Where Things Stand: 2020 NFL Edition Part 1

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Where Things Stand: NFL Edition is back… for however long we have football before any interruptions send the season into hiatus mode!

For readers of the series last year, welcome back! I hope the humor, snark and analysis train is up to your expectations. For new readers, please buckle up and enjoy the ride!

We of course have not forgotten about our old narratives (I.E. The Bungals until they win a legitimate game, The Colts ruining Andrew Luck, etc.) that have carried over from last season!

I still haven’t gotten my time machine, but I do have one mulligan to use again this year for one team in the 2020 finale. The now-infamous mulligan was used on the Cowboys last year.

You can either refresh your memory or, if you’ve never seen the 2019 Edition on Black Squirrel Radio, you can catch up on said narratives and storylines by clicking on these hyperlinks for 2019’s Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four.

With coronavirus being a thing, this series could be disrupted at any time. However, if we get through the whole slate, here is the VERY TENTATIVE schedule for the 2020 series.

-This Edition covering weeks 1–4

-Part 2 will be on Thursday, November 5 covering weeks 5–8.

-Part 3 Will be around Thursday, December 3 covering weeks 9–12.

-Part 4 will likely be a couple of days after the NFL’s Black Monday covering weeks 13–17 plus coaching fires.

With that said, let’s see what cringeworthy statements I make that will come back to bite me in Part 2 and beyond by starting in the AFC East.

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AFC East

Buffalo: 4–0

Patriots: 2–2

Miami: 1–3

NY Jets: 0–4

State of the AFC East

-Buffalo: Bills Mafia is back this season with a strong start. Unfortunately, they have to compete with New England… again.

This team is playoff caliber and as long as the plague of injuries stays away from the only team in New York, unlike Week 2’s other contests across the NFL, they will be fine.

However you were ALMOST in line for a painful shredding for blowing a 28–3 lead to the Rams. Yes, you almost Atlanta’d the game in Week 3. How the hell do you let THAT happen?

Fortunately, you still managed to win anyway in the final minute, so you escape punishment for now.

-New England: Oh my goodness, it’s the death of the Patriots!! TOM BRADY IS GONE!! All hail the Dolphins and Titans for bringing this glorious occasion about… is what I would have said when I was writing this line on June 26, 2020 at 4:03 p.m.

But, of course Bill Belichick went and grabbed Cam Newton for a pittance off the free agent pile and ended speculation of Jarrett Stidham succeeding the GOAT… for now.

The defense had so many opt outs this year that it got the Patriots out of cap hell, and they STILL have a typical Belichick defense that can win every game!! I however, am in the camp that Belichick managed to find a way to have them opt out to get under the cap and escape purgatory.

Newton opens up New England’s offense with his ability to run and throw, bringing about a possible stay atop the AFC East.

Damn it Carolina! You let Belichick win again!

Update: I’m not changing the narrative, but Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the most crucial game on the slate so far against the high-octane Chiefs. The teams played, but Newton had to sit out.

And yesterday, cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive for the coronavirus. Let’s just say the NFL may need to hit pause and put together a bubble.

-Miami: The Dolphins achieved their “Tank for Tua” despite actually winning games last year. Go figure!

I still believe in Tua and even think if I was an NFL GM back in April, he would have been in heavy consideration for my No. 1 choice during the draft. We’ll get to the actual No. 1 draft choice shortly.

In the meantime, you have Ryan ‘Fitzception’ Fitzpatrick being a good soldier, taking all the blows and making sure Tua gets to learn before starting. Usually I’m pessimistic when it comes to how long teams sit their highly drafted QB’s, but I say… Week 13 maybe? Barring injury, of course.

-New York: The Butt Fumble is not going anywhere with Adam Gase. Seriously Adam, what have you done lately?!

You happened to finish 7–9 last season, but we all know that you are not what the franchise needs. You were somebody I was high on coming out of Denver and when you were hired by Miami, but you’ve lost your luster as the flaws have become apparent.

I don’t care about your beef with Le’Veon Bell and last season’s debacle with players fined for ridiculous things related to rehabbing injuries. Whatever! I don’t want to waste breath on you.

Adam Gase will be out the door soon anyway. If he survives past Week 8, I’ll be speechless.

And… He somehow outlasted Bill O’Brien. Color me surprised! We’ll get to that a bit later.

