What a wild week in the NFL. The Falcons blew yet another game. The Cowboys were an embarrassment once again. The Cardinals shocked the Seahawks. Daniel Jones got tackled by a gust of wind. We’ll get to that last one soon, but here are three other top headlines from this week of football.
Riser: Pittsburgh Steelers
I can’t believe the Steelers are 6-0. Going into this season I thought they could very well finish in third place in the division. I didn’t even consider them fighting for the top spot, much less looking like the best team out of the bunch. The Ravens are in this division! Case closed, right? Apparently not. The Steelers are great. Their defense is phenomenal, giving up the fewest yards and sixth-fewest points per game so far this season. They held the Titans, who had scored 30-plus points each of the last four weeks, to just 22 on Sunday. They even bottled up Derrek Henry, at least as much as he can be, holding him to 75 yards on 20 carries and one score.
Everyone knew the defense would be good though, the real surprise this season is the offense. With Big Ben coming off a season where he missed all but two games, many, including myself, thought the 38-year-old quarterback was all but done. Boy were we wrong. Despite only being No. 21 in yards per game, the Roethlisberger-led offense is No. 6 in points per game. They’re punching it into the endzone when they’ve got the chance. Even though Roethlisberger didn’t have his best game on Sunday, he still is having his best season in terms of passer rating since 2014. If he stays on this pace, it will be the fourth-highest passer rating of his career. The Steelers are legit, and this team has cemented themselves as serious contenders.
Faller: Buffalo Bills
Yes, the Buffalo Bills won. Yes, they only gave up 10 points. Yes, they’re 5-2. But this was a bad week for Buffalo. They played the Jets, the same team that went into the game 0-6 and was coming off a 24-0 loss to the Miami Dolphins. The same team that has lost by more than one score every single game this season. On Sunday, the Bills broke that last streak, only winning 18-10. They didn’t even score a touchdown, kicker Tyler Bass hit six field goals.
The Bills should have blown out this team. They should have ended the game by halftime. It shouldn’t have even been a contest. Instead, the offense stagnated and let the Jets hang around until the very end. Sure, the defense made sure the Jets didn’t capitalize on any of their opportunities, but that’s more of an indictment on the Jets than it is a result of the Bills defense. The Jets are pathetic, and the Bills played down to their level. If they want to be anything more than a first-round exit, they need to do better.
Riser: Justin Herbert
After five weeks, Justin Herbert finally got his first NFL win, but if you look at his stats, it’s by no fault of his own. He’s currently the No. 7 quarterback in terms of passer rating, right behind Deshaun Watson and right above Drew Brees. He’s also No. 4 in the league in yards per game and has thrown 12 touchdowns with only three picks. To put it simply — he’s the clear Rookie of the Year frontrunner.
Herbert was on the top of his game Sunday, throwing for 347 yards and three touchdowns in the Chargers 39-29 win over the Jaguars. He also led the team in rushing, carrying the ball nine times for a total of 66 yards and another score. The Chargers may be 2-4, but they’re still one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL. They haven’t lost a single game this season by more than one score — exactly their style. With Herbert at the helm, there’s no team they can’t beat.
Faller: Daniel Jones
Get it? Falling, like he did on Thursday in the midst of what would have been an 88-yard touchdown run? Bad joke, but still, this was a really, really bad week for Daniel Jones. The sad part? He actually played pretty well. He finished the game with 187 yards on 20-of-30 passing with two touchdowns, one pick and one game-sealing fumble. However, his stat line should have been much better. His one interception was completely the fault of Evan Engram, the pass went directly off his hands and popped right up to a defender, Jones couldn’t have thrown a better pass. Then, with two minutes left in the game, Jones dropped one right in the breadbasket for Engram to ice the game, one that promptly went off his hands and forced a punt instead. After the Eagles drove down the field and took the lead, Jones had about 40 seconds to try to do the same. On the third play, he was strip-sacked, game over. Yes, he held onto the ball too long, but realistically, if Engram had caught the ball earlier in the game he wouldn’t even have been in that situation.
That could have been a great win for Jones. Instead, the only thing we remember is him getting tackled by air on a breakaway run. Most people are ready to give up on him, and I can’t say I blame them. Yes, the two turnovers this past game were easily avoidable and not completely his fault, but they’re emblematic of a bigger issue over his career. Through 19 starts, Daniel Jones has thrown 19 interceptions and lost 15 fumbles. That’s nearly two turnovers per game, and if you factor in the balls he’s fumbled that the Giants have recovered, that number easily goes over two. No one in the league coughed up the ball as much as Jones last season, and he hasn’t really seemed to make any significant improvements. Overall, he just doesn’t look good under center. He’s not horrible, but he just isn’t talented enough to make up for his serious turnover issues. He just doesn’t have that “it” factor. Some of the blame can probably be pinned on the organization and their failure to adequately protect him, but when the Giants have a top pick in this upcoming draft, I don’t think anyone can fault them if they go quarterback.