Who Fed It And Who Ate It: 2018 Week 5
Hmmm... Each season seems to partake its own identity, and the one we have here in 2018 is a very small number of dominant teams, a very small number of lost ones, and a whole lot in between. This is translating into wide open divisional races and surprise contenders aplenty. It's unclear on who will ultimately capitalize, but many are doing themselves both justice and disservice from week to week. Today's subjects were prominent one year ago, now they each face their own version of adversity. Starting off...
The Jacksonville Jaguars find themselves tied for the lead in the AFC South after a poor showing against the red hot Kansas City Chiefs, as the Jags fall 30-14 In what was largely viewed as the game of the week, the Jaguars entered this match-up against the undefeated Chiefs for a share in AFC supremacy in a wide open conference. This game put KC as the unequivocal top dogs in the junior conference at this point in the season with their decisive victory over the Jaguars. In a game that billed the Chiefs' league best offense against the Jaguars' best defense, it was wise to consider the difference in this one being based on the inverse units: KC's defense versus Jacksonville's offense. The league worst defense would generate 5 takeaways, which included a Pick 6's, off the maligned Jaguar QB Blake Bortels. For the Chiefs, they began 5-0 last year, only to flame out in October and November to ultimately watch their 2017 season end ignominiously at Arrowhead Stadium against the Tennessee Titans. With second year wunderkind Patrick Mahomes under center and doing incredible things, this feels different. But of course, it's how the games play out this year is what matters. For Jacksonville, they bring in a respected defense and a quarterback in Bortels that can win and lose games. He is certainly better as a complementary piece with RB Leonard Fournette, as the combination can be difficult to defend. But Bortels alone is a shaky proposition. If and when Fournette returns healthy, the Jags should be right in the thick of the AFC race. If not, they will only be a second tier conference contender.
The Ass Kicking of the Week was administered by the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose 41-17 handling of the Atlanta Falcons could not have come at a better time The Steelers of 2018 have been the center of a veritable soap opera, with drama encircling the team on a constant basis. Between the Le'Veon Bell holdout that may end next month, the issues revolving around wide receiver Antonio Brown (from snapping at his coaches to engaging in spats with media personalities), and the on field struggles, from leading the league in both penalties and penalty yards assessed to underwhelming performances in each game this season, this was cause for great consternation amongst a fan base who is very accustomed to their team's identity as a perennial Super Bowl contender. And after being soundly trounced by their most bitter rival, the Baltimore Ravens, on Sunday Night Football this past week, there was concern in western Pennsylvania that the season for the Steelers was already lost. So who comes to town? A Falcons team decimated by injuries on defense and are not clicking consistently on offense. The Steel City Stalwarts jumped on this opportunity, playing with desperation and putting the hammer down to score their most decisive victory to date in 2018. Sometimes it takes just one game to go right to return to top form, and this could be it for Pittsburgh. But with each of their AFC North rivals playing well, the Steelers will have to work that much harder to eclipse a suddenly tough division.
The Philadelphia Eagles have fallen to 2-3 after losing to the Minnesota Vikings. The Eagles' slow start has blown the NFC East wide open When 2018 began, Philadelphia was the prohibitive favorite to repeat as NFC East champions. The Eagles appeared so dominant in comparison to their divisional peers that it would take it least one season for the likes of the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and the Washington Redskins to catch up to the defending Super Bowl champions. Instead, Philly has regressed to the mean this year, as they are losing games they would have easily won just 12 months ago. As a result, this has made the NFC East a four horse race. With the calendar now in October, whoever can round into form the best will have a big edge in winning the division in the latter weeks of the season. Your humble scribe will believes the Green Birds will prevail, but one could make a case for all those teams at this point. This will make for an interesting story as the season transpires.