Cleat Geeks

Tomahawks and Touchdowns: Week #8 Preview

The Kansas City Chiefs picked up another victory last week against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Chiefs won the game 45-10 and moved their record to 6-1. The Chiefs remain at the top of the AFC. The Bengals have started the season strong and it was a big win for the Chiefs.

Patrick Mahomes had another outstanding game. He threw for 385 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Mahomes has now thrown for 22 touchdowns this season, which leads the NFL. He could challenge Peyton Manning’s 2013 record of 55 touchdowns in a season. The improvement of Mahomes this season has been a big reason for the Chiefs great performance on offense.

Travis Kelce is also putting up big numbers this season. Through seven weeks he has 563 receiving yards and three touchdowns. It is the second most receiving yards among tight ends and 13th most overall in the NFL. Kelce has established himself as one of the best tight ends in the league. If he continues to be one of Mahomes favorite targets he could have another huge season.

The Chiefs defense had a great performance against the Bengals. They held them to 10 points and 239 yards. The Bengals are averaging 26.3 points per game this season, 11th best in the NFL. Safety Ron Parker had another big game for the Chiefs. He had a pick six in the third quarter that put the Chiefs ahead 38-10. The Chiefs defense struggled to start the season but after the performance last week it appears that they can compete with good offenses.

The Denver Broncos will be the Chiefs week #8 opponent. The Chiefs already beat the Broncos 27-23 in Denver in week #4. The Broncos are in third place in the AFC West with a record of 3-4. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders has played well this season despite the team’s struggles. He has 603 receiving yards, eighth most in the NFL. In his matchup with the Chiefs earlier this season he had 45 yards on seven targets. The Chiefs defense appears to be better than they were to start the season and their matchup with Sanders will be interesting to watch. The Chiefs offense could have another big day. In week four they had 446 total yards against the Broncos. The game this week will be another important divisional matchup for the Chiefs against a talented Broncos roster.

Broncos Battle Chiefs

 

It feels like an eternity since the Broncos locked up their third win of the season in Arizona, a 45-10 thrashing last Thursday night. They were able to enjoy a comfortable weekend and coach Vance Joseph was able to avoid any awkward questions.Image result for chad kelly broncos

Well, until Tuesday morning anyway. It wouldn’t be the Broncos if it was smooth sailing between games. Instead, the players held their annual Halloween Party Monday night, backup quarterback Chad Kelly went off the rails and was arrested. Wednesday morning, the Broncos cut ties with Kelly. Now there are rumors Paxton Lynch might be re-signed. Ah, the Broncos, turning victory into defeat (at least in terms of PR). That’s a perfect metaphor for this 2018 season so far.

And these distractions certainly aren’t helping what looked to be a win followed by a mini bye before their second meeting with the red hot Chiefs, this time in Kansas City. When they first met in Denver on October 1, a herculean effort to contain Patrick Mahomes led to the Broncos boasting a 23-13 lead in the fourth quarter. That, instead, turned into a 27-23 loss.

But the Broncos seemed to find themselves on both offense and defense in Arizona, forcing five turnovers and seeing both Von Miller and Bradley Chubb come to life in the pass rush. If they can carry that into Kansas City, and wreak havoc on the Chiefs’ offense, they might have a chance.

That 27 points on October 1 remains the Chiefs’ low water mark for the season, too. At this point, the Broncos are looking for any reasons for optimism, as a win would not only move them to .500 on the season but pull them within two games of the Chiefs in the AFC West, while a loss would all but end their division chances at three games back having been swept by Kansas City.

Health is also an issue Denver will monitor closely. As of mid-week, linebacker Shane Ray, safety Darian Stewart, offensive lineman Jared Veldheer, rookie WR DaeSean Hamilton and rookie RB Royce Freeman were all still dealing with injuries and not practicing, which could leave Denver short-handed on Sunday.

Fantasy Impact:

Case Keenum has some new found job security thanks to Wednesdays move with Kelly. He has had some decent games, and with bye weeks you might be feeling desperate. I’m still not starting him. But in the passing game, Emmanuel Sanders does everything (including running and throwing for TDs) and is a WR2. Demaryius Thomas is a Flex, especially against a middling KC defense, and Courtland Sutton is a boom-or-bust deep league Flex. If he gets a TD, you’re golden. If not, it could be a shallow return.

