The OCHO is back after a one week hiatus. Let’s do this.
Surprise Number One: The Titans defense is suddenly good
After being absolutely atrocious for the first quarter of the season, the Titans have suddenly righted the ship defensively and gone from being a lopsided team geared toward offense to a lopsided team geared toward defense. How are they doing it with a secondary that is besieged by injury and held together with duct tape? Their unheralded front four has stepped up to provided pressure without blitzing. Check out Jeffrey Simmons in the above clip. He completely overwhelms the sad guard assigned to him and basically throws him into Matt Stafford. Usually when you see this with Rams jerseys involved it’s Aaron Donald. Simmons was dominant last night, as was the rest of the front four, allowing them to play a zone or cover 2 man for most of the night. If they can keep pressuring the QB with just four, it will continue to go well.
Surprise Number Two: The Broncos were angry their GM bailed on the season
In a rare good prediction from me, I had a feeling that the Broncos players would not appreciate their GM trading away a franchise icon when the team was 4-4 and still very much in the playoff mix. You can hear Vic Fangio acknowledge the edge his team had in the above clip. I was right and it translated to a very angry team pounding a lifeless Dallas squad in Dallas. Dak Prescott looked like a player who hadn’t practiced in three weeks. I am not sure if this anger will last for the Broncos. They are a mediocre team, with a mediocre offense and a decent defense. But for one week at least, the GM lit a fire in them. While the dominance was the surprise, I am not surprised they came together and played their best game of the season.
Surprise Number Three: The Jaguars own the AFC East
Basically, the only interesting story the media had heading into this game was that two players were BOTH NAMED JOSH ALLEN. I put this in all caps because apparently it was a big deal, even though… uh… not much else about them seems similar. The surprising part ended up being that Jacksonville Jaguars Josh Allen ended up on top with an INT, a sack and a recovered fumble. The Bills absolutely sleepwalked through this one. Buffalo Bills Josh Allen reverted to horrible, mistake prone Josh Allen. Even on their worst day, I couldn’t imagine the Bills losing this game, but here we are. The Bills have very quietly lost 2 of their last 3, and they have frittered away their division lead to the suddenly surging Patriots. I don’t think the Pats will beat them out, but this needs to serve as a wake up call. They can’t be my Super Bowl pick after this loss.
Surprise Number Four: Patrick Mahomes has forgotten how to play football
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs snagged their second straight victory since their debacle at Tennessee. However, that was basically the end of the good news. While the defense played well again, it was against a rookie QB making his first start. Jordan Love looked completely overwhelmed against the blitz, which is normal for a rookie QB. Patrick Mahomes, however, was terrible again and looks completely lost out there. The team has adjusted now and is starting to run the ball more, but that doesn’t change the reality that he is officially in a slump. It’s so bad that Andy Reid is taking the ball out of his hands. Perhaps he can turn this around, but it’s officially time to worry. He looks completely baffled by the heavy coverage schemes teams are employing. In my Friday preview, I likened it to the yips. He looks like someone who has lost the ability to make plays on sequence. He only seems to be able to run out of the pocket and throw the ball. He has to be able to stand in the pocket, make a read, and make an accurate throw on schedule. Right now, he can’t.
Expected Thing Number One: There was much suffering in Hell this week
Every week in Hell, there is an NFL blackout of every game with even the slightest hint of quality. This weekend, the only game on was the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins. In a matchup of a team with no talent and a team that is terribly coached, the Miami Dolphins talent won out by simply sucking less. But it was really close. This game is ultimately meaningless. For the Dolphins, their season is over, so all they have left to do is evaluate Tua Tagovailoa, so of course, he didn’t play. The Texans are trying to get a high draft pick, and got one step closer I guess. Other than that, this game was a great example of why you should put your faith in Jesus Christ.
Expected Thing Number Two: The Ravens continue to bless/torture their own fans
The Ravens are determined to make every single game they play into a game for the now defunct ESPN Classic. I am like three more of these away from taking over this site because Brian is going to have a heart attack. This week, they spotted the Vikings a hefty lead so they could mount a tremendous comeback and give Justin Tucker yet another chance to shine and add to his Hall of Fame legacy. Lamar Jackson is cementing his legacy as a second half weapon of mass destruction. I am fascinated to see how they keep the Thursday night home game against the Dolphins needlessly close. It feels like they should win by 40, so I am expecting a TD as time expires that Lamar Jackson throws between his legs to a back up tackle.
Expected Thing Number Three: Sam Darnold is a killer… a coach killer
There are not too many players in the NFL with the instincts of Sam Darnold. This is because, if you have those instincts you are usually relegated to the bench or cut. Yet Sam Darnold remains a starter 4 years into a career that has been almost exclusively terrible. He certainly derailed the Adam Gase era in NY (along with Adam Gase). He is now in the process of derailing the Matt Rhule era in Carolina. At some point someone needs to step in and say it’s not working. There are times in the NFL where teams just can’t give up on a player’s college evaluation. He showed off a lot of talent in college, but he also showed a lot of bad decision making. Only one of those things has followed him to the pros.
Expected Thing Four: Baker Mayfield plays better with OBJ
It’s been 4 seasons and the verdict is in. Baker Mayfield plays better without Odell Beckham Jr. The thing is, I am willing to bet that Odell will play better without Baker too. Sometimes two players just can’t get on the same page, and it really feels like this is the case with these two. Baker seems more comfortable not worrying about what targets go where. That simply doesn’t work for Odell, who needs the ball. He is a diva, there is no question, but he is still good. I think there is a team out there he can fit with, but that team is not now, nor was, nor will ever be, the Browns. It’s a shame they didn’t figure this out sooner. Next year, they can invest that OBJ money in a WR that will be a better fit for what they do.