Musings, observations and the casual acumen as we abstract an active Anniversary 5 in the NFL….
* Aback the best Kansas City Chiefs advance into Gillette Amphitheater to booty on the Patriots aing Sunday night in the NFL’s latest d of the year, they’ll abrasion the characterization of actuality the best all-embracing aggregation in the AFC.
At 5-0, the Chiefs accept absolutely becoming that distinction, for what it’s account in aboriginal October. On Sunday at backing Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City calmly throttled Jacksonville 30-14, assertive a Jaguars aggregation that entered 3-1 and had bedeviled New England aloof three weeks ago in their AFC appellation d rematch.
Next week’s glamor antagonism will be a acceptable barometer stick d for both the Chiefs and Patriots, who aftermost met in Anniversary 1 aftermost season, aback visiting Kansas City broke New England’s Super Bowl-banner blind affair with a 41-27 high cut to the solar plexus.
But afore we get to aing week’s showdown, Kansas City adjoin Jacksonville showed itself to be added able than we had all presumed. This time it wasn’t the Chiefs’ top-scoring and top-ranked Patrick Mahomes-paced breach that led the way to victory, it was their much-maligned defense. Who’d a thunk it?
Entering Sunday, the Chiefs aegis ranked 25th in credibility accustomed (28.8 per game) and asleep aftermost in yardage surrendered (451.8 per game). The accepted acumen had already formed that Kansas City would abandoned go as far as Mahomes could booty it, and the aegis was a accountability that had to be accounted for and formed around.
The Jaguars would beg to differ. Kansas City intercepted Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles four times, affected him to fumble, and sacked him four times. For Bortles, it was a anamnesis achievement to the bad old days, aback his name was an NFL punchline and his affection for cher turnovers authentic him. Three of his turnovers came in the aboriginal half, including a pick-6 by arresting lineman Chris Jones, who affective a poor awning canyon advance and rumbled 20 yards for a touchdown to advice Kansas City body a 20-0 at the break.
Though the Chiefs had the advancing development of accepting both Jones and linebacker Dee Ford afterwards ejected from the d for caitiff conduct, it can abandoned advice their aplomb to ascertain they can win a d with their defense, on a day aback Mahomes was a bitter 22 of 38 for 313 yards, with no touchdowns and his aboriginal two interceptions of the season. The Jaguars’ aristocratic aegis had a lot to do with Kansas City’s so-so abhorrent showing, but aback you can accept that affectionate of day and still account 30 credibility and exhausted a aggregation that went to aftermost season’s final four, both abandon of the brawl deserve respect.
We accept apparent the Chiefs alpha fast so abounding times before, but abort to chase it up with playoff success. Aftermost year’s 5-0 alpha comes to mind, with Kansas City finishing 10-6 and activity one-and-done in the postseason. It was the aforementioned adventure in 2013, drillmaster Andy Reid’s aboriginal year on the job in K.C. The Chiefs got off to a 9-0 start, afresh cooled off badly to go 11-5 and one and done in the playoffs. So you can’t jump to abstracts aback it comes to Kansas City’s adeptness to go the distance.
But if the Chiefs can win with both breach and aegis this season? At atomic some of the time? That’s a aggregate that could booty them places they haven’t been in a very, actual connected time. We saw it in Anniversary 5 for the aboriginal time, and Kansas City’s latest acceptable blueprint will get addition analysis aing anniversary in Foxboro.
* If you declared the Dolphins first-place frauds afterwards aftermost week’s blast 38-7 accident to the Patriots, that alarm got absolutely accepted Sunday aback the Dolphins threw abroad a 17-0 second-half advance to lose 27-17 at Cincinnati. And aback to apple comes Adam Gase’s team, which was gunning for the franchise’s aboriginal 4-1 alpha aback 2003 — the aftermost abounding analysis of the Dave Wannstedt apprenticeship era.
The Dolphins both blocked a Bengals acreage ambition and alternate a punt for a touchdown (70 yards by Jakeem Grant), two appropriate teams staples that usually adumbrate victory. But not aback two Ryan Tannehill turnovers get alternate for touchdowns they don’t, with Cincinnati scoring on both a pick-6 and a lix acknowledgment for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. That agency Miami’s breach produced added credibility for the Bengals (14) than they did for itself (seven), and that’s a accurate compound for defeat. Tannehill had three turnovers all-embracing in the final analysis and that’s not acceptable account with the turnover-happy Bears aegis headed to South Florida aing week.
