Through five games the San Francisco 49ers have looked like the best team in the NFC. They are one of the two undefeated teams left in the entire league (The Evil Empire Patriots being the other team). How have they got there you ask? An elite defense and an offensive line that creates William Perry sized holes for the running game. The defense is only allowing 237.4 yards per game, second only to the Patriots. After having only two interceptions across 16 games last year the Niners defense has already caught seven this year. The defense is great on all three levels. Nick Bosa is the standout on a stout defensive line along with perennial Pro-Bowler Dee Ford, Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander head up a formidable linebacking corps and Richard Sherman and K’Waun Williams have been headache-inducing for opposing QB’s. The defense is but half the story with this team. The offense has been shockingly effective. The offense has averaged 408 yards per game! The rushing attack is second in the NFL behind the Baltimore Ravens with 175.9 YPG. Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t been overly effective, he’s only tossed seven touchdowns on the season, but he hasn’t needed to be. The offense has attained the lead early and pounded the ball and kept the opposing offense on the sideline. The offensive line has pancaked every opponent, Matt Breida has benefited with explosive gains. The weakest link on the team is the wide receiving corps, their leading receiver is a tight end. So far this hasn’t cost them, because they’ve dominated the time of possession. This team looks like a title-contender, but their passing offense needs to catch up with the rest of the team.
Russell Wilson is magic, the Seahawks are 5-1, and they overcame a 20-6 2nd quarter deficit on Sunday. Wilson’s play has been elevated to an all-time high this season. He accounted for three touchdowns on Sunday, two through the air and one on the ground. Wilson still hasn’t thrown an interception and he’s tossed 14 touchdowns and ran in three more. Having a mobile quarterback is beginning to look like a must in today’s NFL. Seattle’s running back is no slouch either, Chris Carson is having an impressive season. He ripped off 124 yards on Sunday and added a tuddy. That’s his third straight game of 100 rushing yards or more. The defense showed up on Sunday, picking off three of Baker Mayfield’s passes. God that sentence felt good to write. The Seahawks are in second place in a competitive NFC-West that some have called the best division in football. Looking forward to seeing Seattle-San Francisco twice this season.
This week the Texans faced the explosive Kansas City Chiefs and promptly rushed the ball down their throats, to the tune of 192 yards. They didn’t punt one time the entire game (albeit they had three turnovers) and forced a Mahomes interception and crucial three-and-outs. Now it’s time to gush over Deshaun Watson. Watson is 4th in QBR this season at 75.9, he’s thrown 12 touchdowns to only three picks (two of which happened in this game) and he’s already rushed for five touchdowns. The craziest thing about this game was Will Fuller dropping three sure-fire touchdowns. This game would have been entirely different if Fuller even pulls in one of those balls. What makes this even more shocking was the fact that Fuller lit the world on fire last week. Young receivers are mercurial, so start Fuller on your fantasy team next week!
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs need help and fast. They’ve lost two games in a row. While I don’t quite buy into the takes of people saying Mahomes looked human, he threw for three touchdowns for Christ’s sake, he has been less effective than he was last season. The offensive line is ailing, the receiving corps is banged up, the defense can’t stop the run or pass, and the quarterback is getting hit incessantly. Mahomes ankle seems to get rolled up on every game and he can’t get outside the pocket, where he’s at his most dangerous. The Chiefs must figure out a way to patch up the offensive line. The defense is going to remain sieve-like; I don’t know if there are any major adjustments, they could make mid-season that would be beneficial. The Chief’s main focus must be keeping Mahomes off of his back and establishing the run. Last year’s team was so lethal because of the potent mix of the run and the pass. The Chiefs’ run-pass-option plays terrified the entire league last year. This year their running game has been moribund; they only had 53 rushing yards last Sunday.
Conversations about Refereeing
I’ve had it with the complaints about Referees! Yes, they’re bad. The NFL referees have more control over the game than the officials in any other sport and the calls are more arbitrary. We have all known this for years and we have in unison decided that that’s ok because we love watching football. Two phantom hands-to-the-face calls aren’t going to change that. The Saints fans who boycotted the Super Bowl last year after they were robbed of a berth are back watching football again this year. So please, for the love of God, shut up already about the refereeing. The NFL Office has proven over and over again that they are incompetent at explaining the rules of their own game, and the thought process of their hand-picked referees. They have further proven that their solution to events like those that occurred in the Lions-Packers game are often short-sighted and band-aid fixes. We don’t need any more new rules in football, its complicated enough as is.
What in the hell has happened to Sean McVay’s offense? This team that dominated offensively last season has looked toothless this year. A system quarterback through and through, Jared Goff has looked terrible this year. I think the problem begins, much like the Chiefs, with the relative lack of a running game. Future Hall-of-Famer and set him and forget him bookend Andrew Whitworth has finally been flagged down by Father Time. Other depth losses on the offensive line have hurt as well. Todd Gurley’s drop-off from last year to this year is stark. As a result of this, the passing game has been neutered. Goff is most effective, by a wide margin, on play-action or RPO actions. These haven’t been as threatening this year as a result of Todd Gurley’s arthritic knees and a maligned offensive line.
Baker Mayfield leads the league with 11 interceptions this season. Freddie Kitchens has performed so horrifically that I think the Browns front office should charge him with dereliction of duty and sue him for his salary. The Browns started off last Sunday’s game hot, they jumped out to a 20-6 lead. If you’re Freddie Kitchens, do you A) run the ball with your stud Nick Chubb or B) pass the ball and not rely on a hundred years’ worth of lessons on time-management. Kitchens went with B. He is incompetent and not long for Cleveland.