Week 7 Preview – Know Thy Enemy: Kansas City Chiefs

Titans vs. Chiefs
Titans vs. Chiefs Credit: TitansWire

It’s Titans vs Chiefs week as the Kansas City Chiefs pays a visit to Nashville to debate which city has the best BBQ + hot chicken recipes and to play a football game in between. The high octane Chiefs offense should have little issue carving up an entirely gracious Titans defense.

Can the struggling Titans passing game keep going score for score with KC? Are the Titans mentally ready after defeating the Bills in an emotional Monday night victory? How much longer can Derrick Henry keep up this immense pace? Who will win this premier match between two AFC contenders in Week 7 of the NFL?

Chiefs Key Numbers + Info (2021 season)

Record: 3-3 (1-1 AFC North)

Points scored: 185

PPG: 30.8

Points allowed: 176

PPGa: 29.3

Avg. yards per rush: 4.9

Average. yards per rush allowed: 5.2

Avg. rush yards per game: 125

Avg. rush yards per game allowed: 133.16

Rushing TDs: 5 for, 9 against

Avg. pass yards per game: 308.5

Avg. pass yards per game allowed: 277.33

Passing TDs: 18 for, 11 against

Pass Completion Rate: 69%

Pass Completion Rate Against: 66%

Leading Rusher: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (65 attempts for 304 yards)

Top Receiver: Tyreek Hill (46 receptions for 592 yards, five touchdowns)

Leading Tackler: Nick Bolton (40 tackles, five tackles for loss)

Key Additions: OT Orlando Brown, OG Trey Smith (rookie), C Creed Humphrey (rookie), RB Darrel Williams, DL Jarran Reed, OL Joe Thuney, TE Blake Bell, OL Austin Blythe, LB Nick Bolton (rookie), OL Mike Remmers, RB Jerick McKinnon, CB Mike Hughes, WR Josh Gordon

Key Losses: OT Mitchell Schwartz, OT Eric Fisher, OL Kyle Long (PUP), RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (IR), OL Martinas Rankin, P Dustin Colquitt, DE Joshua Kaindoh (IR)

Titans vs Chiefs Series History

Kansas City leads the all-time series 30-24

Tennessee Call Out, Ball Out

Team defense 

– Turns out Patrick Mahomes is still a pretty decent player, that guy. Tennessee will need all hands on deck, especially a banged-up secondary to even remotely begin to think about containing the Chefs. The front seven will need to expose a still gelling offensive line if at all possible. Without a team-wide effort, it can get ugly real fast. Suffice to say, a miracle needs to happen. 

Derrick Henry 

– The superstar back will do what he does best to keep the ball away from a potent Chiefs offense. He’s on an unprecedented record-breaking pace for production. Can he hold up for the long and cruel grind that this game is? The Chiefs defense isn’t exactly the 2000 Ravens as of press time. Needless to say, the running back will need to be his level best once again.  

Offensive line. Please do anything

– The Titans will need to rejigger some things as usual as left tackle Taylor Lewan is out due to a concussion suffered on Monday night. Left guard Rodger Saffold is a constant shuffle in and out of the lineup. Ben Jones is seemingly the only good constant on the line.

Yes, the Chiefs defense is what it is but the Tennessee line is banged up and heavily reliant on questionable backups. Ryan Tannehill needs some time to get it going. He’s been one of the most heavily sacked quarterbacks this season. Which group will break first?

Keys to a Chiefs Victory

“Fix” Patrick Mahomes

– Yeah he’s already a legendary figure in the annals of league history but there’s a glaring turnover issue he’s dealing with this season. It needs to be fixed so that inferior teams such as the Titans don’t have a hope of limiting him.

Mahomes is borderline unstoppable when he’s fully on and operating with his full set of weapons. It’s possible that he’s trying to compensate for the lack of defensive cover or he’s experimenting due to the sheer limitless potential of his talent. 

Stop the guy wearing 11 

– The Chiefs’ much-beleaguered secondary will need to stop the Titans’ primary receiving weapon and now Chipotle’s mortal enemy, AJ Brown. After a few weeks of battling injury and ineffectiveness, Brown finally broke out in the second half last week. Stop 11 and a hampered Julio Jones, Kansas City will contain the passing attack. 

Keep on going! 

