If last week was the story of close games and parity, this week was the story of two dominant teams that absolutely look like the Super Bowl favorites we thought they were.
The defending champion Detroit Lions went up against two undefeated teams in Atlanta and Cincinnati – and obliterated them both. Detroit scored 290 points behind 41 points from Todd Gurley (Detroit draft pick), 38 points from Brandin Cooks (Detroit draft pick), 22 points from Tyreek Hill (Detroit draft pick), 26 points from Darius Slay (original franchise), 25 from Glover Quin (original franchise), and 19 points from Adoree Jackson (Detroit draft pick). The Lions would have gone over 300 points had Jackson’s TD return not been called back. Oh. And they beat their undefeated opponents by a cool 183 points.
Not to be outdone, the Buffalo Bills dropped a 298.25 outing on New England and Denver, missing the 300 point mark by a single Anthony Brown tackle. The Bills did it by a well rounded effort – literally 10/20 players scored between 17 and 32 points. Led by, you guessed it, AJ Mother #($&)#(*$ Green (Trade), and supported by Doug Baldwin (Trade), Devonta Freeman (Trade), Rob Gronkowski (Trade), and Tyrod Taylor (Trade). I suspect some of the defensive guys were also trades, but I haven’t done the legwork.
The moral of the story is crystal clear, and twofold.
- Detroit and Buffalo are insanely good and the clear favorites to meet in the Super Bowl
- DON’T trade Detroit draft picks, and DON’T trade Buffalo players. If you do, you’re a bad person and contributing to the decline of society.
This has been your public service announcement from the competition committee 🙂
Games of the Week:
Atlanta Falcons 239, New Orleans Saints 220: Playoff teams, high scoring, tight games. The Falcons may have lost an impossible game to Detroit, but they did play exceptionally well and needed it to hold off a game New Orleans team and retain control of the NFC South at 4-1. The Falcons got an enormous 38 point burst from Chris Thompson, of all people, and a 19 point game from their kicker to overcome rough games from Jay Ajayi and Kelvin Benjamin. The Saints kept it close via a pair of interceptions from newly acquired Terrance Mitchell, but were undone by a brutal injury to Darren Sproles, a couple of near misses on deep bombs from JJ Nelson, and a strong performance on Monday night from Carson Palmer.
Seattle Seahawks 229, Tennessee Titans 220: This one is simple. A combined 80 points from Russell Wilson and Sterling Shepherd give the Seahawks the victory by the narrowest of margins over AFC contender Tennessee. The Titans got a strong (114 point) defensive game, and had to be feeling gratified as Odell Beckham finally broke out (29 points) and recently acquired Case Keenum justified his acquisition costs with 34 points. The end was brutal, however, as a Giants receiver not named Odell Beckham took a 77 yard score to the house to provide the difference. That’s a rough situation for a Giants fan who also owns the OTHER Giants receiver.
On the Rise:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Every year, we predict the Buccaneers are going to be in the mix. Every year they struggle out of the gate as Carolina, Atlanta, and New Orleans distance themselves… Wait… what’s that you say? Not this year? Not this year. The Bucs just quietly scored 218 points to knock off divisional rival Carolina by 5 and the upstart Vikings by 25. Suddenly Tampa Bay is tied with Atlanta at 4-1 and feeling serious confidence in a disruptive Defense that just dropped 155 points in a well balanced effort where no single player scored less than 8 points and Jadeveon Clowney (finally!) went off for 31. The offense is in rough shape. But if that defense can keep on playing…
Pittsburgh Steelers: What a difference a week makes in Steel City. The Steelers finally found their mojo in week 3, and just in time to go 2-0, knock off the scuffling Houston Texans, and move back into their accustomed position in first place. Same as it ever was. How did it happen? Well, Le’Veon Bell finally showed up, Kenny Britt finally caught a pass, and DeForest Buckner finally made a play. The scary part is that Pittsburgh still only got mediocre games from guys like Ben Roethlisberger and Jarvis Landry. This thing might be on a steady climb.
New York Jets: My my my. One week after being competitive and coming away with nothing to show for it, the Jets got back on the horse and delivered the first multi-win week in FRANCHISE HISTORY. They are now 3-2 and are solidly ensconced in 2nd place in the East. Yes, their opponents in week 3 have a combined 2-8 record. Yes, it was literally ALL from Stefon Diggs (46 points) and DeMario Davis (26). And yes they only scored 172 points. But 2-0! J-E-T-S!
