- Kansas City Chiefs 8-1 —
The Chiefs going into their bye stand at 8-1, having won 16 of their last 17 dating back to last season. It certainly wasn’t their most convincing win having to squeak by Carolina in the end, but even when things aren’t going smoothly, this offense is a consistent threat to score 30+. After duds by Russell Wilson and Tom Brady, are Mahomes and Rodgers the favorites for MVP?
- Pittsburgh Steelers 8-0 —
The Steelers escaped AT&T stadium with a much harder-fought victory than they had in mind. Their defensive line continued to impress with consistent pressure all game, but it seems like no matter who this team plays, it’s gonna come down to the final possession. The Steelers have now won their last 3 by combined 12 points; they are learning how to win these close games, but they also have to learn how to start faster to avoid these tight finishes.
Next: vs. CIN
- Buffalo Bills 7-2 +4
Ever since the Bills got stomped by Tennessee on Tuesday night football in week 5, it seems like Buffalo has become a forgotten contender. Josh Allen’s second month of play was not nearly as efficient and lethal as his first. This was a perfect “get right” game for Allen who threw for over 400 yards for the first time since week 2 at Miami. Other than playing Seattle, why did this offense look much more dynamic once again? Two words: John Brown. Brown has been hampered by injury for the past month and made his return versus New England last week but was used more as a decoy with only 1 catch. This past week: 8 catches, 99 yards – Buffalo has a comfortable 2 game lead over Miami in the AFC east and are in good position for their AFC east title in 25 years.
Next: @ ARI
- Baltimore Ravens 6-2 +1
Another game, another ugly win for Baltimore. The Ravens propelled past the Colts 24-10 after outscoring them 17-0 in the second half. Once again, Lamar threw for under 200 yards but he did complete nearly 83% of his throws. The Ravens possessed the ball just under 34 minutes, won the turnover battle, and played sound defense. This is the formula they must embrace moving into the second half of the season.
Next: @ NE
- Seattle Seahawks 6-2 -2
My biggest fear for the Seahawks early on was how will Russell Wilson handle the pressure of dropping back much more and having to score 30+ every single game? And for the most part, it seemed like a solid formula as they started 6-1. However, all their shortcomings were completely exposed in this one against Buffalo. The Seahawks inability to establish any run game led to an insurmountable pressure from Wilson to create all their offense. The more this offense dropbacks, the more likely turnovers happen and Wilson had 4 of them. Oh, and this defense is still a complete mess. Just a week after their best performance of the year, the Seahawks relinquished over 400 yards through the air. Weirdly enough they sacked Josh Allen 7 times, but came up empty handed with 0 turnovers.
Next: @ LAR
- Green Bay Packers 6-2 —
The Green Bay front was highly criticized after their brutal loss against the 1-5 Vikings. Dalvin Cook ran all over them and it looked like the 2019 Packers that couldn’t handle a physical, downhill rushing attack. Those conclusions have been put to rest for at least a week as they completely neutralized San Francisco’s usually stellar outside zone run scheme. But let’s not forget this was the JV version of the 9ers: there was no Mostert, Coleman, Kittle, Samuel, Bourne, Aiyuk, or Trent Williams. This front still has plenty of question marks but this game was a step in the right direction.
Next: vs. JAX
- New Orleans Saints 6-2 +3
Just a week ago, everyone seemed to be hyping up the Bucs as the most complete, balanced roster in the NFL. Were we overlooking the Saints who are slowly hitting their stride as they are finally getting healthy? Their defense looked much better in their Sunday night showdown as EDGEs Cam Jordan and Trey Hendrickson completely dominated from the outside. Marshon Lattimore is starting to look like one of the top corners in the game after struggling for most of the first half of the year. And let’s not forget about Drew Brees; Brees has been highly criticized for his lack of arm strength and inability to throw the ball down the field. But last week, he finally saw his receivers healthy and looked like the Brees of old completing 82% of his passes for a ridiculous 98.9 QBR. Don’t look now, but the Saints are the 1 seed in the NFC.
