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NFL Sunday takeaways: Cardinals might be best team in the league

Overpowering win over beforehand undefeated Rams lifts Arizona to 4-0

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The very best staff within the loaded NFC West proper now? No query, it’s the Arizona Cardinals.

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Finest staff within the NFL too?

Properly let’s put it this fashion. After their start-to-finish domination on Sunday of the beforehand undefeated Los Angeles Rams, 37-20 at SoFi Stadium, the Cardinals are 4-0.

And after Denver misplaced at dwelling to Baltimore, 23-7, the one different undefeated NFL staff is the Las Vegas Raiders (3-0), who play on the Los Angeles Chargers (2-1) on Monday night time.

So who’s higher proper now?

There had been a lot cynicism, even ridicule, when the Cardinals employed failed faculty head coach Kliff Kingsbury as its new head coach two years in the past, to companion him up as a revered offensive strategist with then-rookie No. 1 total draft decide Kyler Murray.

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12 months 3 of their collaboration couldn’t have begun extra impressively — 4 wins in 4 video games, with three approaching the highway, and successive level totals of 38, 34, 31 and 37.

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Kingsbury is legit. So is Murray.

The diminutive QB is a legit league MVP candidate 4 weeks into the season. He has accomplished 76% of his throws (on tempo for an NFL season document), is throwing for a mean of 318 yards per sport, and has personally produced 12 touchdowns already — 9 off his proper arm, three off his legs.

It was Arizona’s first win over the Rams since New 12 months’s Day 2017, to snap an eight-game skid. And, to repeat, the margin of victory was emblematic of the Playing cards’ on-field domination. Bodily, too, towards one of many league’s high defences. Arizona amassed 465 whole yards earlier than taking the foot off the gasoline within the fourth. Spectacular.

“We simply wished to get every week higher,” Kingsbury stated, in downplaying the concept his staff was obsessive about ending the dropping streak to L.A.

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BRONCOS NO LONGER UNDEFEATED EITHER

Baltimore handed Denver its first loss, and it too was decisive.

It helped the Ravens that Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater left the sport by halftime with a concussion. However the Ravens had bottled up Bridgewater and the Broncos offence to that time, with Bridgewater finishing simply 7-of-16 for 65 yards. His alternative Drew Lock fared no higher.

The Broncos’ stout defence principally put a lid on the vaunted Ravens speeding assault, practically holding it to below 100 yards for the primary time in without end, but it surely got here on the expense of go defence. And Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson made Denver pay by throwing for 316 yards and a landing.

No matter it takes, proper?

Denver had defeated three tomato cans to open the season. Nobody thought they have been nearly as good as all that, and the Ravens underscored that evaluation.

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ALLEN AND THE BILLS RIGHT AS RAIN AGAIN

Pouring rain made for a depressing begin in Buffalo between the Payments and Houston Texans. Every quarterback was intercepted, and the Texans turned it over on downs, earlier than both passer accomplished a single go.

However whereas Josh Allen of the Payments cranked it up (he accomplished 20 of his final 28 passes for 248 yards and two TDs), rookie Davis Mills — in his first highway begin for the Texans — fared little higher than you or me.

In Buffalo’s emphatic 40-0 victory, the Texans scrounged solely eight yards of whole offence by halftime, on 1-of-7 passing by Mills for 3 yards and two interceptions. It was dangerous, too, within the run sport: Veteran Houston working backs Rex Burkhead and Philip Lindsay mixed to realize minus-four yards on 4 carries.

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And it obtained no higher after halftime.

Buffalo has received three video games by blowout (a mixed rating of 118-21) and two by shutout since dropping its opener towards Pittsburgh. The formidable Payments defence has allowed its previous three foes to transform solely 13-of-46 third- or fourth-down conversions (28%).

In line with BillsDaily.com, Buffalo is barely the third staff since 1990 to document two shutouts by Week 4, after Washington in 1991 and Baltimore in 2000.

Additionally, it reportedly was Buffalo’s largest single-game margin of yardage differential (plus-341) because the membership’s 1964 AFL championship season; the Payments completed with 450, the Texans 109.

Buffalo head coach and chief defensive strategist Sean McDermott stated his defence nonetheless “has work to do.”

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Subsequent week’s sport doubtless received’t yield so spectacular a defensive efficiency: at Kansas Metropolis on Sunday night time.

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FIRST WINS FOR TWO ROOKIE QUARTERBACKS

Whereas Mills, a third-round draft decide, nonetheless yearns for his first victory as NFL QB starter, two others notched theirs on Sunday: No. 2 total draft decide Zach Wilson and No. 11 total decide Justin Fields.

Wilson led the New York Jets from a 9-0 deficit to a 27-24 extra time victory over the defensively disappearing Tennessee Titans.

Fields led the Chicago Bears to a 24-14 win over the visiting ever-vexed Detroit Lions.

Though Wilson tossed one other ugly interception early, he grew up and at last constantly performed like an efficient professional QB with thrilling upside. Within the decisive second half Wilson accomplished 64% of his throws for 232 yards, two TDs and no interceptions.

