Who Fed It And Who Ate It: 2019 Week 10
You know it's starting to get serious when graphics denoting the conference playoff pictures start popping up. On the other hand, it was a screwy week given the results of some of the games; the Miami Dolphins, long accused of wasting this season for premium draft position in 2020, posted their second win in a row in defeating the Indianapolis Colts; the defensively deficient Atlanta Falcons clamped down the high octane New Orleans Saints 26-9; and the Tennessee Titans won a 35-32 shootout with a returning Patrick Mahomes & the Kansas City Chiefs. But two games in particular grabbed the attention of your humble scribe, and three teams in those games will be profiled here.
The Ass Kicking of the Week was a 49-13 rout by the Baltimore Ravens and their must see quarterback in Lamar Jackson... This same time last year, we were witnesses to the rise of Mahomes as the NFL's next must see attraction, as he played the position of quarterback in a way not often seen. In 2019, we are here yet again, but this time extolling the virtues of Jackson with the Ravens. Jackson has been an absolute revelation. Everyone knew about his athleticism, almost using that quality to diminish his other talents, namely throwing a very good pass and his leadership qualities. Hall of Fame team builder Bill Polian thought Jackson would be better served in converting to wide receiver at the pro level. Not even completing his sophomore campaign, Jackson has Polian publicly apologizing for his initial assessment. And Jackson's dissection of the Bengals is a prime example of his abilities as a signal caller. Everyone not living under a rock is aware of the dazzling 47 yard touchdown run where he left Cincinnati defenders in his wake. What's not making as much noise was the fact that for a second time in 2019, Jackson has posted a perfect passer rating of 158.3 for the game (15 of 17 for 223 yards, 3 TD's, & 0 INT's). In the era of gaudy stats for fantasy football freaks, Jackson is becoming a lethal dual threat offensive player and electrifying athlete all the while producing effective numbers that may not impress the stat nerds. As far as the Charmed City Blackbirds are concerned, that 7-2 starting record this season that puts Baltimore currently in the 2 seed of the AFC playoff bracket is as pretty as it gets. And, by the way, these Ravens also hold a win over the vaunted New England Patriots. Mahomes went on win league MVP honors while playing the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Jackson could follow that a similar path, and even eclipsing that for the right to play in Super Bowl LIV. Let's see if the Ravens can keep it up.
... of the Cincinnati Bengals, who have slid to 0-9 in head coach Zac Taylor's first year Not much was expected of the Bengals in 2019. Free agency was essentially nonexistent and the draft class didn't exactly set the world on fire. Granted, they were in the AFC North, a division in flux for a variety of reasons. Some more optimistic souls perhaps thought that the Queen City Kitties could steal a playoff berth if everything fell just right. That has not been the case, and it's not even close. Winless in nine games, the Bengals are on the fast track to the #1 overall draft pick in the 2020 college selection meeting. However, given the gaping roster holes on this roster, a single high profile draft selection is curing this team's piling maladies. They are in the bottom quarter of the league in every major statistical category. They're dead last in red zone touchdown percentage (33.3), possess a -11 turnover differential, and has yet to turn in a game where the Bengals won the turnover battle. In a season where bad football is cropping up in so many NFL outposts, Cincy is nearing being considered beneath contempt. All tanks line up behind the Bengals until further notice. Discussing this more without appropriate trigger warnings could be deemed irresponsible of my person, so this subject shall cease here for now. But you get the general idea.
The Minnesota Vikings won a high profile game in Dallas in primetime this past week. Are they real NFC contenders? The Vikings defeated the Dallas Cowboys 28-24 on Sunday Night Football. This should have been a must see game for NFC playoff implications on the line. Instead, the narrative with these two squads are they can beat up the lesser competition, but buckle under the pressure of facing their perceived peers. This is a reputation that is troubling for a franchise like the Vikings, who considered themselves on the cusp of a Super Bowl berth 2 years ago. Adding free agent QB Kirk Cousins was supposed to be the keystone on the bridge to the Lombardi Trophy. Instead, it left many calling for Cousins' ouster after an abominable performance in Chicago. Since, he has put up passer rating numbers of 100 or greater in 5 of the Vikes last six games. Coincidentally, all five of those games, Minnesota won. While running back Dalvin Cook has been shredding defenses with his daresay MVP level play, the fate of the Vikings will rest solely in the hands of Cousins, who is only assured of being a Vikings quarterback until 2020. General manager Rick Spielman made an outsized bet that Cousins could lead the Norsemen to football Valhalla. It remains to be seen if that will be the case by the end of '20.