There are the groups you’re born rooting for, for higher or worse, after which there are the bandwagon golf equipment – the franchises and star gamers that pique your curiosity, draw you in and drop you off. Every week of the 2022 marketing campaign, we’re recapping a number of the most encouraging and discouraging developments from across the NFL and deciding whose bandwagon to hop on or off – even when just for per week.
With three of the highest 5 groups on bye, expectations weren’t precisely sky-high in Week 7. Upsets and upset veteran QBs have been the secret this previous week, with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers persevering with to wrestle whereas ex-XFLers stepped as much as take them down.
So, who’s caught our consideration – for higher or for worse – this week? Right here’s our roundup of highs and lows as we close to the halfway level of the season.
Hop on: Bengals with Burrow in shotgun
Two straight losses to start the season had many screaming Tremendous Bowl hangover for 2021’s runners-up, nevertheless the Bengals have received 4 of the previous 5 and Joe Burrow has shone the previous two weeks. Burrow has thrown for 781 yards at 78.48 per cent accuracy with six passing TDs, two dashing TDs and 0 turnovers in wins over the Saints and Falcons. He put up 481 via the air in opposition to Atlanta in Week 7 as he continues slinging the ball to his stacked trio of WRs Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Cincy’s transition to working most offensive performs with Burrow in shotgun has made an enormous distinction.
The defence is holding up its finish of the discount as properly, particularly within the third and fourth quarters. The Bengals are permitting a mere 3.9 second-half factors per recreation via seven weeks. (MJ)
Hop off: Groups who thought they’d be higher this season
We will discover a couple of new causes every week to dislike this Broncos staff – only a few are on the defensive aspect of the ball, in equity to that unit – and this week I’m right here to spotlight the very fact Denver is now 2-5 with out their 2023 first-round choose they included within the package deal to amass Russell Wilson. That choose at present units up as a top-10 choice for Seattle. Denver, probably the most penalized staff within the NFL, definitely figured they’d be above .500 and battling for the playoffs this 12 months. New Orleans (traded choose to PHI) and Cleveland (traded choose to HOU) are additionally 2-5 and with every loss the Eagles’ and Texans’ entrance workplace smiles develop wider. (MJ)
Hop on: The Mahomes-to-JuJu connection catching fireplace
The JuJu Smith-Schuster we noticed via the primary 5 weeks of this season – 22 catches on 35 targets for 257 yards and no touchdowns – seemed like a receiver looking for his footing in a brand new offence. The JuJu we’ve seen these previous two weeks – 12 catches on 13 targets for a mixed 237 yards and a landing in back-to-back matchups – seems like he’s discovered it.
The final time Smith-Schuster registered greater than 100 yards in a recreation was a 103-yard effort in Week 7 of the 2019 season, and after a lacklustre 2021 that was reduce quick resulting from harm simply 5 video games into what turned out to be his ultimate season with Pittsburgh, it’s actually enjoyable to see JuJu get his groove again. He’s clearly having a blast, too:
The departure of Tyreek Hill over the summer time opened up an incredible huge function for somebody to step into – one which, fairly predictably, is extra of a two-person job. Whereas individually, neither Smith-Schuster nor his new teammate Marquez Valdes-Scantling have been recognized for consistency, collectively they seem like the right complementary duo in Kansas Metropolis as Patrick Mahomes continues to work his magic. (ES)
Hop off: Pittsburgh’s dropped alternatives
Neither Tua Tagovailoa nor Kenny Pickett put up stand-out numbers on a Sunday evening stuffed with sturdy storylines, with each tossing some very pickable passes all through the evening.
The distinction was on defence, with Miami’s secondary feasting on Pickett’s passes to the tune of three interceptions whereas Pittsburgh did not give you any regardless of a handful of straightforward alternatives to take action. The Steelers’ secondary dropped 4 would-be interceptions Sunday evening.
This was all the time going to be a change-filled season with loads of rising pains on offence, however missed alternatives on defence aren’t one thing we’re used to seeing from these in black and yellow. (ES)
Hop on: Sam Ehlinger’s Colts
The Matt Ryan period is over in Indy and the most recent Colts’ QB experiment ended as a worse failure than final 12 months’s with Carson Wentz. Colts coach Frank Reich introduced Monday second-year backup Sam Ehlinger will take over from Ryan because the staff’s starter with Nick Foles because the No. 2.
Ehlinger, 24, has by no means thrown a cross within the common season however he threw 94 TDs to 27 INTs in his 4 years at Texas earlier than being chosen by the Colts within the sixth spherical of the 2021 draft. Regardless of Ehlinger’s inexperience, he’ll be a much more cellular choice than the 37-year-old Ryan who utterly misplaced his skill to keep away from oncoming strain. The Colts are 3-3-1 with two losses to the Titans already however a division title remains to be properly inside attain if Ehlinger will be the reply. (MJ)
Hop off: Tom Brady and the Bucs
Nicely people, this seems to be the model of Tom Brady many soccer pundits had for years predicted we’d finally start seeing on a weekly foundation – a model of the GOAT that’s undeniably over the hill. Brady is now 45 and after balking at his low season retirement is just not performing like he did lower than a 12 months in the past. Brady led the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns in 2021 and the Bucs completed 13-4, shedding within the playoffs to the eventual Tremendous Bowl champion Rams. Tampa already has 4 losses via seven video games – the one different time Brady started a season 3-4 was in 2002 – and has thrown simply eight TDs. The NFC South is among the many weakest divisions in soccer however Brady and the Bucs simply misplaced 21-3 to the lowly Panthers and now put together for the Ravens on a brief week. (MJ)
Hop on: Setting the stage for Sunday evening drama
Aaron Rodgers and his younger group of receivers haven’t given us a lot in the best way of offensive highlights, nor has Inexperienced Bay’s defence stepped up in the best way all of us assumed they might. As if Rodgers’ eyerolls and physique language throughout video games hasn’t already stated every thing we have to learn about how he feels the season goes, he’s served up some simmering post-game feedback as properly.
Whereas Rodgers’ post-game techniques haven’t precisely spurred his staff to any sort of success – and there appears to be plenty of finger-pointing, with only a few pointed at himself – the bandwagon fan loves a little bit drama, and it appears like we’re in for loads of that on Sunday evening. (ES)
Hop off: New England’s messy QB state of affairs
Indecision on the quarterback place is one thing we haven’t seen in New England since… properly, it’s simply not one thing we see in New England. Nevertheless it took centre stage Monday evening in opposition to the Bears, with Mac Jones getting the beginning in his return from an ankle harm and Bailey Zappe taking up early within the second quarter. Whereas Zappe’s efficiency was extra inspiring – as was Matt Patricia’s playcalling with the rookie on the helm – the membership nonetheless got here away with a reasonably dismal loss to the Bears.
Invoice Belichick all the time has a plan – and, yeah, he just about by no means shares it with the media – and on this case, between these two QBs, he stated post-game that his plan was to play each. He additionally stated Zappe was thrown into the sport not due to Jones’ interception to Jaquan Brisker however as a result of the gameplan known as for it. However because the saying goes… in case you have two beginning quarterbacks, you even have none.
All eyes shall be on how Belichick navigates Sunday’s all-important divisional battle in opposition to the Jets on Sunday. Perhaps the one query larger than “Who will start the game?” is “Who will finish it?” (ES)
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