National Football League
NFL Stock Watch: Bills win battle of AFC Beasts; Bears' draft outlook rises
National Football League

NFL Stock Watch: Bills win battle of AFC Beasts; Bears' draft outlook rises

Updated Oct. 2, 2023 12:22 p.m. ET

The high-flying Dolphins offense met its match, the Bears ended up winning by losing a game (See: Caleb Williams), while Mac Jones and the Patriots had a rough showing in Dallas during an eventful Week 4.

Here is my stock up and down report after a fun weekend of football.


Buffalo Bills


The Buffalo Bills came to the stadium today prepared to knock out the Miami Dolphins in an early-season pivotal AFC East matchup. The Bills rolled to a 48-20 victory over Miami, just a week after the Dolphins hung 70 points on the Denver Broncos. Sean McDermott's squad played faster, physical and more confident than the Dolphins on Sunday. Both teams traded touchdowns for the first five possessions before the Bills defense forced back-to-back punts, a fumble, another punt, an interception and finished with three straight Miami drives ending after a failed fourth-down conversion. The Bills defense ended with five sacks, six tackles for a loss and plenty of pressure on Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa

The Bills offense was fantastic in their own right, gaining 24 first downs, averaging 7.4 yards per play and converting on 50 percent of third downs. We saw the best of Josh Allen on Sunday. He played composed and made the most of the opportunities on the field. This version of Josh Allen is a Super Bowl-winning caliber quarterback. Bills fans should be pumped with the offensive output in the last three games — 38, 36 and 48 points is a sign of an offense on a roll

Chicago Bears' Draft Outlook

Yes, the Bears' stock rose despite blowing a 28-7 lead against the Broncos before losing 31-28, an embarrassing late-game collapse to a Denver team that was 0-3 and not playing good football entering Sunday. With the loss the Bears currently own the first pick AND the second pick in the 2024 NFL draft, a product of trading out of this year's first overall pick in a trade with the Panthers (who selected Bryce Young). So while Sunday's loss gets the staff closer to being fired, and Justin Fields closer to free agency, it does give hope to the future of the Bears.

The first pick in this upcoming draft is the most coveted draft pick since the Andrew Luck draft. USC's Caleb Williams, the reigning Heisman winner, is as good as advertised. He's a special talent that will immediately change the fortunes of an NFL franchise. If the Bears do win the Williams sweepstakes, they can trade out of the second pick to a team that wants fellow touted quarterback, Drake Maye. Trading that pick will net more draft picks, which a talent-deprived Bears team desperately needs. There's an argument the current front office will not be the ones making those picks but that's for another day. We do know the Bears will likely have a new coach, and hopefully, that's someone who's ready to take Caleb Williams to the moon. 

USC's Caleb Williams' MONSTER 6 TD game vs. Colorado

Brock Purdy

It's time to admit that Brock Purdy is better than we think. Is Brock Purdy a naturally skilled thrower of the football like a handful of the top passers in the NFL? No … but all he does is run the San Francisco 49ers offense exactly like head coach and play-caller Kyle Shanahan has drawn up, which at the end of the day, is his job. Purdy has started nine regular-season games as the Niners quarterback and his team is 9-0 in those starts, including Sunday's 20 of 21 for 283 yards and a TD performance against the Arizona Cardinals. Purdy just does what is required of him in this offense. He finds the open receiver and throws an accurate pass. Purdy is able to read coverages and understand pressure schemes, so he can find space on the field for his receivers to catch the ball. He also doesn't turn the ball over which helps the unbeaten 49ers offense stay on track. 


Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are in a bad place right now after losing 27-3 to the Tennessee Titans. The loss dropped their record to 1-3 after the first month of the season. Teams have started 1-3 and had successful seasons, but the Bengals offense is playing worse than their record. The Bengals have managed just three offensive touchdowns in their four games. Their offensive woes are explainable with quarterback Joe Burrow being unable to play like himself with a bum calf on his right leg. Burrow injured the calf in training camp and returned to play in Week 1. He tweaked it again in a week later and has been trying to survive out there without the ability to move or drive off his leg for power into throws. 

Quarterbacks playing with lower leg injuries that hamper their mobility in the pocket happen yearly, so Burrow is not doing or playing through anything no other player has done before. The problem isn't so much Burrow not being able to move, but is that the Bengals have not changed their offense at all to help him play as best as possible. It's the same offense with predictable formations for running the football. Add in an offensive line that has not pass-protected all that well at moments and the offense is completely stalled out. The Bengals either need to sit Burrow the next two weeks against the Cardinals and Seahawks before the bye week or they need to fix the offense to match the limitations of Burrow right now. If not, their season will be over quickly. After the bye, the Bengals get the 49ers and Bills, followed by a trip to Baltimore a few weeks later. Tough sledding.

What does Joe Burrow's injury means for Bengals moving forward?

Mac Jones

He's just average at best. And that's OK. I was hopeful Mac Jones into his third season and with an actual offensive coordinator could improve his play from last season. It seems increasingly likely that his rookie season, where he completed nearly 68 percent of passes for 3,800 yards will be his best season as a professional. He's completing 63.7 percent of passes this season with five touchdowns to four interceptions, after throwing the ball twice to Cowboys defenders on Sunday. Yes, it's fair to mention his receiving options aren't ideal and his offensive line struggles to run the ball, but it's hard to look at Jones play and think franchise quarterback traits are just waiting to be unlocked one day. 

One stat sums up where Jones is at after 35 starts is his Patriots are 0-11 as underdogs in games he has started. Jones does not elevate his play against better teams. He does not will them to victory. If the Patriots defense isn't excellent in a game, the Patriots offense is not going to pick up the slack. 

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are now 0-4, one of two teams with a winless record after a month of football. The Panthers have been competitive for parts of all four games but by the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss to the previously winless Minnesota Vikings, it was clear they are not a good football team right now. The Panthers traded up for quarterback Bryce Young and gave him the keys to the franchise. While it's unfair to grade or compare him to others after just three starts (he missed Week 3 with an injury), it's noticeable how well fellow rookie C.J. Stroud of the Texans, who was drafted one slot after Young, is playing after one month of football. Yes, the Panthers don't have the best of receiving options and their O-line is shaky, but it's not like Stroud is playing with a desirable offensive depth chart. 

Breaking down Panthers rookie QB Bryce Young's performance

The Panthers need to see some of their younger players, especially on the offensive line, continue to grow into a unit that's trustworthy. The Panthers do not own their first-round pick next year, plus other future picks because of the trade for Young, so they will be more limited in adding talent around Young in the next few drafts. 

Geoff Schwartz is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.


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