With two Sundays left in the 2019 NFL regular season, so much remains at stake. And high stakes cultivate audacious takes. So ...
What's legit? What's a bunch of hot air? Allow me to separate fact from fiction, Schein Nine style!
1) The Dallas Cowboys will win the NFC East.
That sentiment is true. Dallas' 44-21 pasting of the Rams was an absolute stunner. The Cowboys' talent is legit -- that's never been the issue with this group. (Coaching and distractions on the other hand ...) And Dallas (7-7) flexed on both sides of the ball in Sunday's beatdown of Los Angeles, holding a 37-7 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Next up: A delicious NFC East showdown with the rival Eagles (7-7). If the 'Boys win, thus sweeping the Eagles, they clinch the division title. And honestly, despite being on the road, they should win.
The talent differential between Dallas and Philadelphia is stark. I feel for Carson Wentz, whose supporting cast has rapidly deteriorated over the course of this season. He had to save Philly from a loss to an inferior team yet again -- Week 14, it was the Giants; Week 15, the Redskins. Wentz is playing with a bunch of guys who seem like they're taken straight off the spring training list in Major League. ("This guy here is dead." ... "Cross him off then!") To his credit, the Eagles QB has been so clutch and majestic of late. But this is one of those games where the talent discrepancy is just too big.
2) The Green Bay Packers are the worst double-digit-wins team in the NFC.
Sorry, haters, but this is false. Sure, the 11-3 Packers aren't winning any style points. It's been a relative slog over the past two weeks, with one-possession wins over the Redskinsand Bears. But look at the overall landscape in the NFC -- and frankly, the NFL as a whole. This isn't a season overflowing with flawless juggernauts.
The Packers have a solid run game, defense and Aaron Rodgers. Not to mention, Matt LaFleur is a legit Coach of the Year candidate. I know the Pack got smoked by the Niners last month. It rings loudly. That's fair. But I like Green Bay more than Seattle, Minnesota and New Orleans. Fewer holes. And with a matchup in Minnesota on Monday night, I like the Packers even more. At 0-8, Kirk Cousins has never won a Monday Night Football game. I think the Packers finish the 2019 regular season at a shiny 13-3, with road wins over the Vikings and Lions over the next couple weeks.
3) The Los Angeles Chargers should try something new at QB in 2020.
This is absolutely true. Will it actually happen, though? Sadly, with the Bolts moving into the new stadium and desperate for star power, Rivers' return in 2020 could be inevitable. But his contract runs out after this season. A clean break should be in order. L.A. should move on from the 38-year-old.
I have argued forever -- and will continue to argue -- that Philip Rivers is a Hall of Famer. There is no doubt in my mind. He's also shot, having turned the ball over a dozen times in the past five games (four of which L.A. lost). For Rivers, the team, the fan base, everyone -- it's time. With the talent that still exists on this roster, the Chargers' goal should be to get healthy and make a Super Bowl run next season. They can't do the latter with this version of Rivers.
4) LSU QB Joe Burrow is going first overall to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Lock this one in -- it's certified truth. Interviewing the Heisman Trophy winner Sunday morning on CBS Sports Network -- just hours after his Saturday night Heisman acceptance speech that was emotional and perfect -- I was left with a strong feeling on the 23-year-old quarterback. He has it.
Sure, the numbers from this season are mind-bending: 4,715 yards passing with a 77.9 percent completion rate; 48 touchdown passes against just six picks. And his ability to bring first-year offensive coordinator Joe Brady's vision to life, revolutionizing LSU's offense and netting the Tigers the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff, is all quite impressive. But Burrow is also dreamy as a leader. And the Ohio native is a gift for the 1-13 Bengals.
5) Dan Quinn's saving his job by rallying the Atlanta Falcons.
Nah. False.Atlanta's road win over San Francisco was nothing short of stunning. The upset special of the weekend. But therein lies the problem, explaining why the Falconsmust make a change. Atlanta should be a playoff team! Thomas Dimitroff put together a playoff roster, but Quinn wasted it, losing seven of this season's first eight games and effectively burying the 2019 Falcons before the calendar even turned to November.
It's great that the team played hard on Sunday, winning without stud receiver Calvin Ridley, among others. Quinn and the Falcons deserve so much credit for the comeback win in Levi's Stadium. But it shouldn't be so astonishing when Atlanta beats San Francisco, not given all the talent the Falcons have at their disposal.
6) The San Francisco 49ers are still going to win the NFC.
You betcha. That's the truth. While the loss to Atlanta was a stunner, the Niners were kind of due for a letdown after winning two out of three in a brutal stretch of games (vs. Green Bay, at Baltimore, at New Orleans). And I will continue to stress that San Fran can win any game, any style, any time, anywhere. I still believe in Kyle Shanahan's team. Big time.
The 11-3 Niners finish the regular season with a home game against the Rams and a road trip to rival Seattle. Not the easiest fortnight of action. The 49ers can successfully navigate it, though, allowing San Francisco to get the No. 1 seed and return to the Super Bowl. And even if I'm wrong, the Niners can still win road playoff games and make it to Super Bowl Sunday the hard way.
7) The Oakland Raiders should move on from Derek Carr.
The Raiders blew it in their final game in Oakland. I felt sick for Raider Nation, watching the home squad blow a 16-3 halftime lead and lose to a Jaguars team that had lost each of its previous five games by 17-plus points. These fans have been spectacularly loyal, even with the Las Vegas move on the horizon. Clearly, though, they're upset about the relocation and the fact that there will be no more games in the Black Hole. Thus, I can understand the boos and anger after the game. Poor Derek Carr got booed off the field, and I felt terrible for him. I don't think the refs got it right on ruling his late slide went out of bounds, thus stopping the clock and giving the Jags time on the back end. But I do get the fans' frustration.
Still, let's not lose sight of Antonio Brown really undermining Oakland's farewell season before it even began. Carr hasn't played well the last four weeks, but look at what is around him. I think he's the Raiders quarterback Year 1 in Vegas. He should definitely be given that chance, in my eyes. So the above statement is false.
8) The New England Patriots are back!
Um, no -- false. I'm not going to overreact to the Patriots beating Cincinnati. That's what everyone does -- the Bengals are 1-13, after all. I do not believe New England's on the level of Baltimore or Kansas City. Lamar Jackson is the MVP, and the Ravens are the best team in the NFL. Patrick Mahomes was spectacular on Sunday in the snow, throwing darts to Travis Kelce. And the Chiefs' defense has given up 17 points or fewer in four straight games.
Meanwhile, the Patriots have one of the worst passing attacks in the NFL. Tom Brady hasn't been able to reach even 200 yards passing in three of the past four games. It's hard to imagine the switch flipping on this offense -- yes, even despite all the previous times New England has ultimately proved everyone wrong.
9) Buffalo Bills head man Sean McDermott is the Coach of the Year.
McDermott's stamp is all over this team -- and especially the defense, which ranks second in scoring and third in total D. The Bills are tough. They are smart. And with two games left, they aren't finished winning. I wouldn't be surprised to see Buffalo beat the Patriots in Foxborough and then whoop the Jets at home to finish with 12 wins. TWELVE WINS! FOR THE BILLS!! That's something.