The doubles are now behind us, and the relentless plod of the season begins. It feels like we just kicked off, but with 7 games spread across the first four weeks, the midway point of the season is just about upon us. It’s been a surprising and fantastic start for some (Seattle, Jacksonville, Cincinnati), a forgettable disaster for others (Houston, Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago), and exactly the walk in the park joyride we expected for still others (Buffalo, Detroit, NY Giants).
So what happened in the last of the doubles? And which teams fates are sealed as we hit football season flyover country? Glad you asked.
Game of the Week:
Buffalo Bills 221, Atlanta Falcons 157: This season has had some fantastic fantasy football games. Week 4 had none of them. This is literally the best one I could find. We didn’t have a single game this week where both teams broke 200, and only Buff vs. Atlanta and NYG over Tampa had two good teams with one scoring 200. Ouch. In any case, this one was the waxing we worried it might be. Julio Jones, hampered by injury, scored only 7 points, but even had he added another zero to his point total (as he is wont to do), it wouldn’t have mattered. The Bills picked up a cool 120 points on defense, led by Khalil Mack with 26, and Atlanta had only one player over 20 (the quarterback). The Bills are now sitting pretty with a three game lead in the East, while the Falcons are in a tailspin after dropping three straight.
Seattle Seahawks: How about dem Hawks? It’s pretty easy to dominate when you get 37 points from Bilal Powell, like the Seahawks did last week in a dual thumping of the Colts and Rams. Ezekiel Elliott is back on track (30), Russell Wilson is putting up points like he’s supposed to (26), Travis Kelce is the star tight end the Seahawks envisioned (27) and the offense put up a 150 point game. With the win over the Rams and a double loss by the Cardinals, the Seahawks are now 6-1 and have a two game lead in the AFC West, with the tiebreaker. The turnaround is here.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Look who just won’t go away? The Jaguars won the week with a 256 point total, which included, I kid you not, 164 points on defense. Besides slackers Kareem Jackson (4.5) and Jalen Ramsey (9), every person on the Jags defense hit double figures in a week that netted 6 turnovers, 6 sacks, 6 passes defensed, 3 stuffs, and a cool 62 tackles. After a pair of weeks under 200, the Jags are back in a big way, and in first place in the AFC South.
Kansas City Chiefs: Very quietly, the Chiefs are the other undefeated team in Real Deal. 7-0 and in first place in the West, the Chiefs have a top five offense, a top five defense, top 5 in total points, and the #2 QB in all of Real Deal, the Gunslingah himself, Alex Smith. The Chiefs now have a 270 point and a 240 point week to their name. Cue the inevitable thrashing this week at Houston.
Honorable Mention: Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants
Cleveland Browns: Well, that came apart rather quickly. Back to back weeks with 146 and 139 points yields four straight losses, a 1-5-1 record, and time to think about next work. On the docket, getting Mike Evans some help – Cleveland scored only 48 points on Sunday – 20 came from Evans. Jeremy Maclin, Marvin Jones, and Isaiah Crowell need to pick up the pace, or Cleveland is cruising towards a top 5 pick.
Atlanta Falcons: Speaking of coming apart quickly, the Falcons have got to be spinning around wondering what the hell just happened. Two weeks ago they were 3-0, in first place in the hardest division in football, and looking like absolute worldbeaters. After a 156 point dud where neither offense nor defense got over 75 points, the Falcons have dropped three straight games to fall to 4-3 and into their accustomed spot gazing up at the Panthers. Schedule has something to do with it, as the Falcons have faced both Buffalo and Detroit in those three games. Atlanta will be fine. But it would have been nice to have that dud on a single week.
Arizona Cardinals: This was NOT how Arizona envisioned their season. Not 3-4. Not in third place. Not three games behind a startlingly good Seahawks team, and CERTAINLY not putting a 132 point stinker in a double loss to San Francisco and Washington – they of the combined 0-12 record against everybody else. 47 points on offense, only four players on the team in double digits, and the dubious distinction of being the first team ever in RDFL history to lose to two teams with a 0 in the quarterback spot in the same week. Ouch. Week 4’s game against the Eagles is desperation city.
Honorable Mention: New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles
Games of the Week:
Arizona Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Two teams with playoff aspirations. Two teams with 3-4 records. Two teams with a combined 1-7 record in the past two weeks. Two games with three game deficits in their divisions. And two teams with a desperate chip on their shoulder. It’s go time. The winner of this week’s deathmatch gets back to .500 and respectability. The loser falls, in all probability, 4 games back in their division after 8 games and can essentially kiss the season goodbye.
Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Not so much a game as a scheduled whooping, this game nonetheless features a combined record of 12-2 and two distinct playoff hopefuls. That’s where the similarities end. Buffalo has scored more than 500 more points than Cincy, averaging ~75 more points per GAME. Buffalo has a top 3 offense and a top 3 defense. The Bengals are 15th and 16th respectively. TY Hilton is still without luck. I don’t know. I’m not going to try. It’s a game of the week in name, but I’m not sure I’d watch this one.
Detroit Lions vs. Carolina Panthers: This one? This one I’d watch. The 7-0 Super Bowl Champion Detroit Lions face the 6-1 Super Bowl Champion Carolina Panthers. This one has history, rivalry, and outstanding play. The stats say that the mighty Lions are the clear favorite. But Detroit is streaky. When they are good, they are 290 points invincible. Last week? Carolina would have won. And Carolina, the little team that could, always seems to find a way to win – even if it takes a stat correction of 7 hurries from a Monday game to do it. Detroit should win. But Carolina is spooky.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: An unexpected battle of division leaders, both teams are hotter than a bizarre combination of Zoolander and DeShaun Watson right now. The Steelers have gone 5-1 the last three weeks to reclaim the AFC North. Even better, Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell are getting back to their old selves. The Jaguars are using a ridiculous defense to go on the rampage. A win for Pittsburgh and the AFC looks the same as it ever was, with the Steelers way out in front of the North and the South a clumsy muddle. A win for Pittsburgh, and suddenly Jacksonville is legitimately scary.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams: Seattle vs. Arizona goes the common wisdom. The Cardinals will right the ship and it will go down to the last week in the season. The Los Angeles Rams, however, are in second place, and sit between the two NFC West bird squadrons. The Seahawks have been much better (1474 fantasy points to 1216) and have the much better offense (2nd in the league vs. 19th). And if Marcus Mariota doesn’t play… well, let’s just say there’s a reason we all subscribe to common wisdom. But that’s why they play the games. A win for Seattle combined with an Arizona loss and the Seahawks have officially ran away and hid. But a Rams win? We’re one game apart with an LA tiebreaker. I don’t think it happens. But stranger things certainly have.
Good luck this week everyone!