Where Things Stand: NFL Edition Part 3
Written by Sean Fitzgerald on November 27, 2019
Three-fourths of the 2019 NFL season has passed and with that comes the third installment of Where Things Stand: NFL Edition. We finally have some clarity on some teams and less so on others. And no, I didn’t get the mulligan or time machine I asked for last time!
If you’re a new reader, welcome to this adventurous wonderland of a series! If you’re a returning reader, welcome back! By now, you returners should know the drill: humor, snark and analysis. That’s how we roll here!
I also encourage new readers to go back to Part 1 and Part 2 to pick up on some references that will be used here and have been since the start.
Enough talk. Let’s get to the article.
Patriots: 4-0 | Part 2: 8-0 | Part 3: 10-1
Buffalo: 3-1 | Part 2: 5-2 | Part 3: 8-3
NY Jets: 0-3 | Part 2: 1-6 | Part 3: 4-7
Miami: 0-4 | Part 2: 0-7 | Part 3: 2-9
State of the AFC East:
-Oh no! The Patriots lost a game… How tragic! May we weep for their suffering and comfort them with warm blankets and turkey stuffing… Said NO ONE EVER!!!
New England is good, yes. However, glaring holes have been exposed since going up against Lamar Jackson and a low scoring affair against a shaky Eagles secondary in Week 11. Even Tom Brady had one of his shortest pressers EVER following the win over the Eagles.
Call it reckless speculation, and maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I am starting to see the pathway out of New England for Brady, but I doubt he’ll take it.
-Please tell me Buffalo is 8-3! Please tell me they lost in Week 12 to follow the trend of the last two articles!
Well, they are 8-3, but they did it in reverse this time. Instead of losing a game before each new article of this series, they lost a game following the last article.
Still, the Bills, barring a collapse, are getting a wild card and will get swiftly knocked out depending on who they face in the wild card round (Kansas City anyone?). Still, they are better than some other teams that are starting quarterbacks from the 2018 draft class.
-THE JETS LOST TO THE DOLPHINS!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!
Oh boy, I will not let you off the hook for that one unless you shred the Bungals. Dysfunction at it’s finest, ladies and gentlemen!
Oh wait, you’ve actually won three games since last time. What?!
-The meme is dead! LONG LIVE THE… Wait wha!?!?? OH. MY. GOD. The Dolphins won two games… In a row! Well, no more LOLphins. They have also destroyed their tank for Tua (or Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert or Jalen Hurts, etc).
Speaking of Tua…
Well, Nick Saban kept his golden goose in too long versus Mississipi State, and Tua sustained a big hip injury. You better hope that it’s not anything Bo Jackson-esque!
Well, I guess you can take Chase Young as a consolation prize. Either way, we will not see the two sides of perfect in Miami come to pass this year.
Baltimore: 2-2 | Part 2: 5-2 | Part 3: 9-2
Pittsburgh: 1-3 | Part 2: 3-4 | Part 3: 6-5
Cleveland: 2-2 | Part 2: 2-5 | Part 3: 5-6
Cincinnati: 0-4 | Part 2: 0-8 | Part 3: 0-11
State of the AFC North:
-The Ravens beat New England, and I don’t know whether to be impressed or continue my “Lamar Jackson is not a fully-fledged franchise quarterback yet” argument. Yes, he beat New England’s good defense with his legs AND his arm.
That sentence was written following the thrashing of the Patriots. He did it again to the J.J. Watt-less Texans too (still a good defense). This adds substance to him being a potential franchise QB, but I still need a little more proof.
However, Jackson is starting to prove me wrong as his Ravens have rattled off seven straight wins following the Week 4 loss to the Browns. He still has some tough tests ahead of him though to confirm the vision of the faithful.
Speaking of tough tests of faith…
-*Fitz.exe reboot complete*
Ok, we’re back and… OKAY, yeah, no.
Sigh… Let’s get into this whole Browns-Steelers debacle.
I thought the emergency article following the Denver loss would be the end of things after an ugly win over Buffalo and the first 59 minutes of the win against the Steelers.
However, that last minute of the 60 is what ruined the taste of winning against the Ravens and Steelers in the same season since the Browns came back as an expansion franchise in 1999 with the only “positive” being the reignition of the rivalry.
Larry Ogunjobi got one game, and Maurkice Pouncey got a well-deserved three games before getting a game knocked off on appeal. And then, there were the two main culprits: Myles Garrett was dumb in swinging Mason Rudolph’s helmet at him after being provoked by a groin kick and Rudolph tugging at Garrett’s helmet. Now, Garrett has to serve an indefinite suspension, which was upheld on appeal, and he will meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell to apply for reinstatement in the offseason.
