On this most impenetrably bizarre of NFL seasons, all types of mysteries stay unsolved. There are breakouts no person appears to belief, stars on sudden declines, and nice groups with main quarterback questions that are not going away. New coaches have sparked breakthroughs whereas final yr’s breakthroughs have been pissed off by struggling coaches. Ask across the league and you will get about 4 groups everybody can agree are good, 4 who’re dangerous, and 24 groups which may nonetheless be whole mysteries as we hit Halloween.
Let’s take a better have a look at a few of these unsolved mysteries, a number of of which performed out even additional in Week Eight. And let’s begin with arguably the sport of the yr, the place the Texans took the Seahawks to the restrict after which allow them to off the hook:
Why would not Invoice O’Brien belief Deshaun Watson with the sport on the road?
Whereas it is nonetheless inconceivable to grasp why O’Brien began the season with Tom Savage as his beginning quarterback, the Texans coach deserves a ton of credit score for what he has finished since inserting Watson into the lineup. O’Brien has shifted his offense to play to Watson’s strengths and cut back his adjustment time, including possibility ideas out of the Clemson playbook to a scheme that employed the choice simply twice final season.
The Jaguars may consider themselves a QB away from becoming a member of the AFC’s elite. Talking of the AFC’s elite, what may the Patriots have in retailer? We lay out a handful of logical trades that would happen earlier than Tuesday afternoon.
Wentz has taken the NFL by storm in his second yr, carrying the Eagles to a league-best seven wins whereas the workforce that did not badume he’d ever be a top-20 QB remains to be winless.
Eric Karabell wraps up an thrilling Sunday of soccer, badessing the fantasy worth of the various stars from the Texans-Seahawks conflict and extra.
The outcomes have been laudable and revelatory. Watson’s skills as a runner have opened up holes for Lamar Miller & Co. in a beforehand moribund dashing badault, whereas the risk of Watson as a runner has slowed down pbad-rushers who may in any other case have zealously attacked a middling set of Texans tackles. O’Brien additionally has added new wrinkles to the sport plan each week to maintain opposing groups on their toes. The outcomes have been staggering; once you mix his effectiveness as a pbader and runner, Watson’s Whole QBR at the moment stands at 81.Eight, the perfect mark within the league.
On Sunday, it centered upon a package deal constructed first round a play-fake and Watson motioning to his left, the place he additionally would have the power to (however didn’t) throw a swing cross. The Texans then gave Watson a sequence of various appears, together with a pace possibility that earned Houston a fourth-quarter first down. Most notably, the sequence arrange the Texans for 2 huge downfield pbades to Will Fuller V, the primary of which produced Fuller’s second landing of the day.
Defenses must be terrified to line up in opposition to Watson snap after snap, which makes O’Brien’s decision-making late in video games much more curious. Twice now, O’Brien has gotten conservative when his workforce has been near an enormous victory on the highway. In Week Three, going through a struggling Patriots protection, O’Brien elected to kick a discipline aim with 2:28 to go within the recreation on fourth-and-1 from the Patriots’ 18-yard line in lieu of placing the ball in Watson’s fingers. The Texans went up by 5 factors, just for Tom Brady to march down the sector for a game-winning landing to interrupt Houston hearts.
Provided that the Patriots recreation was actually Watson’s first breakout efficiency, possibly the Texans weren’t prepared to position the sport of their rookie quarterback’s fingers. Provided that Watson’s offense had averaged 36 factors per recreation over the three ensuing weeks and sliced up the Seahawks for 507 yards and 38 factors heading right into a crucial third-and-short, it appeared unlikely that O’Brien would make one other mistake.
As an alternative, after working that aforementioned pace possibility for a primary down on the earlier possession, O’Brien acquired conservative. With everybody and their mom calling for Watson to get on the sting and cut back the Seahawks defenders to quivering messes, O’Brien referred to as for a similar movement with Bruce Ellington sprinting out of the slot and into the backfield and Watson … handed the ball to Miller on a plunge in opposition to an eight-man field. Sheldon Richardson shed the oft-frustrating Xavier Su’a-Filo and made a comparatively simple play within the backfield, stopping the Texans after 2 yards, at which level Houston punted.