– The series has been pockmarked with pitched back and forth battles over the years between the two AFC powers. KC has had a better time of it during the past two games though, thoroughly eviscerating the suspect Titans defense every time. Andy Reid is a masterful offensive mind and his protégé Eric Bienemy should’ve been a head coach long ago. Keep the good times rolling! 

Titans vs Chiefs Injury Report

Titans vs Chiefs: What are the odds?

Caesars has the Chiefs as four-point favorites at -110 while the Titans are +110 dogs. The over/under has been set at 57.5. The money line is the Chiefs at -210 and the Titans at +175.

BetMGM has the Chiefs as 4.5 point favorites at -110 while the Titans are +110 dogs. The over/under has been set at 57.5. The money line is the Bills at -200 and the Titans at +175.

Wynnbet has the Chiefs as 4.5 favorites at -115 while the Titans are +105 dogs. The over/under has been set at 57.5. The money line is the Chiefs at -215 and the Titans +175.

Prediction

KANSAS CITY 42

Tennessee Titans 31

Prize Picks

Need a fantasy game that won’t leave you wanting for more, going against the top sharks and expert optimizers in the DFS world? Well, PrizePicks is the one app for you! You can find it on both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Download today to start winning some money to spend on Christmas gifts! 

How to play with ATB

**use promo code “ATB” to get a 100% instant deposit match up to $100**

– PrizePicks allows the user to mix multisport entries (which is great with both NHL + NBA well underway and the MLB playoffs deep into the Fall Classic chase). For instance, you can take the San Jose Sharks hot start, Freddie Freeman dingers, and Patrick Mahomes’ many touchdowns over in one or more entries.)

– As I mentioned before, no sharks or optimizers, or any of the above DFS wizards. It’s just you against the PrizePicks machine. 

Previous KTE Editions

KTE: Jacksonville Jaguars

Know Thy Enemy: Seattle Seahawks

Know Thy Enemy: Indianapolis Colts

KTE: New York Jets

Know Thy Enemy: Buffalo Bills

NFL Power Rankings Week 5: 7 Up, 7 Down – Thrive at Five

NFL Power Rankings Week Five, Credit: BillsWire

A wild and wacky Week 5 is done and dusted. What were the biggest topics on the tongues and minds of NFL folks league wide? Who were the heroes and villains of the fifth week? 14 of the hottest storylines dotting the NFL landscape. The Weekly NFL Power Rankings for week five are here and the question begs itself: who had the drive to thrive in week five?

Up

1. Kyle Pitts FINALLY gets his first touchdown

– The rookie star tight end finally got his first touchdown against the Jets on the soil of America’s greatest ally. Topping off his greatest game as the focal point of the Falcons’ offense (which necessitated due to injuries to the emerging Calvin Ridley). Perhaps this game propels the precocious rookie forward into being the premier tight end league-wide as once was promised? Rookie tight ends are notorious for being fickle in their impact. Head coach Arthur Smith hasn’t been utilizing him as the promised future at the position until Sunday so there’s that factor as well. Maybe this is the game that changes that. Pitts’ fantasy owners will surely love it. 

2. Burrow to Chase is the goods

– Quite a burgeoning friendship one would suspect if both stay healthy and fulfill their endless potential. Chase on target to, well, chase down the GOAT rookie receiver season of Randy Moss 1998. The ascendant star receiver added another 159 yards and a touchdown on just six receptions on Sunday against the Packers. Burrow put a mighty scare into the Bengals after getting hit hard on a scramble (he ultimately returned) and he was admitted to the hospital for a throat contusion. If both players can stay healthy, they can be one of the more lethal quarterback and receiver duos in this league.

3. 1 PM window finishes 

– The early slate delivered some wild hijinks to close it out. Which made up for the relatively nonchalant finishes that the late afternoon games provided us. We all witnessed the crazy back and forth missed kick contest between the Packers and Bengals extend beyond the start of the late window. A game Houston squad made it tough for the Patriots and held the lead until the Pats came back late. Denver got past its offensive struggles and made it a contest deep into the 60th minute against the Steelers. Detroit actually held the lead in a dramatic affair with the injury-depleted Vikings before ultimately succumbing to yet another long-distance game-winning kick. It’s a fun league-wide trend that these games are so close this season. The fans are simultaneously reaching for the antiacids and their phones on an increasing basis this year. We’re all here for the drama. 

