NFL Risers and Fallers Week 9

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What a weird week of football. The Bills shocked me, and really the world. The Panthers really pushed the Chiefs and were probably just a couple of yards away from attempting an actual makeable field goal for the win. The Buccaneers decided to take the week off. 

I’m going to talk about a couple of those, but I’m not going to overreact to Tampa. It was a really, really, really bad game — but I think that’s all it was. They’re still a really good team, this is just a bump in the road. Now, if this happens next week as well then maybe it’ll be time to hit the panic button, but not yet.  

For other teams though, like the Seahawks, it might be time. More about that later though; let’s start in New York. 

Riser: New York Jets 

This was a phenomenal week for the New York Jets. The young core overall played well, which is huge for the future of this team if they want to try to compete in the next couple of years. Denzel Mims looked like he belonged on the field and showed real potential to be an above-average receiver in his career. UConn’s Foley Fatukasi was really good on the line and even forced a fumble. Overall, they just showed some signs of promise. 

New York Jets’ Bennett Jackson, left, celebrates a tackle during the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

And they still lost. They did it. After taking a 27-17 point lead into the fourth quarter, the Jets gave up 13 unanswered points to lose the game. It was long-time Jet Nick Folk who put the final nail in the coffin, hitting the game-winning field goal as time expired. Now 0-9, the Jets are getting seriously pushed by the Jaguars for the No. 1 overall pick. After winning in Week 1, the Jags have lost out, and their upcoming schedule doesn’t really have a game they can win. The Jets probably need to lose-out for the No. 1 overall pick, and even though it was a close call, they accomplished what they needed to this week. 

Faller: Chicago Bears 

At this point in the season, we have a pretty good idea of what the Chicago Bears are. They’ll beat the bad teams — Lions, Giants, Falcons, Panthers — and they’ll lose to the good teams — Saints, Colts, Rams, Titans. The only real outlier here is when they beat the Bucs 20-19, but I’m going to chalk that up to Nick Foles having Tom Brady’s number. Not actually, but just an example of fluke-y stuff that’s inevitable in a 16-game season. But overall, Chicago is a middle of the pack team with a good defense and a bad offense. The defense will help them win games against the teams who will be picking in the top-15 of the draft, but when push comes to shove, they just can’t consistently beat playoff teams. 

Once 5-1, the Bears have now dropped three-straight. Foles just isn’t that and the rest of the offense suffers. The issue is he’s still clearly better than Mitch Trubisky, so they don’t really have a lot of options. Their defense is No. 7 in both points and yards allowed per game, but there’s only so much they can do when the offense just can’t move the ball. Maybe they’ll sneak into the expanded playoffs, but I wouldn’t expect them to do anything more than that. 

Riser: Tua Tagovailoa 

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) looks to pass the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The Miami Dolphins are 5-3? I’ll take things I didn’t expect coming into the season for 500, Alex (RIP). After starting the season 3-3, the Dolphins made the surprise move to sit veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in favor of rookie and 2020 No. 5 overall pick Tua Tagovailoa. They beat the Rams in Tua’s first start, and while he didn’t shine, he did what he needed to do to get Miami the win. Start No. 2 though, Tua was excellent. 

He went 20 of 28 passing for 248 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers while also running for 35 yards. The Dolphins won again, this time beating the Arizona Cardinals 34-31. Yes, the then-5-2 Arizona Cardinals. The dark horse MVP candidate Kyler Murray led Arizona Cardinals. Kyler had one hell of a game, but ultimately it was Tua who came out on top. He’s transformed the Dolphins from a solid team to a scary one, a team that can beat anyone in the league. At least, that’s how it looks right now. I still don’t think they are serious contenders, but in this small sample size, they look really, really good. 

Faller: Jamal Adams (and the entire Seahawks defense) 

Seattle Seahawks Carlos Dunlap, right, works to get past Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Daryl Williams (75) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/John Munson)

What an absolutely embarrassing display by Jamal Adams and the Seahawks defense. On Sunday, they gave up 44 points to Josh Allen and the Bills — an offense that has shown some promise, sure, but one that had topped out at 24 points over the past four weeks, including an 18 point performance against the Jets. Then, in Jamal Adams’ return from injury, the Seahawks go give up 44. They let Josh Allen throw for three touchdowns and rush for one more. They didn’t force a single turnover. The Seahawks gave up two first-round picks for Jamal Adams, a move that was questionable at the time because he doesn’t play a premium position. Now, eight weeks into the season and the Seahawks have statistically the worst defense in the NFL, giving up by far the most yards per game and the third-most points. 

When a team gives up two first-round picks for a defensive player and then proceed to still give up the most yards per game, it’s not a good look. When that player is a defensive back and the team specifically struggles in pass defense (the Seahawks actually are the fourth-best team in terms of rush yards allowed per game but dead last in pass yards allowed), it looks even worse. Yes, Adams has only played in half of Seattle’s games this season due to injury problems, but they’ve actually been worse when he’s on the field. Without Adams active, the Seahawks have given up 433.5 yards per game. With Adams active, they have given up 478 yards per game. The points reflect that too, giving up 28.25 points per game without him and 32.5 points per game with him. Don’t get me wrong, the Seahawks defense is still horrible without Adams, but he was supposed to provide a lot of help — and he just isn’t. He hasn’t come close to living up to what the Seahawks traded away for him. 

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