The Schein Nine  

 

Rams, Cowboys, Browns headline the biggest losers of Week 6

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It was another Sunday Funday in the NFL, with a number of teams (like the 49ers, Texans and Vikings) and individual players (Stefon Diggs, Deshaun Watson, Gerald McCoy and Devin Bush come to mind) making positive statements in winning fashion. But to me, Week 6 was actually defined by the folks on the opposite side of the win-loss ledger.

The day was marked by a number of head-scratching and/or gut-wrenching losses. So, in this edition of the Schein Nine, we rank the most jarring defeats by overall significance:

1) Los Angeles Rams (3-3)

The loss: 20-7 at home vs. the San Francisco 49ers.

Everything about this loss felt terrible for the Rams. The magic has disappeared. The fun quotient is gone. San Fran marched down to L.A. and exerted its will, despite the fact that the 49ers were missing three critical offensive players: tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, as well as versatile fullback Kyle Juszczyk. No matter. The Niners played tougher and executed better. San Francisco's coaching staff ran circles around Los Angeles' ballyhooed contingent. Kyle Shanahan was Sean McVay before Sean McVay was Sean McVay, and the 49ers' third-year coach put his genius on full display in the Coliseum. McVay, on the other hand, had some wacky decisions and play calls on a couple of fourth-and-shorts. I don't know when it became unacceptable in the NFL to just put points on the board, but I don't like it.

And then there was Jared Goff, whose recent struggles hit new lows on Sunday. Seventy-eight passing yards?!?! Sadly, the Rams' offensive line was even worse -- and consequently, L.A. was 0-for-the-day on third and fourth down! Wade Phillips' defense doesn't get a pass here, either -- not when it allows San Francisco to hold the ball for nearly 40 game minutes, repeatedly failing to get off the field.

As defending NFC champions, the Rams entered this season as heavy favorites to take their third straight NFC West crown. But suddenly, the Niners are 5-0 and beyond legit, the Seahawks are 5-1 with Russell Wilson playing like an MVP ... and L.A. is now scuffling at 3-3 after falling to both division rivals in consecutive weeks.

2) Dallas Cowboys (3-3)

The loss: 24-22 on the road vs. the New York Jets.

I actually came into this game thinking the Jets had a great chance to win because of Sam Darnold's return, but it was alarming watching the ebb and flow of the latest setback in Dallas' three-game losing streak. Gang Green punched the 'Boys in the face in the first half, jumping out to a 21-3 lead. Dallas' comeback, fueled by a flag-fest, fell short. And the schedule is only getting tougher.

The Cowboys have Super Bowl talent. Right now, at .500, they are wasting it. And whether Jerry Jones wants to admit it or not, Jason Garrett gets the blame. The Dallas owner is definitely right about one thing, though: The Cowboys are NOT one of the NFL's top teams right now. Not when they're getting completely outclassed by a previously winless team.

3) Cleveland Browns (2-4)

The loss: 32-28 at home vs. the Seattle Seahawks.

It was a mistake to promote Freddie Kitchens, who was an anonymous running backs coach at this time one year ago, all the way to the big chair. Didn't like the head-coaching hire from Day 1, and expressed this sentiment all offseason across multiple media platforms, including this one. This was the easiest first guess ever. Kitchens isn't buttoned up, and his team plays like it.

Cleveland has more talent than the Seahawks, but Seattle, under Pete Carroll, is far more professional. Russell Wilson would be league MVP if the award were handed out today. On the flip side, Baker Mayfield threw three more picks, upping his league-worst giveaway total to 12. Of course, Baker didn't get much help from his butter-fingered receiving corps. Nor the offensive line. And Kitchens had mind-numbing play-calling in the red zone.

Long-suffering Browns fans entered this season with the highest hopes in memory. Cleveland is now 0-3 at home. This is cruel -- and inexplicable.

4) Atlanta Falcons (1-5)

The loss: 34-33 on the road vs. the Arizona Cardinals.

Really, how is Dan Quinn still employed? I know NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday morning that Arthur Blank had not taken part in discussions about Quinn's future. Does that change after a loss to the lowly Cardinals? The loser's lament has permeated this organization for years, but it appears to be hitting rock bottom in 2019. With Quinn handling defensive play-calling duties this season, Atlanta has given up the most points in the league.

Sunday's defeat in Arizona -- the Falcons' fourth straight loss -- was completely mind-numbing and unacceptable, which is the flavor of the year for this massive disappointment of a football team.

5) Kansas City Chiefs (4-2)

The loss: 31-24 at home vs. the Houston Texans.

Too low a ranking on this list? Well, the way I saw it, this game was more about Houston winning. Deshaun Watson was terrific in the battle of spectacular quarterbacks from the 2017 draft class. So, I don't want to completely rain on the Texans' parade.

All that said, Patrick Mahomes didn't play great. Again. Granted, he appeared to tweak his balky ankle again. And even with the return of dynamic playmaker Tyreek Hill, it's clear that the Chiefs' aerial attack misses LT Eric Fisher and WR Sammy Watkins. But in the big picture, the most troubling elements are Kansas City's 28th-ranked defense, nonexistent ground game and second straight loss at Arrowhead Stadium, where they went 7-1 during the 2018 regular season.

6) Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)

The loss: 24-17 at home vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I have no words. Sans speech. Nothing. Injuries are a big factor. So is the home-field disadvantage. But the Chargers are flat-out inept.

Losing convincingly (don't let the final score fool you) at "home" to a wobbly Steelers team down to its third quarterback is simply pathetic. I'm stunned the Bolts and Philip Rivers have become this dreadful, but that's what they are: A dreadful sub-.500 squad on a wasteful road to nowhere.

7) Philadelphia Eagles (3-3)

The loss: 38-20 on the road vs. the Minnesota Vikings.

I picked the Eagles to beat the Vikings, mainly because Philadelphia was, um, the better team. And Carson Wentz was on the periphery of the MVP race. Instead, the Eagles' leaky pass defense got torched by Kirk Cousins, who was clearly better than Wentz on Sunday in Minnesota. The Vikings picked on Sidney Jones so often that Cousins could face a league reprimand for bullying.

With the aforementioned Dallas loss to the Jets, Philly had a golden opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the NFC East. Instead, the Eagles suffered their worst defeat of the season. Next up: a trip to Dallas. Which struggling squad will get right on "Sunday Night Football"?

8) Tennessee Titans (2-4)

The loss: 16-0 on the road vs. the Denver Broncos.

I thought Tennessee would beat the Broncos. Shame on me. Shame, shame, shame, shame, shame. Marcus Mariota (7 of 18 for 63 yards with zero touchdowns and two picks) was rightly benched in the second half, mainly because he couldn't complete the forward pass. Kind of a problem for a quarterback. There is no reason to believe that Mariota will (or should) be the Titans' starting quarterback in 2020. The former No. 2 overall pick is regressing in the fifth and final year of his rookie contract. And Tennessee has scored seven or fewer points in three of its last four games.

9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)

The loss: 37-26 in London vs. the Carolina Panthers.

Tennessee has to cut ties with its starting quarterback after this season, and the Bucs must do the same with the QB they selected one slot before Mariota, Jameis Winston. Don't let late fantasy numbers skew the fact that Winston was absolutely horrendous on Sunday, with five picks and a lost fumble. As an American, I'd like to personally apologize to London fans after our football subjected them to such a poor display of quarterbacking. Bruce Arians literally wrote the book "The Quarterback Whisperer," and even he can't draw any degree of consistency out of Winston.

Remember the spirited Winston vs. Mariota debate in the walk-up to the 2015 NFL Draft? Well, it turns out everyone was wrong.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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