Indianapolis Colts: Gotta go one extra here and give a shout out to Indy, who pulled out a 2-0 week with strong wins over both Cleveland and Baltimore. After a brutal week one offensive performance, the Colts have moved up to a respectable mid-60s offense in both weeks 2 and 3, and investments in guys like Alvin Kamara and Bruce Ellington appear to be paying dividends. It’s probably too much to ask for Indy to climb back into the mix, but a 2-0 week restores the Colts to the ranks of the respectable.
Honorable Mentions: Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks
Carolina Panthers: What just happened? The 2-1 Panthers were engaged in a pair of close games with divisional rivals Tampa Bay and New Orleans as the Falcons were getting smashed by Detroit. This is Carolina. The result was an inevitable pair of victories which leave them at 4-1, tied for first, and bringing their intimidating moxie to bear against upstart Atlanta. But something happened. Instead of a huge push from DeMarcus Lawrence putting them over the top, it fell just short on Monday night, and the Panthers lost both divisional games by 5 and 7 points respectively. Cam is struggling, the offensive depth isn’t quite there, and the Panthers are suddenly 2-3 and last place. What is going on?
Houston Texans: Speaking of “what is going on”, the Texans have to feel totally shell-shocked. A trendy Super Bowl pick at the beginning of the year, the Texans have scuffled to a 1-4 start, obviously suffering from a Super Bowl hangover. It’s not disaster from any one player, it’s lethargy across the whole roster. The highest individual performance was 15.5 points in week 3, and no offensive player even reached 15. Trevor Siemian is hit or miss, Lamar Miller is mostly getting hit, and the big games of old just aren’t coming. There’s still plenty of time, but with Jacksonville and Tennessee in the last double, Houston needs to get right soon.
The rest of the AFC North: We’ve already talked about Pittsburgh. While the Steelers were rocketing back up the standings, the rest of the league was… struggling. Cleveland, Baltimore, and Cincinnati went a combined 0-6. Cincy fell from the ranks of the unbeaten, scoring only 167 points in twin losses to Detroit and Green Bay. Cleveland also dropped a pair, scoring only 146 in rough losses to Indy (now with an offense!) and Chicago. And not to be outdone, the to point strong Ravens laid a 119 point egg and got crushed by the Colts. Mercy. Three teams who had playoff aspirations from the best division in football just combined to average 144 points a piece. Blech. We’ll see if this fixes itself or not.
Dishonorable Mentions: Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers (attaway, commish squad!)
Week 4 Games of the Week: One more double!
Atlanta Falcons vs. Buffalo Bills: Atlanta scored 240 points and got a loss against the undefeated juggernauts of the NFC, the Detroit Lions, and a strong win against Divisional rival Atlanta. Their reward? A game against the undefeated juggernauts of the AFC, the Buffalo Bills, and a tough game against divisional rival Tampa Bay. No rest for the weary. The Falcons do need Julio Jones to go off to a 70 point tune to have a chance in this one. Buffalo has looked like a different team since week 1, following up a clunky 179 point opener with 264 and 298. Scary.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The upstarts of the AFC South, both sitting pretty at 4-1. That’s sort of where the comparison ends, though, as Atlanta has outscored Tampa Bay by 250 points thus far (50 points per game), and has the #2 point total in the league. Unless Tampa finds its offense real fast (currently 31st in RDFL), Atlanta is going to be alone in first place, even with a potential loss to Buffalo.
New York Giants vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Here’s why. The Bucs don’t just get the Falcons, they also get the Giants, who are quietly turning in their own superb season, going 4-1 and turning in a cool #3 in fantasy points scored. And now they have a Rivers. This could get bad.
Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders: Don’t look now, but Denver is 3-2, just went over 200 points, and now has a Manning who now has a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. Initial predictions had Oakland in the driver’s seat in the AFC West, but the Raiders are a Dez Bryant struggle inch on Monday night away from a loss to Washington and a 1-4 record, while the Broncos are at 3-2 and suddenly look pretty competitive. We shall see.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams: I had to do a double check, but you know who else besides the Jets is 3-2 that is never 3-2? The LA Rams. They haven’t played all that well, and lack everything but a quarterback, but they have shots at Seattle and Dallas this week, and a good week could have them at 5-2. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are sitting at 4-1 with games against Indy and the Rams. They’d better win both, though, because the Arizona Cardinals are lurking with games against Washington and San Francisco – the league’s only two winless teams.
Good luck this week, everyone! Enjoy the last double until week 12!