Going from Super Bowl contenders to being on the fringe of making the playoffs isn’t unheard of in the NFL. Sometimes teams get off to hot starts, like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season, who likely will fade once the league catches up to them. But in the case of San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Buffalo, there is a different feeling.
All three franchises were viewed as the top contenders to compete in the Super Bowl in February. Each of them has seen their share of issues over the first weeks of the season. Most concerning at the moment are where San Francisco and Buffalo are. Both teams lost to other teams with losing records last week.
The 49ers have lost two straight. While recent sports updates show that the Bills are still likely positioned to win the division, things may not be as easy as Buffalo hoped. San Francisco has another marquee game this week and will want to get everything back on track.
49ers-Bengals Ready to Share the Stage
San Francisco’s powerful offense hasn’t looked quite as sharp during their last two games. The lack of consistency with the 49ers has resulted in consecutive losses to Cleveland and Minnesota. What has been shocking is that San Francisco has looked lost on offense.
Before the two-game skid, the 49ers smashed rival Dallas in embarrassing fashion. San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy struggled against the Vikings, throwing two interceptions and finishing with 272 passing yards. It was the second consecutive underwhelming performance for Purdy.
Purdy, who has a passer rating of 107.2, has finished with a passer rating below 90 in the last two games. Against Cleveland, Purdy struggled to get to 125 passing yards. San Francisco’s usual running game also struggled against Minnesota. Christian McCaffrey scored a touchdown but only rushed for 45 yards on 15 carries.
The Bengals have won two straight games to even their record at 3-3. Cincinnati still has a long way to go to catch up to Baltimore but is off in the right direction. Black sports news shows that Ja’Marr Chase has started to feel happy now that Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow is getting him the ball.
Burrow had struggled to start the season due to an injury. If Cincinnati has finally figured things out on offense, the Bengals are more than capable of getting hot to close the season and make the playoffs.
Can Jacksonville Lockdown Pittsburgh?
The Jaguars seem to have a legitimate offense that is capable of going deep into the playoffs. It’s hard to say the same thing about Pittsburgh. The Steelers’ offense typically struggles early in games before finding a way to score points after halftime. Specifically, Pittsburgh has been good at finishing drives in the fourth quarter.
But the Steelers, who are 4-2, can’t continue to start this slow and expect to win games. Pittsburgh is last in the league in scoring points on its opening drive of the game. The Steelers haven’t scored any this season.
Jacksonville’s offense, meanwhile, has scored 25 or more points in their last three games. The Jaguars also scored 30 or more in their past two victories over the Saints and Colts, respectively. Jacksonville would like to grab another high-quality win for its resume. The Jaguars have traditionally played Pittsburgh tough and lead the all-time series 14-13.
Buffalo Needs a Rebound
Pessimism abounds in Buffalo. The Bills’ loss to the Patriots was a crushing blow. While it by no means put them out of the AFC East title race, people looking at top sports news won’t like to see Buffalo losing to a traditional rival that is down on its luck. What is most troubling for the Bills is their defensive effort.
Buffalo allowed New England, led by struggling quarterback Mac Jones, to score 29 points. While the Bills won’t expect to blow out every team, Buffalo needs to find ways to make life tougher on their opponents consistently.
Playing Tampa Bay on a Thursday night may be the perfect cure. While Baker Mayfield has been solid at quarterback for the Buccaneers, Tampa Bay doesn’t have the offensive firepower to consistently beat good teams. The Buccaneers started the season 3-1 but are now 3-3 and holding on to hope they can remain in the division race.
Vikings are surging again
With Detroit struggling with injuries, there is hope for the other teams in the division that they can close the gap on the Lions. Minnesota is back to being the cardiac kid. During this season, all seven of the Vikings’ games have been decided by seven points or fewer.
Minnesota is 3-4 in those games. But the Vikings have been playing well against top competition. Minnesota only lost to Philadelphia by six and Kansas City by seven. Beating a strong 49ers team last week will only serve as more of a boost for Minnesota.
The Jordan Love era has hit a bit of a snag in Green Bay. The Packers have lost consecutive games against bad AFC West teams. Green Bay’s offense was especially lifeless against Denver in the first half. The Packers fell behind 9-0 before rallying with 17 points in the second half of what ended as a two-point loss.
Love has had a hard time getting adjusted to being the full-time starting quarterback. During the Packers’ current three-game losing streak, Love has thrown six interceptions. Love has also been held below 200 yards passing in the past two weeks.
Rams Would Like to Bounce Back vs Cowboys
Los Angeles lost a difficult game to Pittsburgh at home last week. The Rams missed a few field goals, turned the ball over, and still nearly beat the Steelers. Los Angeles has flashed potential during its 3-4 start but needs to string wins together to get into the playoff race.
Dallas has been up-and-down to start the season. The Cowboys are 4-2 and in second place in the division, but Dallas can’t afford too many more losses to fall further behind the Eagles.
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