Josh Dobbs would be starting for a second different team this week and the Vikings would open with a third different starting quarterback on Sunday when they hosted the Saints. It was an impressive outing for the journeyman signal-caller, who threw for 268 yards and one score and ran for another TD. The defense came up with three sacks and two interceptions. The Vikings continue their surprising climb up the Power Rankings.
There have only been six instances of a team opening 0-3 and reaching the playoffs, the latest being the 2018 Texans. Kevin O’Connell’s club owns the NFL’s longest-current winning streak (5) and is in a position to defend its division title. The club is 2-0 vs. NFC North foes. In many ways, this may be a better team than the 2022 edition.
Midseason Grade: A-
The Bengals took a four-game winning streak into Sunday’s clash with the visiting Texans. Zac Taylor’s club opened the game with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that gave his team a 7-0 lead. However, it was a struggle the rest of the day. Cincinnati’s defense gave up 544 total yards. Joe Burrow finished with 347 passing yards and two TDs. However, he connected on only 7-of-15 throws for 156 yards and was picked off twice in the fourth quarter.
What to make of a team that has won the last two AFC North titles? For the second straight year, the Bengals got off to a 0-2 start and but would rebound to win five of their next six contests. However, Sunday’s home loss to the Texans raised some red flags. Keep in mind that Taylor’s club is 0-2 vs. division rivals and 1-4 vs. the conference.
Midseason Grade: B-
In a battle of teams that both had Week 9 off, the first-place Jaguars played host to the slumping 49ers. The last time the Jaguars took the field, they were notching their fifth consecutive win and did it despite the fact they turned over the ball 3 times at Pittsburgh. They weren’t so fortunate against the Niners as Trevor Lawrence had three of the club’s four miscues. He was also sacked five times and a shaky Jaguars’ defense was pushed around.
Sloppy play has been a bit of a problem for Doug Pederson’s club, but Jacksonville has responded with its own ability to force turnovers. Still, it’s not a formula for success. The improving Texans are right on the heels of the defending AFC South champions and have already won at Jacksonville. Lawrence must be more consistent.