10 Trades that should happen at the NFL Trade Deadline

Well NFL trade season is off and running with Marcus Peters headed to Baltimore from Los Angeles and Jalen Ramsey taking his place in Los Angeles coming from Jacksonville. Those weren’t even the only trades the Rams were involved in on Tuesday, as they acquired Austin Corbett from the Browns. With all the wheeling and dealing already underway, I’ve got to jump in on the action. As I noted in Week 7’s NFL Power Rankings, there is no question this week of NFL action will be the deciding factor for a lot of teams on the fringe. Let’s start talking about some moves that should happen in the next week before the October 29th trade deadline.

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Newton has missed four games this season with a foot injury. (Wikimedia Commons)

Carolina Panthers trade QB Cam Newton
Tennessee Titans trade 2020 2nd round pick, 2021 2nd round pick, CB Adoree’ Jackson

Let’s start with a bang. Cam Newton is a former MVP in this league and has played in a Super Bowl. Still, it might be time for the Panthers to think about moving on from the 30-year-old signal caller. For one, Newton has not been able to stay on the field the past two seasons. Even when he has been available, he has struggled mightily. Carolina has some capable options in Kyle Allen and 2019 third-round selection Will Grier. So far this year, the Panthers are undefeated with Allen under center (4-0) and winless (0-2) with Newton. I will admit that Allen has a very small sample size, but he has shown flashes of real potential. Some fans might be miffed at not getting a first rounder for Newton, but his injury history could make that tricky. Getting more draft capital is nice, but so is adding Adoree’ Jackson. The third-year corner has been losing favor in Tennessee, playing just 52 percent of his team’s defensive snaps on Sunday. At 24, Jackson still has plenty of time to develop. Carolina could use some depth at corner back to help them right away, so this is not just simply a long-term move.

On the Tennessee side of this, I know this team seems content to just win with a grinding defense and a couple of playmakers, but this team needs a better short-term solution at quarterback than Ryan Tannehill. Marcus Mariota is done and while Tannehill is fine as a replacement starter, he is not good enough to lead this team to the playoffs. He takes care of the football for the most part, but the Titans need more playmaking ability from the quarterback position. Getting Newton would be a huge development for the offense. He is a more dynamic player, with the ability to change the game as a passer or a runner. Honestly, he is exactly what the Titans thought they were getting when they drafted Mariota. Assuming Newton can get healthy, he should be well-positioned to lead an offense that boasts a good group of running backs and a bunch of young pass catchers. If Newton does go down for a game, Tannehill can step in as well. Tennessee has the cap space to absorb Newton’s contract and could move on from him as early as this offseason if it doesn’t work out. It would not prohibit the Titans from drafting a quarterback in the first round this year either, but given that they do not seem positioned to grab one of the top passers, getting Newton gives them some other options.

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Green has yet to play this season due to injury. (Wikimedia Commons)

Cincinnati Bengals trade WR A.J. Green
Buffalo Bills trade 2020 2nd round pick, 2020 5th round pick

Don’t look now but the Buffalo Bills are 5-1 and seem headed for the postseason. It hasn’t been pretty most of the way and part of that is the offense’s inability to get into a rhythm. Buffalo’s defense is championship caliber, arguably the best in the NFL, but the offense has been pedestrian at best. To help remedy that, the Bills acquire the 31-year-old A.J. Green. With John Brown and Cole Beasley, Buffalo has a couple of good complements to a top-tier receiver. Green would immediately take over as the top option for Josh Allen to target. It would give this offense a legitimate big-play threat and also a reliable outlet when Allen is under pressure. Given how close the Bills were to knocking off the Patriots earlier this year, this move could be what pushes them into the realm of winning a division title. Green projects as a one-year rental for now with his contract expiring after the season, but that is a risk worth taking.

For Cincinnati, it is time to move on from your franchise receiver. This team is about to begin a major overhaul with Andy Dalton clearly on the way out and possibly the worst offensive line in the league. Flipping Green, who is likely going to leave in the offseason anyway, for a pair of picks seems like the best move to set up the Bengals for long-term success. His return to action this year is not going to make up for the awful start to the year this group has had. Green carries a lot of value right now for a contender, and at 0-7, Cincy is very far from being in that conversation.

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Williams has yet to play this season for Washington. (Wikimedia Commons)

Washington trades OT Trent Williams, 2021 conditional 7th round pick
Cleveland Browns trade 2020 2nd round pick, 2021 5th round pick

Washington is being about as stubborn and ridiculous as I’ve seen an NFL franchise act. Rather than trading Trent Williams at the deadline, they are saying they want to trade him after the season is over. Just a reminder, Williams is holding out and Washington has way more leverage trading to a team in need of immediate help midseason than during the offseason. I’m focusing on what should happen, not what will happen. Bruce Allen should absolutely cash in on his disgruntled left tackle before the deadline. At 31, there is not going to be a much larger trade market for him in the offseason. Getting a second round pick and a late pick next year is a decent haul for a player who has no interest in being on your roster and carries a large cap hit. Saying you plan to trade him in the offseason feels like showing your hand as well. There is no chance Washington lands a Jalen Ramsey-type haul either. Regardless, Washington would be smart to capitalize on the pressing need a team will have at tackle.

One such team in this case would definitely be Cleveland. After re-signing Cam Robinson this offseason, it is clear the Browns need a bit more help protecting Baker Mayfield. After trading away former Pro Bowl guard Kevin Zietler for Olivier Vernon, nothing was ever done to replace him. The former former overall pick from Oklahoma has suffered 16 sacks in just six games this season. He has been hit way more than last year and has spent chunks of games running for his life. Robinson could bump inside as well in an effort to revitalize the offensive line. Williams would be a significant upgrade. Even though he projects as a shorter term solution rather than a long one, he probably still has a few good years left in him. After all, Jason Peters is still going at 37. Eventually, Cleveland will have to pay Baker Mayfield. In the meantime, load up on talent around him to give yourself a championship window with a quarterback on a rookie contract.

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Sanders is second on Broncos in receptions and receiving yards this season. (Wikimedia Commons)

Denver Broncos trade WR Emmanuel Sanders
San Francisco 49ers trade DL Solomon Thomas, 2020 4th round pick, 2021 6th round pick

Emmanuel Sanders might be one of, if not Denver’s best offensive player, but at 32 years old with a team beginning to turn things over to a younger group, it is time to move on. Sanders is in a contract year, so this would be a one-year rental for the 49ers, but given that there are a few other teams that could use some help at receiver, specifically the Bears and Patriots, they will have to give up at least a fourth-round selection to ensure he arrives in the Bay Area. With Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton already on the roster as second-year pros, the Broncos won’t be stranding their offense completely for the future. Given that this is a loaded wide receiver class coming up as well, the front office could easily find some additional help in the 2020 draft. They also add Solomon Thomas. The 2017 third overall pick has not panned out in San Francisco and has yet to play 50 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in a given game. He would provide the Broncos with a situational rusher that also provides some defensive line depth. In his limited time on the field, Thomas does have a pair of sacks this year. He won’t make a huge difference, but he could prove to be a useful piece.

