The Day-Before-Preview of the Initial College Football Playoff Rankings

With the first College Football Playoff Rankings due out Tuesday evening, here’s what we could expect to see — although these are not designed to be a prediction of any sort. These rankings are simply my thoughts based on what has transpired to this point in the college football season.

1. Alabama (8-0)

Nick Saban’s team looks like the total package week-in and week-out. With teams falling around them, the Tide just keeps the pedal to the floor. Doesn’t hurt when you have the top-ranked rush defense and the number 1 scoring defense in the land.

2. Georgia (8-0)

With each passing week, we get closer and closer to a #1 versus #2 battle for the SEC title in Alabama and Georgia. The Bulldogs defense has been exceptional, but their redzone offense is as efficient as it can be — 31 trips in their opponents’ 20-yard line and 31 times they’ve cashed in (25 TDs and 6 field goals).

3. Notre Dame (7-1)

No team seems better at beating ranked teams than the Irish. And they’re doing it handily. A few reasons could be their ability to run the ball and play stellar defense. Notre Dame ranks 6th in the nation in rushing while their defense is ranked in the top 10 in scoring. Turnovers are another big factor with the Golden Domers — 7th in the country in turnover differential.

4. Ohio State (7-1)

What a comeback against Penn State. You wouldn’t think much good could be said about the Buckeye defense after giving up 38 in that Big Ten showdown; but they made big stops when they needed to and corralled Saquon Barkley about as good as any team can hope to. J.T. Barrett thrust himself into the Heisman conversation with a remarkable performance.

5. Penn State (7-1)

It might be tough for Penn State (and their fans, mostly) to get over that loss to OSU. It looked like the game was in hand on a number of occasions, late. How the Nittany Lions respond will say a lot about what kind of team this is, as we inch closer to the Big Ten Championship. No rest for the weary — Michigan State is up next on the schedule. And despite their loss at Northwestern, head coach Mark Dantonio will have the Spartans relishing their role as the underdog on Saturday.

6. Clemson (7-1)

A methodical victory over Georgia Tech in primetime was just what the Tigers needed after they got tripped up 2 weeks earlier at Syracuse. While everyone talks about their offense and quarterback Kelly Bryant, it’s the Clemson defense that leads the nation in sacks.

7. Wisconsin (8-0)

We can knock Wisconsin all we like because of their weak schedule. They’re 8-0 but haven’t played a single team with a winning record. Hey, they can’t control that, I know. But it’s fair to ask how the Badgers would stack up against a formidable opponent. By the looks of the rest of their schedule, that really isn’t happening until they go to Indy for the Big Ten Championship Game against OSU or Penn St. Until then, Wisconsin just keeps playing Wisconsin football — top 10 in the country in redzone defense, second overall in time of possession, and first in 3rd down efficiency.

8. Miami (7-0)

A lot like Wisconsin, the Hurricanes will need to start beating teams with a pulse for people to start really taking them seriously. And that begins this weekend as they host Virginia Tech. If that’s not enough, the ‘Canes get the Fighting Irish in South Florida the following weekend. After those two games, Miami will either be in the top 5 or they’ll be out of the top 10 altogether. A couple of “Prove It” games upcoming.

9. Iowa State (6-2)

The Cyclones have, arguably, been the hottest team in college football over the past month with top-5 wins over Oklahoma and TCU coupled with dominating performances against Kansas and Texas Tech. It’d be easy to say ISU is just a flash in the pan and will fizzle out before December, but they play smart, efficient football — they’re the 5th least penalized team in the nation and they are 8th in turnover margin. Create turnovers and don’t shoot yourself in the foot is a classic formula for winning football games.

10. Oklahoma (7-1)

With the TCU loss, Oklahoma could catapult themselves back into playoff talk, but it won’t be easy. Baker Mayfield mans the most efficient passing offense in the country, but the Sooners will need a balanced attack to claw back into the top 4. It starts this Saturday in Stillwater with Bedlam.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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College Football Power Rankings #2

With one more weekend of games until the first official College Football Playoff Rankings come out, let’s play around with what the top-10 looks like right now.

1. Alabama (previously 1)

A dominating win over Tennessee last week is just par for the course for Alabama. Nick Saban has the Tide systematically destroying opponents. The gap between ‘Bama and the rest of college football looks wider than it’s ever been.

2. Penn State (previously 2)

A dominating win over Michigan served more as revenge for the 49-10 defeat in 2016 to the Wolverines — it didn’t prove much else. We know PSU is good, and a beat down of U-M doesn’t really prove too much. However, trip to the Shoe against a game Ohio State team? Now, that’s a test.