4. Browns and Chargers stop playing defense

– The late slate did provide the viewers with some incredible offensive fireworks as both the Browns and Chargers decided to play a game of H-O-R-S-E in the fourth quarter. It was mind-boggling as each team traded long touchdowns like cryptocurrency. After a relatively quiet three quarters, the teams combined for whopping FORTY-ONE points in the final stanza. Both teams went over a combined 1,000 yards of total offense in this one. Justin Herbert continues to solidify his case as a top-five quarterback in this league with every bomb throw he makes and game-winning drives. Where else could you get an entire defense actively trying to drag a runner into the end zone? 

5. The Jameis Winston Experience 

– We got the full ride on Sunday on that roller coaster. He threw a ghastly interception then follows it up with this beauty of a deep shot to Deonte Harris. Overall, Mr. Winston has had a great season controlling his inner turnover demons thus far. He’s played well in Sean Payton’s system and with Taysom Hill’s unfortunate injury, looks to be the only passer touching the ball for a bit. Comeback Player of the Year contender? 

6. The 2021 MVP race crystalizes

– The race for the 2021 MVP award is likely down to three contenders as we move deeper into October and beyond. The three lucky contestants: Kyler Murray, Josh Allen, and Justin Herbert. There could be a dark horse that looms on the horizon like grizzled graybeards Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and the like but it’s these three young guns battling it out. All three are off to fast starts and leading their teams as division contenders if not outright favorites. You can’t go wrong with any of them winning the award at the end. Allen is proving that he’s here to stay after a remarkable 2020. Murray is leading the league’s top offense. The Los Angeles Charger signal-caller has come on like gangbusters during his sophomore season after a remarkable rookie year. Allen likely wins it after establishing his bonafides last year. 

7. The 2019 MVP Stakes His Claim to the Crown

–  Lamar Jackson had a performance for the ages on Monday Night Football, leading the Ravens to a stirring comeback victory over the Colts. He’s well on his way to making the MVP race a four-way contest with the aforementioned three young guns above. It will be a thrilling race to the very end and Jackson has the precedence as a prior winner to know what it takes to win it. He has progressed every season as a passer under Greg Roman’s watch. Can he win the award for a second time?

Down

1. Special Teams coaches’ heart rates 
– The specialists in Week 5 were on one this week. A whopping 12 missed extra points plagued the league’s foot meeting with leather people, including THREE in the Texans-Patriots (in a dome, no less). The aforementioned Cincinnati-Packers featured both kickers missing game-winning kicks on repeat, including Mason Crosby missing THREE BY HIMSELF in about 15 minutes of game time. Of course, we can’t leave out the punters as a 0-yard punt AND a double punt happened! There’s nothing that epitomizes the weekend more than Evan McPherson pulling a Nick Young and celebrating a bit too early.

2. Injuries

– Another brutal week of injuries took a toll around the league as multiple stars are looking at long term issues. None more so than the Giants as Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and Kenny Golladay were all knocked out of the game. The Browns didn’t escape as Jack Conklin, Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, and JOK suffered game-ending injuries as well. Pittsburgh receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster injured his shoulder and is out for the season. The offensive linemen suffered heavily as Joe Thuney (broken hand), Oday Aboushi (ACL), Germain Ifedi (knee), Laremy Tunsil (hand), Sam Cosmi (ankle), Rodger Saffold (shoulder) were all declared OUT. At what point do the owners realize that the 17th game isn’t worth it? Do teams begin to schedule loss games like the San Antonio Spurs infamously made legendary?

3. Business is not booming for Miami 

– There’s no shame in losing to the GOAT quarterback. However, there is shame in how they lost. The Dolphins’ defense was dismantled in a devastating fashion as all three units were to blame. The secondary was lit on fire as Antonio Brown got loose on a pair of touchdowns. How dominant was the Bucs offensive line? Well, let’s say a picture is worth a thousand words. Not to mention that the Twitter account of Tua Tagovailoa’s gym went on a Brian Flores-related rant after the game. Things aren’t rosy for the denizens of Hard Rock Stadium right now.

4. Coaches wearing the scandalous scarlet letters 

– I won’t get into the Urban Meyer stuff this week as it’s been harangued into oblivion. It’s definitely not a great look for a coach with a questionable character already struggling to adapt to the pro game. The Jaguars looked relatively competitive on Sunday despite the week filled with questions about Meyer’s antics. However, on the west coast, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is in a lot of hot water regarding racist emails about NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith. Then the New York Times broke the news that the Gruden emails got horrifically worse, way worse. Gruden has elected to resign, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero

5. Denver’s offense is who we thought that they were 

– Try as they might, the Broncos’ offense just couldn’t get it going until it was desperation time against the Steelers. Teddy Bridgewater, while a capable quarterback, isn’t the most physically gifted passer. Throw in an offense that is recovering a key asset or two like Courtland Sutton, it’s going to take a minute to gel together. Next week might be a get-right game against the tumultuous scandal-ridden Raiders in the Mile High City.

