The Cardinals know they are facing an improved bunch in this year’s version of the Rams, however.
Arizona is 5-0-1 in its past six games against NFC West opponents and 9-3-1 in its past 13 vs. the division, which marks the fourth-best winning percentage (.731) for a team against its own division during that span.
The bodies are the same, but the structure of the defense is totally different, Arians said. They’re still very aggressive. (Defensive Coordinator) Wade Phillips is one of the best coaches there is, and Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald and Alec Ogletree, they’re all the same guys, but they’re in different structures but still very dangerous.
The way Smith’s game has progressed was on display on Sunday night in the Chiefs’ 42-34 win over the Texans. He completed 29 of 37 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns. In the first half, the Chiefs converted seven of 10 third down attempts. Every single successful third down in that half came on a pass from Smith. He was able to spread the ball around, hitting 10 different receivers en route to the 42-34 win.
He did it with Travis Kelce sidelined for most of the game and on a relatively quiet day for rookie sensation Kareem Hunt, who was held out of the end zone.
Kelce left the game in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion, but he was cleared to return. He was out again with a possible head injury in the second half. Kelce still contributed while he was on the field. Even in limited action, he was the team’s leading receiver with eight catches for 98 yards.
Hunt didn’t make much of a difference in the game, even though he still finished with 107 rushing yards. That’s a low-key performance for the rookie whose second-half rushing total alone was more than any other running back this season. Against the Texans, Smith showed he is able to guide these Chiefs to a win even without outrageous production from Hunt.
At the end of the year, he had 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Darnold wasn’t even the starter when the 2016 season began, but junior Max Browne struggled in a 1-2 start to the season. The freshman was handed the reins and lost his first start, then led the Trojans to nine consecutive wins to finish the season, including a 52-49 win over Penn State in the Rose Bowl.
The impressive run for USC got the hype train rolling at full speed, with Darnold overshadowing players in a 2017 draft class that he wasn’t even in:
Things continued into the summer when Darnold broke records as a counselor at a quarterback camp that has previously featured players like Deshaun Watson, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel. He also made ridiculous throws to receivers off the back of a boat, and entered the 2017 season as the Heisman Trophy favorite ahead of 2016 winner Lamar Jackson.
It’s going to be a difficult road for the Texans with their two best defenders out for the rest of the year, but perhaps this season things will shift and Watson and Houston’s offense will carry the defense for a change.
The NFLPA was right to expect an unfavorable outcome. Henderson upheld Elliott’s suspension, and Elliott’s representatives petitioned Judge Amos Mazzant in the Eastern District Court of Texas for an emergency injunction that would lift Elliott’s suspension until a decision was reached on the court case. Mazzant ruled in favor of the NFLPA, saying in his decision that the NFL did not give Elliott a fundamentally fair hearing. That allowed Elliott to continue playing.
The league has been unwilling to live with that decision. The NFL appealed to Mazzant with an emergency motion for a stay of the injunction. Mazzant is the one who issued the decision on the injunction, and it would be unusual for a judge to overturn his own ruling. So the league also took its motion to the 5th Circuit appellate court as a backup plan, claiming Mazzant lacked jurisdiction.
The Raiders were supposed to be fun this year. What happened?
The 2016 Raiders were 12-4, and probably would’ve been 13-3 if Derek Carr had been healthy at the end of the season. They were an offensive juggernaut, at the top of the league in many offensive categories. This season, after starting 2-0, they’ve lost four in a row, totaling the same amount of losses they did last year in just six weeks this year. What is happening in the East Bay? It’s eerily similar to what’s happening in Dallas.
But now the Vikings and Packers share the lead at 4-2, with the Lions just behind at 3-3. The division features a hodgepodge of quarterbacks and four teams that all look very beatable.
Minnesota Vikings are getting devoured by injuries
With a 23-10 win over the Packers, the Vikings are tied atop the NFC North. But many of the most encouraging things about Minnesota’s early start are gone.
Dalvin Cook is done for the year after tearing his ACL, and Sam Bradford’s entire career may be in jeopardy due to his long history of knee problems that were only exacerbated by a terrible, premature return from injury in Week 5.
Rodgers is one of the all-time greats at the position, a future Hall of Famer, and someone the Packers simply can’t replace.
The best they can do is hope Brett Hundley can keep the team afloat and live up to the potential that made him a fifth-round pick in 2015. But with the Packers looking much less intimidating, the playoff hunt in the NFC looks a lot different.