To the perfect of my data, the Texans hadn’t but run that movement and instantly handed the ball to Miller versus play-faking, so it is potential that O’Brien hoped that the Seahawks would key upon the movement, get blown off the road of scrimmage, and create a straightforward working lane for Miller. It is also potential that Watson might need had the choice to maintain the soccer, though it is onerous to determine who he might need been studying that may have referred to as for Watson handy off the ball, provided that the field was stuffed. O’Brien, for what it is price, took the blame after the sport, saying, “I made some dangerous playcalls at present, and I simply must do a greater job on recreation day.”
Seahawks followers should have breathed a sigh of reduction after they noticed Watson, who had appeared a number of steps forward of Pete Carroll’s protection for many of the recreation, hand off the ball. They should have felt even higher when the punt unit got here on. I do not suspect O’Brien ever gave it a second of great thought, however in a four-point recreation together with his protection being shredded downfield, it would even have been the precise transfer for O’Brien to maintain his offense on the sector and go for it on fourth-and-2 from his personal 28-yard line, realizing first down would have ended the sport. (That is not hindsight, both.)
Because it was, the Seahawks marched downfield in three performs. By the third, a Texans protection that had been chasing Wilson round all day and holding up in protection 30-plus yards downfield fell aside. It is most likely hindsight to wonder if O’Brien ought to have been prepared to cease the clock and name a timeout with 27 seconds to go, however watch Seattle’s game-winning landing and you may see a protection that’s each bodily and mentally exhausted. The cross rush is transferring in gradual movement. The protection behind it blows a protection, leaving Jimmy Graham completely uncovered up the seam on a go route.
O’Brien is teaching like he has the 2014-2016 Texans, who had a fantastic protection propping up a suspect offense. The other is true right here, particularly with Houston down J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Brian Cushing. It has value his groups two video games that may have gone down as badertion victories, highway wins over perennial Tremendous Bowl contenders. Possibly the Seahawks would have sniffed out Watson on the sting. We’re not trying again at O’Brien’s resolution as egregious or a part of a worrisome pattern if the Texans maintain up on second-and-20 or third-and-18 in opposition to the Patriots. In a instantly aggressive AFC South, although, the Texans are going to look again and need that they had trusted their franchise quarterback only a tiny bit extra with the sport on the road.
Is Carson Wentz the perfect quarterback in soccer?
I wrote about Wentz prematurely of Philadelphia’s Thursday night time recreation in opposition to the Panthers, and he lit up Carolina and Washington within the two ensuing contests. The second-year quarterback went 33-of-55 for 490 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception, good for an 85.Three QBR and a 121.2 pbader score, each of which positioned second within the league over that time-frame. He additionally managed to teleport out of a sack in opposition to Washington as a part of that nationally televised four-touchdown recreation, which elevated him to (arguably) the highest of the MVP leaderboard.
• 2017 schedule, outcomes
Wentz wasn’t fairly as efficient in opposition to the 49ers on Sunday. The 2016 second total decide wasn’t dangerous by any means, however he threw an unsightly interception to arrange the 49ers for a (comparatively meaningless) landing. The interception got here on third down, the place each Wentz and the Eagles have been lights out this season, however the 49ers — who possessed the league’s worst third-down protection heading into the sport — held the Eagles to a Four-for-14 efficiency on third down. Wentz, who had a pbader score in extra of 130 on third down coming into the sport, went Three-for-Eight and racked up a pbader score of 9.9 on third downs. He additionally missed an open Alshon Jeffery for a would-be landing, and when he linked with Jeffery for a 52-yard landing late within the recreation, it was on a bounce ball the place Jeffery did many of the work.
It is inevitable that Wentz will regress towards the imply on third down, which can take a few of the shine off his lengthy drives. He is nonetheless going to be within the dialogue for the league’s greatest quarterback, although, given how efficient Wentz has been on first and second downs. Wentz’s numbers dropped off dramatically final season with Lane Johnson out of the lineup, and it stays to be seen whether or not he’ll endure some with Halapoulivaati Vaitai changing Jason Peters at left deal with, however Wentz is not leaving this dialogue anytime quickly barring an harm.
Is DeAndre Hopkins the perfect huge receiver in soccer?
Probably the most damning factor I can say concerning the Brock Osweiler period in Houston is that his black gap of mediocrity managed to suck in Hopkins for a whole season. After struggling by a completely nameless 2016 season, Hopkins has turned issues on with Watson at quarterback. Sunday was the receiver’s greatest recreation of the season: Hopkins turned his 11 targets into eight catches and 224 yards, together with a 72-yard landing that noticed him run by many of the Seahawks’ protection on a display screen, breaking Kam Chancellor’s ankles alongside the way in which.
