We're seeing the NFL pretty well right now off a 4-1 Sunday and Monday card last week. As we approach the midway point of the season it's a great time to take stock of where a number of teams stand entering the first Sunday in November.
The Ravens find themselves in a huge statement spot this Sunday as they host the undefeated division-rival Steelers. Baltimore's bandwagon seemed to clear entirely following that ugly loss to the Chiefs on Monday Night Football last month. Since then, the Ravens have gone a perfect 3-0, but they've beaten the likes of Washington, Cincinnati and Philadelphia - not exactly a who's who of the league's best teams. I do think we see Baltimore's best this Sunday but will it be enough against the streaking Steelers?
Los Angeles Chargers
I'm of the mind that the Chargers are far better than their 2-4 record indicates. They followed up a season-opening victory with four straight losses, but three of those setbacks came against three of the league's best teams in Kansas City, Tampa Bay and New Orleans. Last week we saw the Bolts get back on track with a 39-29 win over the Jaguars. QB Justin Herbert appears to be getting more comfortable running the offense with each passing week and now he has a chance to really get the team rolling with the next four games coming against the Broncos, Raiders, Dolphins and Jets.
New Orleans Saints
All of the Drew Brees critics have gone silent in recent weeks as the veteran quarterback has guided the Saints to three straight victories, throwing for well over 800 yards and five touchdown passes in the process. New Orleans' schedule admittedly starts to toughen up in November as it travels to face Chicago and Tampa Bay in the next two games. With that being said, it does look like Sean Payton's squad has regained its identity and appears well-positioned to challenge atop the NFC South.
We cashed a ticket fading the Bears on Monday Night Football as they not surprisingly proved to be a fraudulent 5-1 team in an ugly loss to the Rams. Chicago's offense remains unimaginative and the question remains whether it's Nick Foles or Mitchell Trubisky that should be running it. A return home may not be enough to cure their woes, noting that the Bears have scored a grand total of just 48 points in three games at Soldier Field this season.
It may seem odd to find the Browns in our 'stock falling' category this week. After all they're 5-2 on the season and coming off a thrilling win in Cincinnati last Sunday. There are plenty of concerns. First of all, Cleveland has been shredded for 62 points over its last two games. In fact, the Browns have allowed at least 30 points in five of seven contests this season. Now their offense is hamstrung as well with WR Odell Beckham Jr. done for the season and QB Baker Mayfield showing plenty of inconsistency. Look for them to go even more run-heavy than usual moving forward.
New England Patriots
We'll put the Patriots in this category again this week as they try to pick up the pieces following their worst performance of the season in a blowout home loss to the 49ers last week. I'm not sure any team misses having its fans in the stadium than the Pats. But that's obviously no excuse for the team's performance on the field over the last few games. Perhaps head coach Bill Bellichick has never faced a challenge like the one he is up against this year. We'll see how the Pats respond this Sunday in Buffalo.