Phillip Lindsay has been a star, and is an RB2. He’s got incredible upside in this matchup, especially if Freeman sits or is limited. I wouldn’t start the Broncos D/ST, but in IDP I feel like Miller and Chubb are hitting their stride and could provide nice sack numbers. Freeman is a stay away, even if he suits up, thanks to a gimpy ankle and his lack of production this season.

Sean McDermott’s Head Coaching Tenure Is Becoming Worrisome

Having coaches and personnel in charge of the Buffalo Bills that make troublesome decisions is nothing new for Bills fans. As a matter of fact, since the days of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Marv Levy have ended, there has been nothing but a clown car filled with inept coaches and management types who have driven the Bills from perennial AFC contenders to perennial AFC laughing stocks.

So it felt a little bit refreshing when Sean McDermott was hired as the head coach prior to the 2017-18 season. He seemed like a no-crap kind of coach. He stressed trusting the process, a phrase that Bills fans would recite both ironically and un-ironically throughout the course of the season. But ultimately, we felt like he repaid our loyalty when he helped lead the Bills to a 9-7 record, second place in the AFC East (forever behind the New England Patriots) and their first playoff berth in nearly 20 years. Sure, they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars is a largely ugly AFC Wild Card Game, but this was the playoffs! It just felt good to be involved again.

Credit: SB Nation

And then things started tumbling downhill.

The decision to draft Josh Allen — as polarizing as it was — doesn’t fall on McDermott, but the rest of the quarterback controversy certainly does. A.J. McCarron, brought in via trade, flamed out so spectacularly that he was shipped out before the regular season even started. And Nathan Peterman. Good lord, Almighty, Nathan Peterman. It was something close to stunning that Peterman was brought back after the debacle against the Chargers last season — four interceptions in the first half — but could at least be somewhat understood because Peterman is still young and sometimes young quarterbacks struggle.

But the second the first half in Baltimore ended in week 1, with Peterman looking totally inept on his way to a pair of interceptions, that should have been his last day in the NFL. It was painfully clear that he just doesn’t have the ability to play in this league. But he was kept around. As Allen’s backup, it was fine. Hopefully, we’d never have a need to see him again. That lasted all of five weeks, thanks to a late hit that left Allen with an elbow injury during last week’s tilt in Houston.

Enter Peterman.

credit: ESPN.com

In perhaps the most expected moment in the history of everything, Peterman demolished a sterling effort by the Bills defense with the most comically ugly pick-six of all-time. We all knew it was coming. Hell, Peterman probably knew it was coming. And the interception on the final drive was just the poop icing on the turd cake.

So you would think that, in the wake of that soul-crushing defeat thanks to Peterman’s ineptitude, surely that would be the last time we’d see Peterman, right? But McDermott announced that he wasn’t certain who would start in week 7 against Indianapolis, saying that he “had to review the film”. Maybe he’s just protecting Peterman and not throwing him directly under the bus, but the fact that Peterman is even on the roster after that is amazing.

The move to newcomer Derek Anderson for the Colts game isn’t great — he’s thrown eight passes since the beginning of last season — but as long as it’s not Peterman, it pacifies the Bills faithful. But the fact that McDermott even came out and defended the embattled quarterback felt telling enough.

Going forward, McDermott will have the scrutiny ratcheted up with every decision. That comes with the territory when you handle the Peterman situation as it has been handled. Hopefully, going forward, he can get something north of atrocious until Allen comes back and won’t waste outstanding efforts from his defense.

But the heat might already be on Sean McDermott.

Tomahawks and Touchdowns: Week #7 Preview

The Kansas City Chiefs lost their first game of the season last week. The New England Patriots beat the Chiefs 43-40 on a last second field goal. The loss moved their record to 5-1. The Chiefs remain at the top of the conference because they are the only team with fewer than two losses. It was a tough loss for the Chiefs but there were some good takeaways in the game.

