NFL Week Eight Winners and Losers

Week eight was a fun and wild end to October. There are some surprising teams in first place while some playoff seasoned teams are getting worse. The first two months of the season were anything but dull. It’s time to break down the week eight winners and losers on Halloween.

Winners: Dennis Allen

Here’s a story for anyone who didn’t follow or remember the 2014-2015 NFL season: Dennis Allen was in the third year of his contract with the then Oakland Raiders. At the time, Allen was the youngest coach hired in the league at 36 and the first defensive minded one the organization selected since John Madden’s tenure in about 40 years.

Dennis Allen’s last year with the Raiders is remembered for fielding one of the most porous defenses to play the game. Since it was one of the last years head-to-head tackling and vicious hits could take place, it’s considered a top three all-time worst defense. They gave up almost 500 points in 16 games. Allen was fired before October began and had eight wins in not even three and a half seasons.

Fast forward to Sunday and things couldn’t be more different. It’s undisputed he was hired way sooner than expected. Allen coached the New Orleans Saints to their third win of the season against his former team the Raiders. Las Vegas is supposed to be a much better team on offense but that wasn’t shown at any point. New Orleans shut them out 24-0 in the most dominant game a team’s played this season.

The Saints will struggle on offense and have defensive issues due to injuries for the remaining nine games but Dennis Allen proved he’s a superior coach over Josh McDaniels (another NFL coach who hadn’t led a team in over six seasons).

Dallas Cowboys (especially the offense)

Dallas is in a good place after October. Starting quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense had their best game of the season at home against the Chicago Bears.

The Bears played two impressive games in a one week span. It’s just Dallas is a better and more complete team. Prescott threw for 250 yards, two touchdowns, a 114.5 quarterback rating and 21 of 27 passes. Backup runningback Tony Pollard had a great game too. He ran for 131 yards on 14 carries (over nine yards per run) and three scores.

The defense played well too. The unit sacked sophomore quarterback Justin Fields four times and scored a touchdown after recovering runningback Khalil Herbert’s fumble.

A lot of people wondered if there was a quarterback controversy in Dallas after Cooper Rush kept winning games in Dak Prescott’s absence. Head coach Mike McCarthy has kept the team focused on playing their schedule and not overlooking opponents. Last but not least, the Cowboys went up in the standings after their division rival New York Giants lost their first road game of the season.

Tua Tagovailoa

Miami’s undefeated when their former first round pick starts and finishes every game. The offense is explosive and head coach Mike McDaniels’ play-calling flows better.

The Dolphins and Lions went back and forth in a high-scoring game Sunday. The last touchdown pass Tagovailoa threw gave Miami their first lead of the day.

There’s a stark contrast with Miami’s offense when Tua’s comfortable and reads the field. He picked Detroit’s defense apart most of the game even in a ten point second half. Tagovailoa has the Dolphins third in passing yards this season while receiver Tyreek Hill has 961 yards in eight games (the most for any receiver this season). Defenses will have headaches figuring out how to contain Miami’s offense the rest of 2022.

Christian McCaffrey

The former Carolina Panther star is already a playmaker in coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense. In Sunday’s sweep against the Los Angeles Rams (more on them later) McCaffrey did everything on offense to get the 49ers back to .500.

The second score of the game was a trick play toss to the runningback, who threw a dazzling 34 yard touchdown pass to receiver Brandon Aiyuk. McCaffrey would later catch a touchdown pass from quarterback Jimmy Garappolo to give San Francisco their first lead of the game. They never trailed after.

Christian McCaffrey would later run for a one yard touchdown, giving the 49ers a double digit lead. Despite injuries San Francisco has this season, trading for a dynamic runningback takes pressure off the passing game and creates havoc for opposing defenses. Viewers shouldn’t be surprised to see Shanahan’s team have an ascent to the playoffs similar to last season’s.

Have you ever watched a movie inspired by real events and wonder where the people are now? Or about how much of what was shown really happened? Before the Script is your podcast that has the answers. Check them out wherever you get your podcast fix. New episodes drop on Sunday night, so take a listen to Jazzy’s educational and fun podcasts. You won’t be disappointed by the last two Halloween themed ones on Spotify.

Losers: Kenny Pickett

Whenever a team drafts a quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft, fans and analysts expect that player to start at some point in the upcoming season. Yet it personally irritates me when there’s a starting quarterback struggling not even a month into the season and almost everyone leads a conversation about the rookie starting for the rest of the season just so things look better.

The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t better with rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett behind center. One might say the loss to an undefeated Philadelphia Eagles team shouldn’t warrant such criticism, but this was a point I made after a close loss to the New York Jets in his debut.

While Pittsburgh heads into a bye week, three of their next five games feature teams that play great on defense, and the Steelers haven’t scored more than 20 points since week one. In Pickett’s four starts since he was named QB1 after the the Jets loss, the Steelers have scored three, 20, ten and 20 points. The lone touchdown in that blowout loss to Philadelphia was a one yard pass from receiver Chase Claypool.

It feels like this lesson has to be learned by viewers every year. A team shouldn’t thrust a rookie quarterback into the starting role unless there’s no other option. It wouldn’t be surprising if coach Mike Tomlin makes a change again sometime before Thanksgiving.

Eddy Pineiro

We made it eight weeks before a kicker was named to the loser’s section (I consider it a win with everything going on this season). There’s a lot of discussion and anger being directed towards receiver DJ Moore after he scored what would’ve been the game winning touchdown for Carolina because he took his helmet off after the play. It drew a flag and a longer extra point attempt for his team’s kicker.

A 48 yard extra point attempt is pretty bad. It’s not as bad as missing an easy 33 yard game winning field goal attempt in overtime. If Pineiro made the kick there would be an all-out tie for first place in the awful NFC South. The discussion about the division would transform into how the duo of quarterback P.J. Walker and interim coach Steve Wilks are turning things around mid-season.

Good old Eddy is in the losers section, so you can guess how that game ended.

Los Angeles Rams

If you were told the Rams were the current Super Bowl champions, you’d never know based from their play. In fairness to viewers who watched last season’s games, you can make the case that Los Angeles went from winless all of November to the Super Bowl. Many things went into that reversal of fortune. However more change is needed this year in order for the Rams to make the playoffs.

Los Angeles was again swept by their in-state rivals Sunday. Every team has a divisional foe they can’t get past at some point, but the Rams’ bye was a week before the sweep. They looked awful after the first quarter.

It’s also fine to acknowledge Los Angeles is also one game under .500 despite the ugly play. They’re in third place ahead of Arizona, a team they barely beat. The Rams’ other two wins were a shocking nail-biter versus Atlanta and an ugly win against Carolina in what was Panthers’ head coach Matt Rhule’s last game.

There’s nothing stellar, fun or reminiscent of last year’s Super Bowl contending team. The running game is second-to-last in the NFL. The offense is bottom five in a lot of categories while the defense is ok at best. The schedule gets easier after November but it’s hard to see how this team improves and keep playoff aspirations given the competition in the NFC East and the two teams ahead of them in the west.

