Just about halfway through the NFL season, and there’s still so much that keeps surprising us.
Sunday may have taught us that the Panthers are, like, really good. It offered Josh Rosen his turn on top of the rookie quarterback totem pole. Sunday told us the Eagles are still kicking, the Jaguars are in trouble and reports of the Seahawks’ demise may have been greatly exaggerated.
So many games, so much unexpected information. Plenty of fodder for everyone’s favorite breathless weekly exercise… let’s overreact!
Jameis Winston has made his final start as a Buccaneer
Winston threw four interceptions and got benched for the guy who lit up the league while he was serving his three-game suspension to start the season. Ryan Fitzpatrick led a comeback to tie the game. And while the Bucs ended up losing, Winston has now thrown 10 interceptions in four games this year. The trade deadline is Tuesday, and while the Bucs have been hearing from teams who want to know if Fitzpatrick is available, you have to wonder whether the Bucs make an even more seismic move and think about moving on from Winston instead.
Graziano’s verdict: OVERREACTION. I may be going down with the ship here, but I’m still of the belief that the Bucs need to use this season to determine once and for all whether Winston is their guy moving forward. I’m also of the belief that four games isn’t sufficient evidence on which to decide that. I could look like a fool in a couple of days, but I believe Winston starts for the Bucs again this year, possibly even next week. I mean, we’re talking about Ryan Fitzpatrick here. All due respect, but it’s not as if he’s never thrown a whole bunch of interceptions himself, right?
Todd Gurley II goes for a 30-yard catch-and-run, then hauls in the 2-point conversion to give the Rams a 16-13 lead over the Packers.
Todd Gurley should win the MVP award
Gurley scored only one touchdown Sunday, which means his season pace dropped from 32 to 30. He could have scored a second touchdown right at the end, when he picked up a soul-crushing first down on third-and-long in the final minute, but he wisely kept himself in bounds and short of the end zone to allow the Rams to run out the clock and improve to 8-0. Gurley did finish with 114 rushing yards and 195 total yards from scrimmage.
Graziano’s verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. The award tends to go to quarterbacks when there are strong quarterback candidates, and so far this year those include Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers, to name a few. But Gurley got some love in the MVP chatter last year, and if he clears the 30-touchdown mark, it might be hard to deny him this time around. When the Rams needed a play in a tough comeback victory over the Packers Sunday, it was Gurley barreling his way through the Green Bay defense. He seems as valuable as anyone.
Andrew Luck and the Colts will make the playoffs
Yeah, yeah, yeah. They only beat the Raiders. Everybody beats the Raiders except the Browns (who should have). I get it. But with Sunday’s victory, Luck and the Colts are 3-5, two games behind Houston in the AFC South. They lost to the Texans earlier in the year, but they obviously get them again, and they have yet to play Tennessee or reeling Jacksonville. Other than the Texans (plus-30), the Colts are the only team in the division with a positive point differential (plus-18).
Graziano’s verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. Houston’s won five in a row and seems to have an easy schedule the rest of the way. But few of their wins have been convincing, and I’m of the opinion that the loss of Will Fuller changes their offense significantly. The Colts, meanwhile, seem to have found a run game to support Luck, with Marlon Mack rumbling for 132 yards and a pair of touchdowns Sunday. If this is a division that can be won at 9-7 or 10-6, don’t rule out Luck, who’s once again its best quarterback now that he’s healthy again.
After a loss to Washington dropped Big Blue to 1-7, these guys were being asked in the locker room about whether they thought they’d be traded. The Giants shipped out former first-round pick Eli Apple and former big-splash free-agent signing Damon Harrison last week and obviously aren’t going anywhere this year. Teams surely have been calling about their best players.
Graziano’s verdict: OVERREACTION. First of all, they really can’t trade Beckham, who just signed a $90 million contract extension that included a $20 million signing bonus. Even though $5 million of that bonus doesn’t get paid until February (and thus would be the acquiring team’s problem), trading Beckham would cost the Giants money against this year’s cap. Plus, they’d have paid him more than $15 million for eight games. As for Collins, he’s a free agent after this year, so the fact that he’s not yet signed to an extension makes you wonder what their plans are. Giants GM Dave Gettleman isn’t one to shell out big deals to defensive backs (just ask Josh Norman). So Collins is a maybe while Odell is a no in terms of whether I think they WILL be traded. As for whether they SHOULD be … come on. These are players you build around. Don’t quit on talent — especially not talent like these guys have.
The Ravens will have a new head coach in 2019
A week after losing on a shocking missed extra point, Baltimore’s vaunted defense got run over by Cam Newton and the Panthers to drop the Ravens to 4-4. Their other losses are division losses to Cincinnati and Cleveland. They did beat the Steelers, in Pittsburgh, so they’re capable of big things. But they’re in danger of tumbling out of the AFC North race if they don’t do it again next week at home.
Graziano’s verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. There have been rumblings about John Harbaugh’s job security the last two offseasons, and if the Ravens don’t make the playoffs this year, that’ll be four years in a row. That’s not acceptable there and could lead to major changes — especially if they’re transitioning to Lamar Jackson at quarterback. Entering the Sunday night game, Baltimore’s plus-60 point differential was higher than any other team’s outside of the otherworldly Rams and Chiefs. It’s not hard to make the case that they’re underachieving.