so it wouldn't have been surprising to see Matt Ryan put up big numbers against Tennessee. But remember, these are the unpredictable Titans and the unpredictable Titans shut Ryan down.
Ryan was sacked five times, including a first-quarter strip-sack by Jurrell Casey that you can see below.
The Titans defense also came up with two monstrous fourth-down stops in this game. On the first stop, which came in the second quarter, Devonta Freeman was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 from Tennessee's 39-yard line. On the second stop, Ryan was sacked by Harold Landry on a fourth-and-1 from Tennessee's 30-yard line.
Ten days ago, the Titans left the field in Jacksonville with a 1-2 record and their season looked to be going nowhere fast, but in the unpredictable AFC South, the NFL's most unpredictable team is suddenly tied for first and starting to look like maybe a not so unpredictable pick to win the division.
Here are the grades for every Week 4 game Sunday, and remember to check back after Bengals-Steelers on Monday for the grades from that game.
Tennessee 24-10 over Atlanta
|Not only did the Titans offense put on a show in Atlanta, but their defense also came through with an 'A' rated performance. The Titans' front seven had Matt Ryan running for his life all day with a pass rush led by Harold Landry, who racked up two of the team's five sacks. The Titans defense also came through in the clutch by stopping the Falcons cold on two fourth-and-1 attempts that came during the first three quarters of the game. The Titans got an unsung performance from punter Brett Kern, who punted five times in Atlanta and pinned the Falcons inside the 20-yard line with all five of his kicks. The five punts pinned the Falcons at their own 2, 10, 5, 10 and 17-yard line.|
|We're only four weeks into the NFL season and the Falcons' year is already getting dangerously close to turning into a disaster. The Falcons' offensive line has some serious trouble protecting Matt Ryan, who was sacked five times by the Titans. The Falcons secondary also had no answers for Marcus Mariota, who diced them for 227 yards and three touchdowns. Basically, the Falcons were bad at nearly everything you can be bad at (Matt Bryant even missed a 32-yard field goal) and if they don't get things turned around quickly, it could be a long season for everyone in Atlanta.|
N.Y. Giants 24-3 over Washington
|If the Redskins are thinking about firing Jay Gruden, they might want to just go ahead and do it, because he definitely didn't make a good argument for keeping his job on Sunday with some bad coaching. For one, Gruden basically set up Dwayne Haskins for failure in New York by throwing him into the game in the first half. Haskins responded by throwing two interceptions, including a pick-six. If Gruden was planning on playing Haskins against the Giants, he should've just named him the starter so he could have taken all the first-team reps in practice. Instead, Haskins looked unprepared and his numbers showed it (9 of 17 for 107 yards). Gruden also inexplicably accepted a penalty in the first quarter that led to the Giants' first touchdown. it was an ugly performance for a coach whose hot seat is now probably the same temperature as the sun.|
|Last week, Daniel Jones bailed out the Giants defense to get the first win of his career. This week, the Giants defense returned the favor by pulling off their best performance in nearly 10 years. Not only did they rack up three sacks in the game, but they also forced four turnovers, including a pick-six by Jabrill Peppers that put the game away in the third quarter. The Giants held the Redskins to just 176 yards, which was the fewest yards the team has given up since December 2010. The play of the defense helped overcome a rough performance from a Giants offense that turned the ball over four times and looked ugly at times. |
Oakland 31-24 over Indianapolis
|Whenever the Raiders play in the Eastern time zone, it usually ends up being a disaster for them, but Derek Carr wasn't about to let that happen. The Raiders quarterback got off to a hot start, completing his first six passes for 53 yards as the Raiders shot out to a 14-0 lead. After that, Jon Gruden let his rushing attack smother the Colts defense. In a game where Josh Jacobs carried the ball 17 times for 79 yards, the Raiders totaled 188 yards on the ground, which was the team's highest rushing total since 2016. Defensively, the Raiders forced two key turnovers, including a pick-six by Erik Harris in the fourth quarter that iced the game. |