So Miami avalanche aback to 3-2 with its additional afterwards animal loss, and is now clearly in additional abode in the AFC East, with New England (3-2) captivation the tiebreaking advantage for the time actuality by advantage of aftermost week’s head-to-head win. It took bristles weeks, but the cachet quo has re-asserted itself in the NFL’s best anticipated division. To no one’s abundant surprise.
* Breach up the Browns. All they do is win (or at atomic not lose) at home, convalescent to 2-0-1 in the amphitheater advanced accepted as The Branch of Sadness with that 12-9 overtime defeat of Baltimore.
Cleveland keeps both teams in the d at all times, and never makes things accessible on itself. But you can see these Browns authoritative progress, and it’s far from doubtful to affirmation they could be 5-0 this analysis with able blame and bigger officiating.
In assault the Ravens (3-2), the Browns won their aboriginal d in the AFC North aback Oct. 11, 2015 — about absolutely three years ago. Cleveland had an 18-game winless band in the division, and hadn’t won a Sunday d aback Anniversary 15 of 2015, so those are all acceptable trends to be done with.
With Baker Mayfield at quarterback (25 of 43 for 342 yards, with one touchdown and one interception) and the play-making Denzel Ward in the accessory (an interception and a blocked acreage goal), the Browns assuredly accept some play-makers who appearance up every week. Cleveland’s amateur are all a affection advance cat-and-mouse to arise (three overtimes so far) but they’re appealing entertaining, and the Browns are accordant afresh at .500 through the season’s aboriginal bristles weeks.
Baltimore played some bromidic abhorrent football all d long, and has now absent at Cincinnati and Cleveland, while acceptable at Pittsburgh, finishing their three analysis alley amateur by Anniversary 5. That’s not the accepted scenario, but aggregate about the AFC North seems a little altered this year.
The Ravens accept connected endemic the Browns, this time it was Baltimore who fabricated the key aberration and amount itself the game. Receiver Michael Crabtree abandoned a touchdown backward in regulation, and now the absolute AFC North is afar by aloof 1 1/2 amateur from top (4-1 Bengals) to basal (Browns and Steelers at 2-2-1).
* Remember aback the Bengals were the aggregation that didn’t apperceive how to aing out games? They’ve re-invented themselves on that front, registering yet addition win that came calm backward in the action. Cincinnati (4-1) is all abandoned in aboriginal abode in the AFC North, and while I’m not yet assertive the Bengals will break there all season, accord them acclaim for blind about in amateur until the course turns their way.
They accept baffled the Colts, Ravens, Falcons and now the Dolphins, and on Sunday it was a 24-0 fourth-quarter scoring bend that did in Miami — abandoned the additional time in authorization history they’ve had that big of a final-quarter bulge, according to ESPN. Afore this improvement win, the Bengals were 3-128 aback abaft by 14 or added credibility entering the fourth quarter.
Let Cincinnati win aing week’s home d adjoin Pittsburgh and this 2018 analysis will absolutely alpha demography on a able accent in the Queen City.
* If Denver football arbiter John Elway anticipation drillmaster Vance Joseph’s Broncos aggregation was “soft’’ aftermost season, what’s he cerebration about now? Denver aloof abandoned its third d in a row, and this time the Broncos (2-3) got steamrolled by the advanced 1-3 Jets, to the tune of 34-16. But that doesn’t activate to acquaint the accomplished story.
New York burst the once-proud Denver defense, cutting up 512 absolute yards, including a jaw-dropping 323 of them on the ground. Jets active aback Isaiah Crowell set a authorization one-game almanac for 219 yards rushing, on aloof 15 carries, and receiver Robby Anderson had a bald three catches for 123 yards. Be it on breach or appropriate teams, New York had plays of 77, 76, 54, 51, 38, 36 and 35 in the game.
The Broncos are a hot blend about now, and somehow accept to try and amount out how to stop the Rams’ high-octane breach aing anniversary at home in Denver. This analysis is starting to attending absolutely too accustomed for Broncos fans. It was a Anniversary 5 home accident to the added New York aggregation (the Giants) that beatific things ambagious bottomward aftermost year, with a 3-1 alpha abandoning into an eight-game accident streak. This time, the defeats are already axle up and you can bet the babble about Joseph actuality on the apprenticeship hot bench will accent in the canicule ahead.
Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold threw for three touchdowns admitting accepting aloof 10 completions in the game, and all this a anniversary afterwards the Jets accumulated 178 yards in a accident at Jacksonville.
The Jets opened a three-game home-stand Sunday and absorb the banged up Colts (1-4) aing week, followed by Minnesota into the Meadowlands. If New York can body on Sunday’s abhorrent fireworks, the Jets ability aloof be accordant this analysis afterwards all.
* As gut punches go, the Giants ability not balance from this one. Afterwards the d produced a alternation of frustrations for visiting New York, Pat Shurmur’s active aggregation assuredly looked to in position to win, up 31-30 with 1:08 actual at Carolina. Afresh the Panthers delivered the beauteous final highlight, a 63-yard Graham Gano acreage ambition as time expired, to win it and accelerate the addled Giants aback to New Jersey with addition demoralizing defeat.
Remember that 61-yard Jake Elliott acreage ambition that exhausted the Giants in Philadelphia in Anniversary 3 of aftermost year, ambience the accent for the absolute absent analysis in New York? This one was worse, way worse. The Giants were so aing to wiping abroad all the negatives produced by their base comedy throughout the d and the arguable ESPN account Odell Beckham Jr. gave the arrangement that aired Sunday morning. And afresh the accident brought all the questions about this aggregation back.
Beckham had an active and inconsistent game, but anguish up with a actual advantageous eight catches for 131 yards and a 33-yard scoring grab, his aboriginal of the season. He alike threw a appealing 57-yard touchdown canyon to amateur active aback Saquon Barkley, a comedy that jump-started the Giants breach and helped New York top 30-points for the aboriginal time aback the 2015 analysis afterpiece — a 37-game drought. All of that fabricated Beckham the aboriginal amateur in the Super Bowl era to log at atomic 130 yards receiving, with a touchdown catch, and at atomic 50 yards casual and a touchdown throw.
The last-place Giants (1-4) can’t wallow for long, because they get a appointment from the arresting Super Bowl best Eagles Thursday night. Admitting authoritative big changes aftermost offseason, New York’s mojo still stinks, and 2018 is in crisis of bouncing bottomward the cesspool any anniversary now.
* Gano’s cannon attempt from 63 yards, which angry the alliance almanac for the longest game-winner ever, had affluence of ambit and slipped aloof central the appropriate upright. A aggregation can never calculation on authoritative a bang in that situation, but aback it happens, the affecting lift in provides can achieve a huge aberration in the aftereffect of the analysis (see antecedent advertence to the 2017 Eagles and article Jake Elliott’s avowal in Anniversary 3 adjoin the Giants).
Carolina at 3-1 bare this win to break aing to New Orleans (3-1) in the NFC South. The Saints and Panthers arise to be the chic of the division, but they don’t accommodated until Weeks 15 and 17, and Carolina now faces four of its aing six amateur on the road, including trips to Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Detroit.
* The Titans had been acceptable animal this season, but Sunday’s aftereffect was aloof apparent ugly. Accepting won some amateur it apparently should accept lost, Tennessee approved activity in the added lane, accident a d it apparently should accept won — 13-12 in Buffalo.
The adventure could accept been a acceptable one already afresh if Titans receiver Nick Williams had been able to authority assimilate the easiest touchdown canyon he’ll anytime accept a adventitious to make, but this time Tennessee’s affection for authoritative the key plays at key moments bare it.
And to anticipate some Titans were afraid aftermost anniversary about not accepting abundant account at 3-1, with a three-game acceptable streak. That’s not a botheration now. Tennessee played bottomward to the akin of the Bills, and paid for it. With Jacksonville and the Titans both accident on the alley in Anniversary 5, maybe the AFC South isn’t activity to be absolutely as able as we presumed.
Thanks to a Bills aegis that affected three Tennessee turnovers, Buffalo won admitting accepting abandoned 82 yards casual from amateur quarterback Josh Allen, who was 10 of 19, with an interception. Allen did accept a 14-yard scoring run, his third hasty touchdown of the analysis to advice Buffalo (2-3) win for the additional time in three weeks.
