In the NFL, it’s about “what have you done for me lately.” That typically comes with a negative connotation, but it can also have positive implications, too. A team like the Bills have done plenty in recent weeks, skyrocketing up power rankings and their division standings. The Packers, on the other hand, have fallen apart under the leadership – or lack thereof – of Aaron Rodgers.
Is it too soon to jump on (or off) the respective bandwagons of those teams? Well, it differs for each franchise, but they’re certainly not trending in the same directions after Week 6. It still might be a bit early to overreact to their latest performances, as well as those of a few other teams.
Here are five huge overreactions from this past week of action.
The Bills are headed to the Super Bowl
The Bills have stormed back from an 0-2 start to win four in a row after firing their offensive coordinator and losing Sammy Watkins to injured reserve. Not many people thought that would be possible given the circumstances and the difficulty of their schedule, but Buffalo has proved everyone wrong by running the football down teams’ throats. That doesn’t mean the Bills are headed to the Super Bowl, though.
In fact, they’re far from a lock to make the postseason, which they haven’t done this century (last appearance was in 1999). The Bills still have to play Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Andy Dalton, Derek Carr and Ben Roethlisberger this season, and while it’s not just about the quarterbacks, teams’ success is usually determined by their signal callers. It won’t be an easy road to the postseason, let alone the big game. Buffalo still has to improve in the passing game and must overcome Watkins’ injury the rest of the way, which will be tough given its wide receiving corps.
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The Falcons are no longer contenders
The Falcons were robbed by the officials in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks. Richard Sherman clearly interfered with Julio Jones on the crucial fourth-down play, which would have put Atlanta in position for a potential game-winning field goal. Instead, the Seahawks escaped with a victory and handed the Falcons their second loss of the season. Does this mean Atlanta is no longer a favorite in the NFC? No.
Atlanta still boasts one of the league’s best offenses thanks to MVP candidate Matt Ryan and his bevy of weapons. Seattle’s defense is difficult to navigate for any team, but the Falcons showed plenty of signs of life against the Seahawks. Remember, they beat the Broncos just one week earlier, too, whose defense is arguably superior to Seattle’s. The Falcons started 6-1 last season, but this team is different – and better.
Benching Ryan Fitzpatrick will fix the Jets
The Jets are a mess. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a terrible game against the Cardinals, throwing his 11th interception of the season, giving way to Geno Smith at quarterback. Todd Bowles is expected to make the move to Smith official Wednesday, but benching Fitzpatrick won’t fix anything, despite being the right move to make.
They’re injured on offense, and the defense is aging before our eyes as Darrelle Revis has seemingly lost more than a step at cornerback. Fitzpatrick riding the pine won’t fix that, or the stagnant run game, or the Jets’ inability to force turnovers. Bowles is right to put Fitzpatrick on the sideline given that they’re 1-5 and going nowhere fast, but you’d be foolish to think Smith is the answer the Jets so desperately needed.
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The Steelers’ season is over
You’ve heard this narrative before. Ben Roethlisberger is injured, the Steelers are coming off of an embarrassing loss, and the team is sputtering. It happens almost every season, but the Steelers almost always overcome this very adversity. Roethlisberger is expected to miss four to six weeks due to a knee injury, but Pittsburgh will prevail and remain on track to make the playoffs.
It’s far too soon to count out the Steelers at this point in the season, especially knowing their history of surviving without Big Ben. Le’Veon Bell will step up during Roethlisberger’s absence and carry the offense. Mike Tomlin and the coaching staff will also make a concerted effort to get Antonio Brown the ball, which wasn’t exactly a priority in the past when Roethlisberger went down.
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Aaron Rodgers is the Packers’ only problem
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Aaron Rodgers is not playing well right now, and he hasn’t been for the past year. He’s 7-8 in his last 15 starts and has one of the NFL's worst completion percentages over that span. There’s absolutely positively no question that Rodgers simply isn’t performing like the player he once was. With that being said, he’s far from the Packers’ only issue.
Green Bay’s receivers have had serious trouble getting any separation from opposing defensive backs, which is a big reason Rodgers constantly holds onto the ball longer than he should. Yes, Rodgers is still missing open receivers and not making easy throws when he normally would, but Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and company all need to generate better separation at the top of their breaks.
Additionally, the defense has to force turnovers to give the sputtering offense more opportunities. It’s hard to do with your three top cornerbacks injured, but six takeaways in five games isn’t going to cut it for this team.
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