For the 49ers, this fills a clear need. Through their first six games, Jimmy Garoppolo has been throwing to the collection of Marquise Goodwin, Dante Pettis and 2019 second round pick Deebo Samuel on the outside. George Kittle is one of the top tight ends in the league, but adding a proven receiver like Sanders could help open up the offense a bit more. After all, Kittle is the only receiver to eclipse 200 yards so far this season. Given the investment in both Samuel and Jalen Hurd, who is on injured reserve, San Francisco should have no problem making a short-term addition before turning it over to the young draft picks. This defense looks ready for a championship run, now it is time for the 49ers to bring their offense closer to that level.

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Harris has a $12.5 million cap hit for 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)

Denver Broncos trade CB Chris Harris Jr.
Philadelphia Eagles trade 2020 3rd round pick

Wow this secondary needs loads of help. The backend of the defense was not supposed to be a strength, but it also wasn’t supposed to be this big of a weakness. Sidney Jones and Jalen Mills have both really struggled. Avonte Maddox is still out and while Ronald Darby is finally back from injury, this group needs a boost. Enter Chris Harris Jr., who would not only raise the level of play, but also bring some swagger to this secondary. Rumors have been swirling for a while now about the 30-year-old corner leaving Denver. Philly has more than enough space to absorb his cap hit and parting with a third-round pick seems like a no-brainer for a team that has its eyes set on returning to the postseason.

For Denver, the fire sale continues. Harris has been a good player for the Broncos, but he is nearing the end of his career and on an expiring contract. Netting a third round pick in the 2020 draft is nice compensation for a player they likely would’ve let walk in free agency. It essentially just means Denver receives it’s compensatory pick a year earlier. After an embarrassing showing on Thursday night, it’s time for John Elway to start looking to build for next year and amass draft capital to find some future contributors on this roster.

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Williams was the 6th overall pick in 2015. (Wikimedia Commons)

New York Jets trade DL Leonard Williams
Baltimore Ravens trade 2020 3rd round pick, 2021 5th round pick

The Baltimore Ravens find themselves in an interesting place six weeks into the 2019 NFL season. After watching the Browns faceplant out of the gates, coupled with quarterback injuries in Pittsburgh, the Ravens comfortably hold the division lead. Now let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is a lot of season left, but this feels like a team that could try to take advantage of a struggling division and start planning for the postseason. One major area of need is at pass rusher. I don’t think the front office is in swing for the fences mode, but they could try to add a quality contributor in the final year of his contract. Leonard Williams fits that bill nicely. Williams is not a pure edge rusher, but he might fit well into Baltimore’s defense scheme. He has enough speed to play outside and enough power to kick inside as well. He is far from a prolific pass rusher, just 17 sacks in his previous four years, without one yet in 2019. I have a feeling though that a change of scenery could see Williams turn into a player who generate six to eight sacks per year and contributes to building a strong culture. That’s something this Ravens team could use, with just 12 sacks so far this season.

Over in New York, this is a team under new management with Joe Douglas taking over for Mike McCagnan late in the offseason. Williams was not a player he drafted and general managers have a tendency to want “their guys” on the roster. Additionally, this is the final year of Williams’ deal. The Jets would likely land a compensatory pick if he walked in free agency, which they can recoup here and add an additional late-round pick to make trading him worth it. New York is desperately in need of pass rushers, but given the signings and draft picks it has made along the defensive line in recent years and Williams’ general lack of production in this scheme, it seems safe to say its time to move on. This will give Douglas some immediately draft capital to start reshaping the roster.

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Suggs moved into tie for 9th on all-time sack list on Sunday. (Wikimedia Commons)

Arizona Cardinals trade EDGE Terrell Suggs
Kansas City Chiefs trade conditional 2020 6th round draft pick

Terrell Suggs is one of the most dominant pass rushers of the past 15 seasons. He had 132.5 sacks in 16 seasons for Baltimore. He is up to five already this season with the Cardinals. While Arizona seems like it is heading in the right direction, there is no question that Suggs is a luxury they don’t really need right now. He is 37 and on a one-year deal in the desert. With a number of contenders in need of some pass rushing help, Arizona should look to turn the still productive veteran into a late pick.

Kansas City needs all kinds of help right now defensively. It finally put together a great showing on Thursday night against Denver, but that feels more like an aberration than a sign of things to come. Adding a rotational pass rusher who has lots of big game experience could be transformative for the Chiefs. Suggs has played in and won the games that Kansas City wants to win this year as a part of the Ravens 2012 Super Bowl team. Even though he slowing down, Suggs posted seven sacks last year and seems on pace to at least match that this season. This seems like a logical one-year rental for the Chiefs.

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Beasley was the 8th overall pick in 2015. (Wikimedia Commons)

Atlanta Falcons trade EDGE Vic Beasley
Seattle Seahawks trade conditional 2020 5th round pick

There have been few careers as wonky as Vic Beasley’s in Atlanta. After an uninspiring rookie season, the former Clemson edge rusher led the league with 15.5 sacks in 2016, earning himself a 1st-team All-Pro nod. Beasley hasn’t been able to get over the five sack mark in the two seasons since. With the Falcons spiraling, they have already voiced hopes of trading away their former first round pick. Moving on from Beasley, who is a free agent after the season, makes a ton of sense for the front office.

If there is a team that has shown they are willing to take fliers on players who have flashed talent, but struggled with consistency, it would be Seattle. The Seahawks also desperately need pass rushing help entering the weekend averaging just two sacks per game. Beasley has not been very productive this year, with just 1.5 sacks so far. At just 27 years old though, he is worth it, especially for a conditional late-round pick. There are a lot of similarities between the Atlanta defense and the Seattle one because that is where coach Dan Quinn came from when taking the top job for the Falcons. Few other teams are going to be willing to part with potential pass rushers, especially with Terrell Suggs playing for a division rival, so the Seahawks will make do with what they’ve got here.