|With T.Y. Hilton out of the game due to injury, Jacoby Brissett and the Colts offense looked absolutely lost trying to play without him. With Hilton sidelined, the Colts went three-and-out on their first two possessions, and by the time they touched the ball for a third time, they were already trailing 14-0. At that point, the Colts basically abandoned the run and put the game in the hands of Brissett, who had an erratic performance, completing just 52.2 percent of his passes. One of his ugliest throws came in the fourth quarter when he threw a pick-six that effectively ended any hopes of a Colts comeback.|
L.A. Chargers 30-10 over Miami
|Like most quarterbacks this season, Philip Rivers basically had his way with the Dolphins defense. However, unlike most quarterbacks, Rivers put up big numbers even though the Chargers offense was extremely short-handed in Miami. Even though WR Mike Williams, WR Travis Benjamin, RB Justin Jackson, TE Hunter Henry, TE Virgil Green were all out due to injury, Rivers still managed to throw for 310 yards and two touchdowns. If this was Austin Ekeler's final game as the team's full-time running back, he went out with a bang. Ekeler totaled 136 yards and a touchdown on 23 touches while making a convincing case for why he should still see serious playing time once Melvin Gordon returns to the field. |
|It took four weeks, but the Dolphins finally held their first lead of the season and it came in the first half after Josh Rosen hit DeVante Parker for a 34-yard TD that put the Dolphins up 7-3. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, that first-quarter TD was about the only highlight of the game for them. The Dolphins are bad because they can't protect the quarterback, they can't score and they seem to drop passes all the time, three things that were on display against the Chargers. The Dolphins also scored zero points in the second half, which means they still haven't scored a single second half point all season. |
New England 16-10 over Buffalo
|New England's offense was really limited by a Bills front that gave Tom Brady fits all afternoon. He completed under half of his throws and had a brutal interception in the end zone. The running game also didn't have much going for them. That unit gets a D+. That said, New England's special teams unit and defense were superb, creating turnovers and putting points on the board. They both get an A, so that's how the overall B grade shakes out. |
|Buffalo played well enough to win this football game. Defensively, they smothered Tom Brady and bottled up the running game. Josh Allen, while inconsistent and inaccurate most of the time, did enough to keep them in contention. But costly turnovers will always find you on the losing end, especially when facing a team like the Patriots. It was a solid effort, but they needed to bring their A game to stay undefeated.|
Patriots-Bills grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Kansas City 34-30 over Detroit
|The Chiefs' victory on Sunday actually taught us a lot about this team. They don't necessarily need Patrick Mahomes to go off for 800 yards and five touchdowns for them to be successful. Mahomes didn't pass for a single touchdown against the Lions, but was efficient as a game manager. He led his team down the field, scored when he needed to score and relied on his playmakers. Not everything hinges on Mahomes' success. This team is the real deal.|
|It certainly didn't feel like the Lions lost on Sunday. They proved to the rest of the NFL world that . While Detroit has gutted out some tough wins over average teams, the fact that they hung around with a Super Bowl favorite was very telling. Matthew Stafford out-dueled Mahomes, the Lions crushed it when it came to running the ball and the defense did a good job at slowing down the reigning NFL MVP. It all came down to that final drive, however, and the Lions just couldn't stop the Chiefs. |
Chiefs-Lions grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Cleveland 40-25 over Baltimore
|The Browns deserve this grade after their performance against the Ravens, showcasing how good this talented team can be when their offense is clicking. Instead of relying on Baker Mayfield to carry the offense, Cleveland decided to run the offense through Nick Chubb, which paid huge dividends for them in a 30-point second half. Chubb took over the game with 10 carries for 131 yards and three touchdowns in the second half as the Browns continued to feed him the ball, with the backbreaking play being the 88-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Mayfield still threw for 342 yards as Cleveland racked up 530 yards of total offense. The Browns figured out to run the offense through Chubb and allow Mayfield to manage the game with short, quick throws. They are first place in the AFC North for the first time since 2014.|
