This is going to be a weekly column looking back at the week’s games, mostly focusing on the teams/games in each conference that could have a bearing on postseason participants. I’ll stick to the big games and the players making a difference and how that may affect other teams’ hopes. I hope you enjoy my efforts. Go Bucs!!
Upsets still continue to blur playoff futures.
Parady abounds. Any team on any given Sunday rules the day, and that’s just what the Commissioner ordered. The league couldn’t be happier with the way things are developing. A team will look like a contender through a 4-6 game win streak and then get shut down by a one-win team at home. A team can look terrible through a losing streak and then step up and take down a giant and leave everyone scratching their heads in the local office pool.
(6-4) Patriots at (4-5) Falcons 25-0
The Patriots extend their winning streak to five games and have won 6 of their last 7, shutting out the Falcons. This is the second time in Ryan’s career that the Falcons have been shut out, having lost to the Carolina Panthers 0-38 in 2015. The Patriots are doing it with a great defense and an outstanding young rookie quarterback in Mac Jones. A player that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and completes a high percentage of his throws. The Patriots are one of those teams that I will put in the unknown category of teams that could be for real or just pretending; teams like the Vikings, Colts, Titans, Saints, Bills, 49ers, and Chargers. Time will whittle this list down. I’ll keep you posted. Teams that are considered going to the playoffs, in my book, are our Bucs unless they lose another couple of games; the Rams, Chiefs, Packers, and Ravens will round out that list. The Falcons are a long way off from being any good again. They are in a rebuild mode no matter how much their fans and front office try to deny it.
(6-3) Ravens at (3-6) Bears 16-13
The Ravens barely survive the Bears at Soldier Field, just scraping by with a late 4th quarter touchdown run. The Ravens are now four games over .500 and should be a playoff team. Yet, like many teams this season, you wonder which version of the team will finally emerge for the Ravens. I have a tendency to doubt teams that don’t have a lead back that can get it done. The quarterback playing that role to me is disadvantaged.
(5-5) Colts at (6-3) Bills 41-15
This is truly a tale of two teams heading in different directions. The Bills haven’t been right since they dropped a sure-win game against Urban Meyer’s Jaguars. The Bills were thought by many to be the class of the AFC in 2021 but have dropped 3 of their last 5 and have struggled to score points in the last two losses. At 6-4, they are far from being out of it, and they still control their destiny, but the signs haven’t been very good as of late. With 2 games still to play against the surging Patriot, one against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and another against a mysterious Saints team, those could all easily end in losses for them. The Bills have a lot of work to do. The Colts, on the other hand, suddenly find themselves the employer of the possible Offensive League MVP, Jonathan Taylor. Taylor has burst onto the scene in his sophomore season, putting up some crazy numbers. In this one, Taylor became only the fourth player in league history to have 200 yards of offense and score five touchdowns in the same game. He tallied 96 yards after contact, which is the most by anyone this season. There is going to be a gut check bowl this coming week as the Bucs travel to Indianapolis to decide who is for real and who is not. Get ready for a good one.
(1-8) Texans at (7-2) Titans 22-13
Ah yes, Parody and Tyrod Taylor showed up in Nashville Sunday, leaving Titan’s fans agape and wondering what in the hell just happened? The one-win Texans strolled in and punched Tannehill and the Titans right in the mouth. Tannehill threw four interceptions in this game, and Tyrod Taylor had over a hundred yards on the ground. No need to sound any alarms yet, but still another game that makes you scratch your head. The Titans had been on a six-game winning streak before inexplicably dropping this one at home. The Titans will be welcoming Henry back if he can indeed do so this season, as he really does make that much of a difference.
(7-2) Packers at (4-5) Vikings 34-31
This game, and not the Chiefs/Cowboys, ended up being the nail-biting shootout that so many were hoping. Kirk Cousins is having probably his best season in the league. Justin Jefferson is already just 54 yards shy of a thousand yards and is a bonified star. The two old Norris Division foes did not disappoint in this game, going all the way to the wire to decide it. There are no sure-fire Super Bowl teams this year, just a handful of teams with the potential to reach it. This postseason is going to be a blast. The Vikings are at .500 now, and anything goes for them. They still mostly control their own path if they could win out or only drop one more. But that’s a tall order, though. The Packers show that they are like everyone else in the league — they can be beaten by poor teams on any given Sunday.
(7-2) Cowboys at (6-4) Chiefs 19-9
The big shootout turned into a big disappointment on Sunday as the offensive firestorm never developed. The Chiefs, though, are finally back to looking ‘as advertised’ and are beating everyone again — winning 4 in a row after losing 4 out of 6. The Chiefs stumbled early and often this season; Andy Reid has got his team turned around and gaining momentum heading into the last half of the 2021 season. Dallas is dealing with injuries to Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, and all of a sudden Dak Prescott can’t move the ball like he used to. They will try to rebound and get back on track against a bad and getting worse, Raiders team next Sunday.
(8-2) Cardinals at (3-6) Seattle 23-13
Seattle is dead and couldn’t offer much resistance to the Murray-less Cardinals. Cards stay a top-notch team while Russell Wilson has to be planning on the “Big Escape” from Seattle; sooner than later. Not much else to see here with this one, cut and dried.
(3-6) Giants at (6-3) Buccaneers 30-10
Thankfully the Giants didn’t play us like they usually do, so the Bucs mopped the floor with them pretty easily. The Bucs face a big-time gut check in the great state of Indiana this coming week. It’s going to be a great game and will give credence to whoever comes out on top. If the Bucs lose this one, it’s not over. Losing this game will muddy the road a bit and make us wonder what this team is really about.