AFC Midseason Tourney: Browns at Patriots, Chiefs at Raiders

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Week 10 - With the New England Patriots hosting the Cleveland Browns in the early afternoon and the Las Vegas Raiders hosting the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night, we may finally get some clarity about the AFC playoff picture this weekend. With that in mind, Walkthrough proudly presents the AFC Midseason Playoff Tournament Cavalcade of Hot Takes!

Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday, 8:20 p.m.

So what's wrong with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense?
They let all of their fundamentals slip in the offseason. For all of his merits, Andy Reid loses sight of the details after his teams peak. It happened in Philly, and it's happening in Kansas City.

We could cite a hundred little stat splits or measure Mahomes' footwork with a micrometer. We could explain away all of Mahomes' flaws by blaming them on his receivers, the game plans, the protection, two-high safety looks (LOL) or by claiming that he has become so talented that he has transcended the need to complete passes or score touchdowns. (There are some wacky theories circulating on the Interwebs). But the bottom line is that the whole organization bought into the "just fix the offensive line and everything will be perfect" offseason storyline, and they are paying for it.

What about their defense?
About one-third of the starters should not be starters. Daniel Sorensen is just the flagbearer.

Can these problems be fixed in the second half of the season?
No. There's not enough practice time to correct the offensive errors and no one on the practice squad or waiver wire who can fix the defense. The best the Chiefs can do is keep everything duct-taped together while the car is barreling down the freeway.

How are the losses of Henry Ruggs and Jon Gruden impacting the Raiders?
Derek Carr tried to throw a bomb to Zay Jones against the Giants. It was picked off by Xavier McKinney, who probably would not have been in the television frame if Ruggs had been on the far side of the field. (Or would have been a step too late if Ruggs had been the intended target.)

The Raiders are now 26th in red zone offense and settled for a bunch of field goals against the Giants. They are also 26th on third and fourth downs on offense. Gruden's absence is likely to keep showing up in high-leverage situational splits.

Based on all of the off-field awfulness in Las Vegas, it doesn't take a believer in "distraction" narratives to think, yeah, that Giants loss was the beginning of the end.

Will Desean Jackson help?
A little. You know that teams don't practice at full speed very much at this point in the season, right? It's unlikely that Carr and Jackson will suddenly develop excellent downfield timing. Jackson at least won't be much of a factor this week.

So what's the pick?
The Giants handed the Chiefs a victory, and the Chiefs took it. The Giants tried to hand the Raiders a victory, and the Raiders kept handing it right back. We also know that the Chiefs' ceiling is far higher than anything we have seen this season, while the Raiders were likely playing at a ceiling in September that is no longer available to them. We're taking the Chiefs to win and remain in the playoff hunt while the Raiders begin their traditional fade. Chiefs 27, Raiders 23.

Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots, Sunday, 1 p.m.

Are the Patriots legit?
Yes. They can legitimately go 10-7 playing the way they have been playing and beating the Falcons-Jaguars-Dolphins on their upcoming schedule as well as teams such as the Colts who will be looking for ways to lose to decent opponents.

The Patriots' schedule gets harder in the second half of the season, but their defense is playing better than it did early in the year, so it all balances out.

Are the Browns better off without Odell Beckham?
Slightly, because they were giving 40 snaps and six to nine targets per game to a receiver whose skills had deteriorated to the point where that playing time and attention should have been spent elsewhere.

Nick Chubb and Demetric Fenton may be unavailable due to COVID. Does D'Ernest Johnson go Super Saiyan like he did against the Broncos?
Probably not. Johnson had an excellent game a few weeks ago on Thursday night, but he also had two runs for 30 yards on the opening drive and benefitted from the Only Game On phenomenon: all of social media dogpiled on with their extra-thirsty "I knew about D'Ernest before you did" and "Running Backs Don't Matter" takes immediately. He's a fine player, and also fourth-string for a reason.

The Patriots defense ranks 17th in rushing DVOA, so they should be vulnerable to the Browns rushing attack. But they probably won't allow anyone to rush for 146 yards.

Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson (concussion) missed practice midweek for the Patriots, so there are a lot of running back variables in play in what promises to be a ground-and-pound game.

