The Seattle Seahawks are on their bye week, but that doesn’t stop the implications. With the LA Rams losing at home to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, the Seahawks move into sole possession of first place in the NFC West.
Here’s a short lookaround at the NFL and NFC West after Sunday’s midday action:
The Rams drop to 3-2 following the loss, and while the offense looked boring and bland once again, the defense was also surprisingly bad against Buffalo. Though we always knew LeSean McCoy was a good running back, he was amazing against LA, gaining 153 yards on 17 carries, including the game-sealing run following a stupid decision by the Rams to run a fake punt at their own 25 with a few minutes remaining, down by four.
Will Jeff Fisher be turning to Jared Goff now? I am only guessing at this point, but probably not. Case Keenum was 21-of-31 for 271 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions, but Goff is probably still worse at this point. The offense is bad all over with Todd Gurley struggling again by averaging 3.1 yards per carry against the Bills; Gurley is still under 3.0 yards per carry on the season.
The Rams travel to Detroit to face the Lions next week, and they are coming off of a 24-23 upset victory over the previously unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles. The Lions defense is terrible but that might not matter against Keenum and co.
Seattle now prepares to host the Atlanta Falcons and Dan Quinn’s team has probably never felt better. The Falcons are 4-1 after beating the Broncos in Denver 23-16. Though the Broncos were starting the rookie Paxton Lynch at quarterback, that only goes so far to explain Matt Ryan’s continued excellence this season after throwing for 9.5 Y/A and a touchdown vs an elite secondary. Devonta Freeman also rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown while Tevin Coleman had 31 yards on the ground and 132 through the air.
Quinn has a pretty incredible running back duo that often gets overshadowed by the fact that they also have Julio Jones, arguably the best receiver in the NFL.
Atlanta’s defense is still pretty shoddy -- they shut down Lynch for most of the game but still gave up 223 passing yards and a touchdown to the first-time starter — and they’re on pace to allow more touchdowns through the air than even the New Orleans Saints did last season, but the Seahawks definitely have a huge test next week.
After several dominating performances against some of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL, a shutdown of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Tevin Coleman would prove that Seattle could be as good as ever. A dominating performance the other way and Quinn will announce himself as a legit head coaching star.
Whitehurst Returns, Leaves
Charlie Whitehurst won’t die but then again neither will the Cleveland Browns’ ability to kill.
After starter (and former third string quarterback) Cody Kessler left the game against New England with an injury, Whitehurst returned to the NFL once again and 14-of-24 for 182 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in the 33-13 loss. But then Whitehurst limped off and was replaced by another former Seahawks QB: Terrelle Pryor.
Pryor went 1-of-3 for five yards in the game, rushed two times for three yards, and caught five passes for 48 yards. The Browns could be starting their fourth different QB in six games next week against the Titans and the weird thing is that it might not even be Whitehurst, it could be Pryor, or another player who they have to sign off the street on Monday.
Even for the Browns this season is sad.
As noted earlier, the Eagles dropped to 3-1 and likely will slip a bit from their perch atop DVOA rankings. The Lions have the 32nd-ranked defense in DVOA but held Carson Wentz and the Philly offense to 6.1 yards per play (still decent actually) but forced two turnovers. The only undefeated team in the NFL now is the Minnesota Vikings.
Yes, the Vikings. After beating the Houston Texans 31-13 on Sunday, the Vikings are 5-0 and show no signs of slowing down behind Sam Bradford (2 TD, 0 INT on Sunday, 6 TD/0 INT on season) and that’s despite once again being the worst running team in the NFL (2.6 YPC this week.)
A rematch of Seattle and Minnesota in the playoffs may not look much different than it did a year ago, but hopefully it’s a little warmer.
The Dallas Cowboys have also done quite well without their starting quarterback after improving to 4-1 with Dak Prescott following an easy 28-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Also playing without Dez Bryant, the Cowboys dominated the Bengals in almost every aspect of the game: 9.5 YPA and two total TDs by Prescott, 8.9 YPC and two TDs by Ezekiel Elliott, zero points allowed until the fourth quarter when leading by 28.
The Cowboys and Seahawks don’t play this season either.
What will Dallas do when Tony Romo is ready to play again?
Every team that Seattle has beaten this season — San Francisco, Miami, New York — lost by double digits this week. So did the team they lost to. Not a great week for their “strength of victory” to be honest but that could change next Sunday against Atlanta.
The Monday night game features the Cam Newton-less Panthers hosting the Bucs.