By John Albinson
THE SAINTS: While everyone has been focusing on Carson Wentz and the Eagles’ magnificent 8-1 start, New Orleans has quietly won seven in a row after a 0-2 start to the season. This past weekend saw the Saints tear apart the Bills in Buffalo, destroying them 47-10. Much of their success can be credited to their defense, currently ranked eighth-best in the league—a huge change from their porous defenses of the past. Of course, it would be unfair not to mention their quarterback, Drew Brees, who at age 38 is still a model of consistency: He’s sixth in the NFL in passing yards, and first in completion percentage (71.7 percent).
CAM NEWTON: Although playing the Dolphins at this point is akin to playing against an undermanned JV high school team, Cam still put up his most impressive statline in the Panthers’ win against the Fins last Monday night. Carolina torched Miami 45-21, with Newton throwing for four touchdowns and 254 yards, as well as rushing for 95. With a record of 7-3, the Panthers have rattled off three wins in a row, but aren’t even in first place in the NFC South. The impending Week 12 matchup between them and the division-leading Saints could determine who gets home-field advantage in the playoffs, and who has to hit the road come January.
THE JAGUARS: Well, this is certainly something I never expected writing. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who have endured six straight losing seasons, are 6-3 and tied for first place in the AFC South after beating the Chargers 20-17 in overtime last weekend. Most of their newfound success can be attributed to their defense, which is currently the best in the NFL. The Jaguars’ turnaround this season has been remarkable, and they have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
THE GIANTS: After a Week Nine 34-point demolishing by the Rams, the Giants responded by giving the 49ers their first win of the season. At this point, New York could play for “pride”— they still have seven games left—or they could wave the white flag and tank for the 2018 draft. Either way, this Giants season has been an unmitigated disaster. They’re lucky they’re not playing the Browns in the next seven weeks.
THE BRONCOS: After starting off the season a promising 3-1, Denver has now lost five in a row, capped off by a 25-point home loss to the Patriots last Sunday night. Quarterback Brock Osweiler—who famously led the Broncos to a 4-2 record during Peyton Manning’s absence in the 2015 season—couldn’t do anything against New England, throwing for 221 yards to go with a touchdown and interception. The once-almighty Denver defense has looked increasingly more mortal each week, and the offense hasn’t looked much better. After making the playoffs for five straight seasons, it’s all but unlikely they’ll miss the postseason for the second consecutive year.
THE BROWNS: They are the Cleveland Browns and they are 0-9 and they are the Cleveland Browns.