NFL News: The Starting 11 — NFL off to its most competitive start ever entering Week 5

They say competition makes you better. In the NFL, competition has taken the league’s excitement to an unprecedented level. As the league approaches the initial quarter pole of the 2022 season, consider this:

  • So far, 50 games have been within one score in the fourth quarter, the most through Week 4 in NFL history.
  • This past week, 15 of 16 games (93.8 percent) were within one score in the fourth quarter, the most in a single week in NFL history.
  • Through four weeks, 23 games have been decided by three points or fewer, and 31 have been decided by six points or fewer, both the most ever at this point in a season.

What could possibly be next?

The Starting 11 entering Week 5…

1. SPEAKING OF CLOSE GAMES: Both the NEW YORK GIANTS (3-1) and GREEN BAY PACKERS (3-1) have played well in close games this season. The two clubs, which face off at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday (9:30 AM ET, NFL Network), are each 2-0 in games decided by three points or less. The Packers (23.8 percent) and the Giants (29.4) also lead the league in third-down defense.

2. NUMBER OF THE WEEK – 3: The number of 1-3 teams that rebounded to earn playoff berths a season ago (NEW ENGLANDPHILADELPHIA and PITTSBURGH). Also in 2021, both KANSAS CITY and SAN FRANCISCO started 2-3, were last in their division standings after five weeks, and advanced to their respective conference championship games.

3. REGGIE WHITE WAS DOMINATING FOR THE EAGLES…in 1990, the last time every NFL team had at least one win or tie entering Week 5 (and the Minister of Defense was leading the league with six sacks). This week, PHILADELPHIA (4-0) is the NFL’s lone remaining undefeated team for the first time since 2004, when the Eagles started 7-0 en route to a berth in Super Bowl XXXIX.

4. SPOTLIGHT – INDIVIDUAL MATCHUPS: Over his career, Dallas guard ZACK MARTIN has more Pro Bowl selections (seven) than holding calls (five). Shortly before the Cowboys selected Martin 16th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Rams chose defensive lineman AARON DONALD at No. 13. Since that Draft, Donald leads the NFL with 100 sacks. DALLAS (3-1) visits the LOS ANGELES RAMS (2-2) on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX).

  • When the Rams have the ball, COOPER KUPP will be on the same field with TREVON DIGGS. Since the beginning of last season, Kupp leads the NFL in receptions (187), receiving yards (2,349) and receiving touchdowns (19). Over the same period, Diggs leads the league with 13 interceptions.

5. SPOTLIGHT – TEAM MATCHUPSPITTSBURGH (1-3) and BUFFALO (3-1) – who clash Sunday at Highmark Stadium (1:00 PM ET, CBS) – deploy two of the NFL’s most opportunistic defenses. They’re tied for the league lead with seven interceptions apiece. In that game, quarterback KENNY PICKETT, the No. 20 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, is expected to make his first NFL start. Pickett hails from New Jersey’s Ocean Township High School, which also produced PHIL VILLAPIANO, a Pro Bowl linebacker who played for the Raiders and Bills.

  • MIAMI (3-1) and the NEW YORK JETS (2-2) play Sunday at MetLife Stadium (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Each team’s respective head coach, MIKE MCDANIEL and ROBERT SALEH, came from the 49ers.
  • KANSAS CITY (3-1) hosts LAS VEGAS (1-3) on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN). Since PATRICK MAHOMES became the Chiefs’ starting quarterback at the beginning of the 2018 season, the team leads the NFL in wins (53), points (2,098) and third-down conversion percentage (49.2 percent).

6. STREAK SPEAK: The HOUSTON TEXANS (0-3-1) meet the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-2) on Sunday at TIAA Bank Field (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Houston has won eight straight over Jacksonville, tied for the NFL’s fourth-longest active winning streak over an opponent.  

7. DID YOU KNOW?: Including postseason, over his last six games, San Francisco safety TALANOA HUFANGA has scored two significant fourth-quarter touchdowns. In the 49ers’ 13-10 win at Green Bay during the Divisional playoffs, Hufanga returned a blocked punt 6 yards for a game-tying score with less than five minutes remaining. And in last week’s win, with the Rams driving in a one-score game, Hufanga returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown with 6:27 left in the final stanza.

  • Coordinator DEMECO RYANS and his 49ers defense lead the NFL in scoring (11.5 points allowed per game) and are tied for the league lead in fewest yards allowed (234.5). SAN FRANCISCO (2-2) visits CAROLINA (1-3) on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, CBS).

8. UNDER-THE-RADAR STORYLINE: This season marks the 75th anniversary of a major milestone in league annals. In 1947, VIOLET BIDWILL became the first female owner in NFL history, taking over the Cardinals until she passed away in 1962. The year she became the franchise’s top executive, Pro Football Hall of Famer CHARLEY TRIPPI returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown and ran 44 yards for another to lead the Cardinals to victory in the 1947 NFL Championship, over the Eagles. This week, PHILADELPHIA (4-0) travels to play ARIZONA (2-2) on Sunday at State Farm Stadium (4:25 PM ET, FOX). 

9. TREND TIME: The Bengals’ defense has allowed one touchdown over its last 31 opponent drives. The Ravens’ offense ranks third in the NFL with 29.8 points per game. CINCINNATI (2-2) travels to BALTIMORE (2-2) for an AFC North Showdown on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC).

10. THIS WEEK IN NFL HISTORY: Oct. 7, 1962 (60 years ago) – A pair of future Pro Football Hall of Famers prove pivotal in helping the Packers steal a win from the Lions. HERB ADDERLEY’s late 40-yard interception return sets up PAUL HORNUNG’s game-winning field goal with 33 seconds remaining, vaulting Green Bay to a 9-7 win. In a battle of the league’s lone remaining undefeated and untied teams, Hornung finishes with 37 rushing yards, 10 receiving yards and three field goals. Less than three months later, the Packers would knock off the NEW YORK GIANTS at Yankee Stadium in the 1962 NFL Championship, 16-7.

11. AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Washington rookie JAHAN DOTSON, tied with STEFON DIGGS for the NFL lead with four receiving touchdowns, serves as a Crucial Catch ambassador for the NFL and the American Cancer Society. The Commanders selected the wide receiver with the No. 16 overall choice in the 2022 NFL Draft.

  • Cancer also has touched the family of cornerback CALEB FARLEY, a Crucial Catch ambassador for the Titans. Farley was the No. 22 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft and is expected to see action for TENNESSEE (2-2) at WASHINGTON (1-3) on Sunday at FedExField (1:00 PM ET, CBS).
  • The NFL and the American Cancer Society teamed up to create Crucial Catch to help more people intercept cancer early, especially in communities with the greatest need. The five-year survival rate for many cancers is over 90 percent when detected early. Anyone can visit or text “CATCH” to 635635 to find local cancer-screening centers and additional screening resources.


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