The Schein Nine  

 

Chiefs, Cardinals deserve respect; Broncos, Colts display flaws

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Week 11 lived up to the substantial hype.

But in a huge week, do the results say more about the winners or the losers?

Glad you asked.

Allow me to answer this question as it pertains to nine notable games:

1) Kansas City Chiefs 24, Seattle Seahawks 20

Seattle, which has been decimated by injuries in the trenches, doesn't remotely have the look of last season's championship-winning outfit. I picked Kansas City to win this game and wasn't the least bit surprised to see the Seahawks succumb to a solid home team in deafening Arrowhead Stadium.

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I think this game told us more about the Chiefs -- and what they are capable of doing. Here's the simple truth: Kansas City has a formula for success.

First of all, the defense is fantastic. Coordinator Bob Sutton's unit came up with big stops against Seattle to seal Sunday's win, stuffing the Seahawks three times on fourth down in the fourth quarter. This group, led by NFL sacks leader Justin Houston, is quite stingy -- as evidenced by the No. 2 ranking in scoring defense.

On offense, K.C. has a special player in running back Jamaal Charles, who racked up 178 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on Seattle. Knile Davis, the man who notched the eventual winning score, is the ideal backfield complement to Charles. Quarterback Alex Smith is a winner, plain and simple. His record stretching back to the 2011 season? 37-12-1. Winner. I'm a huge Smith fan and supporter. Last, but certainly not least: The offensive line has improved dramatically.

Andy Reid is a fabulous coach. His team has morphed from a solid overachiever to a squad that can spoil the party in the AFC.

2) St. Louis Rams 22, Denver Broncos 7

I saw it, but I still don't believe it. This says everything about where the Broncos are right now.

Denver got bludgeoned by a team quarterbacked by Shaun Hill, who is apparently back from the dead. And while Hill put forth an efficient, turnover-free effort, Peyton Manning threw two picks and several wobbly ducks. The Broncos' O-line play was horrible, and St. Louis' ferocious front took advantage. Injuries to Julius Thomas, Montee Ball and Emmanuel Sanders crippled Manning.

St. Louis has talent. Still, Hill's Sunday performance notwithstanding, the Rams need a quarterback for 2015. They should've drafted Johnny Manziel. Sam Bradford's brittle body makes him unreliable. Enough about the Rams, though -- like I said, this result ultimately says more about the Broncos.

The days of Denver looking dominant are a thing of the past. The Broncos have been outclassed in two of their three November games, suffering a 22-point loss in New England to start the month. During a flawless October, this looked like a surefire Super Bowl team. Now, Denver's untrustworthy.

3) New England Patriots 42, Indianapolis Colts 20

Tom Brady threw a bevy of errant passes in the first half of this road contest, but it didn't matter. Just goes to show how much better the Patriots are than the Colts.

New England is playing fantastic football. The emergence of Jonas Gray, who pounded the rock (38 carries for 199 yards and four touchdowns) on a night when Brady wasn't razor sharp was a noteworthy development -- and further evidence that the Patriots are the class of the AFC.

There will be a day when Andrew Luck can beat a Brady/Belichick team. But right now, he just doesn't have enough support on the offensive line or defensive side of the ball. Indy had no answer for Jonas Gray. Let that sink in.

A few weeks ago, the Colts' five-game winning streak came to a screeching halt in Pittsburgh, where Ben Roethlisberger and Co. dropped a 50-burger on Indianapolis. And Indy was exposed again Sunday by the juggernaut Patriots. This tells me that the Colts, while enticing, are not ready for the AFC's best team.

With No. 12 under center, Indianapolis clearly will be a team to watch for years to come. But at the moment, the Colts need to marinate longer.

4) Arizona Cardinals 14, Detroit Lions 6

It's time to show the Cardinals some respect.

Back in September, I wrote a column predicting Drew Stanton would lead Arizona to the postseason. So I wasn't surprised to see the backup quarterback acquit himself nicely in a win over the stout Lions. But of course, this was a team effort on Sunday.

Arizona is deep and talented. General manager Steve Keim built a superb team. Bruce Arians gets everyone ready. Coordinator Todd Bowles has done a great job with the defense. Patrick Peterson said last week on my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein on Sports," that he wasn't healthy in the first half of the season. Now he is, and judging by Sunday's fine effort against Calvin Johnson, Peterson's ready to stake his claim as the best corner in the NFL. He wasn't the only impressive Cardinal defender on Sunday, either. Bowles' unit flew around and made plays against Matthew Stafford and the Lions.

Detroit is strong. Arizona is stronger. This is the most well-rounded team in football.