|The Ravens' weakness isn't their offense, but their defense, by a wide margin. After allowing 503 yards to the Chiefs in a loss last week, the Ravens topped it by allowing 530 yards to the Browns in a loss. Baltimore allowed 193 rushing yards to Cleveland, 165 of which went to Chubb as the defense also allowed 40 points and had just one takeaway. A lack of a pass rush hurt the Ravens, who finished with one sack and allowed 10.5 yards per pass attempt (the Browns averaged 8.7 yards per play). Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense did their part to keep them in the game, but the Ravens aren't built to play from behind. If the Ravens are going to win the AFC North, the defense has to be better. |
Browns-Ravens grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Carolina 16-10 over Houston
|You know the Spider-Man GIF where there are two Spideys pointing at each other? That's exactly what this game was. Much like the Texans offense, Allen and the Panthers couldn't do much of anything aside from Christian McCaffrey delivering a stout 179 yards from scrimmage with a touchdown. Other than that, few others contributed. Defensively, however, they sacked Watson five times on the day and held DeAndre Hopkins to just 41 yards receiving. And so, like the Panthers, it's an F married to an A, with a smidge of extra credit for coming away with a road win.|
|It was a game that saw Deshaun Watson bullied and the Texans offense look as abysmal as possibly could've, and it was due to both poor offensive line protection and inaccurate passes from a shell-shocked quarterback who did all he could for 60 minutes of football to not leave on a cart. Contrarily, the Texans defense was in playoff form as it forced Kyle Allen to cough up three fumbles on the day -- landing an A for what they accomplished in Week 4. If not for the offense outright failing with an F, the Texans would be 3-1.|
Panthers-Texans grades by Patrik Walker (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Tampa Bay 55-40 over L.A. Rams
|Chris Godwin almost didn't play this week due to a hip injury, but it's a good thing he did because he absolutely torched the Rams defense. In this shootout, Godwin set a career-high in receptions (12) and receiving yards (172) while also tying his career-high for most touchdown catches (2). A big reason had so much success is because the Rams had no answers for Jameis Winston, who threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns. Defensively, it got a little ugly at times for the Bucs, but the D did come up big during key situations. One of those key situations came in the fourth quarter when Ndamukong Sug returned a Jared Goff fumble 37 yards for a touchdown to ice the win. |
|The Rams might be having some buyer's remorse on Jared Goff's $134 million contract extension after the way he played against Tampa. The Rams quarterback basically single-handedly lost his team the game with four turnovers that the Bucs were able to turn into four touchdowns. Not only did Goff throw three interceptions, but he lost a pivotal fumbled in the fourth quarter that the Bucs returned for a touchdown. Golf's ugly performance overshadowed the fact that he threw for 517 yards, which is tied for the eighth-highest total in NFL history. |
Jacksonville 26-24 over Denver
|The legend of Gardner Minshew somehow seems to grow every week he plays, and this week's game the Broncos was no exception. The rookie quarterback threw for 213 with the biggest ones coming in the final 90 seconds. With the Jags trailing 24-23, Minshew completed 2 of 3 passes for 43 yards to put his team in position for a game-winning field goal. Although Minshew's late-game magic helped Jacksonville win, the hero of the game for Jacksonville was Leonard Fournette. The Jaguars running back rushed for more yards in Week 4 (225) than he had rushed for in the first three weeks of the season combined (179). The Jags team rushing total of 269 yards was the second-highest in franchise history. |
|For the first time this season, the Broncos defense sacked an opposing quarterback, but it didn't end up meaning much, because Denver still lost and is still winless on the season. Although the Broncos racked up five sacks, including two by Von Miller, they couldn't stop the run and they collapsed down the stretch, surrounding two field goals to the Jags over the final three minutes of the game. If the Broncos can take anything positive away from this game, and they probably shouldn't, it could be that Joe Flacco actually played somewhat well against a tough Jaguars defense, throwing for 303 yards and three touchdowns. |
Chicago 16-6 over Minnesota
|The defense did its job, for the most part, in the second half, allowing Kevin Stefanski's unit plenty of time to stage a comeback. But it was against Chase Daniel and a bunch of reserves, for crying out loud! On the other side of the ball, things were even worse. No one did much blocking for Cousins, but even when Kirk had time to launch the rock, he hardly inspired confidence. Blame the front office for failing (again) to beef up the trenches. Blame the highly-paid QB for failing to extend plays. Blame whoever you want. This was not pretty. Yes, it was on the road, but if the Vikings want to be taken seriously, they need to win -- or at least look capable of winning -- these types of games.|
