We’re back, people. Your weekly look-around the NFL for the best performances, worst chokes, and most questionable prognostications. If I didn’t mention your team this week, no worries. Good, bad, or meh, I’ll be getting to everyone in due time.
1.Quarterbacks are dropping like flies
It’s been a tough few weeks for quarterbacks. Perhaps even tougher for fantasy owners. Even without jumping into Andrew Luck’s abrupt retirement, the first two weeks of the season have seen crushing injuries to Jacksonville’s Nick Foles (broken clavicle), New Orleans’ Drew Brees (thumb), the Jets’ Sam Darnold (mono) AND Trevor Siemian (ankle) and Pittsburgh’s Big Ben
(throwing elbow). Cam Newton clearly ain’t right and isn’t practicing this week. So much for the league being overly protective with passers…
2.OBJ is still electric
I give OBJ a lot of flack in these columns. Why? Because I think he’s got the potential to be an all-time great, but he hasn’t really shown us everything he has yet. Sure, the circus catches are cool, but that’s not what interests me. I’m interested in the moments where he fully engages his talents, like on Monday night’s 89-yard touchdown run on a near-perfect timing route in between two defenders. Beckham caught the ball in stride and went full “turbo” on the hapless Jets defense. He hit a max speed of over twenty-one miles per hour on the play. That’s the OBJ that the Browns need more of.
3.The Niners are for real?
Let’s backtrack for a second. The Niners are 2-0. But are they for real? TheNiners hung forty-one points on the hapless Bengals, and Matt Breida chewed them up to the tune of ten yards per carry. Jimmy G looked solid, throwing for just under 300 yards and three TDs to go with one INT. They also looked solid against a meh Tampa Bay team. So, what, exactly, do we know about this rebuild in Santa Clara? Nothing. They’ll play an adrift Steelers team without a quarterback in week three, then have a bye. After that, things get much more interesting. They’ll host the Browns and then go on the road against the Rams. After those two, we’ll have a much better idea of what the Niners might become. My guess is that the Niners are a middle of the road team that will win the games they should and lose the games that they should. Middle of the pack in the NFC West will be a big step forward.
4. The Giants are impatient
I mean, I know I said it would happen. I just didn’t think week three would be the time. After losing two games that they were always going to lose anyway, the Giants have benched Eli Manning for the second time in as many seasons, for doing exactly what Eli Manning does. After a rough outing against a tough Buffalo defense where he tossed two interceptions (hey, it’s Eli, it happens), Big Blue has decided that they’ve seen enough. But here’s the thing I’ve been screaming since last year. Eli isn’t the problem in New York. He’s exactly the same guy he’s always been. His numbers thus far this season fit in perfectly when held up against his career stats. New York has made any number of blunders AROUND Eli, including trading away OBJ for nowhere near his value. That’s on them. Now we’ll see if Jones can bring something new and electric to the table. With that roster, I have my doubts. Expect a lot of Saquon Barkley in the coming weeks. (That’s a fantasy tip, girls and boys)
5. Jalen Ramsey isn’t shy
After seeing Minkah Fitzpatrick get his wish in Miami and another scuffle with Doug Marrone, the Jags cornerback has asked for a trade. There’s little debate that Ramsey is a top-three corner in the NFL, but he won’t fit in every system. He’ll need to play man to man exclusively, and he hasn’t shown much flexibility when the Jags have asked him to play out of that scheme. Let’s put it this way, he ain’t headed for New England.
6. Pat Mahomes is headed for another MVP season
Remember how good Pat Mahomes was last season? Pretty good, right? Well, he’s off to an even better start this year. His completion percentage? Up from 66.5% to 71.4%. Yards per attempt? Up from 9.0 to 10.7. He’s on pace for 56 TD’s this season, down one from 2018, but he still hasn’t thrown an interception. If he gets better, we’re looking at one of the great statistical seasons of all time, especially if Tyreek Hill comes back.
7. Miami is the worst team in the league. Perhaps history
The Dolphins offloaded two of their best players in the last few weeks, parting ways with Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick. This leaves them with a slew of first round picks in 2020. It also leaves them very unlikely to even win a single game this year, though they do get to play the Jets twice. They’ve been outscored 102-10 in the first two games. Yes, you read that correctly. That’s the second-worst point differential in history through two games according to the Elias Sports Bureau. And both of those games were at home…Granted, one of those games was against New England, but still. It’s going to be a long year in South Beach.
8. Big Ben is probably done
I’ve been of the opinion, for a few years now, that Ben Roethlisberger’s career was artificially prolonged by the presence of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. With those two guys out of the building, I wasn’t sure he’d even come back this season. But now a rebuild will start in Pittsburgh in earnest. It’s unlikely at best that Big Ben will rehab that throwing elbow with eyes on a 2020 comeback. So, where do they go from here? They need help all over the field, but I’m shocked that they made a move to bring in Minkah Fitzpatrick. Maybe they see themselves as a middle of the round team, and Minkah is a proven commodity. But still, they aren’t one piece away and it seems like they are going to need that first-rounder to rebuild. Unless they are planning a fire sale. They can get some picks from a contender for Juju if they see the season slipping away (it is).
9. The Saints will be fine?
Call me crazy, but I don’t think that this injury to Drew Brees will torpedo the whole season for New Orleans. Assuming he can come back on schedule, they can still make a run. Why? Because they have one of the best backups in the game in Tedy Bridgewater. They also have a swiss army knife to keep defenses honest in Taysom Hill. They’re one and one, tied atop the NFC South and no one in the division has a positive point differential. They have six weeks until Brees comes back, with games against Seattle, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Chicago and Arizona. Assuming losses against the Seahawks, Cowboys and Bears, they have three winnable games left. Tampa Bay at home, Jacksonville on the road with who the heck knows at QB, and then Arizona. If they can pull off those three, they are four and four when Brees comes back. If that happens, they can still win the division, or make a run at the wild card.
10. The Bills look…good…maybe
It’s the middle of September and the Bills are 2-0. Does it matter? Not really. They’ve beaten up on the two other New York state teams, so they have that going for them. But considering that those two teams look likely to both pick in the top five in the next draft, we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. As always, the Bills need to concern themselves with one thing. Can they contend against New England? We’ll find out when they host Brady and company in week four in what might very well be a battle of two undefeated teams for sole possession of first place in the AFC East. Why? Because the Bills have the Bengals coming to town this week and they’ll have fun with that one.