Nine Sundays in, the 2017 marketing campaign is starting to take form. I feel.
In a season rife with volatility, I imagine I am lastly starting to get my bearings. Famous final phrases? Probably. But may as properly put this newfound confidence to good use. This version of The Schein Nine is all about studying via the noise, all about getting right down to brbad tacks.
Let’s play … Fact or fiction?
1) The Philadelphia Eagles are the most effective crew within the NFL.
This is a reality. With Philly at an NFL-best Eight-1, driving a league-high seven-game win streak, it is probably not up for debate. The Eagles are going to nab the No. 1 seed, so the NFC playoffs are going via Lincoln Financial Field. And sure, I imagine — as I’ve for a while now — that the Eagles will symbolize the convention in Minneapolis come February. And Howie Roseman’s gem of a deadline deal for Jay Ajayi was a Super Bowl-solidifying transfer. Five days after the commerce, Ajayi made his Philly debut with a bang: eight carries for 77 yards and a landing.
Ajayi, in fact, wasn’t the one Eagle to placed on a present in Sunday’s 51-23 beatdown of the Denver Broncos. Carson Wentz threw 4 extra landing pbades, together with two to Alshon Jeffery — very encouraging to see continued development in that budding relationship. Wentz not solely leads the NFL in TD strikes with 23, however the second-year sign caller has to take a seat atop the MVP race at this level. Meanwhile, Philly’s ferocious protection humiliated Brock Osweiler, who did not want any badist embarrbading himself. The Eagles sacked Denver’s quarterback 3 times and picked him off twice.
In each Power Rankings throughout the interwebs this week, Philadelphia MUST be No. 1.
2) The Kansas City Chiefs are the crew to beat within the AFC.
They had been. But now … it is fiction. Following their 28-17 loss in Dallas, the 6-Three Chiefs are not in first-round bye territory. At this level, I do not see Kansas City regaining home-field for the AFC playoffs. That adjustments every thing. I am not saying the Chiefs are useless within the water. But they’ve slipped. And that is regarding in a convention that features the Steelers and Patriots, each of whom appeared to be figuring it out earlier than spending this previous week on a bye.
Tyreek Hill’s catch-and-run Hail Mary on the finish of the primary half on Sunday was majestic and unprecedented. But it additionally masked how really lopsided the sport was. Dallas grossly outplayed the Chiefs. It was a press release. Credit the Cowboys — they’d unimaginable stability as a whole crew. But this recreation additionally spoke volumes concerning the Chiefs’ vulnerability.
After flying out of the gate to 5-Zero, the Chiefs have misplaced three of their previous 4. Now on bye, it is a crew that should recoup and get again on monitor.
Three) The Denver Broncos can overcome quarterback uncertainty.
Ever because the Broncos gained a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning a shell of himself, this sentiment has earned backing from some. But clearly, that is fiction. And Sunday’s 28-point loss in Philadelphia — Denver’s fourth straight defeat — felt like Brock backside.
Honestly, I like Brock Osweiler greater than most. I feel he is higher than Trevor Siemian. And there are deeper points on offense, like the road and working backs. But, properly … Osweiler’s effort on Sunday (1:2 TD-to-INT ratio, 5.5 yards per try, 53.four pbader score) was significantly missing. Consequently, the Broncos recorded their lowest yardage whole (226) of the season.
When Paxton Lynch is wholesome, he has to start out. With the season careening off the rails, Denver may as properly see what it has within the 2016 first-round choose.
Vance Joseph has hardly impressed in his first season as Denver’s head coach. But John Elway takes successful right here. For the second straight yr, the Broncos are spinning their wheels on the recreation’s most necessary place. And for the second straight yr, it’s going to price them a spot within the postseason.
four) The Houston Texans are cooked.
This is a reality. And it stinks. I am so bummed that the nice Deshaun Watson tore his ACL in apply, thus ending a transcendent rookie season far too prematurely. The rookie rapidly grew to become one among my favourite gamers and faces of the NFL, along with his thrilling recreation and general likability. From Week Three via Week Eight, Watson racked up 19 whole touchdowns and the Texans averaged a whopping 39 factors per recreation. But Houston nonetheless solely went 2-Three in that span, due largely to lackluster defensive play. (And that protection solely grew to become extra of an issue when J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus had been misplaced for the yr in Week 5.) Those three losses additionally got here in respectable vogue — by three in New England, by eight at dwelling vs. Kansas City, by three in Seattle — however the place would Houston have been with out the dynamic Watson. Can’t think about any of these would’ve been one-score video games.
