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Winners and Losers Week 7

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Winners

New England Patriots

The Patriots are 7-0 and have a historically dominant defense through 7 games. That phrase gets thrown around a lot nowadays; in the Pats’ case it’s legit. The 1985 Bears, often hailed as the best defensive team ever had allowed 315.5 yards per game through seven games; a similarly historic defense, the 2000 Ravens juggernaut, allowed 259 yards per game through seven. The 2019 Patriots are allowing only 223.8. They’re giving up 6.9 points a game, for those scoring at home that’s less than a touchdown per game. Nearly everything I’ve read on this incomparable defense notes the quality, or lack thereof, of their opponents this season. I will not. Plenty of supposedly good teams get scored on, or even beaten by bad teams. The Patriots have barely been scored on and have beaten everyone on their schedule. After their 33-0 drubbing over a divisional “rival” Monday night, their front office got in the lab and facilitated a trade for Mohamed Sanu from the Falcons. This is why the Patriots remain successful year after year. Their organizational values state that their good is never good enough and can always be improved upon.

Indianapolis Colts

I’m finally ready to declaratively state that the Colts are good., they’re 4-2 after a decisive win on Sunday.  The Texans, maybe the hottest team in football, came into Indianapolis Sunday convinced that the best plan of action was to let Jacoby Brissett beat them. They sold out on every run and kept the Colts ascendant RB Marlon Mack in check the entire game; indeed, the Colts didn’t gain one rushing first down. The Texans forced Brissett’s hand, and he delivered. Brissett went 26/39 for 326 yards and four touchdowns. The knock on him has always been that he’s more of a game manager than a franchise-quarterback, many who said that have to be feeling doubts after his game today. The Colts defense also showed up in a big way Sunday, they only surrendered two touchdowns against one of the hottest offenses in the sport. They recorded three sacks, two interceptions and numerous pressures on the day. The best guy on this defense is Darius Leonard, he made his presence felt on Sunday, 7 solo tackles and a tremendous interception that sealed the game.

Baltimore Ravens

So maybe Lamar Jackson’s start to the season wasn’t a harbinger of what was to come. Meaning he’s not going to break the record for most passing touchdowns in a season. He didn’t suddenly shift into Peyton Manning over the offseason and he’s still got kinks to work out, he went 9 for 20 for 143 air yards on Sunday. But this guy is already the most dynamic athlete at the quarterback position since Michael Vick. Jackson rushed for 116 yards on Sunday and simply looked like the most athletic player on the field cornerbacks be damned! He’s rushed for 579 yards this season, an amount many were quick to note is more than the total rushing yards for 8 teams. What many people didn’t mention, however, is Jackson’s growth as a passer this season. Jackson has a completion percentage of 63.3, good for a five percent bump over last year’s total. His average pass is also good for 7.7 yards, a solid number. The Ravens are 5-2 and beat a solid Seattle team on the road. This team has a lot of promise and a lot of potential.

Losers

 

Atlanta Falcons

This team is bad. They were beaten by a previously moribund Los Angeles Rams team by twenty-seven on Sunday and their star quarterback got hurt. The Falcons are now 1-6 and their starting quarterback next week may be Matt Schaub (cringes). This whole team is broken on both sides of the ball. Matt Ryan has been sacked 19 times already this season and was sacked five times in this game. The Falcons’ defensive line, on the other hand, has only sacked the quarterback five times the entire season. The Falcons have no running game to speak of and as a result, Ryan has thrown an insane amount. Through seven games he’s throwing an average of 40 passes a game. That is not a recipe for success even in today’s pass-happy NFL. My suggestion to the Falcons front-office would be to clean house. Trade Matt Ryan, trade Julio Jones and recoup as much value as possible. Their championship-contention window has officially been slammed shut.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are so, so bad. Andy Dalton is a complete lost cause on this team and threw one of the worst interceptions I’ve ever seen in an NFL game. I keep trying to tell myself this is a good thing, the Bengals will get a high pick; but I have no hope in the inept front office to take advantage of that pick. Cincinnati faithful had been calling for Marvin Lewis’ job for years, this year they got it. For whatever faults Marvin Lewis had, he put a competent product out on the field for his entire tenure. Zach Taylor has so far failed to do so.

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