I’m not sure these Chiefs can be taken down this season. Miami gave them all they could handle, forcing four turnovers, four three and outs and sacking Patrick Mahomes three times. And he still threw for 393 yards and they scored 30+ once again in a 33-27 win.
The Packers are quietly rolling to a season in which they emerge as the strongest contender from the NFC pack. I still think they are some way off a team like Kansas City though as those toe-stubbing losses to Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Indy stick in my mind.
The Saints are still one of the better teams in the NFL and they get to prove as much on Sunday when they take on the Chiefs. Sean Payton called out his defense for allowing two 100-yard rushers in Philly, but his offense was not much better.
The long wait is almost over as Buffalo can clinch a first AFC East crown since 1995 on Sunday with a victory over Denver or a Miami loss to New England. Bigger than that hats and t-shirts game is the fact that Buffalo’s defense is waking up at the right time, making this a complete team.
An out-of-form quarterback, ineffective running game, receivers with the dropsies, a banged-up defense and two straight losses is not where you want to be in mid-December. That is especially the case for this team that started 11-0 but has now drifted back to the pack.
The 9-4 Rams are on pace to win the NFC West, powered by the number one defense in the NFL. I can’t see any way they don’t boost those defensive figures and get to 10 wins this weekend as they are taking on the putrid New York Jets.
Seattle had a get-right game against the Jets last week but there are three nagging concerns as the playoffs approach. 1. Russell Wilson is getting hit too much. 2. There is little offensive balance. 3. Few step up on defense outside of Carlos Dunlap and Jamal Adams.
The Colts produced a dominant victory over Las Vegas last weekend and they have the style to give Kansas City a test when the playoffs come around. Playing through the running game is the way to go, although the emergence of T.Y. Hilton is helping the passing attack.
The kind of playground football we saw from Lamar Jackson during Monday’s 47-42 win over Cleveland is the way to go for this Ravens team that can still be extremely dangerous if they take the final wildcard spot in the AFC. Lamar rushed for 124 yards and two scores against the Browns.
Dropping the Browns two places may seem harsh because they put up an excellent and explosive fight against Baltimore and Baker Mayfield played very well indeed. But I have obvious concerns about the defense. That said, the Browns remain on course for a first playoff berth since 2002.
We focus so much on Tom Brady in Tampa and rightly so – with 30 touchdown passes this year he is a key player. But the trenches are also key. The Bucs had six sacks against Minnesota last week and rank fourth in the NFL with 40. And Brady – who has been well protected all year – was not sacked.
Another week goes by and there is another monster performance from Derrick Henry. These Titans have other talented players on their roster, of course. But it does feel like plays have to be made by the big three (Henry, quarterback Ryan Tannehill and receiver AJ Brown) to secure wins.
I loved the fight put forth by the Dolphins last week against KC and Brian Flores’ defense is the real deal. But it is going to be come an even more random collection of names around Tua Tagovailoa if receiver DeVante Parker and tight end Mike Gesicki are sidelined through injury. That will hurt.
There was not a lot of flash and pizazz to Arizona’s win against the Giants last week that halted a three-game losing slide. But there was some encouraging substance to the victory as the Cards rushed for 159 yards on 43 carries and sacked New York quarterbacks eight times.
I could not be more impressed with Washington’s defense and Russell Wilson better watch out when he arrives in America’s capital on Sunday. Chase Young is a beast of a defensive end who makes game-changing plays. The D will need to lead from the front if Dwayne Haskins is back at quarterback.
The Vikings were disappointing last week in losing to the Bucs and it cannot solely be put on kicker Dan Bailey. As previously mentioned, the offensive line gave up six sacks and if that unit fails, it’s hard to get offensive stars like Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen on track.
The Raiders are going the wrong way at the wrong time of the year. And it starts on that defensive side of the ball where they allowed Indianapolis to run all over them last week. Jon Gruden will hope to see an immediate response following the firing of defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.
I have zero faith in a Pats’ passing attack that ranks 29th in the NFL. But I do trust in Bill Belichick and he is 21-7 as a head coach against rookie quarterbacks. That’s bad news for Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa as the hooded one will attempt to coach around his team’s deficiencies.
That was more like it from the Bears attack last weekend, but I don’t trust Mitchell Trubisky to keep it up at quarterback. What has been impressive in recent weeks has been the form of young running back David Montgomery. That gives Chicago something to hang their hat on.
The 49ers have some talented pieces in place, even with their collection of injuries this season. But Nick Mullens looks out of his depth and that is undermining what Kyle Shanahan is trying to achieve on offense. They’re not officially out of it yet, but it’s about as close as you can get.
The Giants fell back to earth on Sunday with a disappointing home loss to Arizona. Daniel Jones tried to play through his hamstring injury and left with an additional ankle problem for his troubles. Even if he plays against Cleveland this week, the running game and defense will be vital.
I’ve been critical of Drew Lock in the recent past for taking far too many chances with the football. But there is a big part of me that would like to see one season of him surrounded by Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler at receiver; and Noah Fant at tight end. Lock threw 4 TD passes last week.
The Chargers finally won a close game last week to pick up their fourth win of the season. It seems a foregone conclusion that Anthony Lynn will be gone as head coach, and that is still likely to be the case, but he could argue that his team has been competitive for most of 2020.
Jalen Hurts not only gave the Eagles an emotional shot in the arm with his exciting brand of play, he also made the offense much tougher to defend and mitigated a poor offensive line with his running skills. Carson Wentz is athletic, but he cannot evade pressure in the same manner as Hurts.
The Falcons are occasionally feisty but, more often than not, look like a team playing out the slate. The offense would be much more dangerous if Julio Jones could stay in the lineup but the star receiver doesn’t seem to be able to shake this hamstring injury.
This should be the most positive 4-9 team in the NFL this season. I love the way the Panthers are playing hard for head coach Matt Rhule and I think they have some pieces in place to be a very interesting team in 2020, especially once Christian McCaffrey is back up to full speed at running back.
Dallas reminded us last week of the offensive talent on their roster, but don’t be fooled. It was against the lowly Cincinnati Bengals. The Cowboys are two games back in the NFC East with three to play. As soon as they officially fall from the playoff race, the postseason inquest will begin.
The Texans look like they have given up. There is only one man playing at full speed, in my opinion, and quarterback Deshaun Watson is in danger of hurting himself in the cause. He is a competitor, of course, but making the odd business decision between now and the end of the season would be a good thing.
The whispers have begun about Matthew Stafford not being in Detroit next year. It’s a nice headline but how does anyone know? The new general manager and head coach are not even in the building! Plus, he is pretty much all this moribund team has going for it.
The Jags are turning back to Gardner Minshew at quarterback and I’m not sure why he was riding the bench behind Mike Glennon in the first place. The Jags have some young talent, but the quickest way back to success will be to find the franchise QB they have not had since Mark Brunell in the late 1990s.
Wake me up when Joe Burrow is back in the lineup. Otherwise, I’m not that interested.
There was no heartbreaking loss for the Jets last weekend. They got absolutely hammered by the Seattle Seahawks and now stand just three defeats from NFL ignominy with an 0-16 season.