The Chiefs offense struggled to start but had a good second half that put them back in the game. Patrick Mahomes threw four touchdowns in the second half after starting the game with two interceptions. He finished the game with 352 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Mahomes performance in the second half helped rally the Chiefs back from a 15-point deficit at halftime. Mahomes was tested by the Patriots defense but adjusted in the second half and put the Chiefs in position to potentially win the game.

Image result for armani watts chiefs

Last week the Chiefs defense struggled against the Patriots offense. They gave up 500 total yards to New England. The Patriots won the game on 65-yard drive in the final three minutes. Part of the reason for the poor performance were injuries to starters. Rookie safety Armani Watts was a big loss for the Chiefs. Watts was placed on injury reserve after undergoing core muscle surgery. He only had five tackles and one sack this season but he was starting to see more playing time because of the injuries at safety. Eric Berry and Eric Murray also missed the game because of injuries. The injuries on the defense played a big role in the loss last week.

The Chiefs week #7 game will be against the Cincinnati Bengals at home on Sunday night. It will be their third primetime game this season and their second straight on Sunday night. The Chiefs last played the Bengals in 2015. The Bengals won the game 36-21. The Chiefs have not beaten the Bengals since 2007. The Bengals are 4-2 this season and in first place in the AFC North. Both defenses have struggled this season and it should be a high scoring game. The Bengals and Chiefs are in the bottom five in the NFL in total yards per game and passing yards per game. The key for a Chiefs win will be putting up big numbers in the passing game. It should be a good match-up between two teams competing for a playoff spot.

Broncos Blast Cardinals

 

“I wouldn’t say it’s a must win, but we’re going to kick their ass, though.” -Von Miller

Von Miller is the Broncos’ best player. He’s an incredible talent and the heart that drives the engine on defense. That’s why he was the Super Bowl 50 MVP. But Broncos fans are used to him letting his play do the talking. That changed on Tuesday. In a press conference, following the team’s fourth loss and second straight game allowing more than 200 yards to a single rusher, Miller showed some fire. He offered a bold proclamation about Thursday’s tilt with the Cardinals.

And Thursday night his team backed it up. The Broncos came out with fire and more like the team that fans thought they’d see when the season began. The Cardinals (1-6), with dysfunction on offense and defense and a rookie quarterback still out of his depths, aren’t the class of the NFL. But a 45-10 win does plenty to boost confidence of Broncos nation and help embattled head coach Vance Joseph breathe a little easier, this weekend at least.

It’s been a season of record-setting, so it makes sense that the Broncos set marks again Thursday night. Todd Davis and Chris Harris, Jr., each had INTs returned for touchdowns. It’s the first time the Broncos have had two INT returns for touchdown in a game since 1989.

Offensively, Emmanuel Sanders continued his incredible season with two more touchdowns. The first was on an end around where he took the ball, rolled out and connected with Courtland Sutton on a 28-yard touchdown pass. He later caught a 64-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum. With the passing TD, Sanders became the first Broncos’ receiver to score a touchdown rushing, receiving and passing in a season.

But everything began with Miller, and the game ended with Miller, who was a one-man wrecking crew. He hit Josh Rosen five times, sacked him twice, forced two fumbles and recovered one himself. He personally delivered on his promise to play better, and is starting to look like the defensive player of the year candidate that fans know and love. And his partner in crime, rookie Bradley Chubb, continues to shine, too. Chubb added two sacks of his own Thursday, with the team accounting for six. In short, Denver’s defense scored two touchdowns, grabbed five turnovers and kept Rosen under near constant pressure.

And about those rushing woes, David Johnson recorded 39 yards rushing on 14 carries, and the Cardinals amassed just 69 yards rushing on 21 carries as a team.

It was a big night, offensively and defensively, and now the Broncos have 10 days to prepare and show it wasn’t a one-time thing as they battle the red hot Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead on October 28.