What do you think of the contract extensions for Wyatt Teller and Joel Bitonio?
They're delicious.

Something something something Baker Mayfield something something?
Overreacting to Mayfield's encouraging-but-not-overwhelming games and his disappointing-but-not damning games makes a great content model but bad analysis.

The offensive line extensions will serve as an insurance policy or extended service warranty for the eventual Mayfield extension. We'll need to see all the numbers (including Mayfield's eventual deal) to decide if the Browns just bought collision and comprehensive for a Ford Fiesta.

Is Walkthrough still doing the "Mac Jones is poised" routine?
Jones is enjoying the kid gloves treatment from everyone: his coaches, many of my colleagues, the referees when he decides to treat Brian Burns' leg like a turkey wing. The NFL kid gloves treatment is a self-fulfilling prophecy: quarterbacks who keep getting the benefit of the doubt develop into Kirk Cousins. The Patriots are probably comfortable with the idea of Jones developing into Cousins, especially if he does so on his rookie contract.

So … pick?
Our FO+ picks like the Browns, who are well built (running game, pass rush) to take away what the Patriots like to do (interceptions, protect Lil' Mac). Using a slightly different algorithm, EdjSports prefers the Patriots. Walkthrough thinks that the Patriots are better at managing a rushing-and-field-position game, and we're worried that Jones will take a circular saw to Myles Garrett's leg and the refs will flag Garrett for taunting when he bleeds toward the Patriots bench. But the Browns have a chance of dominating in the trenches, with is something the Patriots aren't used to.

It's so close that (gasp!) the running backs might matter. Browns 24, Patriots 22 if the Browns are healthier at running back, Patriots 23, Browns 20 if the Patriots are healthier. If there's no advantage either way, I dunno, let's go with Patriots 22, Browns 21.

New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans, Sunday, 1 p.m.

Magic Items, Lore, and Arcana: an excerpt from Elminster's Guide to the Forgotten NFL Realms, Edition 5E.

Cleats of Beastmodia: Vorpal footwear, provides wearer with +5 bludgeoning and stiff-arming damage. Also grants advantage against (but not immunity from) Curse of 370 checks. Previously worn by Derrick Henry. Now worn by Titans defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons. Adrian Peterson would make a deal with Baphomet to get his feet in them.

Wand of Wentzification: Opposing quarterbacks must make a Wisdom saving throw (DC 20) or else fall under a Confusion spell which causes them to throw passes from their own end zone directly to Titans defenders. Wand can only be used once per game.

Amulet of Charm Payton: Wearer has the ability to charm Sean Payton. Payton gets to roll a saving throw with disadvantage after a pick-six or when Drew Brees is within 50 feet. Legend has it that Trevor Siemian stole this charm from Taysom Hill's locker.

Staff of Greater Sucking: A legendary artifact forged by Bill Beli-lich to keep the AFC East hordes at bay but lost during the Brady Apostasy. The user need merely strike the staff upon the ground, and all sub-.500 NFL teams get disadvantage on all attacks, ability checks, and saving throws for an entire Sunday. Sean Payton currently possesses the staff and uses it to make sure the 49ers, Vikings, and Bears don't get any ideas. Mike Vrabel hopes to steal the staff and use it to open up a chasm that swallows the rest of the AFC South once and for all.

Shroud of Unpredictability: The Titans have upset some of the NFL's best teams but lost to the Jets. The Saints have beaten the Buccaneers and Packers but lost to the Giants and Falcons. Any gold pieces wagered on the outcome of this game must make a saving throw against uncertainty (DC 15) or be lost forever. Titans 22, Saints 16.

Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys, Sunday, 1 p.m.

How this game will go:

  • Cowboys arrive wearing the "We Feel We Have Nothing Left to Prove" tee-shirts Jerry Jones printed up for them. (Mike McCarthy forgot to get his washed).
     
  • Cowboys fail on their first two fourth-down conversions: a slow-developing off-tackle run and a slower-developing mesh route.
     
  • Cordarrelle Patterson says f*ck it and just starts taking direct snaps and lofting passes to himself. Falcons take a 14-0 lead.
     
