1) The Steelers are the best team in the NFL
The Steelers' 28-24 win over the Ravens in Baltimore was pulsating. The best contemporary rivalry in the NFL always lives up to the hype. Sunday's installment was no exception, with Pittsburgh's defense answering the bell twice in the final two minutes -- first stoning Lamar Jackson on a fourth-down run, then breaking up a last-second pass to the end zone -- to hold on for a narrow victory. The league's only undefeated team (7-0) found a way to win despite being outgained 457-221 on the yardage front.
When the Steelers went into halftime trailing 17-7, I honestly thought it was over. The Ravens don't blow double-digit leads at home. That's not in their DNA. But alas, Pittsburgh scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the second half to take a lead, and then Ben Roethlisberger engineered an eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to take the four-point lead that Mike Tomlin's defense made stand. It goes to show how special this version of Pittsburgh really could be. These Steelers can win any style of fight, in any possible way. Meanwhile, the Lamar-led Ravens officially have a big-game issue. Jackson has lost both of his playoff starts, and Baltimore (5-2) has fallen short in its two biggest tests thus far this season: going down Sunday and dropping another home game against the Chiefs back in Week 3.
So, the Steelers are the class of the AFC North. But are they the class of the NFL as a whole? No, that's a false take. It's Kansas City. It's always Kansas City when Patrick Mahomes is in the lineup. The 25-year-old shredded the hapless Jets on Sunday with five touchdown passes, marking the 11th time he's recorded four-plus scoring strikes in his 44 career starts (playoffs included).
I hope this doesn't read as disrespect to Pittsburgh. These Steelers are legit. I picked them to make the playoffs in the preseason, but they are better than I anticipated. I'd put Pittsburgh at No. 2, behind only Kansas City.
2) The Vikings saved their season by beating the Packers in Green Bay
What a stunning turn of events in Lambeau, with the Vikings improving to 2-5 -- while dropping the Packers to 5-2 -- with a 28-22 win. Dalvin Cook was a one-man offense for Minnesota, rushing 30 times for 163 yards and three touchdowns while catching two passes for 63 yards and another score. When this cat's healthy, he's one of most dangerous weapons in football.
But don't get it twisted: The above statement is false. Great win, but the Vikings are still stuck in the NFC North basement, three games below .500. While Cook's an individually brilliant playmaker, every other team in this division is better.
And on the Green Bay front: While the Packers aren't loaded with talent, this was a blip, not a trend. Aaron Rodgers won't let this become a regular thing.
3) The Patriots are cooked after a fourth straight loss
True. New England's finished. The run of consecutive division titles will end at 11. The changing of the guard officially occurred on Sunday, with Buffalo holding on for a 24-21 win over the team that lorded over the AFC East (and NFL) for the better part of two decades.
New England is 2-5, and I'm surprised people are surprised. The Patriots have one of the worst rosters in the league. And now they are injured. And other teams are better. And Cam Newton can't throw (or hold onto) the football. The Pats have thrown fewer touchdown passes than the Jets. New England's allowing 140.4 yards per game on the ground this season. This is a lost cause in 2020. Bag it, Pats.
4) The Dolphins are the real deal
Oh, heck yeah, this is true! I love Brian Flores, who is a legit top-three Coach of the Year candidate midway through this season. The Rams outgained the Dolphins by a whopping 326 yards (471-145) on Sunday. It didn't matter. Flores' defense got the football and put Los Angeles in a position where it was trailing and running uphill all game, with Miami ultimately prevailing 28-17.
Tua Tagovailoa didn't exactly set the world on fire in his first NFL start -- totaling 93 yards on 12-of-22 passing -- but the No. 5 overall pick rocked steady and got the win. He precisely delivered a third-down dart to DeVante Parker for his first NFL touchdown pass. And while he failed to even reach triple digits in the yardage department, Tua didn't throw a pick and made great decisions. He didn't have to do too much, as the Dolphins jumped out to a 28-7 first-half lead, thanks to second-quarter touchdowns from the defense and special teams.
The Dolphins are 4-3, and check out their next four games:
I expect the Fins to take three of four. I expect them to win at least nine games and finish the season way ahead of schedule. Tua has it. And he's only going to get better. Oh, and wait until next year, when Miami has the Texans' first- and second-round picks.
5) Philip Rivers is BACK!
True! With six touchdown passes in his last two games -- against just one interception -- why not! Rivers made great decisions in Sunday's 41-21 win at Detroit. The Lions were hot and confident coming into the game, yet Rivers and Co. dropped six touchdowns on Detroit, with Indianapolis clearing 40 points for the first time since Week 8 of 2018. The Colts had the football for 15 more minutes than the Lions. This was an impressive win.
6) The Bears will be fine
FALSE!!!!!!!!!!!! Is there a limit on exclamation points?
Sure, the Bears lost in overtime to the Saints -- on the surface, nothing to be ashamed of. First of all, though, this was a Saints team missing its top two receivers (Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders). And honestly, the vast majority of the game was filled with wretched quarterback play, confusing coaching, spotty O-line work and generally offensive offense. Also known as Bears football. Don't let the ordinary box score deceive you: Nick Foles was not effective. In fact, FOX analyst Troy Aikman was essentially pining for Mitchell Trubisky at times. Yup, no joke.
I've refuse to take the cheese on Chicago all season long. I questioned these Bears at 5-1. Now they've dropped two straight games and must visit the 5-2 Titans on Sunday.
7) The Chargers are a dispiriting mess
This is true -- historically true. For the fourth straight week, the Chargers blew a lead of 16-plus points. Now, they actually ended up winning one of those games -- the Week 7 contest against Jacksonville -- but you get the idea. And on Sunday's collapse in Denver, which dropped L.A. to 2-5, was the worst one yet.
The game was over. It was 24-3 halfway through the third quarter. The Broncos looked totally inept. In reality, they had the Chargers right where they wanted them. Denver outscored Los Angeles 28-6 from that point forward, with the winning touchdown coming on a Drew Lock pass to KJ Hamler as time expired.
Now, the Bolts do indeed have a young franchise quarterback to build around in rookie Justin Herbert. This is inspiring. This is good. But you cannot continue to subject him to this "can't make it up" losing culture. Major changes need to be made on the coaching staff and roster. The Chargers need a major attitude adjustment.
8) The Raiders can use Sunday's win in Cleveland to fuel a run
Oh, yes they can. And they will. It's true. The Raiders' defense was much-maligned entering Sunday's game, with Las Vegas having given up 30-plus points in each of the previous four games. But in Cleveland, the unit smacked around Baker Mayfield and the Browns in a 16-6 win. Cleveland managed just 223 yards of offense, the lowest number for a Raiders opponent in three years. Those six points from the Browns were the lowest scoring total for a Raiders opponent since 2012. Meanwhile, Josh Jacobs (31 carries for 128 yards) pounded the rock and controlled time of possession (37:43-22:17).
The 4-3 Raiders face the Chargers this Sunday. There's a great expectation to get to 5-3. And then they have the 3-4 Broncos, 2-6 Falcons and 0-8 Jets on the docket in the coming weeks. Yes, a Week 11 bout against Kansas City looms, but don't forget what happened when the Raiders visited the Chiefs less than a month ago.
Sunday's win was a big deal. Something to build off.
9) The Eagles are going to win the NFC East
It's true? I'm Ron Burgundy? I mean, someone has to win this horrendous division, right?
What more can I write here? Philly's been outscored 205-186 by opponents. Wentz has thrown 12 picks and taken 32 sacks -- both NFL highs. Sometimes it's better to be lucky -- and play in this NFC East -- than good.