Hopkins has grow to be a goal hog within the Texans’ offense; his 75 targets are third within the league to Antonio Brown, who paces the NFL with a whopping 92. His numbers commensurately rank among the many league leaders as properly; Nuk is now third within the league behind Brown and Adam Thielen with 606 receiving yards and tied for the league lead alongside Fuller with seven landing receptions.
As well as, Hopkins has been a monster when it comes to drawing cross interference penalties. The 25-year-old already has been the sufferer on seven cross interference calls this season, which comfortably leads the league. No one else within the league had greater than 5 heading into this week. The 97 yards he has generated on these calls was tied for the league lead coming into the week with Brown and Demaryius Thomas. Throw these seven conversions into the pile and Hopkins has generated 40 first downs for his workforce, narrowly topping Brown for the league lead.
We do not take into consideration Hopkins as being on the identical tier as Brown, but it surely’s turning into clearer and clearer that a lot of that distinction needed to do with the standard of his quarterbacks. Brown has spent his profession with Ben Roethlisberger. Julio Jones has been working with Matt Ryan. Earlier than 2017, Hopkins had been thrown pbades by Osweiler, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, Case Keenum, Matt Schaub, Tom Savage, T.J. Yates and Brandon Weeden. Hopkins’ predecessor in Houston, Andre Johnson, needed to spend his profession propping up Schaub and a sequence of equally middling quarterbacks. Here is hoping we get to see Hopkins and Watson collectively for a very long time.
Are the Browns and 49ers ever going to win a recreation? Who first?
The Colts may quietly be the worst workforce within the league, however the Browns and 49ers are the 2 groups with zeros within the win column. They’ve every flashed moments of competence, however neither workforce received on Sunday, transferring to Zero-Eight. The Browns gave the Vikings a aggressive half earlier than folding in England, whereas the 49ers slowed down Carson Wentz however did little on offense in shedding 33-10.
It is nonetheless extraordinarily possible that each groups will handle to win a minimum of one recreation this season. We will use the log5 methodology to estimate the Browns’ and 49ers’ possibilities of successful every of their eight remaining video games. Neither workforce is more likely to be favored the remainder of the way in which, however they’ve sufficient of a shot at successful every day trip that their possibilities every make it over one recreation.
The 49ers have a 94.1 p.c shot of successful a minimum of one recreation the remainder of the way in which, leaving them a 5.9 p.c shot of going Zero-16. The Browns are in far more harmful straits; after failing at Twickenham, Hue Jackson’s workforce will hit its bye week with a 17.1 p.c probability of shedding out. Naturally, there is a 1.1 p.c probability they will every end Zero-16. Simulating every workforce’s remaining video games 1,000 instances utilizing these win possibilities in a Monte Carlo simulation, there is a 72.Eight p.c probability the 49ers will win their first recreation earlier than the Browns declare theirs.
The excellent news for Niners followers who do not wish to waste good paper baggage is win could be on the way in which shortly. San Francisco’s two most winnable video games are developing, as they get residence video games in opposition to the reeling Cardinals and Giants earlier than their bye in Week 11. Vegas has the Cardinals as two-point favorites in that recreation, whereas log5 truly initiatives the 49ers to be slight favorites because of their home-field benefit. The Giants are projected to be slight favorites, however log5 basically has that matchup as a coin flip. San Francisco most likely will win a kind of two video games, and 5 of their closing eight matchups are at residence.
Issues aren’t as clear for the Browns, who simply misplaced considered one of their residence video games to London and play 5 of their closing eight video games on the highway. Their greatest shot at a victory is at residence in opposition to a Packers workforce that will not have Aaron Rodgers in Week 14, though they may even have it simpler than log5 badumes if the Steelers relaxation their starters in Week 17. Really, the Steelers’ backups consigning the Browns to an Zero-16 season can be suitably poetic for Cleveland.
Do the Jaguars even have the perfect protection in soccer?
The Jags have been on bye this week, however they headed into Week Eight main the league in defensive DVOA and so they’ll come out of it main the league in factors allowed per recreation, because of the Texans-Seahawks shootout. Todd Wash’s protection clearly belongs in a bunch with the Payments, Seahawks and Steelers among the many greatest defenses of the primary half, and whereas I might decide the Jaguars from that group, there’s not an enormous distinction between these 4 models to date.
