The Check-down Check-up (2020): Week Five

Another week of NFL football in the books, another edition of the Check-down Check-up to grade teams with. As a reminder, anything under four is a check down, anything above seven is a check up, and anything between those fours and sevens is a “check back next week.” So, who’s coming up? Who’s on their way down? Let’s find out.

AFC North

Cleveland Browns

Last week, the Browns thrashed the Cowboys on the ground. This week, they pillaged the Colts’ top-ranked defense, with Baker Mayfield finding various holes in Indy’s secondary to the tune of 247 yards and two touchdowns. Mayfield was only sacked once, and a Browns team marred by injuries still found a way to win. This coming Sunday is a big test against Pittsburgh, but Browns fans have to be riding high this week.

Verdict: 8.75/10, Check Up

Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens followed their strong win against Washington with an absolutely annihilation of Joe Burrow and the Bengals on Sunday. Baltimore held Burrow to just 183 passing yards, after the No. 1 overall pick had gone for over 300 yards in the past three games. They also laid into Burrow throughout the game, dropping him for seven sacks. I have no doubt the Ravens will continue their winning ways against the Eagles.

Verdict: 9.5/10, Check Up

Pittsburgh Steelers

After an unexpected bye week, the Steelers lit up Philadelphia’s secondary on Sunday afternoon, putting up 38 on the Eagles. Rookie receiver Chase Claypool especially impressed, finding the endzone four times (three receiving, one rushing). The storied Browns-Steelers rivalry finally has some juice to it, and this should be a fun one next Sunday.

Verdict: 9/10, Check Up

Cincinnati Bengals

I am convinced that Zac Taylor is trying to get Joe Burrow killed out there. Through five games, the rookie quarterback has been sacked 22 times, and there is seemingly no help on the way for Cincy’s offensive line. Especially with a contest against the defensively stout Colts in week six, this one could get ugly. Zac Taylor, your seat is getting warmer.

Verdict: 4/10, Check Down

AFC East

New England Patriots

The Patriots and Broncos couldn’t play this week because of positive COVID-19 tests, so I don’t think it’s fair to do anything else but hold their verdict over from last week. Besides, the Pats get to see San Francisco next week, who seem to be falling apart at the seams right now.

Verdict: 8/10, Check Up

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins just ripped apart last year’s NFC Champions. Not only that, but they made Jimmy Garoppolo play so badly that he got benched, collecting two picks and three sacks which might have reaggravated his injury (which could also explain the benching). This was a destruction by the Dolphins, which Miami fans haven’t seen in a while. I’m happy for Brian Flores and this team, who look to be on the up and up.

Verdict: 6/10, Check Back Next Week

Buffalo Bills

Josh Allen didn’t play anything like an MVP candidate tonight. Multiple interceptions, including one on the opening drive, doomed the Bills against the unbeaten Tennessee Titans. Poor offensive play kept Buffalo out of the win column, and now they have to turn around on a very short week and see an angry Chiefs team. The Bills could still win the division, but this just made it much harder.

Verdict: 7.5/10, Check Up

New York Jets

How is Adam Gase still here? The Jets, once again, got destroyed. Not to mention, they got destroyed, at home, by a team who wasn’t feeling so hot, and had to travel all the way across the country. This is the worst team in the league, and it isn’t particularly close. Maybe the Jets have a chance against the Chargers in week six? Probably not, as long as Gase is still at the wheel, and that defense is still completely undisciplined.

Verdict: 0/10, Check Down

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

Yes, the Colts were missing Anthony Costanzo, but Philip Rivers didn’t look so good here. A pick six by Cleveland’s Ronnie Harrison almost completely broke Indy’s back, had it not been for the incredible kickoff return that came just one play later. Even so, the Browns put up 32 on the league’s best defensive unit. At least that vaunted defense gets to see Cincinnati this Sunday.

Verdict: 5/10, Check Back Next Week

Houston Texans

Well, what do you know? I campaign for Bill O’Brien to get fired, he gets fired, and then the Texans beat the stuffing out of Jacksonville. You’re welcome, Houston. Seriously though, I try not to let my fandom show too often, but as a Browns fan, I’m extremely happy for Romeo Crennel. I would love to see this team go rip off a massive winning streak, since it seems Crennel is about to retire.

Verdict: 7/10, Check Up

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars might be cooked. They just got destroyed by Deshaun Watson and the then-winless Texans, and now they’re set as a 2.5-point underdog to a one-win Lions team. This could easily be the worst game of the week. I liked what Jacksonville had going in week one against the Colts, and they have shown absolutely nothing since. That being said, there’s still a sliver of confidence that they could beat Detroit, and maybe send Matt Patricia packing.

Verdict: 1.75/10, Check Down

Tennessee Titans

So, NFL fans waited two whole weeks just to find out that the Tennessee Titans are legit. Last year’s AFC Championship appearance is looking like less and less of a fluke. The Titans are unbeaten, and just took down another unbeaten in dominating fashion. The Texans could be in trouble next week.

Verdict: 8.5/10, Check Up

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs

Uh oh. The Raiders might have just made the AFC West a whole lot more interesting. If not for a very late touchdown, Las Vegas would have beaten the defending champs by two scores. Now, the Chiefs have the Raiders hot on their heels, only one game separating the two in the West. And now, they’ll have to play the Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills in a battle of two of the AFC’s strongest gunslingers.

Verdict: 8.75/10, Check Up

Denver Broncos

The Patriots and Broncos couldn’t play this week because of positive COVID-19 tests, so I don’t think it’s fair to do anything else but hold their verdict over from last week. Besides, the Pats get to see San Francisco next week, who seem to be falling apart at the seams right now. Even so, the Broncos get to see the Dolphins next Sunday, which would make for a surprisingly interesting matchup, if not for all of Denver’s injuries.

Verdict: 5/10, Check Back Next Week

Los Angeles Chargers

What a game. The Chargers and Saints put on a show on Monday Night Football in an overtime thriller. That being said, I am convinced at this point that Justin Herbert is never going to catch a break. L.A. blew a ten-point halftime lead, and Michael Badgley’s potential game-winning kick doinked off the upright. Good thing the Chargers get to see the New York Jets this week. Time for Herbert to get himself a win.

Verdict: 5.5/10, Check Back Next Week

Las Vegas Raiders

How the Raiders pulled this one off is beyond me, but that was so much fun to watch. Vegas takes down the defending champs, and Derek Carr finally gets a win inside the unfriendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium. Vegas has a touch stretch coming up against Tampa Bay, Cleveland, and the Chargers, but the second half of their schedule is actually pretty easy. Keep performing like that, and the silver and black might have a chance at the playoffs.

Verdict: 6.5/10, Check Back Next Week

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