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Trubisky has the second-lowest yards per attempt this season, ahead of Josh Rosen. (Wikimedia Commons)

Miami Dolphins trade WR Albert Wilson
Chicago Bears trade 2020 6th round pick

Chicago needs a major boost on offense. This offense already has plenty of speed with Taylor Gabriel and Tarik Cohen, but the Bears could desperately use another explosive playmaker. Mitch Trubisky threw the ball 54 times for just 251 yards on Sunday, which is a microcosm of this unit in 2019. Trubisky on the season is averaging a woeful 5.5 yards per attempt. With Chicago likely to get outbid for the top receivers on the market, Albert Wilson seems like a solid option to help this offense’s efficiency. He seems like the type of player Matt Nagy would be able to integrate into his system quickly to maximize his skill set. His is withering away on a Dolphins team determined to land a top-three pick. He will not solve all of Chicago’s issues on that side of the ball, but he would provide another veteran pass catcher at an affordable price. If he doesn’t work out, the Bears can cut the 27-year-old with just $1.3 million in dead money.

On the Miami end of things, moving on from a player who has been hurt a lot for another late pick always seems logical when you are 0-6. Wilson is not going to make a difference for this team in the long-term and is barely doing enough right now as it is. Part of that is because he is trapped in a floundering offense. The Dolphins might not acknowledge they are tanking, but it really doesn’t look much like they are trying to win. At this point, the more draft capital, the better for this front office.

Vernon Davis
Davis has over 7,000 career receiving yards and 63 career touchdowns. (Wikimedia Commons)

Washington trades TE Vernon Davis
Seattle Seahawks trade 2020 7th round pick

Russell Wilson could use a short term upgrade at tight end. With Will Dissley done for the season after the best start to a year in his short career, Seattle has a big need at the position. Luke Wilson is valuable, but he is not a reliable pass catcher. Nabbing Vernon Davis for a 7th round pick would be a great move to aid the offense. Davis might turn 36 in January, but he has shown flashes that he still has something left in the tank on a terrible Washington team. He would immediately offer the Seahawks another pass catcher capable of picking up some third downs and making plays in the red zone. It is the type of move you make to bolster a team capable of making a deep playoff run.

For Washington, this is just another player that has more value elsewhere. Davis still clearly has a role to play in the nation’s capital, but he is far from the only option the offense has at tight end with Jeremey Sprinkle and Jordan Reed, if the latter ever gets healthy. Picking up another draft pick for this year doesn’t hurt the rebuilding process that is undoubtedly needed. Put it this way, Vernon Davis probably won’t be in the NFL anymore by the time Washington is ready to compete for a division title again, so send him elsewhere and get something in return.

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NFL Draft Podcast Episode 6

There is no shortage of drama in football this week as Jalen Ramsey heads west and the College Football Playoff suffered a major shakeup as Georgia went down. Catch up on all of that and check out this week’s studs and sleepers. Plus find out which games to watch and the prospects to watch in each contest. You can find every episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

2019 NFL Power Rankings: Week 7

It finally feels like the NFL contenders are beginning to separate themselves. It was a week that saw both undefeated teams emerge with comfortable victories and maybe of the fringe contenders drop a game to cast doubt on their merits of being included in that tier. Six weeks into the NFL season, I think we are starting to see which teams look built for the long haul and which teams might still be a few pieces away from contending. Lombardi trophies are not won in October, but I would say the number of teams I believe have a shot at winning the Super Bowl is down to maybe 12.

We are also headed into a crucial Week 7. The results of this upcoming slate of games will likely greatly impact the NFL landscape for the rest of the year. With the trade deadline looming, it will be time for those middling contenders to decide to stand pat, or make a move to bolster their championship chances. Despite the early successes of the Patriots and 49ers, both have clear needs that could be addressed in the trade market. While a loss for either of those teams would not change course, losses by say the Titans or Broncos or Chargers could have those teams much more willing to trade away a player to a contender. Bottom line is, this week is going to be make or break for a lot of NFL teams’ seasons. There is a massive difference between being 3-4 and 2-5 as you approach the halfway point. Now enough of my trade ramblings for now (I will be doing an article on this later in the week), time for some power rankings.

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1. New England Patriots: 6-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 35-14 vs. New York
Who says Tom Brady can’t get it done with his legs? Brady scored a pair of rushing touchdowns as the defense continued to play lights out in a commanding win. There is no question there are still areas for growth on this roster as the receiving core remains banged up. Tight end also feels like a major position of need. However, this defense might honestly be good enough that with no additions, New England could still win the Super Bowl.

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2. New Orleans Saints: 5-1 (Last Week: 2)
Won 13-6 at Jacksonville
Who dat gonna score on this defense? New Orleans looked sharp again on that side of the ball, prompting Sean Payton to say he didn’t think Jacksonville would have reached the end zone if they had played eight quarters of football. It was another grind it out type of win for the Saints, but there are no style points in the NFL. The offense has another tough task ahead of it though with a trip to Chicago on the horizon, but if the defense plays at this level, all Teddy Bridgewater might have to do to win is avoid turning the ball over.

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3. San Francisco 49ers: 5-0 (Last Week: 6)
Won 20-7 at Los Angeles
No more sleeping on this group. San Francisco’s defense is the real deal. Any group that is capable of shutting down the Rams offense demands respect. Jared Goff looked like an overmatched quarterback trying to figure out where the pressure was coming from next. Now, the offense still seems like a work in progress. Jimmy Garappolo threw a truly head-scratching interception in the end zone. On top of that, despite 41 attempts on the ground, the 49ers only managed 99 yards rushing. This is a brand of football the Niners can certainly win with, but it is going to require a bit more offensive production to be considered a true Super Bowl favorite.

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4. Seattle Seahawks: 5-1 (Last Week: 5)
Won 32-28 at Cleveland
Seattle definitely got some help from a hapless group of Cleveland receivers not named Odell Beckham Jr., but this was another quality trip for Russell Wilson and company. The Seahawks relied on their bruising identity by running the ball 38 times. This game was a lot closer than Pete Carroll would have liked it to be, but picking up a road win is hardly something to complain about. Seattle needs a bit more production from the defensive line, which failed to record a sack. That is going to be necessary if a division title is the goal at the end of the year.

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5. Green Bay Packers: 5-1 (Last Week: 4)
Won 23-22 vs. Detroit
That was about as tight as it gets. Green Bay never led in this game. At least not while there was any time remaining on the clock. Mason Crosby’s game-winning field goal as time expired gave the Packers their first lead of the night. It was a very solid showing from a defense that managed three sacks and held Detroit to just 2.8 yards per rush. It was not a convincing outing in any sense of the word, but a win is a win. Green Bay keeps pace with the rest of the NFC in the win column and maintains that buffer in the division. Now it just has to pray for Davante Adams to return from injury to get back on track offensively.

