Bears-Titans (Trade: Titans traded for Desmond King from Chargers)
Saints-Buccaneers (Trade: Saints get Kwon Alexander from the 49ers)
I’m curious to see if Desmond King elevates the Titans defense. They seem to be missing a few pieces.
Seahawks recently acquired Carlos Dunlap from the Bengals, and I’m really excited about this pick up–maybe irrationally so. Dunlap is not a great pass rusher, but I think he is a solid one and an underrated DE that is overshadowed by flashier and better DEs. I think he’s still good. Indeed, I prefer him over Clowney and guys like Eversen Griffin (at this point in their careers). Having said this, it’s probably not reasonable to expect a huge improvement in the pass rusher or DL. But any level of improvement would help.
The Hawks also should be getting back Jamal Adams who has missed a lot of games due to a hamstring injury. He should have a significant impact. The only concern I have is the team being able to incorporate his strengths (blitzing and playing on the LOS) with the overall defense. I have confidence in Carroll to get this done, though.
So I’m excited about these two guys getting on the field. Shaquille Griffin their starting CB has had a hamstring and concussion issue as well. If he can get back on maybe this secondary can be really good. Here’s hoping to both.
By the way, the Bills and Seahawks have a similar approach to the offense, so this could be a high scoring affair. I think the team with the best balanced attack and ball security/ST play will win.
The Seahawks–and Russ–played awful. Two things: the defense was bad and the offense is too one-dimensional.
Interestingly, the Bills offense was one-dimensional, too–I was wrong that the team with better offensive balance would win–but their defense was better.
At some point both defenses had good success, particularly blitzing, because the offenses were predictable in my view. I hate this type of football.
Buccaneers, Steelers, Seahawks, Titans, Ravens, Packers
It’s a toss-up with the other teams. I think the bigger issue would be match-ups. For example, the Rams would look good against the Seahawks, but they could look bad against the Steelers. That’s a good segue to what I want to say about the Rams.
Like Goff, the Rams offense is Jeckyl and Hyde. In a way they’re like a fine-tuned machine. If they can stay on rhythm, they’re almost unstoppable, but if a defense can mess up their timing and rhythm just a bit, they can fall struggle. A lot of this has to do with putting them in passing situations and pressuring Goff, but if you can be physical with their WRs and TEs that could do it, too. I praise Belichick a lot, but I think McVay deserves a lot of praise, too. I have a feeling his offense is way more productive than his offensive roster warrants. I don’t know if I said this before, but I see McVay as Bill Walsh 3.0. Without knowing the extent to which the spread and other college offenses would influence the NFL, I think the Rams are the type of offense Walsh could have envisioned.
Bills, Saints, Cardinals
A few comments. I don’t know if the Colts defense is getting a lot of attention, but they may be one of the best defenses in the league. They may not be dominant in the sense of making it hard for an offense to function, but they make it hard for teams to score TDs and they can get some turnovers in the process. In other words, they’re a good-to-great bend-but-don’t-break defense. Because of this, I almost put them in the first tier. I hesitate because of their offense—because of Rivers and their run game—I’m not sure either is good enough.
I know Don expressed shock at my relatively high-ranking of the Vikings. Their problem is their record, which forces them into an uphill battle to make it into the playoffs. However, if you put the record aside, I would put them in the first tier—I think they’re playing as well as any of the top tier teams and could beat any of them, although, their OL may be too brittle against the best teams, and their defense might not be good enough to stop the best offenses.
The Saints could jump up if Michael Thomas has a huge impact on their offense.
Defensive battle throughout, marred by some turnovers. The story for me is that the Ravens run game seemed to wear down the Colts defense near the end of the third, and that brought the Ravens offense alive for the rest of the game.
Panthers hung in there to the very end. Mahomes looked off. The Chiefs passed a ton, hardly running the ball.
Raiders offense looked good, especially the run game at times. (Ingold had one or two nice blocks.) Carr had some nice deep passes. But there were a few bad throws and the boneheaded fumble with five seconds at the end of the half–which lead to a Charger FG.
Luckily, the Chargers fumbled and couldn’t catch the ball at the end of the game.
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