The Fifth Down: Josh Allen and the Bills' issues run deeper than Ken Dorsey

In this week’s edition of The Fifth Down, Kinnu Singh explains why Josh Allen has experienced unexpected highs and lows at the helm of the Buffalo Bills.

Denver Broncos v Buffalo Bills
Denver Broncos v Buffalo Bills / Timothy T Ludwig/GettyImages

With the fall of the New England Patriots empire, there has been a power vacuum in the AFC. Although no one will have a stranglehold on the conference quite like Tom Brady did, a few quarterbacks have emerged as potential candidates for the recently vacated throne.

Most notably, there are the Buffalo Bills with Josh Allen, the Cincinnati Bengals with Joe Burrow, and the Kansas City Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes.

In last week’s column, we discussed why the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals don’t pose a sustainable threat to Kansas City’s quest for a dynasty.

Ultimately, it comes down to an ideal structure surrounding a young quarterback.

While Mahomes was handed the keys to a Ferrari, Allen and Burrow were put behind the wheel of cars with low gas, flat tires, and sputtering engines.

The Chiefs passing offense has struggled all season, but the rest of the team picked up the slack and led Kansas City to a 7-2 record, best in the AFC. Cincinnati couldn’t provide that same luxury to its own franchise quarterback. When Burrow was struggling in the first four weeks of the season, the Bengals mustered a disappointing 1-3 record. 

Week 10 displayed the disparity between these franchises once again. With the Chiefs leading the conference, tight end Travis Kelce spent his bye week partying on tour with Taylor Swift. Meanwhile, Buffalo and Cincinnati both suffered humiliating losses at home.

The Buffalo Bills are in flux

Perhaps more than ever before during Josh Allen’s career, the Bills are in flux.

The Bills suffered a disappointing loss to the Denver Broncos on Monday night, falling to a 5-5 record and out of the playoff picture as a daunting schedule still lies ahead of them. 

Not long after the end of the game, Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs voiced his concerns regarding his brother, Bills receiver Stefon Diggs.

“Man 14 Gotta get up out of there,” Trevon Diggs tweeted.

Then, he added some thoughts about Allen: "Let’s not forget, [Allen] didn’t start going off till bro got there.”

Just hours later, Buffalo fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey. The firing came in response to the team’s inconsistencies on offense, which is fair, but Dorsey still feels like a scapegoat. After all, was it the offensive coordinator’s fault that the Bills defense allowed the Broncos to get into field goal range? Was Dorsey responsible for the careless special teams penalty on Denver’s missed field goal attempt that would have clinched a Buffalo win?

“There’s a guy that’s supposed to count to 11 on [special] teams that is indirectly or directly responsible for Ken Dorsey being fired,” Aaron Rodgers said on The Pat McAfee Show.

The blame should ultimately fall on the shoulders of the entire organization and coaching staff, as well as the quarterback. While Dorsey took the fall for Buffalo’s struggles, the team’s issues are embedded much deeper.

The Bills' current struggles have less to do with Dorsey's presence and more to do with the absence of the team's previous offensive coordinator. Former Buffalo Bills coordinator Brian Daboll played a pivotal role in Allen’s development, and his departure may also be at the root of the quarterback’s recent struggles.

The four years Daboll spent as the Bills offensive coordinator were also the first four years of Allen’s NFL career. During those four seasons, Daboll helped Allen develop into one of the most promising quarterbacks in the league.

“In terms of my path of my career and getting better, [Daboll] was probably the most influential one,” Allen said of his former offensive coordinator. “He’s a guy that I [would] talk to each and every day.”

Brian Daboll and Stefon Diggs helped build Josh Allen's career

Coming out of the 2018 NFL Draft, Josh Allen was a raw quarterback prospect prone to making head-scratching decisions. He would have benefitted from sitting on the bench and learning from a veteran quarterback — the same way that Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, and so many others did. Instead, the Bills rushed him into the starting lineup with a mediocre offense.

The struggles were evident early.

In his first two seasons, Allen completed 56.3 percent of his passes for 30 passing touchdowns and 21 interceptions while rushing for 17 touchdowns and 22 fumbles.

Then, Buffalo acquired Stefon Diggs in a blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Vikings, which caused Allen’s production to predictably improve.

Over the next two seasons from 2020 to 2021, Allen completed 66.1 percent of his passes, throwing 73 touchdowns and 25 interceptions while rushing for 14 touchdowns and 17 fumbles.

Daboll’s offense notably began to flourish during the 2020 NFL season, when Allen set career highs in passing yards (4,544) and passing touchdowns (37).

"I think [Daboll] did a good job," coach Sean McDermott said. "...That first year is always tough, right? And Josh had some high highs and he faced some adversity as well and then you come back in '19 and we made a little bit more progress, and then [in] '20, we really started to open it up a little bit."

But Daboll left Buffalo during the 2022 offseason to accept a head coaching position with the New York Giants. Since then, Allen and the Bills offense have regressed.