Houston may’ve banked one other win if Bill O’Brien began Watson in Week 1. Or stored the ball within the QB’s fingers on the Texans’ remaining third down in Seattle. But I digress. The backside line is the Three-5 Texans aren’t going to make a run with Tom Savage beneath heart and Watt/Mercilus on the sideline.
5) The AFC South will nonetheless produce two playoff groups.
Despite the Watson-less Texans being cooked, it is a reality. I have been on the Jaguars’ bandwagon for some time now, with their unimaginable protection and run recreation. And extra energy to Doug Marrone for making star rookie again Leonard Fournette inactive on Sunday for violating crew guidelines. That’s a robust message. No one’s above the legislation. And not solely did Jacksonville nonetheless win on Sunday — 23-7 over Cincinnati — however the Jaguars received (one other) stable efficiency from much-maligned QB Blake Bortles. I have been a (rightful) critic of Bortles, however over the previous two video games, he is accomplished 65.6 % of his pbades for 589 yards and two touchdowns — racking up a 105.5 pbader score within the course of. And most significantly, he hasn’t thrown a single interception. The Jaguars (5-Three) are going to win the division.
And if Marcus Mariota is wholesome, that adjustments every thing for the Titans (5-Three). They will win a whole lot of video games down the stretch in the identical fashion they beat Baltimore on Sunday. After beginning the season at 2-Three, Tennessee has gained three straight. And the remaining schedule seems fairly manageable:
— vs. Bengals
— at Steelers
— at Colts
— vs. Texans
— at Cardinals
— at 49ers
— vs. Rams
— vs. Jaguars
All of this provides as much as the AFC South — lengthy one of the blah divisions within the NFL — sending two groups into postseason play.
6) The Seattle Seahawks are NFC West favorites.
Straight fiction. I would’ve been open to the thought if Seattle had gained Sunday … however Kirk Cousins made the not possible doable within the Pacific Northwest, main the Redskins to a last-minute win in entrance of the surprised 12s.
Seattle (5-Three) is susceptible. The protection received carved up by Deshaun Watson in Week Eight after which allowed Cousins to dominate in crunch time, with a pair of inexcusable bombs on the “Legion of Boom.” And whereas I cherished the Duane Brown deal, the offensive line stays weak and the run recreation’s unreliable. Blair Walsh missed a couple of extra kicks as you had been studying this blurb.
And here is the opposite drawback for Seattle: The upstart Rams (6-2) are legit. Yes, the Giants are a large number, however 51-17 is 51-17. Sean McVay and his all-star teaching employees have revitalized soccer in L.A. Jared Goff was excellent towards the Giants, Todd Gurley continues to supply stability, and Andrew Whitworth has modified every thing on the road. Los Angeles is an offensive juggernaut. Meanwhile, Aaron Donald and the protection have actually come on in current weeks. Since Week 6, the Rams are giving up simply 11.Three factors per recreation.
Don’t misread: I nonetheless badume Seattle makes the playoffs — although Thursday evening’s recreation in Arizona this week is immediately no cupcake. I feel Seattle’s a wild-card crew. L.A.’s been higher all yr. And that is why I picked the Rams to win the division in our midseason predictions final week. I really like this Rams crew.
7) The New York Giants have give up.
Fact. Rolled over. Done. Embarrbading. This is a franchise that ought to bear large change within the coming offseason. Fresh off a 34-point dwelling loss, the 1-7 Giants want a brand new basic supervisor. They want a brand new head coach. New York’s had extra suspensions for beginning cornerbacks than wins this season.
Bad yr — residue of a horrible design, as we have documented. Now, do one thing about it.
Eight) The New Orleans Saints will snap their three-season playoff drought.
It’s a reality. Heck, I feel they win the NFC South and a playoff recreation. After three straight 7-9 campaigns, this 6-2 squad’s able to bust out of purgatory!
New Orleans dominated the Buccaneers in each facet throughout Sunday’s 30-10 win. Forget the preconceived notions. These Saints have a robust, playmaking protection. And they run the ball with authority. Not to say, they nonetheless have a future Hall of Fame quarterback and an excellent coach. New Orleans has every thing you need in a profitable crew.
9) The Buffalo Bills will snap their 17-season playoff drought.
I am saying reality, — although final Thursday evening seemed like Rex Ryan’s Bills, with the irresponsible penalties and turnovers. And the schedule is not type over the subsequent 4 weeks:
— vs. Saints
— at Chargers
— at Chiefs
— vs. Patriots
But the sked lightens up down the stretch. And I nonetheless imagine in Sean McDermott. I additionally cherished the Kelvin Benjamin deal. These Bills (5-Three) are poised to hit the playoffs for the primary time because the 1999 marketing campaign.
Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.