Josh Allen’s wild ride, Chiefs-Ravens preview, NFL power rankings and more

The Buffalo Bills are a very talented team with an improving quarterback, but Josh Allen and his team has to be concerned after a near-meltdown.

Two things can be true at once.

Buffalo is a very good team with contending capabilities in the AFC. Josh Allen is being overhyped.

Allen has been good this year. He’s being treated as though he’s been great. On Sunday, the Bills took a 28-3 lead while Allen tossed three touchdowns and ran for another. Then, in the final 25 minutes, Allen threw an interception (albeit on a questionable call), lost a fumble and on multiple occasions, scrambled recklessly into huge losses.

Thankfully for Buffalo, another questionable call — this time a defensive pass interference penalty on 4th-and-9) bailed out the Bills and provided Allen with an opportunity to atone with a game-winning touchdown pass to tight end Tyler Kroft.

At 3-0, the Bills lead the AFC East by a game over the New England Patriots. They’re clearly one of the NFL’s best teams, loaded with great weapons, a talented defense and a quarterback who has tools for days. The potential is there to compete with the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens in the AFC.

And yet, potential is a fancy word for having failed to accomplish anything so far.

In reality, beating the Rams is a quality win. Buffalo should be happy, but the process tells more than the result in this scenario.

The Bills were at home and blew a 28-3 lead in short order. Do the Chiefs or Ravens ever do that? Does Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson need to rally late after leading by 25 points? No and no.

This is where Allen reenters. Buffalo needs him to eliminate the mental errors and turnovers. The Bills can’t afford more than a turnover per game, which is Allen’s average through three weeks. It won’t matter against poor clubs, but it will against good ones. It almost did Sunday. It certainly will should it happen against the Patriots in their two meetings this year.

A half-dozen highlights don’t erase a handful of crippling mistakes in the NFL. If they did, Jeff George would be in the Hall of Fame. Ditto for Jay Cutler.

Again, none of this is to crush Allen or Buffalo. It’s to bring a proper perspective to where the Bills are after three games. Sean McDermott has done a hell of a job with his squad and the Bills are showing plenty. They won a pair of division tilts in Weeks 1 and 2 before taking down a previously undefeated Los Angeles team with All-Pros galore.

For now, the Bills are undefeated. Allen is playing at an improved level.

Buffalo should be happy with the progress made. The Bills shouldn’t be satisfied.

Both things can be true at once.

Power rankings

Top 10 NFL rivalries since the 1970 merger

1. Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers
2. Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
3. New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts
4. Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Football Team
5. Kansas City Chiefs vs. Las Vegas Raiders
6. Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants
7. New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons
8. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Las Vegas Raiders
9. Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
10. Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers


This has to be the understatement of the century. Darnold’s offense gave up 16 points to the Indianapolis Colts, including two pick-sixes and a safety. Is it too early to put the New York Jets on the clock?


Random stat

The Houston Texans are the only team never to play in a conference championship game.

Info learned this week

1. Russell Wilson is playing MVP ball, but Seahawks, Cowboys have issues

The Seahawks are 3-0. Russell Wilson looks like an MVP. Those are great things for Seattle.

The bad thing? Its defense.

Seattle did nothing defensively for a third straight week. So far, Seattle has allowed 497.3 yards per game, worst in the NFL. It’s not been a litany of garbage-time stats either. It’s always fun to focus on Wilson because he’s thrown 14 touchdowns in September and the offense is playing like a video game. However, at some point, this slows down. When it does, the defense needs to step up or it’ll sink the team.

Considering the Seahawks will spar with the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West, a porous defense will cause ample problems in the coming weeks and months. For now, Wilson is having a career year in his Hall of Fame career, and Seattle is alone atop the division.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys have issues. Dak Prescott largely played well but had two crucial turnovers. The defense was a disaster once again, allowing 77 points over the past two weeks. Mike McCarthy made some head-scratching decisions for a third-straight week, this time highlighted by an absurd screen call in the final minute.

Ultimately, the Seahawks have to feel great despite their defense. The Cowboys, only saved by the horrendous NFC East, have poignant problems to address.

2. Chiefs, Ravens ready for epic MNF showdown; two things to watch

Kansas City and Baltimore are the league’s two best teams. They meet on Monday night.