Josh Allen
Denver Broncos v Buffalo Bills / Timothy T Ludwig/GettyImages

Statistics don't tell the full story of Josh Allen's 2023 regression

The analytics community claims that the demise of the Bills offense is being overly exaggerated. They will point to the Bills having a strong EPA or DVOA, or even at Josh Allen’s individual statistics. After all, Allen’s statistical output looks remarkably steady from his 26 total games with Dorsey compared to his last 26 games with Daboll:

In his 26 games with Dorsey (2022-2023), Allen completed 66.0 percent of his passes and gained 7,891 total yards for 69 total touchdowns and 43 turnovers (18-8 record).

In his last 26 games with Daboll (2020-2021), Allen completed 65.7 percent of his passes and gained 7,973 total yards for 68 total touchdowns and 34 turnovers (19-7 record).

Statistically, Josh Allen is among the best in the league through 10 games of the 2023 season. He ranks seventh in EPA per dropback (0.14), third in completion percentage (70.3 percent), and he leads the league in passing touchdowns (19).

Unfortunately for Buffalo, statistical output doesn’t generate wins, and the reality is that numbers don’t tell the whole story. After all, if statistics were good enough, then McDermott wouldn’t be talking about how the team is upset and frustrated after their latest loss, Dorsey wouldn’t have lost his job, and Trevon Diggs wouldn’t be campaigning for his brother to be freed from Buffalo.

It’s not about the percentage of passes completed, it’s about what happens on the passes that aren’t completed and what the consequences are of each incomplete or intercepted pass. It’s not about splashy plays or blowout victories, it’s about how consistently an offense can move the ball and punch it into the end zone. That consistency needs to be there play to play, drive to drive, game to game.

The reality for the Bills is that their offense hasn’t performed at a high level consistently despite being relatively healthy. 

“Despite having blue-[chip] players, they haven’t been able to establish a consistent style or level of play,” an NFC pro scouting director told Albert Breer. “Seems like they’re pressing and playing tight. And I think they do miss Daboll.”

The Bills had eye-popping offensive performances from Week 2 to Week 4, scoring at least 37 points in each game. Since then, they reverted back to the offense they were in Week 1 against the New York Jets. While those great performances may inflate their statistical standings, what matters now is what they’ve done after those three games. In the subsequent games since Week 4, they haven’t surpassed 25 points while averaging just seven points per game in the first halves, which is the fourth fewest in the league. Since Week 5, the Bills offense has a league-leading 13 turnovers.

Allen has thrown an interception in six consecutive games — the longest stretch of his career. His last turnover-free game was in Week 4 against the Miami Dolphins. It’s a worrying trend for a quarterback in his sixth season, especially since he’s struggled to outduel other elite quarterbacks.

The quarterback’s carelessness with the football has become the theme of the Bills offense. Through 10 games of the 2023 season, Allen leads the league with 14 turnovers and 11 interceptions.

He now has 94 turnovers since entering the league in 2018, the most during that time period. Allen also leads all quarterbacks with the most overtime losses, including the postseason, without a win or tie (0-5), according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Allen has two more turnovers than the next closest players (Desmond Ridder and Mac Jones) this season. His 33 turnovers since Daboll’s departure are six more than the next closest player (Trevor Lawrence) during that timeframe.

"Josh, to me, is one of the most baffling people in football," former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann said on OutKick’s Don’t @ Me with Dan Dakich. "You see his ability to throw, you see his ability to run, you see how physical he is. And then all of a sudden he does something, and you scratch your head and go, ‘Why did he do that? Why make that kind of a decision? Why make that kind of throw?’"

At his current pace, Josh Allen is set to lead the Bills to a 9-8 record with a 70.2 completion percentage and 4,420 passing yards for 32 passing touchdowns and 19 interceptions, along with 82 rushing attempts for 418 yards, 12 rushing touchdowns and 7 fumbles.

Those 26 turnovers would be the second most of his career, just one less than last year when he had a career-high 27 turnovers. Under Daboll, Allen never surpassed 23 turnovers — even in his rough rookie and sophomore seasons.

“Offensively, it’s the turnovers,” a rival AFC executive said. “The quarterback [Josh Allen] isn’t playing well — poor decisions and not having Daboll on his a** is probably affecting him.”

Since the start of the 2020 regular season, Allen played 33 games with Daboll. If he concludes the season at his current pace, he will have played 33 games without Daboll. He would have the same number of total touchdowns, but fewer passing yards and rushing yards as well as more interceptions and fumbles.

“First and foremost, to be a consistent quarterback in the league, you’ve got to play on time,” Aaron Rodgers said on The Pat McAfee Show. “… A lot of [Buffalo’s] offense has been Josh’s incredible ability to scramble around and extend plays … but in the NFL, in some of those big games, it’s [about] who can execute on time from the pocket. If you get some of those plays outside [the pocket], fantastic — but you need to be great and efficient, on time, in the pocket. … Anything on top of that is just icing on the cake. The [scrambling] part of that can’t be the sole offense, it really can’t.”

Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs / David Eulitt/GettyImages

Coaching shaped alternate paths for Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes

In the first column of this season, we addressed the significance of playing quarterback within the structure of the offense. If you read that column, then you understand how concerning it is for former NFL players to suggest that Allen still struggles to read defenses six years into his career.

“A lot of times you watch the tape, it doesn’t seem like [Josh Allen] has a bunch of answers pre-snap, like he doesn’t know where he’s going with the ball [or] what the coverage is going to be,” former NFL cornerback Darius Butler said on The Pat McAfee Show.

Consider how the Chiefs handled the development of Mahomes when he didn’t know how to read defenses in 2018.

“I didn’t understand how to read defenses until halfway through [the 2018 season],” Mahomes said on HBO’s The Shop. "I understood coverages, but how to be able to pick up little tendencies defenses do, stuff that Brady and them have done, they know it, and they just do it. I was just playing."

Yet, that was arguably his best season. On his way to winning the coveted NFL MVP award in 2018, Mahomes amassed the second-most passing yards of his career (5,097), while setting career highs in passing touchdowns (50) and QBR (80.3). 

Mahomes was able to thrive because Andy Reid put him in a driver’s ed car with pedals on the passenger side. That way, Reid could hit the breaks anytime his quarterback was about to run a red light. 

When Mahomes began to run around carelessly and take a 30-yard sack, Reid was there to reel him back in.

Reid’s complex play designs and pre-snap motions put defenses into a pretzel, and that left Mahomes with simple reads to talented weapons like Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt.

As Trevon Diggs so kindly alluded to, Josh Allen didn’t have the same caliber of weapons around him that Mahomes did. More importantly, Allen didn’t have the same consistent support as Mahomes to teach him how to play within structure and in rhythm.

Blame for Bills blunders goes beyond Ken Dorsey and Josh Allen

History — and common sense — suggest that constant change of offensive design and leadership can lead to stunted growth for a developing quarterback, but consistent coaching isn’t a luxury that every quarterback can enjoy. 

While Mahomes has had the consistency of being under Reid’s quarterback-friendly offense for his entire career, Allen will now have to develop a bond with his third offensive coordinator in six seasons.

Buffalo’s lack of organizational stability created a quarterback that never fully developed. Allen hasn’t been able to overcome and correct his flaws, and those flaws are only exacerbated by any shortcomings in the front office, on the coaching staff, and on the roster around him.

Dorsey took the fall, but there is plenty of blame to go around in Buffalo. Josh Allen’s decision-making is inexcusable, but so is Buffalo’s ill-prepared plan to provide Allen with a consistent structure, mentorship, and a scheme that could cover his flaws while he developed.

NFL Power Rankings: Week 11

E. Trend: --. . . . Grade: 92. . 1. . 54

Preseason Record Prediction: 11-6
Week 5 Record Prediction: 13-4

After a key win over Dallas in Week 9, the Eagles enjoyed a bye week in Week 10, meaning they were able to maintain their NFL-best record at 8-1. During their bye, the Eagles announced four roster moves, including practice squad changes and safety Justin Evans’ ability to return to practice from injured reserve. 

Perhaps more importantly, the Eagles have announced another Kelce Bros. collaboration: this time, the two will headline the team’s upcoming Christmas album, A Philly Christmas Special, with a single that dropped on Wednesday.  

It’s a perfect marketing tactic, and not just because the winter holidays are around the corner. The famous brothers will suit up against one another this week as the 7-2 Chiefs and 8-1 Eagles experience a Super Bowl rematch. If their records are any indication, the Eagles might have the edge this time.

. Trend: ▲1. K. . . . . Grade: 90. 2. 124

Preseason Record Prediction: 12-5
Week 5 Record Prediction: 13-4

It seems that many of the NFL’s top teams enjoyed bye weeks in Week 10, and the Chiefs were no exception. After a bounceback win over the Dolphins in Week 9, the Chiefs rested in Week 10 in preparation for a Super Bowl rematch versus the Eagles. 

While Travis Kelce traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina during the bye, the rest of the Chiefs squad enjoyed some Week 10 wins without lifting a finger. Key AFC competitors, including the Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, and Los Angeles Chargers, all lost their games in Week 10, which only reinforces the Chiefs’ dominance in the conference. 

They’ll need it as they take on Philadelphia this week, which may not turn out the way it did in February. Funnily enough, the Eagles are one of those top teams that benefitted from a Week 10 bye week.

. . . Trend: ▼1. 26. Grade: 88. . 3. B.

Preseason Record Prediction: 11-6
Week 5 Record Prediction: 12-5

The Ravens only have a few days to recover from their narrow 33-31 loss to the Cleveland Browns, one that cost Deshaun Watson his shoulder for the season. Watson threw his all into the comeback win, rallying from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat their top-tier Baltimore rival. 

While the Ravens led in passing yards by 10 yards, they lagged in rushing yards and time of possession, not to mention Lamar Jackson’s two interceptions compared to Watson’s one. Even though the Ravens lost, what’s made them spectacular all year was still on display. Rookie Zay Flowers continues to shine as a key target for Jackson, while vintage Odell Beckham Jr. showed up in a 40-yard gain for a touchdown on his singular catch of the game. While the offense racked up 31 points, Watson’s efforts challenged what is still a stout, hard-to-beat defense in Baltimore — at least it was in the first half of this game. 