3. TCU (previously 3)

TCU is just quietly taking opponents apart so far this season. This is a team most-equipped to win the Big-12 based on their offensive firepower and their ability to play defense, especially in the secondary.

4. Georgia (previously 5)

The more Notre Dame wins, the more it strengthens Georgia’s resume — as if they need much more evidence that they’re a top team in the land. Some experts won’t believe in the Bulldogs, though, until they get to the SEC title game. They should roll Florida this weekend.

5. Notre Dame (previously 10)

If people had been sleeping on the Irish, last Saturday night’s manhandling of USC should have woken everyone up. The schedule doesn’t get easier — they host ACC-contender N.C. State this weekend. The formula is simple — keep winning, keep moving up. A one-loss ND team this year would be playoff-bound.

6. Clemson (previously 4)

The Tigers can get right back on track with a big game looming at home against Georgia Tech, who’s respectably 4-2. If QB Kelly Bryant bounces back after his concussion against Syracuse, don’t expect Clemson to miss a beat.

7. Wisconsin (previously 6)

There might not be a difficult game on Wisconsin’s schedule. Everything is lined up for the Badgers to head into Indianapolis undefeated.

8. Miami (previously 9)

The Hurricanes are the least impressive of the remaining unbeatens just because of how they win. But upcoming games against Va. Tech and Notre Dame will tell the true story of this year’s Miami squad.

9. Oklahoma (previously 7)

Nothing about OU has been too impressive since they went into Columbus and beat OSU. For them to make a run at the playoff, the Sooners need to win with authority.

10. Ohio State (previously 8)

Ohio State hasn’t beaten anyone so until they do, it’s hard to move them very far up the rankings. Bringing Penn State into the Horseshoe this weekend is a huge litmus test. How much have the Buckeyes improved from their early season home-loss to the Sooners? We’ll find out Saturday.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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6 Trades That Should Happen in the NFL Before the Deadline

Before the kids can get out the door this Halloween, your favorite NFL team may have just engaged in some trick-or-treating of their own. Now to be fair, usually there is not a ton of action as the NFL trade deadline approaches. Most years, it comes and goes with very little fanfare. But where’s the fun in that?

So, let’s have some fun!

Marcell Dareus, Buffalo, DT

Yes, the Bills are 4-2 through 7 weeks and you may ask why they’d try to trade away a former 2-time Pro Bowler. The reality is that the Alabama product has only made 5 appearances this season and has played no role in the success the team has experienced so far.

The Bills front office tried dealing Dareus over the summer, and they appear to be shopping him now, as well. A contender who wants to tighten up their run defense may be interested.

Possible trade partner: Los Angeles Rams

The Rams have exceeded all expectations midway through the year. But that’s no reason to rest on your laurels. The Rams are playing as well as anyone in the NFC, and the fact that the conference is having a down year could mean even more success is coming L.A.’s way. One weak spot for the Rams is their rush defense — 24th in the league. Add Dareus to that line with Aaron Donald already there — that could make a world of difference come December when stopping the run becomes all that more important.

Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati, RB

The Cincinnati backfield is too full. It’s only a matter of time before Joe Mixon takes full control. Jeremy Hill looks to be the odd man out — he’s been on the field for less than 20% of the Bengals offensive snaps. Hill is a tough runner, who when given the bulk of the carries, has produced in the past.

Possible Trade Partner: Oakland Raiders

The Raiders have the third fewest rushing attempts per game in the NFL. If the Raiders have designs on making the playoffs — and they should in a division that looks pretty wide open, they’ll need to be more committed to the run as the winter months approach. Putting all your eggs in the Marshawn Lynch basket and his 31-year old legs seems a bit  irresponsible.

Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh, WR

The disgruntled wide receiver has made his desires perfectly clear — and he’s not worried about how tactfully it comes across. Bryant wants out of the Steel City. And it would seem to be in Pittsburgh’s best interests to ship him out. The last thing the Steelers need is another soap opera playing out on or off the field. The Le’Veon Bell contract situation along with Antonio Brown’s occasional on the field antics should be enough for the Steelers to deal with while also trying to win a championship.

Possible Trade Partner: Detroit Lions

The Lions rank 24th in offensive plays resulting in 20 or more yards and rank 25th in those netting 40 or more yards. Bottom line — the Lions don’t have those deep threat receivers or those playmakers that stretch the field. Bryant could be that guy the blows the top off of defenses. If Detroit is serious about winning the NFC North, a move like this is a must. And remember that GM Bob Quinn cut his teeth in a Patriots organization that never shied away from making the high-risk/high-reward deal for controversial playmakers.