At his appeal, Garrett dropped a bombshell that Rudolph dropped a racial slur that lead to the ugly scene, which he might have hinted at following the Thursday win and rumored throughout the next day. I have no proof other than what I saw on social media for full disclosure.
However, with all being said and done, Rudolph inflamed this mess and should have received a one game ban in my opinion. There are certain issues I could bring up here about certain players, but I’ll refrain for now.
That brawl could have put the nail in the coffin for Kitchens barring the team winning out and advancing to the playoffs (which is still a possibility if you do the math). Kareem Hunt helps with the winning out part with how the offense has operated since his activation.
The Browns are now 5-6 after beating Miami. They face the Steelers again this Sunday with a chance to sweep them for the first time since the 1980s and taking second place in the division.
-A last-minute note came in! The Steelers are benching Mason Rudolph for the Browns game in favor of Devlin “Duck” Hodges! Wow.
In my opinion, Mike Tomlin absolutely tore Rudolph to shreds when announcing the benching. Man, I wanted Rudolph to get wrecked again because why not?
-Congratulations BUNGALS!! You are now the new meme of the NFL and this series! The Dolphins have won two games and made you the bottom-dwellers in the NFL cellar.
Make sure to not blow up your tank for Tua (or Joe Burrow, or any other QB at the top of the draft). 1-15 may be the best you get this year if you beat Miami or the Jets.
Other than that, we will enjoy the amusement you may bring us if you finish 0-16. I wish you were the Steelers instead.
Houston: 2-2 | Part 2: 5-3 | Part 3: 7-4
Indianapolis: 2-2 | Part 2: 5-2 | Part 3: 6-5
Tennessee: 2-2 | Part 2: 4-4 | Part 3: 6-5
Jacksonville: 2-2 | Part 2: 4-4 | Part 3: 4-7
State of the AFC South:
*Just a disclaimer, I’m doing the Texans and Colts out of order here. Okay? Good. Back to the entertainment.
-So the Colts have had some hiccups being without Brissett for most of two games or so, and the GOAT of kickers Adam Vinatieri still struggling with his kicks this year.
If you make the playoffs, you won’t get far because Jim Irsay, Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson ruined Andrew Luck. You also just lost your best running back in Marlon Mack, and the timing is hardly ideal.
-Speaking of hardly ideal in Houston, I’m betting you wish you had Jadeveon Clowney right now, huh?! J.J. Watt is out, you lost Lamar Miller in the preseason and turned to the Browns backfield from last year, then proceed to get thrashed by the Ravens (embarrassed even), and I doubt you can make it any deeper than the second round of the playoffs no matter how good Deshaun Watson is.
I’ll also just get the refball accusation out of the way right now: The no-call of blatant pass interference that was committed against DeAndre Hopkins should have been overturned on review and given the Texans first and goal.
To some, it may seem the league wants this rule gone. Hell I’ll just say it: THEY WANT IT GONE! If so, just do it NFL, so coaches can’t throw dumb challenges anymore. *cough* Kitchens *cough*.
-“So 9-7 is the goal again, eh Titans? Marcus Mariota is benched, and Ryan Tannehill is back in. Yeah, this is getting old. Either upgrade the quarterback or go into rebuild mode. I have more choice words I could use, but basically, you’re not going anywhere anytime soon.”
Did you catch what I did there?! It’s rinse and repeat with the Titans and if 9-7 happens, I’m going to laugh so, so, so hard! I don’t hate them, no, but I actually found a way to reuse the same bit from last time as their description again!? I never thought I’d see the day this would happen!
-The Jaguars got Big Nick Foles back, replacing Minshew Mania. May the memories last forever with that awesome mustache!
Seriously though: This is the time for Foles to play up to his contract and win the division.
Wait, what’s that rumble? Oh my god, you just let the Titans manhandle you?! This is a surprise? Since when is Ryan Tannehill supposed to help destroy your defense?!
Better luck next year, I guess.
Kansas City: 4-0 | Part 2: 5-3 | Part 3: 7-4
Oakland: 2-2 | Part 2: 3-4 | Part 3: 6-5
LA Chargers: 2-2 | Part 2: 3-5 | Part 3: 4-7
Denver: 0-4 | Part 2: 2-6 | Part 3: 3-8
State of the AFC West:
-The Chiefs have had some fun and frustrations lately. The fun times include Tyreek Hill racing downfield after his running back versus the Vikings to show off his own speed.
However, you lost to the Titans?! How did you manage that??
Look, you need a pep talk. The Raiders are right behind you, and if you continue slipping up, you could fall out of your contender status very, very fast. Feel lucky that you have the ultimate cheat code in Patrick Mahomes and that if you were any other team, you’d be screwed!
-Oakland actually has a shot of winning the AFC West.
Wait when did this happen? And without Antonio Brown, aka The DIVA?? Umm, wow! Okay!
