The silver lining for the Jets, who some thought wouldn’t win a game this year, is that their offense isn’t the worst in the NFL. But it still isn’t playoff-caliber, scoring 1.6 points per drive (22nd) and being forced to go three-and-out 43 percent of the time. Only the Colts and Titans are worse in this regard.
The Ravens lost, 23-20, to the Titans on Sunday, yet are projected to win eight games by the end of the regular season, one or two wins shy of qualifying for a wild-card spot. If they do make an end-of-season push, look for it to come late — they face the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals during the last three weeks of the season.
The Los Angeles Rams — this year’s surprise team — will likely earn a playoff berth, their first since 2004, alongside the Eagles, New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings as the NFC’s division winners. The Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys look poised to be the two wild-card teams.
The Jaguars, even acknowledging Bortles, are a more dangerous threat to New England. There is no reliable blueprint to beat Tom Brady, but the best bet is to pressure him with a sudden rush up the middle and lock down receivers on the outside. It’s what Miami did in a Week 14 upset. The Jaguars play like Miami, just with better personnel.
If you were one of the contenders in the NFC that didn’t make a move at the deadline, you fell behind. The 7-1 Eagles and the 5-2 Seahawks got objectively better while the 6-2 Vikings, 5-2 Saints and 5-2 Rams rested on their laurels. There is no shame in not making a deal, but it’s no fun seeing your competition acquire plug-and-play talent.
The 4-6 Chargers lost wide receiver Mike Williams, who was carted off with a knee injury and the 5-5 Cowboys, already without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott, lost right guard Zack Martin to a head injury. He was ruled out for the second half and replaced by Joe Looney.
Much of the Cowboys’ success last season was because of its offensive line, but the unit has not been able to repeat its dominance this year. All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith missed two games with a groin strain, and now that he has returned to the lineup, Martin goes out. As of the end of the third quarter Thursday, the Cowboys had yet to score, making it 10 straight quarters without a touchdown.