Next: vs. SF
- Tennessee Titans 6-2 —
One of the uglier games in the week 9 slate – Tennessee grinded one out and prevailed past Chicago. They were outgained by nearly 150 yards, but still mounted a 24-3 in the fourth quarter. Derrick Henry never got the ground game going, rushing for his second lowest total in 2020 with 68 yards paired with Ryan Tannehill’s lowest passing total with 158 yards. It’s evident that this offense isn’t the same without franchise LT Taylor Lewan who they lost for the year after their OT win over Houston in week 6. Since then, they’ve averaged a meager 22.6 PPG having been much more inefficient through the air and run.
Next: vs. IND
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-3 -5
You’d think the Bucs would’ve come out more alive and ready to play after seemingly laying an egg to the Giants last Monday night and playing for the NFC south lead? It’s not very often you see Tom Brady get swept by a divisional opponent….because it’s never happened:
And who would’ve thought the Buccaneers would’ve been as unprepared and as outcoached as they were? Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette saw a combined 4 (!!!!!) carries between the two of them. It seemed like Bruce Arians wanted to showcase his full arsenal of weapons rather than win this game as Brady was sacked 3 times and looked completely lost. And that Bucs defense we were raving about? They completely abandoned what had gotten them there. They sat back in zone coverage, letting Brees pick them apart all night; Bowles showed zero creativity in bringing any pressure or designed blitzes. This coaching staff needs to go back to establishing the run and being much more aggressive on defense moving forward.
Next: @ CAR
- Indianapolis Colts 5-3 -1
The Colts lost a tough one to Baltimore falling to 5-3. They now go into a pivotal game Thursday night for the AFC south division lead against Tennessee. With Darius Leonard being inserted back into the starting lineup, we know this defense is one of the few elite bunches in the NFL. But will the offense show up on Thursday night against a struggling Tennessee defense? The Colts are still top 5 in DVOA entering Thursday night but their offense has been inconsistent to say the least. Before the season, many experts thought their rushing attack could’ve been the top unit in the NFL, but it has mostly fallen flat through the first half of the season.
Next: @ TENN
- Los Angeles Rams 5-3 —
Going into week 10, the Rams are coming into a pivotal NFC west showdown. The Seahawks at 6-2, are just 1 game ahead of the Rams, but are holding strong with the 2 seed while the Rams are grasping onto the last playoff spot in the NFC. The parody in the NFC is more apparent this year than in years past, and the Rams have a chance to claim first place in week 10. They’ll need to clean up their ball security issues from a week ago and get some pressure on Russell Wilson.
Next: vs. SEA
- Miami Dolphins 5-3 +2
Just a week after defeating the Rams with 2 defensive/special teams scores, the Dolphins use that same formula with another defensive score to jumpstart a win over Kyler and Arizona. This defense is for real as they have the #1 scoring defense in the league:
OC Chan Gailey opened up the offense much more in Tua’s second career start as he finished with 248 passing yards and another 35 on the ground. Miami is playing really sound defense under Brian Flores and can close the gap between them and Buffalo for the AFC east in the upcoming weeks with the Chargers, Broncos, Jets, and Bengals.
Next: vs. LAC
- Las Vegas Raiders 5-3 —
The race for the AFC’s 6 and 7 seeds have the potential to be really exciting down the stretch. After holding on in the final second to get past LAC, the Raiders stand at 5-3 with the AFC’s 6 seed with Miami right behind them with the 7. Amazingly enough, Cleveland and Indy both stand at 5-3 right outside the playoff picture. If Derek Carr can continue to take care of the football and push the ball down the field to the likes of Agholor and Ruggs, this Raiders team can play with anyone.
Next: vs. DEN
- Arizona Cardinals 5-3 -2
The Cards went into the bye at 5-2, handing Russell Wilson his first loss of the season. The Cardinals had a chance to overtake the division lead but fell short in Miami. Kyler was once again spectacular with 283 passing yards, 106 rushing yards, and 4 total touchdowns. If the Cards won that game, they’d be the NFC’s 2 seed and there would be a serious discussion about Kyler Murray’s MVP prospects. The Cards will need to rebound quickly against a tough Buffalo squad next week.
Next: vs. BUF
- Cleveland Browns 5-3 +2
Cleveland has the perfect chance for their “get-right” game against Houston this upcoming week. They left a sour taste in their mouth after losing a pivotal game against Vegas before their bye. There are rumblings that Nick Chubb may return and Cleveland needs it. Ever since his injury, this run game has not looked the same with Kareem Hunt leading the attack. Houston has one of the worst run defenses in all of football as they’re 31st in YPC and yards allowed.