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6. Kansas City Chiefs: 4-2 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 31-24 vs. Houston
This is starting to become a real issue for the Chiefs. One week after being stunned by the Colts at home, the defense had no answer for the Texans and dropped another one at Arrowhead. As prolific as the offense might be, it has to be on the field in order to score. It was on the sideline for the vast majority of this game, with just 20 minutes time of possession. It was the same blueprint from Indy used again and Kansas City had no way to stop it. If this team is serious about making a deep postseason run, it is going to need to make at least one move at the deadline to bolster this struggling defense.

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7. Houston Texans: 4-2 (Last Week: 12)
Won 31-24 at Kansas City
Suddenly, the Texans offensive line can pass protect and run block. Houston didn’t allow a sack for the second straight week and produced an impressive 4.7 yards per attempt average. The defense did a good job of pressuring Patrick Mahomes consistently. If Deshaun Watson can avoid interceptions, he had two Sunday, this team is going to be very hard to beat. Give the Colts credit for designing the gameplan, but the Texans still had to execute it. Holding the ball for 40 minutes is definitely the best way to limit the impact of that high-powered Chiefs offense.

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8. Buffalo Bills: 4-1 (Last Week: 10)
Bye Week
Buffalo had a week off to rest up and feel pretty good about its standing in the AFC. Technically, just one team in the conference has a better record than the Bills, and that would be the only team to beat the them this season. Buffalo is continuing to develop depth across the offense. Devin Singletary is nearing a return from injury and Josh Allen is continuing to improve as a passer. The Bills will not need to score many points to win games given the level of play of its defense. Thankfully, points shouldn’t be hard to come by with the Dolphins coming up next.

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9. Minnesota Vikings: 4-2 (Last Week: 17)
Won 38-20 vs. Philadelphia
This seems like a massive jump for the Vikings, but it was exactly the type of showing Kirk Cousins needed to have. Yes, I understand it was against a really bad secondary, but when you look around the NFL, are there a ton of other teams you feel better about than Minnesota right now? The losses have been rather close, even if they were disheartening, and the Vikings have taken care of all the other teams on the schedule in convincing fashion. All of that will be worthless though if the Vikings offense goes missing again next week against the Lions. A decisive win in Detroit would go a long way to silencing the doubters.

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10. Baltimore Ravens: 4-2 (Last Week: 13)
Won 23-17 vs. Cincinnati
Baltimore seems capable of grinding out victories and finding new offensive players to step up pretty much every week. Lamar Jackson completed passes to nine different players. The second-year signal caller also ran for an incredible 152 yards. Give some credit to this defense as well. It bottled up Joe Mixon, holding him to just 10 yards rushing on eight carries. A late drive from Andy Dalton made this look a bit closer than it really was, but the Ravens were in control for most of this one. This group still has a lot of room for improvement, but has to feel good about a two-game lead in the AFC North.

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11. Detroit Lions: 2-2-1 (Last Week: 11)
Lost 23-22 at Green Bay
If you ask me, Detroit outplayed Green Bay on Monday night at Lambeau. Close only counts in horseshoes, but there is still a lot of reason for optimism. While it is easy to point at poor officiating as the reason for this unfortunate result from the Lions perspective, a lot of the blame should still fall on the offense. Matt Stafford and company could easily have built a 17 or even 21-point lead in the first half, but settled for field goals way too often. While Matt Prater is great, you aren’t going to beat the Packers by scoring just one touchdown. This goes to show Detroit is capable of hanging with anyone in the division, but there is still lot of room for improvement.

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12. Los Angeles Rams: 3-3 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 20-7 vs. San Francisco
Jared Goff is wanted for robbery in Los Angeles after signing a massive $134 million deal a few months back. After managing just 78 passing yards against the 49ers, there is real cause for concern here. There is no question the San Francisco defense is legitimate, but this was the third straight week the offense struggled and consequently lost. It is too early to really panic about a playoff run, which I know I also said last week. The next three games on LA’s schedule are against Atlanta, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. No, the real concern here is regarding this team’s ability to compete with the top tier teams in the conference, something it was expected to do well coming off a Super Bowl appearance.

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13. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-3 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 38-20 at Minnesota
That was about as ugly as it gets from this secondary. Philly needs help at corner, and it showed up again and again … and again in Minnesota. After now-former linebacker Zach Brown called out Kirk Cousins, the Vikings quarterback tossed four touchdowns and threw for 333 yards. The Eagles also needed more from a pass rush that managed just one sack and really failed to disrupt the opposing offense much. The defense did contain Dalvin Cook, but that was all for naught as Alexander Mattison proved a steady option in the run game. Philly does have the benefit of being tied for the lead in the NFC East, but these problems that cropped up Sunday show no signs of going away any time soon.

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14. Chicago Bears: 3-2 (Last Week 14)
Bye Week
While getting healthy on the bye week is important, so is finding a way to recalibrate the offense. Matt Nagy had a very similar group to this one humming last year, but consistency is a tough thing to find in the NFL these days. Mitchell Trubisky could be back in time for Chicago’s upcoming game against the Saints, but he will need to play at a much higher level to score against a New Orleans defense that is allowing 14 points per game in its past three contests. The Bears boast a talented defense of their own, but they need to find a way to score some points in order to make the most of it.

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15. Dallas Cowboys: 3-3 (Last Week: 8)
Lost 24-22 at New York
Many predicted it would take a catastrophe for the Cowboys to lose to the Jets. I will leave it up to you what exactly the catastrophe was in Dallas’ loss, but it clearly overlooked its opponent. With an important divisional battle against the Eagles coming up, that is somewhat understandable, but finding a way to go down 21-6 at halftime to the Jets is not. Yes, Sam Darnold was back, but this was the same offensive line that gave up 10 sacks to Philly a week before. Banged up and facing some real adversity, a loss to the Eagles to cede the division lead midway through the season would see fans call for Jason Garrett to be fired, or just intensify the already existing pleas for action.

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16. Carolina Panthers: 4-2 (Last Week: 16)
Won 37-26 at Tampa Bay (London)
Suddenly the Panthers seem to be in a great spot to earn a wild card berth. Keep in mind this team did start 6-2 last year, only to finish 7-9. Christian McCaffrey ran the ball 22 times for 31 yards, not exactly setting the world on fire like he had the previous few weeks. Still, he managed two touchdowns in a winning effort. Kyle Allen seems to be getting more comfortable as the offense finds the best way to use Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore. Carolina’s defense came up with an outrageous six turnovers in London as well. Cam Newton is rumored to be back following the upcoming bye week, but there is some question as to whether or not they should take the offense away from Allen, who has played very well in relief.

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17. Indianapolis Colts: 3-2 (Last Week: 15)
Bye Week
Beating the Chiefs is still really impressive, but it looks a lot less impressive after the Texans did it the very next week. Still Indy had a chance to get healthy on a bye week. Injuries to T.Y. Hilton, Darius Leonard and Malik Hooker have made it really difficult for this team to play at its full potential. Assuming the Colts get everyone back on the field, they have a schedule stacked with winable games ahead of them. That starts with a visit from the Texans this week, a potential statement game for Indy.