The pair of AFC superpowers collide in Charm City, and while the game can be previewed and parsed a million ways, here are two points to consider:

– The Chiefs have little to prove as defending champs. They’ve also beaten Lamar Jackson in both matchups starring he and Patrick Mahomes (each affair was at Arrowhead Stadium). The Ravens have everything to prove. They’ve yet to win a playoff game with Jackson and need to beat Kansas City at some juncture. With the tilt at home and in primetime, Baltimore should come out flying.

– Baltimore loves to blitz. The Ravens rank third in blitz rate this season (and were first last year) under defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. However, they’re just 20th in pressure rate. Meanwhile, Kansas City’s offensive line is third-best in sack rate. In the two times, Martindale’s defense has faced Mahomes, it’s allowed an average of 473 total yards and 376 passing yards per game.

If the Ravens come out with more juice, they’ll win. Kansas City will fall behind and into Baltimore’s run-heavy trap. If the Chiefs match the intensity, the matchup of schemes considerably favors them.

3. Bears move on from Trubisky, Eagles can’t do it with Wentz

The Chicago Bears made the move. The Philadelphia Eagles haven’t yet, but they’re thinking about it.

On Sunday, the Bears benched Mitch Trubisky in favor of Nick Foles. Chicago rallied to win and while head coach Matt Nagy won’t commit to next week’s starter, it’s going to be Foles. Somehow, thanks chiefly to a pair of miracle comebacks, Chicago is 3-0.

In Philadelphia, the Eagles are 0-2-1 after a hideous tie against the Cincinnati Bengals. While there hasn’t been real talk of replacing Carson Wentz with rookie Jalen Hurts, there will be. Head coach Doug Pederson’s actions to end the fourth quarter and into overtime told you everything about his feelings on Wentz.

After scoring a touchdown in the final seconds of regulation, Philadelphia trailed 23-22. Pederson elected to kick an extra point against one of the league’s worst defenses. In overtime, Wentz’s first pass was almost intercepted by Jessie Bates. Pederson went extremely conservative afterward. With 17 seconds left, the Eagles had a 4th-and-12 at the Cincinnati 47-yard line. Pederson punted.

Of course, sitting Wentz would be a massive, massive long-term decision. While Trubisky is going to free agency come March, Wentz is signed through 2024 and unmovable for at least this season and next. In short, Wentz is playing the duration of this year as the starter.

4. Packers, Rodgers look like NFC’s most complete team in win over Saints

No team is perfect, especially in the chaotic NFC. Through three weeks, though, the Packers appear the conference’s strongest outfit.

In a 37-30 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night in the Superdome, Green Bay was without star defensive tackle Kenny Clark and Pro Bowl receiver Davante Adams. Regardless, the Packers racked up 382 offensive yards with Aaron Rodgers going for 283 yards (8.8 YPA) and three touchdowns.

The defense was average, largely done in by missed tackles. Drew Brees did little but check down and watch Alvin Kamara teleport, taking away Green Bay’s considerable pass rush. Yet on the road, against a team many see as a top-tier contender, the Packers ran their record to 3-0.

Seattle has a more prolific offense. The Buccaneers have more star power. Yet nobody is as complete as Green Bay through three weeks.

5. Bridgewater, Herbert the right fits for Panthers, Chargers

Two teams in search of a future have their perfect men at quarterback.

For the Carolina Panthers, Teddy Bridgewater. The former first-round pick from Louisville isn’t going to get into Canton one day. He likely won’t start in Carolina for more than a few seasons. However, the Panthers were in search of stability as they moved into the Matt Rhule era following the release of Cam Newton.

It appears they’ve found it. Carolina snapped a 10-game losing streak by beating the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday at SoFi Stadium. Bridgewater threw for 235 yards and a touchdown with a turnover. The latter three words are the most pertinent.

Through three games, Bridgewater is averaging 290 passing yards per game, with a total of two touchdown passes and two interceptions. It’s nothing special, but the quarterback position is stable.

As for Los Angeles, Justin Herbert is providing real hope for the future. Forget the stat line for a second. Watching the game, Herbert needs to be self-critical on late throws and into traffic. Still, the off-schedule plays, the touch passes, the mobility, it all makes Herbert such a tantalizing quarterback for the Chargers.