That hilarious penalty on Pete Carroll where referee Jerome Boger had no idea who Seattle’s football team was

There aren’t many hilarious penalties drawn from head coaches but the one called on Pete Carroll was a good laugh. Carroll was hyping his offense, got caught up having fun on the field and hit a referee. It drew a flag for illegal member of the home team. Even funnier was referee Jerome Boger thinking Seattle’s football team was the Mariners and not the Seahawks. The Mariners are Seattle’s baseball team that was eliminated from post-season play at the beginning of October.


NFL Week Seven Winners and Losers

As October ends there’s a separation of which teams are closer to clinching playoff seeds and which ones will have a high draft pick. Coaching plays a part in who advances or goes home. A lot stood out in week seven’s action, so it’s time for the winners and losers.

Winners: Cincinnati Bengals offense

Many were wondering when the Bengals’ offensive barrage would break out. It finally came Sunday in a decisive victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Quarterback Joe Burrow had another career game throwing almost 500 yards, three touchdowns and a 138.2 quarterback rating. Burrow and runningback Joe Mixon each ran for a touchdown. Wide receivers Tyler Boyd and Ja’Marr Chase both had eight catches for 130 yards or more and scored eighteen total points.

Atlanta has a good chance of making the playoffs by winning their division. The Bengals ran up 28 points in the first half and could’ve broke the all-time yards record if the game was closer. Head coach Zac Taylor has to be thrilled his team’s finally resembling last year’s conference winning unit.

Underdog quarterbacks

If you told viewers heading into week seven that P.J. Walker would beat Tom Brady, Taylor Heinecke would outperform Aaron Rodgers and Geno Smith would be the better quarterback instead of Justin Herbert, those people would laugh it off. No one’s laughing after those three games.

In the most shocking upset, P.J. Walker led the Carolina Panthers to a decisive win over Tom Brady’s Buccaneers. Walker completed one throw past the line of scrimmage (one yard in fact) in week six versus the Los Angeles Rams. Walker threw two touchdowns and completed 16 of 22 passes. It was better than Brady’s 32 completions and no scores.

In D.C., Taylor Heinecke threw more yards than Aaron Rodgers in a close win. Both threw two touchdowns but Heinecke has a better understanding of his offense and completed three or more passes to four different receivers. His touchdown throw to Terry McLaurin gave the Commanders their first lead of the day.

Seattle’s win in Los Angeles was also unexpected. Geno Smith finished the game with a 105.5 quarterback rating and is still the league’s most accurate passer. While Smith and Justin Herbert threw two touchdowns and an interception each, the latter attempted 51 passes for under 300 yards. Smith faced adversity at multiple points and progressed. The winning effort helped cement Seattle’s rise to first place in the NFC West.

While Geno Smith has been consistent most of the year, it’s unknown if Walker or Heinecke continue to build off the success. It does keep Seattle, Carolina and Washington relevant until November.

Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City’s struggles last season made the team evolve into a more dangerous unit. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes II learned from the losses and is more comfortable reading the middle of the field. His receivers have grown into their starting roles and the defense plays better in the second half of games.

The Chiefs offense slammed the number one defense in the NFL with a 500 yard performance. Receivers Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling had 100 yard games. Receiver Mecole Hardman ran for two touchdowns and tight-end Travis Kelce caught six passes for 98 yards.

Kansas City’s defense recorded a safety (two points given to the defense for stopping an opposing offense in their endzone) and gave up 13 points after the first quarter. The Chiefs defense will always be the lesser of the three units on Andy Reid’s team but coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s turned things around in four seasons. The front seven is getting more pressure on quarterbacks, the secondary defends passes better and most importantly they adjust against high scoring opponents.

The Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles are seen as the complete teams in professional football at the end of October. Kansas City is the third team to put in this category. No one will want to face them come January.

Clint Hurtt and Sean Desai

There’s a lot to say about the Geno Smith-led Seattle offense. However the Seahawks are over .500 and in first place in the NFC West because both the offense and defense are in-sync and frustrate teams each week.

Ken Norton Jr.’s firing after last season was viewed by many in the Pacific Northwest as a popular move knowing the defense could play better. The organization promoted Clint Hurtt and hired Sean Desai from the Chicago Bears. The issue was how both coaches were going to get a bunch of young players to switch from a 4-3 defensive scheme to a 3-4 one.

While it’s still early in the season for a definitive result, there are positive signs. In the last two weeks the defense gave up 24 points. 17 of the 24 came from long offensive drives (Geno Smith’s interception gave Los Angeles an easy, seven point drive to trail 17-14 before Seattle scored again). What many thought was an anemic defensive line has nine sacks in the two game span. Linebackers and safeties are tackling better since the week three fiasco versus Atlanta and they’re limiting extra yard chances for opposing receivers or runners.

Seattle faces three more star-studded offenses before the bye week but should improve in each game. Even if Geno Smith and the offense slow down, there’s relief knowing the defense can step up.

Have you ever watched a movie inspired by real events and wonder where the people are now? Or about how much of what was shown really happened? Before the Script is your podcast that has the answers. Check them out wherever you get your podcast fix. New episodes drop on Sunday night, so take a listen to Jazzy’s educational and fun podcasts. You won’t be disappointed by the last two Halloween themed ones on Spotify.

Losers: The hype around Davis Mills being a franchise quarterback

Anyone watching the Houston Texans is learning about the risk-reward of having a third round quarterback be a starter. A lot of people were high on sophomore pick Davis Mills heading into the season. Most of it was deserved. After seven weeks we’re learning he probably won’t be the guy who propels the Texans to the playoffs.

Houston had a mediocre performance in Las Vegas Sunday. The Raiders secondary is porous and Mills struggled against them. One might say Las Vegas got things together during the bye week, but the Texans shared the same week off and finished the game with two ten point quarters.

Keep in mind owner Cal McNair is investing heavily in Davis Mills since he’s the quarterback replacing DeShaun Watson. The team needs better pieces on offense but an ok passer isn’t what the franchise envisioned this season.

NFC South

There isn’t a worse division in the NFL than the NFC South. Before the season started many people predicted Tampa Bay would win the division and New Orleans would get a wild-card spot. It’s hard to see either happening after seven weeks.

The Buccaneers have the talent and coaches to turn things around but they’re tied with Atlanta for first place at 3-4. Atlanta and Carolina were teams no one saw doing well. Arthur Smith’s Falcons play hard almost every week and feel they have the best chance to win the division. Carolina’s been one of the worst teams to watch all season and somehow thumped Tampa Bay in a double digit home win.

While it’s week eight it’s hard to see how anyone wins the NFC South over .500. If there’s no team in this division that clinches a wild-card berth, it opens the door for a struggling team like Los Angeles or San Francisco to make the playoffs and do some damage.

Brett Rypien

Despite a lot of upsets on Sunday due to quarterback play, no one believed Denver’s backup quarterback Brett Rypien would outperform New York Jets starting quarterback Zach Wilson.