The Ravens will take on the bottom-ranked 5-4 Bengals in a key divisional matchup on Thursday Night Football.

. 4. . . 50. D. . Grade: 87. Trend: --.

Preseason Record Prediction: 9-8
Week 5 Record Prediction: 11-6

Who could have guessed that through Week 10, the Detroit Lions would not have one, but two games with at least 41 points on the board?

After a 42-24 win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 5, the Lions roared a 41-38 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 10. That puts Detroit at 7-2, which gives them the second-best NFC behind the Eagles. 

Running backs David Montgomery and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs combined for 193 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns: Montgomery contributed 116 yards and one touchdown to the cause, while Gibbs offered 77 yards and two touchdowns. Jared Goff showed out with 333 passing yards and two touchdowns, one of which went to Amon-Ra St. Brown, who also had a statistically significant day. St. Brown caught eight passes for a career-high 156 yards, which is close to half of Goff’s total passing yards. 

Next up, the Lions have the chance to devour the Chicago Bears at home, which shouldn’t pose much of a challenge.

42. . Trend: ▲1. . . Grade: 86. . S. . 5

Preseason Record Prediction: 12-5
Week 5 Record Prediction: 14-3

After a restful bye week, the 49ers dramatically snapped their three-game skid, restricting the mighty Jaguars to just 3 points as San Francisco put 34 on the board. 

Brock Purdy bounced back with three touchdowns, including a 66-yard pass to reliable tight end George Kittle. Another factor in the 49ers’ win? Deebo Samuel’s return — it’s no coincidence that the past three games without the versatile Samuels were all losses. In this game, Samuels scored on a 23-yard run. 

Nick Bosa and Chase Young rained on Sunshine’s parade as the 49ers defense sacked Trevor Lawrence five times. All in all, the 49ers were firing on all cylinders on Sunday, and it seems they’re sitting back at the top of the NFC as legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

. . Trend: ▲1. 6. 59. M. . . Grade: 83.

Preseason Record Prediction: 9-8
Week 5 Record Prediction: 11-6

The Dolphins were humbled in their 21-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 9, giving them much to think about during their Week 10 bye week. 

To prepare for their Week 11 matchup versus a Las Vegas Raiders team on the rise, the Dolphins elevated veteran wide receiver River Cracraft to their active roster. The move should give more flexibility to their offense, which has scored 62 points over the last three games. 

In order to add Cracraft to the 53-man roster, Miami cut cornerback Kelvin Joseph, whom they traded former first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene to acquire. 

They’ll need all the momentum they can get as they face a Raiders team coming off two straight wins.

. . . 7. D. Trend: ▲2. 123. . Grade: 81.

Preseason Record Prediction: 11-6
Week 5 Record Prediction: 12-5

The 6-3 Cowboys have had a ball beating up on the New York Giants this season, following up their 40-0 shutout season opener with a 49-17 rout in Week 10. 

This gives Dallas a 72-point differential in their meetings against New York, which is their largest sweep of an NFC East opponent. Jerry Jones may have called it “unfathomable”, but it’s easy to understand after the game Dak Prescott had.

Prescott completed 26 of 35 passes for 404 yards and four touchdowns, adding to his passing success with two rushes for 17 yards and a rushing touchdown. Wide receivers Brandin Cooks and CeeDee Lamb had monstrous games, with Cooks securing nine passes for a team-high 173 yards and Lamb catching 11 passes for 151 yards. 

In Week 11, the Cowboys will take on the Carolina Panthers for what should be another go-ahead win.

36. 8. . . Grade: 80. Trend: ▲2. S. . .

Preseason Record Prediction: 10-7
Week 5 Record Prediction: 11-6

The 6-3 Seahawks have benefitted from the 6-3 49ers’ recent slide, winning three of their last four games to tie with the NFC West leaders. Seattle will have to fight to keep up with San Francisco, but so far, they’ve done a nice job of contending for a Wild Card spot. Their latest conquest is a 29-26 win over the Washington Commanders in Week 10, with Geno Smith emerging as the hero once again. 

Thanks to two late scoring drives in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks staved off a loss with a dramatic flourish. As the clock winded down, kicker Jason Myers drove a 43-yard field goal through the uprights that secured the win for Seattle. It marked the third time Smith led a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime, which has made all the difference in Seattle’s record. 

Had they lost those three games, they’d be 3-6 like their NFC West rivals, the Los Angeles Rams. As fate would have it, that’s who they’ll be playing in Week 11 at SoFi Stadium.

Trend: ▼4. 56. C. . Grade: 79. . . . . 9

Preseason Record Prediction: 12-5
Week 5 Record Prediction: 9-8

A C.J. Stroud-led Texans team has stunned the NFL, their latest victim being a Bengals team on a four-game win streak. The formerly 1-3 Bengals were on a good run while it lasted, and in their latest loss, they did score 27 points — it just wasn’t enough to counteract Stroud’s historic performance. 

