If you’re a regular follower, you may notice at times that my “analysis” of a team is lacking, well, analysis. I was well aware I was doing this and sometimes felt bad about it. But at it’s heart, this blog has always been about the narratives that drive the league.
So now I’m leaning into it. I’ll still analyze, but in the spirit of trick-or-treat, each team will now get to choose analysis-or-anecdote. And yes, I will be choosing for them, based entirely on whether I’m more entertained by something about the team’s performance or by a story involving them.
As always, may all your teams win or at least have an entertaining narrative.
- 1. San Francisco 49ers
- 2. Philadelphia Eagles
- 3. Kansas City Chiefs
- 4. Buffalo Bills
- 5. Miami Dolphins
- 6. Baltimore Ravens
- 7. Detroit Lions
- 8. Jacksonville Jaguars
- 9. Dallas Cowboys
- 10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- 11. Seattle Seahawks
- 12. Los Angeles Chargers
- 13. Cincinnati Bengals
- 14. Atlanta Falcons
- 15. New Orleans Saints
- 16. Indianapolis Colts
- 17. Green Bay Packers
- 18. Tennessee Titans
- 19. New York Jets
- 20. Pittsburgh Steelers
- 21. Houston Texans
- 22. Los Angeles Rams
- 23. Minnesota Vikings
- 24. Washington Commanders
- 25. New England Patriots
- 26. Cleveland Browns
- 27. Arizona Cardinals
- 28. Vegas Raiders
- 29. Carolina Panthers
- 30. Chicago Bears
- 31. Denver Broncos
- 32. New York Giants
1. San Francisco 49ers
It’s so close, but I sort of feel like I made a promise and they delivered their end. Not that SF is only here because of something I said, but I still believe the Cowboys are a good team, and the Niners beat them down handily.
Also, definitely didn’t finish watching that game. Are you kidding me? No way. It was 42-10 with like 12 minutes left in the 4th quarter and I was done. Apparently so were both teams, as that score held to the end of the game.
The Niners are just silly good, and Brock Purdy is the perfect conduit for their offense. I think we need a new term to describe a higher level of game manager. It’s not like Purdy is putting games away by himself, but he’s also not Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson.
A true game manager plays relatively mistake-free football, which is usually because he doesn’t throw much. Game managers play full seasons with 14 TDs and 4 picks. Boring and efficient.
Purdy’s numbers are MVP-level. He’s on pace for 30 TDs and 0 interceptions, which sounds ridiculous but 0 times 0 is zero, and don’t you dare divide by zero.
He has superstar numbers, but his role in the offense is more game manager-esque. I need a term that brings it all together without the bittersweet connotation of game manager. I’ll keep thinking on it, but I’m open to suggestions.
2. Philadelphia Eagles
They won, and they dropped a spot. That’s unfortunate, but it’s how it goes when you’re just squeaking by every week while another team is out here dicing up the rest of the league.
Point differential isn’t a meaningless statistic; it can actually be somewhat predictive with a big enough sample. Niners are 5-0 and win by an average of just under 20 points a game. Eagles are 5-0 with an average win of a touchdown.
I’m a little concerned with how great their offense is playing compared to the amount of points they’re putting up. If Jalen Hurts throws for 300 and runs for 70, they should end with more than 23 points.
Nice to see Hassan Reddick have a big game. They need him to get in a game-wrecking groove while they sort out the secondary.
3. Kansas City Chiefs
I keep telling people that when Kelce has a big statistical game, it’s usually a closer ending. Outside of the red zone, teams need to stop worrying about him.
Hers the thing, even if you focus on him, he’ll get open. He’ll find a spot. He’s that good. But, and I hope I never meet him and have to answer for saying this, he’s not all that dangerous in the open field. Not that I’m a fan of getting run over, but if I have to tackle Kelce or Skyy Moore, I’ll take Kelce and hope I can hang onto a shoelace. Cause I’m not touching Moore’s shoes.
Kelce had 10 catches for 67 yards and a tud. He’s not beating anyone with those numbers, so let him have them. Trying to stop him means mismatches across the rest of the offense and Patrick Mahomes will always find them. And it’s not just the little guys… look out for Justin Watson. He’s a superstar in the making, and may need to start replacing some of Kelce’s production over the next few years.
Btw, he doesn’t make the Sack Watch, but Chris Jones has 4.5 sacks and 15 pressures in just 4 games after holding out all of training camp and week 1. He just went in and started dominating.