AFC North

Pittsburgh: 3–0

Baltimore: 3–1

Cleveland: 3–1

Cincinnati: 1–2–1

State of the AFC North:

-Pittsburgh: Wait… oh god. The Steelers are in first place. We have reached DEFCON 1. SOUND THE ALARMS!! THE YINZER ARMY IS LOADED!! RUNNNNNNNNN!!!!!

The Steelers and their yinzer faithful yelled and screamed when Myles Garrett ended up with his extension. Let them complain if they want to.

Instead, they got back Big Ben, who has led them to a fast start and looks like his old self. Admittedly, I was very apprehensive of him coming off Tommy John surgery this late in his career (like MLB’s Justin Verlander will need), but he’s proven me wrong so far.

I have a feeling that the Steelers could end up as my mulligan team, but that’s why I have it for the end of the year when that initial take comes back to bite me.

Update: Because of the Titans coming down with several cases of COVID-19, the Steelers had a bye week in Week 4.

-Baltimore: The Ravens have picked up where they left off last year, letting Lamar Jackson break every defenders’ ankles and be the Michael Vick of cheat codes, both in Madden and on the gridiron.

However, some attention needs to be brought to something I said in the 2019 Finale of this series. Back then, I said Lamar was, The greatest running quarterback we may ever see, BUT NOT YET a true franchise quarterback.”

My logic was this: Show me you can throw the ball like Russell Wilson, a similar dual threat quarterback, and you’re up in the top tier.

I was about to say he’s done that in the first few games, but then the Chiefs happened. Under 100 yards passing and letting Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City own you again. I’ll admit that Lamar has improved significantly, but when you crap the bed against the Chiefs with everyone anointing you the best of the best, you let the doubts creep back in. Yep, still in tier two.

He does have Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins (WHY DID HE FALL TO THE RAVENS!!??!) and Gus Edwards to lead the running attack with contributions in the receiving game from the likes of Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews.

Yes, the AFC North is screwed if Lamar actually makes the throws he’s supposed to in every single game. This is not including his ridiculous speed and elusiveness he will lose as he gets pounded over the coming years.

However, I do want to bring attention for one brief moment to Earl Thomas: He was cut after getting into a fight with teammates at practice and apparently was not his first run-in with shenanigans like this. You could have been a part of a Super Bowl contender with a huge contract, but you wasted your chance. Good luck rebuilding your reputation, Earl!

-Cleveland: I am not drinking the Kool-Aid.

The Browns had me all giddy to start off Part 1 last year, but I’ll temper my enthusiasm right now and just say thank you for not turning into a dumpster-fire so far, and for Kevin Stefanski possibly proving my gut feeling right.

You’re actually above a .500-win percentage for the first time since 2014 when Brian Hoyer and Mike Pettine were the quarterback and head coach combo. You are now 3–1 for the first time since 2001. That is a sentence I can’t believe I typed. Is this real life?

Okay look, can we all be honest about the Browns here? With an abnormal offseason and new staff, this season will be a process at times as Terry Pluto touched on with WKSU’s Amanda Rabinowitz a few weeks ago.

After the failure in Baltimore, the team bounced back to beat the Bengals at home a few nights later and then the Washington Football Team before having their way against the Dallas Cowboys. However, Nick Chubb was injured in the process and will go on IR and eventually return later this year.

Baker Mayfield has had four head coaches (interim Gregg Williams included) and three offensive coordinators. Stefanski may actually end the spinning carousel with how he’s executed everything so far.

I knew the Browns would lose the opener, but my hope was it would be by two scores or less, but Baker is looking better. I believe in Baker still, and he has been unfairly criticized at times. This is coming from the guy who wanted Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold as their first choices in the 2018 NFL Draft.

However, I would be remiss by not saying it was completely dumb to have Jamie Gillan run that fake punt in the first game.

What Week 2 Thursday Night Football showed us is more of a true representation of the offense we hope to see: More Chubb (when he’s healthy again) and a lot more of Kareem Hunt with a defense that needs A LOT of work done to fix it. The run game is your bread and butter, along with Odell Beckham finally being invited to the party against Dallas with three touchdowns, and that sick reverse 50-yard run.

With head coach Kevin Stefanski, offensive and defensive coordinators Alex Van Pelt and Joe Woods, plus other talented and up-and-coming talent on the sidelines like Chief of Staff Callie Brownson (who I interviewed for WKSU), there is promise here.

