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Rashod Bateman Reflects On Rookie Season And Explains What’s Next For The Ravens

For any former rookie in the NFL, their second offseason is night and day from their first one. In exchange for times when they were unsettled and readjusting to the evolving speed of the pro level, they’ve gained a calmer sense of who they are, what to expect, and why it’s happening. It’s a reality most commonly seen by wide receivers, and Rashod Bateman is a prime example.

The 2021 first-round pick out of the University of Minnesota joined the Baltimore Ravens with clear expectations— to become a very reliable target for former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson. Standing at 6-foot-1 with sure hands and capable of running a 4.43 40-yard dash, Bateman immediately boosted the AFC North competitor’s offense. But it was towards the end of last season that the NFL understood why.

Despite missing his first five games, the Tifton, GA native finished with 46 catches, 515 receiving yards, and his first NFL touchdown— scored in Week 16 against the eventual AFC Champion, Cincinnati Bengals. “Throughout everything I experienced last year, I learned what it meant to be patient,” Bateman told me. “Letting everything play out was the best thing.”

Coming off of a rookie campaign where both his catches and receiving yards were top-ten across a stellar wide receiver draft class, Bateman’s expectations have only increased again. After wide receiver Marquise Brown was traded to the Arizona Cardinals on draft night, all eyes are on the Minnesota product to step up and show out. But don’t expect Bateman to take that for granted.

“If it’s God’s will and we’re healthy, we can do some special things,” Bateman told me. “Our entire organization is good from top to bottom; we’ve been through a lot, and most importantly, we’re hungry.” As the NFL off-season continues, Bateman and the Ravens will continue to build towards what could be another competitive season in the DMV.

To follow Rashod, click here!

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The Rams Create Change At The Top Of NFL Week 15 Power Rankings

For the first time in seven seasons, no team has clinched a playoff berth by the end of Week 14— and it’s not a guarantee that it will happen this upcoming weekend either. Down below are our latest power rankings before we enter Week 15 of this NFL season.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3) – As long as Tom Brady is on the field, the Buccaneers will always thrive in big moments. Sure, they let a 24-3 second-half lead disappear, but Brady salvaged the game with a walk-off 58-yard touchdown in overtime.

2. New England Patriots (9-4) – The Patriots didn’t even play last weekend, but they won in spirit by staying the AFC’s No. 1 seed. Next is a massive Saturday night matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, the newly-placed No. 6 wild-card seed in their conference.

3. Green Bay Packers (10-3) – After chasing the Cardinals for a few weeks, the Packers are finally in the driver’s seat of the NFC via the No. 1 seed. But can they stay there after traveling to Baltimore and facing a highly motivated Ravens team this Sunday?

4. Arizona Cardinals (10-3) – Even though the character of this year’s Cardinals is respected, Arizona faces a new raft of questions after dropping a crucial home game to the Rams. These next few weeks will be especially telling as they look to rebound from the loss while several key players—in particular, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins—try to shake off some rust.

5. Kansas City Chiefs (9-4) – After weeks of unusual struggles, the Chiefs’ offense re-found their stride, scoring 48 points against their divisional rival, Las Vegas Raiders. Despite only being the AFC’s third seed, the AFC West leader is very much in the race for the AFC’s top spot, boasting the same record as the Patriots and Titans.

6. Los Angeles Rams (9-4) – If you have any questions about the Rams and their legitimacy, their primetime road win over the Arizona Cardinals should have answered that for you. This team has rightfully created championship expectations and has maintained them by winning big games the way they did on Monday night.

7. Dallas Cowboys (9-4) – Although they’ve won two consecutive games, the Cowboys need a statement win to reassert themselves as true contenders before the playoffs begin.

8. Tennessee Titans (9-4) – As mentioned in last week’s rankings, the doctor’s order of a bye week followed by a home matchup against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars was what the Titans needed. It’s a crucial win for a team that’s still in the hunt for a first-round bye in the postseason.

