NFL takeaways: Rams are great, but a deceiving 8-0


Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley runs for a touchdown during the second half against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Denis Poroy/AP)

I love a good Trade Deadline Day!

What we’re not used to is it actually happening in the NFL. The smartest move the league ever made was moving it back a couple weeks, because no one wants to wave the white flag on a season five or six games in. But eight games? You can sell that a bit more to your fans, especially those who craft draft picks.

Significant moves by Philadelphia to get Golden Tate and Houston to get Demaryius Thomas proved that big-time receivers are more valued than ever.

More on that in the Week 8/NFL trade deadline takeaways:

Some of us tried to warn you about Kirk Cousins

I’ve heard it the last several months: “What else were the Vikings supposed to do?”

Look, Cousins is nice, but he’s showing you right now and sure did Sunday night that in big moments and the clear occasions where you can’t afford a large mistake, he may make it, and when you need a huge play, he might not be one of the best 12 to 14 quarterbacks on the planet to count on to get it for you.

Would I have signed him if I was the Vikings? No, and I’ve never wavered on that. I wanted to see more of Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota, and yes, I’ll say it, if you have a brief window to be fantastic, with a lot of talented and skilled players on inexpensive contracts, Alex Smith – yes, he of Cousins’ former team – might just intrigue me more in a shorter time period. Maybe two years, let’s say.

Cousins is second in the league – behind only Patrick Mahomes – in passing yards, and yet he’s 11th in total QBR, which is adjusted based on the opponents you play. The rudimentary statistics like passing yards and completion percentage are telling us little about the difference between good and great quarterbacks. I’m not betting on Cousins taking the Vikings where their roster would be taken by the other 30 to 40 per cent of starting QBs in the league.

The Rams are great, but a deceiving 8-0

Sean McVay might be the most important head coach in all of North American team sports right now, but it also might be covering up some limitations the unbeaten Rams have. I’m impressed the Rams are winning tight games, but that is telling me it’s as much about strategy and tactics as it is talent.

Four of their last five wins have been by a touchdown or less. Three of those four games have seen the opponent score at least 27 points. Are they being carried by the league’s best defensive player in Aaron Donald, and maybe the league’s best offensive player in Todd Gurley? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s frightening to think where they’d be if either got injured.

Green Bay looks directionless

I’m less concerned about the Packers trading Ty Montgomery, versatile as he may have been, as I am with dealing of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

The Packers have made drafting defensive talent an emphasis these last several years to limit the amount of high-scoring shootouts Aaron Rodgers is forced to engage in. Clinton-Dix is the only Pro Bowler of the last seven first-round picks by the Pack. Add this to trading safety Damarious Randall to Cleveland in the off-season, and you couldn’t blame Rodgers in the least for wondering how “all-in” the Packers really are.

A lot of other contenders bought, and Green Bay decided to sell. It’s not a good sign.

More importantly, what was Rodgers’ rush to sign up for a bunch more years of wondering whether the Packers are a true contender?

Andrew Luck is back

The big reason the media and fans didn’t keep pecking at Colts head coach Frank Reich about his fourth-down OT gamble against the Texans, which resulted in a 37-34 loss, is many didn’t think it could potentially cost Indy a playoff spot.

Well, what if it does? Sure, Indy has pounded two punching bags in the Bills and Raiders these past two weekends, but they have a schedule the next four games that includes the reeling Jaguars (twice), and home games against the Titans and Dolphins. Do you smell a 5-3 Colts team.

If they get there, it’ll be because of Luck, but also the fact they now have a running game, and he’s become one of the least-pressured quarterbacks in the NFL, and it seems to have happened overnight.

I love division rivals playing late into the season

The NFC East and NFC South have got it going on, given we have Week 17 matchups between Washington and Philadelphia, and Carolina and New Orleans.

Not only that, the first Eagles-Washington game doesn’t happen until Dec. 3, and Round 1 of Saints-Panthers isn’t until Dec. 17.

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