Another week of NFL action is in the books, providing us with a little more clarity regarding which teams are contenders and which are pretenders as we approach the quarter-pole of the season.
Here's a look at two teams on the rise and two on their way down in this week's edition of 'Stock Rising and Falling'.
There's wasn't a lot of optimism around the Bengals entering the season with most figuring that second-year quarterback Joe Burrow would be eased back into the offense after suffering a devastating season-ending injury in the back half of 2020. Burrow has exceeded expectations, however, throwing for seven touchdown passes in guiding the Bengals to a 2-1 start. Now the schedule eases up with a Thursday night home game against the reeling Jaguars and a trip to Detroit to face the lowly Lions sandwiched around a home game against the Packers. The Cincinnati offense is going to thrive with all the young talent on hand. It's the Bengals defense that was thought to be the weak link but so far, so good having allowed just 54 points through three games. Now comes an opportunity to feast on Jags struggling rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
The Bills are back. Did they every really go anywhere? There were plenty of critics following an ugly season-opening home loss to the Steelers - a Steelers team that has turned out to be far worse than advertised but they've been silenced following consecutive blowout wins over the Dolphins and Washington Football team, by a combined 78-21 margin. Buffalo will get another layup at home against the Texans this Sunday before a tough primetime road game in Kansas City in Week 6. Now that Josh Allen has shaken off the rust, the sky is the limit for Buffalo's offense. The defense will simply be asked to hold serve, much like it did last Sunday against Washington.
The Steelers are in an extremely sticky situation, off to a 1-2 start with their offense appearing punchless under the guidance of possibly-washed veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The issue is, there's really no 'plan B' when it comes to the quarterback position. Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins aren't better options than Big Ben as hard as that is to believe. With a cluster of key injuries on the defensive side of the football, Pittsburgh now has to limp into Lambeau Field to face the red hot Packers. It doesn't get much easier from there as the Steelers host the currently undefeated Broncos in Week 5 before facing the Seahawks in Week 6. If they don't find a way to turn things around by then the season may already be circling the drain by the time their bye rolls around in Week 7.
We'll stick in the state of Pennsylvania for our other 'stock falling' team this week. Monday night's game in Dallas couldn't have gone much worse. I'm not sure the Eagles have ever been completely sold on moving forward with Jalen Hurts as their long-term answer at quarterback. The fact that they went out and acquired former Jaguars starter Gardner Minshew Jr. in August was telling in my opinion. While injuries have certainly played a role, the Eagles defense hasn't been nearly good enough. Just as we saw last year, the defense has proven to be a pass-funnel unit once again and that's simply not a winning strategy in today's pass-happy NFL. Now comes an extremely difficult home date this Sunday against a Chiefs squad that will undoubtedly be in a sour mood following rare consecutive losses.