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18. Oakland Raiders: 3-2 (Last Week: 18)
Bye Week
Oakland got to rest up after a trip to London and had to love what it saw. Kansas City dropped its second in a row while Los Angeles failed to beat a banged up Pittsburgh team at home. Suddenly, the Raiders sit just half a game back of the Chiefs for the AFC West lead. While there have been flashes of excellence, we will learn a lot about the Raiders over the next three weeks. Road games in Green Bay and Houston before returning home to face Detroit will likely make or break the season. If Oakland can find a way to win two of those three, there will be a lot of playoff buzz.

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19. Pittsburgh Steelers: 2-4 (Last Week: 23)
Won 24-17 at Los Angeles
Don’t look now, but this Steelers defense is rounding into form. While many will choose to focus on the solid ground game, it was really the defense that made the difference in LA. Pittsburgh intercepted two passes and rookie Devin Bush returned a fumble for a touchdown. There is still a bit of a ways to go, but winning a game with your third-string quarterback is always impressive. With a bye week to get healthy, the Steelers then face the Dolphins. Looking at the rest of the schedule, don’t be surprised if they make things interesting in the AFC North before all is said and done.

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20. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-4 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 13-6 vs. New Orleans
That Minshew magic Jacksonville rode to open the year is beginning to fade a bit. The Jags mustered just 226 yards of total offense in this one and failed to reach the end zone. Now, New Orleans has arguably the best defense in the NFC, although San Francisco might take issue with that. The Jaguars defense had about as strong of a showing as you could ask for, but it wasn’t enough. This was essentially a reversal of last week’s performance, where the offense showed up, but the defense faltered. Bottom line is this team needs to find a way to play a complete game if it wants to find a way to stay within reach of the Texans.

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21. Denver Broncos: 2-4 (Last Week: 26)
Won 16-0 vs. Tennessee
After a really tough start, Denver has righted the ship and now looks a bit more like the team we expected, at least defensively. The offense still has a lot of work to do. The tandem of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman continues to be the bright spot. Joe Flacco actually played alright, as the interception he threw was 100 percent Noah Fant’s fault. Vic Fangio finally has the defense playing the way he wants them to, if the offense can begin to catch up, maybe the Broncos could turn into a Cinderella story.

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22. Cleveland Browns: 2-4 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 32-28 vs. Seattle
This offense is broken. It has been a rotating circuit of who to blame in Cleveland as the losses have piled up. Last week, it was the offensive line and Baker Mayfield. This week, the blame lies almost solely with the receivers. Drops led to turnovers and a lack of rhythm offensively. There is a high ceiling for this group, as we saw in a big win over the Ravens. However, the floor is incredibly low as well. Now two games back in the AFC North heading into a bye week, Freddy Kitchens has to find a way to reset this offense before a matchup with the Patriots.

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23. Los Angeles Chargers: 2-4 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 24-17 vs. Steelers
Turns out the Chargers were not ready for a title run this year after all. After a great 2018 season, Los Angeles is floundering. Somehow, it went down 21-0 very quickly to Delvin Hodges making his first NFL start. Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler could not run the ball against the Pittsburgh defensive front, averaging 2.4 yards per carry between them. Injuries have certainly plagued this group, but the issues for the Chargers go well beyond that. Anthony Lynn gets to face another struggling team in the Titans next week, with hopes this team can stop the bleeding. On the bright side, welcome back Hunter Henry!

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24. Tennessee Titans: 2-4 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 16-0 at Denver
Tennessee finally pulled the plug on the Marcus Mariota era. After years of inconsistent production, the former Oregon quarterback found himself on the bench halfway through Sunday’s loss to Denver. He threw a pair of interceptions and completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes. Despite the game-ending interception, Ryan Tannehill looked a lot better in Mariota’s place. Still the Titans were shutout and seem to lack direction on the offensive side of the ball. This team’s starting quarterback for 2020 is likely not on the current roster.

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25. New York Giants: 2-4 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 35-14 at New England
Without Saquon Barkley or Wayne Gallman, a lot was asked of Daniel Jones. That didn’t go very well for the Giants facing the best defense in the NFL. Jones struggled, tossing three interceptions and mustering just 161 yards. He got very little help from the run game or the defense. Keep in mind, New York was also missing Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram as well. In better news, Golden Tate seems to be integrating himself well. Once healthy, we should start to see a more competitive Giants team the rest of the way.

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26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-4 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 37-26 vs. Carolina (London)
Tampa Bay’s win over the Rams is looking worse by the week and their own play isn’t helping things either. Jameis Winston had six turnovers in this game. Yes, six. He threw five interceptions and fumbled it once as well. Any time Winston is asked to throw the ball 54 times in the game, things probably aren’t going to go well for the Buccaneers. The ground game completely disappeared once again. On the bright side, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are a great receiving pair. When the offensive line gives up seven sacks though, their impact doesn’t really matter.

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27. Arizona Cardinals: 2-3-1 (Last Week: 28)
Won 34-33 vs. Atlanta
It only takes two to start a win steak and that’s exactly what the Cardinals have done. Kyler Murray balled out with 340 yards passing and three touchdowns. The defense played really well through three quarters, but struggled down the stretch again. This secondary needs help in the worst way possible. Both Austin Hooper and Julio Jones went over 100 yards receiving and Matt Ryan had another huge day. In the end, it was another fourth quarter full of questionable play, but Arizona will take the win.

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28. New York Jets: 1-4 (Last Week: 31)
Won 24-22 vs. Dallas
Never in a million years would I have thought the Jets would win this game. I had this pegged as a 31-10 win for the Cowboys, no questions asked. Turns out Sam Darnold makes a very big difference, or at least he is a lot better than Luke Falk and Trevor Seimien. Entering the game, New York was averaging 113.5 yards per game through the air. Darnold had 338. Let’s be clear, this does not mean everything is fixed. The offense slowed down significantly in the second half. Dallas was fairly banged up along the offensive line as well. Another tough matchup awaits with the Patriots visiting on Monday night.

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29. Atlanta Falcons: 1-5 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 34-33 at Arizona
Oh what could have been. Matt Bryant missed an extra point that would have tied the game at 34. The Cardinals were able to run out the clock on the Falcons’ incredible comeback bid. Atlanta trailed 27-10 in the early stages of the third quarter after all. Instead, this leaves Atlanta with a bitter taste in its mouth. Matt Ryan was masterful again, but it means nothing when the defense fails to show up. It was another defensive meltdown. Atlanta had no answer for Kyler Murray or David Johnson. Rumor has it Dan Quinn is safe, but that won’t be true much longer if the defense keeps it up.