9. Los Angeles Chargers (8-5) – The Chargers’ chances of making the postseason are becoming more realistic, and that’s exciting for L.A. and the entire league. On any given week, quarterback Justin Herbert has the potential to be the most electric quarterback in the NFL.

10. Baltimore Ravens (8-5) – The Ravens are now the second team to be given the “Scary Hours” treatment within these rankings, and rightfully so. Their inconsistent yet exciting style of play has buckled under the weight of injuries to star players and the red-hot Packers are coming to town this Sunday.

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The Patriots Chase The Cardinals For The Top of The NFL Week 14 Power Rankings

To quote Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz:”It’s December; everything feels like a playoff game.” As playoff-contending teams desperately compete for a playoff berth, additional attention gets paid to the standings and scoreboards, where heartbreak and excitement take center stage for a thrilling dance. Down below are our latest power rankings before we enter Week 14 of this NFL season.

1. Arizona Cardinals (10-2) – Things continue to look up for the Cardinals as they became the first team in the NFL to reach the 10-win total this season. Even better: QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins returned to the starting lineup.

2. New England Patriots (9-4) – It doesn’t matter how intemperate the weather or how talented the opponent: the newly-minted No. 1 seed in the AFC knows how to win. The Pats’ win against the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football might stand out as their biggest of the regular season, possibly locking up the AFC East crown.

3. Green Bay Packers (9-3) – The Packers have practically nothing to worry about in terms of competition from their division, so their focus coming off of their bye week is to continue their pursuit of the NFC’s No. 1 seed and the home-field advantage and first-round bye that come with it.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3) – When the month turns to December, quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski become the living example of winning football. Last Sunday, the four-time Super Bowl-winning duo moved into second place all-time for most regular-season touchdowns between a passer and receiver (90).

5. Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) – Even though their offense continues to struggle, the Chiefs defense deserves immense credit for stepping up when it matters most. With a 22-9 divisional win over the Denver Broncos, the Chiefs’ D has held three of their last four opponents to single digits.

6. Baltimore Ravens (8-4) – As mentioned in last week’s power rankings, the Ravens desperately need to improve their performance as their narrow wins have turned into losses. And who would’ve thought the player who needs to step up the most now is quarterback Lamar Jackson?

7. Dallas Cowboys (8-4) – Sometimes it takes a win to get everything back on track, and the Cowboys managed to do that last Thursday by defeating the New Orleans Saints, 27-17. But the biggest question moving forward is whether they can fend off a red-hot Washington Football Team and maintain their lead in the NFC East.

8. Tennessee Titans (8-4) – The combination of a bye week and a home matchup against the two-win Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday could be what the doctor ordered if the Titans want to get right. It also doesn’t hurt that wide receiver Julio Jones has been cleared to practice despite his lack of production this season.

9. Los Angeles Rams (8-4) – Now that they’re back on the winning side of things, the Rams have a primetime matchup against the Cardinals next Monday night on tap. If any team needs a huge statement win, it’s the Rams, especially if they win on the road.

10. Buffalo Bills (7-5) – The inconsistency that has plagued the Bills in recent weeks was displayed on Monday Night Football in their 14-10 loss to the Patriots. Although the strong winds forced Buffalo to abandon their normal scheme, the Bills still struggled to do anything right in Week 13.

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There’s Chaos On Top Of The NFL Week 13 Power Rankings

As we enter the last month of 2021 tomorrow, the home stretch of the NFL season will arrive shortly. Alongside watching the AFC and NFC playoff races intensify, there will be great speculation (or anticipation) about the futures surrounding various head coaches and front offices. But like many things in life, we have to wait for these developments to play out. Down below are our latest power rankings before we enter Week 13 of this NFL season.

1. Arizona Cardinals (9-2) – The Cardinals are sitting pretty through their bye week, maintaining their perch as the NFC’s #1 seed. Their biggest win of the week, though, was that they gained extra cushion in their division as the Los Angeles Rams continued their November skid.

