Grumbles, stumbles and tumbles in the latest edition of the 2020 season.
1. Green Bay Packers (4-0)
I can hear you now – “How the hell do the Packers get to top spot while on a bye?” I’m putting them here, as they seem like a well-rounded side, which is playing very, very. Yes, the defense has been shaky, but only a small improvement on that side of the ball can see this team be wildly successful. Pity we can’t start the comments section here, really.
2. Seattle Seahawks (5-0)
Vision of Hawks coach Pete Carroll leading the victory rally after this one summed it up. “You win a game in the fourth quarter!” he yelled to his enthusiastic squad. Wide receiver DK Metcalf is really becoming something too. Some wraps have hailed him as the new ‘Megatron’, which might be a bit early to make that call, however on the game-winning drive, Russell Wilson was only looking for one man to make the clutch catches.
3. Tennessee Titans (4-0)
Tuesday night’s a great night for football! Well, not really, but in the COVID age you take what you can get. Tennessee who have been much derided for being ranked too highly and too cavalier with their COVID protocols took the field and handed the Bills their first loss of the season. Derrick Henry was largely kept in check, despite two touchdowns and lighting up the meme world with a devastating fend on Josh Norman. Speaking of lighting it up, quarterback Ryan Tannehill played legit footy – throwing three touchdowns and generally making life miserable for Buffalo. Next up a date with the suddenly resurgent Texans.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (4-1)
After looking decidedly shady against the Patriots last week, the champs got rolled at home – by the Raiders. Any loss for this side comes as a surprise, but getting turned up at home by a division rival is probably something that’ll sting for a little bit in KC. Seemed a bit like one of those games where they went up early then maybe started to think of Buffalo next week. No major, but a little wake up call for Patrick (don’t call him “Pat” or his mum will tell you off) and the boys.
5. Baltimore Ravens (4-1)
Talk about showing a newbie the ropes. Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow came to town and the Ravens showed him just who is boss in the AFC North (other than the Steelers). And it wasn’t just Lamar Jackson showing Burrow how things roll in the NFL, it was the defense led by Burrow’s old LSU teammate – rookie linebacker Patrick Queen, who led the game in tackles, added a sack and had a 53-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Welcome to the big time.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-0)
1979. A song by the Smashing Pumpkins and also the last time Pittsburgh went 4-0. Now that’s a while. Curiously too, they went on to win the Superbowl that year (just saying). Missing wide receiver Diontae Johnson proved no issue as rookie wideout Chase Claypool from Notre Dame exploded all over the Heinz Field pitch – so to speak – compiling four total touchdowns and proving unstoppable anywhere the goal line, or not that near at all. Look out, world.
7. Buffalo Bills (4-1)
So, clearly a disrupted preparation did not go well for the Bills. I actually thought they would go in and beat the Titans, therefore tidying up some conflicts in the rankings, but it was not to be. Josh Allen clearly missed wide receiver John Brown, judging by the whopping 16 targets he sent Stefon Diggs’ way. A couple of picks and a defense that got throttled made for an ugly night out in Nashville. Next up a home matchup with an angry Chiefs side.
8. Los Angeles Rams (4-1)
Aaron Donald is a beast. Adding four sacks against the Redskins further added to his mission to reclaim what is rightfully his – the Defensive Player of the Year Award. He even proved how ruthless he was by jumping on Alex Smith, who had only just returned to the field from a horrific leg injury. Damn, that’s some mongrel right there. Running back Cam Akers also returned from a rib injury and added some nice pop to the offense too.
9. Cleveland Browns (4-1)
Four straight wins? Browns fans must be pinching themselves right now. This was a very efficient performance against the Colts, who had come in to the game with the league’s best defense. Cleveland proved that life without lead runner Nick Chubb can be OK, still putting up 124 rushing yards and using play action effectively to feed their weapons on the outside – Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Sadly, what could be the best game of next week will be a 4am kickoff, as these impressive Browns (can’t believe I just said that), take on the unbeaten Steelers.
10. Chicago Bears (4-1)
We’ve heard of flag football, but this was ridiculous. You know how many flags got thrown in the Bucs v Bears game? About a ga-zillion. Also, gotta give a shout out to Google notifications for sending me one stating the final result, as I was bout two-thirds of the way through the game on Kayo. Cheers for that. Anyways, Khalil Mack and his defensive buddies made life fairly miserable for Tom Brady all day long and Kyle Fuller came in with a game-turning hit that sent Bucs running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn into another dimension, while forcing a fumble and changing the course of everything.
