Another week and another set of big movements in the power rankings. And you can hardly blame me – few teams seem capable of an extended period of consistency. As soon as a team gets into the top five, they stub their toe. Last weekend was a perfect example of that as four of my top five lost in Week 9. As a result, I am welcoming the Arizona Cardinals back to the top spot ahead of Week 10.
No Kyler Murray. No DeAndre Hopkins. No Chase Edmonds. No A.J. Green. No J.J. Watt. No problem for the Arizona Cardinals as they rolled to a 31-17 win over San Francisco last weekend. With Colt McCoy at the helm and James Conner looking re-born, the Cards reminded us they are a deep and complete team.
I came away from watching Sunday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium feeling better about the Packers than I did Kansas City. The defense played tough in some difficult circumstances and this team will, of course, be much better when Aaron Rodgers returns from Covid-19.
The Bucs were on a bye last weekend but must have really enjoyed their time off as NFC leaders such as Dallas, Green Bay and the Los Angeles Rams all lost. It was a bad day at the office for Tom Brady last time out, but I think he and the Bucs can go on a little run now. They are going to be in the fight at the end.
The Titans have won five straight and their last four against Buffalo, Kansas City, Indianapolis and the Rams will make the NFL take notice. With the running game virtually non-existent in LA, the Titans won with strong defense. How they fare the rest of the way without offensive balance remains to be seen.
I’m not panicking too much about the Rams, but I would love to see them beat a quality opponent soon. Prior to losing to Tennessee, Los Angeles had feasted on Seattle, NY Giants, Detroit and Houston. They beat Tampa Bay early but have lost to Arizona and Tennessee, so are they true contenders?
Sunday’s 30-16 loss at home to Denver offered a stunning fall from grace for the NFL’s number one offense. I think the Cowboys will get back on track, but they are exactly the same as the other leading teams in the NFC. Very talented and will win more than they lose, but they are not to be fully trusted.
Lamar Jackson is on pace for 1,200 yards rushing this season and he is throwing downfield more than ever. He has also added the comeback to his game, bailing Baltimore out on several occasions this season. The knock on Lamar was that he always had to lead from the front – that is no longer the case.
These Bills can rise back up the rankings and they are talented enough to win the Super Bowl this year. They remain my pick in what is a crowded and even AFC. But where is the balance to help out Josh Allen? Buffalo called 51 passing plays in Week 9 and ran the ball 14 times, and five of them were Allen scrambles.
Justin Herbert took a lot more of what the defense was giving him on Sunday and it paid dividends in a narrow win over the Philadelphia Eagles. While they are inconsistent at times, I love the fact that the Chargers are aggressive in going for it on fourth down with Herbert at the helm. Why not?
Cleveland played very tidily on offense but their defensive display against Cincinnati was what caught my eye. With the exception of the odd game or two – and all teams have these kinds of letdowns – I think the Browns have fielded one of the best and most playmaking defenses in the NFL this season.
I know he created a late scoring rally against Atlanta, but I don’t see the point in sticking with Trevor Siemian as the starting quarterback. I get the whole ‘Taysom Hill can be a gadget player’ chat, but the Saints are paying him some decent money. Let’s give Taysom the rest of this season at QB to figure it out.
Buffalo have been looking over their shoulder and the juggernaut has been getting closer and closer, looming larger and larger in the mirror. New England are hot on the heels now at 5-4 while Buffalo are 5-3. Fundamentals, toughness and football intelligence have helped the Pats win three straight games.
The Steelers have won four straight and while very few of them have been convincing, they have placed themselves in the middle of the AFC playoff race. T.J. Watt is powering an excellent defense with 11 ½ sacks and with a game coming up against Detroit, Pittsburgh have a great chance to move to 6-3.
The Bengals have slipped to back-to-back defeats against the Jets and Browns, shipping 75 points in the process. Mistakes have crept into Joe Burrow’s game and Ja’Marr Chase has caught just nine passes for 81 yards and one touchdown on 22 targets. Getting that pair back on track is the priority in Cincy.
Few players in the NFL are as good and as productive as Jonathan Taylor right now. In rushing for 821 yards and eight touchdowns, Taylor is averaging a gaudy 5.9 yards per carry. The Colts are 4-5 and very much in the playoff mix with games against Jacksonville (twice) and Houston still on their slate.