2. Green Bay Packers (9-3) – If there’s ever a way to bounce back from a tough divisional loss, it’s to beat a fellow playoff contender on prime-time television. The Packers certainly looked and played the part of a championship-contending team in their 36-28 victory over the Rams.

3. New England Patriots (8-4) – After a 2-4 start, the Patriots have surged to the top of the AFC. If there were any doubts of their legitimacy, the Pats put them to rest in their 36-13 shellacking of the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. And a massive part of their success? Turnovers. The Patriots have had the league’s second-best turnover differential (+10) since Week Six.

4. Baltimore Ravens (8-3) – The Ravens have a good record and are the #1 seed in the AFC, but have been plagued by sloppy, mediocre play. Throughout December, the AFC North leaders must sharpen up if they want to be a true Super Bowl contender.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3) – You can choose to pick apart the Bucs’ overall performance against the Colts last Sunday, but they won’t care. At this point of the season, the reigning Super Bowl champion will take any win possible, given their struggles with age, injuries, and inconsistency.

6. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) – A huge divisional matchup against the Denver Broncos is on the horizon, giving the new AFC West a chance to build on their latest wave of momentum. But in their attempt to do so, the question regains whether the Chiefs’ once-great offense can regain its rhythm. They’ve only scored 20 or more points once out of their previous five games.

7. Tennessee Titans (8-4) – Is it time to panic in Nashville? Not yet. Despite being severely outplayed by the Patriots in last Sunday’s loss, the Titans didn’t lose ground in the AFC South divisional race because their divisional rival, the Indianapolis Colts, squandered a double-digit second-half lead to the Bucs and lost in the final seconds.

8. Buffalo Bills (7-4) – On Thanksgiving, the Buffalo Bills blew out the New Orleans Saints 31-6, providing hope that they can regain the excellent form they demonstrated earlier in the year. Unfortunately, they may face an up-hill battle in their air-tight divisional race against the Patriots moving forward as the Bills will have to adjust to life without All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White who suffered a season-ending knee injury last Thursday night.

9. Los Angeles Rams (7-4) – In the words of Drake, it’s officially “Scary Hours” for the Rams. The championship-contending hopeful went winless in November, haven’t received meaningful contributions from new trade acquisitions in wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr and pass-rusher Von Miller, and are now 1-4 against teams with a winning record.

10. Dallas Cowboys (7-4) – While it was nice for the Cowboys to be effective on offense against the Las Vegas Raiders, their defense took a massive step back in their 36-33 overtime loss on Thanksgiving. And even though the NFC East isn’t the most competitive division, the Cowboys have to watch out for the surging Washington Football Team, who’ve won three consecutive games and stand at 5-6.

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The Cardinals Regain The Top Spot Of NFL Week 12 Power Rankings

With Thanksgiving week officially here, this is the time to take stock of the NFL season as the season nears the home-stretch. And while some are in the holiday spirit because they’re thankful for their good fortune so far (Arizona Cardinals), others desire better results (Buffalo Bills). Down below are our latest power rankings before we enter Week 12 of this NFL season.

1. Arizona Cardinals (9-2) – Despite their two-game skid, the injury-plagued Cardinals proved their championship mettle last week by racking up a 23-13 divisional victory over the Seattle Seahawks. And the good news continues for NFC’s No. 1 seed: they have a bye this week, thus giving themselves and injured star QB Kyle Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins additional time to recover.

2. Green Bay Packers (8-3) – Although there are no necessarily easy games in the NFL, contests against a divisional rival are especially difficult. As such, it’s hard to ding the Packers too much for dropping a game to the Minnesota Vikings, who are much better than their record suggests. But what matters most is that the Packers are still in charge of their division, and their conference’s top seed is still very much in play.

3. Tennessee Titans (8-3) – The only negative about the AFC South leader is their tendency to lose focus against bad teams. To lose the way they did against the now two-win Houston Texans will either serve as a huge reality check or cause a downward spiral.

