Another weekend of NFL football is officially in the books. So what’d we learn?
I’ll be the first to admit, I drank the Kool-Aid.
Coming off a 14-2 season in which Lamar Jackson spent 16 weeks doing his best Usain Bolt impression, the Ravens were early favorites to bounce back from an embarrassing playoff loss and unleash unbridled hell on the rest of the league this year.
But a funny thing happened along the way: Baltimore’s lauded offense looks like it spent the entire offseason pounding cheeseburgers, chain-smoking cigarettes and developing a nasty coke habit because whatever the hell is happening on the field looks nothing like it did last season. After delivering one of the most devastating ground games in NFL history last year, that was bolstered by an equally efficient play-action passing package, the Ravens have spent this season getting bullied by zone defenses behind a bumbling offensive line and the results haven’t been pretty.
On Sunday, the Titans became the latest team to prey on the Ravens’ blunders. Once the dust settled, Baltimore had blown a comfortable 11-point lead, found themselves on the receiving end of a 30-24 black eye and extended their losing streak to two games. They also dropped to 6-4 on the season and if the playoffs started tomorrow, they’d be on the outside looking in.
That bandwagon is looking empty as shit right about now.
“We have to finish drives,” Jackson told Sports Illustrated after the game. “We’re driving the ball down the field. We just have to stop putting [kicker Justin] Tucker out there; we have to punch it in. When we get inside the red zone, or the high red zone, we just have to finish and stop putting our defense out there.”
If you bought stock in the Ravens, it might be a little too late to sell.
Being a Broncos fan, I got my entire life watching Tua Tagovailoa get mauled by our voracious defense and absorb six brutal sacks before he was eventually benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick. (Worry not, Dolphins fans; the future of your franchise will return to the driver’s seat next week.) Yet as ugly as Tua’s fourth start was, in Washington, things were infinitely worse.
Joe Burrow, the rookie phenom who’s spent more time on his back than a sex worker due to a putrid offensive line, took yet another vicious hit in the third quarter and...well...
For those of you holding out for good news, I regret to inform you that I have none to report. Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network—and Burrow himself—the LSU product is done for the year.
“#Bengals QB Joe Burrow suffered a torn ACL based on the initial diagnosis, source said,” Rapoport tweeted. “There may be additional damage. Burrow signaled it with his tweet, but the MRI confirming the injury would end his stellar rookie season.”
This is terrible news for the Bengals, but considering they weren’t winning jack shit this year anyway, at least they know they have a superstar to build around moving forward.
Expect Burrow to resume terrorizing the league next season.
With Drew Brees out for an extended period of time due to somehow collecting more rib fractures than he has fingers, it was a foregone conclusion that Jameis Winston would fill in as his replacement. Hell, his teammates expected the same thing. But with resident Swiss Army knife Taysom Hill getting paid handsomely to back up 41-year-old Brees too, the Saints need to find out if Hill is a legit option moving forward or if they should hitch their wagon to Winston, who can put up 30 touchdowns in a season just as easily as he can...put up 30 interceptions.
Coach Sean Payton would give Hill the nod on Sunday and the Saints responded with a 24-9 blowout against their NFC South rival, the Atlanta Falcons. In his first NFL start, Hill was efficient as both a passer and runner, collecting 233 yards in the air and running for an additional 51 yards with two touchdowns.
With Sunday’s win, the Saints won their seventh consecutive game and improved to 8-2. And while it wasn’t exactly the most creative offensive, it got the job done and reinforced New Orleans’ status as one of the most adaptive and resilient teams in the league. Most importantly, Hill proved that yes, he has promise as a passer. But if Brees remains on the sidelines for an extended period of time, will Winston be willing to continue sitting around twiddling his thumbs?
I guess we’ll find out.
As much as I despise the Cowboys, that boy CeeDee Lamb is no joke. Check out this nasty grab against the Vikings.
Also shoutout to Justin Herbert for hanging 366 yards and 3 TDs on the Jets.
See y’all next week.