  • McCarthy panics and orders a punt on fourth-and-inches near midfield. Matt Ryan returns to throw a touchdown pass that bounces off Kyle Pitts' hands and into the arms of Olamide Zaccheaus.
     
  • Fourth quarter of a Falcons game arrives. Brown acid kicks in.
     
  • Cowboys score 24 unanswered points. Falcons defense commits penalties on nine consecutive plays at one point. Their offense tries to munch the clock by setting up screens to Patterson, even though even Pop Warner defenders have figured out that they cannot afford to lose track of Patterson on screen passes.
     
  • Game ends when the Cowboys block a Falcons punt, a Cowboys defender bats the ball to a Falcons player, that player rolls it back, and the two teams continue trying to lose until the ball rolls out of bounds. The Cowboys are awarded possession. Mike McCarthy tries to order a 56-yard field goal but cannot pronounce "Lirim Hajrullahu", so Dak Prescott drives for a game-winning touchdown.
     
  • Falcons congratulate themselves for staying in the playoff race until November and not embarrassing themselves on an onside kick. Cowboys 36, Falcons 31.

Philadelphia Eagles at Denver Broncos, Sunday, 4:25 p.m.

The Broncos are better off without Von Miller. My column:

The Denver Broncos needed a clean break from their storied past. They needed young leaders to feel empowered to step up. In short, they needed to escape the long shadow cast by Von Miller.

The Broncos team that trounced the Cowboys 34-16 last week was released from the vice-like grip of the 2015 champions. No longer did they turn to their elders to set the tone. The Broncos played like a group of young men who understood that a new era has dawned, and that it is an era that belongs to Jonathon Cooper, Caleb Sterns, Jerry Jeudy, and Javonte Williams.

No one believes any of this bullsnot. And only a fool would write such a column about a beloved superstar like Miller. Yet why is it so unbelievable when talking about Miller but taken as rote when talking about Odell Beckham? Yes, Beckham is indeed flighty, and was playing poorly this season. But Miller has been playing through injuries at a cap-unfriendly salary for years. Miller also had John Elway's ear, and he was one of the veterans who was always lobbying for a veteran starting quarterback such as Case Keenum or Joe Flacco. And Miller's Broncos tenure ended after an odd kerfuffle about paying for a Halloween party: perhaps a locker room disconnect between Miller and some of the youngsters really was growing.

Wait … maybe the Broncos really are better off without Miller in 2021!

Probably not. It's more likely that they benefited from a Cowboys mini-meltdown after they stuffed a few fourth-down conversion attempts in the first half and a blocked-punt fiasco early in the third quarter. Either way, rumors of the Broncos' pending surrender, while not exaggerated, are at least premature.

Nick Sirianni's Karma Chameleons might find a guise (Bombing team! Screen team! Option team! Power-running team!) that surprises the Broncos, but it's more likely that they will just be a tough out for another week. Broncos 26, Eagles 21.

Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, 4:05 p.m.

The Cardinals, whom we discussed in some detail in Wednesday's Walkthrough, should serve as inspiration for the Panthers. Last year, Kliff Kingsbury looked like an overmatched second-year college wunderkind whose offense had grown stale after peaking with a few fun early-season victories. Matt Rhule looks that way right now. A little better health here, a free-agent acquisition there, and improved game-planning and player development everywhere, and whammo! The Panthers can be the NFL's best team by the midpoint of 2022.

Of course, the Cardinals had Kyler Murray, while the Panthers have a big expensive sack of bad ideas at quarterback. (We'll cover Cam Newton's return when it's likely that he will play). But Rhule doesn't sweat the details much, so why should we? Cardinals 28, Panthers 19.

Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, 4:05 p.m.

If you truly love the Vikings, then you want them to suffer tough loss after tough loss to opponents like the Cowboys, Ravens, and Chargers every week. The Vikings need to bottom out so they can recognize the folly of scraping their heads against the roof of the salary cap while aiming for the sixth seed in the playoffs each year.

If you find the Vikings irrationally irritating the way Walkthrough does, you want them to suffer a tough loss every week because it's amusing.

