We’ve still got Browns-Ravens on Monday night so I’m going to wait til Tuesday to do the power rankings.
🌋 Chiefs Are the Warriors of the NFL
The Chiefs looked atrocious in the first quarter. Mahomes had 2 picks and at one point got sacked for a -30 yard loss. The Dolphins got out to an early 10-0 lead, but this is the Chiefs we’re talking about here.
They’re the Golden State Warriors of the NFL: they can go from down 10 to up 10 in the blink of an eye. I used the volcano emoji because of their offensive eruptions (yeah, I know it’s lame. Gimme a break, there are no tomahawk emojis). KC went into halftime up 14-10, then within the first couple minutes of the second half, they scored two quick TDs and were up 28-10 before the Dolphins even knew what hit them. A bomb to Tyreek Hill and then a punt return TD by Hardman broke the game open.
However, the Dolphins made things interesting late in the game. At one point Miami brought the score to 30-24 with a few minutes left to play, but they were attempting to climb out of a 20-point hole. It was a bit too much. This was a measuring stick game for the Dolphins, and while they didn’t give up and roared back, very few teams can handle the Chiefs’ offensive outbursts. The Dolphins are just not equipped on offense to go blow-for-blow with Mahomes. Kansas City hit Miami with a 30-0 run in this game. If there’s anything about the Chiefs to come away concerned about, it’s their defense letting other teams back into games. And Mahomes threw three picks. But this just shows you how good the Chiefs are: even though they basically only played for 2 quarters (they played like trash in the first quarter and went into cruise control in the 4th quarter) it was still enough to beat a playoff-caliber team.
That’s now 5 straight AFC West titles in a row for the Chiefs. They move into the #1 spot in the AFC and are now 21-1 in their past 22 games including the Super Bowl run.
😧 Jalen Hurts Saints Playoff Position
The Saints lost to the Eagles? Apparently so. Jalen Hurts appears to be locked in as the Eagles’ starting QB now, and his presence has apparently galvanized that team and gotten not just the offense but the defense playing better, too. The Eagles looked like a completely different team. Both Miles Sanders and Jalen Hurts ran for 100+ yards in this game against the Saints’ #2 ranked run defense.
As for the Saints, I think this game showed the limitations of Taysom Hill as a starting QB. I’m not going to fully blame this loss on him because they did win their prior three games with him as their starting QB. But two of those games were against Atlanta and the other was against the Kendall Hinton-led Broncos, which was basically a free win. Taysom Hill, while his arm has been better than expected and he obviously has deadly running ability, takes way too many sacks and has serious ball security issues. He doesn’t have the pocket awareness to know when it’s time to get rid of the ball. He was able to get away with it against the Falcons because they don’t have a great pass rush, but the Eagles do.
I’m not saying Philly is way better than those teams the Saints have beaten recently, but Philly, as maligned as they are this season, have been close and competitive in just about every game this year. Their defense is actually pretty good; it now appears that Carson Wentz was the one holding that team back this season, as sad as that is to say.
Am I worried about the Saints after this loss? Kinda. They need Drew Brees back ASAP. New Orleans was held scoreless until about the midway point of the 3rd quarter. And their defense, which has been elite all season, let up a whopping 236 rushing yards and the Eagles ran for an average 6.8 yards-per-carry. That’s concerning. According to ESPN, it was the most rushing yards the Saints have allowed since 2014. I’m starting to wonder if they’ve just been feasting on bad teams for most of their 9 game winning streak. The Saints might be in trouble next week against the Chiefs, however it will be nice for them to finally get back to New Orleans and play a home game. This game against Philly was their third straight road game.
Another big win for the division formerly known as the NFC Least, which will now be known as the NFC BEAST😤💪💯. Last week Washington took down Pittsburgh and the Giants took down the Seahawks. This week the Eagles take down the Saints.
🦬 Bills Hand Steelers Another L
Bills 26, Steelers 15. After the Steelers WRs had 7 drops in last week’s loss to Washington, Diontae Johnson opened this game up with 2 early drops and was sent to the bench. Johnson is really talented and despite all his drops, Ben still seems to trust him and peppers him with targets every game. But Tomlin finally had enough.