What you may hope to see from the Jaguars over the second half is extra consistency. Over its first seven contests, Jacksonville has produced 4 nice defensive performances, video games wherein it allowed a complete of 23 factors. Within the different three tilts, the Jags gave up an common of 24.Three factors. Calais Campbell has paced a cross rush that has racked up a league-leading 33 sacks, however 20 of these sacks got here in two video games.
There’s not a lot unsustainable about what the Jaguars have finished to date on the sector. They don’t seem to be a mean unit counting on ridiculous performances within the crimson zone or on third down. The Jags have recovered six of 11 fumbles on protection, basically league common. The one factor you may fear about is how the Jaguars have been remarkably wholesome: Their 11 defensive starters have but to overlook a recreation this season, and that is with out attending to rotation gamers equivalent to Dante Fowler Jr. and Aaron Colvin. Marcell Dareus will add one other inside pbad-rusher to the rotation, as if the Jags wanted one.
What is going to actually badist the Jaguars make their case, although, is a remarkably simple second-half schedule. Over their closing 9 video games, the Jaguars will face only one offense that ranked within the DVOA high 15 heading into this week, the 12th-ranked Texans. The Texans and Seahawks will possible climb up the rankings some after their immediate basic, however 4 of Jacksonville’s subsequent 5 video games are in opposition to offenses that rank among the many eight worst models in soccer. Until Blake Bortles throws them right into a bunch of quick fields, the Jags’ protection ought to maintain up over the remainder of the season.
Are the Browns worse than they have been final yr?
I am afraid so. Their report was Zero-Eight in each circumstances, however after eight video games, the 2016 Browns had been outscored by 80 factors and had racked up 2.2 Pythagorean wins. This yr’s mannequin has been outscored by 83 factors and has generated just one.Eight Pythagorean wins. I would not say the 2016 Browns have been considerably higher by any stretch of the creativeness, however in the event you’re in search of indicators of hope, Cleveland followers … Sam Darnold regarded good on Saturday?
What ought to do the Vikings do at quarterback?
Wentz’s predecessor in Philadelphia has gone from excelling in Week 1 to arguably lurking because the third possibility in Minnesota. Sam Bradford’s knee has him out for the foreseeable future in Minnesota, and whereas it is clear the Vikings nonetheless badume Bradford has a shot at enjoying this season by advantage of conserving him on the lively roster, the truth that he aggravated the knee harm on the first time of asking in opposition to the Bears would not bode properly.
Proper now, the competitors appears to be the comparatively identified amount of Case Keenum and the unknown behind Door No. 2 in Teddy Bridgewater, who’s again in apply and set to be faraway from the bodily unable to carry out listing after the Vikings’ upcoming bye week. Bridgewater, after all, has missed the previous yr and a half after struggling a grotesque knee harm in coaching camp final summer time.
I do not badume anybody would argue in opposition to Bridgewater having extra upside. The Vikings made the playoffs with Bridgewater underneath heart in 2015, when the previous Louisville star made strides throughout the board. With Bradford a free agent after the season and Bridgewater’s contract more likely to expire, Minnesota most likely desires to get as a lot data as potential on whether or not it is going to wish to give its former first-round decide a contract extension this winter.
And but, I am unsure the Vikings ought to instantly make the transfer to modify from Keenum to Bridgewater. Keenum has had spotty stretches, however his numbers as a Vikings quarterback are comfortably similar to these of Bridgewater:
You may pretty argue that Keenum is working with a extra spectacular group of receivers than Teddy ever had, however Bridgewater additionally had Adrian Peterson shouldering a lot of the workload in 2015, when Stefon Diggs was an inconsistent rookie and Adam Thielen was buried on the depth chart. Keenum’s offensive line can also be higher, as evidenced by the dramatic distinction in sack fee, though I might hesitate to say it is a fantastic pbad-blocking unit.
Bridgewater is the higher participant, however I am unsure the hole is critical sufficient — particularly given how lengthy Bridgewater has been out — for the Vikings to hurry him again into the lineup. Minnesota is in nice form, with a 79.9 p.c probability of successful its division after the Bears and Lions misplaced on Sunday. Bridgewater is the more than likely candidate to be the beginning quarterback for that residence playoff recreation in Minneapolis.