Everything that can go wrong for the Broncos this season, is. Starting quarterback Russell Wilson has underperformed all season. He’s also out for a month due to a partial hamstring tear. That means Rypien has three more weeks after Sunday to show he can be a starting quarterback given the week-to-week preparation. It doesn’t look promising so far.

Rypien threw 100 yards more than Zach Wilson but it took 46 passes. He threw one interception and posted a quarterback rating of 56.9. Denver’s receiving core consists of Cortland Sutton, K.J. Hamler, Jerry Jeudy and an emerging Greg Dulcich. They mustered only nine points.

The Broncos are a disappointment due to inept offensive play and it won’t change with Brett Rypien under center.

Amari Cooper

Cleveland can complain about the referees for that terrible false start penalty but the real culprit is Amari Cooper a couple of plays before that mishap.

On a third and two, Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett found Cooper one-on-one versus Marcus Peters and threw a well-timed pass. Cooper caught it but pushed off against Peters for an uncontested completion and ran into the endzone for a touchdown. It was called back for a blatant offensive pass interference call.

Commentator and former quarterback Trent Green even said, “He (Cooper) didn’t even have to do that because the pass was far enough ahead to catch.”

The Browns mishandled every play after and lost by three points.

Geno Smith credits Pete Carroll for Seahawks’ success: ‘He knows how to coach ball’ — Seahawks Wire

The Seahawks will be facing the Giants this coming week, making for a matchup between the two most-surprising good teams in the NFL this year. How Seattle started the season 4-3 and is currently leading the NFC West is a complicated story with a lot of moving parts. That said, at the top of the…

Geno Smith credits Pete Carroll for Seahawks’ success: ‘He knows how to coach ball’ — Seahawks Wire

2022-23 NBA Western Conference Playoff Picks

The NBA is back to pre-pandemic levels of sold out arenas and fan interactions with players and the western conference boasts the last NBA championship team. Fans and analysts are excited to see Kawhi Leonard, Jamal Murray and Damian Lillard return to play. Many people will focus on how well the Pacific division featuring the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers perform in the regular season. LeBron James could break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring record, Draymond Green could be traded before the All-Star game, and the Utah Jazz might bottom out for a top five pick.

That’s a lot to process, so let’s turn the attention to which eight teams have the best chances of making the western conference playoffs.

Memphis Grizzlies

Both the Grizzlies and Clippers are expected to keep the momentum from last year going and clinch a top seed for the playoffs

Memphis was one of the most exciting teams to watch last season. They lead the league in points scored, rebounds per game and have an energetic roster. The Grizzlies won a playoff series and learned valuable lessons in their second round defeat to the champion Warriors. Expect an even better season for Grind City.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers bulked up on depth acquiring John Wall, Reggie Jackson, Robert Covington, Nicholas Batum and Norman Powell one year since Kawhi Leonard’s leg injuries. Los Angeles has one of the best coaches in the league with Tyronn Lue and get both Leonard and Paul George back fully healthy. Barring a plague of injuries, the Clippers will be hard to beat.

Denver Nuggets

The Warriors exhausted the star players on each team they eliminated to win a title. One of the stars, Nikola Jokic (middle), has a better roster this year to counter championship level threats.

Jamal Murray finally returns this season and will play his first game since tearing his ACL in what was Steph Curry’s highlight performance surpassing Wilt Chamberlain as the Warriors’ all time top scorer. Nikola Jokic is in the peak of his career and the offseason signings of Ish Smith and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finally give Denver the upgrade in shooting and point guard depth.

Golden State Warriors

The reigning NBA champions extended Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole before their season opener versus the Lakers. That means Draymond Green could be moved before the season ends after punching Poole’s face in practice. Even if Green is traded before the All-Star game, there’s no doubt the Warriors can return to the playoffs. Unless there are a multitude of season ending injuries to Golden State’s core players, pencil the champions in for a high playoff seed.

Phoenix Suns

While Phoenix fizzled against Dallas, New Orleans didn’t go quietly against a favored Suns team. Hopefully both teams stay healthy and make the postseason.

While not the reigning champion Warriors, the Suns need to find a suitable trade partner for disgruntled star forward Jae Crowder.

If Crowder is traded, Phoenix still has one of the best guard duos in the NBA. Monty Williams is still a top ten coach in the league and the added depth at forward and center solidifies the Suns as favorites to enter the playoffs.

New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans should have an even better season than last year barring any major injuries to their starting lineup. CJ McCollum will be the starting pointguard when the season starts. Jonas Valanciunas, Brandon Ingram and Jose Alvarado will give opponents fits on one-on-one matchups.

Last but not least, franchise star Zion Williamson should play minimum half the scheduled games this year. He’s already slimmed down and looks to be in the best shape of his life. New Orleans could be scary good early and often.

Los Angeles Lakers

Both LeBron James and Anthony Davis need to stay healthy for the Los Angeles Lakers to reach the postseason.

This pick and the next will be unpopular because of how low they’re ranked. However let’s be honest on what is now the category of play-in: the six teams mentioned above have better depth, quality coaching and younger franchise stars. I’m not saying Los Angeles is a bad team, but the age and current roster can’t beat out their inner city rivals the Clippers on a nightly basis.

The Lakers still have quality starters in LeBron James and Anthony Davis (when healthy). However the guard positions will be filled with drama since both point guards are Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook, and the shooting guards are Kendrick Nunn and Dennis Schroder.

This is also a dark-horse pick. Either the Lakers are good enough to make the playoffs or become a franchise crippling dumpster fire. They have the talent to at least surpass teams such as San Antonio, but the coaching and locker room chemistry need to be at least average to propel the team forward.

Before I talk about the last pick, I wanted to ask the reader if they’ve ever watched a movie inspired by real events and wonder where the people are now? Or about how much of what was shown really happened? Before the Script is your podcast that has the answers. Check them out wherever you get your podcast fix. New episodes drop on Sunday night, so take a listen to Jazzy’s educational and fun podcasts. You won’t be disappointed by the last two Halloween themed ones on Spotify.

On to the final pick.

Dallas Mavericks

Luka Doncic (middle) might have led Dallas to the Finals if the Golden State Warriors didn’t have a veteran core and one of the winningest coaches in all of American sports.

The Mavericks might have added better talent around star pointguard Luka Doncic but that has to be consistent throughout the season. Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith take some pressure off, but an aging JaVale McGee at center and Tim Hardaway Jr. at shooting guard can only do so much.

Still, Dallas has a premier player that pushes them past teams such as Portland and Minnesota who need to rely on everything available just to stay relevant in the standings.

Play-in losing teams: Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs

2021-22’s Western conference prediction record: 6-4

2022-23 NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Picks

Despite last season’s finals loss, the east gained more talent. The conference finally looks superior in terms of quality teams. Cleveland is close to being a dangerous playoff unit. Chicago and Philadelphia desperately want a championship. Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Miami view anything less than a finals appearance a failure. It’ll be a fun and competitive regular season.

