I love the AFC North rivalries and Steelers versus Bengals is always penciled in on my schedule, but Pittsburgh has now won six in a row and nine of the last ten in this matchup. In the seven games they’ve played over the last three seasons, only two were decided by more than one score, but Cincinnati somehow can’t seem to finish against their division rivals, despite objectively putting up a better effort a lot of times. I want to dive into why the Bengals can’t seem to make this an even series.
With the NFL regular season moving into a phase, where all games seem to be of higher magnitude and teams are trying to make a playoff push, I wanted to take a look at the league’s landscape and where I’d rank all 32 squads heading into week 13. All those teams, which are currently part of the playoff picture or in the hunt, have crucial matchups coming up on their schedule and a lot of them still play each other to determine who will be there in the end. I’d like to point out at this point, that standings are secondary and that this list is about how well teams are playing as of right now.
Everybody loves a good one-two-punch. After declaring Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye as the league’s best cornerback-duo in my position rankings a week ago, I thought about who the best tandems at all the other positions are. Obviously, this list only includes pairs players, who are on the field at the same time or alternate heavily. So you won’t find any quarterbacks here. Neither did I mention any combination of tight-ends since very little teams use multiple TE-sets, at least in the passing game, anymore. To make this list, both players have to be active right now. This led to two dynamic duos not making the cut. I also mentioned a couple of challengers for the group after each paragraph. Here’s what I came up with:
The position fans have the hardest time comparing players to each other and ranking them accordingly is cornerback. When people reach outside linebacker nominees in the Pro Bowl voting they look who has the most sacks and with defensive backs the number of interceptions is often the deciding factor. It’s just not that easy. To grade cornerbacks you have to watch the tape and understand their responsibility in the respective schemes. On film you can see if their coverage was that good the opposing quarterback didn’t want to throw their way, what position they were in prior to the pass, how they competed when the ball was in the air and which plays they were responsible for giving up. After watching multiple games of the best corners in the league, I decided to rank the top ten at the position up to this point of the season. This is an evaluation over a span of ten weeks, not who I think are the best in general. So some guys who have proven over time they are worthy of a spot didn’t make the cut, because they haven’t played at the level they are capable of. Here’s my list:
With eight weeks and the trade deadline in the books, there’s plenty of perceptions and realizations around the league. I tried to sum up these developments in twelve observations, I believe to be true. Not everybody will agree with all of them, but I trust what I see with my eyes and I’ll try to make you by what you read here.
There have been some amazing rookie performances so far this season and it’s time to revisit the draft. Some of those young guys have exceeded expectations, while others have yet to play up to their potential or simply haven’t seen the field much as of now. You can never really tell how good your investment will be after just a couple of weeks, but I wanted to list my top 20 rookies at this point. Here they are:
With the landscape of quarterbacks in the NFL pretty unclear right now, I tried to do my best in ranking all 32 starters as of how I think of them right now, going into week six. I made up my own categories to list these guys among, but I didn’t define the difference between each of them. It’s more about which profile they fit and at which stage of their career I believe they are.