|Whatever your feelings are about Mitchell Trubisky, you simply don't go into a game expecting to lose your starting quarterback. So Matt Nagy and Co. deserve lots of credit for setting Chase Daniel up for success with a bunch of methodical, clock-milking drives that kept the ball out of Kirk Cousins' hands. When the ball was in Cousins' hands, however, it didn't stay there long, and that's because the Bears absolutely dominated on defense sans two key starters in Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith. The only thing that could've made this performance better is a slightly more aggressive second-half approach from Nagy.|
Vikings-Bears grades by Cody Benjamin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Seattle 27-10 over Arizona
|The Seahawks get an A- after dominating Sunday's game from start to finish. Chris Carson had a stellar day, rushing for over 100 yards while helping Seattle control the ball for over 33 minutes. The Seahawks' defense -- albeit aided by two missed field goals -- allowed just three third-down conversions while holding the Cardinals to just one touchdown on three trips to the red zone.|
|The Cardinals get a D after underperforming in all three phases on Sunday. While David Johnson (139 all-purpose yards) had his moments, the Cardinals failed to get the ball to their play-makers on a consistent basis. Arizona's defense also allowed a big touchdown shortly after the offense scored their first points of the day. Arizona should be looking for a new kicker on Monday after Zane Gonzalez missed two of his three attempts in the first half with those kicks coming from 43 and 48 yards. |
Seahawks-Cardinals grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
New Orleans 12-10 over Dallas
|The Cowboys got a dominant performance from their defense, but it all went to waste on a night where they couldn't get anything going offensively. If you're wondering just how much the Cowboys struggled, they only totaled 45 yards on the ground, marking just the second time in Ezekiel Elliott's career that they didn't hit the 50-yard mark. Not only was Elliott bottled up, but Dak Prescott struggled to make any plays downfield. One bright spot for Dallas was Robert Quinn, who tallied two of the team's five sacks while playing just his second game for the Cowboys. |
|With Drew Brees out, the Saints have proven they can win if Teddy Bridgewater plays mistake-free football and that's exactly what their quarterback did in this game. Despite facing constant pressure, Bridgewater was able to lead the Saints on four scoring drives by giving the ball to Alvin Kamara (17 carries, 69 yards; three catches, 20 yards) and making short, safe throws to Michael Thomas (nine catches, 95 yards). After watching Bridgewater lead the team to four Will Lutz field goals, the Saints defense did the rest by shutting down Ezekiel Elliott (35 rushing yards) and Amari Cooper (48 receiving yards) in what was one of the most impressive defensive performances of the season by any team in the NFL. |
Pittsburgh 27-3 over Cincinnati
|The Bengals offense was so bad in this game, it looked like they were playing together for the first time ever. The Bengals biggest struggles came up front with an offensive line that got completely overpowered by a Steelers defensive front that racked up eight sacks. However, it wasn't just the line that struggled. On the rare play where they did actually block someone, Andy Dalton either made an erratic throw or couldn't find an open receiver. The eight sacks were the most Dalton has ever been sacked in his career for the Bengals. Dalton was only able to muster 171 passing yards against a Steelers defense that was surrendering more than 300 yards per game going into Monday. |
|For the first time since he became Pittsburgh's starting quarterback, Mason Rudolph actually looked comfortable under center, and a big reason for that is because the Steelers put together the perfect game plan for him. Rudolph completed 24 of 28 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns on a night where he picked the Bengals apart throwing short, safe passes. The two Rudolph touchdowns were more than enough for a Steelers defense that destroyed the Bengals offensive line. T.J. Watt (1.5 sacks) and Cameron Hayward (2.5) who combined for four of the Steelers' eight sacks in the win. The Steelers limited the Bengals to just 175 yards of offense, which was the lowest output they've allowed since 2011.|