Hau’oli Kikaha, New Orleans, LB

The versatile former second round pick of 2015 is definitely on the “outs” in New Orleans. After a knee injury ended his 2016 season before it even started, Kikaha looked primed to be an impact player on a below-average Saints team. Fast forward to week 7 and the linebacker has only 2 sacks; and to make matters worse, he was a health inactive for the Saints game in Green Bay in week 7.

Possible Trade Partner: New England Patriots

Kikaha can play linebacker but has also played at defensive end — something Bill Belichick values in his defensive players. New England’s defense has dealt with it’s share of mistakes so far this season and Kikaha could add a playmaking element that they lack. Add to the equation that Dont’a Hightower is out for the season with a torn pectoral, and it seems most likely Belichick will look to add an element of pash-rushing to the unit. The Saints and Pats have a history of making deals, and Belichick and Sean Payton enjoy a friendship that on a number of occasions has led them into reasonable trades that work out for both parties.

Eli Manning, Giants, QB

Ok, this one seems too easy. The Giants are bad. And I mean the product on the field is bad — injured star WR and an aging QB — and the outlook isn’t pretty either. The Giants are in salary cap hell. Even the Browns and 49ers are in a better spot moving forward.

So even though Manning comfortably dismisses trade rumors, it makes a great deal of sense for the franchise to move on and commit to drafting and playing their quarterback of the future. And the G-Men are in line for a top-3 pick which would certainly land them one of the top QBs in the draft.

Now the big question: are Jerry Reese and the Giants front office willing to pull the trigger on such a deal, effectively ending an era in Giants football?

Possible Trade Partner: Jacksonville Jaguars

If a deal sends Eli Manning anywhere, the easy guess is to Jacksonville, where he’d reunite with former coach Tom Coughlin. Coughlin’s love for Eli is well-documented, and the Jags look like they are primed for a run at the AFC South division crown. Can they sustain any sort of season-long success with the inconsistent play of Blake Bortles at quarterback? If the answer is no, the Jags should make a move.

Cordy Glenn, Buffalo, OT

The Bills have been interested in dealing their tackle, but just haven’t gotten the right offer. Hard to say if that offer comes along now, but when contenders start to see how close one addition can put their squad over the top, the offers sometimes start flying.

Possible Trade Partner: Philadelphia Eagles

When Jason Peters went down in week 7, the Eagles immediately became that team who’d have to at least consider a deal for Glenn. But the more I read, the more it looks like Philly is comfortable adjusting their  offensive line around the pieces they already have in place.

But as the deadline nears, maybe that feeling changes. Like I’ve said multiple times, the NFC is up-for-grabs, and if Philly wants to take a stranglehold on it, a deal like this is one they might want to make.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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45 Things We Learned from Week 7 in the NFL

1. Reports of the Patriots’ demise has been greatly exaggerated!

2. Well, sort of. There’s no denying that the defense was historically abysmal for the first 4 weeks. But Matt Patricia’s squad began looking better against Tampa in week 5 and seemed to really to operating at a new level on Sunday night against the Falcons.

3. New England’s defense allowed just 2 plays over 20 yards on Sunday night. Both came when the Pats were already holding a three score lead.

4. If you read this blog regularly, you know how I feel about Dion Lewis. When he’s on the field, the Patriots offense is so much better. He was the snap leader of all New England’s running backs on Sunday.

5. Here’s a dirty little secret: Atlanta isn’t that good. Three wins — one over Detroit on a very fortunate end of the game call, one over Chicago 23-20, and one blowout over Green Bay. Not exactly impressing many folks.

6. Stat of the day!!! Since 2012 and discounting last season, Matt Ryan is 32-37 as a starting QB.

7. The happiest person outside of Foxboro last night? Kyle Shanahan.

8. Speaking of the 49ers head coach — C.J. Beathard does not appear to be the answer in SF. And the defense could use a little work too.

9. With the NFC falling to pieces before our very eyes, could the Cowboys actually be the team to beat?

10. When Dak and Zeke are running on all cylinders, that offense is hard to stop.

11. If not Dallas, we’ve got a few other teams in the NFC who should be thinking about a deep postseason run: Philly, Minnesota, Seattle, the Rams, the Lions, Washington.

12. That list may seem crazy, but seriously — who’s NOT in contention?

13. Are the Saints for real? Can we add them to that list? This year? Yes. Especially when they use Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara — combined 217 yards from scrimmage on Sunday.