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30. Washington: 1-5 (Last Week: 30)
Won 17-16 at Miami
Bill Callahan is undefeated as the head coach in Washington! He might have done it in the least convincing way possible, as Miami came just a failed two-point conversion away from winning this game. Overall, Washington needs more out of the quarterback position, whoever is under center. There were some positives, as the defense came up with five sacks and two interceptions. It did completely wilt in the fourth quarter facing Ryan Fitzpatrick, but that can be a problem for another day. This win is significant insofar this group will not finish the season winless, but at 1-5 with holes all over the roster, the front office should be focused on draft prep and trading Trent Williams.

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31. Cincinnati Bengals: 0-6 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 23-17 at Baltimore
Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow. These are all players the Bengals could draft next year in the top five, which is undoubtedly where this team is headed. Cincinnati opened the game with a bang, returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown. After that, it was a whole lot of disappointing offensive play with a side of inability to stop Lamar Jackson. It was a spirited comeback attempt, but this offensive line is a mess right now. Joe Mixon managed 1.3 yards per carry on 10 attempts. While the Bengals will likely have a new quarterback by next year, they will also need a new group to protect him.

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32. Miami Dolphins: 0-5 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 17-16 vs. Washington
I would say this was the most Dolphins loss ever, but that would imply they had come close before in 2019. Miami managed to score, but went for the win with a two-point conversion attempt. The result was a dropped screen pass as the Dolphins continue to search for their first win. Josh Rosen had a day to forget and Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced him midway through the contest. Coach Brian Flores has already announced Rosen as the starter once again next week. This was the best the Fins did at disguising their tanking this season, so there is something positive to point to in the loss.

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NFL Draft Podcast Episode 5

The Aftermath’s NFL Draft Podcast is back for another week, featuring Studs and Sleepers, as well as a new edition of Stock Up/Stock Down. Chris debates Iowa offensive linemen Tristan Wirfs’ best fit in the NFL and talks about the next group of running backs behind D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor and Travis Etienne. Plus, check out which prospect matchups to watch this weekend in a jampacked Week 7 of college football action. You can find the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and wherever you get your podcasts.

2019 NFL Power Rankings: Week 6

And then there were two. With the Chiefs falling on Sunday night, only the Patriots and 49ers remain undefeated in the 2019 season. The ’72 Dolphins can cross another team off the countdown to open the champagne. After five weeks of action, we have seen tons of unexpected results and parity certainly reigns supreme. There is just about no such thing as a sure thing anymore, other than maybe just betting against the Jets and Dolphins.

The top five gets a reorganization again following Kansas City’s loss and an impressive win from New Orleans. While the bottom of the pecking order is pretty clear, even if there is some small movement, it feels like the middle of the pack is shrinking slightly, due to Atlanta’s struggles and Pittsburgh’s quarterback carousel. The middle part of these rankings feels just as murky now as they did Week 1. In fact, I think I probably feel less confident about my ranking of teams 9-22 than I did before the year started. Just goes to show how unpredictable this season has been. We will start with the only form of stability this league has to cling to, and let the madness unravel from there.

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1. New England Patriots: 5-0 (Last Week: 1)
It was a slow start from New England as they emerge from Week 5 as the lone undefeated team in the AFC. No one is playing better than New England right now, but this schedule has been as soft as it gets. Wins over Pittsburgh, Miami, New York, Buffalo and Washington came in convincing fashion, but no one other than the Bills have even come close to testing the Patriots. And they won’t for a few more weeks. With games against the Giants and Jets coming up, we should expect the Patriots to be 7-0 heading into a matchup with the Browns.

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2. New Orleans Saints: 4-1 (Last Week: 3)
Touchdown Teddy torched the Buccaneers defense to the tune of four touchdowns and 314 yards. Bridgewater followed a pretty simple gameplan: throw the ball to Mike Thomas. Thomas finished with an incredible 11 catches for 182 yards and a pair of touchdown receptions. The defense gave up a meaningless touchdown to make the scoreline look close at the very end of the game. Against a Bucs team that dropped 55 on the Rams last week, the Saints sacked Jameis Winston six times and shutout Mike Evans. This team is rounding into form, and all of this is happening without Drew Brees on the field yet.

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3. Kansas City Chiefs: 4-1 (Last Week: 2)
Talk about a dud. After 25 straight games with 25 of more points scored, Kansas City managed just 13 on Sunday night at home against Indianapolis. Credit to the Colts defense for getting after Patrick Mahomes, but this was a troubling performance from the reigning MVP. He was banged up and he missed on a number of passes downfield. Travis Kelce dropped a couple of catchable balls as well. The defense played well enough for the Chiefs to win too. It’s not time to panic about this team yet, but Andy Reid needs to get this team back on track fast.

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4. Green Bay Packers: 4-1 (Last Week: 5)
Green Bay loves traveling to Dallas and nobody loved it more than Aaron. Aaron Jones that is. The Packers running back overpowered the Cowboys defense for 182 yards from scrimmage and four rushing touchdowns. With Davante Adams out, this was the type of performance needed to win. The Green Bay defense earned a ton of extra possessions as well, intercepting Dak Prescott three times. Now it wasn’t a perfect performance as Dallas climbed back into things and Amari Cooper ran wild for 226 yards through the air. This team is still figuring things out, but winning in the process.

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5. Seattle Seahawks: 4-1 (Last Week: 15)
This was exactly the type of performance I was waiting to see from Seattle. To this point, the Seahawks had squeaked past the Bengals and Steelers, lost badly at home to the Saints and handled the Cardinals. Not exactly a convincing slate of results. Even though it was a really tight win, it is still a massive win over a division rival. Russell Wilson turned in an MVP-level performance and the defense bottled up Todd Gurley. The secondary still needs some work, but at 4-1 the Seahawks are in a good spot to make a playoff run.

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6. San Francisco 49ers: 4-0 (Last Week: 8)
So uh, this team might be pretty legit. San Francisco is 4-0 for the first time since 1990. The defense battered Baker Mayfield. Matt Breida got things going early for the offense, but after that it was a ball control offense that racked up 275 yards rushing. San Fran’s schedule hasn’t really been too tough, but this was a dominant showing against a supposedly explosive offense. There are still holes on this team, with a need for corner help and a developing receiving core. This is going to be a very interesting team to watch at the trade deadline.