Whether Tyrod Taylor regains the job when healthy is irrelevant in the long term. Herbert has shown excellent promise, giving Los Angeles a reason to believe it has solved its biggest issue.

Gambler’s game

The Jets and Denver Broncos are playing at MetLife Stadium on Thursday night. Denver is favored by 2.5 points, with an over/under of 40. Take your entire bank account and tease the Broncos’ moneyline with the under.

Two cents

The Jacksonville Jaguars are in a great position. Seriously.

After losing to the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night, the Jaguars are 1-2 and ready to recede into NFL obscurity. So why the optimism? Because the team is in a no-lose situation with Gardner Minshew.

Minshew largely struggled on Thursday night without top receiver D.J. Chark. The final numbers weren’t bad (30-of-42, 275 yards) but they were padded by garbage time. However, the second-year man from Washington State has largely been very good. In fact, through 17 career games, Minshew has thrown for 4,058 years (7.0 YPA) with 27 touchdowns against nine interceptions.

Those stats are good for any rookie. For a man on a rebuilding team drafted in the sixth round? Fantastic.

If Minshew plays well over the final 13 games, Jacksonville has its quarterback and two first-round picks to continue building with. If he doesn’t, the Jaguars are likely picking very early in a class that includes Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Trey Lance of North Dakota State and Ohio State’s Justin Fields.

In the latter scenario, Minshew could be dealt for a nice return. In the former, Jacksonville has a cheap quarterback for two more years as the roster fills out.

The Jaguars aren’t good, and Minshew’s ceiling remains debatable. What isn’t debatable is Jacksonville finds itself in a nice place, even if the 2020 record won’t be.

Inside the league

Joe Thuney is one of the more respected players in the NFL when talking to personnel evaluators. You got a glimpse of why on Sunday.

The Patriots’ do-it-all offensive lineman slid over seamlessly from guard to center with David Andrew nursing a broken thumb on his snapping hand. Thuney, who played at an All-Pro level in 2019, looked like a veteran center when handling Maurice Hurst and Co. against the Las Vegas Raiders.

If Thuney hits the market this March as an unrestricted free agent — and the expectation is he will — look for him to make record money. He’ll reset the market at guard, due to a combination of versatility, durability and intelligence.

On the last trait, I wrote about it last year in a Stacking The Box column:

“Entering the combine, Thuney was advised not to answer all 50 questions on the Wonderlic test for fear he’d scare off teams with his intellect. Instead, he was instructed to answer only 39 questions, ensuring his score remained below 40. Thuney listened. He answered all 39 questions correctly.”

Thuney goes unnoticed by so many fans. Not the case inside the NFL.

History lesson

The Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals are the only teams to have called three different cities home.

An original NFL franchise, the Cardinals played in Chicago (1920-59) before being welcomed to St. Louis (60-87) and Phoenix/Arizona (1988). Meanwhile, the Rams played in Cleveland until 1945 before moving to Los Angeles, where they stayed until 1995. For 21 seasons, the St. Louis Rams existed and won the organization’s only Super Bowl, before returning to L.A. in 2016.

Parting shot

Of all the 0-3 teams, the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons stand out.

While Minnesota and Atlanta weren’t expected to be title contenders let alone division winners, many believed in their playoff potential. Three weeks into the season, both are finished.

The Vikings blew a 12-point lead to the Tennessee Titans at home on Sunday. The visitors are a good squad, but were without their top receiving weapon in A.J. Brown and still scored 30 points. Danielle Hunter could be back this weekend, but his presence won’t be enough to fix one of the league’s worst defenses.

In Atlanta, it’s more of the same. The Falcons have now blown absurd leads in consecutive weeks under head coach Dan Quinn. First, it was a 39-20 advantage against Dallas. This time, it was the Chicago Bears — behind Nick Foles — somehow erasing a 26-10 lead in the fourth quarter.

Quinn seems a nice man and a fine defensive coordinator. He narrowly evaded being fired last season after a 1-7 start. Owner Arthur Blank can wait no longer. It’s time to move on.

The NFL season moves rapidly. The Vikings and Falcons are three games in, and already done.

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