14. Another question: will the Saints stay true to the run? If they can, it makes their defense better. And it makes them a real threat in the NFC South.

15. The Chargers have strung three straight wins together after opening up 0-4. And the defense is carrying the freight during this win streak.

16. Joey Bosa and his 7.5 sacks are looking dominant out west.

17. After quick starts by KC and Denver, the AFC West is bunching up. Right now the Chargers are playing the best football.

18. We knew Denver had QB questions coming into the year, but Trevor Siemian seemed to silence the critics with his hot start. Now, the questions have turned to major concerns after a 21-0 shutout loss to the Chargers.

19. Beating the Chiefs on Thursday night came with a cost for the Raiders. A team already struggling to run the ball will be without Marshawn Lynch for a week after his contact with an official led to a suspension.

20. Bounce back wins against Kansas City and Cincinnati the last two weeks should have fans in Pittsburgh feeling good. But Martinis Bryant continues to steal the headlines with his frustrations on not getting the ball.

21. Despite what ownership has said publicly, trading Bryant seems like the best thing to do. His addition to an NFC contender could change the balance of power in that conference — Detroit, Washington, Dallas, Minnesota, L.A. all look like viable options.

22. What is happening in Cleveland with the quarterback situation is beyond comprehensible. Hue Jackson looks like a buffoon.

23. After Tennessee, underwhelmingly, squeaked past Cleveland, the Jaguars look like the class of that division.

24. The Bengals looked to have put all their offensive woes from weeks 1 and 2 behind them since putting Bill Lazor in at OC. Well, those woes returned in full effect Sunday, especially the second half.

25. The Steelers defense totally took A.J. Green out of the game.

26. Joe Mixon should be getting the ball more, but that’s hard to do when you play the kind of game Cincy played on Sunday.

27. The Bears are the prototypical Jekyll and Hyde team. At home, this team looks great. Just ask Cam Newton.

28. The Bears defense caused turnovers and turned those points into immediate points. They have to — hard to say whether or not Mitchell Trubisky could capitalize.

29. Trubisky completed 4 passes in Chicago’s win over Carolina.

30. So Carolina beats Detroit and New England on the road but can’t beat the Bears at Soldier Field. Sooooo…..the Bears are better than New England and should win the NFC North, right?

31. Teddy Bridgewater could be back at QB for the Minnesota Vikings by week 10. Should he be?

32. Minnesota is middling around, while leading the NFC North. Will a quarterback change propel this offense?

33. After 2 games for the Cardinals, we still have no idea what Adrian Peterson has left.

34. Carson Palmer’s broken arm might have ended the veteran quarterback’s season and career. Arizona was playing with fire by expecting so much from aging guys like Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald. And now they have AP in the backfield.

35. I’m going to keep saying this: the Rams are a fun bunch!! They might to win the division or make the playoffs, but they are fun to watch from week to week.

36. Seattle’s offense looked as good as it’s looked in years Sunday. One reason for that — Russell Wilson.

37. Reports surfaced last week that Andrew Luck suffered a set-back and had to stop throwing. At this point, why bring him back this season? Start next year fresh — healthy Luck and brand new head coach.

38. Gotta give credit to the Dolphins players and coaching staff for back-to-back weeks of come-from-behind wins of 17 and 14 points.

39. But can someone explain why Adam Gase thought bringing Jay Cutler off his couch in August was a better choice for the quarterback position than Matt Moore?

40. Cutler’s feared to have a broken rib so Moore should have a few games to prove he’s worthy of the starting role.

41. The Jets are showing they can indeed score points; they just can’t stop anybody else from scoring either — especially in the 4th quarter.

42. The Bills know who they are  — you can’t accuse them of not. Running for 173 on the ground is exactly what this team wants and needs to do.

43. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but Carson Wentz could have been a Cleveland Brown.

44. Expect the “Alex Smith for MVP” talk to be replaced by “Carson Wentz for MVP”.

45. The Eagles are clearly the team to beat in the NFC to this point in the season. How will they play when the weather gets cold?

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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College Football Power Rankings

The first edition of the College Football Playoff Rankings will be released on Halloween — and yes, some teams are sure to get a trick while others a treat (I couldn’t help making a lame Halloween joke). Let’s check out where some of the nation’s top teams stand as they jockey for position in that coveted top-4.

1. Alabama

With Clemson’s loss (although, it probably means little in the big picture), the Tide are the unquestioned number 1 team in the land right now. No games have been close — ho hum, Nick Saban just has the team winning. As usual. The Iron Bowl, against rival Auburn, at the end of the regular season will be one to watch as will a possible showdown with high-flying and undefeated Georgia in the SEC championship.