The Chargers are the perfect team to lose a heartbreaker to: Brandon Staley's excellence as a fourth-down decision-maker will give the Chargers an edge when the game is inevitably close in the fourth quarter, and while the Chargers kicking game may a problem, opposing kickers have an unsustainable but hilarious habit of turning into Justin Tucker against the Vikings.

Walkthrough doesn't have a strong feeling about this game, mind you. We may not know what will happen on Sunday, but we know what's best for the teams themselves. Chargers 27, Vikings 26.

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets, Sunday, 1 p.m.

How this game will go:

  • Bills taunting penalty.
     
  • Bills roughness penalty.
     
  • Bills pass interference penalty.
     
  • Bills offensive line miscommunication on a routine stunt: four lineman block Quinnen Williams while Shaq Lawson chases Josh Allen around the field with a machete.
     
  • With Mike White and Josh Johnson all knocked out of the game, Fireman Ed takes over as the Jets quarterback while Joe Flacco stands on the sideline holding a helmet. Jets take a 6-0 lead as two missed field goals are negated by Bills roughing-the-kicker penalties.
     
  • The Bills attempt a triple option on fourth-and-inches. Allen fumbles. The illegal motion penalty is declined.
     
  • A Jets opportunity to ice the upset vanishes when Braxton Berrios' Philly Special at the goal line to Fireman Ed is intercepted. Flacco is seen eating vegetable soup on the sideline.
     
  • With their backs to the wall, the Bills remember that they were preseason Super Bowl frontrunners and possess one of the strongest overall rosters in the NFL, and that they are facing a team from the America East Conference. The Bills manufacture a few fitful fourth-quarter scoring drives.
     
  • Josh Allen's MVP odds somehow improve to +150. Bills 27, Jets 13.

Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, 1 p.m.

The Steelers are now enjoying a meme season. Ben Roethlisberger has "still got it!" And he's winning with grit and determination! And the team is better without that reprehensible Instagram model JuJu Smith-Schuster (a surrogate for Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell among a vocal segment of the team's fanbase)! T.J. Watt is the spiritual successor to Jack Lambert! And anyone who complains that the officiating is a smidge lopsided is just a hater who is jealous of the trophy case! There's even a fan-favorite tight end who catches shovel passes!

The Patriots are also having a meme season, but this is the Steelers capsule, and the Steelers are the 5-4 legacy contender that doesn't face a serious challenge this week. Steelers 26, Lions 21.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, 1 p.m.

Look, we're all a little edgy after last week's upsets. But the Jaguars are still putrid. All their offense did in Week 9 was wait around for the Bills to commit penalties. Their defense played well, but they're still ranked 27th in the NFL in DVOA.

Also, we went through all of this last week, when the Colts faced the Jets, who were coming off the Bengals upset. Other teams keep tripping the wire and springing the trap just before the Colts show up. The Colts will win this week. They'll probably cover. Once that's over with, we can all just repress our memories of Week 9 and carry on as if nothing ever happened. Colts 28, Jaguars 16.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Football Team, Sunday, 1 p.m.

The Buccaneers' 2020 Super Bowl journey truly kicked off when they visited an overmatched Washington team with nth-string quarterback Taylor Heinicke under center in the wild-card round of the playoffs. Washington's journey to their current specific state of haplessness also began on that Saturday: their narrow 31-23 victory may have given Washington a false read on the quality of their defense and on Heinicke's long-range potential.

It's tempting to think things will come full circle on Sunday: the Buccaneers, likely without Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski, might continue the plummet back to mortality that began with their Week 8 loss to the Saints, while Washington may have regrouped over their bye and are now ready to be more than jobbers.

Again, it's tempting. But it's not particularly likely. Buccaneers 26, Washington 20. (Add a few points to the Bucs total if any of the three playmakers are available.)

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers, Monday, 8:15 p.m.

Some stat splits and notes:.

  • The 49ers have recovered just three of 17 opponents' fumbles. That's a trend that should succumb to central tendency and start tilting slightly in the 49ers' favor, though it may not happen this week.
     
