Two weeks after being the butt of every joke I could come up with, Miami is the NFL's hottest team.
Sorry, Mr. Gisele Bundchen (aka Tom Brady) but there's a new team doing the dominating. The Miami Dolphins haven't exactly beaten the cream of the NFL crop, but they have utterly humiliated a pair of bottom-feeders to the tune of a combined 82-36 score. When your average game is a 41-18 advantage, you're doing something right. What the Fins are doing right, of course, is getting back to simply playing solid football. Interim head coach Dan Campbell's team seems to be leveraging their strengths and having fun, rather than trying to shoehorn their personnel into a scheme that doesn't take individual personnel into account. It's working and Campbell may end up being the team's full-time coach before season ends, if his guys can keep this up.
Buffalo bought a multi-year supply of Same Old Rex Ryan™.
Rex Ryan is a great schemer and he plays head-games as well as anyone. That's the good. The bad is that he can't seem to stop being his own worst enemy. This week, his team lost to the Jaguars, a feat which requires almost superhuman effort to accomplish. He doesn't know how or when to dial back the aggressiveness, and that continues to bite him in his shrunken posterior on a near-weekly basis. And, of course, each time he opens his mouth to talk smack, he inserts an opposing foot.
After Indianapolis lost to the Saints, it looks like the best Colt in the league might be Colt McCoy.
Yeah, the guy who can't even beat out Kirk Cousins for a starting job might be better at his job right now than any of the Indianapolis Colts. Andrew Luck -- who many pundits still inexplicably say is better than Ben Roethlisberger -- was getting booed by his own fans on Sunday. Sure, no one plays at the top of his game when hurt. But, at some point, head coach Chuck Pagano needs to decide if an injured Luck puts them in a better position to win than a healthy...well...anyone. His current rating is 44th in the NFL -- ironically, just one spot ahead of Peyton Manning, who he was drafted to replace.
You guys just can't seem to stop stinking. I mean, come on, that was some crappy play out there. It's like you're trying to be the butt of all my Tuesday-morning jokes. The game wasn't half as close as the 24-6 score -- you guys were getting wiped out. It's a heck of a skid that you guys are on right now, that's for sure. You've already just about gotten flushed right out of the playoffs, but that's what happens when your on-field product looks like a steaming pile. Okay, that last one was pretty literal.
Okay, Kirk Cousins wasn't awful. For a day.
A few paragraphs up, I took a well-earned shot at Kirk Cousins, but he actually played pretty decently this week. One week does not a superstar make -- it was versus the Buccaneers, for Pete's sake. But it was his best performance of the year, by far. Normally, though, a bad team beating a slightly worse one wouldn't make this list because no one would really give a rat's behind. But Cousins tossed the game-winner with 24 seconds to go. It was one of the best finishes of the season, really, after Le'Veon Bell's second effort TD plunge as time expired to push the Steelers over the Chargers on Monday Night football, and maybe a few others. Tampa was up 24-7 at the half, giving Cousins a pretty epic comeback.
College Football Bonus! The University of Pittsburgh just won while ranked in the top 25 for the first time since December of 2009.
Despite being in and out of the top-25 in 2008, Pitt entered 2009 unranked and stayed that way until they had reached a surprising rank of 6-1. In a three-week span, they climbed from unranked to 8th until back-to-back losses to West Virginia and Cincinnati dropped them to 17th. They would then go on to defeat the University of North Carolina in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, making the final game of the 2009 season the last time they won a game while ranked in the top-25 until they defeated Syracuse, 23-20 on a field goal as time expired, on October 24th, 2015. If you re keeping count, that was nearly six years and four head coaches later.
And finally...the Steelers survived Ben Roethlisberger's absence as well as anyone could have hoped, and are set up with a favorable schedule the rest of the way.
Sure, we would love to have seen 3-1 or 4-0, but let's be realistic here. Two wins is a good outcome, given all of the injuries and missed games on both sides of the ball. Now, the team gets its leader back, still with a winning record and a schedule that doesn't look nearly as daunting as it once did before the season started. In all likelihood, they will split with the Bengals and should be able to handle the Ravens with Roethlisberger back. The schedule also has two games against the Browns, plus games against a weak Colts team and a Broncos team that is very beatable despite their record. They play the Raiders in Pittsburgh, which is a huge advantage. The biggest remaining question mark is November 29 against the Seahawks. The Hawks aren't a very strong team, but it is in Seattle. My guess? 10-6 at the worst, with 11-5 a real possibility.