2. Penn St.

No one can question the offense in Happy Valley and running back Saquon Barkley might be the country’s best player. But there’s a lot still left on the schedule as the Big Ten powers start colliding. We’ll know who Penn St. really is over the next three weeks. First real test is this weekend when the Nittany Lions host Michigan and their stellar defense under the lights.

3. TCU

The Big-12 is always tough to take seriously. But TCU shut down the high-octane offense of Oklahoma State while also providing a punch on offense themselves. But it all may come down to a TCU-OU battle in the coming weeks to see if a Big-12 team can get into the playoff. The Horned Frogs look like the most well-equipped right now. Three in-conference road wins says enough.

4. Clemson

If one loss is supposed to derail Clemson’s season and national title hopes, you may want to see how last year ended for the Tigers. Injuries are a real concern, but if they win out, Dabo Sweeney’s kids will be in the playoff.

5. Georgia

For all those Alabama haters, here’s your new favorite team. The Bulldogs are playing as well as they’ve played in 15 years. A very winnable schedule ahead as they look to be a collision course with the Tide for the SEC title and perhaps the number-1 ranking going into the playoff.

6. Wisconsin

Undefeated, yes. But the Badgers haven’t beaten a team with a winning record yet and the most recent struggle against Purdue doesn’t help their cause.

7. Oklahoma

The win at the Horseshoe against the Buckeyes is the biggest win of the college football season to this point. The slip-up against Iowa State is embarrassing, but shouldn’t change the perception that OU is as talented as anyone and can play with anyone. Big games ahead against OK State and TCU will make or break the Sooners’ playoff hopes.

8. Ohio St.

Bouncing back after the home loss to Oklahoma has happened rather quietly for the Bucks. But doesn’t this often happen with OSU? Drop a game, unexpectedly, then just plug away and win while others fall around them? It’s happening again this year.

9. Miami

The Canes are living dangerously. They’ve needed all 60 minutes in each of their last two games to eek out victories.

10. Notre Dame

With the Irish’s lone loss coming to Georgia, the playoff is distinct possibility. In fact, it will be a reality if Brian Kelly can get his team to navigate a treacherous schedule that includes games against USC, Miami, Stanford, and NC State. Win those 4  (and the other ones), how can the Irish be kept out?

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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40 Things We Found Out After Week 6 in the NFL

1. The NFC North is now wide open with the Aaron Rodgers collarbone injury.

2. That division may come down to Case Keenum/Sam Bradford/Teddy Bridgewater versus Matthew Stafford. (Can’t lose that, Detroit.)

3. If you’re the Lions, you have to get over the shellacking you took in New Orleans and remember the division is still up for grabs, and your mega-contract QB has to step to the forefront.

4. That 3rd-ranked Detroit rush defense looked like swiss cheese against Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara.

5. The Saints defense is all of a sudden not just serviceable — they’re the best in the NFL the last 3 weeks in efficiency and turnovers.

6. Barely getting by the Jets (and doing so with a controversial call) won’t do much to calm Patriots’ fans nerves.

7. Dion Lewis gives New England’s offense a dynamic look that it needs.

8. There goes Andy Reid making questionable late-game decisions — and it’s not even January.

9. If that’s the result when Kareem Hunt is held in check — 9 carries for 21 yards, the Chiefs better hope Hunt doesn’t experience too many more games like that.

10. Ok, so Big Ben hasn’t lost it. And he proved he’s still able to play well on the road.

11. Roethlisberger went for over 250 yards with a TD, as Pittsburgh handed KC it’s first loss of the year.

12. Big Ben was good, Le’Veon Bell was better. If giving Bell more touches is the gameplan, it’s a winning formula — 32 carries for 179 yards rushing.

13. Kirk Cousins held a public workout for Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers brass on Sunday.

14. In the same breath, SF will be going with C.J. Beathard it appears next week.

15. Can we just fast forward to Cousins putting on a Niners jersey already?

16. Not so fast, though. Check it out — SF is in line for a top 3 pick in the draft, which will be loaded with talented QBs. Pay a top draft pick rookie money or break the bank with a proven commodity in Cousins. Biggest decision of John Lynch’s young career as GM.

17. Is it time to panic in Oakland? Derek Carr’s health aside, the Raiders can’t run the ball. Fifty-four yards on the ground won’t cut it.