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7. Los Angeles Rams: 3-2 (Last Week: 4)
Back-to-back losses should drop the Rams a ton, but the rest of the NFL is a mess right now, so Los Angeles lands here instead. This secondary needs a shot in the arm after allowing eight touchdown passes in the past two games. Sean McVay has to reestablish the run game to take some pressure off Jared Goff. Given all the major areas of concern, a one-point loss on the road in October is not the end of the world. If the Rams win their next four games against the 49ers, Falcons, Steelers and Bengals to move to 7-2, we will barely remember these two games.

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8. Dallas Cowboys: 3-2 (Last Week: 6)
Similar to the Rams, the Cowboys drop two in a row, but to good competition in both games. There is no question Dak Prescott needs to take care of the ball, but this was concerning for a lot of other reasons. The defense had no answer for Aaron Jones, despite the fact Green Bay was missing its best receiver in Davante Adams. No one else on that team should stop you from stacking the box to shut down the run. That is unacceptable. The Cowboys get the week off next week because they play the Jets, but after that is a trip to Philadelphia and this team will need to be playing better by then.

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9. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-2 (Last Week: 9)
Sorry Philly fans, beating the Jets does not correlate to a move up the rankings. The Eagles looked very strong in doing so though, hounding Luke Falk and scoring a pair of defensive touchdowns. After a rocky start, Philadelphia is getting healthier and is back in the race for the division. The continuing improvement of Jordan Howard offers some hope that this offense is going to be more balanced. If they can find a way to sure up the secondary, this team will be in business.

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10. Buffalo Bills: 4-1 (Last Week: 12)
It was an ugly win, but the defense showed up once again and dominated. It sacked Marcus Mariota five times and held the Titans to 3.8 yards per carry. Buffalo could have used a little more out of Josh Allen and the offense. After all, you can’t count on the opposing kicker to miss four field goals every week. That being said, the Bills now have the same record as the Chiefs. This defense is playing like the best in the league.

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11. Detroit Lions: 2-1-1 (Last Week: 11)
The Lions got a week off to watch the Bears lose, but now Detroit has to prove its hot start can be sustained. This might be the most competitive division in the NFL this season. With games coming up against the Packers and Vikings, the next two weeks could make or break the season. The secondary is going to need to find a way to step up, after allowing the third most pass yards per contest through their first four games. The time is now for Detroit to make a statement and a playoff push.

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12. Houston Texans: 3-2 (Last Week: 14)
It’s hard to find any faults in the offensive performance after putting up 53 in a big win. Deshaun Watson put together an otherworldly statline with 426 passing yards and five touchdowns while completing 28 of 33 throws. Will Fuller played the game of his life as well, going over 200 yards receiving with three touchdowns. The defense did allow 15 points late in the game, but Houston dominated this contest from start to finish. Finally the offensive line kept Watson clean, and we saw how good he can be when he has time.

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13. Baltimore Ravens: 3-2 (Last Week: 10)
Baltimore was lucky to escape with a win. Make no mistake about it, this was not a good showing from the Ravens. Even after Mason Rudolph left the game with a concussion, the defense needed a big play from Marlon Humphrey to set up a game-winning field goal in overtime. The bright side of this is now the Ravens are back in sole possession of first place in the division. Lamar Jackson struggled mightily, throwing three interceptions and just 161 yard. He also took five sacks in the game as well. Baltimore will need to clean up a lot of mistakes with their next three games against Cincinnati, Seattle and New England.

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14. Chicago Bears: 3-2 (Last Week 7)
London is calling. The Bears will be all too happy to head home and regroup after a wild game across the pond. Chicago trailed 17-0 at halftime, then scored 21 unanswered to open the second half, only to allow the deciding touchdown in the final two minutes. Chase Daniel did the one thing he couldn’t do and that was turn the ball over. The Bears defense also picked a bad week to suddenly have its pass rush go missing, failing to record a sack. Chicago needs to find its identity after another disappointing showing.

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15. Indianapolis Colts: 3-2 (Last Week: 18)
Will the real Indianapolis Colts please stand up? Indy lost Week 1 in overtime to a struggling Chargers team, beat the lowly Titans and Falcons, and then dropped a home game to the Raiders. So logically, they followed that up with a dominant defensive performance against the Chiefs. Give credit to this coaching staff for putting together an incredible defensive gameplan despite missing their best player in Darius Leonard. Malik Hooker was out as well. Thankfully, Justin Houston decided to put on a show versus his former team. It wasn’t a great game from Jacoby Brissett and the offense, so there is still room for improvement, but the Colts are now right back in the thick of the AFC South race.

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16. Carolina Panthers: 3-2 (Last Week: 20)
The Kyle Allen experience continues as he moves to 4-0 in his career as a starter. Allen actually struggled quite a bit, but that didn’t matter because he got a lot of help from MVP candidate Christian McCaffrey. The former Stanford standout had 237 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in a dominant display. That dismal outing against the Buccaneers feels like a lifetime ago now as the Panthers are just a game back of the Saints in the NFC South. A rematch with those Bucs awaits, this time in London.

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17. Minnesota Vikings: 3-2 (Last Week: 17)
Kirk Cousins took Adam Thielen’s advice and found him early and often all over the field. Thielen and Dalvin Cook ran all over the Giants defense. It was exactly the type of bounce back performance Minnesota needed after laying an egg against Chicago. There is still room for improvement as Cook fumbled at the goal line and the team as a whole committed 12 penalties. It is also a bit disappointing to not see the nearly 500 yards of offense turn into more points. The Vikings can take care of the lower tier, but questions remain about their ability to compete with quality teams.

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18. Oakland Raiders: 3-2 (Last Week: 22)
Oakland looked untouchable in the first half and then collapsed after halftime. The Raiders did eventually pull out the win and prove that Khalil Mack is not crucial to winning football games. In fact, Mack and company failed to register a sack, while Oakland brought down Chase Daniel four times. In the process though, Jon Gruden sent a clear message, running the ball 39 times. Josh Jacobs handled 26 of those carries. Gruden clearly trusts his rookie running back and likes his team’s ability to control the clock. The Raiders had the ball for nearly 35 minutes. That formula takes pressure off Derek Carr and the defense, and can clearly lead to victories.

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19. Cleveland Browns: 2-3 (Last Week: 16)
Oh Cleveland. After an offseason of hype and hope, the Browns crashed back down to Earth. Even after defeating the Ravens last week, Cleveland has not put to bed any of the concerns about its offensive line or it’s ability to show up in big games. Baker Mayfield put up a better QBR than just one player this week and that was Luke Falk. That’s not good company to keep. He completed just eight passes and spent a good chunk of the game picking himself up off the grass. Given all the injuries to the secondary, you would expect the pass defense to struggle. Instead, the run defense fell apart, giving up 275 yards on the ground. Cleveland has a lot of problems to solve before hosting the Seahawks next.