Have you ever watched a movie inspired by real events and wonder where the people are now? Or about how much of what was shown really happened? Before the Script is your podcast that has the answers. Check them out wherever you get your podcast fix. New episodes drop on Sunday night, so take a listen to Jazzy’s educational and fun podcasts. You won’t be disappointed by the last two Halloween themed ones on Spotify.

Now it’s time to break down which eight teams in the eastern conference have the best chance of getting to the playoffs.

Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris should lead their teams to the top three spots in the eastern conference.

Anchored by Giannis, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, there’s no way Milwaukee misses the playoffs unless all three players have season ending injuries.

Philadelphia 76ers

Stars Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tobias Harris will be a fun trio to watch. The signing of P.J. Tucker in the offseason should elevate Philadelphia to the top three in the eastern standings if all remain healthy.

Miami Heat

Jimmy Butler v. Jayson Tatum was a fun seven game conference finals last year. Both Miami and Boston can make another deep postseason run.

The Southeast is still the weakest division in the Association but Miami’s a top team in championship contention. While Tucker signed with the 76ers, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo draw a lot of attention. Last but not least the Heat still have one of the best coaches in Erik Spoelstra.

Boston Celtics

No one expected coach Ime Udoka to be out the whole season due to sexual relations with staff (not players thankfully). Boston will have a hard time re-grouping after a Finals loss and an interim running the team. However the Celtics have a deep roster and started off the season with a win at home to the 76ers. As long as forward Jayson Tatum starts every night, the Celtics are a serious contender.

Chicago Bulls

Demar DeRozan and Kevin Durant were standout players in the east last year. Both should elevate their teams to middle seedings.

No Lonzo Ball for what might be the whole regular season will sting and drops the Bulls to middle playoff seeding. They do have point-guard depth with Alex Caruso coming back and Goran Dragic if the first few months get bumpy. Andre Drummond is a solid backup center who can give Nikola Vucevic some rest. Coach Billy Donovan has to get more out of his role players and his new starting point-guard Ayo Dosunmu.

Brooklyn Nets

Like last year, I’m hesitant on where to put the Nets for playoff seeding. The sixth spot is generous not because of last season but because Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons should know how to play well with their teammates by December.

There’s also speculation coach Steve Nash could be fired early if the team doesn’t start well. Drama aside, Brooklyn has a talented roster that shouldn’t miss the postseason. Therefore, a middle ranking is fine until the All-Star break.

Atlanta Hawks

Dejounte Murray’s move to the Hawks puts the other 14 eastern teams on notice. Atlanta now has one of the top guard duos in the NBA.

The guard duo of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray will captivate audiences this fall and winter. Clint Capela returning to the starting lineup helps solidify the defense and Bogdan Bogdanovic is a needed role player.

Coach Nate McMillan needs to get this team on a faster start than last season. Atlanta’s capable of getting a sixth seed or better but they need to show it or else people will start to wonder if more change is necessary.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Fear the…land? Center Jarrett Allen (31) and point guard Darius Garland (10) will give opposing teams headaches as they hope to build off of last season’s success.

Like Atlanta, the Cavaliers need one of the six teams above to falter while playing good basketball to not be in the play-in round. Unlike the Hawks, Cleveland is a younger team that needs more playoff experience and time to grow. The addition of Donovan Mitchell makes the starting lineup stressful to face. Even if the Cavaliers are the last team to clinch a playoff berth, the east’s number one seeded team will have a tough time winning four games against them.

Play-in losing teams: Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Hornets

2021-22 Eastern conference prediction record: 8-2

NFL Week Six Winners and Losers

Week six was full of eye-opening play and revealed who is closer to being playoff-bound. On the opposite end, some teams are close to preparing for the offseason. Time to break down who or what won or lost the week.

Winners: Marcus Mariota

The former second overall pick in 2015 has a roller coaster career. His former offensive coordinator in Tennessee is the Falcons’ head coach, and Atlanta took a risk naming him starting quarterback after trading franchise icon Matt Ryan. Marcus Mariota is having a good season, but Sunday’s game against San Francisco should make other teams pay attention.

Mariota threw two touchdowns and 129 yards in a lopsided win versus the league’s best defense. He completed all but one pass for a 144.6 quarterback rating and also ran eight times for 50 yards (over 8 yards a carry). While the Falcons offense didn’t need much (due to the 49ers sputtering on offense and losing more players to injuries on defense), it did step up and exceed expectations.

This is the best season he’s played since last starting with the Titans during 2018 and even then he played eight of 16 games. Mariota hasn’t been sacked as much and he’s finding open receivers on better reads. While new head coach Arthur Smith is a factor, the roller coaster effect he brought every weekend is gone. He’s lead Atlanta to a first place tie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Unless something drastic happens, the Falcons could stay in the playoff race thanks to their new starting quarterback.

Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts

Everyone who watched that atrocious Thursday night football game on October sixth might have forgotten Indianapolis won a critical second game in their season. The week and a half off worked when the Colts outperformed a division rival that’s embarrassed them two of their last three games.

The Jaguars haven’t looked the same since their five turnover game in Philadelphia, but they ran the ball well against Indianapolis’ defense the first three quarters. Things changed when the Matt Ryan-led offense took advantage of coverage breakdowns. Ryan had his best game of the season throwing for almost 400 yards, three touchdowns and posting a 107.6 quarterback rating. His 32 yard scoring pass to Alec Pierce gave Indianapolis their second lead of the game, and the two point conversion after put more pressure on Jacksonville’s offense to score with 23 seconds left. That wasn’t going to happen against a better adjusted defense.

Head coach Frank Reich is muddling through most of 2022 with an underperforming roster that needs overhauling once the season ends. The pressure to beat a Tennessee Titans team that was on a bye last week will build, but there’s no denying the Colts needed a winning streak to stay in the middle of the AFC playoff race. Reich is showing there’s still time for everyone to find their rhythm.

Tariq Woolen

Seattle has one of the worst defenses in terms of total points and yards allowed this season. A big part is on the defensive line and linebacker core that plays up front. Most of the secondary has shown promise, especially rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen.

Woolen is a rookie drafted in this year’s fifth round. On Sunday, Woolen recovered a Kyler Murray fumble and later intercepted Murray to help Seattle pull off their third win of the season. He’s the first starting cornerback in Seattle to have an interception in four straight games since 2011.

There are comparisons of Woolen to former cornerback Richard Sherman, and they are valid. During Sunday’s home win against the Arizona Cardinals, FOX showed a graphic that compared their Seahawks profiles. Both were drafted in the fifth round, but the separation is one pick (Sherman at 154, Woolen at 153). Most importantly, Woolen and Sherman played wide receiver at one point in college. It explains why the duo worked together in the offseason on form, reading quarterbacks and shutting down star receivers.

Tariq Woolen is one of three rookie cornerbacks to hold a quarterback to a 40 rating or below when there’s a receiver targeted in his direction this season. He’ll be fun to watch as Seattle fights for a playoff spot.

The NFL’s week six scheduling

Commissioner Roger Goodell knew what fans wanted to see before the regular season started and slotted week six’s games perfectly.