4. Buffalo Bills
Even with a loss, I’m having a hard time dropping them. If I was doing tiers this week, they would drop out of the top tier, which isn’t insignificant to me.
More concerning than the loss of the game is the loss of Matt Milano and DaQuon Jones.
Leonard Floyd Sack Watch: 5.5
5. Miami Dolphins
Solid recovery after a beatdown by the Bills, but the Giants are a dumpster fire. Less than a 50 burger is a bit of a disappointment.
Even though he’s unlikely to play this week, let’s once again talk about De’Von Achane. He jumped back up to +2500 in Offensive Rookie of the Year odds, but only because he went to IR with a knee injury and is out until at least week 11. But consider that he can put up numbers so fast, his OROY odds are still better after being placed on IR than they were to start the season.
The guy is averaging 12.1 yards per carry. I don’t even know how to comprehend that. So let’s put it into some numbers.
If he returns in week 11, he’ll have 8 more games in the regular season. In the 4 games he played, he averaged just over 9 carries a game, so if we carry that forward, we can add 72 carries over those final 8 games.
He currently sits at 38 carries for 460 yards.
If he carries it 72 more times this year and doesn’t gain a single yard, he’ll finish with 110 carries for 460 yards and still average 4.2 yards per carry on the season.
6. Baltimore Ravens
Holy feet for hands. Does Lamar Jackson have some weird spin on the ball? My goodness, I only saw like a quarter of this game and had to turn it off after seeing 2 dropped TDs Lamar put right in the receiver’s hands.
Ravens defense is still so good, but you can’t put up 10 points and expect it to hold up. I’m actually wondering, if we followed all the drops through and called them catches, would Lamar actually throw for 6,000 yards?
7. Detroit Lions
The Lions offense is on fire, but the defense is a bit troubling. How are you letting Adam Theilen go for a 11-107-1 line?
But as long as the offense puts up 30 a game (they average 29.6), the young defense should have time to grow together. This is the kind of team where no one will call them elite at any point and then they’ll sneak their way deep into the playoffs.
8. Jacksonville Jaguars
The London Jaguars were impressive Sunday morning, or whatever time it was there. Even as I give the Bills a small pass, the Jags should still get credit for the way they dominated that game.
Trevor Lawrence and Calvin Ridley seemed back on track, and Lawrence found Christian Kirk and Zay Jones in some crucial moments. Travis Etienne was unstoppable. The defense was a little shaky, but delivered when they needed to and held a juggernaut offense to 20 points.
Josh Allen Sack Watch: 6
9. Dallas Cowboys
There’s a lot to unpack with the Cowboys. Micah Parsons, who was the inspiration for Sack Watch, just fell off the list. His pass rush is still phenomenal, but he’s not getting much help on the line and the secondary without Trevon Diggs is getting picked apart.
Michael Irvin did an interview after the game where he said Dak Prescott will never be Patrick Mahomes, and it hit me how many fans get upset about their QB not being Patrick Mahomes. He’s a good QB, not a great QB, but it’s not like there’s an abundance of good QBs available. Keep working, keep building talent around him, and there’s no reason he can’t lead a championship run.
But seriously Cowboys fans, get off the dude’s back for a week. And Dak, keep feeding Jake Ferguson.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A week 5 bye in an 18-week season is silly, but here we are. If Baker Mayfield and the Bucs offense used this time to build and grow and get healthy, they could go on a run.
Their schedule isn’t very friendly, with 3 of their next 6 games against top-10 teams. 3-3 in that span should have them in a good position for the division.
11. Seattle Seahawks
The past few weeks have been full of wild revelations about the Seahawks championship year(s). Pete Carroll was interviewed by Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch was interviewed by Shannon Sharpe, and sparks were flying about the coaches putting Russell Wilson on a pedestal, Wilson blocking his phone number from Lynch, and the decision to throw it in the Super Bowl.
These are must-see interviews.
12. Los Angeles Chargers
Not many teams desperately need a week 5 bye, but it was definitely welcome in LAC. Austin Ekeler looks on track to return, Joey Bosa may not be ready but got another week closer, and Justin Herbert and Rashawn Slater look to be full up.
And they’ll need all of that week off energy going up against a pissed off and embarrassed Cowboys team on Monday night.
Khalil Mack Sack Watch: 6
13. Cincinnati Bengals
Nope, not biting yet. Fool me once and so on. I need to see a string of what we saw last week, but against good teams. This week starts a 3-week stretch against the Seahawks, Niners, and Bills.