News and Notes:

  • Phillip Lindsay continues to look like one of the best among a group of fantastic Broncos’ rookies. He rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, starting with a 22 yards scamper on his first carry and adding a 28-yard TD run.
  • Sanders threw that touchdown to Sutton, but also caught six balls of his own for 102 yards and a touchdown. He’s looking like one of the best receivers in the NFL in 2018.
  • Brandon McManus made his lone field goal attempt Thursday, a 41-yard kick. He also made all six of his extra points. Quietly, McManus has been one of the best Broncos this season, a perfect 11-for-11 on field goals and 18-for-18 on extra points.

The Buffalo Bills Quarterback Situation Continues to Devolve

There’s really no point in recapping the Bills’ 20-13 loss on Sunday to the Houston Texans. It was unbelievably frustrating and I don’t need to waste 500+ words to tell you what we all know: the defense is really good and the offense is really bad.

Instead, there’s much more to cover with the developing (or devolving, however you choose to look at it) quarterback situation that’s going on in Western New York. Let’s rewind a bit, shall we? Entering this season, the situation looked to have direction to it. The Bills had acquired AJ McCarron to be the starting quarterback. Nathan Peterman, and all the ugliness of his four-interception debut against the Chargers last season, would be the backup. And 2018 seventh overall pick Josh Allen would ride the pine and learn until such a time when he would be ready to step into the role of starter.

Credit: Reddit.com

But none of that went according to plan. McCarron was bad in the preseason, got hurt and then was traded before the regular season ever started. The Bills went with Peterman for the opener in Baltimore against the Ravens. He would complete 27.7% of his passes and throw two more interceptions before being yanked for the definitely-not-ready Allen. The job has been Allen’s ever since. Allen has looked like a rookie: he shows incredible potential, fitting the ball into tight windows while avoiding the constant rush he faces, even hurdling defenders while showing a surprising ability to scramble. But he’s had his missed reads, overthrows and interceptions, too.

Things got muddied even further on Sunday against the Texans. Allen got hit on his throwing elbow Sunday, forcing him to leave the game. Peterman stepped in and looked like he might be ready to prove all the haters and losers wrong, throwing a pretty touchdown pass to Zay Jones to give the Bills the lead. But following a game-tying field goal by the Texans late, Peterman managed to Peterman himself so hard, throwing a hideous pick-six that cost the Bills a hard-fought victory. To make matters even worse, he managed to throw a second interception to close out the crushing defeat.

credit: ESPN.com

Word is that Allen’s injury is now worse than first expected. He’s suffered an injury to his ulnar collateral ligament, better known as the ligament that baseball pitchers usually need repaired via Tommy John surgery.  Undergoing treatment on the sideline, Allen looked to be in a huge amount of pain and his return is hugely in question, though it seems very likely that he will not be in the lineup against the Colts on Sunday.

With the recent addition of veteran Derek Anderson to the mix, coupled with Peterman’s wretched performance, it seems pretty cut and dry that head coach Sean McDermott would go with literally anyone but Peterman, right? HOLY GOD, I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW WRONG THAT LAST STATEMENT IS. McDermott actually made the statement that he’d have to review the tape before deciding who would start week 7 against Indianapolis.

McDermott has to look at the tape to decide if he should start a guy known for crippling interceptions. McDermott has to look at the tape to decide if he should start a guy with 10 interceptions in 82 career attempts (that’s an absolutely staggering 11.4 percent interception rate for you numbers guys). Understandably, rumors have started to make the rounds that McDermott might lose the locker room and that his job could be in danger if he sticks with Peterman. Gee, I wonder why that narrative would exist?

I get things from McDermott’s perspective. He doesn’t want a losing record on his resume after leading the team to its first playoff appearance in two decades. It’s especially hard to call this season a wash in the face of the performance the defense has been putting out of late. But this offense is an abomination. Allen never stood a chance of having an outstanding season because there is no talent at wide receiver, LeSean McCoy’s production has fallen off a cliff into the Mariana Trench, and the offensive line couldn’t stop a pass rush consisting of angry grandmothers. They are not going to make the playoffs. Hell, they probably won’t win five games. Sometimes you have to call a spade a spade.