The early afternoon games were entertaining but there was nothing that grabbed headlines or stood out. Yes, Joe Burrow’s return to Louisiana, the Ravens versus Giants and a divisional game in the AFC South were fun, but the most anticipated games were in the late afternoon and nighttime.

Buffalo versus Kansas City was a close game and lived up to expectations in what could determine playoff seeding via tiebreakers. Sunday night’s divisional game between Dallas and Philadelphia had a captivating second half before the Eagles pulled away late to stay undefeated and assure audiences Dak Prescott really is the Cowboys’ starting quarterback when he returns.

There’s a lot of complaining about the NFL not flexing games earlier than expected because of disappointments (like next Sunday night’s featured game), but this time everything went right.

Have you ever watched a movie inspired by real events and wonder where the people are now? Or about how much of what was shown really happened? Before the Script is your podcast that has the answers. Check them out wherever you get your podcast fix. New episodes drop on Sunday night, so take a listen to Jazzy’s educational and fun podcasts.

Losers: Green Bay Packers

When star receiver Davante Adams signed a massive deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, a lot of people asked who would quarterback Aaron Rodgers throw to for 17 games. We’re still trying to figure that out after week six.

Rodgers’ top target through six games is Allen Lazard. He’s not a bad receiver but he isn’t a starting number one on another roster. Robert Tonyan is a good number one tightend. After those two, it’s anyone’s guess.

Both Marcedes Lewis and Randall Cobb look their age and can’t stretch a field. More alarming is Rodgers overthrowing his receivers regularly, the latest example being runningback Aaron Jones on what would’ve been a touchdown drive Sunday.

A big part of this is on Packers management for neither drafting nor signing an elite receiver who can make big plays and expose disguised coverages. A lot of teams last offseason signed or traded for big name pass catchers. There were also two recent drafts where quality receivers wanted to join Aaron Rodgers and be a focal point in coach Matt LaFleur’s offense. Green Bay declined them all.

It doesn’t help they extended a 38 year old quarterback who’s offseason workouts consist of psychedelics. This team might be uncomfortable to watch the rest of the season if there’s no move for a receiver at the trade deadline.

Amazon’s Thursday Night Football package

Online shopping site Amazon has been trying to get into the NFL since creator Jeff Bezos said he wanted to buy a team. The digital empire outbid t.v. network FOX to carry Thursday night games. Since entering they’ve spent a lot of money on games, broadcasting crews, streaming and a pre and postgame analysis roster.

Surprisingly, everything Amazon’s done has been money well spent…unless we’re talking about the games they’re stuck with every Thursday night.

The last two games featured two Pro-Bowl quarterbacks who threw four combined interceptions and no touchdowns in five quarters, then two teams who have no idea how a professional offense works in the 21st century. The next two weeks aren’t hopeful either.

The upcoming Thursday night game features a below average New Orleans team and an Arizona squad that can’t protect the football and score. The Thursday after has an average Buccaneers team against a Baltimore Ravens roster that for the first time ever has held double digit leads in every game but doesn’t have a winning record.

I don’t think Amazon had this in mind when they signed an 11 year, $13 billion deal to stream games. For those keeping track, that’s over $78.8 million for each lackluster game aired. Ouch.

Cleveland Browns defense

The main topics from New England’s win in Cleveland consist of Bill Belichick tying league founder George Halas in all-time wins and excitement over third string backup Bailey Zappe, who’s undefeated after two starts. The bigger storyline is how bad the Browns defense is despite the amount of acquired talent.

Cleveland’s defense has given up less than 20 points once this season: a Thursday night win against the Mitchell Trubisky led Pittsburgh Steelers. That took a lot of effort since Pittsburgh continually pushed downfield but blundered drives. Zappe threw over 300 yards and two touchdowns against a secondary consisting of Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II and John Johnson III. Many analysts thought these players would strengthen a unit that’s struggled to defend the pass. It also didn’t help franchise star and defensive game-changer Myles Garrett left with an arm injury. That exposed Cleveland’s vulnerable interior.

The Browns have to play Baltimore and Cincinnati before their bye week and it’s already bleak at 2-4. While much of the talk will be on quarterback play later in the season, it might not matter if the defense keeps giving up 30 or more points a game.

Steve Keim

A team usually fires a general manager when they’ve done illegal drugs such as cocaine instead of their job. The alternative what if said general manager stays instead of losing his job is playing out in Arizona right now.

I’ve pulled no punches when it comes to how bad the Cardinals are this season but what’s worse is how the team has to stick with the roster moves and contract extensions of players and coaches after this year. Coach Kliff Kingsbury has four years left on his deal after the flame-out 2021-2022 season. Offensive captain and starting quarterback Kyler Murray also has four years left on a contract that guarantees $160 million.

Both Murray and Kingsbury cannot adapt and haven’t worried about some aspects of the game nor security because the general manager has assured them everything is fine. When an offense scores three points against the league’s worst defense, changes need to be made. Arizona can’t do much because the people signed and hired are locked in for at least two more years.

2022-23 NHL Western Conference Playoff Picks

What a turn of events compared to last season’s start. No team in the western conference went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2021. This year fans and analysts are wondering if the reigning champion Colorado Avalanche can become the third team to win back-to-back titles in the last ten years. Colorado won’t have it easy in their conference even if they make the playoffs. Minnesota, Vancouver and St. Louis will be their top competition. The Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars should make better pushes for playoff seeding. Outside of those five teams, it’s a race to clinch the bottom two seeds in the conference. A team such as Anaheim could break out and do damage to whoever clinches the first or second seed, possibly throwing the playoffs into doubt. It’s time to break down which four in each division can make the push to the postseason for 2022-23.


Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton’s signing of goalie Jack Campbell boosts a defense that’s gradually improved the past two seasons.

Despite being swept by the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Oilers kept most of last year’s roster. They finally addressed the goaltender situation by signing free agent Jack Campbell. Campbell’s got a better defense in front of him that’s shown improvement the past two seasons.

Edmonton’s offense should be top five in the league with stars Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Warren Foegele and Zach Hyman and Evander Kane. Injuries would be the only reasonable explanation for the Oilers not clinching a top three seed.

Vancouver Canucks

Bruce, There It Is: Despite an opening season choke in Edmonton, Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau is back and should be the stabilizing presence stars like Elias Pettersson need to return to the playoffs.

If they replaced coaches before the 2021 season, it’s possible Vancouver would’ve made the playoffs. Coach Bruce Boudreau was refreshing for the players and the Canucks played well returning to some of their basics. All three sides of the puck improved and made the team a formidable force after the firing of Travis Green.

Despite some depth leaving in the offseason, Vancouver’s core players return. Thatcher Demko should take the next step in being a star franchise goalie and Elias Pettersson should have a fantastic season. The Canucks are fortunate they won’t have too much competition in a weak Pacific.

Calgary Flames

Regardless of how people think of him, no one can deny Nazem Kadri is a pivotal player for any team vying for a Stanley Cup bid. The Flames signed him at the perfect time.