In one of the week’s biggest “trolls”, the Bengals caught up and tied a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter only to lose to Stroud on a stellar six-play, 55-yard touchdown drive. Giving the Texans the last possession was dangerous, illustrating how the Bengals need to be able to play ahead against the NFL’s stronger teams — at least for now. After this, the Bengals may be experiencing an identity crisis as they continue battling for a playoff spot. 

In Week 11, things from bad to (probably) worse: the bottom-ranked Bengals will take on the Baltimore Ravens, their AFC North rival who is leading the AFC North with a 7-3 record.

H. . 10. . 10. . . . Grade: 77. Trend: ▲3

Preseason Record Prediction: 4-13
Week 5 Record Prediction: 6-11

At 5-4, the Houston Texans are coming for the AFC South crown, and they’re approaching the divisional throne rather quickly. The Jacksonville Jaguars are only 6-3 — one misstep and C.J. Stroud is poised to clinch a playoff spot. 

Once again, the Texans stayed competitive in a high-scoring affair as Stroud outdueled a more experienced NFL quarterback. This time, it was Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, and the Texans came away with a 30-27 win. Stroud passed for 356 yards and a touchdown and rushed for an additional score as well. And when the game came down to the line, Stroud was able to lead his team on a game-winning drive that ended with a 38-yard field goal. 

Things just keep getting better and better for the Texans: next up, they play the tanking 2-8 Arizona Cardinals. More practice for C.J. as he continues to make a case for Offensive Rookie of the Year

. . . . 52. J. Grade: 75. . Trend: ▼3. 11

Preseason Record Prediction: 11-6
Week 5 Record Prediction: 11-6

The Jaguars took the field in Week 10 with a 6-2 record following a restful bye — just like their opponents, the San Francisco 49ers. Instead of continuing their five-game win streak, Jacksonville surrendered to a renewed 49ers squad that held them to a measly three points.  

It was a messy affair on Sunday as the Jaguars squandered every possible opportunity to score. In one particular ugly five-possession stretch, the Jaguars fumbled, kicked a field goal, threw an interception, fumbled again, and then threw another interception. The sun was not shining on quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who was sacked five times and caused three of the team’s four turnovers. 

The Jaguars have a chance to redeem themselves in a key divisional matchup against the 3-6 Tennessee Titans. While the bottom-ranked Titans are unlikely to challenge the Jaguars’ AFC South dominance directly, a Titans win could cause Jacksonville to cede the crown to the Indianapolis Colts or the Houston Texans in the coming weeks. 

B. . Grade: 74. . . . Trend: --. . 12. 53

Preseason Record Prediction: 9-8
Week 5 Record Prediction: 7-10

Deshaun Watson demonstrated why the Browns guaranteed his contract: they were counting on his talent, but not necessarily his injuries. Watson used that talent to crawl out of a 14-point hole in the fourth quarter against the Ravens, but it cost him: he’s now out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury. 

The Browns don’t have the strongest succession plan in place behind Watson, which will be an issue if the 6-3 Browns want to keep playing for a playoff berth. PJ Walker will take over after throwing five interceptions and one touchdown through five games this year. After Walker, there’s just rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, which is why general manager Andrew Berry said the team is already looking to sign other quarterbacks. 

The Browns are going to need all the help they can get if they want to maintain a positive win-loss ratio for the remainder of the year. A plummet is not out of the question, and it could start as early as this week when they take on the 6-3 Pittsburgh Steelers.

55. Trend: ▲1. . P. Grade: 73. . 13. . .

Preseason Record Prediction: 10-7
Week 5 Record Prediction: 7-10

It may be surprising that the Steelers are 6-3, and it seems to surprise running back Najee Harris, too. “I’m just so used to (close games), I don’t even realize it. That’s just how we are,” Harris said after a 23-19 win over the Green Bay Packers. 

That is how the Steelers are: they have nine straight wins in one-score games since last season, proving that when everything is on the line, the Steelers manage to get it done. Even though they’ve been outgained in every game in 2023, they rank second in one of the NFL’s most competitive divisions. 

Running backs led the way in this Steelers win with Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren combining for 183 rushing yards and two scores. This compensated for Kenny Pickett’s underwhelming day completing 14 of 23 passes for 126 yards.  

The Steelers will need all the help they can get in a key divisional matchup versus the Cleveland Browns in Week 11.

60. V. Grade: 71. . . . 14. . . Trend: ▲3

Preseason Record Prediction: 9-8
Week 5 Record Prediction: 9-8

It was a Minnesota Miracle of sorts: Joshua Dobbs logged a career-high 268 passing yards and two touchdowns in a 27-19 win over the New Orleans Saints. Even after losing Kirk Cousins for the season, the Vikings have proved they can carry on with two impressive performances from Dobbs that gave Minnesota two consecutive dubs. 