What’s even more infuriating is what Peterman had to say after picking his team up like friggin’ Bane and snapping their collective spirit over his knee. Here’s what he had to say after the loss Sunday:

At the end of the day I know where my true identity lies: in Christ. …Being a child of God, basically. Not finding my identity in football. Just trying to find it in who I really am. I love this game and put everything I have into this game, but can’t let it define me”

Let me start by saying that it’s great for him that he has such conviction in his faith. What I take umbrage with is the fact that he just kind of blows this off with something that is one thousand percent not related to the fact that he is a garbage football player. Just come out and say something to the effect of “it sucks, I hate letting my team down, I need to be better” yada, yada, yada. Don’t drop a quote like that because it literally does not matter.

So that’s what we’re facing heading into the match up with the Colts on Sunday. We have arguably the worst quarterback in the history of the Bills (if not the league) or a 35-year-old who has only thrown eight regular-season passes since the beginning of last year. And somehow, one of these is an absolute slam dunk compared to the other. Glad to see the life of a Bills fan goes right back into the toilet after only a year reprieve.

Whoever starts week 7 (and god help us all if it’s Peterman), I just want to preemptively say that I feel bad for the defense. They’ve come to play the last four weeks and have been met with interceptions and ineptitude for support more often than not.

But hey, at least the Sabres are fun to watch sometimes, right?

Broncos Seek To Halt Skid

 

Four in a row. That’s what the Broncos have done. After starting 2-0 for the sixth straight season, the Broncos have lost four games in a row. Last season, a historic eight-game losing streak tanked the season. At 2-4, having dropped four in a row, the Broncos are in danger of heading that way again. And now they get to face the Arizona Cardinals on a short week.

It hasn’t been a great season for the Cardinals, either. They have new coaches and rookie Josh Rosen is still learning the NFL game. Aside from a win in San Francisco in Week 5, the Cardinals have stumbled. They come into Thursday’s home tilt 1-5, among the worse records in the NFL. But they still have David Johnson, and that might be enough.

The Broncos, in addition to losing four straight, have been historically bad against the run the past two games. They allowed Isaiah Crowell to run for 219 yards, a career high and Jets franchise record, on just 15 carries in Week 5. In Week 6 at home, while they held the Rams’ passing game in check, the Broncos allowed Todd Gurley to run for a career high 208 yards. And with only three days between games, there wasn’t much time to work on a good fix.

The Cardinals haven’t been good this season, but Johnson is an all world running back who’s starting to find his form. He got into the end zone for the Cardinals in Week 6 and now returns home against a reeling rush defense in Denver. If they can’t contain him, Johnson could make it a long night for the Broncos.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ defense allowed Latavius Murray to go for 155 yards on Sunday. The Broncos are averaging 5.3 yards per carry through six weeks, so if the coaches can commit to the run, it could be a good night for rookie Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. But given the recent splits, that could be a big if. And if the Broncos’ losing streak extends to five games, it’s going to be a long 10 days before the Broncos head to Kansas City to face the red hot Chiefs.

Fantasy Impact:

  • It’s hard to feel great about the Broncos’ passing game, however Emmanuel Sanders has been a solid WR2 and Demaryius Thomas, especially given bye weeks, has been a decent flex of late. Case Keenum, while not being a great NFL quarterback, has been decent for fantasy the past two weeks, and the Cardinals’ defense isn’t what it once was. He might be a streaming consideration in deep 2 QB leagues.
  • I like both Lindsay and Freeman as starts this week. I know Freeman disappointed last week, but this should be a better match-up and he should be relatively fresh after getting less than 10 carries Sunday. If the Broncos can keep it close, or build a lead, they can keep it on the ground. And Lindsay provides explosive burst in the rushing and receiving game, showing he doesn’t need a lot of touches to return flex-worthy value.
  • If you are in a deep league and desperate, Courtland Sutton remains an interesting dart throw. He had a long gain on Sunday, and had a TD catch in Week 5. He’s getting plenty of snaps, and only needs one or two to salvage an OK deep league flex day.

Broncos Drop Fourth Straight

 

There was a moment near the end of the first half, with the Broncos trailing 13-3 and just a few seconds left, when the crowd let out a roar. Chad Kelly, backup quarterback, stepped on the field. All he did was kneel down to take the game to the locker room, and it was only because starter Case Keenum was being evaluated for a concussion. But on a cold, snowy Sunday in Denver, it was a sign of hope to fans desperate to see a spark.