6. Seattle without Chef Unlimited 

– We will get a few weeks’ glimpses into the possibly not too distant Wilson-less future with Russell Wilson out due to injury. Geno Smith takes over as the starter. The schedule is demanding to say the least with a road trip to Pittsburgh, home against the Saints, away at Green Bay, and home to Arizona dotting the next four out of five games. Can the Seahawks keep their heads above water in the Division of Death with Mr. Unlimited? 

7. The Chiefs defense is bad

– Yeah, nothing new here but it’s dire for the men under the watch of Steve Spagnuolo. The numbers are disastrous and I’m not sure Spags’ pedigree can save them this time. Missing their best defensive lineman Chris Jones isn’t helping much, either. It’s a long season yet the defensive statistics reflect a team with a much lesser talent profile. Wherever the season ends up for the Chiefs to be seen, it is ominous. Patrick Mahomes can’t keep on rescuing the defense when he’s battling some issues himself. 

Previous Editions

Week 1: Opening Overreactions

Wk 2: Perceptive Repeats

Week 3: So Nice, Do It Thrice

Week 4: Good Quads Like Saquon

Bills vs Chiefs Week 5 Review: Allen Rains TDs in Stormy Kansas City

Bills vs Chiefs
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

How about these Buffalo Bills!?! Everyone had this Bills vs Chiefs Week 5 matchup circled on their calendars, and it delivered in a BIG way. Josh Allen vs Patrick Mahomes: Round 3 was a statement game for Buffalo. Allen played his best game of the season, scoring 4 touchdowns in a rainstorm to lead the Bills to a 38-20 victory.

The defense proved that they could be just as good against Mahomes as against their previous weaker opponents. There was no stopping Buffalo on Sunday night despite an hour-long weather delay and some downright awful officiating. Super Bowls aren’t won in October, but this game put the Bills in the driver’s seat to be the 1 seed in the AFC.

Key Takeaways from Bills vs Chiefs

The Good

Josh Allen

Allen finally met the moment and delivered an incredible performance in Kansas City. He marched down the field and scored a rushing touchdown on the first drive, then added 3 more through the air. He completed 15 passes for 315 yards, along with 8 rushes for 61 yards, excluding kneel-downs.

Despite the wind and rain, Allen was deadly with the deep ball. He had a perfect passer rating on throws more than 20 yards downfield, going 5/6 for 213 yards and touchdowns to Emmanuel Sanders and Dawon Knox. His 61-yarder to Stefon Diggs should have been a touchdown, too, but Diggs lost track of the safety and got caught celebrating.

His rushing output was vital to keep the offense moving. Of his 8 carries, 5 resulted in a first down or touchdown. When Josh Allen plays at this level, the Bills are unstoppable.

Dawson Knox

Dawson freaking Knox. The Bills drafted Knox as a long-term athletic project out of Ole Miss back in 2019. He showed flashes over his first two years but had a lot of growing pains too. Now he is the team’s leading touchdown scorer and one of Josh Allen’s favorite targets. He is one of the best athletes in the league at tight end and showed that on his 53-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.

Knox’s breakout is the biggest driver of the Bills’ offensive success this season. His presence prevents defenses from loading up on coverage players as Pittsburgh did. Keeping him on the field allows the run game and pass protection to flourish and maintains the threat of explosive pass offense.

Emmanuel Sanders

Sanders has been an absolute stud on the field this season. He has 329 yards and 4 touchdowns so far. His ability to uncover in the intermediate range is a perfect match for Allen’s biggest area of strength. Most importantly with Sanders, his maturity and experience has lifted the Bills locker room. The team was able to stay level-headed through the early lead and uncomfortable weather delay. Sanders was surely a big part of that mental strength.

Defense

This was a thoroughly dominant performance from the whole defensive unit. The Bills held the Chiefs to their lowest scoring output this season — without their best player, Matt Milano — and forced 4 turnovers. Patrick Mahomes completed 33 passes but only gained 272 yards through the air. Star weapons Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce could not make an impact for the majority of the game.

