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NFL Division Races One Third Through

Mill Woods

Posted on October 15, 2019 11:21

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It was only Week Six, but games were won (and lost) that narrow the eight division races of the NFL. Many teams have played well in losing efforts. Unfortunately, the NFL only counts Ws and Ls. The regular season is only one-third done, but let's not expect too many miracle turnarounds.

The time for last-minute heroics is not Week 17 — it is in whatever game is being played "right now" — with a few minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Some teams are narrowing the field of playoff contenders, while others flounder.

Monday night, the Packers got the needed last-minute heroics, beating the last team in their division that had not suffered a division loss — the Lions. With that, the NFC North morphed into a battle between the Packers and the Vikings, who bombed the Eagles on Sunday.

As for the Bears, if they are to get themselves in position for a stretch run, they need to make a move very soon. I say this because the Packers have now beaten each division rival once; the best any rival can hope for is to win the second meeting and tie the series. The Bears, Vikings and Lions will also have to hope for help from outside the division.

A similar story is unfolding in the NFC West, where the unbeaten 49ers struck a damaging blow to the Rams' playoff hopes. The 49er defense stifled the Rams' potent offense to take control of the NFC West, and now, second place in that tough division belongs not to the reigning NFC champs but to the Seahawks, who took a close one from the Browns and have not yet lost a division game.

In the AFC North, the Ravens won, and so, a divide is opening up between the Ravens and the rest of the division. One of the most impressive wins of Week Six was the Ravens' methodical beating of the lowly Bengals, who actually brought a pretty good defense into Baltimore. Why was that not enough? I can answer that question in three words: Time Of Possession (TOP). The Ravens held the ball for 39:42 minutes! 

How did the Ravens dominate TOP? I can answer that question in two words: Lamar Jackson. The dynamic Raven QB, who is chasing records set by former Falcon Michael Vick, rushed for 152 yards and threw for 236. Running for a living is dangerous work, but the slippery Jackson shows no signs of slowing down (or getting injured).

The Panthers brought a punishing pass rush to London and harassed Bucs QB Jameis Winston into five turnovers, fueling a high-scoring win. The Panthers, who have now won their last four games, remain in striking distance of the Saints, who edged the Jaguars. But I think the Bucs have missed too many opportunities and are likely out of the running.

It is true that we have not yet reached the halfway mark, but more races will tighten next weekend.  

Here are all the matches - and my picks:

Away               Home              My Pick
 
Chiefs             Broncos          Broncos
Dolphins         Bills                 Bills
Jaguars           Bengals           Bengals          
Vikings            Lions               Lions
Raiders           Packers           Packers
Rams              Falcons           Rams
Texans            Colts                Colts   
49ers              Redskins         49ers
Cardinals        Giants             Giants
Chargers         Titans              Titans
Saints              Bears              Bears
Ravens            Seahawks       Seahawks
Eagles             Cowboys         Cowboys
Patriots            Jets                 Patriots

 

Enjoy! 

Mill Woods

Posted on October 15, 2019 11:21

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The Green Bay Packers remained undefeated against divisional opponents with a 23-22 win over the Detroit Lions on Monday...

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