By: Edwards Kemedjio | October 27, 2021
Highs and Lows is back and Week Seven of the National Football League was a great time to catch up on some sleep. Of the thirteen games that were played between Thursday and Monday night, only three finished within one score. Those games featured the Baker-less Cleveland Browns in a Thursday night slugfest against the Broncos (thrilling, I know), the Atlanta Falcons (send help), and A Monday Night contest that featured heavy rain and 23 combined points. Despite a week of beatdowns and disappointments, there is plenty of football to discuss. I am simply here to narrow your focus.
Eye of the Tiger
The Cincinnati Bengals blew out the Baltimore Ravens on the road Sunday 41-17. In a game where the Ravens were favored, the Bengals dominated their division rival in the trenches on their way to a statement victory to take control of the division lead. They held the Ravens to just 6-20 on third and fourth down and held Lamar Jackson under 50% passing on the day.
Joe Burrow had a huge game, throwing for 416 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. His brilliant performance was somehow overshadowed by Ja’Marr Chase, who firmly put himself in the elite class of wide receivers just seven games into his NFL career. Chase had eight catches for 201 yards and his monster 82-yard score was the highlight of the NFL weekend. His 754 yards on the season are the most ever for a player through their first seven games. Along with a blistering passing attack the Bengals also rushed for 111 yards on the day, just decimating the Ravens defense in all aspects. The Bengals are for real and the AFC North will be a war in 2021.
Waffle House Warriors
As much as it pains me to say this (Who Dat) the Atlanta Falcons should be commended for what they have done in the past weeks. This Sunday in inarguably the most exciting game of the week, the Falcons took down the Miami Dolphins 30-28 for their second consecutive victory. Following a go-ahead touchdown by Tua Tagovailoa, Matt Ryan led a nine-play, 57-yard, game-winning drive that was capped off by a 36-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo at the buzzer.
Following an embarrassing home opener where they failed to register a touchdown in a blowout loss to the Eagles, Matty Ice and Co. have played some serviceable football and now sit at .500 on the season. If not for an epic collapse in the final four minutes against the Washington Football Team, the Falcons would be sitting at 4-2 right now, a game out of first place in the division. The teams they’ve beaten aren’t exactly the cream of the crop (Dolphins, Jets, Giants), but you play who’s in front of you and Atlanta has been competitive in every game since Week One. Atlanta has responded well following a rough start to the year.
Century Link Slugfest
The last game of the week was a 13-10 win for the New Orleans Saints on the road against Seattle Seahawks. For the second straight week, the Seahawks were desperately missing their superstar quarterback Russell Wilson in a big way, but it is the Saints quarterback that deserves more praise than he has gotten. Winston had a relatively pedestrian game, 222 passing yards, one touchdown, and 40 yards rushing on eight carries, but this game was another example of the growth we have seen from the former first overall pick.
There is no doubt in my mind that Buccaneers Jameis Winston would have lost this game. In the pouring rain, virtually no run game all night, receivers struggling to get separation, drops all over the field, and Winston still finished the game without a turnover or a bad sack. In Tampa Bay, we saw Winston lose his team games over and over with costly mistakes stemming from trying to do more than what he is capable of. Monday was Winston’s fourth game this season without turning the ball over. In his last two seasons as a starter for the Bucs, Winston had four such games combined. He is playing smart football and giving his team a chance to win games.
Teddy Bridgewater is not the answer at quarterback for the Denver Broncos. In the 17-14 Thursday Night loss to the Cleveland Browns, who did not have their starting quarterback or top running backs, Bridgewater only managed 187, two touchdowns, and an interception. A late surge by the Broncos made those numbers look better than they actually are, but Bridgewater is just another example of the failures of the Broncos’ front office. Since the retirement of Peyton Manning, Denver has been incapable of finding a franchise quarterback, and it has led to a team with no real direction.
Case Keenum, one of the former Broncos trial runs at quarterback, outdueled their current QB on Thursday for the Broncos’ fourth consecutive loss following a 3-0 start to the year. A team that was supposed to hang their hat on defense watched third-string running back D’Ernest Johnson run up and down the field on them to the tune of 146 yards on 22 attempts and a score. The Browns as a team, again without their two best players offensively averaged over five and a half yards per play. Denver has no identity and in a stacked division is headed nowhere anytime soon.
Another team that started the season 3-0, the Panther turned in their worst performance of the season Sunday. Carolina was dominated 25-3 against the New York Giants for their fourth straight loss. The Panthers scored a field goal on their first drive of the game and proceeded to do nothing for the next three hours as New York, who came into the game with one win, stonewalled the Carolina offense on their way to a win. The Panthers, who were leading the NFC South through three weeks now sit at the bottom of their division.
Sam Darnold in his return to MetLife Stadium got reacquainted with those ghosts and showed the New York crowd why he is no longer employed in the Big Apple. Darnold had only 11 yards and interception and had an intentional grounding penalty in his own endzone that resulted in a safety. He was benched in the fourth quarter for P.J. Walker, who himself went 3/14 for 33 yards. Since the injury to superstar running back Christian McCaffery, the Panthers’ offense has looked abysmal compared to the start of the year. The Cinderella story candidate is looking shaky right now, with no easy fix in sight.
Meltdown in Music City
Weekly Chiefs criticism is not what I expected to be writing but what in the world is going on in Kansas City. The Chiefs looked to be trending upward following a 31-13 victory against the Washington Football Team, but Sunday they were straight-up dominated against the Tennessee Titans 27-3.
The same Titans defense that looked like food against the Buffalo Bills last week held the Chiefs to no touchdowns for the first time in the Patrick Mahomes era. The Chiefs line was once again unable to protect Mahomes and Andy Reid wasn’t able to get his offense going at all during the game. Mahomes’ turnover woes continued with two on the day, making this his sixth consecutive game with an interception. The game was over at halftime and the lack of fight from the Chiefs in the second half is a problem in itself. Kansas City is 3-4 and hasn’t beaten a good football team since their home opener, and last year’s AFC Champion looks like they don’t belong in the playoffs right now.
That’s it for Highs and Lows this week. Week Eight features a heavyweight battle on Thursday Night along with a chance to see who really runs the AFC South.