Denver Broncos Are NFLs Biggest Undefeated Mystery Team Entering Week 3

Halfway through the NFL season, the NFC has five established contenders. Meanwhile, the AFC is more wide open than any conference in recent memory.

Want to pick the AFC favorite? Grab paper, scissors and a hat.

Through eight weeks, there’s no frontrunner. Hell, we barely know who the runners are.

Entering the season, the Kansas City Chiefs were the odds-on favorites. That shifted around the start of October, when the high-flying Buffalo Bills outscored opponents by more than 100 points between Weeks 2-4, and then smashed Kansas City in Week 5. However, the Bills followed that win up by losing to the Tennessee Titans, who hammered the Chiefs six days later.

During these stretches, the Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore Ravens were both considered top dogs. This before the Chargers were crushed by the Ravens in Week 6, only to be handled 41-17 last week by the Cincinnati Bengals, who were the AFC’s top seed going into this weekend. Yes, the same Bengals who lost 34-31 to Mike White and the New York Jets yesterday.

Got all that? Welcome to the AFC in 2021.

After beating the Indianapolis Colts in a wildly-entertaining overtime game on Sunday, the Titans are 6-2 and alone atop the AFC standings and can lay claim to favorite status. Tennessee has a litany of quality wins as outlined, and the star power is there between quarterback Ryan Tannehill, receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, and running back Derrick Henry. They also have a favorable schedule, still playing the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars three times.

However, the defense — save for holding Kansas City to three points — has largely been awful. Tennessee has allowed 27+ points on five occasions, and while Tannehill is a good quarterback, there are legitimate doubts if he can out-duel the likes of Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes and/or Justin Herbert.

And now, with the news of Henry having a potentially season-ending foot injury, Tannehill will be solely responsible for making the offense work. The Titans have enough of a divisional lead to make the playoffs, but without Henry? The playoffs seem like a short ride.

As for the rest of the AFC, here’s the case for and against each contender, in alphabetical order:

Baltimore: The Ravens have an electric quarterback in Jackson who has improved immensely from the pocket. Baltimore also has a top head coach in John Harbaugh. However, the defense, specifically the secondary, is injured and the big play could be a major problem.

Buffalo: The most complete team in the AFC. Buffalo’s defense has largely been excellent, and Allen has the capacity to be sensational. Also, top-notching coaching staff. That said, Allen has been erratic this year and the offensive line has serious issues.

Kansas City: The Chiefs are 3-4 because they lead the league in turnovers and the defense struggled across the board. They also have the league’s toughest remaining schedule. Conversely, Kansas City has football’s most explosive offense, ample experience succeeding in January and excellent coaching along with the game’s best quarterback if he cuts the turnovers.

Las Vegas: Maybe the toughest case to make, but Derek Carr is playing well and Maxx Crosby is producing at an All-Pro level. Also, the team has come together in the wake of Jon Gruden’s resignation. However, the defense is brutal beyond Crosby and corner Casey Hayward, and there’s no experience to lean on without a playoff win since 2002.

Los Angeles: Herbert is spectacular and the weapons are many. Also, Brandon Staley appears to be a winning hire at head coach. The problems? No experience in big spots, the league’s worst run defense and questions in both the front seven and the offensive line.

While some might want the Pittsburgh Steelers or Cleveland Browns included, but neither is making a Super Bowl run. Pittsburgh has no quarterback, and the Browns are poor defensively and dealing with both injuries and ineffectiveness on offense.

Finally, some may want the Chiefs bumped out at 3-4 with a game coming Monday against the New York Giants (more below on that). Still, Kansas City is a two-time defending conference champ with a Super Bowl win during that timeframe. The Chiefs are down, but they can’t be discounted. If they reach the playoffs, nobody will want them in town.

Through eight weeks, the AFC remains a great mystery. It’ll likely be sorted out to some extent by January, either by injuries, a dip in play or a surge by one of the aforementioned teams.

Until then, close your eyes and reach into the hat.

