Sunday, November 6, 2022

Judgements IX

 By Clark Judge 
Jeffery Simmons
The Titans took the Chiefs to overtime
Suddenly and unpredictably, the AFC is wide open.

It was supposed to belong to Buffalo, and it did … until Sunday. Then the Bills unraveled vs. the New York Jets … the Dolphins won again … Tennessee pushed Kansas City to the mat … and now our narrative has taken an unexpected turn: Buffalo not only has company at the top of the conference; it has company near the top of its own division.

At 6-2, the Bills are only a half-game up on Miami and the New York Jets in the AFC East, where nobody has a losing record. Plus, there’s this: The Dolphins and Jets are responsible for Buffalo’s only defeats, with the Bills 0-2 within the division.

They were 5-1 there a year ago.

OK, so it happens. But MVP favorite Josh Allen has been erratic the past six quarters, with four interceptions and no TDs, and that’s not supposed to happen.  Worse, he was complaining of a sore elbow after he was sacked five times Sunday.

“There’s some slight pain, but I’ll get through it,” he said afterward.

That sounds like a diagnosis of the Bills’ season. They’ve had a couple of hiccups and are beginning to draw a crowd in the AFC, but they’ve also beaten four division winners from last year. Plus, we’re only halfway through the season. So Bills Mafia can shrug and believe their team will get through it.

But Allen’s injury, plus Sunday’s unexpected loss, are cautionary signs. Where the Bills once looked invincible in wins vs. the defending Super Bowl-champion L.A. Rams and Kansas City Chiefs, they’re beginning to wobble.

They’re tied with the Chiefs at the top of the AFC (Buffalo holds the head-to-head tiebreaker) … Tennessee will breeze through its division … Cincinnati’s not going away … and the AFC East is far tougher than anticipated.

Then, there’s the Allen injury.

Fasten your seat belts, Buffalo. It could be a bumpy ride.


1.       Don’t play Andy Reid after a bye. Reason: You’re going to lose. With Sunday’s victory, his teams are 21-3 following furloughs during the regular season.  Don’t play him in November, either. Dating back to Week 11 of 2019, the Chiefs won 10 consecutive games this month.

2.       Minnesota’s toughest competition won’t be within its division. It’ll be its four opponents the next four weeks. At 7-1, the Vikings are lapping the field in the NFC North. In fact, they’re 4-1/2 games ahead of runners-up Green Bay and Chicago (each 3-6).  Now, look what’s next: At Buffalo (6-2); then home to Dallas (6-2); New England (5-4) and the N.Y. Jets (6-3). The four are a combined 23-11.  The record of the seven opponents the Vikings have beaten? Try 27-37, with Miami the only one above .500.

3.       The Rams need more than an offensive line and running back. They need a closer, too. They’ve been outscored 71-10 in the fourth quarter this season, including 10-0 Sunday when they blew a tire vs. Tampa Bay. Quarterback Matt Stafford has been underwhelming. His offensive line can’t protect. And there’s no running game. In short, the defending Super Bowl champions are a mess … and look no farther than the fourth quarter of their latest loss for an explanation. The Rams produced four yards and no first downs.

4.       Don’t count out Tom Brady. Not yet. After 59 minutes without a touchdown or a pass of 20 or more yards, he rallies the Bucs for a last-gasp, come-from-behind defeat of the Rams – the opponent that eliminated Brady and the Bucs from last season’s playoffs. Brady never was better than on a 60-yard game-winning drive in the last minute of play, completing 5 of 6 attempts, including the game-winner on a play he suggested. I know, the Bucs are still 4-5 and have a raft of issues. But they play in the NFC South where nobody is over .500, and everything is possible.

5.       The Packers are in free fall. Forget a division title. This team will have trouble reaching .500.They never lost more than four games in any year under Matt LaFleur … until this season. Now they’re 3-6 and circling the drain.


1.       What happens in Vegas apparently does stay in Vegas. The Raiders are 2-1 at home, which will work. But they’re 0-5 on the road, which won’t. They’re 2-6 under new coach Josh McDaniels, who lost 23 of his last 30 games as a head coach. They were 7-5 in 2021 under interim coach Rich Bisaccia and made the playoffs last year. They’ll make January tee times this season.

2.       That was the Raiders’ third defeat this year after leading by 17 or more. Just lose, baby.

3.       I’m beginning to worry about Buffalo’s run defense. A week ago, Green Bay shredded it for 208 yards. On the Jets’ game-winning drive Sunday, they took the ball out of quarterback Zach Wilson’s hands and put it in the hands of their backs. Result: Ten carries for 77 yards and a huge upset.