Still concerned about the defense, but if Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase can stack on points more like last week, the defense just needs to be average.
Trey Hendrickson Sack Watch: 6
14. Atlanta Falcons
I’m not sure how much more clear Arthur Smith has to be that Desmond Ridder is the QB. That said, it’s encouraging that he heard all the trash thrown at him and responding by throwing for 329 yards, spread between 10 receivers, with both a passing and rushing TD.
So again, Ridder is the QB. He may struggle sometimes, but he’s the QB. They aren’t trading for Kirk Cousins or tanking for Caleb Williams or any other idea someone has because they think the Falcons consider their QB spot as a weakness. They’ve made it very clear they do not.
Love the move to get Van Jefferson for a 6th round pick.
15. New Orleans Saints
Michael Thomas has played all 5 games this year. When you Google his name, the first autofill still comes up “Michael Thomas injury.”
16. Indianapolis Colts
Could’ve had something great, but the Colts were so determined to shove Anthony Richardson into a full-time role instead of splitting time with Gardner Minshew II. Now Minshew is taking over, and it’s Minshew Mania™️. Or it will be.
Seriously, what happens if Minshew starts dealing and the Colts sneak into the playoffs? They’re 3-2 and just beat the Titans. I don’t see how you can go back to Richardson outside of package plays if the team goes on a run.
17. Green Bay Packers
I’ve come to realize the Packers make me think they’re way better when they win and way worse when they lose. I bet no other team will have the massive swings on my rankings throughout the year.
With that in mind, and considering I’m almost never in favor of firing a coach, it’s time to move on from Joe Barry. It’s been years of underperforming, capped off by a scheme that somehow had Preston Smith covering Davante Adams one-on-one on a crucial 3rd down play. It’s time.
18. Tennessee Titans
Different week, different team. I don’t think we’ll ever really know what this team is until they move on from Ryan Tannehill. It’s almost like they’re afraid to bench him cause they don’t know whether to start Malik Willis or Will Levis.
19. New York Jets
That’s now a week of good football and a week of not bad football for Zach Wilson. After the good week, Joe Namath decided not to follow my advice to zip it and instead issued a retraction of his Wilson criticism. Then during the not so bad game, Namath went to social media to trash the offensive line. *sigh*
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
Big time win over the Ravens, and the Steelers defense won a battle of wills. Is 17-10 not the most Steelers-Ravens score ever?
T.J. Watt Sack Watch: 8
21. Houston Texans
I just really love that someone did this.
22. Los Angeles Rams
23. Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins is not getting traded. Stop it.
Danielle Hunter Sack Watch: 6
24. Washington Commanders
We’re finally starting to head whispers that Sam Howell may not be it. Will he respond? Will it matter when the new owners guy this team after the season?
25. New England Patriots
Here’s Bill Belichick screwing with reporters before the season. We’ll see if the Pats show up this week.
26. Cleveland Browns
Okay, now I’m really starting no to wonder if DeShaun Watson has the NFL version of the Native Flu. It was more tongue-in-cheek when I brought it up before, but he was cleared to play 2 weeks ago against the Ravens, but sat anyway. Then they had a bye. Now the Browns just happen to be going up against another dominant defense in the 49ers, and Watson may sit out again.
Because he knows DTR is the future.
Myles Garrett Sack Watch: 5.5
27. Arizona Cardinals
Is there an award that fits what Joshua Dobbs is doing? Comeback Player of the Year doesn’t seem right. Comeback from what? He’s just a journeyman QB who showed up a week before the season and has a 90.8 passer rating through 5 games. I think we need a Journeyman of the Year award. Or the You Were Supposed to Lose award. I’ll think of a better name.
28. Vegas Raiders
This is all I got. Great movie. Raiders better not ruin it.
Maxx Crosby Sack Watch: 5
29. Carolina Panthers
Bryce Young showed real flashes for the first time this year. Unfortunately he didn’t show “score more than 42 points” -type flashes.
Giving up 42 points to the Lions is bad. But even worse is they play the Dolphins this week. This could be really ugly.
30. Chicago Bears
Let’s see it again against the Vikings this week.
Everyone who called Justin Fields a glorified running back owes him an apology. Dude was dropping dimes.
31. Denver Broncos
Playing the Chiefs feels like they could sneak one in as a trap game. Or we see Russ completely fall apart after Chris Jones sacks him for the 5th time.
Nik Bonitto Sack Watch: 5.5
32. New York Giants
Someone. Block. Someone. Anyone. Daniel Jones might not make it through the year alive.