4. Los Angeles Rams (7-3) – Although the term “must-win” is overused in sports, the Rams are playing a must-win game against the Green Bay Packers this Sunday. On every level, the NFC West competitor has to produce their finest performance yet and get back on track.

5. Dallas Cowboys (7-3) – Following their 19-9 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, the Cowboys have to quickly address this trend of struggling against physical teams, as evident in their losses to the Chiefs and Denver Broncos. Moreover, in these recent losses, the Cowboys’ opponents were able to neutralize Dallas’s potent offense by controlling time of possession and the tempo of the game.

6. New England Patriots (7-4) – Just when millions of NFL fans thought the Patriots wouldn’t be in the playoff conversation for a couple of years at least, the Pats back in it and couldn’t have chosen a better time. While their schedule has a few tough matchups remaining (Twice against the Bills and a road game against the Colts), the Patriots have enough talent and coaching to continue their five-game winning streak.

7. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) – Three years into the Chiefs’ growing championship dynasty, they’ve finally reached that “a win is a win” stage. Regardless of who is leading the way, head coach Andy Reid and his team only care about winning, and that mentality is why they’re once again leading the AFC West.

8. Baltimore Ravens (7-3) – It’s impressive anytime you can win on the road in a tough environment without your best and most important player—on Sunday, the Ravens did just that, beating the Bears without Lamar Jackson. As witnessed in the AFC, there’s a vast difference between being 7-3 or 6-4 in a tight playoff race and for the Ravens to stay afloat? That’s big time.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) – It wasn’t pretty, and at times it was downright concerning, but the defending champs won by 20 points at the end of the night against the New York Giants. If the Buccaneers want to send a message to the rest of the league, they’ll go into Indianapolis this Sunday and manhandle an emerging and confident Colts team.

10. Indianapolis Colts (6-5) – The Colts are winners of five out of their last six games, including two impressive road wins against San Francisco and Buffalo. The league’s hottest offensive player plays for them (running back Jonathan Taylor). And lastly, the Colts’ defense is the league leader in takeaways (25). If there’s ever a team to look out for in December and possibly January, it’s this one.

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The Packers Lead The NFL Week 10 Power Rankings

With the weather quickly changing and our sun setting earlier, the alignment between mother nature and the NFL is once again aligned uniquely through the act of change. In a topsy-turvy season, this week didn’t provide much clarity about the prospects of several presumptive Super Bowl contenders. The buzziest team faltered (Los Angeles Rams); clutch teams collapsed down the stretch (Baltimore Ravens); chaos-addled teams won big games (Green Bay Packers). Down below are our latest power rankings before we enter Week 11 of this chaotic NFL season.

1. Green Bay Packers (8-2) – Raise your hand if you ever heard of the phrase “defense wins championships.” While the Packers have an at-times explosive offense, it’s their third-ranked defense that has served as the foundation of their NFC-best start. On Sunday, they held the Seattle Seahawks scoreless, handing Russell Wilson the first shut-out of his career. 

2. Tennessee Titans (8-2) – Alongside playing better defense in recent weeks, the Titans demonstrated the crafty IQ of a veteran team during their 23-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints. But such craftiness and toughness will get tested when the Titans travel to Foxboro to face the streaking New England Patriots on Sunday.

3. Dallas Cowboys (7-2) – In the words of musician Drake, Dallas “had to go and hit reset, now we’re here.” After an ugly loss last week, the NFC East leader trounced the Atlanta Falcons in their 43-3 win last Sunday, demonstrating that they’re the most explosive offense in the league.

4. Arizona Cardinals (8-2) – Even though every team in the NFL gets impacted by injuries, it’s completely different when you’re missing arguably the league’s best quarterback and wide receiver duo in Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins. Still, the Cardinals’ defense needs to become stingier after surrendering 34 points to the Carolina Panthers last Sunday.

5. Los Angeles Rams (7-3) – Just as even the best offenses are due for a bad game, good teams are susceptible to bad stretches too. While it’s surprising to watch the Rams struggle, a midseason slump isn’t necessarily fatal for their Super Bowl dreams. The biggest question is how fast can the Rams right the ship with seven weeks remaining.

