School Of Hard Knocks: 5 Biggest NFL Lessons So Far

We’re now officially a quarter of the way through the season. Whether it’s Kareem Hunt’s insane start to life in the NFL, Stefon Diggs turning into Randy Moss or the Jets winning more games than the Giants, this season’s storylines are already starting to take shape.

As the first wave of bye weeks rolls around here are five things we’ve learned so far.

1. The Patriots defense is worse than bad

Any team would struggle without a dynamic player like Dont’a Hightower, who returned from a knee injury to play limited snaps on Sunday against the Panthers. Still, their defensive woes have been worse than anyone could have imagined. From 2013 to 2016, the Patriots allowed 33 or more points in a game 3 times.

This season, they’ve allowed 33 or more points 3 times. They have allowed 1,827 yards through 4 games, which puts them on pace to break the 2012 Saints’ NFL record of 7,046 yards allowed in a season. They’ve even managed to make other quarterbacks look as good as Tom Brady — opposing QBs have an average passer rating of 116.5, Brady’s rating is 116.6

2. Kareem Hunt is good, like… ridiculously good

It’s hard not to like Kareem Hunt, unless you played him in your fantasy matchup in Week 1… or Week 2… or… you get the idea. The rookie exploded for 246 scrimmage yards and 3 total touchdowns in week 1 and hasn’t slowed down much. Hunt’s total yards through his first four career games (659) is second only to Billy Sims in 1980 (745) and he’s racked up 6 total touchdowns across 4 games.

He has 372 rush yards in 2nd halves of games. No other NFL player has that many TOTAL rush yards. It’s not just down to good blocking either; the former Toledo man has forced 68% more missed tackles than anyone else in the league.

3. The Broncos defense got even better

Through four games, the Broncos have faced Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliott, LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch. Those four backs combined have 50 carries for 95 yards and no touchdowns. Their 203 rush yards allowed through 4 games is the lowest in team history, and they’re the only team that hasn’t given up a rushing TD. They’re also averaging 2.5 sacks per game and 1 interception per game.

4. The Lions are legit, led by their defense

Fans in Detroit have often felt that their team doesn’t get the respect it deserves, but that could change this season. The Lions were ranked 2nd in this week’s NFL.com power rankings after their 3-1 start, which was inches from being 4-0. The Lions defense managed just 14 takeaways in the 2016 season, resulting in 28 points.

Through 4 games of 2017, they have 11 takeaways that have led to 47 points. Glover Quin is proving himself as one of the best safeties in the league with 2 picks and 2 forced fumbles already, and upgrades on the offensive line in Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang have helped the offense. This is not the “same old Lions.”

5. Sean McVay’s Rams are a LOT of fun

Hands up: who had the Rams leading the league in scoring after 4 games? The Rams 35.5 points per game is the best in the league, and they are converting nearly half of their 3rd downs (23/51). They are top five in the league for both total yards and pass yards, thanks to a remarkable breakout start from Jared Goff.

The young QB’s rating has nearly doubled from Jeff Fisher’s reign, from 63.6 to 112. Oh, did I mention Todd Gurley? The third year back has an incredible 7 touchdowns, which is more than he managed in the whole of 2016.