Tier 1: One of These Teams Is Winning the Super Bowl
Granted, it came against a Bears team that spent the week fighting a multifront PR battle, but the Chiefs offense finally resembled the Chiefs offense on Sunday, putting up 34 first-half points and cruising to an easy 41-10 win. Patrick Mahomes, who tossed three touchdowns and averaged over 8 yards per attempt, made a few ridiculous throws downfield, but this was a relatively chill outing for the NFL’s best quarterback. The offense played well for a full game for the first time this season, and Mahomes didn’t have to do too much to light up the Arrowhead scoreboard.
So why not send Wilson, 24, and, say, two third-round picks – the Jets spent next year’s second-rounder on Rodgers – to the Vikings for Cousins, 35, who’s scheduled to be a free agent at season’s end? With Rodgers vowing to return better than ever, there’s no reason to believe the Jets will pick up Wilson’s fifth-year option next spring. Yet there is reason to believe a quarterback of Cousins’ caliber – at least as it pertains to regular-season play – could reroute this entire organization in a positive direction culturally, if even as a substitute teacher.
Cousins wouldn’t necessarily have to drive the bus for a team that’s (yet again) just seemingly a quarterback away – and you wouldn’t expect him to immediately if he parachutes in. Yet he surely could relatively soon given how well he’s generally played in 2023, “KFC” becoming the fifth player in league history with at least 325 passing yards and multiple TD passes in the first three games of a season. He’s also got a big brain – yes, prone to occasional vapor lock on the field – but one that can synthesize a playbook quickly enough and a former Vikings teammate (running back Dalvin Cook) who could help with the onboarding process. And pulling the Jets (1-2) out of what has all the appearances of another nosedive would be great free agency marketing for Cousins, who – no matter what you think of him as a player – has proven he’s one of the greatest businessmen the league’s ever seen.
JUST IN: Sources close to the New York Jets have told @PardonMyTake that the team is interested in exploring a trade for Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins.— Jake Marsh (@PMTsportsbiz) September 25, 2023
A - Chiefs
You know you’re elite when you can casually roll to a 31-point win on an afternoon your star quarterback has his ankle rolled. Patrick Mahomes looked the best he has all year, spreading the ball to basically every active pass catcher, and Travis Kelce appropriately showed out for Taylor Swift, who played the part of loyal Chiefs fan reasonably well. The defense was arguably even better, with Chris Jones spearheading a front seven that consistently flustered Justin Fields, eliminated Chicago’s ground game and allowed just 11 total first downs. The only reason they don’t get an “A+” is because they let Mahomes stay in the game, up 34, after clearly hurting the ankle that bothered him in the playoffs.
Less than 24 hours after Taylor Swift was spotted at the Kansas City Chiefs’ game against the Chicago Bears—sitting in tight end Travis Kelce’s suite—the star tight end’s jersey sales have exploded.
“Yesterday, Travis Kelce was one of the top 5 selling NFL players and saw a nearly 400% spike in sales throughout the Fanatics network of sites, including NFLShop.com,” Fanatics told TMZ Sports.
One of the most charismatic players in the entire NFL, it’d typically be no surprise to see Kelce as one of its top-selling jerseys. But coming into the 2023 season, he didn’t even rank inside the top 10 of the most popular purchases, trailing his Chiefs teammate Patrick Mahomes and even his brother Jason.
3) Steve Spagnuolo: As brilliant as Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been in Kansas City, one fact that often gets overlooked is that this core won both its Super Bowls when the defense was playing at a high level. That comes back to Andy Reid’s decision to hire Spagnuolo as his defensive coordinator, a move that continues to pay huge dividends this year. The Chiefs’ defense, simply put, has never been this good during the Mahomes era. Spagnuolo’s unit has allowed just 33 points through three games — the only other score generated by a Kansas City opponent came on an interception return for a touchdown in a season-opening loss to Detroit — and it’s getting stronger with each passing week. Spagnuolo has so much versatility and athleticism in this bunch that he can dream up imaginative options to frustrate opposing quarterbacks and stifle their best weapons. He also has his top defender back in the mix, as All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones ended his holdout after missing that Lions defeat. If that isn’t bad enough for the opposition, Spagnuolo is still waiting on defensive end Charles Omenihu, a major free-agent acquisition, to return from a six-game suspension. A lot has been made of the Chiefs’ slow start on offense (even though they just enjoyed a 41-10 win over the Bears). It really hasn’t been that big of an issue because the other side of the football is doing more than enough to help this team win.
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Why the Bengals won
Credit needs to be given to the Cincinnati defense before we highlight the play on offense. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo kept the Los Angeles offense spinning Monday night and constantly kept them out of rhythm. It was a brick wall in the red zone and on third down and was able to apply plenty of pressure on Stafford, taking him down for six sacks and 10 total quarterback hits. Logan Wilson also created two interceptions on the night. That ability to create turnovers, give the offense short fields and, most importantly, keep L.A. out of the end zone were vitally important on a night where Burrow was clearly not at full strength.
Speaking of Burrow, he was able to manage the game fine as he continues to deal with his calf injury. The biggest development was that he finally got in sync with Ja’Marr Chase, who had his best game of the season so far. In fact, his 12 receptions were a career-high, so that is certainly an encouraging sign for this team’s prospects going forward.
Specifically in this game, Chase came up extremely clutch on their lone touchdown drive of the night that helped them claim the lead in the second half. On a third-and-10 play from the Rams 44-yard line, Burrow connected with Burrow for a 13-yard reception that helped keep the drive alive. Four plays later, Joe Mixon barreled into the end zone to go up, 13-9. From that point on, the Bengals did not surrender the lead.
“Just us executing,” Hurts said, describing what it took to gut it out. “It’s not the first time I’ve dealt with this or had to play with something like this. And it always happens on Monday night for whatever reason.”
Hurts was not alone. Center Jason Kelce said a number of Eagles were under the weather leading up to the game.
“It feels like everyone in the world is right now,” he said. “It’s kind of ramping up again. We had a lot of guys on the team this week ... it’s kind of maybe that time of year right now in Philly.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
In short, McKinnon was an essential part to the league’s No. 1 offense — so when the offense re-emerged during Sunday’s 41-10 rout of the Chicago Bears, it was no coincidence that the running back scored twice. While McKinnon had just 28 yards over five touches, both of his touchdowns came in the red zone.
In fact, McKinnon played an important role in each of the game’s first three touchdown drives:
He scored the first touchdown, catching a flip pass and running in from six yards out.
In the second drive, he moved the chains on a third-down red-zone play, catching a checkdown and getting upfield to keep the drive going.
He caught the team’s third touchdown, running to the front pylon and securing the pass.
A tweet to make you think
After most of three weeks, Jawaan Taylor's positioning is still a hot topic around the #NFL @DeanBlandino explains the flags on Taylor in Week 3, and wonders if the league may continue to emphasize keeping tackles on the line pic.twitter.com/1Ze34OIHZW— The 33rd Team (@The33rdTeamFB) September 25, 2023