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NFL showing signs of parity again

After four weeks of play, there will likely be 13 NFL teams with a 2-2 record, far and above the number of .500 teams at the same point in recent seasons.

NFL Week 4: What we learned

When the dust settled after Sunday, there was just one unbeaten NFL team left, and it probably helped that they didn't suit up at all.

The idle Kansas City Chiefs, a doormat in recent years, are alone in the undefeated ranks with a 3-0 record after the Chicago Bears were battered all night long by the New York Giants. The Chiefs will be tested Sunday in Indianapolis.

That's a contrast to recent years, when the long-loved Pete Rozelle principle of parity seemed to giving way to dominant teams and new standards in haplessness. New England was the first 16-0 team, presaging very lengthy unbeaten runs by the likes of Indianapolis and New Orleans. Detroit, meanwhile, became the first 0-16 team.

While it's still too early to call it definitively, and the Buffalo Bills are doing their darndest to disprove it, there are signs that there could be a good many teams falling between seven and nine wins at season's end.

Barring a tie in Monday night's game between New England and Miami, there will be 13 teams with a 2-2 record. That's far and above the number in recent years:

After Week 4: Recent history

AFTER WEEK 4Unbeaten Winless.500 
2010112 or 13 
2009   9 
2008 10 
2007 10 
2006   6

The Breaks

Jacksonville and Atlanta won on last minute kicks. They were also fortunate to be in that position.

Jaguars quarterback David Garrard threw a pass that had Kelvin Hayden of the Colts thinking about running down the sidelines for an interception return touchdown. Unfortunately for Hayden, he forgot to concentrate on catching the ball first.

The Unsung Heroes

Chris Ivory New Orleans 
Javon RingerTennessee
Ryan Torain Washington 

Falcons pivot Matt Ryan threw what looked to be a game-killing interception, but veteran 49ers cornerback Nate Clements decided to get the best possible return from his pick.

Clements had the ball stripped away by Roddy White, and the Falcons were able to re-load for a 67-yard drive that led to Matt Bryant's winning field goal.

Second Guessing

Arizona decided to dump Matt Leinart before the start of the season, but Derek Anderson has been largely abysmal since.

Anderson threw two interceptions against San Diego and was benched in favour of Max Hall. The Cardinals are .500 only because of a missed kick last week against Oakland.

Defensive studs

James AndersonCarolina 
Stephen Nicholas Atlanta 
Osi Umenyiora N.Y. Giants 

Speaking of the Raiders, they doled out cash and picks to land Jason Campbell, and benched him after Game 2 in favour of Bruce Gradkowski.

Gradkowski has a much better career record at home than on the road, but in his first start in Oakland he threw a late third quarter interception that the Texans converted into an insurmountable 31-10 lead.

Buffalo drafted running back C.J. Spiller in the top 10 in April and proceeded to not trade either Marshawn Lynch or Fred Jackson in the off-season.

On Sunday, Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had seven runs for 74 yards.

Spiller-Lynch-Jackson carried nine times total for 40 yards.

The following are the week's eye-popping numbers. The first three are season totals, the next three came in Sunday's games.

EYE POPPERS

PLAYER STAT 
Kyle Orton, Denver1,419 passing yards 
Mark Sanchez, N.Y. Jets 8 TD passes, 0 INT
LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets 341 rushing yards 
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis 15 catches, 196 yards 
Brandon Lloyd, Denver11 catches
Terrell Owens, Cincinnati 10 catches, 222 yards