  • The 49ers rank 26th against stopping deep passes, which is suboptimal when facing the Rams. The Rams rank eighth at stopping short passes, which is fine news when facing the 49ers.
     
  • The 49ers rank 29th at stopping No. 1 wide receivers, which is bad news when facing Cooper Kupp. They rank second at stopping running backs in the passing game, which is of little use against the Rams.
     
  • The Rams rank 15th in first-half offensive DVOA, while the 49ers rank seventh in first-half defensive DVOA and eighth in first-half offensive DVOA.

The 49ers are getting +3.5 for the game but +3 for just the first half, so you better believe we're taking them in a first-half prop. Walkthrough anticipates that the 49ers will keep things close until the Rams pull away late. We also think the 49ers will get their act together in the second half of the season with the help of fumble luck, beatable opponents, some reinforcements in the secondary, and maybe Trey Lance. But that's a topic for another capsule. Rams 34, 49ers 24.

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers, Sunday, 4:25 p.m.

In many ways, modern America is a nation built by advertisers and run by insurance companies. When an insurance company is someone's primary advertiser, his silly little anti-vax tirades will inevitably earn him the Ned Beatty speech from Network.

Aaron Rodgers may be mad as hell, but he IS going to take it anymore. He's also likely back this week, though we probably won't know for certain until the weekend.

Russell Wilson is also expected back, and we covered the Seahawks as the possible Team No One Wants to Face in the Playoffs in Thursday's Walkthrough. So the world is getting the Rodgers-Wilson matchup we deserve after weeks of pretending to find Geno Smith and Pat McAfee interesting.

There's about a 33.3% Angry Aaron goes ham; a 33.3% chance he's either so rusty or so thirsty that he spends the whole game overthrowing Davante Adams and making pouty faces at the sideline; and a 33.3% chance this game comes down to Wilson or Rodgers either completing or failing to complete a Hail Mary on the final play, probably with an officiating controversy mixed in. That leaves a 0.1% chance that Walkthrough will risk any actual money on the outcome of this game. Packers 32, Seahawks 31.

Comments

38 comments, Last at 14 Nov 2021, 11:14am

1 Patriots win 22-21 seems legit

Patriots 22, Browns 21

That’s an unusual looking score. With the Browns just scoring TDs and never going for 2, there’s no way the Patriots would go for 2 themselves. That 22 must be the Patriots marching up and down the field but struggling in the red zone, for 5 field goals and just one touchdown.

Sounds about right.

2 I assumed the 22nd point…

I assumed the 22nd point came on the last play of the game on a CFL-style rouge based on an obscure rule that Belichick found in the archives that nobody else has ever heard of, but that the refs allow after consultation because the game is being played in Foxboro.

 

16 Well, in the last five days,…

In reply to by nat

Well, in the last five days, we've seen an allegedly good Ravens offense score 10, allegedly good Cowboys offense score 16, and an allegedly good Bills offense score 6, none exactly against top-flight defenses.  Based on the offensive ineptitude we've seen lately, is it out of the realm of possibility that those 22 points are just scored on 11 safeties?

17 This being the Browns and…

This being the Browns and Patriots, I assume it would be the Browns scoring a late TD to bring it to 21-20,then going for the 2 to make it a FG game - Only for the Pats to pick Baker off and housecall it 102 yards for 2 points and the win. 

3 There's one major difference between Rodgers and Beale

Aaron Rodgers would only ever say "I have seen the face of God" if he were looking in the mirror.

It's also interesting that the giant corporations cited in the speech are either no longer extant (Union Carbide) or are vastly diminished (Exxon). Which is to say that for all of the corporate superstructure propping up and feeding off the NFL, it still comes down to the players and coaches.

Even with all of their injuries, Green Bay still has the better squad, and that will be the difference. GB wins, 31-24.

10 Yeah, Exxon is also at least…

In reply to by RickD

Yeah, Exxon is also at least twice the size it was during the speech, thanks to swallowing Mobil.

 

Union Carbide is now owned by Dow, who despite being #82 this year had $38B in revenue as opposed to UC's roughly $10B at the time of the rant. ;)

5 They let all of their…

They let all of their fundamentals slip in the offseason. 

