This is the time of year when we look back on our early season overreactions and laugh about how young and naïve we were.
The Saints and Steelers each put up 50-plus to pull away in their respective divisions. NFL Nation dives into Week 10.
Eric Karabell provides his takeaways on the week’s top fantasy football storylines.
Remember when we thought the Saints’ defense was a mess, Bill O’Brien was on the hot seat in Houston and Sam Darnold was a Rookie of the Year front-runner? A lot can change in a couple of NFL months.
What doesn’t change, however, is that Sundays happen and people go nuts about the games.
Yes, it’s time once again for our weekly bit of overreaction football therapy.
The Bears’ second-year quarterback was 23-for-30 for 355 yards and three touchdowns in Chicago’s 34-22 victory over Detroit. He has 19 touchdowns (17 passing, 2 rushing) and four interceptions in his last six games. The Bears are 6-3 and in first place in the NFC North, holding a half-game lead over the Vikings with a showdown looming against them next week at Soldier Field.
Graziano’s verdict: OVERREACTION. There’s little doubt that new coach Matt Nagy, who helped Andy Reid work wonders with Alex Smith (and develop Patrick Mahomes in the background) last year in Kansas City, has been a breath of fresh air for Trubisky. And much like Sean McVay and the Rams did last year with Goff in his second season, Nagy and the Bears are doing a good job of surrounding Trubisky with playmakers and finding plays that put him in position to succeed. I’d just like to see Trubisky lead the Bears past the Vikings (or anyone!) before suggesting he’s this year’s Goff or that the Bears are this year’s Rams. All six of Chicago’s victories this year have come against teams that currently have losing records.
The Saints will run the table
New Orleans whipped Cincinnati as if the Bengals were the visitors on homecoming — except that the game was IN Cincinnati. Drew Brees burnished his MVP candidacy with a 22-for-25, three-touchdown day as the Saints rolled up 28 points in the second quarter alone and 51 for the game. It’s the Saints’ eighth win in a row after losing their opener to Tampa Bay, and while the Rams technically have the NFC’s best record, that’s only because they haven’t had their bye yet and the Saints have. Once that’s resolved, the Saints’ head-to-head victory over the Rams will break the tie.
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Graziano’s verdict: OVERREACTION. Look, I love the Saints. They were my preseason pick to win the Super Bowl, I picked them to beat the Rams last week, and I still think they’re the league’s best team. But win the rest of their games? That means home games against the Eagles, Falcons, Steelers and Panthers and road games in Dallas, Tampa Bay and Carolina. You can believe the Saints are the best team in the league and still not think they’re going 7-0 against that slate. Don’t @ me, Saints fans. I’m with you. And 13-3 would be just fine.
The Patriots won’t get a first-round AFC bye
And they might need one! After getting thumped 34-10 by Mike Vrabel’s Tennessee Titans on Sunday in Nashville, the 7-3 Patriots are 2-3 on the road, and those loses have come by an average of 17 points. New England’s a near-lock to win the AFC East, which would ensure one home playoff game. But the Patriots are used to getting more than that.
Graziano’s verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. At present, the Chiefs, Chargers and Steelers all have better records than the Patriots, and the Texans can match them with a win next week in Washington. The Chiefs and Chargers can’t BOTH get byes, but the Steelers sure can the way they’re looking right now, and the Texans haven’t lost since September. The good news is that the Patriots have only three more road games. The bad news is that one of them is in Pittsburgh. If they want to avoid having to play there in January, they’ll need to figure out why they’re struggling so much away from Foxboro.
Ryan Clark and Jeff Saturday discuss the strong performance by Aaron Jones in the Packers’ 31-12 win vs. the Dolphins.
Aaron Jones will save Mike McCarthy’s job
Packers fans and fantasy football players spent much of the season’s first half clamoring for McCarthy to make Jones, his most explosive running back, a bigger part of the offense. Jones averaged eight carries a game in his first four games back from his season-opening two-game suspension, but he has averaged 13.7 over his past three, including a season-high 15 on Sunday that turned into 145 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers beat the Dolphins to get back to .500 and hang on the fringes of the playoff race.
Graziano’s verdict: OVERREACTION. If McCarthy is done after this year in Green Bay, it’ll be because (a) the Packers missed the playoffs for the second year in a row, (b) there’s too much friction between him and quarterback Aaron Rodgers and (c) the team decides his offense has failed to keep up with the NFL times. It’s great that he’s using Jones more, and that should help take some pressure off of Rodgers. But it’s hard to believe that equates to enough change in offensive philosophy to really fix what ails the Packers over the final seven games.
Give the ball to a kid, not to Floyd Mayweather!
You can talk questionable calls and coaching decisions all day. But it doesn’t get more questionable than the decisions by Tyler Lockett and Brandin Cooks to hand their touchdown balls to Floyd “Money” Mayweather in the end zone after scoring. I guess it was neat to see someone famous there, and you could see why Cooks and Lockett might have thought it was funny, but come on, guys! There was no eager young fan leaning over the railing who’d have told that story for the rest of his/her life?
Graziano’s verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. Mayweather needs a free football like he needs free gas for his Bentley. Mayweather’s estimated net worth is estimated at more than $700 million, which is enough to buy seven million regulation NFL footballs at your local sporting goods store. Not that it’s likely he shops at those places, or even collects footballs, but still. Maybe he gave the balls to a couple of kids on his way out.