Updated: Oct 21, 2022
What did we learn over the course of the last few days in the NFL?
1. Good structure gets you far, but talent gets you OVER the hump in the NFL.
In 1994, the Patriots Coach by NFL Hall of Fame Coach, Bill Parcells, started the season 0-2; after the second game, in his post-game press conference, Bill said, “We just are missing that “thing” to get us over the hump.” The Patriots ended that season in the playoffs and concluded that season on a seven-game winning streak. Watching the Saints play the Bengals on Sunday made it clear to me that the Saints are also missing that “thing” to get them over the top. That thing could very well be their offensive weapons on the outside. In a game against the defending AFC champions Bengals, the Saints entered the contest with rookie sensation Chris Olave, Jarvis Landry, and Micheal Thomas. However, they found weapons in Rasheed Shahid, Mark Ingram, and TreQuan Smith and controlled most of the game. Though they led the game most of the way through, they could not overcome their injuries. One critical injury was to their top cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, in their first return to the Super Dome since leaving as champions, scored the winning touchdown on Lattimore’s replacement. The Saints rushed the ball well, totaling 228 yards, and won the turnover battle. However, in what’s come to be the Achilles Heel for this team, there’s always one explosive play that shuts the door on their chances to win. That may be due to losing their top 3 safeties (Malcolm Jenkins, Chauncey Gardener-Johnson, and Marcus Williams) before the start of the season. In London, it was a long bomb to Justin Jefferson. At home, yet another son of the State put the final knife in the heart of the city’s hopes. The Saints are missing a piece to get them over the hump. After seeing their game against the Arizona Cardinals, where Andy Dalton threw for more than 300 yards and 4TDs, Juwan Johnson had two touchdown catches, but they still couldn’t sniff victory vs. the Cardinals. A team picked by some experts to win the NFC South is now 2-5 and is heading into games against Vegas and Baltimore. They will lose both games and be 2-7 before they can taste victory again this season.
2. Don’t Act like you know this Giants Team.
Two weeks in a row, I’ve predicted the Giants to lose against well-established winning teams, and for two weeks straight, I’ve been wrong. The Aaron Rodgers-led Packers left their home field holding an L handed to them by this surprise Giants team, and this week the Ravens share that same story. Saquon Barkley has been everything Giants fans wished he would be coming out of Penn State. He’s explosive in the running and passing game. Barkley had longs of 41 as a receiver and 40 as a runner against the Packers. He is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball. Daniel Jones, while not spectacular, has been efficient, not throwing an interception in the last three games while averaging a quarterback rating of 113.15 in the previous two games. The experts are unfamiliar with this Giants team, and they will look even less familiar if they can win their four next winnable games against the Jaguars, Seahawks, Texans, and Lions. The next big test for these Giants won’t come until Nov 24th, when they travel to Dallas. We’ll see if the experts learn their lesson by that time.
3. The promise of the Panthers is no more …
Last season the Panthers were one of the most aggressive teams in the league. They were acquiring talent at a record pace in QB Sam Darnold, CB Stephon Gilmore, CB CJ Henderson, A.J. Bouye, and signing WR Robbie Anderson. Even though they were unsuccessful in some cases, they were finalists in nearly every hot free agent target or trade target. In the 2021 draft, they walked away with one of the best draft classes in the league, according to most draft experts. They were at this off-season again as front runners in the Deshaun Watson race. Panthers fans loved that their team was going after talent, and now it’s all over. Robbie Anderson is gone, Gilmore is making plays for another team, the coach has been fired, and now long-time dynamic RB Christian McCaffery reportedly has been traded to the San Francisco 49ers. The Panthers traded their star running back in exchange for four draft picks, including 3 in 2023. While this makes the 49ers one of the most dangerous teams in the league, it solidifies the fact that the Panthers are in rebuild mode. The whole team is about to be on sale, and the Panthers have abandoned win-now mode! If you’re a Panthers fan, start cheering for losses and a chance to grab one of these QBs in next year’s draft.