The losses of two 40 plus goal scorers lowers Calgary’s playoff chances but coaching, defense and some additions should soften the fall. The Flames traded Matthew Tkachuk for Mackenzie Weegar and Jonathan Huberdeau. Both are talented scorers who can make up some of the difference. They’re also veteran starters on offense and defense and should elevate Calgary’s power-play when chemistry improves.

The Flames made a steal signing Stanley Cup Champion Nazem Kadri late in free agency. Kadri is needed center depth and brings an edge especially in divisional games. Last but not least, the goalie tandem of Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar anchors a defense that was third in goals against last year. Calgary will be hard to knock out in both the regular and postseason.

Anaheim Ducks

Ducks star Troy Terry netted the overtime winning goal in a thrilling home opener against the Kraken. Regardless of where Anaheim places in the Pacific, their young, core players will be fun to watch.

Like the Metropolitan, the Pacific could have three teams make the postseason. Seattle is still building a team that hopes to compete. San Jose and Las Vegas are declining and want a full re-build. Los Angeles is shaky despite last year’s playoff appearance. It’s possible things don’t progress this year after the sweep against Edmonton. Anaheim however could be the western conference’s version of the Ottawa Senators.

I’d like to be consistent on a pick that many would question. There’s a lot of young talent that’s shown potential to disrupt teams, standings and the playoff picture. The Ducks probably won’t go far in the postseason, but the defense in front of star goalie John Gibson is bolstered with additions of Dmitry Kulikov and John Klingberg. Anaheim retained Frank Vatrano and signed Ryan Strome and Rocco Grimaldi.

The needed scoring depth and physical players can help the Ducks maintain their fast season starts and stay relevant all season.

Have you ever watched a movie inspired by real events and wonder where the people are now? Or about how much of what was shown really happened? Before the Script is your podcast that has the answers. Check them out wherever you get your podcast fix. New episodes drop on Sunday night, so take a listen to Jazzy’s educational and fun podcasts.


Minnesota Wild

That smile when you get traded from a re-building Chicago team to a Stanley Cup caliber roster in Minnesota.

I personally thought the Wild would go through more turbulence after a fantastic first round series versus Las Vegas in 2021. Turns out the team did much better under coach Dean Evason and put the league on notice.

Last year’s Minnesota roster ranked fifth in goals scored and rocketed up to 18th on the power-play. In less than one year, the Wild traded for goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Filip Gustavsson. They retained most of last year’s roster. Minnesota now has to find ways to beat both St. Louis and Colorado in divisional matchups to gain a higher seed.

Colorado Avalanche

The Stanley Cup champions let starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper leave and brought in Alexandar Georgiev. The tandem of Georgiev and Pavel Francouz will be watched by many as Colorado competes for a second straight title. Fans and analysts know coach Jared Bednar will lead this team to the playoffs.

St. Louis Blues

Coach Craig Berube was one of many angry people in St. Louis after the Avalanche knocked out goaltender Jordan Binnington in the postseason. The injury ignited intense physical play and will spill over into their season matchups.

The Central division has three teams that could go through the western conference and win the championship. St. Louis is the third team. On offense, the top five goal scoring teams in 2021 to 2022 were the Blues at third, Avalanche at fourth, and the Wild fifth. Somehow coach Craig Berube pushed St. Louis’ offense to be better than their division rivals and they excelled.

While the Blues may not be third in goals scored and penalty minutes, second in power-play and fifth in penalty kill this season, it’s more important starting goaltender Jordan Binnington continues his resurgence from late last season in what would’ve been a highlight playoff performance. While his backup Ville Husso went to Detroit and St. Louis signed Thomas Greiss in return, the defense re-signed Nick Leddy and found another way to keep sharp-shooter Vladimir Tarasenko happy.

Expect a grittier, angrier Blues team that will take aim at the defending Stanley Cup champions all season. This will be a fun team to watch.

Dallas Stars

General manager Jim Nill is adamant on the Stars returning to the Stanley Cup. His hiring of coach Peter DeBoer is a gamble.

There’s no way Arizona or Chicago make the postseason with their abysmal rosters. Winnipeg is ready to re-build and could trade their best players before the All-Star break. Nashville had a phenomenal season with just a low playoff seed in the end. The last spot is Dallas’ for the taking.

The Stars showed anyone who watched their playoff series against Calgary that the offense needs a spark, a re-vamp or both. General manager Jim Nill hired a new coach in Peter DeBoer and signed Mason Marchment while extending the contracts of both Jason Robertson and Denis Gurianov.

DeBoer is the right coach for an offensive turnaround. Dallas has a great goalie tandem in Jake Oettinger and Scott Wedgewood. They won’t be as good as the top three teams in the division, but they’ll push boundaries and make them uncomfortable.

2021-22 Western conference picks: 3-5

2022-23 NHL Eastern Conference Playoff Picks

What a fun offseason. The Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions are back after another summer of free agency. While the eastern conference’s two year streak of winning the Stanley Cup snapped, the conference is deeper and more uncertain compared to the last five years. Teams like the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers made trades to bolster their rosters and re-signed important depth players. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes should be more dangerous in the postseason. Like last year, it’s apparent the Boston Bruins and the Washington Capitals, two teams known for consistency, are fading and closer to a re-build if neither make the second round.

It’s time to break down which four teams in each division can make the push back or surprise a lot of people in making the 2022-23 playoffs.


Florida Panthers

Florida needed a head coach who pushes players to be their best while staying honest. Paul Maurice is the right fit.

The Panthers are one of four teams in the eastern conference both fans and analysts feel will take the next step and make the Stanley Cup finals this season. They traded Jonathan Huberdeau to Calgary for Matthew Tkachuk, a fantastic player who scores a lot and pesters goalies in front of the net. They acquired veterans Eric and Marc Staal and signed Colin White away from Ottawa. The defensive core led by Aaron Ekblad should grow more this season.

Last but not least, the reigning President’s Trophy winners hired a head coach to turn the page on the Joel Quenneville saga. Enter Paul Maurice, the winningest head coach in NHL history who’s yet to win a championship. He knows how to bring the best out of a roster while being honest about long-term improvement. His early resignation last year is a reason he was one of the best candidates available in the offseason. Don’t be surprised if Florida is one of the most complete teams in professional hockey this year.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Ilya Samsonov finally gets to be an undisputed starting goaltender on an NHL team. The Leafs will go as far as he takes them.

The Leafs are lights out in the regular season. Franchise star Auston Matthews should have another 50 plus goal season. The defensive quartet of Morgan Reilly, T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano and Victor Mete solidify the weakest section on the team. The signings of forwards Zach Aston-Reese and Calle Jarnkrok establish a physical fourth line.

The problem come playoffs could be the dropoff of talent in net with Ilya Samsonov as the undisputed starter since Jack Campbell left in free agency. Matt Murray is a good backup choice in case Samsonov becomes a nuisance. Toronto’s regular season should be fine since they have a plethora of goal-scorers to snuff out defensive mistakes.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Despite the injuries the Lightning suffered in the Stanley Cup playoffs last season, anyone who’s watched this team knows if coach Jon Cooper is on the bench and Andrei Vasilevskiy is in net, Tampa Bay is a lock to make the playoffs.