-Cincinnati: NO!! I will not let the Jets end another meme!! THE BUNGALS LIVE ON!!!

Oh, you beat the Browns? Yeah, they were done. Not enough to kill the meme. Get a legitimate win next year, and then we can talk.”

That is what I said of the Bengals at the end of last season. While tying Philadelphia squashed that notion, they did get a legitimate win versus Jacksonville. The meme is dead! Long live the Bengals!

However, I was willing to break the meme even before the victory. Why was I willing to break the meme before a win, you might ask?

Joe. Freaking. Burrow.

He has the ‘it’ factor and oozes talent that reminds me of how Andrew Luck played his rookie year (albeit a much better core of a recent playoff team around Luck) and despite the close loses, one by calf muscle agonizing shanking and the other by Thursday Night Football demolition courtesy of Chubb and Hunt, he has done enough to break the meme and actually did deliver that win.

Congratulations to my two uncles on the one side of the family. You should be very happy for the next decade or so at a minimum, regardless of how this season ends for Cincy.

AFC South

Tennessee: 3–0

Indianapolis: 3–1

Jacksonville: 1–3

Houston: 0–4

State of the AFC South:

-Tennessee: *HEAVY SIGH*

You were the one team that I had a narrative set for. It was all nice and not much snark included. Re-upping Tannehill and Henry and signing Clowney were all nice moves.

But, then it happened: You got wrecked by the coronavirus. Yep, it’s a huge outbreak that the NFL is looking into with heavy penalties coming your way potentially.

Look, I know they didn’t WANT this to happen. I know NO ONE WANTS THIS! I’m shaking my head since your narrative was settled during Week 2.

Please no more outbreaks, football gods! Let me have this moment to at least say they are a good team, and they made us all feel good by knocking out Tom Brady in the playoffs last year by meeting their annual win quota.

Update: After two consecutive days without positive tests, two more Titans players tested positive yesterday. Roger Goddell definitely isn’t happy now, and that’s an understatement.

AND YOU BROKE THE PROTOCOLS TOO?!?! What part of “not meeting” did you not understand?!!? You should be forced to forfeit your Week 4 and Week 5 games, which could end up happening for your matchup with the Buffalo Bills.

-Indianapolis Colts: Do the Colts think I forgot about former General Manager Ryan Grigson, former Head Coach Chuck Pagano and Owner Jim Irsay being responsible for not protecting Andrew Luck that robbed us of his talents prior to 2019? Nope, and I will bring this up every year!! That’s why they went and got Philip Rivers on a one-year contract.

Even with Rivers in the fold, this narrative doesn’t go away unless you win the Super Bowl this year. That won’t happen, and I’m calling it here.

Now onto the actual analysis, who with Rivers on offense, is definitely an upgrade over Jacoby Brissett, and let me say this about Brissett: He is a good quarterback. If you want one of the best back-ups who can start a couple of games without tanking your year, it’s him. I’m disappointed that RIGHT NOW he does not look to be any franchises’ long term answer.

I put an emphasis on right now, so Old Takes Exposed can’t roast me on Twitter like many folks manage to have happen to them these days with very, very dumb takes.

-Jacksonville: I thought S̶a̶c̶k̶s̶o̶n̶v̶i̶l̶l̶e the Jaguars were “Tanking for Trevor (Lawrence)” following the full strip-down of their once vaunted defense? They did the opposite of tanking by beating the Colts and almost taking down the Titans if not for an errant interception by Minshew Mania himself.

You’re gonna screw this up, aren’t you?

Well, at least we have the mustache.

-Houston: The only thing the Texans have done right was extend Deshaun Watson, but that was a gimme.

I don’t care how good or bad the Texans have done. What Bill O’Brien did in trading DeAndre FREAKING Hopkins for absolute peanuts compared to the haul the Bills gave up for Stefon Diggs, only receiving a second rounder and injured running back David Johnson, is inexcusable!!!!

Oh, you lost your first four games? That’s even more reason for painful shredding!

Wait, OH DEAR GOD, IT FINALLY HAPPENED!!!!!!!!! THEY FIRED BILL O’BRIEN MONDAY!!! They saved Deshaun Watson from that man, and former Browns head boss Romeo Crennel will steer the ship. For that smart-brained move (albeit a few years too late), your shredding has been reduced significantly. You’re welcome!