I really appreciate this bit of analysis. Mahomes looks like he needs to spend a week at a quarterback camp re-learning technique, but it's really been the whole team that's been a bit off. The receivers are letting balls go through their hands, and we spent so much time congratulating them for rebuilding the offensive line we didn't stop to ask whether the new line was any good. (It's not.)

The one area where I disagree with you is that I think these things are relatively easy to fix. At least it's easier than fixing a team that doesn't have their talent. The Chiefs still have about as high a ceiling as any team in the AFC. 

 

23 Offensive Line

I'd say the O line is average to bad at pass blocking, and pretty good at run blocking. It's a win for the other team if the Chiefs keep running the ball. The problem is that they don't want to run the ball *that* much. The good news is that I think the O line is better than at the beginning of the year - the center Humphrey is playing at an All Pro level. Trey Smith is good at run blocking, has struggled with other things but seems okay, especially for a rookie. Thuney has been a good addition. The tackles are getting beaten regularly. Mahomes is partially to blame, and the killer schedule to start the season hasn't helped. They *can* get it turned around, the talent is there. The real question is will they? I don't know, but it needs to start Sunday night. 

6 Always appreciate some solid…

Always appreciate some solid D&D content from someone who clearly knows the system well.  Nitpick; magic items in 5e cap at +3.  Do think Fiend Pact Warlock and the associated temporary hit points would help explain AP's longevity and early-career ability to bounce off contact, though.

/nerd

7 Seahawks over Packers.

This is an easy call, easy pick with great value.

Wilson will be back with a whole week of practice.  Rodgers may not be back, and if he is it will be without any practice time with the team.  Literally, Saturday afternoon we'll know.

Seahawks off a bye will win whether Rodgers plays or not.  Won't be pretty.  They'll grind it out.

This is a game where overvaluing Rodgers will cost you money.  Big picture says the rested, more prepared team wins here.

 

24 This Seahawks fan says no,…

This Seahawks fan says no, the Hawks habitually poop the bed coming out of the bye and they haven't won in GB since the last ice age.  But then, come to think of it, ice ages happen often in Green Bay.

28 The past doesn't determine the future.

The NFL is a week to week league, as well as a year to year league.

Considering the fact that Rodgers hasn't practiced all week during COVID protocol and might not play, the Hawks have an advantage no matter what.

Having Russell Wilson back will provide them an edge in this game and they'll edge it out.

If Jordan Love is playing, the Hawks will definitely win the game.

38 It's ice aging right now in…

It's ice aging right now in Green Bay, with two to three inches of snow on the ground and a steady breeze. Snow is supposed to quit around noon. My thermometer says 36 degrees, so not frigid, but plenty cold if your uniform gets wet on a windy day. 

Packer running game will be the difference today. Packers 27, Seahawks 24.

8 Browns over Pats.

This is a game where your faith determines your bet.

Do you trust Baker not to lose the game or Belichick to scheme up some TO's?

I'm hoping Stefansky runs, runs, runs and keeps Baker to a minimum.  Cleveland's defense is good enough to contain check-down Mac in a game that should be low scoring.

I don't think the  Pats are a good team, at all.  They are basically the Niners with better coaching.

19 I don't think the  Pats are…

I don't think the  Pats are a good team, at all.  They are basically the Niners with better coaching.

Well, SF is 9th in DVOA, while NE is 13th, so it sounds like you actually are bullish on the Pats.

20 You know what I mean, Scott.

Neither team is good.  Shanahan has already beaten Belichick using a run-heavy scheme just last year.

The Browns have a better running game than the Niners.

Baker is better than Mac Jones............by a hair.

30 Browns are good.

Not very good or excellent, just good.

They have a great O-line and running game, with a decent defense.  Baker is the weak link.  

They get exposed when they play the top echelon teams, though.

Arizona blew them out and the game was not close.  

27 Pats Bad?

The Pats being a bad team is a nice thought, but inevitably Belichick finds ways for his teams to improve as the season progresses, and it appears to already be in the works. I wouldn't be surprised if they win the division, and they're the last team I'd want to face in the playoffs if I rooted for an AFC team. The only team I'd trust to beat them is the Titans due to Vrabel's familiarity with Belichick.