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Power rankings

Top 10 players never named First-Team All-Pro

1. John Elway, QB, Denver Broncos

2. Warren Moon, QB, Houston Oilers

3. Tim Brown, WR, Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders

4. Troy Aikman, QB, Dallas Cowboys

5. Harry Carson, LB, New York Giants

6. Isaac Bruce, WR, St. Louis Rams

7. Andre Reed, WR, Buffalo Bills

8. Rickey Jackson, LB, New Orleans Saints

9. Jackie Slater, OT, Los Angeles Rams

10. Jackie Smith, TE, St. Louis Cardinals

Quotable

If Mike White keeps playing well, could he be the long-term answer at quarterback for the Jets?

Said Robert Saleh: “We’ll take it day to day, but anything’s possible.” pic.twitter.com/fDpi3K6X0G

— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) October 31, 2021

In his first career start, White threw for 405 yards with three touchdowns and two touchdowns for the Jets in a win over Cincinnati. Without question, it was the best performance from a New York quarterback this season, and it’s creating a controversy.

While Wilson is sidelined a few more weeks with his knee injury, there’s a fair question about whether he regains the starting job upon his return. Of course, White could tank in the upcoming games, but if he doesn’t, do the Jets go with production or draft slot?

Podcast

Random stat

Entering this weekend, the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys are tied for the NFL’s best win percentage all-time at .569. The Packers, who have played 454 more games than Dallas, earns the tiebreaker.

How good has Green Bay been historically? The Packers could lose every game from next week through Week 11 of the 2032 campaign and still be above .500.

Info learned this week

1. Lions could be headed towards a second winless season, and first 0-17

The Detroit Lions make a ton of bad history. They might be on their way once more.

After losing 44-6 at home to the Philadelphia Eagles, the obvious question looms: are the Lions going to lose them all?

Keep in mind, the Lions have lost on a 66-field goal at the gun. They also were beaten on a 54-yard kick as time expired. Last week, Detroit pulled off two successful fake punts and an onside kick, and still lost by nine points. On Sunday, the Eagles threw for 114 yards with on touchdown passes and scored 44 points.

Mercifully, the Lions get a bye week to regroup at 0-8. Afterwards, here’s the schedule:

Week 10: at Pittsburgh

Week 11: at Cleveland

Week 12: vs. Chicago (Thanksgiving)

Week 13: vs. Minnesota

Week 14: at Denver

Week 15: vs. Arizona

Week 16: at Atlanta

Week 17: at Seattle

Week 18: vs. Green Bay

The win(s) are likely to come, if at all, between Weeks 12-14. If the Lions can’t beat the Bears or Vikings at home, or knock off the Broncos at Mile High, it’s probably over. Perhaps Detroit gets lucky and the Packers are playing all their backups in the final game. But this is the Lions, where luck goes to die.

For the sake of Motown, head coach Dan Campbell and the players, hopefully the Lions win a game. It just appears anything but a certainty.

2. Browns find themselves in last place, and facing many questions

Where do the Cleveland Browns go from here?

After losing 15-10 to a Pittsburgh Steelers team with no offense and, for the second half, no kicker, the Browns are 4-4 and hold last place in the AFC North. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is valiantly playing with a harness on his left shoulder, while the rest of the roster remains ravaged by injuries. Additionally, the schedule is unforgiving, with Cleveland still having five divisional games remaining.

While the playoffs remain a distinct possibility, this season was supposed to be so much more. The Browns were supposed to be a Super Bowl contender. They are not. They were supposed to contend for the division. They aren’t doing that either. In comparison to expectations, this year has been a dud for Cleveland.

Beyond the 17th game, the Browns have a litany of questions. Does Mayfield get an extension or play out the fifth-year option? Is Odell Beckham Jr. traded before 2022? Are receiver Rashard Higgins, guard Wyatt Teller, tight end David Njoku returning or allowed to hit free agency? It’s also fair to consider.

The Browns aren’t dead, but they’re down and might be out in the AFC conversation.

