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Bill Belichick No Longer a Sure-Thing Against Rookies

October 11, 2021
Mac Jones and Belichick struggle

Nothing that you read here is an argument against Bill Belichick being the best head coach in the NFL over the last 20 years, or even of all-time. It’s hard to imagine there ever being another coach in history that will come close to matching his six Super Bowl rings.

But his Patriots are clearly not in the Super Bowl running this season, and something else that we also took for granted, his ability to confuse and confound rookie quarterbacks, is no longer a guarantee.

The Patriots did win on Sunday, and that’s the most important thing in the NFL. But they played the Texans and rookie third-round pick Davis Mills, and New England required a roughing-the-passer call and a last-minute field goal to get it done. It was a win, but definitely not a pretty win.

Mills is the often forgotten rookie quarterback starting this season because, unlike his first-round classmates, he was never considered to be the future of a franchise or a starter in 2021. Yet starting against the Patriots, Mills was 21-of-29 for 311 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

Mills is playing because of an injury to starter Tyrod Taylor, and he looked awful in last week’s 40-0 loss to the Bills. But against Bill and the Pats, he had a quarterback rating of 141.7, which was second in the league for the week, only trailing Tom Brady.

The Patriots missed the playoffs last season with a 7-9 record, and at 2-3 this season, with wins over the Jets and Texans, a playoff berth seems unlikely. 

Bills Become AFC Favorites, Chiefs Look for Answers

The Kansas City Chiefs have hosted the last three AFC Championship Games and been to the Super Bowl in each of the last two years. But if what we saw on Sunday night carries on throughout the rest of the season, the road to Super Bowl LVI will go through Buffalo.

The Bills defense had recorded two shutouts against really bad teams, so there were still questions as to how good they really were. Those questions were answered against the best offense in the league. 

Patrick Mahomes threw two interceptions, fumbled away another turnover, and managed to throw two touchdowns. But he was clearly out of sorts all night, and he’s now thrown as many interceptions in 2021 that he did in all of last year.

Bills take over for Chiefs as AFC top team

Bills are Now Clearly the Best Team in the AFCL

The Bills were great from start to finish and have established themselves as the most impressive team in the AFC through five weeks. As for the Chiefs, they were predictably bad on defense, as they have been all season, but their offense struggled.

Some of it can be attributed to the rainy weather, although Kansas City won at Buffalo last year in a rainstorm. Some of it was dropped and tipped passes. One of the interceptions went through the hands of Tyreek Hill. But much of it was just Mahomes being off-target. He missed a wide-open Travis Kelce for a long touchdown early in the game and threw a number of balls at players’ feet throughout.

With a struggling defense, he is no doubt feeling the pressure of making sure that every offensive drive leads to points. But he’s had bad defenses for most of his time as the starting quarterback.

Whatever has happened the last couple of weeks, Mahomes was the best quarterback in the league the previous three seasons, and it’s much too soon to push the panic button. According to the BetUS Sportsbook’s AFC Conference odds, the Bills are now +275 to win over the Chiefs who have fallen to +325.

Sam Darnold Has Panthers Considering Options

Once upon a time, the Panthers were 3-0, and everyone in Carolina was feeling good about bringing in Sam Darnold to be their quarterback.

Now the Panthers are 3-2 and coming off a loss to the Eagles in which Darnold threw three interceptions and looked like the Darnold from his days with the Jets.

This has resurfaced the dormant rumors that owner David Tepper wants Deshaun Watson in a Panthers uniform. He’s not on the commissioner’s exempt list, so even as allegations of sexual misconduct swirl around him, he is eligible to play. He’s also a former Clemson star and presumably still has a local fanbase. 

The only question is how that fanbase would respond if he does end up getting suspended, or worse, because of the current investigation. For now, the Panthers sit in a distant third place on the BetUS Sportsbook’s NFC South division odds at +1100, well behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-600) and the New Orleans Saints (+450).

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