29 I wouldn't bet on it.

In reply to by Romodini

Pats won't win the AFC East.  They will come in second with the Bills sweeping them this year while outclassing them at every level.

Belichick is consistently great, but he also has bad games just like the players do.

Reference what San Fran did to them last year in Foxborough. 

If the Pats played in the NFC West, they'd be where San Fran and Seattle are (the cellar).

 

31 Will they though? Josh Allen…

Will they though? Josh Allen has regressed, and while the Bills defense is stout, if Belichick can disrupt Allen then it becomes a close game that the Pats can, and probably will, win.

Last year the Pats were stuck with the corpse of Cam Newton and a large number of their defensive players opting out due to covid, so what last year's 49ers did to them isn't relevant. 

Possibly, but they don't play in that division, which makes them a playoff contender if they continue to improve. They have the luxury of finding themselves by practicing on lesser teams, and the longer the season lasts for them, the more Belichick can figure out the strengths of his team.

What's lost in all the "Tom Brady was the real MVP behind the dynasty" talk is that the Patriots also lost Ernie Adams to retirement, aka the second genius behind the scenes who famously scouted the play that led to the Russel Wilson interception in the Superbowl. If the Patriots don't end up any good this year, I'd attribute it to that as much as anything else.

 

9 Steelers…

Not disagreeing - Steelers fans are pretty open that we aren’t great, probably just lucky. Just pointing out they are actually 5-3 not 5-4, and with a win will be 6-3 and in first place. 

11 Niners over Rams.

This is the referendum Shanahan vs. McVay game: Part I

The Niners swept the Rams last year with a run-heavy scheme that bullied the Rams over and over while limiting Jimmy G's exposure.  Expect a similar game plan against a Rams team that can't stop the run.

Shanahan needs this game to show he can still coach.  

The Niners will need to bully the Rams in order to win.  I think they do.

12 Raiders over Chiefs.

Why are the Chiefs a favorite on the road against a divisional opponent who can outscore them while also having a better defense?

Mahomes isn't playing well.

Most of the Raiders losses have been due to lack of focus.

If they are ready to play, they win this game by 7-10.

I don't understand the respect Vegas is giving the Chiefs.  They've eeked out wins vs. the Giants and neutered Packers in back to back weeks.  If you can win games looking this badly, more power to you.  Vegas is pushing this line to attract sucker Chiefs fans.

14 Broncos Eagles

Denver beat Dallas last week 30-16, not 34-16, and their rookie safety is Caden Sterns, not Caleb.

22 The Week 10 Vibes

The Patriots find a way to stop the Cleveland offense sans Nick Chubb by making Mayfield run left all day which confuses him into a few picks.  Mac Jones manages to master the quick passing game and neutralize the scary monsters on the Cleveland DL.  

The Bills step into the Mike White Reality Distortion Field and Allen & company are flummoxed for 45 minutes after which they are laser focused and score furiously trying to catch the Jets juggernaut.  To no avail they do the unthinkable and drop a game to the Jets.

Kirk Cousins and Baby Kubiak operate a renegade playbook behind the scenes as Zimmer is told there are problems with the headsets.  Dalvin Cook embroiders the seat of his pants with BELIEVE and the Chargers defense thinks he is a motivational aid provided by their coach as they follow him up and down the field luck baby ducks.  The Vikings somehow manage to win a squeaker over the Chargers after Herbert is sacked on fourth down in the red zone by the phantom of Carl Eller conjured from an old jersey bearing number 81 in the bottom of one of the Vikings laundry bags by a determined Mike Zimmer.

 

32 Which is it?

“The NFL is a week to week league, as well as a year to year league.”

Also

“Reference what San Fran did to them last year in Foxborough. ”

37 If your arguments are…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

If your arguments are inconsistent, then you're incoherent. It doesn't reflect at all on the team situation.

34 Can't help but feel this…

Can't help but feel this week that the higher DVOA teams are going to prevail. I have CLE, NO, MIN, PHI and SEA all pulling off the upsets.