18. The Chargers have won 2 straight and are 2-4. My preseason pick for the division. KC lost, Oakland has lost 4 in a row, who knows about Denver’s offense — anyone else think that L.A. still has a shot?

19. The Giants have no one playing offense that the average fan has heard of (besides Eli). Yet, they whipped up on the lifeless Broncos at Mile High. Yeah, we all saw that coming.

20. Denver’s offensive problems are real and they’re here.

21. Atlanta’s ups and downs are a little confusing. Bad games against Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, and now a blown 17-point halftime lead to the Dolphins. Matt Ryan looks like the Matt Ryan pre-2016 — run of the mill above average quarterback.

22. Jarvis Landry is one dynamic player. When Miami uses him in different looks, he’s a problem for defenses.

23. Tampa Bay needs Jameis Winston’s shoulder to be ok. That teams looks very mediocre with him — they could be downright pathetic without him.

24. Sunday’s offensive outpouring was a long time coming for the Cardinals. Maybe the AP trade brings some new life to Arizona. Or maybe it was one game against a below average Bucs D.

25. Who’s more surprising or exciting to watch this year than the Rams and the Jaguars? Two fun teams who are out to entertain.

26. Give credit to the Rams for preparing a gameplan to beat the Jags defense. A week earlier they lost to a very similar Seattle defense.

27. Oh, that gameplan, you ask? Give the ball to Todd Gurley.

28. The Bears won a road game!! All Hail, Mitchell Trubisky!!

29. Well Trubisky’s 8-16 and 113 yards probably wasn’t what did it for the Bears. But Jordan Howard — my god!! How’s 36 carries for 167 yards sound??!!

30. Notwithstanding the failed comeback against Chicago, the Ravens offense is horrific.

31. Joe Flacco couldn’t break the 200 yard barrier in the air against a porous Chicago defense.

32. It doesn’t help that Baltimore has no receiving weapons at Flacco’s disposal. Mike Wallace and Chris Moore each caught a team-high 3 balls for a combined 74 yards.

33. If the Ravens could just commit to the run game (assuming they weren’t having to play from behind all the time), that offense might be better. Alex Collins and Buck Allen were both productive when given the ball — each averaged 4.9 yards per carry.

34. The TNF showdown between Philadelphia and Carolina had all the makings of an early season playoff preview. What’d we learn? Against a pretty good defense that is aggressive, Cam Newton struggles. And Carson Wentz has a firm grasp on that Philly offense.

35. DeShaun Watson — for those who haven’t been listening — is the real deal!!! The rookie leads the NFL in touchdown passes and presents a whole host of issues for defenses with his legs.

36. Cleveland got an up close view of Watson and what could have been had they not traded away that draft pick to Houston in last year’s NFL Draft.

37. Instead, the Browns are 0-6 with Kevin Hogan leading the faithful.

38. Tennessee looks like a different team when they can control the clock and run the ball.

39. Welcome back Marcus Mariota. Three hundred yard passing game in his return to the field.

40. Against a suspect Titans defense, the Colts could not get anything going in the air or on the ground.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

 

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39 Things We Got Out of Week 5 in the NFL

The belief is that you don’t really know what each team in the NFL is all about until a month into the season. We’re there now — and if week 5 is any indicator, we have quite a season on our hands. The Jaguars go into Pittsburgh and handily defeat Big Ben and the Steelers; the vaunted Buffalo defense loses to Cincinnati, who’s offense was historically awful in weeks 1 and 2; and the Dallas Cowboys can’t hold a lead at home? Oh, and the Jets are 3-2. What is going on this season???!!!

Let’s try and make some sort of sense of it all:

1. I’ll open with a question: Remember in the 90s when Brett Favre and the Packers couldn’t buy a win in Dallas? Oh, those were the days weren’t they, Cowboys fans?

2. Another question: Is there anything Aaron Rodgers can’t do?

3. Dallas can’t hold a lead and has lost their home field edge at Jerry’s World. No good moving forward in a very tight NFC East when you’re going to rely on home field to beat those divisional rivals.

4. Caution Packer fans: the defense has let GB get behind in 3 of their 5 games (2 of which they came back to win). You can’t keep doing that to your offense — even if you do have Aaron Rodgers.

5. The problems with New England’s defense are not solved. But 10 days to prepare and get right for the Jets can’t hurt.

6. Love James White, but something about when Dion Lewis is the field for the Pats makes you take a second look. If he’s healthy, he’s a game changer.

7. Injuries might have the final say in who wins the AFC South.

8. There might not be a player who is one with his city and community like J.J. Watt is in Houston. That makes his season-ending injury all that more difficult to swallow. But, the Texans won the division last year without Watt, and Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage playing quarterback. Hope is not lost in Houston.