It looked like there wouldn’t be much scoring in this game early, as the teams combined for 10 punts in the first half. The Bills were up 9-7 at halftime after a pick-six on Big Ben (missed the extra point). But then the Bills kinda ran away with it, going on a 14-0 run in the third quarter to make it 23-7. That was pretty much it for the game, as it ended 26-15.
There are some real concerns for the Steelers right now. They only managed 47 rushing yards on 17 attempts (2.8ypc) against the 24th-ranked Bills run defense. James Conner had 10 carries for just 18 yards. The Steelers’ longest run as a team was 7 yards. That’s just pathetic. Big Ben was 21/27 for just 187 yards with 2 TDs and 2 picks. He was only sacked once but finished with a QBR of just 32.4 and passer rating of 65.9. There really isn’t much of an excuse for the Steelers’ offense to be so bad. The Bills defense has not been good this season. The only team this season to score fewer points against the Bills than the Steelers did last night was the Jets in week 8, who lost 18-10. Things are not looking good for the Steelers right now. They’ve officially lost the #1 seed in the AFC to the Chiefs, who are 12-1 now.
Buffalo, on the other hand, has won 6 of 7 games with the only loss in that span coming on the “Hail Murray” game against the Cardinals. Bills are now the #3 seed in the AFC. I’m really impressed with Josh Allen this season. This was their biggest win of the season.
If the Browns beat the Ravens tomorrow night, then Cleveland is 10-3 and just a game behind Steelers in the AFC North with 3 games to play. And the Steelers and Browns play in week 17. That is not good for a Steelers team that appears to be in free fall. They could very well go from 11-0 to a wild card team over the next three weeks. Steelers have a slump-buster coming up next week at Bengals, but then it’s home vs. Indy and then at Cleveland. 😬😬😬
🐏 Rams Too Much for Pats
The Rams suffocated the Patriots 24-3 on Thursday night. It was apparent that the Rams were the better team at just about every position on the field. The Patriots simply couldn’t move the ball. They only managed 220 yards of total offense for the game and were held to just 3.8 yards per play. Cam Newton only had 119 yards passing. He was eventually replaced by Jarrett Stidham but it didn’t make a difference. The Patriots had 23 passing attempts and gave up 6 sacks, meaning they were sacked on over a quarter of their dropbacks. You can’t win with that kind of pressure. The Patriots just don’t have the talent to beat teams like the Rams. It doesn’t matter how smart Bill Belichick is.
Impressive win for the Rams even though they made it look easy. The Patriots were starting to get hot prior to this game with wins over the Ravens and the Cardinals. It’s not easy to beat a Bill Belichick team 24-3. Even though the Patriots are one of the least-talented rosters in the league, Bill has made them competitive in most of their games. Not against the Rams, though.
🧀 Packers Take Over #1 Seed in NFC
Packers 31, Lions 24. With the Saints loss, the Packers are now the #1 seed in the NFC due to the fact that they have the head-to-head tiebreaker over New Orleans. They clinched the NFC North with the win, and Aaron Rodgers continues his MVP season and had about as good a performance as you can ask for from your QB: 26/33 passing for 290 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 0 sacks, a rushing TD, an 89.3 QBR and a 133.6 passer rating. He now has 39 passing TDs and 4 INTs on the season, which is just ridiculous.
Now, is it concerning that the Packers needed a nearly-perfect game from Aaron Rodgers just to beat the Detroit Lions? Maybe. But it’s a division rivalry, so you can never take these games for granted. I’m impressed by the fact that the Packers held the Lions to just 51 rushing yards, because the Packers’ run defense is my biggest concern with them. Even though the Packers just did what they were expected to do this weekend, I’m still ready to put them ahead of the Saints because the Saints lost to a rookie QB making his first career start.
🐐 Bucs Bounce Back After Bye
Had they lost to Minnesota, the Bucs would’ve fallen down to the #7 seed in the NFC playoff race and had the same 7-6 record as the Vikings. They potentially would’ve even fallen to the #8 seed and temporarily out of the playoffs given that the Cardinals beat the Giants and improved to 7-6. This was a must-win game for Tampa.