6. Buffalo Bills (6-3) – A week after suffering their biggest loss of the season, the Bills bounced back with ease by dismantling the New York Jets, 45-17, on the road. Although the Jets are hardly stiff competition, it’s encouraging that the Bills beat them so resoundingly. Next Sunday, the Bills can continue to prove their bona fides as an elite team against a talented and physical Colts team.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) – For the second year in a row, the Buccaneers have hit a mid-season skid, losing two games in a row due to various injuries and inconsistency. While their remaining schedule is mostly against opponents below .500, the defending champs’ chance to repeat becomes less likely if their current performance continues.

8. Baltimore Ravens (6-3) – There isn’t much to say regarding the Ravens’ 22-10 upset loss against the Miami Dolphins other than the fact everybody not named Lamar Jackson has to step up immediately if the Ravens want to be taken seriously as a contdner. 

9. New England Patriots (6-4) – The Patriots have officially legitimized their run for this year’s postseason by winning four consecutive games, capped off by a 45-7 win against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Bill Belichick is showing why he’s one of the greatest coaches in the history of American sports and rookie quarterback Mac Jones has settled in and adjusted to the speed of the game.

10. Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) – Ready or not, here comes the Chiefs. The reigning AFC champion has returned to the top of their division, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ five passing touchdowns in their 41-17 divisional win over the Las Vegas Raiders. And with a primetime matchup against the 7-2 Cowboys on Sunday, the Chiefs have a perfect opportunity to remind everyone of who they are.

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The Cardinals and Titans Shine In The NFL Week 9 Power Rankings

Among the many quotes created about life in the NFL, none is more accurate than it’s a “week to week league.” Besides stating the obvious of the NFL’s overall season being dictated by weekly action instead of daily, the term “week to week league” also represents the constant change we witness every Sunday. Did you believe the Jacksonville Jaguars would defeat the Buffalo Bills? Are you still surprised at the late-game heroics of quarterback Lamar Jackson? Down below are our latest power rankings before we enter Week 10 of the NFL season.

1. Arizona Cardinals (8-1) – It said a lot about the Cardinals that they were able to take care of business on the road against a tough divisional rival despite missing two of their best players (QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins). With their bye week coming in three weeks, and only two games remaining against winning teams (Rams and Cowboys), there’s a realistic chance the Cardinals can finish the regular season either 16-1 or 15-2.

2. Tennessee Titans (7-2) – Talks of the Titans’ gloom and doom future without running back Derrick Henry may be overrated. With a good balance between stellar head coaching and defensive play, the Titans are on track to not only win their division but become the AFC’s No. 1 seed.

3. Green Bay Packers (7-2) – Minus this latest and egregious mistake and distraction involving quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have plenty of reasons to be happy right now. Their defense has been one of the league’s best so far and backed that claim up by holding the Chiefs’ at-times explosive offense to 13 points in Kansas City.

4. Los Angeles Rams (7-2) – All great offenses are due for a bad game so last Sunday was simply time for the Rams to experience that. But among the offensive developments currently occurring across the NFL, make sure you pay attention to wide receiver Cooper Kupp. The Rams’ No. 1 target not only became the first wideout since Jerry Rice to produce 1,000 receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns in his team’s first nine games but is also on pace to tie new Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson for most receiving yards in a season (1,964).

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2) – Besides regaining greater health, the reigning world champs still have a shot at securing the NFC’s No. 1 seed because of their remaining schedule, which features opponents that are a combined 30-42.

6. Baltimore Ravens (6-2) – When looking at this year’s MVP race, there couldn’t be a greater time for quarterback Lamar Jackson to take the lead and stay out front. Alongside producing at a rate that could have him become one of the league’s rare 5,000-yard passers, the former MVP is likely to eclipse over 1,000 rushing yards, too, and he’s doing so while repeatedly leading the Ravens to late-game victories.