9. Has any team gone from “overachiever” to “underachiever” faster than the Tennessee Titans?

10. The Jags are easy to dismiss, but you have to take notice when they beat Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh as easily as they did.

11. Cleveland’s 0-5, have benched their QB, and have not improved the way many anticipated they would. Will Hue Jackson survive? Should he?

12. For the first time this year, it was Detroit’s defense that let them down.

13. Matthew Stafford continues to demonstrate his growth as a player and his leadership. He wasn’t great in weeks 3 and 4, but you can’t pin week 5 on him.

14. In a competitive NFC East, Philly looks the most equipped to the reigns.

15. Broken leg for OBJ? We keep waiting for the Giants to win. Who’d have thought they’d be the New York team starting out 0-5?

16. Against a horrific Titans defense, Jay Cutler couldn’t manage better than 12 of 26 for less than 100 yards and one TD and one INT.

17. The fans want Matt Moore in Miami and it’s hard to argue. The defense is scoring more than the offense (at least in the first halves it is — 1 TD to 0).

18. In their 3 wins, the Ravens have rushed for more than 145 yards. When they lose, almost 40 yards less.

19. Either the Bengals have truly righted their ship, offensively since their terrible 2-week start to the season or the Bills defense has been slightly overrated. Probably a little of both.

20. Buffalo’s little secret was their ability to not turn the ball over. That will help any defense. Tyrod Taylor tossed his first ill-timed pick since week 1 in the fourth quarter, ending the Bills shot at a comeback.

21. Whether it’s Kareem Hunt or Alex Smith or Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs look unstoppable right now.

22. Pump the brakes on MVP talk for Smith, but give him his dues.

23. Funny how the AFC North looks so bad right now. Other than the Browns, the other three teams have had good performances, but have also had some embarrassing ones. Hard to tell who’s going to separate themselves.

24. Big Ben threw 2 pick-6s to Jacksonville. Usually he saves those sorts of games for the road.

25. Jameis Winston has some work to do. We keep waiting for him to break out into another level, but he keeps slinking back. The talent is there, the weapons are there. Something is missing, tough.

26. The “J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets” have won three games in a row???!!! Many didn’t have them winning three all year! Big test against the Patriots this week.

27. With the way KC is running away with the division, the Raiders can ill-afford a 3-game losing streak. But that’s what they have.

28. The Derek Carr injury doesn’t help, obviously, but the offense is averaging less than 2 touchdowns over those 3 games.

29. The Rams-Seahawks game showed just what fans of the two NFC West teams can look forward to in the not-too-distant-future. But 5 Rams turnovers proved they still have work to do to reach where Seattle’s at.

30. It’s Seattle’s defense that time and time again bails them out. If not for one half of football against the barely-breathing Indianapolis Colts, the Seahawks offense has been lifeless.

31. What every aging quarterback needs is a running game. The Cardinals average 57 yards on the ground per game. Carson Palmer isn’t getting any help.

32. Cam Newton’s shoulder has looked pretty good the last 2 weeks.

33. The 49ers are 0-5. Yep, that seems about right.

34. There are few teams I take on the road like the Chargers. Heck, there’s a better chance they have more fans show up on the road than they do in L.A.

35. The Bears trick play two-point conversation is really the story of the game. If you missed it here it is:

36. Nice debut for Mitchell Trubisky. He had the Bears in the game at the end with a chance to win, against the Minnesota defense.

37. The Bears play pretty well at home — win over Pittsburgh and 2 close losses to Minnesota and Atlanta. On the road, blowout losses to Green Bay and Tampa Bay.

38. Sam Bradford was back but clearly not right.

39. After his nice week 1 start, Bradford was thought to be the guy for the Vikings this year. But it seems like Case Keenum can handle the job just fine.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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40 Takeaways from Week 4 in the NFL

1. I don’t want to overstate this, but head coach Sean McVay has made a major impact on the Rams in the first month of the season. Jared Goff looks much better then he did a year ago and Todd Gurley is back.

2. Using Todd Gurley in the passing game is brilliant.

3. Up until about 10:30pm Sunday night, I was ready to proclaim the Rams as the favorite in the NFC West. (They still might be, honestly.)

4. Seattle — Welcome to the 2017 NFL Season!! Nice to have you, finally. Yes, I know it was against the Colts, but at this point do Seattle fans care?

5. After outscoring Indy in the second half 36-3 on SNF, the Colts look like the Colts and the Seahawks look like the Seahawks.