Jerry Hughes had 9 pressures, and rookie Greg Rousseau was a force in the run and pass game. Rousseau had a pivotal red-zone interception in which he used his length to tip a Mahomes pass to himself. Jordan Poyer tallied two pass breakups, and Micah Hyde intercepted a Tyreek Hill drop which he returned for a touchdown.

Newly-extended Taron Johnson led the team with 12 tackles and had a pass breakup as well. AJ Klein and Siran Neal filled in for Milano and performed admirably. The Bills didn’t blitz Mahomes once but still generated pressure and kept Mahomes flustered. This season, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier has been on an absolute tear, and Bills vs Chiefs Week 5 is just his latest masterpiece.

The Bad

Special Teams

Punter Matt Haack has been on the wrong side of average this season. He had one good punt but failed to flip the field in his other opportunities. Isaiah McKenzie fumbled a return attempt but luckily was able to jump back on the ball. The coverage unit allowed over 30 yards per return on kickoffs. Kicker Tyler Bass was a bright spot, but the unit was otherwise disappointing.

Missed Opportunities

Nothing came back to bite us, but the Bills left some points on the board early. After their first touchdown drive, the kick coverage unit forced a turnover. The offense took over in field goal range but moved backward and ultimately had to punt. Later in the first half, Stefon Diggs lost sight of the defender and got tackled celebrating on his deep reception. The offense stalled and kicked a field goal. Those are the kind of missed opportunities that usually lead to a loss against the Chiefs.

The Ugly

Weather

Buffalo has played back-to-back games in the pouring rain. They faced an hour-long rain delay in the Bills vs Chiefs Week 5 matchup on Sunday night. Nobody can control the weather, but the Bills can control if their stadium has a dome. Bad weather is an equalizer, so it’s not an advantage when we are the better team.

Officiating

The refs in this game thought they were the stars of the night. In total, this game saw 17 accepted penalties for 158 yards. The flags disproportionately hurt the Bills on Sunday night. There were multiple phantom holding penalties on our offensive line and defensive backs.

More egregious holds were routinely ignored when committed by Kansas City. Ed Oliver was called for roughing the passer on a critical fourth-down stop by the defense, but he was pushed by a Chiefs’ lineman directly into the legs of Mahomes. The Chiefs used the gift to score a touchdown on that drive. The officials called a hold on Mitch Morse on a Josh Allen first down run when they were trying to create a dagger drive to put the game out of reach. Video replay showed that Morse was not even engaged with any defenders on the play.

Everyone will point to a roughing the passer on Frank Clark the following play that negated a Josh Allen interception. He picked up Allen and drove him to the ground with all his body weight. It’s the correct call of a dumb rule, and if you want to nitpick that call, you have to acknowledge that the previous incorrect holding is the only reason that play ever happened.

What’s Next?

The Bills head to Nashville to take on the 3-2 Titans on Monday Night Football next week. The extra rest will be valuable after the emotional, extended Bills vs Chiefs Week 5 game. The Titans have been pretty disappointing this year, even dropping a game to the Jets. The Bills should take care of business without too much trouble, but they certainly won’t overlook this game.

Check back in later this week for the preview. Go Bills!

One Last Note

Some fans are starting to question how quiet Cole Beasley has been on the field the past two weeks. He also deactivated his Twitter after Sunday night which only increased the speculation. There is no reason to read into these things. Buffalo is all about catering the game plan to the opponent. The opportunities haven’t been there for Beasley lately, but he is still a valuable asset and his number will be called many more times this season.

As for Twitter, Beasley said last year that getting rid of social media allowed him to focus on the game and elevate his play. He has been hyper-focused on the vaccine issue and was frequently voicing his opinion on Twitter and fighting with people in the comments. He likely deactivated so that he can avoid the distraction and refocus on football. No need to panic just yet.

Once again, Go Bills!

Prize Picks

PrizePicks operates in EVERY US state and Canada EXCEPT for the following: AZ CO DE HI ID IN IA LA MD ME MS MO MT NV NH NJ OH PA TN VA WA.

