NFL Week in Review: Chiefs and Jags Impressive, Bengals Just the OppositeDate: September 12, 2017
By: Keith Egan
Chiefs Upset Super Bowl Champs
The Chiefs surprised me in their performance against the Patriots; however, both teams suffered losses on Thursday night. Losing Eric Berry to an achilles injury is huge for the Chiefs. Their defense is still atop the league, but losing the heart of their defense certainly dampens the celebration of beating the Super Bowl Champions. The biggest storyline to me besides this injury is the play of rookie Kareem Hunt. Hunt destroyed the Patriots defense and made an early case for rookie of the year. He can be the piece the Kansas City offense needs to be a Super Bowl contender. In the end, it is a good win for the Chiefs as they compete in the highly competitive AFC West, while the Patriots will still win the AFC East regardless. In reality, overreacting to this game is not necessary. The Patriots will use this as a wakeup call, and continue to dominate the AFC, while the Chiefs will continue their style of football and hope to not be too effected by losing Berry.
NFC Championship Preview?
We saw the best two teams in the NFC already play. The Seahawks vs. Packers game in Green Bay was nothing short of hard-nosed, defensive and gritty football that showed how much potential both teams have. Yes, there was a lack of offense as well, as Seattle failed to score a touchdown, but I would not overreact too early. This Seattle team has the defense they need to win and weapons on offense to make big plays. The problem lies in their offensive line, which needs to be the glue to keep the offense efficient. For the Packers, I was surprised by the dominance of their defense. They showed they are the most well rounded team in the NFC and have an unbelievable amount of potential this season.
Jags Dismantle Texans in Houston
My biggest surprise of the week came in the Jaguars vs. Texans game. Not that the Jaguars had success against Tom Savage who should not have started in the first place, but how they man handled them in every facet of the game. Jacksonville's ability to dominate against the Houston defense was extremely impressive. The Texans defense is what has put them in the playoffs the past couple years, and to have a rookie running back put up an easy 100 yards and a touchdown as their offense marched down the field consistently was not scripted in this one. Luckily, the Texans came to their senses and gave Deshaun Watson an opportunity in the second half where he immediately showed he was more qualified. Yes, Watson made mistakes, and he will continue to do so, however if he is not in the game whenever healthy, the Texans are asking to lose the division.
Return of the Cincinnati Bungles
Another surprise/disappointment for me was the Cincinnati Bengals, who were shut out at home against division foe the Baltimore Ravens. To be outplayed by the Ravens is one thing, but to be refused a single score in the game is not how the Bengals were expecting to begin the year. The most concerning part for Cincinnati is Andy Dalton's four interceptions. Dalton was unprepared and outdueled by a Baltimore defense that came up with big picks in big situations. Now, I think it is fair to say this Baltimore defense may be far better than expected, but poor decision-making is what made this a shutout. On the other side of the ball, Baltimore has a lot to worry about offensively, just as the Bengals do. Joe Flacco threw for 121 yards, nearly 50 less than Dalton. Terrance West and Javorius Allen had solid games in the ground game, but losing Danny Woodhead poses another problem for their offense. I had these teams both finishing around .500 and being on a similar level, but the Ravens defense may edge them now. I expect both teams to continue to work on their offenses to move forward, and rely on their defenses to put them in the playoff race.
Beast of the East?
The Cowboys are what I expected they would be, as the Giants offensive line is declining at the same time Eli Manning's mobility is as well. Dallas is a system. They have solid players all over the field, and because of that they can play their game and make the opposing team adjust. Against the Giants, they stayed with the short game both in the air and on the ground, and did so effectively. Dak Prescott made quick and good decisions, as he does, and once again did not wow me. The fact is the Cowboys should be unhappy they did not win by more. New York's defense was put in tough situations all day long, and only allowed Dallas 3 points on most drives, outside of a bad pass-interference call that led to Jason Witten's touchdown. The Giants problem remains at the offensive line. Dallas stunted, bull rushed and everything in between with ease, and without Odell Beckham Jr. to count on, Eli Manning's day was a tough one. I believe Manning can still play at an efficient level, but he is not able to make the plays in the pocket he used too, and the plays that quarterbacks like Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz may be able to make. The combination is where the problem lies and it is time for the Giants to figure it out before it is too late. In addition, this game is different with OBJ in the game, however, Dallas deserved the W on Sunday night.
Quick Hitters: Colts may never find a winning defense, the Browns got better, the Raiders and Titans were both impressive and Detroit may be better than I thought while the Cardinals are in trouble after losing David Johnson.
Players of the week: Rookie running backs Leonard Fournette and Kareem Hunt
Games to watch in Week 2: Vikings vs. Steelers, Cowboys vs. Broncos, Packers vs. Falcons, Lions vs. Giants.
Keith Egan can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
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