11. Indianapolis Colts (3-2)
Defense wins championships. But it sure didn’t help the Colts against Cleveland, as the league-leading D couldn’t carry the load again. Philip Rivers committed a couple of turnovers and conceded a safety, which just made life too tough for the Colts in this one. The running game never got going either, so all-in-all it’s just a bit of an off day. Though, the offense is yet to be fully convincing so far this season.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2)
Tom Brady was enraged in Friday Night Football. Can’t really blame him either. I mean, if I’m a casual observer of this one and I’m getting annoyed at the Buc’s offensive line, then oh boy, Tommy would’ve been fairly far from being gruntled. The Fox music/production team sound like my kind of people too. In the third quarter, as Uncle Tom had made his way to the bench to tear visible strips off his teammates, we cut to the commercials with the soundtrack singing “I’ve seen better days…” by Citizen King and earlier a successful field goal was summarised by A Tribe Called Quest “Can I kick it?…Yes you can!” Now that’s entertainment.
13. Las Vegas Raiders (3-2)
As far as victories go, this one must be very sweet. Beating the defending Superbowl champs, in their own home, after they’ve beaten you seven straight times. Oh yeah, that definitely qualifies for a decent – socially distanced and COVID responsible – celebration. First round wide receiver Henry Ruggs III finally managed to showcase his blazing speed with 118 receiving yards on just two catches – including a 72-yard scamper for a score. Josh Jacobs added a couple of touchdowns of his own, but moreso the defense held it’s own against Patrick Mahomes. Yes you read correctly – the Raiders defense. Just let that sink in.
14. New England Patriots (2-2)
What’s the deal here? The Packers had a bye and get bumped up a spot, while the Pats stand…well…pat, on a bye and slip down two? Those are the rules, I didn’t write them. Actually, I did – you should try it sometime (it’s fun). Anyways, the new plan is for the Patriots to now play their postponed game against the Broncos this coming Sunday (Monday our time), so fingers crossed things can get back on the track.
15. New Orleans Saints (3-2)
The primetime games both showcased unlikely comebacks by great quarterbacks. But the Saints game came more down to good luck than anything (though it was bad for LA). Troubled all game by the Chargers niggly defense, Drew Brees did get things going late in the game and in crunch time to pull off the swing victory. Because 3-2 is a lot better than 2-3.
16. Carolina Panthers (3-2)
Uno, dos, tres! Three times a winner in Carolina. And this time they took out the Falcons, their head coach and general manager. All while missing their best player. Now that’s impressive. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is running things really well and has developed quite strong chemistry with wide receiver Robby Anderson (targeting him 13 times). Mike Davis and DJ Moore chipped in with scoring plays, but the real dagger came from safety Juston Burris picking off a Matt Ryan pass in the endzone, as the Falcons were looking to tie the game up. From there, Dan Quinn just kept on walking.
17. Arizona Cardinals (3-2)
Anyone know what to make of these Cardinals? Me neither. Took care of business handily against the Jets. Leading 17-10 in the third quarter, with New York forcing a fourth down, Kyler & co. decided ‘the hell with this’ – then promptly went on to gain first down, run in a touchdown, then shortly after Kyler sent a couple of long-range missiles to DeAndre Hopkins – one for a touchdown. Game over. Next up it’s the bright lights of Monday Night Football against the Cowboys.
18. Miami Dolphins (2-3)
I guess when you put up 37 points in the first three quarters then kick it into cruise control to get a win on the road against a highly favoured team, you must be happy with that. The one and only ‘Fitzmagic’ threw for 350 yards on a 22 of 28 passing day – including three scores. Then getting five sacks and two picks on defense made this game a blowout. You might want to avoid any multis with these guys for the near future.
19. San Francisco 49ers (2-3)
Now, what in blue blazes happened to the 49ers?! Àt home to the lowly Dolphins, with Jimmy G returning at quarterback and Raheem Mostert at running back, they went on to let Miami steal their lunch, their bus money and spit a left over apple core in their face. Garopollo was benched following a lousy passing effort and two picks, so again one wonders if he was right or not. It’s probably more terrifying for San Fran fans if he was right. Next week they get the Rams coming at them head first in primetime, so there’s some work to be done.
20. Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
The win that feels like a loss. Having come back to win against their nemesis (New York Giants) was pretty much forgotten as quarterback Dak Prescott picked up a horrendous injury in the third quarter. What has been described as a compound fracture (not pretty if see the footage), brought back memories of Alex Smith’s injury nearly two years prior. So Dak’s season is gone, but Dem Boys are now leading the ‘NFC Least’ and free agent acquisition Andy Dalton will pilot the team from here.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3-1)
Other than Chase Claypool having some kind of forcefield around him, the Eagles were able to largely keep pace with the Steelers. Miles Sanders ran for a pair of touchdowns, Carson Wentz threw a pair, including one to feel-good story Travis Fulgham. You know, the guy who could the match-winning touchdown last week. Well, this week, the journeyman wide receiver caught ten passes for 152 yards. Not sure where this storyline is headed, but I’m hooked.