7. Dallas Cowboys (6-2) – As previously mentioned with the Rams, every player and team is due for a bad game in the NFL. But if you’re a fan of the Cowboys, you shouldn’t worry about their upset loss vs. the Denver Broncos. The NFC East leader has little competition inside their division, and quarterback Dak Prescott will regain the same momentum he built before his calf injury.

8. Buffalo Bills (5-3) – It doesn’t feel good in Buffalo that they’ll have one of this season’s most memorable upset losses, but all is not lost. The Bills have all of the talent and coaching necessary to make a deep postseason run, and it helps they’ll have three out of their final four games at home.

9. New Orleans Saints (5-3) – While the Saints’ home loss against the Atlanta Falcons was surprising to some last Sunday, it wasn’t considering their current injury situation and how divisional matchups are consistently competitive regardless of their environment. When it’s all said and done, the Saints have to find their identity just in time to embark on a run to make the postseason.

10. Los Angeles Chargers (5-3) – For a while, the Chargers were an afterthought in the AFC, but quarterback Justin Herbert reminded us of why they had our attention in the first place. Although his Week 9 performance against the Philadelphia Eagles was sensational (356 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an 84% completion percentage), it’s another example of what Herbert has done all season as he’s sixth across the league in passing yards (2,350) and fifth in touchdowns (18).

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Ranking The Ten Best Teams In The NFL Right Now

As we arrive at the halfway point of the 2021 NFL regular season, there is a lot to unpack. We’ve witnessed significant injuries that were brutal to watch. The pairing of some new faces in new places has worked out, and for others? Not so much. The Super Bowl curse is once again working its magic while last year’s ultimate victor looks in good enough shape to repeat.

But regardless of such truth, we are beginning to witness the ‘cream of the crop’ rise in the NFL and position themselves for that huge second-half run that leads one team to championship glory. Down below is a ranking of the top ten best teams across the league right now!

  1. Green Bay Packers (7-1) – Ever since a stunningly bad 38-3 season-opening loss against the New Orleans Saints, the Packers have been the NFL’s best team. Having reeled off seven consecutive victories, Aaron Rodgers and Co. are becoming the league’s version of “Mr. Reliable,” and that’s not a bad thing to be halfway through the season.
  2. Arizona Cardinals (7-1) – There’s very little doubt about the Cardinals, and rightfully so, but concerns are starting to emerge about their run defense. Can they compete for a championship if they’re allowing 120 rushing yards per game and the league’s second-highest yards per carry average to running backs? Even so, the duo of Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins makes Arizona’s offense so special that it’s unwise to doubt this team.
  3. Los Angeles Rams (7-1) – Regardless of where they finished after the regular season, either as NFC West champion or a wild-card participant, the Rams have all the tools necessary to make a championship run. And now that they traded for Pro Bowl pass rusher Von Miller too? Sheesh!
  4. Dallas Cowboys (6-1) – While struggles in their secondary could negatively impact their season (They’ve allowed 31 plays of at least 20 yards downfield), all is well in Dallas. Offensively, the Cowboys are clicking at a high level and have demonstrated that they’re capable of winning tight games, as evidenced by nailbiters against New England and Carolina. 
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-2) – The defending Super Bowl champion could certainly use improvements all across the board and better health, but that hasn’t completely stopped them from looking dominant at times. Quarterback Tom Brady leads the NFL in passing yards (2,650) and touchdowns (25); maybe he actually can play until he’s 50-years-old.

6. Buffalo Bills (5-2) – Does anyone know what to expect from the Bills? Sure, they produced a pair of dominant wins with a combined score of 75-0, but losses to the Titans and Steelers could portend playoff disappointment.  

7. New Orleans Saints (5-2) – Although quarterback Jameis Winston’s season-ending knee injury couldn’t arrive at a worse time, the Saints should survive, thanks to the top-notch coaching of Sean Payton and his staff. The confidence of the Saints’ defense is growing every week as they rank ninth in takeaways (13). Offensively, the reunited running-back duo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram will be prepared to carry the load.

