Another week of NFL action brings more and more uncertainty.
25 of the 32 NFL teams have between three and five wins. What does that mean? It means that division are taking shape, but that shape is a blob at this point.
Of course, certain teams are looking ahead to next spring. The Browns suffered a tough loss in overtime, while the 49ers got smoked by the Cowboys after their bye. The Giants also lost again, and they are now 1-6 and imploding without help on offense.
Meanwhile, it’s still tough to figure out teams in the middle of the pack. Teams at 3-3 include Atlanta, Detroit, Washington, Denver, Houston, and Dallas. We certainly have thoughts on where each of these teams are headed, but we can’t completely be sure. In a year like this, things can turn around in a week.
Let’s sort through some of this madness and put it into a near-midseason bow.
The Wild West, Indeed
The AFC West is finally shaping up to be a big time battle over the next two and a half months. The Chiefs got out to a hot start, but they have dropped their last two games. The secondary is showing as a weakness and they are hitting a snag offensively (and settling for too many field goals). The Raiders, however, are back on the upswing with Derek Carr and the offense rolling. Hopefully, for their sake, Amari Cooper is back after his 11 catch, 210 yard, two touchdown performance. With an invigorated Jared Cook and Michael Crabtree added on, that offense should get rolling now. Even the Chargers have joined the party with three straight wins. Their blanking of Denver Sunday shows how good the defense can be. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are nightmares off of the edge. Casey Hayward is the glue for their secondary. The offense will be just fine as long as the weapons stay healthy. Denver, on the other hand, is on a downward spiral. The one thing that can keep them afloat is their defense. They only allowed 242 yards of offense to the Chargers. They will keep them in games, but the offense needs to step it up. With so many divisional games ahead, there could be three teams fighting for the division at season’s end.
The Eagles Continue To Fly
At the start, Monday night football didn’t look good for the Eagles. They committed four straight penalties and Carson Wentz threw a bomb that was picked just passed midfield. So, of course, they righted the ship and downed the Redskins 34-24. Carson Wentz was absolutely masterful. Two throws stood out. The first was his deep ball to Mack Hollins for a score. The way he stepped into that throw was fantastic, and the ball was right on the money. The next throw came in the possession after. Wentz found tight end Zach Ertz on a corner route with beautiful touch. Wentz is playing very well this year, and watching his development will be fun. The defense gets great pressure up front, and their secondary is holding up. Just imagine when they get Ronald Darby and Sidney Jones back.
The Celebration Contest Is Growing
Everyone is getting in on the celebration game in the NFL with the new rules allowing fun in the end zone. The latest one to impress comes courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers. After Big Ben found Juju Smith-Schuster wide open for a touchdown, the skill players gathered in the end zone. Smith-Schuster then closed his eyes while Le’Veon Bell hid behind the goal post padding. Smith-Schuster proceeded to find him and then chase him. A job well done. Keep it up.
Saints In Resurgence Mode
It’s about time to discuss how well the Saints are playing right now. Yes, they beat the Packers without Aaron Rodgers. However, they made Brett Hundley and the offense look worse than it really is. The secondary gave the Packers fits all day. If you haven’t recognized the work first round pick Marshon Lattimore is doing in the secondary, you need to take notice now. Also, the defensive line is finally helping out Cam Jordan. Alex Okafor is becoming a name to know off of the edge. By the way, the offense is just fine without Adrian Peterson. Also, Willie Snead still hasn’t played a snap. Watch out.
The Rams Are A Serious Threat
The Saints are expected to be contenders with Drew Brees at the helm. The Los Angeles Rams, however, were not supposed to be this good with a second year quarterback and a rookie head coach.
They continue to defy the odds. Their latest drubbing of the Cardinals puts them firmly in the playoff discussion, and, with how open things are, Super Bowl conversation. If the offense can continue to put up points and feed Todd Gurley, good things will happen. The defense under Wade Phillips is coming together as well. It’s a good time to be a Rams fan.
Young Quarterbacks Put NFL In Good Spot
Remember when the talk about quarterbacks centered around the idea that there weren’t good young quarterbacks who would come and take the place of the ones on their way out. Well, I think it’s safe to say the position will be just fine. Second year quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are emerging. Dak Prescott is still playing good football. Jameis Winston isn’t perfect, but he sure is fun to watch. Marcus Mariota is an extremely smart player. Derek Carr has the arm to make all the throws. We also can’t forget about what rookie DeShaun Watson has done so far in this league. Will all of them be elite and superstars? Probably not. But this list up here is enough, and another class is behind them.
Bottom Feeder Talk
This section is for the bottom teams that don’t have hope for a playoff spot. I’m looking at you Cleveland, San Fran, and New York(A. Or rather B for this season). Just for fun, and to avoid talking about some real awful football, let’s do a three round mock for each team.
- Round 1: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
- Round 1: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
- Round 2: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
- Round 2: Roquon Smith, LB, Georgia
- Round 2: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
- Round 3: Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
- Round 1: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
- Round 2: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
- Round 2: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
- Round 3: Will Hernandez, OL, UTEP
- Round 3: Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
- Round 1: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
- Round 2: Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
- Round 3: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
For explanations on these, this brings me to an announcement. I will be heading up an NFL Draft only site as a subset of Rotoden! Be sure to check it out here and find those explanations soon.
Jake Schyvinck covers the NFL, Illini Football, and the NFL Draft for The Sports Guys. Follow him on Twitter @JSchyvinck13.