Photo via Andy Lyons
Week 6 of the NFL season saw positive COVID-19 cases affecting the schedule once again as the Buffalo Bills hosted the Kansas City Chiefs in the first game of a Monday night doubleheader. Also, contenders and pretenders were starting to emerge as the season standings begin to take shape. Here are my four takeaways from this weekend’s action.
- Tee Higgins and Joe Burrow looks to be a future elite combination
The Cincinnati Bengals suffered a heartbreaking loss on Sunday at Indianapolis as they lost a 21-0 lead to the Colts and a late interception by Joe Burrow sealed the Bengals’ 31-27 loss to the Colts. The Bengals drop to 1-4-1, an expected record for a team rebuilding (aside from the tie of course).
However, one thing teams look for when rebuilding is signs of promise for the future and on Sunday, the Bengals found it as rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins broke out with 125 yards on six catches. He burned Colts defenders, showing he has the speed and size to have profound success in this league. As the Bengals rebuild and Burrow develops, expect Higgins, the 33rd pick in this year’s draft, to be a vital piece going forward as he will be Burrow’s main target.
2. Clyde Edwards-Helaire should be the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year
There have been several rookies bursting onto the scene through the first few weeks of the season. Justin Jefferson has been a very explosive wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings and Justin Herbert has already showcased his elite arm, showing why the Los Angeles Chargers selected him with the sixth-overall pick. However, after an impressive performance on Monday, Chiefs’ running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire should be the current Rookie of the Year favorite.
Edwards-Helaire is second in the NFL in rushing with 505 yards, trailing only Derrick Henry in the rushing title chase. He has given the Chiefs’ offense a whole other dimension that they lacked last season, the ability to rely on the running game instead of always relying on Patrick Mahomes to carry the offense. He ran for 161 yards on 26 carries at Buffalo, guiding the Chiefs to the 26-17 win. His stellar production has made a tremendous impact on the defending Super Bowl champions and combined with his amazing statline, he should be given the Rookie of the Year award if the season ended today.
3. The Texans look much more loose without Bill O’Brien
After finally firing general manager and head coach Bill O’Brien, the Houston Texans look much improved after an abysmal 0-4 start. They beat the Jacksonville Jaguars last week 30-14 and this week, they went toe-to-toe with the undefeated Tennessee Titans, losing 42-36 in overtime. The Texans led for most of the fourth quarter and was a two-point conversion away from sealing the win.
Not only did firing O’Brien allow the Texans to start cleaning up the mess he left, but also the players started playing hard again. It is now well-documented how he lost control of the team after a dispute with franchise icon J.J. Watt and now that he’s gone, the Texans are playing much more loose and with more vigour. This is a good sign going forward as if the Texans can hire the right coach (Eric Bieniemy) and be patient in rebuilding the roster, the Texans may be strong contenders again during Deshaun Watson’s prime.
4. Green Bay needs to develop toughness
Last season, the Packers made it to the NFC Championship game despite winning most games ugly and looking unimpressive for most of the season. When they faced a team more talented than them that punched them in the mouth early, they faded away, not putting up any resistance. This was highlighted in all three trips to California as they were blown out at the Chargers and twice at San Francisco.
2020 was looking much different as the Packers dominated their way to a 4-0 start. They looked like a well-oiled machine and much improved from last year. After their bye week, they reverted back to their 2019 selves as they were thrashed by the Tampa Buccaneers, losing 38-10 after jumping out to a 10-0 lead. They were emphatically defeated and seemed to fold under pressure like they did last year. If the Packers continue to do this, they will not get farther than they did last season and will need a culture change to get over the hump.