Oh. My God.
The Cowboys are good. Really good.
That’s the biggest takeaway from Week 6 as Jason Garrett’s team went to Seattle and shocked the Seahawks. But that wasn’t all that happened yesterday. The tide is changing in Detroit, the Browns are suddenly fun, we still don’t know about the Ravens, and there are plenty of interesting things happening to your fantasy team.
It’s Monday. It’s the Rewind. Check it out.
The Cowboys Are Back. Really? Yes, Really
Let’s just get the stats out of the way. Russell Wilson had lost just once at home in his career. The Seahawks had lost just once at home as a team in their last 20 home games. Dallas hadn’t won in Seattle since 2004.
All of those streaks came to an end on Sunday.
In the most surprising result of the 2014 season, the Cowboys went to Seattle and took it to the Seahawks coming away with a 30-23 victory on Sunday. DeMarco Murray rushing for 100+ yards for the sixth straight game doesn’t tell the story. The Cowboys rushed 37 times for 162 yards and dominated the Seahawks defense in a fashion that hasn’t been seen in a long time. Tony Romo didn’t throw an interception. The defense held Seattle to just 126 yards passing.
Dare I say that this Cowboys team is complete?
Dallas currently sits at 5-1 with the best record in the NFC. If you try to say that you thought this would happen, you’re lying. This is the biggest win in Jason Garrett’s tenure as head coach and the biggest win that the franchise has had in over a decade. This team is for real. They run the ball, stop the run, and create turnovers. Most importantly, Tony Romo doesn’t have to win the game anymore. If Dallas keeps this up, they could be real contenders come January. For now, we’ll just call them one of the best teams in the NFC.
The Tide Has Changed in Detroit
For nearly their entire existence, the Detroit Lions have long been identified as a team with a solid offense, but poor defense. However, the tide is changing in Detroit. This time, it’s the defense taking charge.
That was evident in the Lions’ 17-3 victory over the Vikings on Sunday. Detroit sacked Teddy Bridgewater 8 times (led by Ziggy Ansah’s 2.5 sacks) and caused Minnesota to turn it over 3 times. Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense continued to struggle on Sunday and, outside of Week 1 against the Giants, has eclipsed more than 20 points just once this season.
I was skeptical of this defense at first. But six weeks has me believing that the Detroit defense is legit. It’s something that most Lions fans have never seen in their lifetimes. It’s also the primary reason why the Lions are 4-2 at this moment.
10 Fantasy Thoughts From Sunday
1. Cam Newton looked like the quarterback of old. Sure, Newton’s 284 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air were impressive. But the most positive thing from his performance were his 17 carries for 107 yards. It shows that Newton is feeling better from the rib and ankle injuries that plagued him in the early weeks. It also shows that he could be a top-5 fantasy quarterback for the rest of the season.
2. Julius Thomas has 9 touchdowns through 5 games. It’s not unrealistic to think he can break Randy Moss’s single season record of 23.
3. Speaking of the Broncos, Ronnie Hillman rushed for over 100 yards on Sunday. More importantly, he had 24 carries. Even when Montee Ball returns, Hillman could keep the job.
4. Torrey Smith had 2 touchdowns on Sunday against the Bucs, but I’m still not buying him as anything more than a flex play. Even with his scores, he had just 5 targets for the entire game. Steve Smith is still the #1 option on this team.
5. It’s time to say goodbye to Cordarrelle Patterson. 1 catch, 2 yards on Sunday. 9 total catches in his last 4 games.
6. You too, C.J. Spiller.
7. There isn’t a running back on Tampa Bay worth starting. That includes you, Bobby Rainey.
8. Ben Tate has 47 carries in 2 games since returning from injury. He’s approaching low-end RB1 status.
9. If you haven’t traded Emmanuel Sanders by now, your window may be closed.
10. Other than Gronk, there isn’t a Patriots skill player worth owning.
Stick A Fork in the Falcons
Atlanta entered Sunday with a prime opportunity to get back to .500 and get their season back on track. Instead, after getting drubbed by the Bears 27-13 at home, we can now confirm that the Atlanta Falcons just aren’t a very good football team.