Ottawa Senators

While he won’t be a captain in Ottawa, Claude Giroux returns to his home city to play for a rising Senators squad that has the best chance of returning to the playoffs this decade.

The Atlantic might have five teams make the playoffs due to a weaker Metropolitan division. If that happens, Detroit or Boston could clinch one of those spots. Ottawa however is the pick if that doesn’t work.

The key for the Senators is to have a better start than the last two seasons. It’s realistic with the skill players and depth added this offseason. General manager Pierre Dorian traded for forward Alex DeBrincat, goalie Cam Talbot and signed former Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux. Dorian also added Travis Hamonic and extended Mathieu Joseph after his trade to Ottawa last season from Tampa Bay.

This is coach D.J. Smith’s most important season. Ottawa’s never started fast under his tenure and has been lackluster on special teams and defense. 2022 is the year they clean up both if he wants to keep his job.

Smith is the most tenured coach with one team between the Ottawa-Boston-Detroit trio. While Detroit added a lot of players in free agency, the roster and coaching have to work well together in a continuing re-build. Boston has a great coach in Jim Montgomery, but the depth past the second line and lack of quality defensemen makes it hard to pick them as a good fourth team in the Atlantic.

Despite an upper body injury to Talbot pushing his debut to November, Anton Forsberg was a pleasant surprise last year and a reason the Senators played close games. The young core Dorian drafted are complimented with quality veterans, scorers and role players. They just need a faster start to the season.

Have you ever watched a movie inspired by real events and wonder where the people are now? Or about how much of what was shown really happened? Before the Script is your podcast that has the answers. Check them out wherever you get your podcast fix. New episodes drop on Sunday night, so take a listen to Jazzy’s educational and fun podcasts.


Carolina Hurricanes

Max Pacioretty had a disappointing 2021 due to wrist injuries and surgeries. He should have a better year in Carolina where he’ll have more one-on-one scoring chances.

The Hurricanes bowed out round two of the playoffs without starting goaltender Frederik Anderson. They lost every road game before being knocked out in their only home loss. Every viewer should expect an angrier and more prepared Carolina team to take the ice and dish out payback this season.

The Hurricanes are the favorite to reach and possibly win the championship this season. General manager Don Waddell signed Calvin de Haan, Brent Burns, Paul Stastny, Ondrej Kase and Ryan Dzingel. He also traded for Vegas’ top scorer Max Pacioretty with little lost.

The top seeds in the eastern conference will be a race between Carolina and Florida most of this season unless either have a rash of injuries they can’t overcome. It’ll be hard for either to hit a slump.

New York Rangers

Igor Shesterkin’s Vezina season brought the New York Rangers to the conference finals. It’ll be hard to slow down and score on one of the east’s best teams this year.

New York was two games away from representing the eastern conference in the Stanley Cup finals. They lost to one of the best teams the league’s ever seen despite an impressive postseason. General manager Chris Drury added to the standout roster by signing Jaroslav Halak to backup last year’s Vezina winning goaltender Igor Shesterkin. Then came the signing of former Carolina Hurricane center Vincent Trocheck.

The Rangers have one of the best fourth lines in hockey with Barclay Goodrow, Sammy Blais and Ryan Reeves. It’s possible we see New York have a playoff run similar to last season’s once they punch their postseason ticket.

Pittsburgh Penguins

This is the 17th season the trio of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang take the ice together. They have a good chance of surpassing the 400 win mark and to make the postseason.

The Penguins bring back their trio of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang for another season. Pittsburgh will face a lot of pressure not just to return to the playoffs but to win a first round series, something they haven’t done since winning their last championship.

For now, it’s safe to say the first part of their mission should be fine. The Penguins added Brock McGinn and Josh Archibald for forward depth and signed Jeff Petry and Jan Rutta on defense to help Tristan Jarry’s ascent.

Mike Sullivan is still one of the league’s best coaches. Plus the team shouldn’t have as many injuries this season. Like Toronto, this will only be a talking point when the playoffs begin.

Washington Capitals

While Alex Ovechkin’s race to pass Wayne Gretzky’s goals record is the big topic, a major concern for the Capitals is the lack of quality defensemen besides John Carlson (red).

It’s hard to decide who in this division makes the playoffs after the top three teams. The signing of Stanley Cup winning goaltender Darcy Kuemper helps Washington. The problem is Kuemper’s never played a full season healthy. Backup Charlie Lindgren might see more action than expected and nobody knows how good the defense will be outside of John Carlson.

That leaves the offense to do most of the work. Alex Ovechkin will probably score 40-50 goals this season and Anthony Mantha, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie are offensive playmakers. Yet there’s a lot of pressure on the centers and forwards to step up.

Regardless of their finish, it’s difficult to believe Columbus, Philadelphia, the New York Islanders and especially New Jersey place better than the Capitals when the regular season ends.

Last year’s eastern conference playoff picks: 8-2

Week Four Winners and Losers

What an exciting week four. A narrow field goal miss in London, another win for Cooper Rush’s Cowboys and an eye-opening performance from the Kansas City Chiefs will be talked about much of the week. The first Sunday of October delivered with a bang much like the first weekend in September. A lot of good and bad stood out in the afternoon games. It’s time to break down who or what won/lost Sunday.

Winners: Austin Ekeler

The injuries at wide receiver for the Los Angeles Chargers’ offense narrows down the number of dependable players to trust any given week. The fragile ribs in quarterback Justin Herbert mean starting runningback Austin Ekeler should be the main playmaker and focus. In typical Chargers fashion, the team led by double-digits until the opposition made a comeback. This time the Chargers won and it’s because Ekeler stepped up and guided the offense.

Ekeler started hot and ran for two touchdowns in the second quarter. That gave Los Angeles a 21 point lead before the Houston Texans could score. When Houston chipped the deficit to three points, he stepped up when needed and caught a second down pass from Herbert at the Texan 14 yard-line, running to and diving in the endzone.

One of the coveted parts of Ekeler’s game is his ability to run well and catch passes. He was the Chargers’ second leading receiver with 49 yards on six catches. His 13 runs for 60 yards (4.2 yards a carry) makes him hard to tackle and creates problems for opposing defenses. The more he’s relied on, the better position Los Angeles has within their division and conference for at least a wild-card spot.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans looked mediocre at best heading into October. After Sunday it appears head coach Mike Vrabel and the team turned 180 degrees after a winless two game start.

Tennessee’s victory against Las Vegas was questioned due to the Raiders’ poor coaching. Beating an Indianapolis Colts team soundly on the road shows progress. On offense star runningback Derrick Henry ran for 114 yards on 22 carries (5.2 yards per carry) and quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw two touchdowns and completed all but four passes.

The defense played well too. Defensive lineman Teair Tart intercepted Colts quarterback Matt Ryan on a tipped pass. While Ryan was sacked three times, starting runningback Jonathan Taylor left the game with a leg injury. That left Indianapolis one dimensional on offense and the Titans defense exposed a lot of weaknesses despite the Colts scoring the lone touchdown in the second half.

