1. The New York Jets have one of the most predictable players in Ryan Fitzpatrick. He has been a primary starter for each of the past eight seasons, but he's done it for five different teams. He gradually becomes less accurate as the season moves on, before imploding in the month of December, dropping from an 84.1 passer rating to 70.3.
While he's only played 16 games twice in his career, his partial-season stats project to a fair obvious baseline. He'll complete between 60-62% of his passes. He'll pass for roughly 220-240 yards per game. He'll pick up 1-2 touchdowns and he'll throw an interception every game. He's probably the most reliable quarterback in the league. I predicted his statline back in March.
Now that the Jets sit at 5-4 and are tied with the Bills in 2nd place, with the two wild card spots under control ahead of the Raiders and Steelers, where does Fitzpatrick take the Jets? He can help beat bad teams, he'll usually lose to good teams, and every so often he'll convert a play that makes everyone consider maybe he's the answer? and he'll immediately follow with a play that says oh that's why.
Pittsburgh has an impossible schedule, with the games at Seattle and Cincinnati and games hosting the Colts and Broncos all in a row after their bye week. They follow that with back-to-back road games against division rivals. It's very possible that the Steelers finish the year 8-8, even if Ben Roethlisberger returns at full strength.
The Raiders host the Vikings in what should be an incredibly revealing match-up of two possible pretenders. Oakland also has the Packers and the Broncos on the horizon, but the rest of their games are winnable. A 9-7 or 10-6 Raiders team is not outside the realm of possibilities.
The Jets haven't really beaten a good team this year, unless you want to consider the Week 2 Colts "good." The Bills just beat New York in the Jets own house. How far can Fitzpatrick take this team, or will he turn into a pumpkin and allow the Raiders to take the final wild card spot?
2. Wide receiver Wes Welker is back and should be active for the Rams, according to NFL Networks Ian Rapoport. We can't force Welker out of the league, but I think every single person will be watching him with bated breath after every reception. He was one of the most fun players to watch while he was with the Patriots. His 2011 season with 122 receptions, 1,569 yards, and 9 touchdown receptions is one of the best in NFL history. Let's cross our fingers that he can remain healthy moving forward.
3. Love/hate the fact that the NFL just completely overlooked the fact that the Thursday Night Football game between the Jets and Bills featured jerseys that made it impossible for roughly 8% of the population to watch.
This took some serious oversight, but if I'm completely serious I didn't think of it until after the fact either. But I guess I don't have a billion dollar television contract, so I'm partially excused.
4. The New England Patriots have a red zone problem. Over the first four games of the season, the Patriots offense converted 80% of their red zone trips into touchdowns. That number fell to 60% over their past four games of the season, which is in line with the league average. It's not a reason to panic, but it's an area of the offense that needs improvement.
The Patriots can't be too happy with kicking field goals from the 3-yard-line against Washington, and Tom Brady's red zone interception was the first time the Patriots didn't score on a red zone trip this year. It seems like New England has been trying to fade route in the end zone more than the quick slants that were working earlier in the year. Hopefully the team will fix whatever has changed for the rest of the year.
5. I just wanted to express my thoughts for those around the world that have been impacted by the terrorist attacks in Beirut and Paris. These moments transcend boundaries and borders and call for our compassion and support, not the perpetuation of xenophobia and violence. The NFL will be holding a moment of silence prior to the games this weekend for the victims.