AFC West

Kansas City: 4–0

Las Vegas: 2–2

LA Chargers: 1–3

Denver: 1–3

State of the AFC West:

-Kansas City: We now take you live into Kansas City Chiefs headquarters for a look at Patrick Mahomes with several brinks trucks filled with the money from his record breaking 13 year, $503 million extension…

Sorry, I couldn’t procure that footage, but Mahomes is the absolute king of the NFL. In his first two full seasons as a starter after sitting behind Alex Smith his rookie year, he has won a MVP, a Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP, and he now owns the richest contract in American professional sports history.

He also proposed to his girlfriend after receiving his first of what is likely to be multiple Super Bowl rings, and he now even owns part of the Kansas City Royals. Oh, and he has a kid on the way now too! Life is good if you’re Patrick Mahomes, which for everyone but him and his fiancee, that logic does not apply.

And Mahomes is only 25 years old.

Update: Jordan Ta’amu got Covid’d but everyone else tested negative, so a Cam Newton-less Patriots got demolished by Kansas City on Monday instead of Sunday.

-Las Vegas: You know what? Las Vegas Raiders doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like Oakland Raiders would. Let’s find out what Jon Gruden’s squad is up to!

*NFL Cam.exe online: Searching-Raiders, Las Vegas*

Well, they’re actually competent again! Derek Carr looks good but not at peak form. Josh Jacobs is a destroyer, and this team beat the Saints on Monday Night Football, although the Patriots and Bills exposed a lot of your flaws, too. You really need a better pass rush and an overhauled secondary.

Alright, I’ll admit I was 100-percent ready to shred them for possibly being incompetent in past years in terms of management and coaching like I did to Houston (which I will do to Houston’s baseball team too), but they’re doing okay. At least you can’t treat your fans badly like how you exited Oakland last year.

It’s one of those “meh” moments that we can gloss over and move on from.

Brief aside here, how do you let a non-credentialed person enter the locker room? I’ve been to several MLB games as a media member this year and have not heard a peep of such a thing happening over there.

-LA Chargers: The Bolts are finally in their new shared home with the Rams at SoFi Stadium and No. 6 overall pick Justin Herbert made his debut in Week 2 versus the Chiefs, dazzling with over 300 yards passing with touchdowns through the air and on the ground but still coming out the loser in overtime on a 58 yard field goal via Harrison Butker (skip to the 1:00 mark).

Now, why did Herbert debut so suddenly? If you’re a Cleveland fan and remember 2018, you already can guess why, but I’ll explain anyway.

Tyrod Taylor suffered a punctured lung after a team doctor tried to inject painkiller medication into him between pregame warmups and kickoff. Yes, that was not a typo.

While not identical to the Mayfield-Taylor shift, this has a very similar feel. Expect the Oregon product to keep the job going forward because of an injury suffered by Taylor yet again.

And… After I typed the above statement at the end of their game against the Chiefs, I stand corrected. Anthony Lynn is dumb. Even HUE FREAKING JACKSON, yes the man of 1–15 and 0–16, had the balls to swap out Taylor for Mayfield for the remainder of his tenure after the Oklahoma product delivered a signature comeback win on Thursday Night Football against The Butt Fumble in 2018.

At least Herbert is playing well enough to justify staying the starter when Taylor potentially returns to health. Hell, he almost beat Brady and the Bucs! It took a big day from Brady to win and all that.

-Denver: Drew Lock took the reins for Denver, and he and several other offensive weapons proceeded to incur the wrath of the injury plague that tore through the NFL in Week 2. He’s down for a bit, and his backups aren’t anything to write home about.

True breakout candidate Courtland Sutton will also miss time, and Denver will definitely have a hard time climbing out of this hole. Then again, Philly managed to make the playoffs last year.

It’s again one of those “meh” moments that we can gloss over and move on from.

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With the AFC out of the way, it’s time to start off with another tradition and go to the NFL’s most hated division, the NFC East.

My editor and Kent State residence Eagles fan Brandon Lewis is back, and his Eagles will not be the target of absolute evisceration today.

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NFC East

Philly: 1–2–1

Washington: 1–3

Dallas: 1–3

NY Giants: 0–4

State of the NFC East:

-Philadelphia: How in the hell are you 1–2–1 and in first place!?!?