This game was all about the Cardinals. Recognize.

5) Green Bay Packers 53, Philadelphia Eagles 20

Sometimes you write a column and everything happens just as you anticipate it. Call it dumb luck.

Mark Sanchez is not a good quarterback. He turns it over too much. He isn't accurate enough. All of this was on display Sunday, as Sanchez gave the ball away four times.

But the story, as we predicted it would be last Thursday, is that the Packers are the team to beat because Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in football.

Rodgers made it look easy on Sunday, piling up 341 yards and three touchdowns through the air, adding 32 rushing yards for good measure. This guy is now on pace to finish the season with 45 touchdown passes and five interceptions. Rodgers, of course, raved about Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb on my radio show last week. Lo and behold, those two combined for 238 receiving yards on Sunday, humiliating the Eagles' secondary. Running back Eddie Lacy provided the ultimate balance, with 114 total yards and two touchdowns. Long story short, the Packers' offense is unstoppable.

And the Green Bay defense, led by Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews, dominated another opponent. Matthews, in his new role as a hybrid linebacker, changes the way you should view this unit.

I think the Eagles are a playoff team -- making Green Bay's 33-point win that much more impressive. I picked the Packers to win by 20. I was off.

6) Houston Texans 23, Cleveland Browns 7

I've been high on the Browns, who entered Sunday in first place in the AFC North, but I wanted to see them deal with prosperity and handle success. They laid a big-time egg against a quarterback making his first career start. It was alarming and confusing. Yet, Cleveland still has as good a chance as anyone to win the division. I think the Browns will bounce back. The return of Josh Gordon will instantly help.

I think this result actually says more about Houston. Ryan Mallett is vastly superior to Ryan Fitzpatrick; the fourth-year pro threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns in his starting debut. He looks like a real NFL quarterback. J.J. Watt, who continues to dazzle and run away with Defensive Player of the Year honors, contributed on offense, tallying another touchdown catch on a brilliant effort. Alfred Blue stepped in brilliantly for an injured Arian Foster, gashing Cleveland for 156 yards on 36 carries. Houston's offensive line was excellent.

This was a reminder that Bill O'Brien can flat-out coach. Houston is 5-5 -- and one game back in the AFC South race -- after winning two games last year. That's O'Brien.

7) Cincinnati Bengals 27, New Orleans Saints 10

The Bengals played in the 1 p.m. ET window yesterday. It wasn't a prime-time game, so you had to figure Andy Dalton would rebound from his disastrous Week 10 performance on "Thursday Night Football." And he did, completing 73 percent of his throws a week after recording a quarterback rating of 2.0. Dalton and A.J. Green were unstoppable. And it shows you, as I touched on last week, that no team is out of it in the AFC North.

Still, the headline from this game was the Saints continuing to underachieve. New Orleans has dropped two straight at home. That never happens.

The Saints lack consistency in all areas. The defense is dreadful. And Drew Brees had no answers -- during the game or in the postgame presser.

We keep waiting for New Orleans to take control of this monumentally weak NFC South. But the Saints keep slip-sliding away.

Somehow, the door is open for ...

8) Atlanta Falcons 19, Carolina Panthers 17

... the first-place Atlanta Falcons.

Wait, what?

Yes, the Atlanta Falcons, at 4-6, are currently in line to host a playoff game. The NFC South is that bad.

Which is why this outcome says more about the Panthers. They look rather horrendous. Cam Newton doesn't appear to be healthy and has no feel throwing the ball. To be fair to him, though, look at his surrounding cast. Outside of rookie Kelvin Benjamin, is that a receiving corps, or is it the witness protection program? General manager Dave Gettleman made some dubious decisions in the offseason, including the wrongful and haphazard jettisoning of Steve Smith. The offensive line has issues. The running backs can't run anymore. Mike Shula has made head-scratching calls as the offensive coordinator. The defense is a shell of its former self.

Ron Rivera's rabbit's-foot run of good fortune has run out.

9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27, Washington Redskins 7

It's been a rough season for Tampa Bay, which sits at 2-8 after this win. But you have to credit rookie receiver Mike Evans for his special performance: seven catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns.

This game, though, was all about Washington looking completely inept. It was the Redskins' worst game in a wretched waste of a season.

The defense is horrible, as evidenced by Josh McCown inexplicably carving it up. Robert Griffin III can't play. Griffin threw two picks in the first quarter to deflate Washington and get the boo-birds out early. RGIII, who was sacked six times, called the 20-point home loss "a travesty" -- and he's correct. It's also par for this depressing course.

Will RGIII ever be looked at again as The Guy in Washington? Appears doubtful.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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