This 26-14 win makes you feel better about Tampa. They’re clearly better than the other wild card-level teams. They just have to figure out how to beat elite teams. They have the talent to do it, but they haven’t been able to put it together against teams like the Rams, Chiefs and Saints. It’s an encouraging sign that Tampa got a win after their bye week against a playoff(ish)-caliber team. However, Tampa did kinda luck out that Dan Bailey, the Vikings kicker, missed 10 points worth of kicks. So the game should’ve probably been closer.
But it’s good to see the Bucs starting to lean on the running game. They had 26 rushing attempts for 107 yards as a team, and only asked Brady to throw 23 times. Brady was still highly effective throwing when he was asked, though: 15/23 for 196 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, an 83.9 QBR and a 120.9 passer rating. He had a really pretty 48-yard bomb TD to Scottie Miller to give the Bucs their first points of the game midway through the second quarter.
🚬 Colts Smoke The Raiders
I’m officially out on the Raiders. They just don’t do anything particularly well. They’re average-at-best on offense and below-average on defense. The Colts came into this game at 8-4 while the Raiders were 7-5, so you expected a more competitive game. But the difference is that the Colts are a legit team and the Raiders are not. This is why the Colts won 44-27. Raiders drop to 7-6, Colts improve to 9-4.
🔨 Cardinals Hammer Giants 26-7
People were starting to pile on to the Giants bandwagon after they beat the Seahawks last week, but let’s pump the breaks on that. The Giants have a pretty good defense, but their offense is still terrible. They’re just not a good team. I’m not even that high on the Cardinals, but the Cardinals were clearly better than the Giants.
I know that seems obvious now, but had the Giants won this game then they and the Cardinals would’ve had the same record, 6-7.
I just don’t think Daniel Jones is a very good QB; the Cardinals aren’t even that great a defense and Daniel Jones still was only 11/21 for 127 yards with a QBR of 9.0. I really don’t notice much of a difference in the Giants offense when Daniel Jones is in vs. when Colt McCoy is in. That might have had something to do with the fact that the Cardinals had 8 sacks in the game (including a whopping FIVE by Hasson Reddick alone 👀).
Cardinals improve to 7-6 and move back into the #7 seed in the NFC with the Vikings loss. Giants fall to second place in the NFC BEAST😤💪💯.
👑 Falcons Are Officially the Kings of Choking
The two biggest choking teams in the NFL, the Chargers and the Falcons, tried to out-choke each other down in Hot-Lanta. It turned out to be the Chargers on top in the end, 20-17.
With the game tied at 17, the Falcons were driving with just under 4 minutes to go. They were at the Chargers’ 26 and could’ve gotten points, but Matt Ryan threw an INT. On the Chargers’ ensuing drive, they got to the Falcons’ 45, but then Justin Herbert, in an attempt to respond in the choke-off, threw a pick and gave Atlanta the ball back at the ATL 38 with just 53 seconds to play. It looked like the Chargers were going to out-Falcons the Falcons, but apparently nobody out-Falcons the Atlanta Falcons, even with Dan Quinn having been fired earlier in the season. 3 plays later, Matt Ryan threw yet another pick with 36 seconds remaining. The Chargers were able to capitalize and kick a game-winning field goal.
Look, we all know the Chargers are huge choke artists. But in the end it turns out that even the Chargers cannot out-choke the team that choked away a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. The Falcons are officially the undisputed Kings of Choking in the NFL.
The Less-Important Games
In less important news: Bears hammer the Texans 36-7. Where was this Bears offense all season? I know the Texans defense is terrible but the Bears offense is terrible, too. Titans handle the Jags 31-10. Tennessee did what they were expected to do. They held on to first place in the AFC South. If you haven’t seen the AJ Brown TD catch, here it is. Dude is special:
Broncos beat the Panthers 32-27. No real playoff implications in that game, although technically the Broncos are not mathematically eliminated from the playoff hunt at 5-8. Cowboys 30, Bengals 7. Irrelevant game.
Washington Football Team beats the 49ers 23-15. The WFT defense is legit and now they’re in first place in the NFC BEAST😤💪💯 at 6-7. As silly as it sounds the WFT is a team nobody in the NFC wants to play in the playoffs.