What a crazy day in the NFL yesterday. Outside of two games, all of the other ten so far this week was decided by one possession or less. That kind of uncertainty was probably fantastic for casual viewers and horrible for gamblers (more on that tomorrow).
So with an awesome week in the NFL comes five of the main takeaways from this past weekend. Spoiler alert, I will not be covering the Miami Dolphins second consecutive win over the Indianapolis Colts (sans Jacoby Brissett). I will say, however, that Brian Flores is certainly a keeper at head coach.
1. MAHOMES ELECTRIC RETURN SPOILED
I was very curious to see how Patrick Mahomes would look in his first start since dislocating his kneecap. Would he be hesitant scrambling? Did he have the same pop on his passes?
36-50 passing. 446 yards. Three scores. Yeah, I think he’s good.
While the reigning MVP looked exactly like himself, the same can be said for the Kansas City defense, and the latter is certainly not a compliment. Despite a monster performance by defensive tackle Chris Jones, the middle of the KC defense got gutted by Derrick Henry for 188 yards and two scores. A Damien Williams fumble in the second that led to a Tennessee touchdown didn’t help, but the entire defense kept allowing the Titans back in the game. After an Adam Humphries go-ahead score with 23 seconds left to put the Titans up three, Mahomes was able to get the ball in field goal range for Harrison Butker, only for it to be blocked on a perfectly timed jump from Josh Kalu.
What an awful loss from Kansas City. Next week they take on a faltering Chargers squad in Mexico City, so that can be a good bounce-back spot. The ever-so-average Titans will enter their bye with some playoff momentum.
2. A NEW SUPER BOWL FAVORITE?
Time to eat some crow. I didn’t believe in Baltimore this year. Too much turnover on defense and I was hesitant in Lamar Jackson’s ability to improve his passing. Now, in Week 10, I can sit here and say that they should be the favorites right now to win the Lombardi Trophy.
You would think a Cincinnati team coming off a bye would play with at least some energy… nah. The Ravens steamrolled the now 0-9 Bengals 49-13, and that’s without scoring in the #4th quarter. Lamar Jackson… I’m not going to list his stats on this amazing day but this clip sums it up. He is certainly in the mix with Russell Wilson for MVP so far. As for the Baltimore defense, it proved difficult as well for rookie Ryan Finley, who had your typical “Welcome to the NFL” performance. The only success Cincy had finally used their best offensive weapon Joe Mixon, who put up 151 total yards.
A post-bye Texans squad comes to town next for the Ravens, and that matchup of Jackson and Deshaun Watson will be must-see TV. The god-awful Bungles will try and grab their first W in Oakland, a task that seemed much easier before the season.
3. THE MCVAY AURA HAS DISSIPATED
Now, I’m not saying Sean McVay is to blame for the way this Rams season has gone. However, the same problems I saw before the season that made miss project them to miss the playoffs have come to fruition and were all made aware during an ugly 17-12 loss to Pittsburgh. I like Jared Goff, he’s a good starting quarterback. His offensive line is horrendous and doesn’t allow him any time to throw. Todd Gurley is not getting the same amount of touches due to his arthritic knee. The front seven has been horrific besides Aaron Donald. Trading for Jalen Ramsey was a risky move, and it’s not paying off because no matter how solid your defense is, if you cannot consistently score then it won’t matter. It truly is crazy to see how much of a downturn this Rams offense has faced this year, and it’s almost an outright travesty that, a week after going for over 200 receiving yards, Cooper Kupp (who was fully healthy) got only two targets and zero catches. That is unacceptable.
Pittsburgh will look to continue their hot streak in Cleveland this Thursday Night, while LA hosts the Bears on NBC Sunday night. It’s a shame we can’t flex games this early because this one has bleh written all over it.
4. IS PHILIP RIVERS WASHED?
5. THE B-
Okay okay, I’m just kidding. I don’t think Philip Rivers is completely washed, but this season has certainly shown that he is on the downswing of his career.
The Chargers lost a crucial divisional game to the Raiders last Thursday 26-24, thanks to a last-minute Josh Jacobs touchdown. Now, in Rivers’ defense, his offensive line might be worse than Los Angeles. Still, Melvin Gordon was able to find holes and have himself a good day, and they did put up 24 points. Keenan Allen hasn’t scored in four weeks, and the rest of the receivers keep getting their passes lollipopped. Many will chalk this up to a Raiders squad that is overachieving, but this was a must-win game for the Bolts and they fell on their faces.
Maybe LA will upset Kansas City in Mexico this week, but I doubt it. The Raiders will host the Bengals, and if this team is a real contender, they will handle that mess to perfection.
5. NEVER AGAIN, BILLS MAFIA
You guys made me do it, and it never felt right. I knew Buffalo was a bunch of frauds, and I was attacked for believing so. I’m just going to… ya know.
I could talk about Cleveland’s performance in the win, but it was still bland and boring. This was more about Buffalo, who once again proved that if you’re better than the middling Titans, not beating good teams. On paper, the Browns are certainly more talented despite this season, and the Bills were simply benefitting from a Pop Warner schedule. Josh Allen fumbled for the #11th time this season, and that remains a major concern for Buffalo. Ever since their opening week conquering of the Jets, Buffalo has suffered from “Tennessitis” – a rare condition where once you go down a touchdown, kiss your butt goodbye because you will not be winning.
The Bills now travel to Miami to take on a surging (what world is this?) Miami team who they should easily destroy. Cleveland is at home versus Pittsburgh Thursday Night, and that matchup will determine their season.
TNF PICK: PITTSBURGH STEELERS (5-4) vs. CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-6) [-3.0]
Two teams that I believed were playoff contenders will be battling in what can be seen as an elimination game. As I mentioned before, the Browns still made the same mistakes in their win against Buffalo, but Baker Mayfield played an excellent game. Another week of Kareem Hunt getting adjusted and playing more will be helpful, as well. The Steelers have been hot, but they’re going to need James Conner in this one. The running game has been non-existent since he’s been out, which is to be expected when you employ a former tight end at tailback. I like Cleveland this week, and the line is close enough to which I think they can cover too.
THE PICK: Browns (-3.0)