After a somewhat routine first two weeks of the season, the latter two have upped the excitement level for NFL fans, with a few unexpected losses by several teams with Super Bowl expectations.
Let's take a look at how players from the diaspora fared in week four, with a number of names shining in wins for their teams.
Notable performances by African players
Cedric Ogbuehi (Cincinnati Bengals OT #70) - The Bengals left tackle didn't start the game on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns as coach Marvin Lewis decided to rotate his tackles, but in the 48% of offensive snaps that he did play, Ogbuehi had perhaps his best performance of the season.
The Texas A&M alum didn't allow a single quarterback pressure or sack in the game, which the Bengals won 31-7. With his performance against the winless Browns, Ogbuehi may have done enough to give his coaches, and himself, a little confidence boost heading into Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills.
Yannick Ngakoue (Jacksonville Jaguars DE #91) - The Jags' second-year defensive end picked up two tackles, two sacks, two tackles for a loss and two QB hits in a 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Jets. After a big game in the Jags' week one victory over the Houston Texans, Ngakoue was relatively quiet over the next couple of games but showed up in a big way this past Sunday.
Ngakoue, who is Cameroonian, is putting together a quality season while making fans, coaches, and the media learn his name as he makes an impression on the league.
Nelson Agholor (Philadelphia Eagles WR #13) - Nigeria's Agholor didn't have a flashy game by any means but his consistent play so far this season deserves mention. After a rough first couple of seasons in Philadelphia, Agholor is showing signs of becoming a dependable receiver. In the Eagles' 26-24 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, Agholor caught three passes on four targets for a total of 58 yards.
Lagos-born Agholor currently has two touchdowns, which is already as many as he had all of last season. If he keeps up his level of consistent play, Agholor might just end up with 10 touchdowns by the final week of the season.
David Onyemata (New Orleans Saints DT #93) - The defensive tackle from Lagos, by way of the University of Manitoba in Canada, got his first NFL sack on this play versus the Dolphins. Onyemata ended up with just one tackle but he provided the Saints with pressure on the Dolphins as he finished with a tackle for a loss and a QB hit on the day.
The Saints have made the rebuilding of their defense a major point in the off-season but if Onyemata, drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL draft, can continue providing that level of play from the interior of the defensive line for the rest of the season, the Saints will eagerly take it.
Emmanuel Ogbah (Cleveland # 90) - The Browns defensive end bettered his performance from last week as he was all over the Cincinnati Bengals backfield this past Sunday. Six tackles, one sack, two QB pressures, 3.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery saw Ogbah end up as one of the highest graded Browns players on the day.
This strip sack on Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton was one of the brighter moments for Cleveland. Unfortunately for Ogbah,his superb performance came in another Browns loss, this time to the division rival Bengals.
African player of the week
Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints #41) - Despite what looked like a crowded backfield for the Saints coming into the season, coach Sean Payton has made no effort to hide his love for the rookie running back selected in the third round of this year's draft. Kamara has steadily been getting more carries in the backfield and more passes thrown to him each week and Sunday in London was no different.
The Liberian-American got five carries out of the backfield and was elusive enough to run for 25 yards on his five carries, but it was his receptions that won him praise this week. Kamara saw All-Pro Quarterback Drew Brees throw at him 10 times during the game and the rookie caught all 10 passes for 71 yards and one touchdown in the Saints' 20-0 victory over the Dolphins.
Payton seems to have realized he has a game-changing running back in Kamara, who can get outside the tackles with his elusiveness yet has secure hands to catch passes out of the backfield and turn short yardage into long gains. If Kamara keeps this up, he might be able to get in the conversation for rookie of the year.
Kamara's post-game quotes to the media
On receiving a lot of plays called for him:
I think it just kinda flowed that way. We had a lot of calls for me and every week I'm just going with the flow, so whichever way the game goes I'm just ready. My number was called a lot tonight and I had to take advantage.
On the running back competition:
Whenever any of our numbers are called, we know what the standard is. The standard was set by Mark (Ingram) and A.D. (Adrian Peterson) That pushed me... we all push each other. So whenever my number is called, I just execute to the best of my abilities.
On his touchdown:
It was a play we just dialed up this week. That's one of those special plays where you're like, 'Alright we're practicing it but are we gonna run it?'. We dialed it up, ran it. I yelled out to Ted, ...Ted had the jet motion...and I told him to go fast because I knew they would kinda bite down on him. So he went fast and perfect pitch from Drew and we got in the end zone.
African players to watch in week 5
Brian Orakpo (Tennessee Titans OLB #98) - "Osackpo" had a quiet game by his standards against the Texans and their patchwork offensive line this past Sunday (five tackles in the 57-14 loss). Next up for the Titans will be the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins' offensive line has been substandard (again) to start this season. The Dolphins have failed to open up running lanes and protect QB Jay Cutler while he's in the pocket. If playing at home for the first time all season isn't the tonic the Dolphins need, Orakpo should be able to have his way against the Miami tackles on Sunday.
Patrick Onwuasor (Baltimore Ravens ILB #48 ) - Onwuasor has been a revelation this season. Not to the Ravens players and coaches (who already knew what they had in him after his performances the past two training camps) but to Ravens fans (and fans of opposing teams) looking to see who would step up at weak side linebacker this season.
Coming off a seven-tackle performance versus the Jacksonville Jaguars, Onwuasor had three tackles (including a tackle for a loss) in the Ravens' loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Going up against the Oakland Raiders, featuring running back Marshawn Lynch and tight end Jared Cook, Onwuasor will see his physicality get tested in run defense, as well as his versatility when dropping back to cover. The California-born Nigerian-American is currently being rotated at the weak side linebacker position and will hope a strong performance against the Raiders will help his case for the starting spot next to middle linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Ezekiel Ansah (Detroit Lions DE #94) - Ziggy had an excellent start to the season on Monday Night Football against the New York Giants in week 2, as he tallied up three sacks and a forced fumble while playing a limited number of snaps (28) on his return from injury. Ansah was ineffective the following week despite playing 33 snaps as the Lions lost a close game to the Atlanta Falcons. Coming off a three-tackle performance against the Minnesota Vikings this past Sunday, Ziggy will look to provide the Lions with more consistent pressure on the Carolina Panthers in the next game.
The Panthers' offensive line has been poor for the most part this season but got a massive confidence boost with their performance in a victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday. Ansah will provide the Panthers' O-line with another stern test in week 5.