  • Use promo code “ATB” to receive a 100% instant deposit match up to $100
  • PrizePicks is the simplest fantasy game on the market.
  • You pick 2-5 players and can win up 10x on any entry.
  • PrizePicks has no sharks, optimizers, or mass-multi entry (It’s just you vs. the projection).
  • Allows mixed-sport entries (You can take the OVER on Lebron parlayed with the UNDER on Mahomes).
  • PrizePicks has a slick easy to use mobile app, both on the App Store and Google Play

How to use PrizePicks:

7 Up, 7 Down: A Perceptive Repeat?

Week 2 was full of intrigue as teams tried to shake the stark realities of Week 1 debuts or build upon progress. Which teams / players did the thing? Who needs some work as we look ahead to Week 3 of the young 2021 season?

Up

1. Micah Parsons is certified #good

– The former first round selection validated the Cowboys with a monster performance on Sunday. He was moved closer to the line due to injuries and showed well despite not playing EDGE since high school. PFF gave him an overall grade of 89.9, which was good for highest defensive rookie this week. He had eight pressures on the most promising young quarterbacks in the league. It looks like the pass rush moves he was working on with the legendary DeMarcus Ware on Hard Knocks paid off. The versatile linebacker was a freak athlete that played in a variety of roles while at Penn State. Certainly a good start to the young linebacker’s career. Could a permanent move to EDGE be in the cards after his initial performance? 

2. Late Game Window

– If the early slate was a bit of a dud (it wasn’t) but in comparison to the late slate, it was quaint. There was a period of a few minutes where multiple games came down to a game winning field goal attempt. Arizona survived the Vikings last dash attempt (in a candidate for game of the year) while Tennessee and Dallas made their field goals to sneak out road wins. Dallas kicker Greg Zuerlein delivered after a litany of coaching errors and his own demons from last week.  All of which served as delicious appetizers to the big showdown on Sunday Night Football. 

3. Lamar Jackson and John Harbaugh’s “GUTS”

– Speaking of Sunday night action, there was plenty of it as Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes put on a show. Jackson, especially put on a show during the fourth quarter leading the Ravens to an upset win over the Chiefs. He struggled early on, throwing multiple interceptions to Tyrann Mathieu, including a pick six. It was a shootout until the very end when the Chiefs inexplicably took the ball out of Mahomes’ hands on a crucial drive. 

Lamar then took the ball on a game icing drive, which led to the now famous do you want to go for it question asked by Harbaugh. A fantastic preview for a potential rematch in January?

4. Carolina D fences in the Saints

The Panthers defense held the explosive Saints offense to a mere seven points and harried Jameis Winston into two interceptions and just 111 yards passing. They also kept the electrifying Alvin Kamara to just 30 yards on 12 touches while getting four sacks and 11 hits on Winston. DC Phil Snow’s men have been dominant through the first two games, leading the league in numerous categories. They get to face a largely untested rookie leading a dysfunctional Houston Texans team on Thursday night. Undoubtedly for which they will be salivating for.

5. Explosive Teddy Bridgewater

– The amiable Teddy Bridgewater has appeared to revamp his game into a more high powered attack with Denver it seems. He has looked downright aggressive compared to his reputation of being “safe”. He’s in the top ten in passing yardage, touchdowns, QB rating, and true to form, has no interceptions. Bridgewater has seized the starting job over Drew Lock and it appears that the Broncos are going to ride with him despite their dalliances with Aaron Rodgers. I’m excited what the future weeks portend for him armed with a much better offense and a stout defense. He deserves all the flowers as a veteran QB who has more than his paid dues. 

6. Houston being competitive 

– Everyone wrote off the Texans as the worst team in the league and yes it appears that way talent wise. HC David Culley has them fighting and competing early on, even if the competitive level isn’t the best. That’s admirable. They’re even in first place in the AFC South. Well, we’ll see how much of that competitive spirit is retained as the opposing teams’ talent level ratchets up. They’re about to face a brutal six game gauntlet of the Panthers, @ Bills, Patriots, @ Colts, and @ Cardinals. All this without the hot start of injured Tyrod Taylor and managing the tricky Deshaun Watson situation. Let’s hope for Culley’s sake that his team can win at least two of these games. 

7. Kyler Murray is FUN

– Murray is one of the most fun quarterbacks in the league right now. It just wasn’t the Titans that were bamboozled and mystified on how to cover him. Mike Zimmer’s Vikings defense was similarly flummoxed as well on Sunday afternoon. He was unstoppable uncorking passes from seemingly improbable locations like a mini-Mahomes all game. The clip below probably wasn’t even his best HOW??? throw of the game. When the Cardinals offense is truly clicking, it’s really entertaining for fans everywhere. Now that he has AJ Green, rookie Rondale Moore, along with the erstwhile superstar DeAndre Hopkins to go along with a solid line, they will be a tough out for anyone. I would go as far as to say that the Murray led Cardinals are everyone’s second favorite team and a Red Zone darling.  

