The Landry led Steelers jumped into solid playoff contention
Denver Broncos @ Cleveland Browns
You can read the detailed recap here.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Buffalo Bills
This game was never really in doubt. The Bengals came in with more talent and more balance on offense and defense, and are healthy. The Bills entered the contest in quarterback limbo and have been hit hard by injuries, a trend that continued in this game as they lost three more starters. The game was competitive, but the error prone Bills couldn’t last 60 minutes with the Bengals.
Lowlights: There really weren’t any lowlights for the Bengals. To nitpick, statistically, there was little separating the Bills and Bengals in terms of rushing and passing yards, and time of possession. A major deciding factor was the Bill’s lack of discipline in taking the game’s first five penalties for 63 yards, and most could have been avoided. This gave the Bengals incredible field position throughout the first half, with most of their drives starting in Bills’ territory. The Bills on the other hand started drives inside their own 14 yard line. Both results were directly related to bad penalties. Fewer penalties may have changed the game’s first half score, but probably not the result.
Highlights: The reason the result was not likely to change, was the complete dominance of the Bengals offensive line. I haven’t watched every NFL game, but of the ones I have watched, nobody protects a quarterback like the Bengals OL. Andy Dalton had enough time to scan the field and even look at the sidelines for help- “throw to this guy? No? Oh okay that guy. Got it.” Like a few other games this season, Andy Dalton wasn’t sacked and was rarely hurried.
Overall, the Bengals were too talented and too deep to lose to the Bills. Now at 6-0, they are on everyone’s radar as one of two teams to beat in the AFC, if not the NFL. They have passed every test so far in 2015, and have another coming up in two weeks after their bye when they travel to Pittsburgh before hosting the Browns on a short week. My guess is that they would prefer not to have a bye this week to keep up the momentum and because they are one of the healthiest teams in the NFL.
Next up, the Bengals sit back and relax at 6-0.
Baltimore Ravens @ San Francisco 49ers
The Ravens entered another “must win” game and laid another egg. The game was again filled with physical and mental breakdowns by the Ravens offense, defense, and coaching staff.
Let’s see if you’ve heard this one before. Touchdown drops by Steve Smith (which makes four or five for the year just in the end zone alone), bad throws (2 more INTs for 7 on the season), defensive backfield breakdowns in both communication and coverage, and no receiver separation. As a bonus for this week’s game, add in no sense of urgency during a final 1:02 drive that had to end in a TD (a single play took 22 seconds to move 18 yards, and a kicker who didn’t replace his divot after sliding on grass that was meant to fill in San Fran sinkhole.
The beneficiary of this mess was the grateful Colin Kaepernick, who had just 16 completions on the day for 340 yards. I haven’t done the math yet but it appears to be an above average yards per completion rate.
With a record of 1-5, the Ravens simply have to go 9-1 down the stretch, or perhaps 8-2 if things fall their way. That assumption will likely move to 9-0, and 8-1, respectively after they return from Arizona Monday night with a 1-6 record.
Arizona Cardinals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
No Big Ben? No Vick? No problem. Landry Jones leads the Steelers to an improbable victory. It was truly a game of two halves as the Steelers were dominated in the first half, and made the big plays in the second half.
Besides the question at quarterback, the Steelers had no business being in this game at halftime after the Cardinals out-gained them 279-59. The Cardinals were their own worst enemy and couldn’t cash in. On a sad note, Steelers LT Kelvin Beachum tore the ACL and is out for the year.
Despite injuries and suspensions, the Steelers continue to win and are one of five teams above .500 in the AFC. Their defense was bend but don’t break, giving up 469 net yards (mostly through the air), but they forced three turnovers and only allowed 13 points. The win puts them in great position to be a solid playoff contender.
Next up is a game in Kansas City against the struggling Chiefs. This is normally a tough place to play,but the Chiefs team hasn’t been putting up much of a fight.