Four weeks of the NFL season down (almost) …
• The NFL is expecting Vontaze Burfict to appeal his suspension for the remainder of the season, and his case could be heard as soon as Tuesday. A 12-game suspension is a very heavy penalty, but this, of course, is more about a pattern of behavior leading up to the crazy headshot at Colts tight end Jack Doyle on Sunday. So maybe he has a shot at reducing the sanctions, but it’s hard to imagine they’ll be wiped up.
• A bad break for the Broncos and second-year star Bradley Chubb, with the news that Chubb tore his ACL in Sunday’s loss to the Jaguars. This development is bad enough on its own, but it also twists the knife on how ex-Bronco Shaq Barrett has blossomed in Tampa. The early success of Chubb, paired with Von Miller, was a huge piece of why Barrett (who now has nine sacks in four games as a Buc) was allowed to walk.
• So long as he can keep his nose clean, this should just be the start for uber-athletic Raider tight end Darren Waller. He had seven catches for 53 yards in Indianapolis—his 33 catches for the year ties Antonio Gates for the fastest four-game start for a tight end in NFL history.
• Other teams haven’t heard much back from the Jaguars on Jalen Ramsey of late, so it’ll be interesting to see what the next step is—and if someone steps in and tries to blow Jacksonville away. The standard asking price has been two first-round picks, or a first-round pick, another high pick and a player. Based on recent trades for guys like Laremy Tunsil, Frank Clark and Odell Beckham Jr., that cost doesn’t seem particularly onerous, though there’s also the matter of a new contract to do with the star corner, who hasn’t hidden his desire for one (see: Truck, Brinks).
• The Bills defense deserves every bit of credit it has received coming out of Sunday’s close loss to the Patriots. The unit’s success in snuffing out the Patriots quick game and array of screens is largely rooted in continuity—the team has just one new defensive starter (first-round pick Ed Oliver), and that made for great communication and alignment on Sunday, against a team that demands it. Oh, and middle linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, still just 21 years old, played like a Pro Bowler. (Safety Micah Hyde and the defensive line as a group got high marks, too.)
• One interesting aspect to tonight’s Bengals-Steelers game: A nicked-up Cincinnati defense is expected to go with just three defensive ends up, which could be problematic later in the game. To help the pass rush, expect the coaches to disguise coverages on the back end—making man look like zone and vice versa—to cross up Pittsburgh’s Mason Rudolph.
• I think the Browns players were made aware of things the Ravens said about them over the last few months, from calling them the most talented team in the division to tweaking them over their uneven start.
• I would not be surprised if some in the Redskins organization wanted to take offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell out for a test drive as interim coach, and it’s not impossible that could factor into timing on the decision on Jay Gruden. Part of that is regret for letting Sean McVay get away, something that really couldn’t be prevented, and a feeling that O’Connell has similar potential as a young coach. This Sunday: Patriots at Redskins, 1 p.m. ET.
• If the Saints play as well around Drew Brees in December and January as the team did around Teddy Bridgewater on Sunday night, look out. In particular, the defense flashed its potential, and provided the foundation for the team to dominate the turnover and time-of-possession statistics. Corner Marshon Lattimore, safety Vonn Bell and defensive tackle Malcom Brown were among the guys who graded out well on Monday.
• Vikings coach Mike Zimmer saying that Kirk Cousins needs to pull the trigger will sound familiar to a lot of people in Washington because Cousins is a rhythm quarterback who struggles off-schedule. If the coaches can get him to hold the ball, or rush him into doing something he doesn’t want, you’ve got a chance against him. And really, it’s gotta be on the Vikings coaches, whose system is rooted in Mike Shanahan’s old scheme (which Cousins excelled in) to do the job managing it. Being mindful of that is one reason why both Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay had so much success with him.
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