Let’s start this Sunday recap with two teams off a bye; one looked like the team we all thought it was prior to a three-game losing skid. With Trent Williams and Deebo Samuel back, the San Francisco 49ers steamrolled the Jacksonville Jaguars 34-3. San Francisco had nearly twice as many yards and four takeaways. I don’t think the Jaguars are a fraud. They’re good — they just got a look at what the ceiling looks like. San Francisco’s is as high as anyone’s.
The Detroit Lions are going to have a chance to play themselves to the top of the NFC — their schedule is not nearly as difficult in the coming weeks as the Philadelphia Eagles’. The Lions’ aggressiveness was on display in Los Angeles on Sunday as they went for it on fourth down five times — the last of the four they converted allowed them to exhaust the clock and prevent Justin Herbert from tying this game for a fifth time. The Lions kicked the game-winning FG as time expired to move to 7-2, which is tied for their best nine-game start in the last 50 years.
I must admit that up 14 in the fourth, at home, I thought the Baltimore Ravens were good. Instead, for the third time in their three losses, they allowed a lead to evaporate. Credit the Cleveland Browns’ defense for its role in the comeback — the Browns outscored the Ravens 17-0 in the final nine minutes for the franchise’s first 14-point comeback in the fourth quarter since 2014. They’re 6-3, and the schedule is pretty Browns-friendly moving forward.
Stay in the AFC North, where the Cincinnati Bengals were rolling — but the Bengals lost at home to the Houston Texans, who have won five of seven (the two losses were each by two points). C.J. Stroud has that thing you know when you see — a competitive excellence that’s there when it’s needed. He’s got the goods, and they’re a five-win team for the first time in four seasons — and they’ve got eight games to go.
Some quick thoughts:
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 6-3 and have been outgained in all nine games. Is that sustainable? Probably not. Mike Tomlin: Do you care? He does not.
The Dallas Cowboys against the New York Giants felt like the top of a power conference vs. the bottom — a total competitive mismatch. What feels like it matters, however, is the confidence Dak Prescott is playing with. He leads the NFL in TD passes, yards per attempt and QBR in the past five weeks.
On the other end of the spectrum, I feel for Mac Jones. He made a couple of throws where he looked like a putter with the yips. There’s not much more to say about it. Sunday was the first time the New England Patriots allowed 10 points or fewer and lost since Sept. 23, 2001. That was the day Tom Brady came in for an injured Drew Bledsoe, which started a two-decade joy ride, but now New England has the worst record in the AFC — this is the proverbial ditch, and they’re in it.