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20. Los Angeles Chargers: 2-3 (Last Week: 13)
The Chargers could be in trouble. Philip Rivers is airing the ball out and completing passes at a high rate, but Los Angeles is not scoring touchdowns. The Chargers are fifth in passing yards per game, but 20th in points per game this season. Desmond King II scored LA’s lone touchdown against Denver on a punt return. It was easily the worst showing of the year so far for the Chargers’ offense, as they committed three turnovers and managed 2.2 yards per carry. It is going to take Melvin Gordon a little time to get up to speed, but this was a full unit meltdown, not just one player.

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21. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-3 (Last Week: 19)
Gardner Minshew, DJ Chark and Leonard Fournette create quite the offensive trio. If not for three fumbles by Minshew in this game, the Jags would probably be holding a share of the AFC South lead. The usually stout defense got shredded for 285 yards on the ground though. They did make life difficult on Kyle Allen, but had absolutely no answer for Christian McCaffrey. To be fair, not many people have, but when Jacksonville puts up 27 points, that should be enough given the amount of talent on the defensive side of the ball.

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22. Tennessee Titans: 2-3 (Last Week: 21)
This is typical Titans football. The defense plays lights out, but the offense cannot find a way make it count. Derrick Henry carried the load once again as Marcus Mariota failed to do much of anything in the passing game. The offensive line had a rough day in Taylor Lewan’s return from suspension. Tennessee can play at a high level, but when it comes up against a decent defense, things seem to fall apart. Only one game out of the AFC South, there is time to turn things around, but it is starting to seem like the offense will never take that next step.

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23. Pittsburgh Steelers: 1-4 (Last Week: 23)
It is incredible that Pittsburgh lost Mason Rudolph in this game and somehow managed to hang with the Ravens. Over the past few weeks, the Steelers defense has finally found its stride. The offense is still a bit of a work in progress, even beyond the quarterback position. For Pittsburgh, this running game really needs to get on track now facing playing with it’s third-choice (actually fourth-choice, they traded Joshua Dobbs earlier this season) quarterback of the year.

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24. New York Giants: 2-3 (Last Week: 24)
It was a tough week for the Giants defense. Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook had a field day. They allowed an outrageous 490 yards. Wayne Gallman went down with an injury, leaving Jonathan Hillman to handle the backfield duties. Sterling Shepard will miss some time with a concussion as well. Daniel Jones has not been quite as prolific as he was during the second half of his first start. There were always going to be growing pains with a rookie quarterback, but the injuries have not made it any easier.

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25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2-3 (Last Week: 25)
How did the Buccaneers follow up shocking the Rams? They could barely find a way to move the ball against the Saints. A last-minute touchdown made the scoreline look respectable. Tampa could not find a way to protect Jameis Winston, giving up six sacks. Mike Evans went missing in action, failing to even reel in one catch. This team has shown flashes of being able to compete with the cream of the crop. It is tough to win divisional road games, but the Bucs gave themselves little chance of doing so with an uneven performance.

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26. Denver Broncos: 1-4 (Last Week: 27)
Denver probably should be 3-2, but getting one in the win column is huge for a team that has struggled to get going out of the gates. We saw more signs of the Broncos defense of old with two interceptions and stifling run stopping. The offense still has a long way to go. Its 18 points per game rank tied with Buffalo for 27th in the league, only ahead of Chicago, Cincinnati, Washington, New York and Miami. Moving out of that group is going to be just as critical to the defense continuing to round into form.

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27. Atlanta Falcons: 1-4 (Last Week: 26)
The promise that surrounded this team entering the season is gone. Injuries have once again derailed the Falcons, but so has poor defensive play. This seems to be a capitulation of all the struggles Dan Quinn has had on that side of the ball, allowing 53 points. Atlanta also became the first team to fail to bring down Deshaun Watson all year. Unless there is a major turn around, Quinn is going to be out of job. The Falcons have plenty of high-priced and highly-regarded pieces to be a competitive team, but already three games back in the NFC South with a floundering defense, this group seems destined for a top-10 pick.

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28. Arizona Cardinals: 1-3-1 (Last Week: 30)
At last, the Kliff Kingsbury-Kyler Murray era nets a win. It wasn’t pretty. In fact, the Cardinals almost managed to flip the script on their Week 1 comeback to force a tie by blowing this game late. Arizona led 23-9 in the fourth quarter, but allowed Cincinnati to tie things up. Thankfully, the Murray played his most complete game of the year, completing 62 percent of his passes, not turning the ball over and rushing for 93 yards, to lead the Cardinals to a win. The Bengals do have one of the worst defenses in the NFL, but getting a win here is big for confidence and presents Kingsbury something to build on with a very young group.

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29. Cincinnati Bengals: 0-5 (Last Week: 31)
The Bengals are moving up! Not really because of anything they did, but more because of how bad other teams around them have been. Sure Cincy is still winless, but they came a lot closer this weekend and showed some signs of life. Granted it took a while for the offense to get going, but that was without John Ross and A.J. Green. Once the latter returns, this offense should be a bit more dynamic and reliable. Zac Taylor certainly has his work cut out for him when it comes to finding ways to compensate an awful offensive line.

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30. Washington: 0-5 (Last Week: 29)
Jay Gruden is gone. It was going to happen eventually, and honestly this might even be a little bit premature given the circumstances. I’m hard pressed to remember the last time a team fired the head coach just five games into the season. Washington actually played fairly well in the first half of the game, holding New England to just 12 points. Things got a lot more lopsided after halftime and it is clear to see this team is in need of a serious rebuild.

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31. New York Jets: 0-4 (Last Week: 28)
I don’t think the league has seen a passing offense as inept as the one the Jets have rolled out since the turn of the century. Adam Gase does not have much to work with, as he is starting Luke Falk, who started the year on the practice squad, but this has been downright pathetic. Gase is not free from blame either, after giving Sam Darnold nearly all the first team reps this week. New York is averaging 179.5 yards per game. That’s nearly 50 fewer yards than the freaking Dolphins! The Jets have also scored two offensive touchdowns this year. After allowing nine sacks against the Eagles, the only way to go is up. Unfortunately, the Cowboys and Patriots are the next two teams up. It’s going to be a really long season.

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32. Miami Dolphins: 0-4 (Last Week: 32)
Miami took a week off from getting blown out, but only because the league requires every team to have a bye. I don’t really expect it to make a difference, but given how little time Josh Rosen has actually had in this offense, perhaps it will allow him to settle in a bit more. The lack of talent around him certainly does not help either. The Dolphins are going to be drafting first overall, or at least the top three. In reality the focus should start shifting to how this team is going to rebuild with three first round picks this year, which you can see in my latest mock draft!

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