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“It began on a third-and-10 conversion within the first half,” stated Robert Saleh, who notched his first win as NFL head coach. “You get somewhat confidence going and it beginning to snowball … The child was excellent … he’s a playmaker.”

Fields, meantime, didn’t should go a lot for the Bears, as Chicago’s defence, Chicago’s speeding assault (188 yards) and Detroit’s decades-refined acumen for being their very own worst enemy have been extra liable for the victory.

Nonetheless, Fields accomplished 11-of-17 for 209 yards, was sacked solely as soon as, and his solely interception was a fluke off a tip.

“Us profitable the toss and scoring on the primary drive positively set the tone for the sport … All of us executed right this moment at a excessive degree,” Fields stated.

LANCE REPLACES INJURED GAROPPOLO IN 49ERS LOSS

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Jimmy Garoppolo obtained injured once more. Calf this time. Couldn’t play previous halftime for the San Francisco 49ers in a giant division sport at dwelling, towards the Seattle Seahawks.

Garoppolo helped lead the Niners out to a 7-0 lead by late within the first half. Then all the pieces modified when Russell Wilson hit D.Ok. Metcalf for a 12-yard TD connection to tie it 1:54 earlier than halftime.

With Garoppolo out, it was all Seattle within the second half, aside from a pleasant out-and-up TD throw from Garoppolo’s alternative, No. 3 total draft decide Trey Lance, to acres-open Deebo Samuel.

Seattle received 28-21.

Apart from maybe the ever-victimized Ravens, the 49ers should be probably the most injury-vexed staff within the league. At the very least within the NFC. Earlier than kickoff Sunday, Niners placekicker Robbie Gould was scratched due to a groin harm he suffered in warm-ups.

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Within the second half, star 49ers left deal with Trent Williams left with an elbow harm. Key gamers, it appears, are all the time only a quarter-step forward of the harm gremlins.

The Seahawks, meantime, needed to win this sport to maintain sensible division hopes alive by not falling to 1-3. Desperation is one mom of a motivator right now of yr.

The Seahawks now are 2-2, similar with the 49ers, and so they’re inside vary nonetheless of the Cardinals (4-0) and Rams (3-1).

HARSH TAKE — BAKER MAYFIELD

Cleveland received 14-7 at Minnesota not due to, however relatively despite, QB Baker Mayfield, who appears to be slipping into yet one more mid-season funk.

With a defence that ferocious (Vikings QB Kirk Cousins was below strain all through) and a rush-game that productive (184 yards), Mayfield ought to have shone.

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As an alternative, he might hardly have carried out worse. On the day he hit on 43% of his 35 throws. After halftime? Wow, solely 4-of-13 (31%) for 57 yards and he was sacked twice.

With an opportunity to seal the take care of his final throw to a ridiculously open Odell Beckham Jr. — who freed himself properly up the fitting sideline on an out-and-up route — Mayfield fired a go method too laborious, too low, too quick and too far to the fitting of Beckham. Incomplete.

All Mayfield needed to do was put a little bit of air below the ball and Cleveland would have scored to go up by two TDs, and ball sport.

As an alternative, Browns coaches and followers needed to chunk their nails till Cousins’ Hail Mary fell incomplete at 0:00.

If Mayfield isn’t harm, what’s up?

HARSH TAKE — FALCONS DO WHAT THEY DO

Solely two issues stop the Atlanta Falcons from profitable nearly any shut sport: They can not, for the lifetime of them, below whichever teaching employees, play any offence or any defence within the final 5 minutes.

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However that’s it.

The Falcons blew yet one more fourth-quarter lead, their gazillionth of the Matt Ryan period, in dropping 34-30 at dwelling towards the Washington Soccer Staff.

Why go into the main points? Should you comply with the NFL carefully you’ve seen this unravelling so many occasions earlier than. The defence disappears. Ryan’s passing effectiveness disappears. And Atlanta coughs up a probable victory far, far too simply.

Taylor Heinicke, Washington’s plucky quarterback, proved once more he may be barely ok so long as the defence he’s going through is downright dangerous. In any other case, like final week at Buffalo, neglect it.

HARSH TAKE — DOLPHINS WERE WAY OVER-RATED

We learn all low season that the Miami Dolphins, behind their retooled, gifted defence, possibly have been able to problem the Payments for the AFC East title. In any occasion, they’d be a lot improved.

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In actual fact, the Dolphins have regressed in every single place. And don’t level to second-year QB Tua Tagovailoa lacking many of the final three video games (all losses) with a ribs harm.

The defence has been an enormous disappointment, as proved once more Sunday in one other hope-crushing, early-season, home-field defeat — 27-17 to the beforehand winless Indianapolis Colts.

The Dolphins can’t run it, can’t cease the run, can’t do a lot of something proper. Jeez.

At the very least third-year head coach Brian Flores isn’t attempting to cover it.

“We performed dangerous throughout the board,” he stated. “Offensively, defensively, within the kicking sport, drops, penalties, turnovers. I imply, we performed poorly, actually, throughout the board. So we’ve obtained loads to repair.”

JoKryk@postmedia.com

@JohnKryk

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