What struck me about Pittsburgh’s win over lowly Jacksonville last week was the chippiness the Steelers played with. Mike Tomlin is not about to let his men take lower-ranked opposition for granted and that is serving Pittsburgh well in a special season.
The speed with which Patrick Mahomes marched his team down the field with the game on the line on Sunday night was impressive. The Chiefs seem able to score as and when they need to. Okay, they’re not quite that prolific, but it’s pretty close.
The Saints rallied behind Taysom Hill and will be just fine in the coming weeks as Drew Brees recovers from 11 broken ribs. Ouch! Much was made of Hill’s debut performance as a starting QB but how about that defense that recorded eight sacks?
I couldn’t be more impressed with a team not many seem to be talking about. So much of this season has been about the Rams establishing a running game. And when they couldn’t do that against Tampa, Jared Goff threw it 51 times and Los Angeles won a big one.
I’m not slamming the Packers too hard for a heart-breaking loss on the road. They were shut down in the second half by the Colts’ defense, but the Packers could have won that game pulling away were it not for big mistakes in critical times. This remains an NFC contender.
The Bills had a good weekend off in the AFC East as Miami, New England and the New York Jets all lost while Josh Allen had his feet up, chilling on the sofa.
The Seahawks showed their competitiveness in defeating Arizona last week, snapping a two-game losing streak in the process. We know Russell Wilson is going to perform week in and week out, but could it be that Seattle’s defense is starting to wake up?
The defense was outstanding in the second half of Sunday’s win over Green Bay. There were far too many penalties and some shaky play calls on offense for my liking, but it was a big win. Michael Pittman emerging at receiver could be big down the stretch.
The Bucs are talented and dangerous, but they are also off the pace in the NFC seedings race at the moment as Kansas City come to town. By the end of this weekend, and with a loss to the Chiefs, the Bucs could find themselves 7-5 with work to be done.
Ryan Tannehill heated up very nicely towards the end of the Titans’ big win in Baltimore and his success is so often made easier by defenses gearing up to stop – or attempt to stop – Derrick Henry. He and A.J. Brown must see a lot of the ball every week.
The Ravens have competitiveness and toughness in their DNA, but worrying cracks are beginning to emerge for a team currently outside the playoff spots in the AFC. The offensive line is hurting and Lamar Jackson rarely takes over games as a passer.
The Raiders saw their three-game winning streak snapped by Kansas City on Sunday night but if ever there was a moral victory in the NFL, that was it. Derek Carr is enjoying a career year at quarterback and has thrown 19 touchdowns versus three interceptions.
Kyler Murray looked a little slower and a bit more banged up against Seattle coming off a short week. Will he back to his brilliant best at New England this weekend with extended rest? DeAndre Hopkins leads the NFL with 912 receiving yards and will remain his key target.
I’m not jumping off the Dolphins’ bandwagon because they’ve only just let me back on after about 20 years, but playoff teams should be winning games at Denver. I think Miami are heading in the right direction, but they need more talent on this roster.
Baker Mayfield has now gone three straight games without throwing a touchdown pass. Lucky for him, the Browns have morphed into a ground-attack team led by the excellent pairing of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
Minnesota’s winning streak ended at three last week, but they are too talented to fall into the lower reaches of these rankings. Dalvin Cook is the driving force who leads the NFL with 1,303 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns.
I leafed through some research notes provided to me each week on Monday morning and noted that Justin Herbert is on pace to become the greatest rookie quarterback – at least statistically – in NFL history. The strong-armed rookie is the real deal.
The 49ers come off their bye riding a three-game losing streak. And things may not get easier for Kyle Shanahan’s reigning NFC champs – they end the season with four of their six games against teams currently in playoff positions (Rams, Bills, Cardinals and Seahawks).
It’s just not working with Cam Newton at quarterback in 2020 and I have to believe the Patriots look elsewhere for 2021 and beyond. Cam was the bridge from Tom Brady to the next guy… now that next guy must be found and surrounded with better talent.
Head coach Matt Nagy is on a warming seat after a hot start and it all boils down to the fact that Chicago, after all these years, still haven’t found the answer at quarterback. Is it Nick Foles? Is it Mitchell Trubisky? It’s more than likely neither of them.
The Panthers continue to play hard and enjoyed a deserved win against Detroit last week. Special shout out goes to British defensive end Efe Obada, who is on fire and has recorded two and a half sacks in his last two games, taking down star passers in Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford.
Deshaun Watson is an absolute stud and he makes at least two or three plays that make me shout, “Wow” every single week. He is also bringing out better showings from his receivers, in particular Brandin Cooks.
The Broncos ran the ball well against Miami last week and played some very aggressive defense. They are not a playoff team, but they must be approached with caution every Sunday between now and the end of the season.
That was more like it from the Cowboys in beating Minnesota in Week 11. Andy Dalton threw three touchdown passes and was sacked just once; and Ezekiel Elliott rushed for more than 100 yards. The Cowboys can very much still take the NFC East.
Look out for the Giants. They have won their last two and but for some bad luck here and there against Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, Joe Judge’s men could have won five straight. Next up is the Ryan Finley-led Bengals. This team is still alive.
As the Cowboys and Giants threaten to wake up, the rest of the NFC East could be heading in the other direction. Carson Wentz has been sacked 40 times this season (most in the NFL) and the mistakes have followed with a league-high 18 giveaways.
Washington’s defense hits hard and is the strength of this team. But to win in Dallas on Thanksgiving Day, the Football Team needs receiver Terry McLaurin and running back Antonio Gibson to feast on a porous Dallas defense ranked last in the NFL.
Every time I want to believe in the Falcons, they let me down. I actually picked them to pull off the upset in New Orleans last week, but they couldn’t protect Matt Ryan and ended up kicking too many field goals. I’m officially done with this lot, hence their drop of eight places.
This is another team that intrigues me from time to time, mainly because of the offensive weaponry. But they also let me and their fans down time and again. I think Matt Patricia goes at the season’s end.
The only real bright spot for Bengals fans was the form of Joe Burrow at quarterback. That’s all gone now until 2021 after the rookie suffered torn knee ligaments last week. The offensive line is a royal mess in the Queen City and must be fixed in the offseason.
The Jags have some fight in them despite having lost nine straight since Week 1. They just don’t have enough talent, particularly at the quarterback position. That could change come the 2021 NFL Draft when the Jags surely pick a passer very early on.
Denzel Mims looks decent at receiver and could form a very nice partnership with Trevor Lawrence when he becomes the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. There’s not much else for Jets fans to do than dream of a brighter future