Feb. 26, 2019
Who Fed It And Who Ate It: 2018 Week 7
As we close in on the midpoint of the season, there are just a small number of dominant teams, a few that are struggling just to remain competitive, and a whole lot of middling squads that can either get hot and reach unforeseen heights... or start losing to whittle away a promising campaign.
There were two Ass Kickings of the Week, as the Kansas City Chiefs thump the Cincinnati Bengals 45-10 in a flexed Sunday Night game... When the NFL introduced flex scheduling in 2006, the idea was to swap out a potentially competitive game on Sunday afternoon with the Sunday Night game that lost its allure from when it was originally posted in April. When it comes to the 2018 Kansas City Chiefs, it seems like finding a competitive game is a fool's errand. Yes, KC did fall to the New England Patriots last week on primetime, but that is the Chiefs' lone loss thus far. Everyone else has struggled to stay on the field with them. Case in point was the Cincinnati Bengals, not slouches at 4-2, but they still got shelled by five touchdowns. The Chiefs' fatal flaw is their defense, a unit among the worst in the league. If any team can stymie that high octane offense led by Patrick Mahomes, they would stand a chance. But how the hell can anyone keep up with that pace?
... while the Arizona Cardinals were shredded by a desperate Denver Broncos club 45-10, a resounding loss that triggered changes for the Redbirds. Entering this year, it was pretty clear that the Cardinals were in a rebuilding stage. The drafting of Josh Rosen and his subsequent apprenticeship at the quarterback position is a clear signal of such. However, the ineptitude of the Cards' offense has been a point of consternation, one that boiled over in front of a national television audience on Thursday Night. The Broncos' defense feasted on Arizona turnovers as the game was never competitive. After such a display, heads had to roll. And the chopping block took out offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, the former San Diego Chargers head coach and offensive coordinator for the Peyton Manning led Broncos. In his place is quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich, the former eight year pro QB. Leftwich is regarded as a bright football mind, but this is his second year as a pro level coach. Perhaps his experience on the field will serve as a factor of relatability to his young charges, but we'll only find with what can best be described as a prolonged job interview.
The Washington Redskins lead the NFC East with a 4-2 after defeating the Dallas Cowboys. There always seems to be one team that so many people know will be a dumpster fire throughout the coming season. The loss of Kirk Cousins in free agency, the trade to bring in Alex Smith being viewed as a downgrade, the signing of RB Adrian Peterson, seen as a player past his prime... Yet here we are, with the Redskins holding a 2 1/2 game lead over the rest of the division. They haven't played as a spectacular team, but they do two things that make the difference: they make few mistakes and they take care of the ball, ranked third in giveaways this year. While they don't scream title contender, their milquetoast style of play can certainly scuttle the Super Bowl aspirations of a more dynamic team who plays with more calculated risk. No one outside of the Beltway gave Washington a chance to do much, now opponents can ill afford to take this group lightly.
The Carolina Panthers score 21 unanswered points to post a 21-17 come from behind win over the Philadelphia Eagles. In the immediacy of the now, certain teams can fly under the radar simply because they haven't caught the fancy of the football cognizant. One of those teams is the Carolina Panthers. You know them; 2015 NFC champion, winners of the NFC South 3 times in the last 5 years, and playoff qualifiers 4 out of the last five. This year, after their incredible come from behind victory, they sit 4-2, a game behind the New Orleans Saints. Like Washington, nothing the Panthers do stands out as exemplary. The defense, once this franchise's bread and butter, has regressed some but are still a solid unit. The offense, with the polarizing QB Cam Newton under center, has remained what they have been during this run; a run first unit that uses Newton's arm to try to take advantage of a stacked defensive front. Carolina's consistency has served them well to keep themselves in the playoff conversation. But with a potent Saints offense playing in front of them in their division, the Panthers look to be a litmus test for wild card aspirants and not the team to beat in the senior conference.