We are headed into week two of the NFL playoffs. Saturday’s match-up between the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens will showcase two different types of offenses.
The Ravens have quarterback Lamar Jackson and his style of offense, which includes his dynamic ability to escape and run out of the pocket. While the Titans have more of a play-action pocket passer in Ryan Tannehill. Either way, both these teams will try to establish a run game. So expect a lot of smash-mouth, in the trenches, football.
There is a battle brewing in the AFC West. A battle that not anyone, except the most die-hard silver and black fan, would have predicted. The Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) are sitting at the top of the division, just like those who do preseason predictions thought they would be. Yet, sitting right behind them are the Oakland Raiders (6-4). With the Chiefs on a bye week, could the Raiders pull even this weekend, setting up a race for the finish line? Week 12 in the AFC West may set the pace for that race.
The Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football in Mexico City, putting them at 3-0 in the division. Both teams now have a desperately needed bye week. The Denver Broncos (3-7) are heading up to Buffalo to play the Bills (7-3), which with the way the Bills have been playing, will be a difficult task for the struggling Broncos.
Heading into week 10, with the Texans and Jaguars on byes, the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts looked to try and gain ground on division-leading Houston Texans.
The Titans opened up week 10 against the Kanas City Chiefs, which saw the return of Chiefs MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
And he looked every part of that during the opening drive, going 6 of 8 and hitting tight end Travis Kelce for a 3-yard touchdown pass. While the Chiefs offense and Maholmes got off to a great start, the Chiefs defense struggled with the Titans ground and pound run game.
The Patriot’s reign over the AFC East appears to be in good standing.
The Patriots took their perfect 6-0 record into New York Monday night and completely dominated their AFC East rival New York Jets.
The Jets, coming off their huge win against the Dallas Cowboys last week at Met Life, failed to gain any ground in the standings. They are now sitting with a 1-5 record with little to no chance of seeing postseason play, let alone give the Patriots any sort of competition for an AFC East title.
Two weeks in and the Alliance for American Football has proven to be an exciting display of gridiron grit and talent. Three teams are currently undefeated, the Arizona Hotshots who hold the lead in the Western Conference and the Orlando Apollos, and Birmingham Irons.
The Apollos and Irons are tied for first in the Eastern Conference. On the flip side, there are also three teams that are winless – The Salt Lake Stallions, the Memphis Express, and the Atlanta Legends.
The San Antonio Commanders and the San Diego Fleet hold one win apiece. However, there was some good, some bad and sheer ugliness that has come out of the league so far.
Last Friday, following a season where the offense finished 29th in total yards and 31st in passing yards, the Bills fired offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. On Sunday, before the ink was dry on the list of possible replacements, the team announced they’d hired University of Alabama’s OC, and long-time Western New Yorker, Brian Daboll, to succeed him.
We have hired Brian Daboll as our Offensive Coordinator.
During the 4th quarter in Heinz Stadium, chants of, DUUUUVAAAAL could be heard unabated in the AFC Divisional playoff game. While the score seems as if it was a close contest, not even Pittsburgh Steelers fans believed it as the camera showed large sections of empty yellow seats.
From their touchdown drive on their first possession to a game-sealing field goal kick by kicker Josh Lambo, the Jacksonville Jaguars shocked Steelers Nation. The Jags weren’t pretty and once again, lost most stats like first downs 22-28, yards 378-544, yards per play 6.2-7.0 and total plays, 61-78.
Jacksonville did win the stats that matter: third downs 8-14-57% 7-16-44%, 4th down 100% and 5 compared to 3 red zone trips with scores.
The Chiefs have secured their playoff spot and a win or loss changes nothing in their seeding. They can sit or start whomever they want for however long they want. On Sunday, their only known starter will be rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes. This could make it tough to game plan for Denver IF they really want to win.
For Denver, they could be playing to lose because general manager John Elway is scouting quarterbacks and the best way to get a top one is to lose. However, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas needs 108 yards to reach 1,000 for the season and running back CJ Anderson needs 54 yards to reach his 1,000. He’s averaging 63 a game so that one should be easy. 108 yards for Thomas will be tougher, as he’s only had one game all season over 100 yards which was against the Giants.
With two QBs only having three starts between them, it’s tough to scout this game. However, since head coach Andy Reid drafted Mahomes and wants him as his future (ironically, he wanted quarterback Paxton Lynch, but Elway moved up to take him away), he’ll put a game plan together to give him every chance to succeed and win.
With that said, It sounds like Denver will be starting their top defensive guys. This should help get the ball back to Denver quickly since Mahones hasn’t faced a defense like the Broncos. Getting the ball in Lynch’s hands will be instrumental in Thomas getting his yards. Plus Elway needs to see Lynch throw more than the ten times he did against Oakland a few weeks ago.
Head Coach Vance Joseph has said he wants Lynch to run. If he bases a game plan around Lynch running and not his arm, the Broncos may be doomed to lose at home because of his injured ankle. WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Cody Latimer, receivers #2 and #3 look to be out, leaving Thomas, Jordan Taylor and Bennie Fowler as the three. Taylor and Fowler will need to be at the top of their game in order to pull coverage away from Thomas so he can get his yardage if they let Lynch throw.
Kansas City has an offense built around the run, so if Denver shows up to win, they should be able to stop it and force Mahones to throw. He’ll want to toss it deep as the gunslinger he is and since defensive back Aqib Talib may not be back next season, he could make sure Mahomes remembers his name.
The key to both sides is the same. Stop these strong-armed quarterbacks from throwing deep and to their top receiver. The difference will be that Mahones has nothing to lose. If he misses, throws interceptions and incompletions, his job is secure, so he should be able to play with no pressure. The press, fans, and Reid are behind him and will excuse a new starter’s mistakes.
For Lynch, the opposite is true. Denver press has portrayed him as the enemy because they championed for QB Trevor Siemian, any mistake he makes will be ripped to shreds by the media and fans who follow them. In addition, head coach Vance Joesph is clearly not a fan.
This will put massive pressure on him to perform. If he does well, they’ll say it was against second stringers, if he stumbles, they’ll say how crappy because it’s against second stringers. His key will be to shut out the outside world and just play. A tough challenge when he could be playing for a job.
Hopefully, Joseph puts Thomas, Anderson, and winning over a handful of spots in the draft. Fans deserve it and after this crappy season, and it would be a good reward for the players. Go Broncos!
Welcome to the inaugural week of Our Turf Football’s Weekly Pick’em contest! Each week, we’ll be posting a survey with the week’s games, and asking you to pick the team from each matchup that you think will be victorious. We know football fans love competition and the chance at winning prizes and bragging rights, so at the end of the season we’ll be picking a winner or two who had the largest tally of correct matchup predictions, and they will get some fun Our Turf swag!