* It acquainted like the Desperation Bowl was played in Pittsburgh, with the one-win Falcons demography on the one-win Steelers, aloof to see who’s analysis survived addition week. That would be Pittsburgh, who accomplished the crumbling Falcons 41-17, to abstain its aboriginal 0-3 home alpha aback 1986.
The Steelers at 2-2-1 can appropriately affirmation to accept regained their equilibrium, abnormally with Baltimore (3-2) accident at Cleveland and a Anniversary 6 alley date adjoin the first-place Bengals alms addition befalling to achieve up ground.
Pittsburgh’s breach was aback in anatomy and looks aloof accomplished with the asperous James Connor as its advance active back. He acquired 110 yards on 21 carries, bent four passes for 75 yards, and chipped in with a brace of touchdowns. And for at atomic one week, animated receiver Antonio Brown will be happy, aback he bent six passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.
As for Atlanta, the Falcons accept fabricated two trips to Pennsylvania in the season’s aboriginal bristles weeks and appear abroad losers both times. But afterwards the Anniversary 1 hard-fought defeat at the easily of Philadelphia, there was still the acceptance that Atlanta was elite. I’m not so abiding you can achieve the aforementioned case any more, with the Falcons accident by 24 to the Steelers and bottomward to 1-4 with their third afterwards loss.
* My preseason aces to win the Super Bowl isn’t attractive too adeptness about now. Green Bay is a hang-on-for-dear-life ride on a rollercoaster this year, and the ups and downs connected Sunday in Detroit, area the Packers absent 31-23 admitting bearing 521 yards offense.
Packers article Mason Crosby, one of the game’s best reliable legs, was the accessible culprit in this eight-point defeat. He somehow absent four acreage goals for the aboriginal time in his career, and additionally clanked an added point off the larboard upright, missing it. That’s 13 credibility Green Bay didn’t score, additional the Packers punt acknowledgment aggregation additionally had a about-face (maybe), ambience up a abbreviate Lions touchdown drive.
According to ESPN, Crosby was the aboriginal article to absence four acreage goals and an added point in the aforementioned d aback San Diego’s Rolf Benirschke in 1980. That’s a big acumen Detroit was able to body a 24-0 halftime lead, but the Green Bay accident was additionally contributed to by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who suffered a brace of band sacks.
As for the Lions (2-3), I anticipate I’ve ample them out. Aback Detroit amateur arch drillmaster Matt Patricia goes head-to-head with a Super Bowl-winning arch drillmaster this season, he wins (Bill Belichick and Mike McCarthy). Aback he doesn’t, he loses (to the Jets’ Todd Bowles, the 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan, and the Cowboys’ Jason Garrett). To put it addition way, the Lions aegis has baffled Tom Brady and Rodgers, and absent to Sam Darnold, Jimmy Garoppolo and Dak Prescott. Go figure.
* On a day aback so abounding defenses fabricated huge plays to advice their teams win, none were bigger — or added absorbing — than Vikings arresting accouterment Linval Joseph abiding a lix 64 yards to atom Minnesota’s 23-21 win at Philadelphia in a rematch of aftermost January’s NFC appellation game. For a big guy, Joseph runs like a little guy, extensive 18.2 afar per hour on his second-quarter return.
The Eagles and Viking accumulated had aloof six regular-season losses aftermost year, and they’ve already about akin that, with Minnesota at 2-2-1 and Philadelphia 2-3. But both clubs accept bound abstruse that accepting to the top and blockage at the top are two altered things. This abundant we apperceive already in 2018: Kirk Cousins was a abundant signing for Minnesota. He was 30 of 37 for 301 yards and a touchdown adjoin the Eagles, and that’s a far cry than Case Keenum managed in the NFC Championship.
If the Vikings abide to abiding themselves and go on to win the NFC North again, they may attending aback on their account win in Anniversary 5 as the moment the bleeding stopped. As for the Eagles, nobody’s activity to run abroad with the NFC East this season, so there’s still time for Philadelphia’s bend in aptitude to become the chief branch in the analysis race. But for a aggregation that won 16 out of the 19 times it took the acreage aftermost season, to accept three losses in aboriginal October apparently feels like a crisis.
* Sunday acquainted like the aftermost adventitious for anyone to absolutely claiming the Rams for supremacy in the NFC West this season, but the Seahawks couldn’t absolutely get it done, accident at home 33-31 to Los Angles. The Rams at 5-0 now advance the blow the blow of the analysis by three and four games, respectively, and that’s a appealing beggarly accomplishment to achieve afterwards aloof bristles weeks of the season.
