There’s so much to get to from a Sunday of amazing 1 p.m. finishes, very little drama in the 4 p.m. games, and a Sunday night contest that completely lived up to the hype.
Also, no controversial roughing the passer calls. Progress!
The Rams deserve to be the league’s lone unbeaten team
I know it feels a little like there’s been some, well, slippage by the Los Angeles Rams because of their recent results. They won their first three games by a combined 67 points, and since then have won three one-possession games by a combined 12 points. But that’s a bit deceiving.
The Broncos trailed by double-digits almost the entire game Sunday. The week prior, on the two occasions the Rams fell behind the Seahawks by a touchdown, they responded with long touchdown drives both times. If anything, with the way the NFL offensive explosion is negating practically all NFL defensive structure and expectations, Rams supporters should be emboldened because they are winning the close games. Last year, the Eagles won three games by five points or fewer between Sept. 24 and Oct. 12, and then started blowing teams out.
The Rams aren’t going 16-0, but I’d be disappointed if they won fewer than 13 games.
The Chiefs proved they belonged with the big boys
There’s nothing, nor will there probably be, anything quite like the Patriots’ run of dominance. Yet, time after time, we’ve seen young quarterbacks and young talented teams look to take their shots at the dynasty and fall well short.
I’ve got names of three quarterbacks who can claim some degree of sustained success against the Patriots. Eli Manning and the Giants in two Super Bowls that easily could have had the opposite result. Peyton Manning, especially in Denver with superior teams and home advantage. Even when Manning was so obviously physically inferior to Brady by the 2016 AFC Championship Game, Manning would not make the big mistake, or barely any at all. And then there’s Joe Flacco and the Ravens. Flacco won two playoff games in Foxboro, and both were utter dismantlings, while they lost a heartbreaking 23-20 AFC Championship game, which got New England to that second Super Bowl defeat against the Giants.
But after being down 24-9 at the half, it would have been so understandable for the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes to shrug their collective shoulders and go quietly into the crisp Massachusetts night, and live to fight again in January. They did anything but, and Mahomes was nothing short of fantastic, especially on third down in the second half. Really impressive. I think there’s only four teams that can play in the AFC title game: Patriots, Chiefs, Ravens or Chargers.
Brady sets a QB wins standard that isn’t getting enough discussion
Two hundred regular-season wins for a quarterback with the same team. That’s TWENTY 10-6 seasons, and Brady didn’t play his rookie season and collected no wins when he was injured for basically all of 2008.
Brett Favre is second with 160 victories as Packers quarterback, but split 26 wins over three seasons with the Vikings and Jets. Peyton Manning won 141 games with the Colts, but suffered through a 3-13 season and then a 6-10 season in his fourth year. Remember, he didn’t win a playoff game until he was 27; Brady had won 14 of them by the same age. There’s no chance Carson Wentz or Mahomes is even flirting with 200 regular-season wins in the same uniform. It’s so incredible, you can barely contemplate it.
The Bears may greatly regret that Miami defeat
Two or three NFC teams are probably going to miss the post-season by a game, maybe even a half-game given the Vikings and Packers both own a tie. But Chicago was set up for success on Sunday. A stumbling Dolphins team coming off two awful losses, an injured Ryan Tannehill unable to go at quarterback, and a Bears quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky tallying nine touchdown passes combined in the prior two weeks.
So, what happened? The Bears missed 19 tackles, per Pro Football Focus, and even with opportunities to be aggressive, the Bears lacked the gumption to do so. They ran the football out of a shotgun formation four straight times in overtime, and appeared to settle for a 52-yard field goal attempt when it was clear the Dolphins defence looked demoralized and exhausted. The kick missed and Miami took some great field position, moved the football a mere 28 yards, and won the game.
Chicago faces the Patriots this Sunday. That loss in Miami could haunt them.
You can’t go “full Peterman” again, can you?
It’s not going to happen, is it? Well, Josh Allen can’t play this week, and maybe for the next several, as Bills quarterback, so it’s either the recently acquired vet Derek Anderson, or, yeah, even more Nathan Peterman starts.
Peterman has thrown 30 passes this season in two games, and four have been intercepted, with another few bouncing off the chests off opposing defensive backs. If he is called upon, at the least, this week’s potential carnage won’t come in front of Bills fans, unless they travel to Indianapolis. Eventually though, the Bills have to play at home again.
No one has yet explained why they signed A.J. McCarron only to flip him to the Raiders for a fifth-round pick. He’d have played a lot for this Bills team that wanted to fully insulate Allen from poor results and snap judgments, which the organization has now failed to do.