Teams are finding out where they truly stand after six weeks of the 2018 NFL season. Some teams have decided its time to focus on the draft, and others are hitting their stride, and some can feel the panic setting in.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Panic
The Jaguars have lost their last two games without running back Leonard Fournette, and sit at 3-3. Five years ago Jags fans would’ve rejoiced at the sight of breaking even, but last year’s run to the AFC Championship game mean much better is expected from the team.
On Sunday, Jacksonville lost 40-7 to a Dallas team that everyone has agreed needs help offensively. Dak Prescott had no trouble throwing over the Jacksonville defense, throwing for two touchdowns, as well as picking up 82 yards and a score on the ground.
The Jags star studded defense faltered in every way this week. The smaller, quicker Cole Beasley had a career high in receptions, shutting up corner Jalen Ramsey, who has been known for trash talking his opponents in recent weeks.
Beasley accounted for almost all of the Cowboy passing game, while Ezekiel Elliot took care of things running the ball with 100 yards on the ground and a score.
Jacksonville now find themselves still tied for the division lead with Tennessee. The Jaguars aren’t winning the easy games, making it harder on themselves with games against Pittsburgh, Washington, and Tennessee still to come.
New York Giants: Panic
It’s quitting time for the Giants.
Last Thursday New York laid down to division rival Philadelphia 34-13. At 1-5, the Giants find themselves in a race for the number one pick with the San Francisco 49ers.
But the 49ers have something the Giants don’t have, a quarterback for the future.
Eli Manning’s time in New York is over, and possibly his time in the NFL. His stat line of 24 completions on 43 attempts, under 300 yards and one interception is a good representation of what the former Super Bowl MVP can bring to the table week to week.
The benching of Manning late last season was viewed as disrespectful and premature, but now another season is down the drain and there is no one waiting to take the reigns in New York at the quarterback position.
The one bright spot for the Giants is rookie Saquon Barkley. Last week, in a poor offensive performance all around, the rookie managed to find space on the ground, racking up 130 yards and a touchdown. He also led the team in receiving yards with 99, ahead of star Odell Beckham Jr.
One thing is crystal clear for fans and the coaching staff of the Giants: its time to move on from Manning, With a top three pick almost guaranteed already this season, the Giants will have their choice for a franchise QB.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Rejoice
The Steelers, after weeks of being in the spotlight on the panic meter, have played themselves right back into playoff contention with two impressive wins in a row.
The Steelers destroyed a struggling — but talented — Atlanta team two weeks ago, and edged out division leader Cincinnati in week six. The win pulled their record up to 3-2-1, only one game behind the Bengals in the AFC North.
Ben Rothlisberger continues to carry his team without much of a run game to back him up. The 36-year-old quarterback leads the league in passing yards through six games.
But Pittsburgh is not out of the woods yet.
The win over the Bengals was nothing close to a blow out, and a loss would have drastically changed the outlook of the Steelers season. But they won and now have put themselves on the board in the win column for their division.
With games against division rivals Cleveland and Baltimore the next two weeks, anything but 2-0 sends Pittsburgh back into Panic mode.
A key move to keep an eye out for during the Steelers week seven bye is whether Le’Veon Bell will return to the team, or be shipped off to another franchise for a playoff run.
Chicago Bears: Panic
The Bears have exceeded expectations so far this season, starting 3-2 with a fantastic six touchdown performance by Mitch Trubisky in week four. But new expectations have been established, and the Bears might fall short this year.
The downside for the Bears is that other than the blow out win over Tampa Bay, the rest of their results are disappointing. Chicago has wins over 1-5 Arizona and 3-3 Seattle, with losses to the only two teams they’ve played who are above .500.
The Vikings and Packers also seem to be biting at the heels of Chicago after their early season woes.
The Bears have a good young quarterback in Trubisky and an explosive defense behind Kahlil Mack. But they need one more piece to make their team a contender. The time to make that move is now, before the trade deadline, not after the season.
One potential trade for the Bears is running back Jordan Howard. No running back for the Bears has managed to rush for 100 yards in a game this season, but Howard can be a solid change of pace back for a contending team like Philadelphia or Jacksonville.
In return the Bears could pick up an offensive lineman. Some depth there is worth parting with Howard, who has given minimal offensive output so far this season.
Houston Texans: Rejoice
The Texans couldn’t have started the season any worse, but have clawed their way back into the conversation for the AFC south division.
Houston started the season 0-3, losing by a combined 15 points. Since then, they have gone 3-0, winning by a total of 13 points combined. The Texans have been no stranger to close games, and that will help them down the stretch of the NFL season.
Deshaun Watson has plagued his team with interceptions this season. In every game so far this season, Watson has gave the ball away at least once. With his team losing or winning by one score each game throwing interceptions could be the difference each week.
But the offense has done enough and the defense has given up less than 20 in half their games so far.
Jacksonville and Tennessee have shot themselves in the foot losing to teams they should easily win against, allowing the Texans to jump into a three way tie for the division.
Next week’s contest against the Jaguars will be a deciding factor in the outcome of the AFC south division.
The Patriots topped the Chiefs in a Sunday Night matchup 43-40. Two offensive juggernauts came to play, and the victory came down to who possessed the ball last.
The Patriots proved they are still the team to beat in the AFC, and the Chiefs had the Patriots right where they wanted them all the way until the end. This preview of a potential AFC Championship game was a genuine thrill to watch.
The Colts, 49ers, Raiders, and Giants all fell to an NFL worst 1-5 this week. The odds favor one of these teams to hold the number one pick in the 2019 NFL draft. The next few weeks will show which teams will fight for respect and which ones will look forward to next season.
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