A week off did the Seahawks a favour in these rankings as they stormed into top spot while putting their feet up and watching games from the comfort of their own sofa. Of course, staying in first place is going to need a little more from the defense… or Russell Wilson is going to have to win thrillers each week.
Seeing the Chiefs rush for more than 240 yards on a rainy night in Buffalo made me sit up and take notice. This elite team finds ways to win even without it being all about Patrick Mahomes, who still had some moments of brilliance. The defense was also pretty good against a previously-dangerous Buffalo attack.
I’m a bit worried about a Baltimore offense that ranks 24th in the NFL but Lamar Jackson can still explode for a big play every now and then. And this defense is elite and limits scoring while also coming up with a lot of sacks and turnovers. The Ravens have very quietly moved to 5-1 and are still contenders.
The loss of Devin Bush at linebacker is going to hurt a little bit but this remains a strong defense against the run and a totally dominant unit against the pass. And Big Ben is getting good production from those around him on the offense. I think the Steelers are shaping up to be a genuine Super Bowl challenger.
I wrote in the summer that we were about to find out if the Titans were a nice story at the back end of 2019 or a team ready to take a seat at the AFC’s top table. I felt and suggested they were the latter and that is proving to be the case. They are explosive on offense and very well coached by Mike Vrabel.
We’ve spent all offseason drooling over the offensive weapons at Tom Brady’s disposal but what might actually be the driving force towards a decent playoff run is a defense that totally dismantled the Green Bay Packers. The front seven is extremely active and there are now multiple playmakers in the secondary.
The Packers were, of course, mightily impressive in the season’s opening month. But I worry about how this team loses games – when they get beaten, they can get taken apart in spectacular fashion. They have the talent to bounce back and take the NFC North, but can they be taken seriously as a Super Bowl side?
The Bills hung with Kansas City for the first half on Monday night but fell away badly after the break, particularly on defense. I think there is now officially a problem for D ranked 23rd in the NFL. After two straight losses, Buffalo get rewarded with the ultimate ‘get right’ game against the New York Jets.
The Saints will get wide receiver Michael Thomas back from injury and suspension (for punching a teammate in practice) and his return is critical. The Saints are back in the division race in the South but have a tricky four games coming up against Carolina, Chicago, Tampa Bay and San Francisco.
The Bears have finally cracked my top 10. Defense wins championships and all that! As stated on numerous occasions, I’m not sold on this offense, but I believe in the guys on the other side and a 5-1 record is not to be sniffed at. Lots of teams blow close games… Chicago are finding ways to win them.
Here is a worrying statistic that was further emphasized on Sunday night. The Rams have only beaten the four teams in the NFC Least, sorry I meant NFC East. Their losses have come outside that division against Buffalo and San Francisco. Sean McVay’s men still have some proving to do the rest of the way.
It’s time the NFL gave Derek Carr some love. He is averaging 288 passing yards per game and has 11 touchdowns to just one interception. His quarterback rating is 115.9. Those are not a million miles away from an NFL MVP campaign, but we hear no such talk when it comes to the Raiders quarterback.
There is a big test coming for the Cardinals on Sunday as they host the Seahawks. Getting into a track meet might be the only option for the Cards, who can seriously test Seattle’s worst-ranked defense with Kyler Murray, Kenyan Drake and DeAndre Hopkins. A points-fest beckons.
That was a gut check win for the Colts as they came from 21-0 down to beat Cincinnati in Week 6. But this still feels like a shaky team to me and one that could quite conceivably make the playoffs… and then exit just as quickly without making much noise. They’re decent, but have yet to be more than that in 2020.
The Browns got into a scrap with big brother and came out on the wrong end of a whupping that put everyone back in their long-assumed places in the AFC North. Pittsburgh have owned Cleveland for as long as I can remember and the physical style of that result should be most worrying for Browns fans.
Cam Newton looked really bad at quarterback for the Patriots last week and has just two touchdown passes in four games. He is learning what Tom Brady painfully discovered in 2019… the Patriots are devoid of passing game weapons. I wonder if Belichick would consider a trade deadline move for Julio Jones?