3. Jameis Winston injury puts both him and Saints in interesting offseason spot

What to do with Jameis Winston?

Winston, who helped the New Orleans Saints to a 4-2 record before suffering a potentially season-ending knee injury. If Winston is out for either the entire season or a huge chunk, how do the Saints view the pending unrestricted free agent?

New Orleans is in the league’s worst cap space situation — a specialty of general manager Mickey Loomis — going towards the offseason. The Saints are slated to be a whopping $56 million over the projected cap. If Winston played really well for 17 games, having him long-term was going to be a challenge.

Now, after a solid-yet-unspectacular few months, perhaps Winston takes another short-term deal to return. And for the Saints, that’s the only realistic way to bring him back. Of course, Loomis could also try to draft Winston’s replacement, although the incoming quarterback crop is seen as weak by some NFL sources FanSided has spoken to.

Hopefully, Winston is able to return soon and this becomes a moot conversation. But if he’s out long-term, the Saints and their quarterback have tough choices ahead.

4. Cowboys beat Vikings, and Cooper Rush might have finished Mike Zimmer

The Minnesota Vikings likely won’t fire Mike Zimmer on Monday. They ought to, though.

Zimmer, who has helmed Minnesota since 2014, suffered one of his more embarrassing defeats on Sunday night. With the Dallas Cowboys starting backup quarterback Cooper Rush, the Vikings managed to lose at home, 20-16. Rush, in his first career start, threw for 325 yards in victory.

For Minnesota, it was the usual conservative style mixed with a comedy of errors. Kirk Cousins threw for 184 yards on 5.3 yards per attempt despite having two star receivers. The Vikings were +2 in the turnover battle and still scored only 16 points.

Yet for Zimmer, the most damning sequence of all happened on Dallas’ final drive. Trailing 16-13 with 1:04 remaining in regulation and facing 3rd and 16 at Minnesota’s 25-yard line, the Cowboys were likely going to play for overtime. Then the Vikings took a defensive delay of game for attempting to call consecutive timeouts. On 3rd and 11, Rush checked down to running back Ezekiel Elliott, who split two tacklers and gained 15 yards.

In his eighth season, the Vikings still make mind-numbing mistakes under Zimmer on a weekly basis.

It’s likely Zimmer finishes the season. It’s becoming incredibly unlikely he goes a day past then.

5. Chiefs fight for their season on MNF against Giants

The Kansas City Chiefs are 3-4. A loss to the New York Giants might be the death blow.

For a team most believed infallible and on their way to a third consecutive AFC title, a funny thing happened to the Chiefs this season. Kansas City has been miserable defensively, ranking 28th in yards allowed and 27th in points surrendered per game going into the weekend. The Chiefs’ offense remains potent, but quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been sloppy, leading the league with 11 turnovers.

Now, Kansas City faces its crisis point. A loss here, and the Chiefs are reeling at 3-5 with a stretch of Green Bay, Las Vegas and Dallas ahead. However, a win and Kansas City is 4-4, while having four of its next five at home.

Perception and reality can change quickly for the Chiefs. It needs to, or they’ll be playing 17 games this season and not one more.

Gambler’s game

Over at WynnBet, the Cowboys are somehow only laying eight points, at home, against the Broncos. Lay the points and don’t think twice.

Two cents

The Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers would be insane to part company this offseason.

Regardless of their off-field issues with each other, the marriage is working splendidly in the only area that matters. Green Bay is 7-1 and running away with the NFC North after beating the previously-undefeated Arizona Cardinals, despite having a skeleton crew on offense.

Rodgers, 38, remains a top-five quarterback in the game. The Packers would be hopeless without him but are brilliant with No. 12 under center. While the common belief — both outside the league and in — is that Rodgers will be suiting up elsewhere in 2022, both sides would be making a huge mistake.

The Packers represent Rodgers’ best shot to win another championship. And Rodgers, difficult at times, is easily Green Bay’s best hope to live up to its Titletown moniker.