Considering the fact that I know how much film he watches each week, when Brian Baldinger talks… I listen! Baldy has called four Chiefs games for national radio this season and has witnessed their offensive struggles up close. And Baldy tells me that this KC offense is getting worse, not better. Ouch!
There is so much adversity surrounding the Silver and Black and that has to carry over into the locker room, distracting the rest of the team from their weekly preparation. A strong pass rush gives them a shot against KC this weekend, but I think we will soon see the Raiders sliding out of the AFC playoff picture.
When he gets protected the right way, Matt Ryan is showing he can still be a very good NFL quarterback. You don’t throw for 4,000 yards in 10 straight seasons without having some serious skills. I think the Falcons are fun to watch on offense and a fun watch in general given how they often fail to protect leads.
Last weekend’s win over Dallas was how Vic Fangio wants football to be played. His team rushed for 190 yards and controlled the clock for more than 41 minutes. And when Dallas had the ball, the Broncos harried Dak Prescott and played very well on the back end. Can they find the consistency? I’m not sure.
The Vikings have seen seven of their eight games this season decided by one score. And all five of their losses have come by one score. I’m not sure what to make of that. Does it mean they are a talented but unlucky team? Or does it mean they are not capable of finishing out games? I have no idea on this team.
The Seahawks are coming off their bye week and Russell Wilson looks set to return from the finger injury that sidelined him since midway through Week 5. While his ‘hero’ video is not exactly my cup of tea, Wilson should be the focal point of Seattle’s attack. Can we please finally let Russ cook?
It’s starting to get really concerning in San Francisco, where the 49ers have not won in front of their own fans since the NFC Championship Game at the end of the 2019 campaign. As much as we all laud him for being an excellent play-caller, you have to wonder if Kyle Shanahan is on a hot seat with a 32-40 record.
The Giants are a weekly injury report on offense, yet they rarely seem to stop fighting and they play hard for head coach Joe Judge. The Giants are not out of the NFC playoff race at 3-6, but I see them more as a a dangerous team capable of wrecking the postseason dreams of others.
Quarterback Justin Fields is starting to come along and that allows Bears fans to have positive feelings, even though their team has lost four in a row heading into the bye week. Everything Chicago does for the remainder of this year has to be about positioning Fields for success in 2022, 2023 and beyond.
Sam Darnold’s shoulder injury seems merciful in its timing because I think this troubled quarterback was heading to bench, regardless. He has been in freefall for a few weeks now and is actually a negative factor on this team. They are worse than they were a year ago with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm.
Philadelphia have shown signs of offensive line in recent times, beating Detroit and in Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. But none of that is easing the pressure on head coach Nick Sirianni, who fell to 0-4 at home in Week 9, prompting the weird of scene of a disgruntled fan throwing a bunch of flowers at him!
There was not that much to talk about with this team when they were playing games. I have even less to comment on when they are coming off their bye week. This playoff team from a year ago has been a major disappointment, especially on defense.
The Jags played well on defense in upsetting the Buffalo Bills in Week 9, but I don’t trust them to go on any kind of winning run the remainder of this season. They just cannot generate enough offense and the defense has been a year-long problem, which made Sunday’s victory all the more surprising.
The Dolphins were the better of two very poor teams in Week 9 and that saw them past the Houston Texans to record their second victory of 2021. As we enter the stretch run, seats will be warming in Miami. Head coach Brian Flores and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa both need strong finishes to this season.
With the exception of a stunning Week 8 win over Cincinnati, the Jets stumble out of the blocks every single weekend. They are not quite at rock bottom and I think Robert Saleh is the answer as the head coach, but it must be tough being a fan of this team. It’s been rough for quite some time.
The Lions didn’t lose last week. That’s a positive, although it should be noted that they were on a bye week. This team looked completely lost before their in-season break and appeared to be giving up the fight. I’m very interested to see if there is anything left in the tank as they visit Pittsburgh in Week 10.
In the unpredictable world of the NFL, this season that is unfolding in Houston is exactly what we were expecting. It is as depressing a scenario as there is in the league this year and was not given a jolt of enthusiasm and energy through the return of quarterback Tyrod Taylor. It’s going to be a long few weeks