Written by Stephen Brown III
Even though COVID outbreaks have shaken up the schedule and byes started this week, there was still a lot of football this weekend. So, let’s look at what those teams did to help or hurt their playoff push.
1. The Bills struggled against a good team
The Bills started off red hot, racking up wins against the Dolphins, Jets, Rams, and Raiders. Even though the Bills were rolling and Josh Allen was playing like an MVP, some were skeptical due to the competition they were playing. Their defense struggled against some lackluster offenses and while their offense was red hot, they played some lackluster defenses. The Titans were the best defense they played so far this year and they shut the Bills down. The Bills could’ve just had a bad game, especially considering how messed up the schedule became because of the Titans. We’ll truly see how good the Bills are, as four of their next five games are against the Chiefs, Patriots, Seahawks, and Cardinals.
2. Are the Bears contenders or are the Bucs pretenders?
The Bears completed their third double-digit comeback this year, coming back from 13 down to beat the Buccaneers 20-19. Nick Foles looked terrible to start but had a couple hot streaks that were enough to squeak out a victory. Many thought the Bears were pretenders coming into the game. However, a win against many people’s preseason Super Bowl pick should go a long way in helping the public’s perception of the Bears. As for the Buccs, despite being 3-2, their offense hasn’t looked great. They have yet to look consistently great in any game this year. At some point, maybe we need to accept that this Buccs offense isn’t good enough to carry this team to the promise land.
3. The Browns continue to roll
As long as the Browns keep winning, I’m going to keep writing about them. It’s hard to believe it but this team might actually be good. The Browns have had decent talent on their roster for the last few years. It goes to show that Hue Jackson and Freddie Kitchens might just be the worst coaches in NFL history. Every aspect of the offense looks good (including OBJ finally getting going). If the offense keeps rolling and the defense keeps doing their part, this team could make a run for the division. A matchup against the Steelers next week should really show us if this is the case.
4. The Texans finally win
The Texans first game post-Bill O’Brien resulted in a win. Granted, it was against the Jaguars, but it still counts. Deshaun Watson looked solid, throwing for 359 yards and 3 TDs. Brandin Cooks went off as well. This team, while 1-4, still has a chance to make a playoff run. It’ll be a long shot, but if they keep letting Watson cook, anything is possible.
5. Leveon Bell has been released by the Jets
After missing a few games, Leveon came back and had 13 carries for 60 yards. And then the Jets released him. While Leveon hasn’t been great, he was the least of the Jets’ worries. And the fact that Adam Gase survived longer than Bell is a testament to how poorly run this organization is. Although if the Jets keep losing, Gase might be next on the list of people cut.
6. The Panthers might be a playoff team
Everywhere that Matt Rhule has been, he’s won. He turned around Temple. He turned around Baylor. And now, he’s taken the Panthers, who many thought would be in the running for Trevor Lawrence, and turned them into a 3-2 fringe playoff team. And those three wins came with the NFL’s best running back, Christian McCaffery, sidelined with an ankle injury. Teddy Two Gloves looks like his old self: a game manager who can make plays when he needs to. Robby Anderson is having a breakout year and Mike Davis has been excellent filling in for CMC. Rhule and OC Joe Brady have this team on the right path. And with the Saints and Buccs looking iffy, this team could make a run at the division (if not this year, then definitely next).
7. The 49ers are the worst team in the NFC West
I wrote before the season that the Niners could see a first to worst situation play out because of the strength of their division. Five weeks in and they are in last place and look lost on both sides of the ball. Jimmy G looked like the worst QB in football before being replaced at halftime. The defense made Fitzmagic look like the best QB in football, surrendering 350 yards and 3 TDs to the Bearded Wonder and 43 points to the Dolphins. With all the injuries and the strength of this division, the Niners likely won’t be heading back to the playoffs this year. But hey, if they are bad enough, maybe they can make a move and get Trevor Lawrence because even though he was coming off an injury, Jimmy G is not the answer if that team wants to win a title.