We’re a long way from the offseason, and much can change. One thing that shouldn’t? The clear reality that, without each other, Rodgers and the Packers are taking enormous steps backwards.

Inside the league

The Houston Texans should have a full house-cleaning, two years running.

Houston, at 1-6 and comically atrocious in almost every area, can’t seem to grasp the idea of asset management. The Texans have a quality receiver in Brandin Cooks who could bring back a Day 2 pick, and a quarterback in Deshaun Watson who, despite facing 22 civil suits for alleged sexual assault, could net a return large enough to reshape the franchise.

It’s clear general manager Nick Caserio should move both, especially with Watson being the most expensive inactive in sports, all while claiming he wants out. The Texans need to go nuclear and start from scratch after years of bad trades and bloated contracts.

Yet Houston seems to have no interest in doing so for reasons nobody can understand.

If the Texans aren’t going to recoup draft capital for their only remaining assets, they deserve the last-place finishes they’ll have in upcoming seasons.

History lesson

With the Denver Broncos and Washington Football Team getting together, this segment was easy.

In Super Bowl XXII, Washington hammered Denver 42-10, but the biggest impact came from Doug Williams. Williams, a former first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before going to the USFL to keep his career alive, became the first black quarterback to both start and win a Super Bowl.

The Washington signal-caller set a record for five passing touchdowns in a quarter, erasing the Broncos’ early 10-0 advantage and making the score 35-10 at halftime.

Oh, and Williams was named Super Bowl MVP.

Parting shot

The duality of emotions in life can be powerful and surprising.

Last Friday, my wife and I found out we’re having another daughter. The tests came back perfectly in terms of health. Thank God. At 15 weeks, we have almost six months to wait to meet her, and it’s worth every second.

Many of you know we lost our son, Ben, on April 14 in an emergency, life-saving surgery. He was stillborn. I cried for three days straight, and for no other reason than it being my nature, I stopped on the fourth day. I have his picture on my desk. I say good morning and goodnight every day. I miss him terribly, but my emotions have stayed steady.

And yet when I picked up the genetic results on the 15th, I was a mess. Maybe it was because I was back at the hospital where Ben’s life was lost. Maybe it was the realization I had to move forward. Maybe it was the notion of a father never having a living son, knowing this is the last child we plan to raise.

While I’m incredibly excited to have another child, my exhilaration is met with acute sadness. My father is my hero, for now and all time. I’ve always dreamt about having such a relationship with my son. And don’t get it twisted, Ben is the victim here. He lost his life. I still live mine. I just wish I could have watched him live his.

It’s amazing, how much we love our children and what we’d do for them. I’m prone to hyperbole, but there’s none when I say I would do anything to have Ben in my arms. This winter should be his first Christmas. Instead of writing this column, I should be holding him, feeding him a bottle. Not to be.

Come April 18, the day of my wife’s scheduled c-section, we’ll hopefully celebrate the birth of our third child. It’ll be painful, though, looking down the hall at the room we said farewell to Ben in on April 14 the year prior.

It sounds bizarre, smiling through a river of tears. Yet the conflicting emotions of it all left me in such a state.

In less than six months, God willing, I’ll say hello to my second little girl. But first, I’ll say good morning to my only son.

Source : https://fansided.com/2021/11/01/nfl-power-rankings-afc-contenders-jameis-winston-injury-browns/

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AFC is wide open, NFL power rankings, Jameis Winston, Browns fall and more

Source:FanSided

AFC is wide open, NFL power rankings, Jameis Winston, Browns fall and more

Washington Football Teams defense shows signs of life in defeat

Source:ESPN.com

Washington Football Teams defense shows signs of life in defeat

Jameis Winston carted off in Saints win over Tom Brady and the Bucs; Mike White-led Jets stun the Bengals

Source:MSN

Jameis Winston carted off in Saints win over Tom Brady and the Bucs; Mike White-led Jets stun the Bengals

Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Rookies dominate Week 10 priority pickups

Source:Yahoo News

Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Rookies dominate Week 10 priority pickups