Well first off, you lost to Washington. Second, Carson Wentz’s future is very murky after drafting Jalen Hurts in the second round of the draft as insurance or, as the team says, a Taysom Hill gadget guy.

Then you tied with the Bengals!?!? Then, finally, you get one win over the 49ers practice squad to be the LEAST incompetent team in this division for this edition. Seriously guys, what the hell?

Lastly, you’re injured to all hell, which is why you avoid the worst shredding possible. I don’t know what deity you pissed off, but it certainly has wrecked this team’s depth. That is the only reason I pity the Eagles. Also, not a good look taking Jalen Reagor instead of Justin Jefferson, but this may end up being a bit premature of a hot take.

I’m going to be blunt here, but don’t be surprised if Doug Pederson takes a fall despite three straight playoff spots and a Super Bowl ring if things don’t turn around at season’s end. Let’s say a little birdie said something and leave it there.

-Washington: It took a pandemic, racial and social upheaval and sponsorship pressure from FedEx and others, but Washington has finally dropped their slur of a nickname and are now… The Washington Football Team? It’s a placeholder, I won’t judge *much*.

However, owner Dan Snyder is embroiled in other matters we won’t delve into here, and we’ll instead focus on Riverboat Ron and the crew. They beat the Eagles in Week 1! That’s a start. Also, Chase Young will be a monster. No exclamation point needed. Please, don’t ruin him already.

But enough dancing around this: Ron Rivera was diagnosed with cancer before the season. He’s still going to try his best to coach, but damn do I feel bad for him as a person. He’s the guy changing the culture ex-prez Bruce Allen so proudly boasted of.

And again, the best thing coming out of this team since last year is Alex Smith returning to the active roster after a Joe Theismann-esque injury (with EXTREMELY SPOOKY PARALLELS) and actually being able to play football again. He almost lost his damn leg and is now back on the gridiron with a much deserved champagne soaking by his family.

Washington, start Smith if you want a shot at the playoffs and let him earn his comeback player of the year award already!!

Oh, you’re benching Dwayne Haskins and starting Kyle Allen now, eh? And Smith will serve as the backup quarterback. That was a quick hook!

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-Dallas: You were the mulligan team last year and I’m unsure if you’ll be the recipient again. While you make thrilling second half comebacks, you keep choking and only won against the Falcons because they didn’t know how to field a damn onside kick. THEY DIDN’T KNOW THE DAMN RULES! YOU CAN TOUCH THE BALL BEFORE 10 YARDS, ATLANTA!! THAT BALL WAS NOT KICKED WELL!!! THE FALCONS JUST SCREWED IT UP!!!!

And now, a message to Jerry Jones: Dak Prescott was reportedly going to sign that rumored extension if not for your insistence on not including a no-franchise tag provision. It’s going to cost you a pretty penny and maybe your fancy yacht from the draft with a drop in the cap coming due to COVID-19, and the lack of fans across the league permitted in stadiums, sans the 20,000 plus you manage to bring in every home game.

-NY Giants: *Sharp Inhale*

The Giants… well let’s just say they’re screwed, to put it nicely. Again, Week 2 had no mercy, and Saquon Barkley, the destroyer of defenses, and the one hope of any relevance to help Daniel Jones in his sophomore year, suffered an ACL tear. He’s done until 2021.

The derp will derp. They don’t have the talent to compete under new Belichick experiment/protege Joe Judge and should not be judged as harshly as the Jets.

Also, for the few (and I mean just a few) Giants fans not happy with passing up on Clemson’s defensive beast Isaiah Simmons for Georgia tackle Andrew Thomas, don’t. You needed to bolster your O-line, and he was considered as the safe pick of the top tackle prospects in this draft.

At least you haven’t wasted the first-round pick *yet* like you did on Deandre Baker. Yeah, that happened.

NFC North

Green Bay: 4–0

Chicago: 3–1

Detroit: 1–3

Minnesota: 1–3

State of the NFC North:

-Green Bay: When I saw Aaron Rodgers claim on The Pat McAfee show before the year that his arm didn’t hurt for the first time in about 16 years, I wondered, “What the hell happened to him?”

Well, I didn’t investigate much since he explained it, but I believe the claims after his early season barnstorming of the NFC North, and his victims falling to the wayside after falling short of the Super Bowl last year as the dominant San Francisco 49ers sent the Packers home.

