Week 9 in the NFL comes around and we all come rushing in with overreactions once again, but are the Chiefs unstoppable and are the Dolphins a contender?
They may not be unbeaten this year, but Patrick Mahomes and co have now won 17 of their last 18 games! That includes last year’s Super Bowl, which is exactly why I’m still labelling them as the team to beat. A high-octane offence and a turnover-happy defence are a great combination in the NFL and, with an improved running game this year, the sky really is the limit. Time and again, including last year’s playoff run, they have shown that you simply can’t count them out of a game. When they aren’t leading from the front, they’re mounting ridiculous comebacks. What’s not to love?
Obviously, a loss against their division rival Las Vegas Raiders isn’t ideal. Jon Gruden appeared to have the Chiefs’ number on both sides of the ball, and on this occasion, Mahomes just couldn’t come back. This might be an anomaly, but their close game this past weekend against the Panthers showed that they are not invincible. A tough revenge game against the Raiders, as well as matchups with the Buccaneers and Saints, will test Andy Reid’s side before the playoffs.
Dolphins a Playoff Contender?
It seemed unthinkable a year ago, and yet here we are. The Dolphins are on a four-game winning streak, their defence and special teams are making plays, and their rookie QB looked fantastic against the Cardinals last Sunday. There is a lot to love about Miami at the moment. In a season that was supposed to be another building year, the Dolphins find themselves right in the playoff hunt.
Bear in mind as well that Miami hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016 when a Matt Moore led offence were brushed aside 30-12 by the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the Bills leading the way in the AFC East, the Dolphins would more than likely be looking at a wild card spot. With 3 wild card teams this year, there is more of a chance of making the postseason. Whether they make the playoffs or not, there is a lot to feel hopeful for in the Sunshine State.
Can Daniel Jones Play Washington Every Week?
Here’s a stat for you: the Giants former first-round QB is now 4-0 against the Washington Football Team. The catch? He is 1-16 against all other teams. Eli Manning’s successor has struggled to win games. Some of this can be attributed to defence and O-line struggles, not to mention Saquon Barkley’s recent injury woes. However, Jones has had major fumbling issues through his first two seasons, combined with a lack of touchdowns this year in particular.
In truth, if it wasn’t for Washington the call might already be coming for Jones to be benched. His only other win was in an impressive performance against Tampa Bay at the beginning of last season. In that game, Jones reached heights that he has rarely managed since. If he doesn’t start winning soon, the Giants might be tempted to look for his replacement in the upcoming draft.
Still More QB Benchings to Come? (Week 3)
In week 3, I talked about a whole host of quarterbacks who were in danger of being benched by their franchises. Dwayne Haskins was replaced by Kyle Allen for the Washington Football Team, who has now been replaced because of injury by Alex Smith. Jimmy Garoppolo was replaced, again largely because of injury, by Nick Mullens for the 49ers. CJ Beathard even had to come off the bench for San Francisco.
It is unlikely to stop there. A combination of Covid, injury, and poor play has led to a bit of a QB carousel in the NFL. Rumour had it that Luton was going to replace Minshew for the Jaguars even before a thumb injury ruled the moustachioed QB out. The Dallas Cowboys have started four quarterbacks this year, including current starter Garrett Gilbert. A potential benching I anticipated earlier this season could still be possible if poor form continues. With a 2nd round QB sitting on the bench, the turnover-happy Carson Wentz can’t have many chances left before Jalen Hurts gets his shot.
Panthers Not There Yet (Week 5)
In week 5, I said the Carolina Panthers were fur real. Alas, I may have jumped the gun on that one. It’s not that they aren’t good. Only this past week they almost knocked off the reigning Super Bowl champions. But ‘almost’ is the issue. Similar to Justin Herbert and the LA Chargers, nearly gets you nothing. Sure you’re competing, but putting wins in the win column is always more important.
The positive aspect is that the Panthers have something to build on. The Teddy Bridgewater experiment has paid off in a big way, their wide receivers look electric, and their young defence is improving every week. To compete the way they have done so far, particularly without Christian McCaffrey for the vast majority of those games, is admirable. I’m not saying that the Panthers can’t finish strong and make a playoff push, I’m just saying that, at 3-6, it’s highly unlikely.
Tua + Herbert Light It Up! (Week 1)
In week 1 I called for Tua and Herbert to be started as soon as possible. Clearly, someone listened. Justin Herbert makes the Chargers offence much more dynamic. Even without Austin Ekeler, Herbert has been able to move the ball downfield consistently with excellent mobility and great arm strength. I don’t think Tyrod Taylor will be getting back on the field any time soon.
It took Miami a little bit longer to let Tua loose. They decided to keep their rookie first-rounder on the bench until their bye week, presumably to give him more time to prepare. It seems to have worked a treat. Tua struggled in his first start for the Dolphins against the Rams, but he lit it up against the Cardinals. 248 yards and 2 touchdowns, as well as 35 rushing yards, were enough to earn Tua his 2nd win in as many games. This incredible rookie QB class continues to amaze.
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