Next: vs. HOU
- Minnesota Vikings 3-5 +5
As I said a week ago, the landscape of this Vikings team completely changes when Dalvin Cook is in the lineup. He totaled for over 200 yards for the second week in a row as he ran all over Detroit’s porous front. If the Vikings can continue to run the ball with this efficiency, and minimize the passing attack with a turnover-prone quarterback, the Vikings can slowly climb back into the NFC playoff picture.
Next: @ CHI
- Chicago Bears 5-4 -2
Remember when the Bears were 5-1? They’re now at 5-4 and are slowly collapsing right before our eyes. David Montgomery exited this contest with a blow to the head and is entering concussion protocol. With an offense that is in dire need of any playmaking, this is not ideal. Head coach Matt Nagy needs to figure something out because his spread offense is not working. This defense will continually keep them in ballgames but the offense needs to help them out.
Next: vs. MINN
- San Francisco 49ers 4-5 -2
There was some optimism going into kickoff given how dominant the 49ers were in both of their meetings against Green Bay in 2019. But the 49ers were deprived of any talent or playmaking on offense. Their top two receivers going into Thursday night were return specialist Richie James and Trent Taylor. As the injuries continue to pile up, their playoff hopes seem bleaker by the day – it doesn’t get any easier as they fly to the Superdome next week to take on New Orleans.
Next: @ NO
- New England Patriots 3-5 -1
The Patriots were just a quarter away from their first 5-game losing streak under Bill Belichick and handing the pitiful Jets their first win. However, for just the second time in his career, Cam Newton came back to win after trailing by double digits in the fourth quarter. One can only hope Cam is starting to mold back into that version we saw in the first two weeks because he may have found a real weapon in Jakobi Meyers. I wouldn’t count out the Patriots just yet.
Next: vs. BAL
- Los Angeles Chargers 2-6 -1
The Chargers fall to 0-3 in the AFC west and are now 3-15 in one-score games under head coach Anthony Lynn. In tight contests, the defense consistently runs out of steam while the playcalling becomes much more conservative. The Chargers final two plays of the game were goal-line fades to Mike Williams and Donald Parham – one of the lower percentage plays in football. Anthony Lynn needs to change his pedestrian approach to closing out games or else it’ll cost him his job.
Next: @ MIA
- Atlanta Falcons 3-6 +2
The Falcons enter their bye having won three of their four under interim Raheem Morris. The Falcons look much more polished and aggressive on the defensive side of the football. The Falcons look much more prepared and well-coached under Morris but they’re 0-5 start may be too much to overcome. If Morris keeps this up, will he be under consideration for the head coaching job on a permanent basis?
- Philadelphia Eagles 3-4-1 —
The Eagles have somehow amassed a 1.5 game lead in the NFC east as Washington fell to New York. The Eagles had a lot of figuring out to do over the bye; they are coming into their week 10 matchup with New York with their first winning streak of the year but the wins could not have been less convincing. Wentz continues to look like a mess; however, with Miles Sanders due to be back in the lineup, the Eagles can create some real separation with a win over the improving Giants.
Next: @ NYG
- Denver Broncos 3-5 -3
After showing promise with a miraculous 4th quarter comeback, the Broncos came out completely flat falling behind 27-6 to Atlanta. Denver fell just short of another Atlanta meltdown and fell to 3-5. Denver is entering a midseason gauntlet with Las Vegas, Miami, New Orleans, and Kansas City in their upcoming four weeks.
Next: @ LV
- Carolina Panthers 3-6 +1
The Panthers have now lost four straight and just as the Panthers get CMC back into the lineup, it’s very possible they may be without him versus Tampa next week. Even though the Panthers are falling into a rut, Carolina played Kansas City about as tightly as you could’ve. Matt Rhule has this organization trending in the right direction with contributions from a myriad of young players like Derrick Brown, Jeremy Chinn, and Brian Burns. The biggest question this franchise will have to monitor moving forward: is Teddy Bridgewater their franchise guy or will they look to add one of the high end QBs in the 2021 draft?