I simply do not see a cause to hurry to get there. The Vikings are 5-2 with Keenum as their main pbader, so it is not as if they should make a change to save lots of their marketing campaign. If Minnesota prepares Bridgewater within the background with out pressuring Keenum, they will get Bridgewater in higher soccer form for when he does make the transfer again into the beginning 11. In the meantime, if they bring about Bridgewater again in Week 10 and he struggles in opposition to the fierce cross rushes of Washington or the Rams, the Vikings instantly have a quarterback controversy on their fingers.
Will the defenses of the Payments and Saints proceed to look nice?
The 2 most stunning defenses of the season saved issues up on Sunday. Whereas the Bears had loads of success working the soccer in New Orleans, the Saints restricted Mitchell Trubisky and the self-defeating Bears offense to 164 pbading yards on 34 dropbacks. The Payments shut down Derek Carr within the rain in Buffalo, because it took 49 makes an attempt for Carr to sneak over 300 yards. Buffalo ranks third in factors allowed per recreation this season, whereas the Saints are 13th, however third within the league from Week Three on. Are they going to stick with it?
I believe they will each decline some. Whereas the Payments’ protection is far improved, I nonetheless badume it’s a little dependent upon creating takeaways. Buffalo is forcing turnovers on a league-high 20.5 p.c of opposing possessions, and whereas I do not doubt that Leslie Frazier and Sean McDermott are getting essentially the most out of gamers equivalent to Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, it is robust to see them maintaining that form of takeaway fee. The main workforce in takeaway fee this time final season was the Vikings at 19.Zero p.c, and so they compelled takeaways 10.2 p.c of the time, which was 23rd within the NFL, over the rest of the season.
I might even be involved about Buffalo’s depth. Dareus had light out of the rotation and was enjoying solely 20-25 snaps per recreation, however he was nonetheless a helpful participant to have in reserve. They’ve gotten huge performs from gamers equivalent to Matt Milano and Leonard Johnson, every of whom compelled a fumble on Sunday, however can the whole lot McDermott touches flip to gold? The Payments additionally face a troublesome slate of offenses over the second half, with the Saints, Chiefs and two video games in opposition to the Patriots on deck.
The Saints even have been turnover-dependent, as they’re second (behind the Payments) in takeaway share since Week Three. I wrote about their defensive enhancements earlier this month, and whereas their protection has remained efficient, they’ve gone up in opposition to groups helmed by Trubisky and Brett Hundley. Coordinator Dennis Allen nonetheless must discover a second pbad-rusher to step up subsequent to Cameron Jordan, too.
My suspicion is that each of those defenses will take a step backward over the second half of the season, however they will nonetheless be above common and pushing their groups towards the postseason. Sadly for Payments followers, they want a fantastic protection greater than the Saints do, given how the LeSean McCoy-led working recreation has declined dramatically. Drew Brees hasn’t been nice over the previous two weeks, however a mean exhibiting from the protection ought to be sufficient to push the Saints into the playoffs.
Let’s end up with a lightning spherical …
Are the Chiefs going to be the perfect workforce in soccer?
I do not badume they will finish the season with the league’s greatest report, though I am principally blaming that on accidents. NFL seasons are battles of attrition, and the Chiefs have shed too many components throughout a wild begin to the season. They’re already down two starters on the ability positions in Spencer Ware and Chris Conley. The offensive line is a multitude, with Eric Fisher banged up and the three inside starters — Parker Ehinger, Mitch Morse and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif — all injured or coming off of accidents. Eric Berry, the workforce’s greatest participant, is completed for the season. Justin Houston, arguably its second-best participant, is battling a recurrence of the knee harm that value him many of the 2016 season. Tamba Hali is on injured reserve. And that is with out attending to gamers equivalent to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, every of whom have missed time throughout video games.
Examine this to a workforce like Pittsburgh, which has had solely two starters (Marcus Gilbert and Stephon Tuitt) miss a couple of recreation this season. Andy Reid has finished an impressive job, and the Chiefs are going to be within the working for a first-round bye but once more, however accidents at all times take their toll over the course of a season.
Has Kirk Cousins made himself extra money together with his play over the primary eight weeks?
His state of affairs hasn’t appreciably modified. Cousins mainly has been the identical participant he was over the earlier two seasons by fee stats:
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The offense hasn’t gone as deliberate, after all; Jordan Reed has been restricted by accidents, whereas Terrelle Pryor did not ingratiate himself within the group and has performed his approach right into a reserve position. Josh Doctson and Chris Thompson have impressed, however the concern now for Cousins is the beaten-up offensive line. Cousins was right down to only one beginning offensive lineman for stretches of Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys, and if Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff are out for the foreseeable future, Cousins might be working for his life in opposition to the Seahawks, Vikings, Saints and Giants over the following month. Until he will get harm, although, Cousins remains to be in line to grow to be the league’s first $30 million-per-season quarterback in 2018.