Let’s give credit to the Chicago defense. The middle of the defense was aggressive early in the game, laid hits, and made Atlanta’s wide receivers fearful to go across the middle. But the Falcons gave up on the running game far too early against a middle of the road run defense. Atlanta rushed the ball just 13 times. They were dominated in time of possession (36 minutes to 24 minutes). All of that combined led to Atlanta getting just 12 first downs.
This feels like a rewind of last season for Atlanta. High expectations at the beginning of the season were married by injuries during the middle of the season which led to disappointing results at the end. But injuries aside, Atlanta still contains the passiveness that plagued last season’s team. Opposing teams are dominating them in the trenches. At 2-4, you can go ahead and stick a fork in this team for the rest of the season.
Cincinnati’s Tie Should Feel Like A Loss
The Bengals looked setup for a nice rebound victory after last week’s debacle in New England. Andy Dalton had driven the team to just inside the 20 yard line and centered the ball on the field. Mike Nugent trotted out to attempt what many expected to be a gimme 36-yard field goal.
And he missed it.
The Bengals and Panthers may have tied on Sunday, but it should feel like a loss to Cincinnati. They were in prime position to regain the lead atop the AFC North at 4-1. Instead, they wake up this morning deflated from a disappointing tie.
Should Marvin Lewis have gone for more yards at the end of the game instead of letting the last 30 seconds tick off the clock? In hindsight, absolutely. But a 36-yard field goal is routine to NFL teams not named the Detroit Lions. After Sunday, you can add the Bengals to that list.
Vintage Brady, Vintage Results
On Sunday, the Patriots needed their leader. New England had suffered a mountain of injuries — most notably a likely season ending injury to LB Jerod Mayo. Although they were beaten and battered, they weren’t broken. And their leader came to save them.
Tom Brady threw for 361 yards and 4 touchdowns in yesterday’s 37-22 win over the Bills. It felt like we were watching 2007 Tom Brady. His deep balls were on point. He stretched the field. He moved around just enough to elude defenders. And, in the end, he did just enough to get his team the victory. It was the 8th time in Brady’s career that he’s thrown for 350+ yards and 4+ touchdowns.
No matter what you take away from New England’s last two games, there’s no denying the resolve of Bill Belichick’s team. They fight and scratch to the bitter end. With so many injuries on Sunday, the team will need that resolve more than ever for Week 7 — they play the Jets on Thursday night.
The Browns Can Contend for the AFC North Title
One of the most pleasant surprises on the young season has been the Cleveland Browns. They’re young, they’re competitive, and they’re exciting. And that’s all without Johnny Manziel starting a game.
Cleveland beat the Steelers for just the second time in Ben Roethlisberger’s career on Sunday with a 31-10 victory. They did it with Brian Hoyer completing less than 50% of his passes. Pittsburgh had more first downs than Cleveland. They also lost the time of possession battle.
But none of that matters. This team is gritty. They feel like the Kansas City Royals of the NFL. After returning from injury, Ben Tate has run like a man possessed. His 2 touchdowns on Sunday allowed the Browns to control the ball on offense and limit the chances Roethlisberger and his Steelers offense had to stage a comeback.
At 3-2, the Browns are legit contenders to win the AFC North — where no team currently sits below .500. The longer this team competes, the longer Johnny Manziel sits on the bench. And, in the end, the better the Browns will be.
We Still Don’t Know Anything About the Ravens
Through six weeks, the identity of several teams remains unknown. At the top of that list are the Baltimore Ravens. Sunday’s 48-17 thrashing of the Bucs in Tampa added yet another chapter of mystery to John Harbaugh’s team.
Frankly, we have no idea whether the Ravens are any good. Although Joe Flacco threw for over 300 yards and 5 touchdowns on Sunday, the offense has disappeared at times throughout multiple games. The defense has remained solid, but doesn’t have the “wow” factor. Maybe that’s part of Harbaugh’s master plan — to have his team show nothing in the early weeks only to peak at playoff time. Or maybe this team just isn’t as good as their 4-2 record indicates. Through 6 weeks, we have no idea.