This helped Tennessee in their division. Houston is still winless and the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles handed the Jacksonville Jaguars their second loss of the season. While it’s a two-way tie for first place, the Titans are the more experienced team and have beaten the Jaguars all but once since 2017. The AFC South is Tennessee’s for the taking if they continue to play like they did Sunday.

Geno Smith, Rashaad Penny and the Seattle Seahawks offensive line

It’s hilarious how many people expected the Seattle Seahawks to have one of the worst offenses in the 2022 NFL season. It couldn’t be further from the truth after one month.

The Seahawks offense scored 42 points in the most exciting Sunday game. New starting quarterback Geno Smith completed all but seven passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns for a 132.6 rating. He also ran seven times for 49 yards and a touchdown. All three were in the first two quarters and were the reason Seattle led by nine at intermission.

Former first round pick Rashaad Penny had his best game of the season and is picking up where he left off last year. The runningback had 17 carries for 159 yards (just under nine yards a carry) but his two touchdowns in the second half cemented a Seahawk win. The Detroit defense couldn’t stop him when it mattered most and Penny’s runs on third down led to massive gains.

The best performance for Seattle’s offense wasn’t on the scoreboard. For years the fans, analysts and even captains on offense complained the offensive line was one of the top weaknesses on the team. The Lions’ pass rush is pretty good despite how they can’t stop runningbacks. The Seahawks offensive line gave up zero sacks and dominated the line of scrimmage. The interior of Damien Lewis, Austin Blythe and Gabe Jackson are core reasons why they’ve succeeded so far, but the surprising play of rookies Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas at both tackle positions propel Smith and the passing game to another level.

Seattle’s offensive stats after four weeks vaults them to the top half of all teams in passing, running, scoring and total yards despite being bottom five in time of possession. Geno Smith is the only quarterback in the NFL who’s completed 75 percent of his passes and has 1000 yards passing with five touchdowns or more. It’s a bit early to hype up Seattle’s season and their playoff chances, but it’s safe to say neither the offense is the problem on coach Pete Carroll’s team, nor was their trade of franchise quarterback Russell Wilson detrimental as many thought.

J.K. Dobbins

There was disappointment when Dobbins missed all of last season due to injuries. He played his second game of 2022 Sunday and the impact was felt early.

The Baltimore Ravens quickly scored against the Buffalo Bills and led 14-3 by the end of the first quarter. Both touchdowns were from J.K. Dobbins. He caught a one yard pass to give the Ravens their first lead of the game and then scored on a four yard run.

He also had the most carries for any runner in the game. While Dobbins ran for 41 yards, he’s someone quarterback Lamar Jackson can rely on to improvise or score near the goalline. Unfortunately, Dobbins’ touchdowns were in vain because…

Losers: John Harbaugh…again

…his head coach cost the team another home win by gambling with analytics. This is the first time in franchise history Baltimore’s lost five straight homes games. On ESPN’s flagship show Sportscenter with Scott Van Pelt, the eye opening stat was examined deeper. All five losses for the Ravens have been by three points or less. In all five Harbaugh has gambled and gone with the analytical decision to try and score touchdowns on fourth-and-goal decisions against (in recent order) the Bills, Dolphins, Steelers, Rams and Packers.

It didn’t matter whether quarterback Lamar Jackson was intercepted, there was a different quarterback or if receivers dropped passes. All five decisions have one thing in common: coach John Harbaugh is obsessed with the probability chances of scoring six or seven points instead of taking an easy three and giving the opposition a harder time to drive down the field with seconds or a minute remaining in gameplay.

The audience then might question does Harbaugh not trust his defense enough to take a chance. If that’s the case, he needs to fix it and develop better players, especially in the secondary. Lamar Jackson can’t fix everything on the team but the Ravens should be undefeated instead of blowing two double digit leads.

Have you ever watched a movie inspired by real events and wonder where the people are now? Or about how much of what was shown really happened? Before the Script is your podcast that has the answers. Check them out wherever you get your podcast fix. New episodes drop on Sunday night, so take a listen to Jazzy’s educational and fun podcasts.

Chicago Bears

The Bears might be the most unwatchable team in the NFL. Before Sunday there were jokes that yet again Chicago’s offense needs to step into the new century and learn about the forward pass. Sunday’s game against the New York Giants wasn’t just about the offense. The defense gave up two running touchdowns to quarterback Daniel Jones on a play the Giants ran six times minimum.

The defense did knock out both Jones and backup Tyrod Taylor at one point but the offense mustered 12 points total. Special teams had its moment to shine but then fumbled the return on what would’ve been the the Bears’ last possession. New York mercifully ran out the clock after recovering the ball.

It’s hard to tell if franchise quarterback and former Heisman nominee Justin Fields is any good not even one season of games into his career, but that’s the beginning of concerns. The Bears’ secondary is non-existent and their returners on special teams don’t help. This will be a long season and the fans might be more excited the team moves to Arlington Heights, IL. when it ends.

Mitchell Trubisky

Speaking of former Bears quarterbacks, let’s keep this section going with Fields’ predecessor. While former head coach Matt Nagy didn’t fully hinder the sophomore’s progress last season, he did a number on Mitchell Trubisky.

Trubisky’s struggled not even four full games as the Steelers’ starting quarterback. In the first half against the New York Jets Sunday, he ran for one yard and was seven of 13 with 84 yards and an interception. He was benched in the second half and cameras caught head coach Mike Tomlin telling his replacement Kenny Pickett, “I’m tired of him Mitching it up” in regards to the offense.

In Mitch’s defense, offensive coordinator Matt Canada is dreadful and both former players and fans are calling for and have wanted him to be fired. Many want Pickett to lead the team into the wood-chipper that is the Buffalo Bills this upcoming Sunday but he threw three interceptions against a Jets defense that’s bottom ten in points per game. His rushing touchdowns were nice but he has to do better than goalline runs.

Unfortunately, when you’re a former second overall pick a team traded up to draft, excuses are slim. It’s possible Trubisky played his last game as a starter.

Carolina Panthers

If anyone was in the mood for bad football Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals versus Carolina Panthers game was available. The only thing disappointing were the number of fans who went to the game.

The Panthers offense is on par with the Bears and Denver Broncos. They’re last in time of possession and points scored. Six of their 16 points were scored by the defense. That broke a scoreless tie and Carolina still found a way to lose.

It’s not just the offense. Their best player (who also had the defensive touchdown) in the game was almost kicked out for fighting and unnecessary roughness after a play finished. The fans boo’d new quarterback Baker Mayfield most of the second half due to his inability to read a field and throwing the ball everywhere but to his receivers.

It was leaked earlier in the week number one receiver D.J. Moore would like a trade out of Carolina. You can’t blame him for wanting to go to another team. Coach Matt Rhule’s team is undisciplined, unorganized and terrible to watch. Last but not least week four is almost over. It could get uglier by the start of November if Rhule isn’t fired by then.

Note: NFL’s Winners and Losers will not be published next Monday due to the writer, editor and publisher having the weekend off for personal reasons.