Bill Belichick has not followed along with the NFL’s mandate that coaches wear camouflaged colored gear on the sidelines for two weeks to honor the military. He prefers his own comfortable team hoodie. There is no dress code when you are the king.
New England Patriots
The Pats have won six straight since a 1-2 start had fans throwing their gear into bonfires. They will not win forever (we think). Tom Brady will retire (we expect). Belichick will lose his desire (the AFC East hopes). But for now, especially if the Kansas Chiefs lose a few games, it looks like Gillette Stadium will host another AFC title game.
Kansas City Chiefs
Can you image what the Arizona Cardinals must be thinking with their game at Arrowhead Stadium in the horizon? Too bad Larry Wilson retired after the 1972 season. He could have helped the Cardinals’ secondary deal with Pat Mahomes, who already has 29 touchdown passes. Josh Rosen might have some success against KC’s defense, but not nearly enough to keep pace.
Los Angeles Chargers
Just because the Chargers have won five straight, it doesn’t mean Philip Rivers doesn’t hold everyone accountable if they screw up. Earlier this week, kicker Caleb Sturgis got the boot after missing two extra points and field goal in their 25-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks. Did you see Rivers stare the guy down? It apparently didn’t matter that Sturgis had been out a few weeks with a quad strain. The problem was, it was the third straight game he’s missed a PAT and field goal and that hadn’t happened since 1979.
The Texans have won six straight to take control of the AFC South, a division Alabama might have a shot at winning. Houston’s defense has been dominating, particularly its line. J.J. Watt, healthy again, has six sacks in his last six games and he’s so popular in the state he could be a senator someday.
We fought off the temptation to move them further down on our list because we have loved dolphins ever since “Flipper” debuted on NBC in 1964. Back in the day at the Orange Bowl, the Dolphins kept a pet dolphin behind one of the end zones. She was trained to jump in a tank of water whenever the team scored a TD or kicked a field goal. Brock Osweiler would have kept her diving this season, which has kept the Dolphins alive in the absence of Ryan Tannehill.
Rookie coach Mike Vrabel becomes the latest Belichick protégé to take on the Patriots this week. His offense got moving on Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys, which is significant only if you believe the Cowboys are any good. And we do not.
If we were consulting coach John Harbaugh, we’d suggest he contact a local realtor. If the Ravens continue this collapse, ownership might forget he won Super Bowl XLVII and send him packing. Baltimore has lost three straight, their defense has been remarkably subdued and there are rumblings about giving rookie QB Lamar Jackson some playing time.
At this point, we don’t know what the biggest problem is. Might it be a defense that has allowed at least 480 yards in their last three games against the Buccaneers, Chiefs and Steelers as has to deal with New Orleans this week. Might it be an offense that will be without receiver A.J. Green (foot) for a few weeks? Or might it be that the Bengals just haven’t been the same since Boomer Esiason and Icky Woods left?
We can come to only one conclusion about the Jags after watching them play the last few weeks. Leonard Fournette must be what Jim Brown was to the Cleveland Browns because since he’s been injured, the Jags offense has been turtle-powered. And what’s this big deal about the Jags turning down a deal for QB Teddy Bridgewater? When did he become Drew Brees?
Good news. Former Colt Anthony Gonzalez won election to Ohio’s 16th Congressional District on Tuesday, setting him on the same political path former NFL stars like Steve Largent, Heath Shuler and Jack Kemp walked down. Perhaps Andrew Luck, a Stanford man, may run for office someday. But right now, the Colts are asking him to carry then on his back. And frankly, if anyone in the league can do it, Luck can.
We wouldn’t want to be Broncos coach Vance Joseph today. Denver lost again last week when Brandon McManus missed a 51-yard field goal at the gun against the Texans. The Broncos are now 3-6 in a division with the Chiefs and Chargers. That’s tough. They were 5-11 in 2017, at one point losing eight straight. And John Elway isn’t playing QB anymore. Case Keenum is. Maybe he and Harbaugh can share a cab.
New York Jets
The Jets (3-6) worst fears have been realized. Sam Darnold threw four interceptions last week against the Dolphins and now leads the league with 15. New York has scored only 198 points. In their six losses, they have averaged only 12.3, never scoring more than 17. During its three-game losing streak, the team is averaging 11 points, just 260 yards and Darnold’s passer rating is 43.3. Yes, they still stink. Maybe Todd Bowles can share an airport van with Joseph and Harbaugh.
Somewhere in this great country there is an offensive-minded coach, in the image of Sean McVay, who is willing to move to Cleveland and capable of turning Baker Mayfield into Jared Goff. This is what the Browns pray for every night when they lay them down to sleep. The defense isn’t bad. The Browns turnover ratio is plus-11. And yet, they have won only twice.
This Bills-Jets game on Sunday should be a doozy! The Bills (2-7) have scored only 96 points, last in the league and lowest in their history after nine weeks. They have been outscored by 145 points. They have a quarterback, Nathan Peterman, who would definitely sit behind the Tide’s Tua Tagovailoa, if they didn’t already anoint the injured Josh Allen as franchise savior.
The Raiders lost by 32 points last Thursday Night to a 49ers team that was down to its third-string quarterback. This has been declared a crime scene. Yellow tape surrounds the team’s practice field. Wanted signs with a photo owner Mark Davis are on bulletin boards across the Bay area for giving Jon Gruden $100 million. Good thing Las Vegas accepts the risk of gambling, because its wager on this franchise isn’t looking so good right now.