If this early season version of Rodgers was around last year, the whole outlook of the NFC would have changed, and it would have been Rodgers vs Mahomes in the Super Bowl. Mr. Discount Double-Check is about to lay waste to the NFC now.

It also helps to be ticked off with the team selecting an heir apparent in TRADING UP in the first-round to grab developmental prospect Jordan Love and not giving him fresh blood to help in the wide receiver corps. But hey, an angry and rejuvenated Aaron Rodgers is a good thing for Packerland!

-Chicago: So you traded for Big Dick Nick Foles to compete with Mitch Trubisky, who the Jaguars were glad to give away. Trubisky ends up winning the job and then gets replaced by BDN, who rallies them to a win over the Falcons.

Just you wait Atlanta. I have my eyes set on you next.

In the meantime, the Mentor, Ohio and UNC product in Trubisky is likely done as a starting NFL quarterback. It’s weird to say with a team that’s been winning, but it’s the reality. Foles hasn’t lasted more than nine games in a row as a starter before, so maybe we see Mitch back on the field this year.

I know people who’ve met Trubisky and based on what I’ve heard, he’s a good guy and I do feel bad for him.

-Detroit: Well, the Lions saw Martha Ford transfer her controlling ownership to her daughter, but Ford’s decisions to retain failed Belichick experiment/coach Matt Patricia and General Manager Bob Quinn are still puzzling.

Matthew Stafford will always give Detroit a chance, but Patricia and Quinn are gone barring a Super Bowl run with new controlling ownership. BOOK IT!!!

-Minnesota: For the Vikings, Quentin Griffin of Victory Formation said it’s too early to judge this squad, but I already have made up my mind. The Vikings are the NFL’s version of the San Francisco Giants but with an inverse twist.

The Giants were known for winning the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014 and a playoff berth in 2016 but losing in the odd-numbered years. Meanwhile, the Vikings have made the Playoffs in 2015, 2017 and 2019 while missing in even numbered years (2016 and 2018). With 2020, I see this being the same deal.

I see a trend, and I’m grabbing onto it. However, they may be the team more likely to make me use my mulligan in Part 4 than Pittsburgh.

NFC South

Tampa Bay: 3–1

New Orleans: 2–2

Carolina: 2–2

Atlanta: 0–4

State of the NFC South:

-Tampa Bay: It is a new era in Tampa! Tom Brady ditched his home of 20 years for sunny Florida, and the freedoms he would be provided in an offense run by Bruce Arians, renaming the team to “Tompa Bay!”

Hell, he even dragged Rob Gronkowski out of retirement!

However, after Arians publicly bashed his quarterback following Week 1 against the other 40-year-old legend in Drew Brees, he got the Bucs three consecutive victories.

Brady is out of New England for the first time since his college days. This experiment is still fresh. I’ll at least say the Bucs make the postseason, but I decline further predictions for now on the end result.

-New Orleans: For the Saints, this is more than likely Drew Brees’ last go-around for a Super Bowl, and the squad loaded up on talent. They also gave out a lavish extension to running back Alvin Kamara.

Offseason comments by Brees notwithstanding, we are truly starting to see him decline and should appreciate his greatness while we still can. However, things got a lot tougher with safety blanket Michael Thomas missing some time. He’s normally super durable and accountable for so much of the offense through the air that you forget he’s human.

Also, can we appreciate how good this 2019 finale statement on the Saints was? It ended up being so much more hilarious than I thought at the time because it’s exactly what ended up happening!

“Now, who is your first round opponent again?

“Oh no! Someone get the voodoo dolls ready to prevent another Minnesota Miracle and refball being a thing!” ~A Saints fan, probably”

-Carolina: “If I’m owner David Tepper, let Newton prove he still has it for another year and go the opposite way of the Belichick philosophy, which is cut ’em a year too early rather than a year too late.”

I know you’re 2–2, but Tepper, my man. You know what you’ve done, right? You’ve given an extended reign to the Patriots dynasty! I said to go opposite of the Belichick player philosophy!!

No matter how big Christian McCaffery’s extension is (he’s injured now, if you didn’t know), it’s not big enough to make us forget how everyone outside of Boston wanted to see Patriots fans suffer!

You will get just a pittance of the treatment as the Falcons for giving Belichick his new QB on the cheap! It feels good to shred teams!!!