And so Fitz has done his job and readied the youngster. It’s time for Tua Tagovailoa to take the reins of the Miami offense but the timing is risky, to me. Tua is the future, for sure. But you put him in now when one game out of first in the division? It is a risk, but it could be one that catapults the Fins into contention.
Jimmy Garoppolo was helped out by the play-calling of Kyle Shanahan with lots of early passes being thrown behind the line of scrimmage. And now Jimmy G heads back to Foxboro to take on the team that traded him away. The 49ers are not the dominant 2019 edition, but they’re also not dead yet.
The Panthers saw their three-game winning streak snapped last week and that should not serve as a major surprise. This is still a rebuilding project and a mad dash to the playoffs always seemed unlikely. Given how this team has grown, though, I cannot wait to see Christian McCaffrey return from injury at RB.
Not much to report on the Chargers who are coming off a bye. There is a feel-good vibe around this team due to the early-career form of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, but that positivity would increase ten-fold if Anthony Lynn’s men could actually start winning some of these close ones.
Let’s handle the negatives first… Dak Prescott is out at QB, Ezekiel Elliott has a case of the fumbles, the defense is awful and the players don’t believe in the coaches. The positive? The Cowboys lead an NFC East that could – mathematically – be secured with four wins this term. Dallas are halfway to glory on two.
The Lions didn’t let a lead slip last week as they hammered Jacksonville and Matt Patricia’s side has a chance to climb back to 3-3 with victory against Atlanta on Sunday. Matthew Stafford remains the driving force along with passing game weapons such as Kenny Golladay and tight end T.J. Hockenson.
I have some concerns about the interceptions Drew Lock threw in New England last week but the defense that is missing Von Miller for the year is playing lights out. Of course, taking down the Patriots’ offense is a bit different than the Week 7 challenge which comes in the form of Patrick Mahomes and his Chiefs.
Another game, another close loss and lots more plays that featured Carson Wentz running for his life before firing downfield to wide receivers we have never heard of. If the Eagles could just get healthy, they can take the NFC East in a stroll because, unlike the Cowboys, this team is still playing hard for its coach.
Romeo Crennel got greedy in going for two late in Sunday’s loss to Tennessee and it hurt the Texans as they fell to the Titans in overtime. The Texans have not done a good job of putting enough of a contender around Deshaun Watson, who has now produced a passer rating over 100 in four straight games.
Let’s not start with all that “Dan Quinn must have been the problem” talk. Sure, the Falcons had a big win on Sunday, but it was against a struggling Vikings team. What we did see in that one-sided victory was a reminder of how important quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Julio Jones are to Atlanta’s cause.
Kirk Cousins suggested publicly this week that if he continues to play at his current level, he won’t be the starting quarterback in Minnesota by the end of the year. Brutal honesty or fishing for compliments? If it was the latter, there was hardly a cacophony of “Kirk must play” chatter following his statement.
The Bengals have Joe Burrow and some other nice pieces but getting excited about this team from week to week takes some real effort and commitment. There are still times when they remind us – and their fans – that they are the Bengals. That was the case in Week 6 as they blew a 21-point lead in Indy.
The Giants are one of the worst offenses in the NFL this season and what kind of growth are we seeing from Daniel Jones at quarterback? I would say not very much. The interception he threw in the endzone on Sunday was a terrible decision and it undoes some of the good work he can do through his athleticism.
There are ominous noises coming out of Jacksonville, where the Jags have lost five straight. A loss to the Chargers in Week 7 and I’m worried big changes will come during the Week 8 bye. That puts head coach Doug Marrone in the cross-hairs and I’m not sure Gardner Minshew is all that safe at quarterback either.
Washington have lost five straight and don’t even have the luxury of playing out the rest of the slate with an exciting young quarterback offering up hope for the future. This team has already ruled on the career of Dwayne Haskins and are about to become completely meaningless for the remainder of 2020.
The 2020 Jets were summed up in one sequence that we showed viewers on Sky Sports NFL on Sunday night. Just moments after Joe Flacco completed a 22-yard pass to Breshad Perriman, the quarterback was sacked for a whopping 28-yard loss. Add in the fact that head coach Adam Gase and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams can’t seem to stand each other and you have football’s worst team.