My take here is you guys may not go deep, but you have lucked out this year while looking good at times (sans Jets game).
Gruden, do not mess this up if you want your chance to laugh at me! Don’t make me say I want my mulligan on my first take on the Chiefs back in Part 1.
-Well, the Chargers got Melvin Gordon back. The bad news is that Philip Rivers, yes, Rivers, hit a wall and regressed from the player he was last year.
Right now, the Chargers aren’t going anywhere and if they do, it’ll have to be a heckuva rally following their bye week.
-Do you hear that in the distance? That’s the sound of false hope being stripped away from the Bronco faithful after beating the Browns.
My question here is: Can John Elway actually find a quarterback to give this team a chance that you didn’t luck into during free agency like you did with Peyton Manning? Only time will tell.
Why does it always feel like the NFC is easier to rip teams to shreds? Meh, it doesn’t matter. On to the most hated division in the NFC!
Dallas: 3-1 | Part 2: 4-3 | Part 3: 6-5
Philly: 2-2 | Part 2: 4-4 | Part 3: 5-6
NY Giants: 2-2 | Part 2: 2-6 | Part 3: 2-9
Washington: 0-4 | Part 2: 1-7 | Part 3: 2-9
State of the NFC East:
-Dallas: Your team is a better version of the Titans Jekyll and Hyde act. You had a few games where you could have separated yourself (the Jets and Patriots), but instead you’re keeping the Eagles in the division race.
Make up your minds on if you want to go for the kill or continue making this a soap opera drama! Please and thank you!!
-“Good news Eagles fans: Your season isn’t doomed!!”
And I actually reused their previous line too, just like the Titans.
Here’s the thing: You are in a weak division with a low wild card probability, so let me spell this out for you: YOU HAVE TO WIN THE DIVISION TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS!!
Got it? Good.
-Geez, I guess Giants fans got all the false hope stripped from them after Daniel Jones led them to two wins within the first four games before falling apart. Or maybe it was the black cat appearing on the field in the middle of a game running through the end zone.
Saquon Barkley has been diminished as well, as he battles through an injury for the remainder of the season.
Also, I’m calling it now: Pat Shurmer gets canned by season’s end! I don’t know if John Mara will have enough patience to let him come back on a short leash.
-Dan Snyder: Just sell the Washington football team already!! You’re a joke and a disgrace, especially with all the Trent Williams stuff that came out!!! It’s a bad look for you. Really, why do I waste breath on you?!?!
There is something I do want to say here: I feel bad for Dwayne Haskins right now. This is basically a living hell he has to play in, and he deserves better. This team will ruin him at this rate, and Ohio State fans who loved Haskins in college will be coming for Snyder.
Green Bay: 3-1 | Part 2: 7-1 | Part 3: 8-3
Minnesota: 2-2 | Part 2: 6-2 | Part 3: 8-3
Chicago: 3-1 | Part 2: 3-4 | Part 3: 5-6
Detroit: 2-1-1 | Part 2: 3-3-1 | Part 3: 3-7-1
State of the NFC North:
-Might be a hot take for the Packers here, but you are dangerously close to letting the Vikings relegate you to the Wild Card.
This may be your best chance to win another Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers under center with a rejuvenated overall performance by this squad. You cannot screw this up. You have had luck on your side all year. Don’t waste it.
-Which version of Kirk Cousins did we see the last four weeks? We saw all of them. The good, the bad and the ugly.
However, the Vikings are still within striking distance of taking the division from the Packers. With Adam Thielen returning, Stefon Diggs churning out production and Dalvin Cook being a monster, the sky’s the limit before it comes crashing back down in 2020.
-The Bears were a team with Super Bowl aspirations who have not met expectations. The defense is still good, but not quite the historic one we saw last year.
The main problem has been at quarterback with Cleveland kid and Mentor star Mitchell Trubisky not having progressed and looking more and more like a liability. The kid the Bears traded up to No. 2 in the 2017 NFL Draft to take.
I feel bad for Trubisky as those around me who have met him know he’s a good guy. However, if turning off TVs in the facility is the way to start a rebound and erase negativity, then by all means, back it up on the field.
-Detroit, I’m sorry but I have terrible news: You are screwed!
You have been plagued by refball all year, lost key players to injury and everything looks as if it can go your way until it doesn’t.
Then, you suddenly lose Matt Stafford to a multi-week injury and without him, you’re done. At this point, it’s just better to keep him out the rest of the way to avoid a Tua like injury happening to him or even preventing something worse.
I feel bad for the Lions in a way. Maybe it’s how Cleveland and Detroit’s football teams have been plagued by misery. However, it’s time to move on.