The Broncos showed some spark in the second half. Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas and Courtland Sutton all had 40-plus yard receptions. Bradley Chubb, the No. 5 overall pick in April, had three sacks, and Von Miller added 1.5 sacks. And the Broncos hung tough, closing the lead to 23-20 with just under 1:30 left in the game. But in the end it wasn’t enough. The Rams moved to 6-0, and the Broncos dropped to 2-4, losers of four straight games.

And for a team that was once 2-0, and had entered the team with playoff hopes, there are more questions than answers. And not much time to get things fixed before their next contest, a Thursday night game in Arizona.

It was a game of highs and lows, as has been the case for much of the season for Denver. The offense kept it close, and Keenum tossed two touchdowns and threw for more than 300 yards. But he also threw an interception for the sixth straight game, and neither rookie Royce Freeman nor rookie Phillip Lindsay was able to do much on the ground.

On defense, the Broncos held the high-scoring Rams to 23 points, and recorded five sacks. Jared Goff was held without a touchdown pass, and to barely 200 yards. But the Broncos allowed a 200 yard rusher for the second week in a row, as Todd Gurley went for a career high 208 yards and two touchdowns.

Now the Broncos have a short week to lick their wounds, both physically and metaphorically, before trying to halt their skid in Arizona.

News and Notes:

  • Emmanuel Sanders needed three receptions to record his 500th career catch heading into Sunday, and he got it. He finished with seven receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown.
  • The Broncos played the hottest home game in team history on September 16, and less than a month later Sunday’s game was the coldest home game in October since 1969. It’s been a wild weather season for the Broncos and the season is only six weeks old.
  • The Broncos’ rushing attack cooled Sunday, as Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay combined for just 40 rushing yards on 13 carries. Lindsay did add 48 yards on six receptions to salvage his fantasy day.

Buffalo Bills Blitz: Week 6

If you’ve been a Bills fan for even a fraction of the amount of time I’ve been (going on 30 years now), then you’re used to disappointment. So when anything good happens, it’s house money because you figured it wouldn’t happen. That’s pretty much the sentiment about the week 5 win over the Tennessee Titans.

The Titans weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire, but at 3-1 they were proving to be a tough team. The Bills didn’t exactly repeat their week 3 performance against the Titans, but the defense was solid yet again and they managed to come out on the better end of a field goal battle. At 2-3, the Bills are exceeding expectations, especially after the complete and utter train wrecks that their three losses have been.

So heading into a week 6 visit to Houston to face the Texans, I wouldn’t say there is optimism, exactly, but the world isn’t on fire anymore. At least not fully engulfed, anyway. I do feel like I need to reiterate something (as I have several times this season): STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT JOSH ALLEN. He is a rookie. This offense is absolutely pathetic, especially now that LeSean McCoy seems to be a shell of himself from a production standpoint. They have no actual receivers. The line might get him literally killed before the season is over. He’s doing fine all things considered and HE’S A ROOKIE. Just stop.

The Texans, meanwhile, are showing signs of life. After dropping their first three games, they’ve managed back-to-back overtime wins and the offense looks like it’s starting to show positive growth on all that potential we thought they had at the beginning of the season. They aren’t the contenders everyone expected, but they aren’t dead like we all thought after week 3, either.

What can Allen do against this defense?

Here’s the thing: the Texans defense isn’t a world-beater like many of us thought they’d be. They have a ton of talent, sure, but they’re surrendering more points per game (24.8) than the Bills defense (23.6) that got shredded by the Ravens and Chargers to the tune of 88 points. But with Jadaveon Clowney and J.J. Watt on the defensive line, they always have the ability to get to opposing quarterbacks and we all know the state of this offensive line.