RIP AND TEAR!! RIP AND TEAR!!

-Atlanta: I said heads should have been rolling in Atlanta last year despite the hot finish the team had. Dan Quinn blew the Cowboys game so badly that it was almost comical!

“Rise Up?” More like “Fall Down!” That is all I need to say on what is Dan Quinn’s Dallas game and wasting Matt Ryan.

AND THAT’S NOT EVEN THE WORST PART!!! You forced Mitch Trubisky to the bench in Week 3, and then you let Big Dick Nick come back and beat you?!

You’re not outliving 28–3. You deserve at least double the shredding. Consider this a mercy.

NFC West

Seattle: 4–0

LA Rams: 3–1

Arizona: 2–2

San Fran: 2–2

State of the NFC West:

-Seattle: Behind Patrick Mahomes, you can make the argument for a number of quarterbacks as the second best. However I’m about to close the case as Russell Wilson is the guy who has been lights out and even last year was truly remarkable.

I never thought I’d see the day of Wilson running less and being more of a passer like THIS! But, when he does run, he gets yardage and is a top five quarterback easily. He also has cemented his status as the early front-runner for league MVP after never receiving an MVP vote before.

Thank god the Seahawks didn’t screw up negotiations with him like the Cowboys did with Dak.

Also, a moment of appreciation for that game against the Patriots and Cam Newton! What a doozy!!

-LA Rams: Wait, the Rams are back? I thought they were done to be totally honest. Jared Goff looks competent again and while they don’t necessarily have a standout backfield runner like they hoped Todd Gurley would be for when the team moved into SoFi Stadium, they instead have a solid overall unit with a chance at winning a Lombardi Trophy.

The caveat? They’re in salary cap hell because of their win-now mindset, and sacrifices will be made with at least a $20 million drop or so from the current cap for 2021.

Jalen Ramsey got his several brinks trucks worth of money after forcing his way out of Jacksonville, Cooper Kupp got extended for big bucks, and LA native Robert Woods got paid after outperforming his previous deal.

Still, the window will close, but some of the core mentioned above will be around to retool into an eventual power when the time comes, including Aaron Donald (hopefully?).

-Arizona: After acquiring *cough* robbing *cough* DeAndre Hopkins from Houston and drafting Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons, Kyler Murray’s year-two expectations grew, and he has delivered so far. You also have the added bonus of the ageless Larry Fitzgerald (no relation) returning in hopes of winning a ring with the only franchise he’s ever known.

I still wish Murray stuck with baseball at times, but I have a whole tale to tell on Murray, MLB and the NFL for a future article (check back in January 2022 or the middle of the decade at the latest).

Maybe what I viewed as editor Brandon Lewis’s bullish predictions for this squad aren’t so bullish after all and more realistic, BUT losing two in a row makes you lose your luster a bit.

-San Francisco: This is the division of death. This will be a brutal slugfest that we will all enjoy with four very good teams jockeying for a spot in the playoffs. Hell, I think there’s a decent chance at least three teams from this division get into the postseason.

San Francisco would have been one of my easy choices, but the injury plague bit them hard. Raheem Mostert went down after a huge run at MetLife, and Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a high ankle sprain.

You thought that was the end, wasn’t it? Nope! The big one was Nick Bosa being one of several big names in Week 2 that tore their ACL.

And guess what? The 49ers had to play at MetLife again in Week 3 and beat the Giants with what amounted to a practice squad team. The 49ers didn’t want to go back again, so much so that defensive end Arik Armstead said the players were anxious about playing on that field twice in a row following Week 2’s bloodbath. Can you blame them?

What can I say? Someone has to be in the basement, and you guys got lucky with injuries last year. Maybe this is in place of a Super Bowl hangover the winner and loser normally end up dealing with. You’re not fully screwed, but things are a lot tougher now.

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Thank you so much for reading the first edition for 2020! I had a lot more freedom here to really go at it and I appreciate Brandon being my editor for this series. He deserves a pay raise for his tireless work this year and last year as well.

Go follow him on Twitter @brandonlewis_7 and @real_bworld.

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Sean Fitzgerald is the sports director of the Black Squirrel Radio Sports Department. He co-hosts Pass the Mic Sports Talk. Follow him on Twitter @fitzonsportsbsr for insights and occasional livestreams, as well as here on medium.com.

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