New Orleans: 3-1 | Part 2: 7-1 | Part 3: 9-2
Carolina: 2-2 | Part 2: 4-3 | Part 3: 5-6
Tampa Bay: 2-2 | Part 2: 2-5 | Part 3: 4-7
Atlanta: 1-3 | Part 2: 1-7 | Part 3: 3-8
State of the NFC South:
-So aside from the loss to Atlanta, the Saints have had two QB’s lead the charge at the top of the NFC. However, one man has made his case to be the league MVP, and his name is Michael Thomas.
“A receiver as MVP?! Are you out of your mind Fitz?” People might ask.
No, not really.
Thomas, an Ohio State product, is basically unguardable and unstoppable just as his Twitter handle states (@Cantguardmike). He gets over 30% of the passes coming his way, and yet no one can stop him while knowing he WILL get the football.
Thomas is on pace to break records for receptions, reception yards and more, and he is powering the Saints offense more than Alvin Kamara has. He is a special talent and really does deserve the MVP award. He has a chance if he keeps this output going.
-Carolina shut down Cam Newton for the year. In other news, Kyle Allen is the starting quarterback of the Panthers, not to be confused with Brandon (Denver) and Josh (Buffalo).
Christian McCaffery had been slowed down prior to facing the Saints and so have the Panthers in general. Kyle Allen is starting to slip a bit, and the Panthers may need to get another quarterback in the building if they want to even think of staying alive in the hunt.
-As for the Bucs, they have so much offensive potential, but their defense equates to that of a glorified Big XII team.
Bruce Arians is still an offensive genius, but you kind of forget about that when Jameis Winston keeps the turnover bakery going on all cylinders.
-Arthur Blank, you spineless fool! Your Atlanta Falcons are in a tailspin, and you didn’t fire Dan Quinn. I’m… Wait, what’s this? You actually bullied the Saints and Panthers with smothering defense and a good offensive performance?!
And then, you ended all optimism by losing to the Bucs and letting all false hope evaporate.
However, can I just ask where the two big performances have been all year!?? If you had dominated on defense or resembled one at all before the bye week, who would have stopped you? The answer: Not many. Heads should still roll down south in Atlanta, but I can’t confidently say that they WILL roll if this hot stretch continues.
San Fran: 3-0 | Part 2: 7-0 | Part 3: 10-1
Seattle: 3-1 | Part 2: 6-2 | Part 3: 9-2
LA Rams: 3-1 | Part 2: 5-3 | Part 3: 6-5
Arizona: 0-3-1 | Part 2: 3-4-1 | Part 3: 3-7-1
State of the NFC West:
-Okay boys, the 49ers lost. 1972 Dolphins, break out the champagne bottles!!
This team is still very good, but they need to get healthier and fast! Losing Kyle J doesn’t help, and you need a full-strength George Kittle too.
Just make sure to protect the golden goose of Jimmy G, and you should be fine. I won’t say you have the division tucked away yet because of the next team on the list.
-The Seahawks and Russell Wilson would like to have a word about the NFC West. They made a statement win in an all-time great overtime thriller vs the 49ers on Monday Night Football that’s a certainty!
However, you did pick up the mini-circus that is Josh Gordon. Tread carefully Gordon, and in the famous words of Stephen A. Smith, “Stay off the weed!” This is your last chance. Screw up here and it’s game over.
-The Rams are suffering a Super Bowl hangover if I’ve ever seen one and for several reasons.
Todd Gurley has been a shell of himself, making me wonder how bad his knee might be. Jared Goff has regressed considerably after getting his big-money deal, and the most consistent force on your offense, Cooper Kupp, has been taken out of it the last few games.
This NFC field of contenders is no cakewalk, and you do have Jalen Ramsey, but make no mistake here: If you miss the playoffs after that Super Bowl run last year, a hard, long look in the mirror will be needed for this franchise as they prepare to open their new stadium.
-Record notwithstanding, the Cardinals came close to knocking off the 49ers TWICE!! Don’t let the second game’s score fool you!
Arizona has its quarterback, and now they have to build around him. Get him O-Line help, sign some good wideouts to help in the pass corp with the legend Larry Fitzgerald heading out the door, and get an actual defense to stop other teams on the field.
I also have to admit I was completely wrong months ago for the team giving up on Josh Rosen completely. It seems he’s more of a developmental prospect who may never reach his full potential or become a complete bust. Arizona proved me wrong.
That’s it for now!! Come back for the Part 4 finale on the second day of the new year at 2 p.m.! We will have coaches fired, GMs swept out and lots of warm, spicy, hot takes!! See you all then!! And hopefully not before with another Browns emergency article unless it’s about a playoff berth.
Sean Fitzgerald is a member of the Black Squirrel Radio Sports Department and a Sports Coordinator. He co-hosts Past the Mic with Fitz & Enzo Fridays from Noon-2 p.m. Follow him on Twitter @fitzonsportsbsr for insights and occasional livestreams.