6. I guess if an offense wants to get right just head up to Foxboro. Four straight 300-yard passers against the New England defense.

7. It’s not a talent issue on defense in New England. Too many miscommunications and missed assignments. Fixable, though.

8. Dalvin Cook’s injury may not effectively end Minnesota’s season. But it doesn’t help. Neither does the fact that their offense is inconsistent.

9. The Lions are 3-1 and very well could be 4-0. And Stafford hasn’t even played well the last 2 weeks. Kudos to the defense.

10. The NFL suspended Bears linebacker Danny Trevathon 2 games for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Packers WR Devante Adams. Two games for leading with the crown of his helmet on a player that was for all intents and purposes a sitting duck? Yeah, ok — keep telling us how much you care about player safety.

11. The Bears couldn’t beat the Packers second and third stringers on Thursday night.

12. When can the Thursday Night Football experiment be over with?

13. Cleveland is bad on the field and it sounds like they’re just as bad in the front office, behind the scenes.

14. Maybe a new OC is all Andy Dalton needed. He’s 46-57 with 498 yards, 6 touchdowns and 0 picks since the change.

15. Breaking News!!! The Saints can actually play defense!!

16. When can the London experiment be over with? Seriously, why are we pushing this on them?

17. The Dolphins have scored 6 points in the last 2 games. Everyone will point at Jay Cutler, but the offensive line is awful — can’t run block and can’t pass protect.

18. Good to see that Joe Flacco brought his awful London performance home with him. His line won’t give him time to throw deep and the underneath passes just aren’t cutting it.

19. Someone tell Antonio Brown to calm down.

20. Le’Veon Bell was a workhorse Sunday — 39 total touches for almost 190 yards. Good thing because the rest of the Steelers offense looks out of sync.

21. Adrian Peterson got 4 touches for 4 yards against Miami. To say his addition to the Saints offense hasn’t worked is putting it nicely.

22. Oakland is surprising anyone this year. And if they don’t protect Derek Carr, they won’t be beating anyone this year.

23. The Cowboys have the talent and could easily take control of the NFC East again. But they need more of a defensive presence up front. He’s been outstanding, but on his own Demarcus Lawrence can only do so much.

24. Back to back wins over Denver and now Atlanta, the Bills and their defense should be considered a legitimate threat to teams. Can they threaten the Patriots though?

25. Steve Sarkisian’s job as OC gets exponentially harder when you hear hip flexor and Julio Jones in the same sentence.

26. The Jets honestly look to have a running game — even with the aging Matt Forte on the sidelines. Elijah McGuire and Bilal Powell handled the load — and the Jaguars defense — quite nicely Sunday.

27. Does anyone know who the Jaguars are? Blow out the Texans, get crushed by the Titans. Embarrass the Ravens, lose to the Jets. I have no answer,

28. With 407 yards on the ground in weeks 3 and 4 combined, the Eagles are hoping to pound their opponents into submission. Old school — run and stop the run.

29. Can the Chargers get a do-over with this whole move to L.A. thing? Unreal how that stadium looked like a Philly home game.

30. Did not see an 0-4 start here for the G-Men. They’re not that bad.

31. With each passing week, it’s more and more shocking that so many teams passed on DeShaun Watson. Five total TDs against Tennessee and the Texans hung 57 points on the board — against the team favored to win that division.

32. Forget Rookie of the Year talk. If Houston keeps winning, start talking MVP for Watson.

33. Tennessee’s defense wasn’t great last year, but it’s worst now. The Titans won’t win the AFC South if they can’t fix that side of the ball.

34. Tampa’s offense loks to be humming along. Oh and they get New England on Thursday night. (Free fantasy advice: start Jameis Winston.)

35. San Francisco and Arizona battled to the final seconds of overtime to decide that game, 18-15. There’s nothing else to say.

36. Despite the win, Denver’s offense was unspectacular in a game where it should have been humming along. In fact if it wasn’t for Jack Del Rio forgetting how to coach, the Broncos might not have beaten the Raiders.

37. Alex Smith seems to be making big play after big play so far this season, when his team needs him. And the thing in, how does this team look that much different than previous KC teams that Smith’s led?

38. In the final minute of Monday night’s game, Smith was poised and cold-blooded as he led the Chiefs down into field goal range.

39. Kareem Hunt went for another 100 yards on the ground. Ho-hum.

40. Washington will miss Kirk Cousins when he signs his huge free agent deal in the offseason. Efficient, accurate, scrappy.

 

Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.

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