4.       Say this about Chicago’s Justin Fields: He still misses too many throws, but the Bears have a pulse with him in the lineup. With three TD passes and more yards rushing (178) than any quarterback in a regular-season game, Fields brought something to Chicago’s offense that’s been absent far too long: Big plays.

5.       Should Tua Tagovailoa be included in the MVP conversation? The Dolphins are 6-0 when he starts and finishes a game. They’re 0-3 when he doesn’t.

6.       The South won’t rise again … not this season, it won’t. Seven of the eight teams in the AFC and NFC South divisions have losing records, with Tennessee (5-3) the only outlier. The combined record of the two divisions is 27-42-2.

7.       Unheralded heroes of the Chargers’ latest win: The offensive line. Quarterback Justin Herbert wasn’t sacked. The Bolts surrendered only 10 sacks this season, fewest in the NFL. Plus, it was guard Matt Feiler who made the last-minute fumble recovery Sunday to set up a game-winning field goal.

8.       Sorry, Indianapolis, but Sam’s not The Man. With Sam Ehlinger at quarterback, the Colts were 0 for 14 on third-down conversions Sunday. Add that to last week’s performance, and they’re 5 for 26 on third-down conversions with Ehlinger and fading away in the AFC South.

9.       Someone put an APB out on the Raiders’ Davante Adams. The guy disappeared Sunday. After a first half with nine catches and 146 yards, he had one catch for no yards in the second.

10.   Forget Kliff Kingsbury’s 27-31-1 record (including the playoffs) as head coach at Arizona. This is the line that gets me: 6-27-1. That’s the Cards’ record under Kingsbury when trailing at the half, and it tells you something about the coaching (or lack of it) going on there.

11.   Aaron Rodgers threw four interceptions last season. He had three Sunday … vs. the Lions. What’s worse, two were in the red zone, and the last time that happened? It hasn’t. It was a first. Rodgers has seven interceptions through nine games, his most since 2016. But that was through 16 games. Maybe it’s time A-Rod concedes that he’s part of the problem.

12.   Question for Rams’ defensive coordinator Raheem Morris: Why was nobody defending the sidelines on Tampa Bay’s game-winning drive? The Bucs had no timeouts. Seems so simple. Yet it didn’t happen.

13.   Biggest difference between the 2021 New York Jets and the 2022 New York Jets: Defense. Their 14 takeaways this season match their total for all of last season.

14.   Funny, but I feel better about Tennessee after its loss than I did after any of its five victories. With a backup quarterback and one second-half first down, the Titans still went toe-to-toe with the Chiefs … losing only in overtime. That’s a credit to an underrated defense that somehow held firm despite the Chiefs running 43 more plays (91-48) and producing 20 more first downs (29-9) than Tennessee

15.   I can’t imagine where the Patriots would be without kicker Nick Folk. No wonder Bill Belichick thinks he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

16.   Nope, there is no quarterback controversy in Carolina. There’s a quarterback problem. Big difference.

17.   Not sure what was more impressive: Kirk Cousins’ game-tying throw or the video afterward of a shirtless and jubilant Cousins in chains.

18.   I swear, Seattle’s Kenneth Walker III found a different gear in the second half Sunday … and the numbers prove it. Where he ran for 31 yards on nine first-half carries, he had 78 on 17 second-half runs … plus two TDs. Sound familiar? He’s Derrick Henry 2.0.

19.   Offensive Rookie of the Year: Houston’s Dameon Pierce or Walker? I have Walker by a nose.

20.   Congratulations, Houston. One day after your Astros win the World Series, your Texans officially became the worst team in the NFL … and maybe, just maybe, first in line for the 2023 draft.


The Chargers have run through 13 kickers the past six years, including three this season.

Per Rich Cimini of, the Jets are 3-3 this season in games where they trailed by double digits. They were 3-40 the four seasons before.

The Bengals had more points in the first half Sunday (35) than Carolina had total yards (32).


“It’s tough to win in this league when you’re playing a tough team and your quarterback plays like s**t.” – Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen.

“There’s no reason why we should be losing games like this, and it’s frustrating.” – Las Vegas wide receiver Davante Adams.

“Guess what? We’re not the same ol’ Jets.” – N.Y. Jets tight end Tyler Conklin.

“That was awesome.” – Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady after a last-second victory.

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