Thanksgiving is here, the NFL bye weeks are behind us, and the landscape of the NFL has changed a bit since the 2017 season opening kickoff. Every season has some teams that fall short of expectations, while others completely demolish where preseason predictions had them placed.
The Kansas City Chiefs not only started the season 5-0, they kicked off the 2017 season with a huge upset, beating the defending champs in Foxboro after the banner ceremony. Since that hot start, they’ve lost four of their last five, the most recent to the lowly New York Giants. The once-explosive offense has stalled in recent weeks. Fortunately for KC, the rest of their division dropped the ball.
The Atlanta Falcons seem to be suffering a classic Super Bowl hangover. Only they didn’t win the Super Bowl, so that stings even more. The Falcons’ high-powered attack from last season is a distant memory. After leading every notable passing statistic, Matt Ryan has stumbled back into his previous form. The worst part is that the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints are battling it out for the division and have left Atlanta behind.
But there have been great successes. The Philadelphia Eagles are on top of the NFC East by a mile. With Carson Wentz at the helm, their offense is ranked third overall in yards per game and they boast the NFL’s best rushing defense. Not bad for a team that many predicted “might” be a wildcard team. This success is not only making them tough to play, but it’s giving the entire NFC nightmares about playing a road playoff game in Philly. I’ll watch that game from home, thanks.
The top surprise of the season has been the Jacksonville Jaguars. Currently with the league’s finest rushing attack, the Jags are flat out punishing their opponents. In a passing league, the Jags have resorted to old school football, grinding away clock and setting the tempo. This is all possible because they’re the league’s best defense. Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are easily the scariest defensive back tandem in the league and are shutting down some of the NFL’s top offenses. They’re playing playoff-style football. This is team that can make some real noise in the postseason.
On to the ratings!
Moving On Up
The rookie runner out of Oklahoma has shown some flashes before, but he handled a heavier workload against the Saints. After 23 carries, he totaled 117 yards and more than five yards a carry. The Saints ended up winning, but it’ll be interesting to see what Perine can do if Washington keeps feeding him.
Kenny Stills is fast. He likely lit up somebody’s fantasy football bench, but he definitely torched the Tampa Bay secondary. With 180 yards, Stills had more yards than his previous three games combined. He’s always had the speed to deliver big plays, and he proved he still has it with this 61-yard TD.
The Vikings’ best player on offense was likely Adam Thielen on Sunday, but I think the one worth plugging is Latavius Murray. Sure, the Minnesota O-line provided excellent running lanes, but Murray ran with authority against a tough Los Angeles Rams defense. He still runs a little upright at times, but if Murray can provide some consistent ground game, then the Vikings could be the most complete team in the NFL.
Moving On Down
Smith did not have a good day following a bye week. He threw no TDs with two INTs, and averaged just 5.8 yards a pass. To top it off, the loss is to the Giants, who helped the 49ers get their first win. Not being explosive is one thing, but turning the ball over will always cost you close games. Smith and KC need to right their ship quick.
Going into the game against Philly, all signs pointed to Prescott airing it out all day. That didn’t go so well. Prescott threw no TDs, had 3 INTs. and lost a fumble. His QB rating of 30.4 was by far the worst of the season. Until they can establish a ground game without Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys are looking at a painful end to the season.
Remember last week when the Bills decided they were going to start Peterman over Tyrod Taylor? That was cute. It was nice to watch Peterman do his best impression of Brian Hoyer in the playoffs, but it was an absolute disaster for the Bills. Peterman completed just six passes, for 66 yards with five INTs —all in the first half.
- Daniel Williams