Down

1. The Dolphins OL

– Yeesh. That wasn’t the best effort in the world against the stingy #BillsMafia defense, getting shutout, 35-0. The biggest part, the unit was responsible for franchise QB Tua Tagovailoa getting injured by a virtually free oncoming pass rusher. It remains to be seen how long Tua will be out for due to this latest setback but it appears grim. The line gave up six sacks and 11 hits on the QB overall. The line needs major upgrades in the worst way possible. They need to get right in a hurry for Brian Flores’ men to compete for the playoffs. 

2. Taunting rules

Let the great Field Yates surmise everyone’s thoughts on this needlessly obtuse and useless rule:

Also, a compilation to further outline this outlandishly farcical rule that NO ONE wants:

3. Wentz is Cooked?

– Russ is cooking while Carson Wentz might be officially cooked as a starting level quarterback after Sunday’s tough minded performance that resulted in a spectacular shovel pass interception and an injury. The trade that brought him to Indianapolis may be a bust but it’s early yet. The Colts are currently projected to have a top five selection but they owe it to the Eagles should Wentz play 75% of the snaps and the Colts make the playoffs. If their record gets worse in a downtrodden AFC South similar to last year’s NFC East, they might be inclined to sit Wentz to avoid paying the premium cost. 

4. The Chiefs defense merits banishment from the Kingdom 

The KC defense just has to be league average to complement an all world offense yet they are failing to do just that. By most metrics, they are in the bottom tier. It’s not like they are not chock full of talent, either. There is too much talent on the defense for it to be this bad. Patrick Mahomes can’t continually save the day even if he’s capable of it every game. It’s early but DC Steve Spagnuolo has proven to be capable of fixing defenses. #ChiefsKingdom surely expects the defense to be better, it has to be, right? 

5. Welcome to the League, Rook QBs

– Week 2 was a mixed bag for the much ballyhooed class of 2021 rookie quarterbacks as they have had several welcome to the big leagues moments between them. Zach Wilson in particular had a rough go against the wizard Bill Belichick, throwing for four interceptions and 0 scores. Trevor Lawrence is continuing to throw interceptions like the cookie monster devours cookies, throwing two against Denver. Trey Lance sat. Justin Fields got a lot of time after Andy Dalton was injured, throwing a hideous interception in a crucial moment against the Bengals and was just 6-13 and 60 yards. In more positive news, Mac Jones was effective, leading the aforementioned Patriots to a dominant win. Davis Mills of Houston will get the start on Thursday after subbing in for an injured Tyrod Taylor on Sunday. This was expected growing pains for a rookie class.

6. Injuries are the worst

– It was a brutal week for injuries as a litany of stars were hurt enough to get knocked out of the game or had to sit out a few plays. Most notably, Andy Dalton, Tua, Carson Wentz, Bradley Chubb, TJ Watt, and Tyrod Taylor left and did not return. Baker Mayfield was injured trying to make a tackle on the player who intercepted his pass, dislocating his shoulder. Speaking of Cleveland, Jarvis Landry exited the game and subsequently placed on IR. Big Ben and Eagles OL Brandon Brooks are dealing with pectoral injuries. Eagles EDGE rusher Brandon Graham has a reported torn Achilles. Chubb underwent ankle surgery and is expected to miss significant time and may have ended his time in Denver. It’s only week three of a long 17 game season and it’s going to be a slog with all these injuries to key players already.

7. Zac Taylor is not a good head coach nor OC

– Taylor has proven repeatedly that he isn’t ready for the big time yet. There’s no reason that he shouldn’t call the offense more aggressively than he has. An example that is none more glaring was Sunday when he refused to unleash Joe Burrow until it was too late. The Bengals don’t have the greatest talent along the offensive line, sure but the play calling has been way too conservative. He has to be more mindful that he has a franchise quarterback that needs to be let loose. The Bengals have drafted well over the years but I don’t think he’s that dude that can maximize the short window of contention that a rookie QB contract provides. Perhaps he isn’t ready for a head coaching job just yet and went too far ahead of his skis riding the McVay wave.