Allen will have to have his head on a swivel on Sunday, because there will be pressure. But how much of it can he avoid and if he extends those plays, can he find open receivers? He’s shown a penchant for zipping passes into tight windows, but he’s also a rookie working on his accuracy. There will be missed opportunities. But Allen has shown the ability to find the deep ball and to make plays with his feet, not to mention he isn’t exactly lacking confidence.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, center, takes the field with teammates to workout prior to an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

If Allen can stretch the field vertically, he might have a chance to develop a groove underneath. But he has to stay upright.

Which Deshaun Watson will show up?

Watson and the Texans as a whole struggled to start the season, but since the calendar changed to October, Watson and the offense have come alive. Watson sits 7th in the NFL in yards with 1,621 and is in the top 15 in passer rating at 94.6. He presents match up difficulties because of his ability to extend plays and create plays with his feet. He also has a pair of quality receivers, with DeAndre Hopkins being a superstar and Will Fuller V appearing to be a breakout performer.

On the ground, Lamar Miller has been okay this season, averaging 3.9 yards per carry, but it’s obvious the strength of the Texans offense is their passing attack. The Bills defense has come alive in recent weeks and have shown the ability to not only get to the quarterback, but to create turnovers. If they can get into Watson’s face and fluster him, making him get rid of the ball quicker than he’d like, they have a chance to stifle a streaky offense.

Can the Bills establish a run game?

Through five weeks, the answer is a resounding “no”. McCoy leads the team with 170 yards on a 3.8 yard average. Considering the kind of production we’re used to

seeing out of him in years past, this is a shocking stat. The running game simply hasn’t been there, aside from brief flashes where Josh Allen breaks out a scramble and ends up hurdling fools. This is a huge reason the passing game has been a struggle and why Allen seems so streaky (aside from the aforementioned reason that he’s a rookie).

The Texans are a top-10 outfit against the run this season, allowing 95 yards per game on the ground. This means trouble for the Bills. They’ve not been able to get off the ground against anyone this year, though they’ve played a pair of top-10 outfits in Baltimore (5th) and the Chargers (10th) as well as the Vikings (13th) and Packers (15th). Simply put: the ground game has been bad, but part of that can be attributed to facing stellar run defenses.

That won’t change this week against the Texans and that will mean a lot of trouble if the Bills can’t get some production out of their backs.

So what’s the damage?

I’m almost tempted to predict a loss in every game for two reasons: 1.) the Bills are not good and 2.) they have defied me twice already with wins against the Vikings and Titans. I don’t think the reverse jinx will work much more often because this team is as one-dimensional as it gets and that will cost them a lot of games.

On the other side of the coin, no one is sure if the Texans are actually good. They have talent. They have a strong defense. But they’ve struggled to put it together through 5 weeks, though their last couple of outings have looked far better than the beginning of the season.

Prediction: Texans 20, Bills 9

Broncos Host Rams

 

The 2-3 Broncos return home, fresh off a 34-16 pounding at the hands of the New York Jets, riding a three game losing streak and hosting the best team in the NFL, the 5-0 Los Angeles Rams. Normally that would be cause for major alarm, and while the Broncos are still likely to drop their fourth straight, there is reason for optimism.

That optimism comes in one word: snow! The forecast for Sunday calls for temperatures in the 20s and snowfall on Sunday afternoon. That combined with the altitude gives the Broncos somewhat of a chance to cool off the red hot Rams offense. It might be a stretch, but for those who saw the Broncos give up long play after long play to Sam Darnold and the Jets on Sunday, hope is all we have left.

The Broncos also need to be better on offense. The weather might force the coaches to give more carries to Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay, which isn’t a bad thing. If the Broncos can use the elements and put up a defensive show similar to what they did against the Chiefs, while maximizing potential on offense, they have a chance.

Stranger things have happened in the NFL in 2018, just ask the Vikings about that home game against the Buffalo Bills.

Fantasy Advice:

The Broncos have been rough for fantasy. I’m staying away from Case Keenum, though it might be an OK match-up. He hasn’t been consistent, and the elements won’t be great. I’m not high on starting any Broncos’ receivers, but if pressed I still think Sanders has the most potential. He’s more of a flex range for this game. I do like the Broncos backs given the conditions. I think Freeman might finally get more carries, and could have a chance to get a TD. But that might also be some wishful thinking.

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