By Nico Laveris, PSO Asst. Director of Sports Operations
Nov 05, 2019

The 2nd half of the NFL season started strong with some statements that should make an impact going forward. Here are the biggest takeaways and game highlights (via @NFL/Twitter) from each game: 

Takeaway: 49ers Super Bowl Chances are Still TBD

A big reason for the 49ers’ incredible 8-0 start is their phenomenal defense that has been lights out throughout the first half of the season. The 49ers have proven to be able to beat poor teams whether Jimmy G has high-quality performances or not, however, they’ve yet to play a fierce team on both sides of the ball like the Saints, Packers, and Cowboys they’ll have to face in the Postseason. San Francisco can enjoy their 8-0 start, but to make noise in January, they’ll have to put together games we’re their top-5 defense and Franchise QB both play like it. Whether that happens in their first playoff run with this regime is a big TBD. 

Takeaway: Time for Nick Foles to Come Back

Some things are timed perfectly in sports. The Jaguars QB situation is one of them. While Gardner Minshew looked like a star over the first few weeks of his NFL career, that star has begun to fade, and arguably exploded as the Jags played in their second home overseas. While a debate ensued about Minshew vs. Foles once Foles came off the IR, it’s now become clear that the Super Bowl 52 MVP is in prime position to take over the reigns once the Jags come off the bye week. 

Takeaway: The Redskins are Far From Prosperity

While Redskins fans have already lost hope on the 2019 season a long time ago (the 2nd half of Week 1 to be exact), there was still optimism for DC’s future with 1st Rd Pick Dwayne Haskins in line to be the team’s next franchise QB. However, Haskins has had as bad as a start as he possibly could, causing doubt to his future outlook. The Ohio State product could certainly still develop into the next household signal caller in the NFC East… Or he could be like every other Redskins QB in the 21st century: Nothing special.

Takeaway: Kansas City Can Win Without Their MVP

While the Chiefs (or any team) are OBVIOUSLY better with a MVP leading the charge, the Chiefs proved on Sunday that they can beat a playoff-caliber team without him under center. KC blew out the Broncos @Denver, even after Mahomes got hurt, and hung in there against a Super Bowl contending Green Bay squad. Backup Matt Moore played above serviceable once again as he made plays down the stretch that allowed their Kicker to seal the deal. If KC can beat good teams without their MVP, how far can they go with him? 

Takeaway: Jets Dressed Like Clowns for Halloween

There’s no other way to say this: The Jets were a joke in Week 9. When a division-rival has 0 wins through 8 games, it’s clear they’re going to bring their best efforts into a AFC East matchup at home against arguably the one foe they could realistically beat. Still, there’s a reason the Dolphins are 0-8 (check out their Team Outlook to get a better picture). The Jets have had an awful season in their own right, but a surprise victory against Dallas gave hope that they could be closer to .500 than a top-5 pick. Barring an unforeseen 2nd half tear, Week 9 essentially proved the Jets’ 2019 season is officially a joke. 

Takeaway: Mitch Trubisky Shouldn’t Be a Starting QB

Some NFL evaluators believed Mitch Trubisky was a franchise QB entering the NFL. Hell, the Bears management thought so much of him, they gave up premium assets to move up one pick to draft him with DESHAUN WATSON AND PATRICK MAHOMES still on the board. In what might go down as the worst NFL GM draft decision of all-time, Trubisky is helping that argument by the week. Some (Duke fans or delirious Bears fans) might give him the benefit of the doubt and point to his injury as a reason for his lack of success, but after generating only 1 passing yard in the 1st half (ONE!), it’s time reality hits in Chicago, and the post-Trubisky era should begin soon.

Takeaway: Don’t Count the Steelers Out Yet

Do the 2019 Steelers have playoff-caliber talent? Probably not after Big Ben’s injury. Do the 2019 Steelers have a quality offense or premier defense that can carry the load? No and no. While the Steelers don’t check off the boxes for what playoff contenders should look like, this week’s lesson learned is a lesson learned about the Steelers a long time ago: Don’t count out Mike Tomlin’s squad. In some weird way (that sometimes happens in the NFL), Mason Rudolph playing QB instead of Roethlisberger might be a good thing, as it inspires others to step their game up and play fundamentally sound football to sneak away with enough victories that keeps them in the hunt come December. 