And lastly, the potential return of superstar receiver Michael Thomas from an ankle injury could add a new dynamic to the Saints’ attack.

8. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) – Even with quarterback Lamar Jackson playing the best football of his career and being Superman and saving the day nearly every week, the Ravens haven’t consistently played like a 5-2 team. Three of their wins came at the hands of late-game collapses by Indianapolis, Kansas City, and the win-less Detroit Lions, and every week it’s a question of which Ravens will step up to help their former league MVP.

9. Tennessee Titans (6-2) – It’s easy to look at the Titans and say they’re in massive trouble with star RB Derrick Henry being out for six-ten weeks, but if they have a saving grace, it’s their remaining schedule. Minus their upcoming Sunday night matchup against the LA Rams, the Titans have the third-easiest schedule remaining across the NFL. And when considering the current state of the AFC South, the Titans may only need four or five more wins to repeat as divisional champions.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) – If you’re this AFC North upstart, you hope last Sunday’s loss to the NY Jets was only a bump in the road. Many great things are happening with this team, especially with QB Joe Burrow and WR Jamarr Chase arguably the league’s hottest duo, but a greater level of consistency and finishing games will determine their postseason fate as the regular season rolls on.

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Why Lamar Jackson Should Win MVP, Again

The reports of Lamar Jackson’s death are greatly exaggerated. After a summer of unnamed NFL execs crowing this, finally, will be the year that Lamar Jackson gets “figured out,” it’s obvious that Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are unsolvable. Through the first six weeks of the season, Jackson’s 8.7 yards per passing attempt rank fifth in the league and his 6.1 rushing yards per attempt are tops in the NFL. At the risk of being reductive, Lamar Jackson is a more efficient passer than Tom Brady and a more dynamic runner than Derrick Henry.

But because Lamar Jackson does so much, he’s unfairly knocked for not doing everything—he can’t win from the pocket and he can’t lead a comeback and he’s a system quarterback, his critics bleat. Conversely, nobody cares that Derrick Henry doesn’t throw for 3000 yards a year or that Tom Brady can’t run the inverted veer. 

This year, though, Jackson has been methodically putting old canards to rest—he’s led three comeback wins and his 1686 air yards are the second most in the league. Most impressively, he’s acted as the suture that’s held a battered Baltimore Ravens team together during their 5-1 start. Even without Ronnie Stanley (their All-Pro left tackle) or their top three running backs, the Ravens’ offense is the NFL’s seventh highest scoring unit. 

In this sense, Jackson functions as almost a gridiron version of James Harden, a one-man offensive system that can thrive regardless of the surrounding personnel. Just as Harden wills points into existence through optimized shot selection and sheer resolve, Jackson cripplingly destabilizes defenses with his running ability. His offensive linemen get more push at the line of scrimmage against defenses unaccustomed to the Ravens’ unorthodox ground game; his backs have an inherent numbers advantage in the run game because teams must commit defenders to spying on Jackson; his receivers enjoy free releases since defenses are so concerned with stopping the run. Even when Jackson isn’t at his sharpest, the Ravens offense succeeds because of the conditions that Jackson creates. During Sunday’s rout of the Chargers, Jackson had his worst passing and rushing game of the year and the offense still racked up 34 points. Jackson isn’t a system quarterback—he is the system.

Additionally, Jackson places so much stress on defense at all three levels that teams are inherently handcuffed against him. They can’t play man coverage, lest they risk turning their back on Jackson. They can’t line up in dime, lest they get mauled by the Ravens’ larger personnel groupings. They can’t blitz or else Jackson will simply outrun any pressure. Accordingly, Jackson dictates the terms of engagement to his opponents—he doesn’t need the pre-snap clairvoyance of Tom Brady because he robs defenses of their complexity. 

As such, the concern-trolling about Jackson’s pure passing ability has always been misguided: Jackson isn’t a pure passer, but he’s still the NFL’s best and most valuable player.

He’s great because he’s good enough.