After an 0-3 start, the Vikings have bounced back and won their last five games, and Dobbs deserves credit for keeping Minnesota in the playoff hunt with high-scoring wins. Next, the Vikings face a renewed Broncos team in Week 11, but Denver will have a tough time knocking Dobbs off of his trajectory.

B. . . Grade: 70. 15. . . . Trend: ▼4. 16

Preseason Record Prediction: 11-6
Week 5 Record Prediction: 13-4

For many reasons, it’s the win that shouldn’t have been. The 5-5 Bills have lost three of their last four games, including their gut-wrenching 24-22 loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 10. While the Broncos deserve credit for battling through a three-game win streak after their dismal start, the Bills deserve criticism for gambling away their win at the last moment. 

When the Broncos missed their first attempt for a game-winning field goal, that should have been the end of things, but a Bills penalty allowed them a second chance. That allowed the Broncos to get the game-winning kick they needed, leaving the Bills down on their luck yet another week. 

Although quarterback Josh Allen shoulders plenty of blame for the loss, it was offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey who went on the chopping block. Dorsey was fired following the game and replaced by Joe Brady, who was previously the quarterbacks coach. Now Brady will be tasked with reversing Buffalo’s recent misfortune.

16. . Grade: 67. V. . . . 28. . Trend: ▲4

Preseason Record Prediction: 7-10
Week 5 Record Prediction: 4-13

The Raiders are 2-0 sans Josh McDaniels after 16-12 win over the New York Jets in Week 10. The team relied heavily on running back Josh Jacobs to lead the way with 116 rushing yards on 27 carries, which broke a lengthy 100-yard dry spell that lasted 14 games. 

Quarterback Aiden O’Connell did enough to secure the win, including a fourth-quarter touchdown to tight end Michael Mayer that gave the Raiders the lead. Plus, it gave Mayer his first career touchdown catch. O’Connell fared better than his fellow rookie quarterback Will Levis after becoming the second rookie quarterback in Raiders franchise history to win two of his first three starts. 

The Raiders are thriving under new head coach Antonio Pierce, and they’re going to need all the momentum they can muster for their next two matchups. First, the Raiders take on the Miami Dolphins in Week 11, then they’ll face a divisional foe in a Kansas City Chiefs matchup in Week 12.

. . . 13. Grade: 64. . 17. L. Trend: ▼1.

Preseason Record Prediction: 9-8
Week 5 Record Prediction: 11-6

With the Raiders winning their latest game over the Jets, the Chargers are now third in the AFC West with a 4-5 record. After easy wins over the Chicago Bears and New York Jets in recent weeks, the Chargers faced one of their toughest games all season going against the Detroit Lions. Even though the Chargers scored a season-high 38 points in Week 10, they still managed to lose to the Lions in a narrow 41-38 loss. This is the second time the Chargers scored at least 30 points and still lost, the first time being their 36-34 loss to the Miami Dolphins in their season opener. 

Justin Herbert completed 27 of 40 passes for 323 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception — most NFL quarterbacks would have won with that kind of performance in Week 10, but the Chargers had the misfortune of going against one of the NFL’s premier offenses in 2023. 

The Chargers should experience a jolt of electricity when they play a flailing Packers team in Green Bay.

C. Grade: 61. Trend: ▲3. . . . 18. 46. .

Preseason Record Prediction: 5-12
Week 5 Record Prediction: 5-12

The AFC South has been full of surprises this year, and it seems that each team’s divisional rankings have been a little out of the expected order. The Titans, who have dominated the division in recent years, now sit at the bottom with a 3-6 record. Above them is a 5-5 Indianapolis Colts team that shares the same record as the top-ranked New Orleans Saints. But in a division with the Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars, 5-5 only gets them third place in the rankings. 

This week, the Colts didn’t impress much on offense, scoring only 10 points in their international matchup in Frankfurt, Germany. That wouldn’t have worked in a shootout like the Chargers-Lions game, but it was good enough to get them a win over a spiraling New England Patriots squad that only scored 6 points. A win is a win, even if it’s an ugly one. 

It was also a bit unusual for the Colts, who haven’t scored fewer than 20 points in their first nine games of the season. A Johnathan Taylor touchdown in the first quarter secured their lead, while a solid Colts defense held the Patriots to two field goals. It was a relatively quiet game for Gardner Minshew, who completed 18 of 28 passes for 94 yards, and a challenging one for Taylor, who averaged 3.0 yards per carry through 69 yards on 23 carries. 

The Colts enjoy a Week 11 bye week before facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 12.

B. Grade: 59. . . . 48. . 19. Trend: ▲5.

Preseason Record Prediction: 5-12
Week 5 Record Prediction: 9-8

The 4-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are quickly rising up in the NFC South rankings: they’re now one win behind the 5-5 New Orleans Saints. That was helped on Sunday in a 20-6 win over the Tennessee Titans where Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield emerged as the more efficient passer. Mayfield completed 18 of 29 passes for 278 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception — that’s one less pass than opposing quarterback Will Levis, who completed 19 of 39 passes for 199 yards and an interception. 