22. Minnesota Vikings (1-4)
Fourth and one or field goal? Life as an NFL coach is not easy. If the Vikings had taken the three, they would’ve been up by eight with less than two minutes to play. But they went for the kill and didn’t make it. Then Russell Wilson did what Russell Wilson does. Huge letdown for the Vikings whose offensive line pushed the Seahawks around so badly that even when Dalvin Cook had to retire hurt, back-up running back Alexander Mattison came in and still cut them to shreds. Cousins also found receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson on key plays, but just found themselves one key play short.
23. Cincinnati Bengals (1-3-1)
Kicking a field goal with 7:49 remaining in the fourth quarter usually indicates you’re in a contest. Except in the case of the Bengals against Baltimore, where the successful attempt took the score to 27-3. To the Ravens. What’s up with that? I don’t know. But, frankly this year, there’s even more that I just don’t know. Interesting clash coming next week against the Colts though.
24. Los Angeles Chargers (1-4)
Oh boy. The Los Angeles Chokers, I mean Chargers. Or do I…?? This was a real head-scratcher. Going up 20-3 at half time, only to surrender the lead and then seemingly pull off a match-winning drive – the Bolts were only one goal post away. Kicker Michael Badgley aka “the money badger” calmly stepped up to slot the buzzer-beater, until “doink” back off the upright – no good. Justin Herbert had pulled off a number of brilliant plays in this game and really did deserve better. Bright future, sure. But right now is rough.
25. Houston Texans (1-4)
“Fun! Finally.” A tweet from JJ Watt probably summed up what the entire Texans fandom have been waiting for. One week into the post B.O.B. era and Houston return to the winners circle. DeShaun Watson was back having some fun – throwing for 359 yards and three touchdowns, running back David Johnson nearly clocked 100 yards at a decent rate and Brandin Cooks simply went bananas – with 161 receiving yards on just eight catches. He looked like he’d turned on Willie Beaman’s “ïnvisible juice” as no one could stop him in the fourth quarter. I like fun times.
26. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4)
While the Texans were having fun, the Jaguars were not so much. Losing Gardner Minshew’s favourite receiver DJ Chark didn’t help (though you always start to wonder when a guy just comes back from injury, if they are really good to go) and the running game was again dictated by a game where the Jaguars fell behind and needed to chase the score. Sitting at 1-4 does not make for good reading after a bright start to the season, but next up a visit by the Lions could add some positivity.
27. Washington Football Team (1-4)
Some things are bigger than football in a sense. Seeing quarterback Alex Smith take the field for the first time since a 2018 injury that was not just career-threatening, but life threatening was another piece of inspiration. Being subbed in to the game for Kyle Allen, I would love to say that Smith led a comeback win against the Rams, but instead he got sacked six times (yikes) and they were well and truly beaten. But I think we can all agree, seeing number 11 on the field was a win in itself.
28. Detroit Lions (1-3)
Right, so Detroit had a bye this week. At least I think so anyway. To be brutally honest I kinda blank them from making any new memories, as they usually make me sad. I still miss Megatron. But on the upside, they can return in winning fashion against the fashionable Gardner Minshew and unfashionable Jags next week.
29. Denver Broncos (1-3)
Here’s a name for you – LeVante Bellamy. He’s a rookie running back who practiced all week with the rest of the Broncos squad only for their game to be postponed, so now they’ve been practicing all week on what is effectively their bye. Damn. And as for Bellamy, he got injured during those practices and is now on injured reserve. 2020, you sure got some nerve.
30. Atlanta Falcons (0-5)
Sometimes you can pick them, even when you don’t want to. As predicted last week by yours truly, head coach Dan Quinn got sacked following the loss to the Carolina Panthers. But they weren’t done there – Atlanta also jettisoned (gee, that’s a great word) general manager Thomas Dimitroff. Defensive co-ordinator Raheem Morris subs in as interim head coach as the Failcons head towards a high draft pick.
31. New York Jets (0-5)
The New York Jets have become the league’s op-shop. Led into battle against the Cardinals by quarterback Joe Flacco – remember him?? He won a Superbowl about a hundred years ago. In the backfield they had Le’Veon Bell – he was the NFL’s best running back about ten years ago and has now just been released. Then finally Frank Gore – the only running back to be collecting the old age pension while still playing football. I admit – this has been all wildly exaggerated, but what is not, is that they lost. Again.
32. New York Giants (0-5)
They tried so hard and got so far. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter. Fresh from breaking Dak’s ankle, the G-Men were not about to break any further hearts in Dallas. Former Falcon running back Devonta Freeman looked like a new person as a dual-threat back all game and ran in a touchdown to put his new team up midway through the fourth quarter. Only for the Cowboys to finish slightly stronger.