DeKALB — This week in the NFL stellar defenses and backup quarterbacks stepping in highlighted top stories in the league.
The New England Patriots survive their first test
Through the first three weeks of the season, the Patriots had a rather easy schedule. Over this same time period, their opponents had a record of 0-8-1. This helped the Pats allow a league-best 5.7 points per game and hold the second best offense, scoring 35.3 ppg. Naturally, people were skeptical of the Patriots due to their schedule consisting of cupcakes thus far.
However, New England silenced the noise after its 16-10 road victory against the Buffalo Bills Saturday at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills were 3-0 heading into the game and allowed just 15.7 points per game, the fourth-best mark in the NFL through three games. Pats quarterback Tom Brady and the offense didn’t perform well, but the defense played great and ultimately left Orchard Park with a win. The Patriots also have another stretch of easy games, as their next three opponents are 2-9. This will greatly help the Patriots as they compete for the top-spot in the American Football Conference against the also undefeated Kansas City Chiefs.
Monsters of the Midway terrorize the Minnesota Vikings
The Chicago Bears were without a handful of starters heading into this game, with wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, guard Kyle Long, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, defensive end Bilal Nichols and linebacker Roquan Smith all inactive. On the Bears’ opening offensive drive, quarterback Mitch Trubisky left the game with a shoulder injury. News broke Monday that Trubisky has a slight labrum tear in his left shoulder, and he should be back, “sooner rather than later,” a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
None of that stopped the Bears defense from treating the Vikings offense like a middle school football team. Coming into the game, the Vikings relied heavily on their run game and it had worked. Vikings running back Dalvin Cook was the NFL’s leading rusher, averaging 125 yards per game. The Bears were able to completely shut Cook down, allowing him only 35 rushing yards. This forced the Vikings to rely on quarterback Kirk Cousins; this wasn’t a formula for success either, as Cousins threw for 233 yards and was sacked six times.
Quarterback Chase Daniel would replace Trubisky, and while he didn’t have an amazing game, Daniel did enough against a tough Vikings defense to get the 16-6 win. Daniel threw for 195 yards and one touchdown.
New Orleans Saints stay afloat without quarterback Drew Brees
After losing Brees to a thumb injury in week two, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has gotten the job done, going 2-0 in Brees’ absence. The Saints got an impressive road-win against the Seattle Seahawks last week, and beat the previously undefeated Dallas Cowboys 12-10 in week four.
Bridgewater hasn’t put up big numbers in his two starts, averaging 185 yards through the air and throwing for two touchdowns and an interception. Running back Alvin Kamara has been carrying a heavier load on offense, as he’s seen an uptick in receptions and carries. Kamara has averaged 56 receiving yards and 69 rushings yards per game since losing Brees.
If the Saints can keep winning games, Brees will be able to step back into his role and not feel pressured to perform at a high level immediately upon his return.