The win ended a four-game slide for the Buccaneers and added another 143 yards to Mike Evans’ illustrious NFL career. The Buccaneers’ all-time leader in receiving yards is now the only NFL wide receiver to begin his career with nine consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. If that doesn’t guarantee Evans Hall of Fame status, it’s hard to imagine what could. 

Evans and the Bucs will face an even greater test in Week 11 versus a dangerous 49ers team regaining their stride.

Grade: 54. . . . 20. 45. D. Trend: ▲6. .

Preseason Record Prediction: 10-7
Week 5 Record Prediction: 7-10

Before their Week 9 bye week, the Broncos defeated one of the AFC’s most feared teams in the Kansas City Chiefs. In Week 10, the Broncos followed up that victory with another one against a different AFC opponent: the Buffalo Bills. 

The Bills loss reiterates how much Buffalo is struggling, but it’s an uplifting sign for a Broncos team that’s on a three-game win streak. Remember, this is a Broncos team that was 1-5 before defeating the 5-1 Chiefs. 

In Week 11, the Broncos will test their mettle against a Minnesota Vikings team that remains competitive with Joshua Dobbs at the helm.

S. Trend: ▼6. . 15. . Grade: 52. . . 21.

Preseason Record Prediction: 10-7
Week 5 Record Prediction: 8-9

Once again, the NFC South features some of the worst records in the NFL, yet one of these teams is still guaranteed a playoff spot. Right now, that team is the New Orleans Saints, who still managed to hang onto their divisional lead despite a 27-19 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 10. 

The Saints defense held Minnesota to just three points in the second half, but by then, it was too late: the Vikings already had a 24-3 lead when the two teams headed to the tunnel for halftime. By the time Jameir Winston took over under center following injuries to Derek Carr, the score was 27-3. Winston managed to deliver two touchdowns to wide receiver Chris Olave and A.T. Perry, while Alvin Kamara secured two two-point conversions. But as is often the case with Winston, the good came with the bad: Winston also threw two interceptions, which certainly didn’t help their chances of winning. 

The Saints still haven’t beaten a team with a winning record this season, and as it stands, they have an even .500 record themselves. Fortunately for them, they’ll have a chance to rest and regroup during a Week 11 bye before taking on the fledgling Falcons in Week 12.

. . 58. W. . Trend: ▼3. 22. Grade: 50. .

Preseason Record Prediction: 7-10
Week 5 Record Prediction: 7-10

The 4-6 Commanders are nowhere near perfect, but their record makes them look a bit worse than they actually are. In both of their losses to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Commanders scored 31 points, which would have been enough points to give them a win in Week 10. Instead, the Commanders lost 26-29 to the Seattle Seahawks thanks to a Seahawks field goal as time expired. 

Sam Howell saw notable improvement as he completed 29 of 44 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns. While Howell executed a beautiful final drive for a seven-point gain, it wasn’t enough to grant Washington the win. 

The Commanders will need to keep up the production through the next two weeks if they want to survive their division: first in a Week 11 matchup against the New York Giants, then in a Week 12 matchup versus the Dallas Cowboys.

T. . 23. . . Grade: 48. . 35. Trend: ▼5.

Preseason Record Prediction: 5-12
Week 5 Record Prediction: 8-9

The 3-6 Titans have lost four of their last five games, including their 20-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 10. That’s bad news for Will Levis, who failed to join Jacky Lee and Brent Pease as the only two rookie quarterbacks in Titans/Oilers history to win two of their first three games. After a thrilling debut win, Levis struggled mightily in his third game, completing one more pass than Baker Mayfield on ten additional attempts for 79 fewer yards and two fewer touchdowns. 

The Titans resembled the Jets and Patriots on Sunday since all three of these teams only scored six points in touchdown-less performances. The latest loss continues an eight-game streak of Titans road losses stretching back to last season, and that’s likely to become a nine-game streak after the Titans take on the Jaguars in Jacksonville in Week 11.

G. Grade: 45. Trend: ▼1. . . . . 49. . 24

Preseason Record Prediction: 8-9
Week 5 Record Prediction: 10-7

Before an easy win over a dilapidated Los Angeles Rams team in Week 9, the Green Bay Packers hadn’t won a game since September. That means the Packers lost five of their last six games, and there’s not much to say about the NFC North team that’s barely ranked above the Chicago Bears. A 19-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers certainly didn’t help their case in Week 10. 

The upside is that Green Bay can benefit from their draft capital in 2024 since they usually stay quiet in free agency. Like his predecessor, Jordan Love has seen early struggles and a lacking clutch gene, but there’s still time for him to follow in Aaron Rodgers’ later footsteps.

. . . . Grade: 43. 25. . 44. Trend: ▼3. A

Preseason Record Prediction: 7-10
Week 5 Record Prediction: 7-10

The Arizona Cardinals have only won two games all season, and one of those wins just came against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 10. The Cardinals edged past a Falcons fourth-quarter lead with a last-second field goal, giving Arizona the win with 25-23 on the scoreboard as time ran out. 

