Miami vs. Baltimore
There are just certain points during the year where the Ravens offense looks absolutely dominant. This was their week they shut out Miami. The Ravens crushed the Dolphins. After this loss, I think the coaching staff and the rest of the brass took a long hard look at the state of their team and assessed the outlook for the rest of Miami’s season. I think they came to a clear conclusion after the game even at 4-3 with two QBs going down and the Bills and Patriots looking like the clear top dogs in the AFC East the Dolphins are slowly transitioning to offseason mode. Nowhere was that more clear in Tuesday’s trade with the Eagles that shipped off Jay Ajayi.
We’ve probably all seen the hit on Joe Flacco by Kiko Alonso. I don’t think it was dirty at all. Joe slide way too late and Alonso had already committed himself. Thankfully Flacco is expected to clear concussion protocol and start this week.
Minnesota vs. Cleveland
Hugh Jackson didn’t yank the QB this game. The Browns still lost. That team has a long way to go. The Vikings looked great against them. Adam Thielen is obviously one of Case Keenum’s favorite targets. The Skins are going to have their hands full of guys can’t return from injury in a couple of weeks. The Vikings are going to be a tough opponent.
Chicago vs. New Orleans
Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are the best and most versatile RB duo in football. It is unfair how that tandem fits the NO offense to a T. The Saints are on a legit run and look nothing like the team we saw week 1. With the Panthers and Falcons being wildly inconsistent I think New Orleans can win the NFC South. Jordan Howard is the best thing about the Bears offense. Mitch Trubisky got slightly better this week. He looked more comfortable and played better as a result. He almost threw a touchdown to Zach Miller that unfortunately ended in a gruesome injury. I’ve never seen a leg injury quite like it and I imagine Teddy Bridgewater had something similar happen to him a while ago. When news came down that Miller may need his leg amputated I felt horrible for him. Thankfully doctors seem to have operated so that is not the case. I would not be surprised if this was the last NFL game Miller plays in though.
Tampa Bay vs. Carolina
The Bucs are struggling in all facets. I did not expect them to in the beginning of the season especially not on offense. I expected them to compete for their division but instead, they are falling further and further behind. That unit is marred by inconsistency at QB, RB, and across the offensive line. Their defensive unit is suffering from inconsistent play as well and they didn't have an answer for the Panthers this past Sunday. The Panthers didn’t play particularly well on offense but they did enough to score two touchdowns on a Johnathan Stewart run and a Kelvin Benjamin catch. The Panther defense came through again and sealed the win for them. Speaking of Kelvin Benjamin he got traded to the Bills for a 3rd and 7th round pick. Word is it shocked the Panther locker room. Let’s see if their offense changes significantly this Sunday.
Los Angeles (Chargers) vs. New England
The Patriots have some clear vulnerabilities on defense. In particular their defensive line. Melvin Gordon gashed them for a long TD run to start off the game. The Chargers put forth a good effort and made the score close at one point in the fourth quarter but the Patriots are still a well-rounded team that can pull away at any time. New England is relying heavily on their running backs in both the run and pass game. They are a team known to call a players number at will and James White got the bulk of the work this past Sunday. The Chargers aren’t bad on paper but they could really use some help along the defensive line to go with Joey Bosa as well as make their offense a bit more dynamic. I mentioned earlier in the season how I thought Phillip Rivers had lost a step and was on his last leg. It’s time for the Chargers to start looking to the future by getting all their young players involved and investing in a QB. Speaking of QBs the Patriots finally shipping Jimmy G off to San Francisco. I think Garrapolo hasn’t shown anything yet to indicate he can be a reliable starter (not saying he can’t) and this trade shows you just how desperate the league is for even mediocre QB play.
Indianapolis vs. Cincinatti
The Bengals sure can make a game they should handily win a nail bitter. Jacoby Brissett played his best game of the year against the Bengals defense. If the rumors about Andrew Luck’s shoulder are true he could be even further away from seeing the field. There is no guarantee that he will ever be 100% when he returns either. Its a potentially tragic turn for a guy who was considered by some to have HOF potential. I don’t think Luck ever reaches that level again and possibly he won’t ever have an All Pro year again if that shoulder is really affecting him. The Colts have an insurance policy in Brissett but in hindsight management really mismanaged just about everything after they selected Luck with the #1 pick back in 2012.
Andy Dalton had a good game as well and was able to do just enough to have the Bengals eek out the win. The Bengal offensive line has been bad but I still expected more out of Joe Mixon than we’ve seen on the ground. In the offseason, there were many comparisons of his running style to Le’Veon Bell but we haven't seen it much in the pros. Mixon is doing just fine as a receiver though and had 90 yards receiving this game. It will be interesting to see if either the Bengals or the Ravens can get their act together enough to make a wildcard run in the second half of the season.
Buffalo vs. Oakland
The Bills are for real and their defense is legit. This is the second week in a row rookie Matt Milano out of Boston College has made a big play. I was a draftbreakdown video away from writing about Milano in the offseason and wish I just would have without the supporting video. He was a great value pick for the Bills and its showing. LeSean McCoy gashed the Oakland defense on the ground. I think the Raiders are done.
San Francisco vs. Philadelphia
It was a beating by Philly’s offense. C.J. Bearthard was rushed into the 49er offense we’ll see how long he’s allowed to start with Jimmy G on the team now.
Dallas vs. Washington
The offense is off. Everyone is injured. No run game. No receiving game. No run defense. Disappointing but it’s not over.
Atlanta vs. New York (Jets)
I would have loved to see the Jets win this one just to add to their unpredictable season thus far. They almost had it. They are competitive and the Falcons look very little like the team we saw last year. The Jets were missing a run game and Matt Forte who was not too pleased with his offensive coordinator for giving up on the run game in a close contest. Forte likely won’t be a part of the team next year but he has a valid point. It will be interesting to see how the Jets move forward or if they do in the second half of the season. I don’t have much faith in the Falcons to stop the mediocrity. Players are posting nice individual stats on a game by game basis but the team is not in sync.
Houston vs. Seattle
What a game. I am so impressed with Deshaun Watson I can’t find many more adequate words to describe it than I’ve already used in these articles. It was a losing effort for him but when you trade “blows” with Russell Wilson and have near identical statistical outputs which include over 400 yards passing and 4 TDs its something to be proud of it. The Seattle defense isn’t what it used to be but they are still a very respectable unit and I thought this would be the game Watson tripped up - NOPE. The chemistry between Watson and Hopkins is well established now and Hopkins had a monster game as part of Watson’s passing performance (Will Fuller was great too). Wilson was just as impressive and it just so happened he had the last shot to deliver the game-winner. Richardson and Lockett were big factors in this game so the Redskins are going to have their hands full with those two guys and Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham.
Pittsburgh vs. Detroit
JuJu Smith-Schuster - he’s good. The rookie went off against the Lions defense and made them look silly. I’m not sure how long Big Ben is going to play but the Steelers once again have a legit crop of WR’s in Brown and Smith-Schuster and maybe three if Martavis Bryant ever becomes happy again. The Matt Stafford to Marvin Jones connection was great but it wasn't enough. The Lions points output came solely from the foot of Matt Prater. The Lions are in free fall.
Denver vs. Kansas City
Trevor Siemien is not good and he’s costing Denver games. They are gonna go back to Osweiler but that isn't going to be much better. They need an answer at QB. Will Paxton Lynch ever play? Kansas City got back on track with this win with their secondary stepping up and making big plays. Let’s hope that carries over to next week when they play Dallas.