Seattle (2-3) is a d advanced of Arizona and San Francisco (1-4), but accepting already absent their home d adjoin the Rams, it’s adamantine to brainstorm the Seahawks actuality anywhere a in position to t L.A. aback the rematch occurs in Anniversary 10 in the Coliseum. The Rams are arena for the No. 1 berry in the NFC and home-field advantage in the playoffs, and at the moment no one abroad in the NFC alike owns four wins, let abandoned five.
* That’s added like the Chargers aegis we accepted to see this season. Los Angeles (3-2) bound Oakland to aloof 289 yards and 10 points, affective into sole control of additional abode in the AFC West in the process. Afore Anniversary 5, the Chargers were surrendering 30 credibility per d on average, but the Raiders couldn’t do abundant of annihilation in their 26-10 accident to Los Angeles, which affected a brace of Oakland turnovers.
As expected, Raiders admirers fabricated the Chargers’ home amphitheater feel like a alley d already again, but Los Angeles got the aftermost beam in affairs two abounding amateur advanced of Oakland — the aggregation they already proposed administration a amphitheater with in Los Angeles.
Not abandoned is Jon Gruden’s club appealing bad at 1-4, it’s additionally appealing arid through bristles games. And things are activity to get worse in Oakland afore they get better.
* Congrats to Arizona and arch drillmaster Steve Wilks for notching that pressure-easing aboriginal victory, but how animal could things get in San Francisco this analysis afterwards the visiting Cardinals exhausted the 49ers 28-18 in a d that wasn’t as aing as the account indicates? The NFL is activity to angle some San Francisco amateur out of prime time and into the afternoon, you can calculation on that. With no Jimmy Garoppolo in the lineup, the 49ers are larboard with quarterback C.J. Beathard, who did not attending accessible for nationally televised amateur in throwing two interceptions, with two fumbles absent and four sacks.
The Arizona aegis accounted for best of the abundant lifting, but at atomic Cardinals amateur quarterback Josh Rosen took affliction of the ball, activity afterwards a about-face and demography aloof a distinct sack. His 10 of 25 casual achievement for 170 yards won’t be acceptable abundant to exhausted abounding teams, but it rendered him the best quarterback on the acreage Sunday in Santa Clara.
* Advancing off their Thursday-night home win over the Colts, attending for the aback revitalized Patriots (3-2) to achieve acceptable use of their mini-bye weekend, because it agency Bill Belichick and his agents will accept 10 canicule to adapt for a showdown with Kansas City and its almighty Patrick Mahomes-led breach aing Sunday night at Gillette Stadium. As for Indianapolis, the Colts aloof charge the added time to get healthy, afterwards arena in New England with a agenda that featured abandoned about 40 activity bodies by backward in the game. Indy has a amplitude of at the Jets, home adjoin Buffalo and at Oakland advancing up in their aing three weeks, afore its Anniversary 9 bye. Entering Sunday, the Jets, Bills and Raiders were all 1-3 teams, so befalling knocks for the 1-4 Colts to get their analysis aback on track.
Ridiculously Cool Football Agenda of the Anniversary
Okay, Josh Rosen, how’s your anatomy on the old jump pass? This is a 1958 Topps of Chicago Cardinals quarterback Lamar McHan, and answer to say they don’t achieve ‘em like this any more. The account of McHan airborne, with his casual arm artsy and accessible to deliver, while actuality adequate from abstract canyon rushers by two bearding Cardinals abhorrent linemen belongs in the Old-School Hall of Fame. Maybe for the face masks alone. On the aback of the card, the archetype reads: “McHan owns one of the best accomplished casting accoutrements in the NFL. Aftermost season, he ranked fifth in the alliance in advanced passing.’’ (Is there any added kind?)
I had never heard of McHan afore seeing this card, but it turns out afterwards bristles mostly characterless years with the Cardinals, he spent 1959-60 arena for Vince Lombardi’s aboriginal two Green Bay Packers teams, starting 11 amateur over those two seasons and administration arena time with Bart Starr. But McHan went to Baltimore in 1961, missing out on Green Bay’s dynastic run, which started that analysis and connected through 1967. This card’s photo is archetypal in a time-capsule array of way, assuming us a little allotment of what the NFL looked like 60 years ago.
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