The Falcons relied on the run, totaling 184 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns compared to 70 passing yards and one passing touchdown. After ceding his starting job to Taylor Heinicke, Desmond Ridder was back under center to close out the game after Heinicke suffered a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter.  

After a promising 2-0 start, the 4-6 Falcons have lost six of their last eight games, including the last three consecutive games. If they can resolve their issues through their Week 11 bye, perhaps they could have a fighting chance against the New Orleans Saints.

Grade: 40. . . . . J. 26. 30. Trend: ▼1.

Preseason Record Prediction: 9-8
Week 5 Record Prediction: 4-13

Considering how more than half of the NFL is competing for playoff spots, the Jets aren’t doing as terribly as they were expected to early this season. After the loss of Aaron Rodgers and a few abysmal Zach Wilson performances, it seemed unimaginable that the Jets would make it to Week 11 as a 4-5 team. Unfortunately for New York, they had a chance to supersede the 5-5 Buffalo Bills in Week 10 but missed it thanks to their 12-16 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. 

Wide receiver Garrett Wilson and kicker Greg Zuerlein offered bright spots to the Jets’ play, with Wilson catching nine passes for 93 yards, which was nearly a third of the Jets’ total passing yards. “Greg The Leg” lived up to his name by sending four field goals through the uprights, including a 53-yarder. That marked a big personal win for Zuerlein, who extended the NFL’s longest active field goal streak with at least one field goal made through 26 consecutive games. 

But the main reason the Jets did not win this one — and the reason they’ve lost their two most recent games — is because they haven’t scored a touchdown since the first quarter of their Week 8 matchup versus the New York Giants. In other words, they haven’t scored a touchdown in 11 quarters, or 36 consecutive offensive drives. Relying solely on Greg The Leg is not going to win football games for the Jets. Interestingly enough, they’ll have another chance to jump over the Bills in the rankings since they’re playing them in Week 11. 

. . . Trend: --. 51. . . 27. L. Grade: 36

Preseason Record Prediction: 7-10
Week 5 Record Prediction: 9-8

After a humiliating 3-20 loss to the Packers in Week 9, the Rams were able to recover during a Week 10 bye. They are far from earning a playoff spot in their division or their conference as they sit next to a 2-8 Cardinals team. Their biggest news during the bye was the signing of quarterback Carson Wentz, which will only help them amble through an already-lost season. In Week 11, they’ll likely surrender to the 6-3 Seahawks at home.

Grade: 33. Trend: ▲3. . 28. 32. . . . . C

Preseason Record Prediction: 3-14
Week 5 Record Prediction: 5-12

After a 1-8 start, it seemed the Arizona Cardinals were focused more on the next season than their current one as they plummeted toward a top draft pick. However, it seems they were just biding their time until the long-awaited return of quarterback Kyler Murray. 

In Week 10, a triumphant Murray retook the field, completing 19 of 32 passes for 249 yards and an interception. Additionally, Murray rushed for 33 yards and a touchdown on six attempts. 

Both Murray and his Cardinals are back on their feet, and after their 25-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 10, the Cardinals will face a more daunting test through a Week 11 matchup versus the Houston Texans.

29. . 57. B. . Grade: 30. . . Trend: ▲1.

Preseason Record Prediction: 5-12
Week 5 Record Prediction: 3-14

The Bears won twice on Sunday: first by defeating the Carolina Panthers 16-13, which then caused the 1-8 Panthers to have an even worse record. Again, that’s good for the Bears because they wield the Panthers’ first-round draft pick, which is being guaranteed as the No. 1 overall pick with every loss.

. P. . . . 47. Grade: 29. Trend: ▼1. . 30

Preseason Record Prediction: 10-7
Week 5 Record Prediction: 8-9

In their 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the New England Patriots saw Mac Jones continue a season-long regression that warranted the return of backup quarterback Bailey Zappe. Even though the broken-down Patriots failed to score a touchdown, it’s still enough to warrant the mid-season firing of Bill Belichick. Belichick is no Josh McDaniels: he is, and always will be, the greatest NFL coach of all time. 

The upside to all of this is that the Patriots will now have the highest draft pick they’ve had since the early 2000s. It’s the end of an era, but maybe they can start a better one in 2024.

G. . Trend: ▼3. . . 31. 31. . Grade: 26.

Preseason Record Prediction: 6-11
Week 5 Record Prediction: 5-12

It’s not fun rooting for the Giants right now. The 2-8 team just dropped another game to the Cowboys after Dallas shut them out 40-0 in their season opener. It seems that first game was an ominous sign of what’s to come in 2023. Next week, the Giants will probably lose the Washington Commanders in their Week 11 divisional matchup.

Grade: 21. . P. . . Trend: --. . . 32. 87

Preseason Record Prediction: 5-12
Week 5 Record Prediction: 3-14

The Panthers lost again, cementing their status as the NFL’s worst team this season. It’s still baffling how and why they thought they could succeed with Bryce Young after trading away Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore. Better luck next year — except they don’t have that No. 1 overall pick anymore, either.

Top 25 hardest hitters in NFL history. light. Next. SL Top 25 hardest hitters in NFL history