Next: vs. TB
- Washington Football Team 2-6 -1
The Football Team fell just short of an impressive comeback from backup QB Alex Smith. It was a shame that it came at the expense of Kyle Allen who left the game due to a gruesome Dak-esque injury. Alex Smith came into the game and displayed a big-play element this offense has been severely lacking this entire season; however, 5 turnovers (3 coming from Smith INTs) was way too much to overcome. With Kyle Allen out for the rest of the season, will the Football Team be confident enough to roll with Smith?
Next: @ DET
- Detroit Lions 3-5 —
In a playoff-or-bust year, the hope is starting to slowly dwindle by the week for Detroit. The Lions now fall to 0-4 without Kenny Golladay as they were clobbered by Minnesota. Ever since Matt Patricia’s arrival, their defense has been abysmal. They have one of the worst run defenses in the league and are one of the lower scoring defenses in the NFL. Patricia, an understudy to Belichick, took a winning football team under Jim Caldwell with one of the more talented QBs in the NFL and has slowly run them into the ground.
Next: vs. WAS
- Cincinnati Bengals 2-5-1 —
The Bengals are coming off the biggest win in head coach Zac Taylor’s tenure. Many experts thought they’d potentially be active in this past week’s deadline with guys like A.J. Green and John Ross on the move, but Cincy elected to only move Carlos Dunlap to Seattle. Cincinnati’s offensive line was without three starters but had their best performance of the year versus Tennessee. They will have their work cut out for them this upcoming week against the league’s most terrorizing defensive line.
Next: @ PITT
- New York Giants 2-7 +1
The Giants completed the season sweep of the Washington Football Team with a 23-20 victory. Although they only have two wins, Joe Judge has coached his butt off in New York. They’ve evidently been competitive in nearly every single one of their games. This defense is improving rapidly; they lack a real “star” but collectively, have one of the stingier units in football with contributions from Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, Blake Martinez, among many others. Daniel Jones has been a trainwreck for most of the season but is coming off his first turnover-free game in 2020. If the Giants can pick up a win against Philly this upcoming week, their playoff hopes will be very much alive.
Next: vs. PHI
- Houston Texans 2-6 -1
Houston got their second victory of the year over Jacksonville, but lost David Johnson in the process. Will Fuller continues to impress in his contract setting a franchise-record 6th straight game with a TD reception. Similar to the Bengals, the Texans elected to hold onto their top four receivers (Fuller, Cooks, Cobb, Stills) who were all rumored to be on the trade block. The Texans will look to pick up their first win outside of the Jags as they take on the Browns off the bye.
Next: @ CLE
- Dallas Cowboys 2-7 —
For the first time in nine games, the Cowboys actually covered the spread falling 24-19 to the undefeated Steelers. However, the biggest takeaway for Dallas is the significant turnaround for this defense in the previous two weeks. In week 8, they generated four turnovers from Carson Wentz but many attributed that to Wentz’s poor play rather than Dallas’s defense. Although they did not generate any turnovers this past week, the Cowboys defense held James Conner to just 22 rushing yards. There seems to be more buy-in to Mike Nolans 3-man front, and the special teams unit played really well. It’ll be interesting to see if McCarthy elects to move forward with the more mobile Garrett Gilbert or if he’ll go back to Andy Dalton after their bye week.
- Jacksonville Jaguars 1-7 —
Rookie 6th rounder played admirably in this debut, showing glimpses of Gardner Minshew’s rookie year. Luton’s arm strength and ability to deliver the ball down the field is a huge plus for this offense. However, his mobility was a huge knock going into this one:
This was the closest the Jags came to a victory since week 1 and Luton has definitely made things interesting when Minshew comes back from his fractured thumb.
Next: @ GB
- New York Jets 0-9 —
The Jets played their best game of the year as Joe Flacco showed flashes of his former self from Baltimore with 262 yards and 3 touchdown passes. However, an inexcusable interception in the fourth quarter thrusted a Patriots come-from-behind victory. The additions of both outside receivers in Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims along with Jamison Crowder in the slot added some much-needed playmaking and speed to this horrific offense. The Jets may have potentially squandered their best shot at a victory until they play New England again in week 17.
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