What’s fallacious with the Raiders?
There are issues on either side of the ball. New offensive coordinator Todd Downing simply hasn’t grown into the job after the Raiders let go of Invoice Musgrave after final season to maintain Downing on the employees. As Ted Nguyen identified on an episode of the Nickel Package deal, Downing has moved the Raiders towards a heavier dose of outdoor zone and deserted the play-action cross. On Sunday, with Marshawn Lynch suspended and in wet circumstances, the Raiders ran the ball simply 14 instances on 63 offensive performs from scrimmage, with simply two working performs after halftime in what was a aggressive recreation into the fourth quarter.
On protection, the Raiders have not created takeaways. Jack Del Rio’s unit intercepted 16 pbades final season, the ninth-highest whole within the league. By means of eight video games this season, the Raiders have not picked off a single opposing cross, making them the primary workforce in league historical past to make it by the primary eight video games and not using a single decide. The interceptions will come, however Downing’s aptitude for the position stays in query.
Is that this Eli Manning’s final yr as Giants quarterback?
Presumably. The Giants are out of the playoff image and have a 39.Three p.c probability of coming away with a top-five decide within the 2018 draft, one they’d presumably commit towards drafting and growing a quarterback. In the event that they take somebody like Josh Allen within the high 5, the Giants might very properly nonetheless preserve Manning on the roster for an additional season to attempt to win within the quick time period whereas theoretically growing Allen as their quarterback of the long run, though I am by no means certain whether or not quarterbacks ever get any actual profit from sitting as an understudy underneath veteran stalwarts. (Take into consideration the breakout quarterbacks of this yr, like Wentz, Watson and Jared Goff. Who have been they understudies for?)
The issue with Manning is that he is owed $22.2 million on the cap subsequent yr, together with a $5 million roster bonus and a $10 million base wage. The roster bonus makes it possible the Giants should decide on Manning in March, earlier than they’re even certain they will find yourself with a younger quarterback within the draft. The Giants might filter out $16 million in cap house by designating Manning as a post-June 1 launch, which is cash they will want in the event that they wish to re-sign Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg earlier than that giant Odell Beckham Jr. extension.
Manning to the Jaguars nonetheless makes an excessive amount of sense to really occur, though it most likely will not happen as a commerce earlier than this week’s deadline. Assuming he desires to play for a competitor with cap house, the marketplace for 2018 is not going to depart Eli with many different choices. May he comply with his huge brother to Denver?
Who’re the favorites to win the Tremendous Bowl?
On this topsy-turvy yr with no undefeated groups and only a single one-loss workforce (the Eagles) by Week Eight, the title of Tremendous Bowl favorites has been traded solely as soon as. The Patriots entered the season as prohibitive favorites after which ceded that nod to the Chiefs within the season opener, who’ve held it ever since. The Chiefs have been comfy favorites till narrowly shedding every of the previous two weeks, and in the event that they have been to fall to the Broncos on Monday night time, FPI would push them out of first place.
If I needed to go together with a workforce proper now, nonetheless, I might take the Steelers, who’re essentially the most full workforce within the league. No workforce in soccer ranked within the high 10 in offensive and defensive DVOA heading into this week apart from the Steelers, who ranked within the high 5 in each clbades. They’re within the high six in pbading, dashing and cross protection DVOA. Mike Tomlin’s workforce is the healthiest of any contender, with none of its stars sidelined by long-term accidents. Their greatest concern to date has been Martavis Bryant’s Instagram mess, which is being placed on the backburner as JuJu Smith-Schuster breaks out.
The Steelers even have a commanding lead within the AFC North and a simple schedule to come back. Pittsburgh does face the Patriots and Texans in back-to-back weeks in December, however the Patriots recreation crucially takes place in Pittsburgh, not Foxborough. Earlier than then, the Steelers get a wildly pleasant slate of video games: They play the Colts, Titans, Packers, Bengals and Ravens, with three of these 5 video games at residence (and the Packers with out their star quarterback). Whereas the perfect groups within the league appear to reside within the AFC, my suspicion is that the convention playoffs undergo Pittsburgh come January.