Takeaway: They are Who We Thought They Were

A famous quote describes this game perfectly. Both of these teams have been up and down, which can cause confusion, but they are what they are. The Titans are an offensively inept team that can beat incompetent teams, but won’t outplay a team with more talent and better coaching. The Panthers have found their stride with Kyle Allen, yet they won’t compete among the NFL’s elite. Carolina is the better team and proved it on Sunday. They are who we thought they were. 

Takeaway: It’s a Game of Inches

A phrase as old as the NFL itself sometimes proves to be as true as ever. As the Raiders and Lions proved to be as equally matched as possible throughout the game, it came down to the wire with only a few inches marking the difference in a win or loss. After Derek Carr’s go-ahead TD with the time winding down, the Lions answered with a drive all the way down the field and had 0:50 left to punch it in from the distance-to-goal. A couple of those plays were just a few inches from clinching a Detroit victory, but instead Oakland rides high at 4-4, and right in the thick of the AFC Wild Card battle, while Detroit is stuck behind plenty of teams in a loaded NFC Wild Card race. 

Takeaway: Russell Wilson is the MVP After 1st Half

Aaron Rodgers has played at a very high level, while Deshaun Watson is putting together performances that deserve attention as well. However, neither of them warrant as much MVP consideration as Russell Wilson does after the 1st half of the 2019 season. Wilson has led Seattle to seven wins in their first nine games and is leading all NFL passers in many categories, including just one interception through nine games. Wilson proved in Week 9 once again that the MVP race is his to lose. 

Takeaway: Put a Fork in the Browns Season

Despite an underwhelming 2-5 record entering the week, there was still hope in Cleveland. A 3-5 record would only leave them a couple games out of the Wild Card picture with an entire second half of the season to be played, and the easiest schedule remaining in the NFL. That hope turned to disappointment by the end of Week 9’s game as Brandon Allen started his first NFL game for the Broncos and made light work of Cleveland. There are many problems in Cleveland beyond what’s on the surface, and it doesn’t look like 2019 will be any different from the previous 20 uneventful years. 

Takeaway: Chargers Made a STATEMENT

People are quick to forget, but the Los Angeles Chargers were one of the best teams in football last year. They were tied for the best regular season record in the AFC in 2018, but because their division rival owned the tie-breaker, they were forced to move all the way down to the 5th seed. An early collapse in the Divisional Round against the Pats in Foxborough silenced any progress they made that season in a lot of fans eyes, but they brought back the same talent into 2019. So far, LA’s season has started in classic Chargers fashion: Injuries galore, kicking issues, and severe inconsistency. However, Week 9 could’ve been the turning point to their season, and unlike years past when it took until Week 12-13 to turn it around, it’s not too late for the Chargers to get back on track and re-establish themselves as one of the NFL’s premier squads. 

Takeaway: Pats “Historic” Defense Was Overhyped

People circled Week 9 on the Patriots calendar as the first real opponent for the defending champions after playing nobody but losing teams (besides barely beating the now 6-2 Buffalo Bills). However, on Sunday Night, the Patriots miserably failed their first legit test of the 2019 season. Does that mean the Pats aren’t the favorites anymore? No. Does that mean the Ravens have an edge against New England when it matters in January? No. The only real takeaway from this game is that anybody that actually believed New England’s defense this year was historically good, got a rude awakening. The Pats still have a really really good defense. But on Sunday, it got exposed as far from historic.

Takeaway: Giants May Officially Be Cursed

Most of PSO’s content focuses on the actual game, the value of players to their teams, and explaining how and why teams won certain games, among other things. However, in a game with nothing too out of the ordinary, the thing that sticks out is the black cat that ran across the Giants field early in the game and sent a loud message to the superstitious football fans out there: The Giants are cursed. If one were to look at the state of the Giants, it’s hard to believe otherwise. Daniel Jones looked like the real deal, but has since become a turnover machine. Saquon initially looked like a one-man wrecking crew, but a knee injury has limited his damage, and New York’s Offensive Line continues to be the most hated position group in all of New York sports. The black cat that showed up on the Monday right after Halloween was just a metaphor for a much bigger picture.

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