While teams like the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints could not have scripted much better starts to their 2018 season, there are plenty of others that have ground to make up heading into Week 7. Some teams are facing must-win situations if they want to remain in postseason contention. Others simply need a win to prevent their seasons from spiraling out of control, and to maintain job security.
Here are 10 NFL teams that badly need to win their next game, whether that is in Week 7 or coming out of the bye in Week 8:
Jerry Jones still seems to believe that this year’s team is a contender. They will have to win on Sunday to prove that. Dallas is 3-3 and coming off its biggest win of the season as they demolished the Jags 40-7. The NFC East is up for grabs, being currently led by 3-2 Washington, whom the Cowboys face on the road. Dallas is 0-3 on the road this season, and dropping to 3-4 on the season would make winning the division tough, especially if Philly wins in Week 7. The Cowboys probably are unlikely to grab a wild-card spot, so winning the division is their easiest path to the playoffs. They are unlikely to do so if they don’t beat Washington this weekend.
While Tyreek Hill cannot confidently say Sunday night’s game will be the last time he gets a face-full of beer after scoring a touchdown, the New England Patriots are making sure the fan who committed the act never does so at their stadium again.
After he scored a 75-yard touchdown to tie the game at 40 late in the fourth quarter, Hill was flipped off by one Patriots fan and had beer thrown at him by another.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) October 15, 2018
On Monday, the Patriots released a statement saying they have identified the fan responsible and banned him from all future events at Gillette Stadium.
Statement from the New England Patriots: pic.twitter.com/VapBDpzzdg
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 15, 2018
You can understand why Patriots fans weren’t as excited about the touchdown as some of the people we saw tweeting about it, but throwing beer in a player’s face obviously crosses the line. From the sound of it, the guy responsible is paying the price.
Rob Gronkowski is battling an ankle injury that forced him to leave early in Sunday’s blowout win over the Miami Dolphins, but all indications have been that the issue is not a serious one.
Mike Giardi of NFL Network reported on Tuesday that the New England Patriots are not concerned about Gronkowski’s ankle, which has been bothering him since before their Week 3 game.
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) October 2, 2018
“The feeling is it’s not that big of a deal,” Giardi said. “He should be questionable for Thursday. Obviously if it was a longer week I don’t think there would be any concern whatsoever, and I still think (the Patriots) feel like Rob Gronkowski will be on the field.”
Gronkowski has appeared on the injury report a couple times with the ankle issue, but the Patriots are probably just playing it safe with him. They had their game well in-hand against Miami on Sunday when Gronk left the field, so there was no reason to risk him injuring it further. As Giardi mentioned, the biggest concern this week is that New England is playing on Thursday, so Gronkowski has less time to heal.
The first four weeks of the NFL’s regular season are in the books, and parity seems to be the name of the game. Only two teams remain unbeaten (Chiefs and Rams), while only one remains winless (Cardinals). Some teams are performing above expectations, while others are falling short. There is still plenty of time for things to change, but here’s a look at each NFL team’s grade through the quarter mark of the season.
Arizona Cardinals — D
There’s not much to say here. The Cardinals were expected to be bad and have been downright terrible. They’ve actually been decent defensively, which saves them from an F, but they’ve scored a miserable 37 points in four games, comfortably the worst mark in the NFL. Perhaps moving from Sam Bradford to Josh Rosen will help the offense a tiny bit — they nearly beat the Seahawks at home on Sunday — but it’s going to be a long season in the desert either way.
- Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been insisting for over a year now that any rumors about power struggles within his organization have been fabricated and exaggerated, and he is not backing down from that stance even during a rough start to the season.
In an appearance on CNBC Friday morning, Kraft was again asked about the talk of tension between himself, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. He dismissed it as “jealousy.”
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on stories of team unrest, on CNBC this morning:
"Envy and jealousy are incurable diseases and you'd rather be a recipient than a donor."
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 28, 2018
Kraft has used that exact same phrase on numerous occasions, including when responding to the Deflategate allegations. He’s right that there are many people who hate the Patriots and want to see them fail because they have won so much over the past 15-plus years, but there’s little question Belichick’s relationship with Brady has been better.
Reports over the past year have indicated that Brady is at odds with Belichick over the quarterback’s personal trainer and the access he is granted to the team. Some of those issues have apparently been worked out, but Brady has said things like “I plead the Fifth” when asked if he feels appreciated by the Patriots. At the very least, the future Hall of Fame coach and quarterback do not seem like best friends.
The New England Patriots have been searching for help at the wide receiver position since well before the season began, and they worked out another once-promising player this week.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that former Baltimore Ravens first-round pick Breshad Perriman visited with the Patriots on Friday.
WR Breshad Perriman worked out today for the Patriots, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 28, 2018
Perriman signed with the Washington Redskins earlier this month but was released after being with the team for less than a week. The former UCF star just recently turned 25 and was once viewed as a promising talent, but things never panned out for him in Baltimore. He caught just 10 passes in 11 games with the Ravens last season.
The Patriots already made a big splash with the addition they made to their receiving corps a couple of weeks ago, but they have struggled on offense through the early part of the year. Even if they end up signing Perriman, receivers who sign with New England midway through the season almost never pan out.
The New England Patriots have lost consecutive games and look like a team that is nowhere near being considered a Super Bowl contender, but their proven leader clearly is not ready to throw in the towel on the 2018 season.
Tom Brady has been visibly frustrated during the Patriots’ last two games, which makes sense considering how bad the offense has looked. With New England hoping to bounce back at home against the Miami Dolphins in Week 4, Brady shared a very brief but emphatic message on social media Tuesday.
“It’s not one thing. It’s everything,” Brady captioned a short clip that features him rallying his teammates back from a huge deficit against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
Brady has spent a lot of time over the past two weeks answering questions about an offense that scored 20 points in a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and was held to 10 against the Detroit Lions on Sunday night. You can point to the absence of Julian Edelman, bad play-calling, inaccurate throws or a lack of urgency, but Brady’s message on Tuesday seems to indicate he thinks all of those are a problem.
In addition to playing poorly, the Patriots have continued to deal with distractions off the field. Brady knows better than anyone that the time is now for his team to block all of that out and start showing more focus.